Third Season Round Robin ~ Chapter 4

by Beth Wade

 

Despite a full night of uninterrupted rest, Diana felt no closer to solving the arson case the next morning. She spent nearly three hours making phone calls to the New York City Office of Records, the Department of Transportation, listed building managers for the buildings that had been targeted by the arsonist, and the two Times reporters who had covered stories of the fires over the past few months. By the end of it her ear was sore, but she had a list of who owned the victimized buildings, and was pleasantly surprised at what she found.

She would have preferred the freedom to bury herself in connections and conjecture, digging until she found the link to the Tunnels, but she knew she’d have to prove to Joe Maxwell that the NYPD was getting their money’s worth of her services. And with a guy like Maxwell, that meant a hard paper trail.

She copied the list by hand, leaving the original on her desk with a brief note to Devin, should he feel the need to pick her lock again. She carried the copy downstairs, into the cab she hailed and all the way to the DA’s office.

* * * * *

 “Okay, Bennett, what’ve you got for me?” Joe was all business. She noticed the small tic in his left eyelid and a coffee stain on his shirt cuff as she wordlessly handed her notes over to him. The pressure of the upcoming campaign and possible Commissioner’s inquiries about the case, had clearly exhausted him. Or, she mused, his reunion with Jenny Aronson had led to a noticeable lack of sleep over the past two nights.

Joe scanned the notes quickly before handing it back to her.

“This is it?”

“That’s it. This guy is meticulous, Joe. These acts . . . they’re not just vandalism, they’re rage. And somehow they’re connected to this ‘AJW Realty’.”

“That’s not much to go on.”

Diana folded her arms and raised a cool eyebrow at Joe Maxwell. “It’s enough.”

Joe scoffed at Diana’s all-business attitude. She had great instincts, for sure, but sometimes he wondered if anything could crack that attitude of hers, like a hunting dog always on point.

“Fine, I’ll have some of my uniforms talk to the security at this company’s other buildings, in case there’s been suspicious activity lately at the ones that haven’t gone up in flames.”

Diana nodded. That was all she needed – for Joe to go down a possible rabbit hole with facts he could sink his teeth into, and leave her the freedom to work on her own timeline, in her own way. And for her own reasons.

* * * * *

Devin pushed a hand impatiently through his tousled hair and heaved a sigh. He would have paced the length of his old chamber, if not for Vincent’s imposing bulk taking up half the space.

“You must calm yourself, Devin. Father won’t listen if he thinks we’re being confrontational.”

Devin ignored his oldest friend with an effort. When he had arrived with Vincent in the Tunnels the night before, he was welcomed as always by the family. But although they hugged him and shared their simple meal, they kept a distance and it grated on his nerves.

These were his father’s people – he’d grown up among them, true, but they preferred the stagnation of staying safely underground in New York, and they couldn’t understand his itch to see the immense vistas of the world. To them, his leaving would always be a wound bordering on an insult . . . and even though they treated him with kindness, there was never that warmth they showered on Vincent. It bothered him to think that he was less loved down here because he was different in his desires, because he dared to travel. And beneath that deep itch, there was a small nag of guilt at his being gone for so long—especially with Father’s bizarre behavior.

He’d gone to bed bothered when 3:00a.m. rolled around and Father still hadn’t returned. He’d awakened even more bothered. Vincent brought Devin a small bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, checking in with the quiet, unassuming compassion he had always had. Devin envied Vincent’s stillness, now, while they waited for Father to return.

“No, Vincent. I’m sorry – I’m done waiting around here for the old man to show up.”

Devin grabbed his worn leather jacket off the bed. Even if he didn’t have a fake job to get back to, he couldn’t stand waiting.

Vincent sighed wearily and placed a hand on Devin’s shoulder. “I am sorry this is so . . . agitating,” he rumbled in his low voice, “Perhaps tonight Father will return and we can speak with him honestly.”

Devin avoided his leonine brother’s eyes as he muttered “Yeah, maybe,” and slunk his way out of the tunnels and up Above.

* * * * *

On his way to his rented flat, to change and stop into the office, Devin stopped by Diana Bennett’s loft apartment. She hadn’t changed the locks yet, so he deftly picked them again. He half-wished she was home, even knowing she’d pull a gun and possibly shoot him for breaking into her place again. She was a stunning woman, with her fiery hair, sylph-like figure and, most of all, incredibly intense gaze. And Vincent trusted her, which meant she was compassionate underneath that intelligent, focused surface.

Devin’s disappointment at Diana’s obvious absence was tempered only by the note he found on her desk, addressed to him.

D,

They’re called locks for a reason.

–D

He grinned, then pocketed the list she’d left. He didn’t snoop around any further – it didn’t feel right, somehow – but returned to the street. As he was trying to get the attention of a passing cabbie, something caught his eye. It was just a flash of a tan overcoat, but Devin’s instincts went on alert.

He dropped his waving hand and, keeping the overcoat in his peripheral vision, began strolling along the sidewalk. He kept a measured pace between himself and the stranger, enough so that the suspicions wouldn’t rise. There was something about the way the person moved, with confidence and a measured gait. Something vaguely . . . familiar. For countless blocks, past awnings and loiterers, doormen and busboys, Devin followed the stranger.

And following Devin, staying far enough behind him to remain undetected, a dark-haired woman with sharp eyes smiled cruelly.

 

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