Spy Glass Page 19

“I hadn’t realized there was so much involved with your job.”

“A common misconception. Everyone thinks we just stand around. But we have to be one step ahead of the prisoners or risk being surprised by a weapon made of crushed glass mixed in feces.”

I stopped. “You’re not serious. Are you?”

His queasy grimace didn’t change.

“Yuck. At least you have one more person who has a greater appreciation of what you do. Thanks for the drink. I’d better get back before the Councilor worries.”

“I’ll escort you.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but Finn was my only link to Wirral. “Okay,” I agreed. He could be my way inside.

We walked for a while in silence.

I mulled over what he had told me. “Do all the different areas of the prison have specific titles like SMU?” I asked.

“Yes. There are a ton of official designations, but we have nicknames for almost all of them.”

“Where does a rookie hotshot work?”

He laughed. “That’s the new guy in the SMU. The nickname for us is the hotshots. And rookies are the ones either newly graduated from training or new to the prison. I was called the rookie LT until he arrived.”

“Here you go.” Faith dropped a thick file folder on my desk. “Delivered this morning.”

Her amused tone drew my attention. I glanced at her. She stood with one hand resting on her cocked hip. Her short hair was tucked behind her ears as always, but she smirked.

Oh no. “What’s the catch?” I asked.

“The warden wasn’t…happy with your interruption two days ago.”

“And?”

“And you’re barred from entering his prison again.”

I shuddered, remembering the conditions. “That’s fine by me. So why so smug?”

“You’ve met the man. Not much upsets him, but our request plus your audacity—his word, not mine—in not trusting him or his people has galled him. He has issued you a challenge.” Faith was downright gleeful.

“Why me? You wrote the request,” I grumbled.

“Come on, Opal. The warden isn’t an idiot.”

“Since you’re dying to tell me, go on.”

“He challenged you to find anything, anything wrong with his correctional officers or his prison.”

“He’s that confident?”

She nodded.

Nothing was perfect. “Tell him I accept his challenge.”

Faith whistled. “Bold.”

“What’s bold?” Tama Moon asked from behind Faith.

The First Adviser jumped a foot. “Don’t scare me like that!”

“Sorry.” But the Councilor didn’t appear apologetic. In fact, her eyebrows were pinched close, puckering the skin on her forehead. “What are you two plotting?”

I noted her word choice. Plotting. Paranoid vibes wafted from her.

Quicker to respond, Faith said, “Nothing.” However she couldn’t lie convincingly, which added to Tama’s suspicions.

“Nothing important,” I said. “Nic challenged me to spar with him. My sais against his sword, and I not only accepted but claimed I would win.”

Tama released a breath and her shoulders eased down a fraction. “That is bold.” Her frown remained. She shoved a stack of files at Faith. “Here, I need you to check the payroll numbers and send them down to accounting.”

Faith clutched the packet to her chest and shot me a worried glance before hurrying away.

“Opal, I need to speak to you in my office.”

I studied her as I followed. Uncombed white-blond hair hung in clumps as if she just rolled out of bed. Her hands hugged her arms. When we reached her desk, she snatched a paper from the surface and waved it at me.

“What is this?” she asked.

I reached for the sheet and touched magic. A thick bubble resisted my hand, but I pushed through and took the paper from Tama. Damn it, Zebb. We had a deal. I squashed my desire to find him and crack his head open with my sais. He had just undone weeks of improvement, sending Tama back to where we started.

Instead, I kept my face neutral as I scanned the letter. When a person was convicted and sentenced to prison, all his assets were turned over to the Sitian government to put toward the cost of his incarceration. The letter was a standard reversal of assets to the Moon Clan and not something that would need the Councilor’s approval. Except in this case, the prisoner was Akako, Tama’s sister. Akako’s signature meant she agreed to the terms stated in the letter, and it was countersigned by Tama.

Confused, I tried to determine what she was really asking. “You approved the transfer.”

“I know that! Look here.” She stabbed her finger at a line of text below her signature.

I squinted at the fine print. “You also waived your right to purchase her assets. Is that bad?”

“Of course it’s bad. She owned my parent’s house! I want to buy it. It’s a good thing I found that before it went to the realty office.” She rounded on me. “How did you do it, Opal? Stick it in the middle of a bunch of papers so I wouldn’t see it when I signed it?”

Her accusation took a moment to sink in. She believed I had tricked her into signing away her rights. “I didn’t—”

“Don’t lie to me.” She snatched the paper from my hands. “This is an act of espionage.”

“Why would I do that? What would I gain?” I tried to reason with her, but she wouldn’t listen.

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