Spy Glass Page 86

“One person. And she left a mess in her wake.” Hard lines formed on his face. “Five max security prisoners dead, two missing officers and one enraged warden.”

“We’re still dealing with the consequences and the cleanup,” Eve added.

“Sorry to hear that,” I said with genuine sorrow. No matter what anyone else said, Ulrick’s death rested on my shoulders. It wasn’t guilt. It was regret.

“Are you?” Nic asked.

“Of course,” I snapped. “Spit it out, Nic. What are you implying?”

“Evidence led to one of the hotshots as the killer, but he could have taken them out at any time and made it look like suicide or an accident. I suspect the escapee planted the evidence to cover her tracks.”

He thought I killed them. I glanced at Eve. She looked curious and not hostile.

“Why?” I asked.

“For someone who allegedly committed a crime of passion, she certainly knew what she was doing. She smuggled in lock picks and darts treated with a sleeping drug. The deceased prisoners had no connection to this woman, who, by the way, doesn’t exist except on paper. I would bet a month’s wages she was a hired assassin, paid to eliminate them, except for one thing.”

“Go on, you’ve created quite a story.”

“You.”

“How am I involved?”

“You’ve been asking about the prison. You disappeared the same time she appeared. You had an excellent reason to see those men dead.” Nic clutched the chair arms.

“Easy, Nic,” Eve said.

I locked my gaze on him and leaned closer. “Do you really believe I am capable of cold-blooded murder?” No answer.

“I’ve met only one person in my life that I would have gladly killed if I’d been given the chance.”

“Who?” Eve asked.

“Devlen.” I stood. “Good thing I don’t know how to hold a grudge.”

Captain Alden’s door opened. He shook hands with an elderly man. Without saying another word to Nic or Eve, I crossed to the Captain. He invited me in and I closed the door behind me.

“I guess this isn’t a social call,” the Captain said when I refused to sit down. He stood behind his desk.

“No.” I pulled Councilor Moon’s letter from my pocket and handed it to him. “I’ve a request.”

Alden scanned the document. “Shouldn’t be a problem. Take Nic and Eve with you. The three of you seem to work well together.”

I barked out a humorless laugh. Originally, I had planned to request them. “I don’t think they would…enjoy the assignment. I’ll take your two best officers.”

He gave me a sardonic smile. “They are my best officers. I don’t assign people based on enjoyment, but on skills. When do you need them to start?”

“Right away. I should brief them.” I suppressed a cringe. This was not going as I had imagined.

Gesturing for me to take his seat, he strode to the door. “There’s no privacy out there, I’ll send them in for the briefing.”

I sat down, placed my elbows on the neat desk and rested my head on my hands for a moment. The air thickened when they entered. A surly resentment pulsed from Nic, but Eve seemed more annoyed at her partner than at me.

Tossing a small sackful of coins across the desk, I outlined what I needed them to do. They nodded in understanding. Eve tucked the purse into her pocket, and they left to prepare for the assignment.

I had completed my business at HQ before noon. Glad for the extra time, I led Quartz to Justamere Farm and groomed her. The owners were happy to see her, but I explained she would be there for one night only. After I had brushed all the road dirt from her copper coat, I checked on my factory.

Stale air and dust puffed in my face when I entered the factory. Darkness filled the first floor and I groped for the lantern, hoping it remained in the stone alcove. I found and lit it, breathing a little easier when the soft light illuminated the kilns. Walking around, I inspected the equipment. In order to return this place to a true glass shop, I would have to tear down the boards on the windows and install shutters.

The apartment upstairs looked undisturbed. I pulled back the curtains and the late-afternoon sunlight revealed the dust motes. Valek had left a few of his belongings behind. I straightened a couple things and rolled up the blueprint of Wirral. The place echoed and I longed for company. After shaking out my sheets and dumping my pack onto the bed, I debated about supper.

I had planned to go to the Pig Pen and have a bowl of Ian’s stew with my friends. The memory of Nic’s accusation ruined my appetite. And I would not visit Devlen. Instead, I lit extra lanterns and brought them downstairs. I practiced blocks and strikes with my sais.

Concentrating on perfecting a set of moves, I almost dropped my weapons when a loud bang cracked through the air. It took me a second to realize someone had pounded on the door.

I peered through the peephole and groaned. Nic waited on the other side. This would not be fun. Wiping my sweaty hands on my stained practice tunic, I opened the door and let him and the gray twilight in.

We stood in the front room. Gressa had used this space for her store. Nic carried a package wrapped in wax paper, and I still held my sais with the tips pointing toward the floor.

He eyed them. “Planning to attack me?”

I glanced at his uniform and sword. “Depends. Did you come to arrest me for murder?”

He sucked in a breath. I waited.

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