Vision in Silver Page 100

Yes, things could have been a lot worse.

Finally Burke stirred. “I have to go. I’ll get the statements from Wolfgard and the rest of the terra indigene who were here and send you a copy of the report.”

“Appreciate it. I hope your officer pulls through.”

“So do I.”

Burke got in his car and drove toward the Courtyard. The Lakeside Hospital was on the way, but he needed to ascertain what else the Others might know about why Lieutenant Montgomery should keep Lizzy away from what had been a safe place. Once he knew that, he’d go to the hospital to check on his men and begin a vigil while waiting for news about MacDonald.

And while he was waiting, he would consider whether these two attacks had happened at the same time by chance or design.

*   *   *

When Monty reached the small, private waiting room, he found Burke at the door talking to Louis Gresh.

Gresh nodded as Monty joined them.

Burke said, “Tell him.”

“At the same time that Captain Burke was apprised of the need for backup at the stall market, the station received a call about a possible attack at the Courtyard,” Louis said. “Captain Burke was on his way to the stall market and you were off duty, so I responded at the Courtyard, figuring a familiar face would be a better choice.”

Monty nodded. “It would be, especially if the Others felt any of their more . . . vulnerable . . . residents were in danger.” Meaning the youngsters and Meg Corbyn. Or had this been some kind of attempt by Theral MacDonald’s ex to get to her? “Did the intruder damage one of the stores?”

Louis shook his head. “Person or persons unknown entered two of the efficiency apartments, with the probable intent of taking items of value. Ms. Lee is residing in one of those apartments, and you’re currently using the other.”

Monty felt sick. Someone was still after Lizzy? Why? The Toland police had Boo Bear, and only the terra indigene knew where the real jewels were now hidden.

“Did they take anything?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Louis replied. “They didn’t tell me why, but the terra indigene had cleared out all the personal possessions from both those apartments right before the attempted burglary. Since nothing was stolen and there was no sign of the burglars, there wasn’t much we could do. The street door was dusted for fingerprints. We took down the license plates of the four vehicles parked in the lot and tracked down the owners. Wasn’t hard. They were all having drinks and nibbles at the Stag and Hare.”

“Together?” Burke asked.

“No, but I’d bet they knew each other and had parked in the Courtyard’s lot as a kind of provocation. And one of the men kept fingering an HFL pin and smirking, as if he knew some big secret—especially after being asked if he’d seen any other vehicles in the parking lot.”

“Those cars were camouflage,” Monty said. “A single vehicle in that lot would be noticed. Several vehicles parked where they shouldn’t be looks more like mooning the Wolves and daring them to make a big deal out of a minor transgression.”

“That sounds idiotic enough to be true, but there wasn’t another vehicle in the lot when we got there,” Louis said. He looked at both of them and added slowly, “And neither of you think we’ll find the vehicle.”

“Oh, we might find the vehicle,” Burke said. There was something in his tone that warned about asking any questions about the occupants of that vehicle.

“Well,” Louis said after an awkward silence. “I’d better get back to the station. I’ll stop by again later. Hopefully we’ll all have good news by then.”

They waited until Louis was out of sight. Then Burke blew out his breath in a gusty sigh. “All right, Lieutenant, let’s talk to your boys and find out why a simple outing went so very wrong.”

His boys, Monty thought as he followed Burke into the waiting room. Not his men, not his officers. His boys.

When he saw them, he understood Burke’s choice of words.

Kowalski and Debany sat on the outside chairs, bookending Ruth and Merri Lee. They all looked young and scared and exhausted. Blood on their clothes. Bruises and bandages. One of Merri Lee’s fingers was splinted and the hand wrapped. She looked groggier than the other three, and Monty guessed she’d been given a painkiller.

Burke moved some magazines and sat on the table in front of them, ignoring the way it creaked from his weight.

Monty crouched next to Kowalski’s chair. “Karl?”

Kowalski made an effort to steady, although he couldn’t quite stop his hands from shaking. “MacDonald is in surgery. Ruthie did what she could to apply pressure to the wound, but he lost a lot of blood before the paramedics arrived. Michael called Lawrence’s folks. They’re on their way. Haven’t reached Theral yet. She’s not answering her mobile phone.”

“There was some trouble at the Courtyard,” Monty said quietly. “She may have left her phone somewhere.”

“Is Theral all right?” Merri Lee asked, rousing for a moment.

“I’ll find out.” He’d also have to tell her that her cousin had been shot.

“We’ll get a formal statement from each of you later,” Burke said. “Right now, I’d like to know what happened.”

“I’m so sorry,” Ruthie whispered. “A field trip, a treat for the Crows. Karl and I asked the people who run the stall market as well as some of the merchants if there would be any objections to the Others shopping there. We asked.”

“The impression we got is the merchants would welcome anyone who wanted to spend money,” Kowalski said. “But . . .” He looked at his friends.

“Just say it,” Burke said.

“It’s just an impression,” Debany said.

“That’s fine. In fact, impressions are good if we’re going to do effective damage control.”

“The people who run the stall market rent that building every weekend,” Kowalski began. “Then they rent out floor space for the merchants’ tables. You can rent up to three tables, either together or in different areas of the market. The center cross—the wide main aisles that divide the building into four quarters—are the prime locations and cost the most to rent.”

Ruth shifted in her chair. “A lot of shoppers never go beyond the center cross unless they’re looking for a specific item or looking for the people who are trying to unload a lot of little stuff from a moving or estate sale and will sell cheap.”

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