Written in Red Page 54

“If a key ever found its way into the wrong hands, that boy wouldn’t survive a day,” Monty said.

“Oh, he knows that, Lieutenant. That’s why he’s very careful about handing over all the keys, and goes to their complex to help them make extra sets.”

“All right. Let’s go back to the station. Looks like I’m going to spoil Captain Burke’s afternoon.”

* * *

Monty watched his captain’s expression turn stonier as he gave his report.

“You really think they’ll fight about this?” Burke asked.

Monty nodded. “They’ll fight.”

Burke leaned back in his chair. “You have any thoughts about why this woman is so important to them—or what she stole?”

“Why do any of us bring a stray kitten into our home and feed it?” Monty replied. “It may have been no more complicated than that in the beginning, but now that someone has invaded their land to get to Ms. Corbyn, the Others are a lot more invested in keeping her.” He paused, not sure how much to reveal about his own suspicions. “Something Simon Wolfgard said has been bothering me. If the victim of the theft knew who had taken the items and could give us what amounts to a photo ID for the wanted poster, why couldn’t he supply a name? If this is some kind of corporate theft and Meg Corbyn was an employee, why weren’t we told her name?”

“You’re edging toward a point. What is it?”

“What if she didn’t have a name? Or what if anonymity is for her own protection?”

“Everyone has a—” Burke slowly sat forward.

“From what I understand, those compounds are as well guarded as any Courtyard, and no one, including the clients who go to those places, really knows what goes on inside.”

Burke sighed. “We are standing on thin ice, Lieutenant, and if any part of what you’ve just implied is true, there are going to be some powerful people dropping boulders off a bridge, trying to hit the ice beneath your feet—and mine. Gods above and below, if our city government is seen to be on the wrong side of this argument, and our mayor, along with our jackass governor, has already put us on the wrong side by giving the order to circulate that wanted poster . . .”

He didn’t finish the thought. He didn’t need to. Finally, he pushed himself up. “I’d better talk to the chief and see what he can do about getting those posters off the streets before someone tries to make an arrest. What are you going to do?”

“Talk to MacDonald and Debany when they come on shift and make sure they’re aware of the potential conflict brewing. And I’m going to see if I can confirm or deny my suspicions about why Ms. Corbyn is so interesting to so many people.”

Monty hung up his overcoat and made himself a cup of green tea. Then he sat at his computer and spent the next couple of hours hunting for what little the police actually knew about the race of humans known as cassandra sangue.

CHAPTER 8

Timing her approach, Asia drove her car into the Liaison’s Office delivery area and parked in a way that guaranteed her vehicle would clog up the most space. Then she plucked the takeout cup out of the cup holder and hurried into the office. Seeing Meg hesitate in the doorway of the room marked PRIVATE, she widened her smile and strode up to the counter.

“I’m working an earlier shift and only have a minute,” Asia said, sounding a little breathless. “We got off on the wrong foot the other day, and it was totally my fault. I get too enthusiastic sometimes, and I really did want to get acquainted because I don’t have many friends and I think you’re someone I could talk to, you know? Anyway, here’s a little peace offering.” She set the takeout cup on the counter in front of Meg. “I wasn’t sure how you take your coffee or even if you drink it, so I brought you a cup of hot chocolate. Can’t go wrong with chocolate, I always say.”

She shifted position, her body language signaling awkward but sincere. “Anyway, I hope I didn’t cause you any trouble.”

“You didn’t cause trouble,” Meg said. “I appreciate the hot chocolate, and I’d like to chat with you sometime, but . . .”

“But right now you’ve got work and I’ve got work.” Asia looked over her shoulder when a horn beeped and the Crows perched on the stone wall responded. She rolled her eyes as she turned back to Meg. “And I am in the way of those delivery trucks and creating a roadblock on the highway of commerce.”

Meg smiled. “More like the cart path to the petty cash box.”

Waving, Asia hurried out to her car, flashed a smile at the deliveryman that wiped the sour look off his face, and drove out of the Courtyard. As she glanced in her rearview mirror before pulling out into traffic, she noticed two Crows taking off.

Score, Asia thought. Let those black-feathered gossips tell everyone she’d stopped by the office. Meg Corbyn had no social skills and couldn’t lie worth a damn with body or words. The feeb had bought the new version of Asia Crane, and that’s all Asia had been aiming for today.

A cup of coffee here, a slice of pizza there, and she would become the friend Meg couldn’t say no to. And then she would be able to get on with her assignment and make her backers happy.

* * *

A shiver went through Monty when he walked into the station’s assembly room and saw Captain Burke passing out the wanted posters of Meg Corbyn.

“Lieutenant?” Kowalski whispered behind him. “Maybe we should take a seat.”

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