we are.” Geddes declared cheerfully. “Home sweet home.”
We turned at a deep voice
behind us, “You must be Lavender.” A man stood tall and stern, assessing what he saw. A younger man stood silently
behind him. Geddes gave the tall man a chiding look.
“Lavender, this is
Crextin.” She had heard of Crextin and done some background, but was not entirely expecting this imposing, and apparently
rude, man. There was a slight disdainful curve to his mouth, but mischief glowed in his eyes. Ah, a test, I thought. He expected me to cower, but would be disappointed if I did. I inclined my head slightly,
a queen greeting a peasant. The young man snickered.
Crextin barked, “go see if Penelope the tailor has that information she promised.”
He tipped his hat. “Glad to meet you, Miss Lavender.” With that Derringer was gone.
boy wonder.” A feminine voice supplied. “Crex’s right hand, but mainly his feet.” The woman was slender
and moved with fluid grace. Or would have if she hadn’t stumbled slightly. Crextin’s eyes narrowed briefly. She
sent a wink to Crextin, their connection unmistakable.
exclaimed as we embraced. I caught the faint odor of whiskey. So, Shell was drinking. More importantly, it appeared she was
hiding it again. More than once I had found Shell in alleyway outside Shell’s apartment building. I would get her inside,
not easy as Shell was at least five inches taller, and stay to make sure she did not leave or harm herself. The next day Shell
would beg me not to say anything. Now I had to discover if this Crextin was a enabler. Under no circumstances would I allow
Shell to fall back into that abyss. Entering my new office, I noticed a small stack of case files on the desk.
precedes you.” Shell said, squinting as she opened the blinds.
“So it would seem.”
I replied, setting down my black bag. No noise came from the action. The bag was made for silence. As were the various knives
and travel kit inside. The 9mm Walther compact pistol, however, was not.
Pouring over files at my
desk sometime later, I looked up as a familiar shadow fell across the room. My husband, Simon, filled the doorway. Simon was
a detective of a different sort. An agent for British Secret Intelligence, his current cover involved a table at the back
of the local pub and a shady identity. A booze runner by trade, this particular shady persona also cleared the records of
less than stellar detectives-for a price. I wasn’t entirely certain what that might have to do with British Intelligence,
but I learned long ago some things you just can’t know. I smirked when Simon walked in and stood to the side of the
window. Cautiously peering out, he shut the blinds.
I murmured affectionately
Simon merely grunted. “Any
I nonchalantly produced
a folded piece of paper from the desk drawer, much like a conjurer, holding it between my index and middle finger.
“It reads pretty
much like the others.” I yawned and stretched.
“‘Quit while you’re ahead. Get out of the game or we’ll take you out
permanently.’ Frankly, I’m vaguely insulted. If you are going to send threatening notes, the polite thing
to do would be to master the language.”
I knew Simon wanted to
shake me. There were times he couldn’t understand my tough as nails and cavalier down to the my serious business black
boots attitude. At least most of the time.
take poetry to kill you, Lav. Be reasonable, no one in town is talking. Your name so much as comes up and they look stricken
with plague. This stinks of politics.”
“Of course it does,
but regardless of first impression, this isn’t faction politics.”
“What makes you say
“No bottom feeder
would have been able to push me out of my medical practice and leave my reputation in ruins. Someone at the top of a very
long ladder has dirty hand. I was chosen as scapegoat. I intend to find out what is rotten, where and why I took the fall.
At the same time, no faction cares enough about me or what my career is to go to the effort. They wouldn’t have anything
Simon sighed. “We
can still be on a boat to New
I shook my head. “I’m
aware of the stakes Simon, but I like it here. I like my career, regardless of how I came to it. I may never go back to medicine,
but I refuse to allow some petty thugs to push me around. Again.”
“Do your directors
know of your little penpal?”
I smiled. “You aren’t the only one with loyal, useful friends.”
I sat quietly as Geddes
and Shell carefully examined the notes. The door opened and a woman with long, curling brown hair walked in.
call me Shady. I hear you have a poetically deficient friend?”
I snorted and gestured
to the papers. “If that is what there is to look forward to, I weep for the future of the written word.”
Shady looked slightly taken
a back as she sat, then laughed. Geddes passed her one of the notes and she looked speculative for a moment. “This has
the ring of politics, yet....not.”
Shady looked up. “Any
discarded threads found nearby?”
into my bag and pulled out two small plastic baggies, each with a thread in it.
those to Penelope. She should be able to find out something.”
“Thanks Shady. I
went to talk to her and she did everything but ignore me.”
“Yes, she can be
somewhat difficult. She happens to like me.”
my mouth to agree, but stopped when the door opened. Crextin waltzed in, followed closely by Derringer carrying a sheaf of
Crextin drawled, taking a seat, “you are quite popular in certain circles and how shall we say, less so in others. I
could not, however, find any evidence that you are throughly despised enough to provoke this.”
I nodded. “This feels
too juvenile for that.”
“Juvenile or not,
this is serious.” The new was well modulated, but had the distinct edge of authority.
smiled. “Meet another of our distinguished officers, Lavender.” Someone snorted.
I studied Kopper. He was
tall, but somewhat lanky.
Sticking out my hand I
smirked. “Hello Kopper. You were once with the Chicago PD correct?”
rose. “How did you know?”
“Your accent has
the Chicago lilt to it and your voice is that of a cop. No nonsense, yet could
go either good cop or bad cop. I should know, I’ve, uh, come across a few.”
both Geddes and Shell snorted.
“Did you find something
Kopper?” Shell asked.
“The librarian took
me aside and told me she found this tucked in a returned book. Frankly, I was shocked. She never gives me the time of day.
When I asked why she was now, she said she had a real affinity for Lavender, could tell a genuine book lover. Apparently Lavender
has returned more overdue books than anyone.”
The scrap of paper in question
was crisp and white. Scratched across, in the same handwriting as the others, read:
Notes not working. L. Crompton won’t back down. More sever action necessary.
Shell studied the note
carefully. “Someone is either very stupid or very clever.” she held the note out, pointing. “This little
blue bit in the corner that has been torn is part of the insignia of City Hall in New York.”