Vision in Silver Page 45

“I guess Montgomery fits in well there.”

“Yes, he does.” Burke hung up. He rubbed his hands over his face before sitting back.

“I guess I’d better get those custody papers processed before someone asks to see a copy,” Pete said.

“I know a judge who owes me a favor.”

To his credit, Pete didn’t say, Of course you do. At least not out loud.

“Problems?” Louis asked.

“Oh yeah,” Burke replied. “More than a few—including a CIU captain who most likely belongs to the Humans First and Last movement. He did not want Scratch connected with Elayne Borden in any way.”

“Not surprising he belongs to the HFL,” Pete said. “You’ve got to figure some cops are going to like that tune.”

“The shortsighted ones.” Burke looked at Kowalski. “Anything to tell me about the lieutenant?”

“I went to his apartment last evening and packed a bag for him, brought it back to the Courtyard. Also brought him my sleeping bag. Only one single bed in those efficiency apartments. Figured stretching out on the floor might be more comfortable than sleeping in a chair.”

He studied the young man. “What else?”

Kowalski hesitated. “Have you heard the Others are looking to buy a couple of apartment buildings across from the Courtyard?”

Burke tipped his head toward Pete. “I have heard that.”

“Do you know anything I should know about those buildings?” Pete asked. “I’m the Courtyard’s attorney when they deal with human things like the purchase of a building.”

Kowalski eyed Pete. “Simon Wolfgard asked me if Ruthie and I would be willing to live in one.”

“It’s my understanding that you do need to find another place to live,” Burke said mildly.

“Yes, sir, we do. But it’s the offer of a share in the gardens that has me wondering.”

“Wolfgard called Eve yesterday evening and told her a share in the gardens would be part of her wages,” Pete said. “Then he hung up before she could ask him what that meant.”

“I know they bring in things like beef and eggs from farms that are controlled by the terra indigene,” Kowalski said. “But it sounds like the Courtyard residents grow some of the fruits and vegetables they need. And this year human employees are being given a choice to have a share of the harvest if they help with the work.”

“That could mean exposure to more of the Courtyard and interacting with residents who have little, if any, contact with humans,” Burke said. “How do you and Ruth feel about that?”

“Excited. A little scared. Simon Wolfgard said the terra indigene haven’t tried to make a bargain like this with our kind of human, but he indicated that the Others do work cooperatively with Intuits and Simple Life folk. We’re willing to try.”

“All right. Pete?”

“The woman who owns the double wants to sell,” Pete said. “After doing a bit of research to get an idea of the asking price of other houses in the area, I made her an offer yesterday evening. I went over her asking price. Not by a lot but enough to sweeten the deal. She accepted, so I’m going over to the Courtyard this morning to explain what paperwork needs to be done in order for the Business Association to purchase a house in the human part of the city.” He turned to Kowalski. “I don’t want to appear too inquisitive about the Courtyard, but I would like to know more about this share in the gardens, especially because I’m not sure working for the terra indigene will qualify me or Eve to receive a family ration book.”

“Ruthie will be able to find out more,” Kowalski said. “All the girls are meeting up this morning for a nature walk or some such thing.”

Burke pushed back from his desk. “It sounds like several of us have business with the Others this morning.” He eyed them. “Something else?”

“Not from me.” Louis stood up. “I’ll stay at the station and answer Monty’s phone until you say otherwise.”

“There is something else, but I’ll wait outside,” Pete said, giving Kowalski a look before walking out with Louis.

Burke studied the young officer. These past few months of working around the Others had seasoned Karl Kowalski in ways most cops wouldn’t experience. In some ways, working around this Courtyard was similar to a tour of duty in the wild country, except here you had a better chance of coming out of an encounter alive.

That was the kind of seasoning Burke wanted more of his men to have.

“What’s on your mind?” he asked.

“Captain Scaffoldon asked about the bear, but he didn’t say anything about the jewels?”

“No, he didn’t.”

Kowalski was one of a handful of people in Lakeside who knew about the jewels in Boo Bear. But word would get out. With a fortune sitting inside that bear, and the death of a police officer’s former lover added to the mix, word would get out.

“Do you think he knows?” Kowalski asked.

“He knows. He’s not interested in the bear . . . or the child. Elayne Borden got tangled up in some kind of mess, and I’d bet a year’s salary that it’s connected to Nicholas Scratch and the HFL movement.”

“She’s dead?”

“Yes.”

Kowalski nodded. “Hoped I was wrong, but I kind of figured . . . Lieutenant Montgomery asked me to check his messages when I went to his apartment. There wasn’t anything from Lizzy’s mom. You’d think, if she could, she would have called to make sure Lizzy got to Lakeside all right.”

“With the woman dead, the child is now in the middle of this. Until we have a better idea of what’s going on, we all need to stay sharp. You’re going to the Courtyard?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then you tell Lieutenant Montgomery to keep his mobile phone turned off. I don’t want him hearing about Elayne from anyone but me. Tell him we have to take a formal statement from Lizzy, and I need to talk to him beforehand, so he’s to wait in the Courtyard until I get there. And find out if Vladimir Sanguinati will be available to talk to me.”

“Yes, sir.”

When Kowalski walked out, Pete walked back in.

“You think that Toland cop is compromised in some way?” Pete asked.

“Nicholas Scratch is linked to the Humans First and Last movement. Smear the reputation of one and you damage both. If Scaffoldon does belong to the HFL, I think he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure Scratch’s name isn’t connected with Elayne Borden.”

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