Home > Etched in Bone (The Others #5)(9)

Etched in Bone (The Others #5)(9)
Author: Anne Bishop

Cyrus had always managed to create tension between his siblings, even when Crispin was standing up for Sierra.

“A lot of calls are made from the bookstore’s phone,” Elliot said.

“Most likely it would be a Toland phone number. One Mr. Simon and Mr. Vlad wouldn’t recognize.”

“All right.” Elliot folded the paper and put it in his pocket. “If your pup isn’t suitable, can you think of someone else who is?”

“Katherine Debany,” Twyla replied. “She worked as a personal assistant. Probably knows how to run an office like this better than the rest of us combined. I know Pete Denby was asking her about working for him a couple of afternoons a week.”

Elliot didn’t ask why a skilled worker would be available, and Twyla didn’t offer an explanation. Like her, Katherine had been dismissed because she wouldn’t join the Humans First and Last movement in order to keep her job.

“Tell the Katherine to see me.” Elliot headed for the stairs. His foot was on the first step when the phone rang. He looked back at her.

“You want me to answer that?” Twyla asked.

“Yes.” Elliot headed upstairs. “Thank you.”

Smiling, she picked up the phone. “Courtyard Consulate, Twyla speaking.”

CHAPTER 2

Windsday, Messis 1

Monty took a seat at the conference table and wondered if anyone else was baffled about his presence at a meeting that included Lakeside’s mayor and police commissioner, an ITF agent, and Captain Douglas Burke. He was just a lieutenant in charge of a two-man team.

He tried, unsuccessfully, to convince himself that the duties of that team had no relevance to his being there.

“Thank you for putting aside your important duties to speak with me.”

Walter Chen, the new acting mayor, smiled at each man in turn. It was a gentle smile in keeping with the man’s small stature and quiet voice. Deep lines spread from the corners of his brown eyes, and his black hair was carefully combed back from his face.

“We appreciate the opportunity to meet with you,” Greg O’Sullivan replied. Then he nodded at the other man Monty didn’t know.

“You know Police Commissioner Alvarez?” Chen asked, sounding a little surprised.

“We didn’t work in the same precinct in Hubb NE, but Agent O’Sullivan is related to Governor Hannigan, and I have the pleasure of being among the governor’s friends,” Alvarez replied. A handsome, robust man in his early fifties, he had flashing dark eyes and a headful of dark, wavy hair.

Monty glanced at Burke and wondered what his captain knew about the man.

“Please sit,” Chen said. “Would you like coffee? Tea? We have black and green tea available. The green tea has come all the way from Tokhar-Chin and is sold at a small market in my neighborhood.”

They all declined the offer of refreshments, took their seats, and waited for the mayor to begin.

But Chen seemed reluctant to begin. He gave them all another gentle smile.

Greg O’Sullivan leaned forward. “May I ask a question?”

“Please.” Chen sounded relieved.

“Why were you and Commissioner Alvarez appointed to these positions?”

Alvarez looked at Chen, then addressed the other men around the table. “I support the governor, and I’m fresh blood. That’s going to make every station chief in Lakeside unhappy since, under usual circumstances, one of them would have been selected to fill the position after Kurt Wallace’s involuntary resignation. But circumstances aren’t usual. This city is vital to the health of the entire Northeast Region, and the human government here can’t afford to make any more mistakes. I didn’t support the Humans First and Last movement. That’s on record. I’m hoping that will weigh in our favor in the weeks ahead.”

“Weigh in with whom?” Burke asked.

Alvarez smiled. “With the terra indigene in the Lakeside Courtyard—and beyond.”

“I, too, did not support the Humans First and Last movement,” Chen said. “Some businesses in my council district were damaged by HFL supporters, and there were a few physical altercations that convinced the merchants who participated in the open markets to stop bringing their carts.”

A new police commissioner who supported the governor and hadn’t supported the HFL, and a new acting mayor who had people in his neighborhood harassed and even hurt by the movement. Just like some of the businesses on Market Street. Nadine Fallacaro’s bakery and café had burned to the ground. If Meg Corbyn hadn’t felt a desperate need to make a cut and if her warning hadn’t been interpreted correctly, Nadine would have died in the fire.

“Mayor Chen and I also bring an additional benefit to our respective jobs,” Alvarez said, looking at Burke. “He has family ties to people in Tokhar-Chin, and I have family ties to people living in the human areas of Felidae. We can receive news from those places and, hopefully, assist in continuing to trade with those parts of the world. Just as you, Captain Burke, have family connections in Brittania that have proved useful.”

“I haven’t heard from my cousin Shamus since early Sumor, but the assistance he provided to the terra indigene is a big reason ships are still permitted to travel between Thaisia and Brittania.”

Alvarez looked at Burke, Monty, and O’Sullivan in turn. “There is a rumor that the three of you met an Elemental that commands the Atlantik Ocean.”

“We did.” O’Sullivan shuddered. “She—at least I had the impression of female—will permit Thaisian ships to travel to Brittania, Felidae, the Storm Islands, and Afrikah, but if we try to go to what is left of the Cel-Romano Alliance of Nations, she will destroy any Thaisian ship that touches her domain. That includes fishing vessels.”

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