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Sad Lisa – Chapter Five

Banner for Sad Lisa, an Operation Quickline story

Monday morning, Sid still wasn’t home. It wasn’t unheard of for him to take off for the weekend and he did sometimes forget to call and let me know. But he would have been back by Monday or, at the very least, have called to let me know.

On the other hand, with me being engaged to George, things had changed and it was possible that Sid simply hadn’t called. So, I forced myself to give him the benefit of the doubt before calling Henry James. I also decided to check his office. There wasn’t a phone number on the desk, which probably meant that he hadn’t planned on staying over anywhere. In fact, he kept a packed overnight case in his car just in case he wanted to stay over someplace.

I bit my lip, then unlocked his desk. His address book was in the top drawer, near the front. No, it wasn’t a little black book. It was about five by seven inches and covered in the same tan leather all his desk accessories are. I flipped through it, hopelessly. I recognized a few of the names, but not many. It felt weird. Sid and I shared so much, but that part of his life was a complete mystery to me.

I sighed and glanced into the open drawer. The glare off a glass pane caught my eye. It was surrounded by a wood frame. I pulled it out. I knew the photograph. Sid had taken a picture of me with my camera while we were on this one trip for Quickline. It had been an awkward day and Sid had found a way to make me laugh and pressed the shutter release at just the right moment. We had gotten so close on that trip. I swallowed thinking about it.

But now there was George. I quickly put the picture back and returned to the address book. It had fallen open to the N section. As I scanned the names, one caught my eye: Andrea Norton.

I had heard Sid mention a woman named Andrea in passing a few times. He’d usually been either very horny or bugged about something or both. He hadn’t seemed unusually horny or bugged, for that matter, that Friday night. It didn’t mean he wasn’t, however. I decided to try.

The voice that answered the other phone was rich and sensual.

“Yes?” she asked.

“Is this Ms. Andrea Norton?” I asked as calmly as I could.

“Yes, it is,” she replied.

“This is Lisa Wycherly. I work for Sid Hackbirn. I believe you know him.”

She chuckled. “As often as possible.”

“He hasn’t been home all weekend and hasn’t called. Is he there, by any chance?”

“That doesn’t sound like him,” she said. Her voice was still rich, but not quite so languid. “He was here Friday night but left Saturday morning. I haven’t seen him since.”

“What time did he leave?”

“He left to go running at six. Came back and then left again. I think it was right around nine, but can’t be sure.”

“He didn’t, by any chance, say anything about where he was going?”

She sighed. “Not Sid. You must be really worried.”

“Yeah. I guess I am. Thank you for answering my questions, though. So sorry to have disturbed you.”

“You haven’t.” She paused. “Tell Sid to give me a call when you find him.”

“Sure.”

We said goodbye and I hung up feeling even more worried.

Some days, I know God is working. A moment later, Sid’s regular line rang and it was Henry James on the line.

“Morning, Lisa,” he said pleasantly. “Is Sid out?”

Normally, Sid answered his own line unless I was home and he wasn’t.

“Uh, he’s missing, actually,” I said. “I mean, it’s possible he took off and didn’t call, but I’m getting a bad feeling, Henry. He hasn’t been home since Friday. I’ve traced his movements until Saturday morning around nine, but after that, it’s a mystery.”

I could hear Henry shuffling papers on the other end of the line. “I believe he was on the rotation to tail that official. I picked up some chatter that he was onto something.”

Sid and I didn’t know why, but Henry was being kept in the dark about the case. Henry had figured that much out, as well, and while he accepted it, you could tell it rankled.

“Oh, no,” I said.

“It is possible that it didn’t pan out and he went on to his usual pursuits.”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell myself,” I said, shaking my head even though he couldn’t see it. “But, you know what, Henry? I’ve got a really bad feeling something’s gone wrong. Sid would have at least called and left a message.”

“He has been a little shy of you since you got engaged.”

“Not that shy,” I said. “At least, I hope not.”

“Me, too.” Henry shuffled some more papers. “Tell you what. I’ll make some calls and see what I can do.”

“Thanks, Henry.”

We hung up and I sighed deeply. There was plenty of work to do. Sid and I had gotten caught up on our freelancing work after all and all I had left to do from the week before was print out the final query letters for the holiday pieces we wanted to do and get them in the mail. But I was so worried about Sid that I put the dot matrix paper in the letter-quality printer, which meant I had to re-print all twenty-three letters. Then, after getting the letters printed, I mixed up the copies of our past clips and had to sort those out. I did get the envelopes printed okay. But then I lost about five of them when I realized I had put some of the wrong queries with the wrong addresses. Fortunately, the others hadn’t been sealed, so I was able to get those double-checked and in the right envelopes. But I had to print the five new envelopes three times before I got those aligned, and another two that I realized had typos on them. Then I ran out of postage.

I was about to run to the post office when I realized I wanted to be home just in case Sid called. I was really torn. The queries were late as it was – most magazines plan their Christmas issues six to eight months in advance (one of the reasons we had put together so many that year). Even then, it probably wouldn’t have made that much difference, except that I was so very worried about Sid.

I left the queries spread out on my desk and went to get a drink of water and ended up prowling the house. I wished I hadn’t waited so long to call Henry. Sid had to be in trouble. He really would have called. I was certain of it. So why hadn’t I touched base with Henry? Why hadn’t I tried to find out where he was going that Friday night? Why the heck did he have a picture of me inside his desk drawer and how long had it been there?

I had gotten the slides developed, and Sid put together the slide show for Mae and family, which was probably when he’d gotten the print of me made. But why had he chosen to hide it in his desk? I had a couple pictures of him on my office wall. Admittedly, one couldn’t necessarily tell the one was of him, as it was a silhouette of a sunrise over the Grand Canyon. The other was one I’d caught while playing with one of George’s wide-angle lenses.

So, why had he hidden my picture? Neither of us had photos of my family or friends out, that was true. We didn’t want to give an enemy anything to grab onto. But pictures of ourselves, well, if any enemy was in the house, they probably already knew what we looked like. So there was no real reason for Sid not to have the photo on his desk or on his wall.

Unless his feelings for me were a little more than friendship. That was ridiculous. We were best friends and Sid’s feelings were probably pretty strong. But he was in no way able to handle the emotional commitment of a permanent relationship. He could barely last two weeks of being faithful to someone. He just wasn’t into commitments and love and had told me so on several occasions.

The phone rang. It was Nick.

“I want to come down there,” he complained. “It’s boring here.”

I debated asking him if he was alone. The odds were decent that he was. Rachel was an emergency room doctor, and it was hard enough to find childcare for a kid Nick’s age, let alone during the crazy hours that she worked. Nick got left alone far more often than Sid and I were happy with, but there wasn’t much we could do, short of taking full custody of the boy. That was assuming Rachel would let us without one big, nasty fight (not likely) and terribly impractical considering Sid’s and my little side business.

“I know, Nick,” I said with as much sympathy as I could muster. “But Sid had to go out of town on a last-second assignment and I don’t know when he’s going to be back.”

“Aren’t you going to be there?”

“I’ve still got a lot of running around to do,” I said. “And, besides, is your mom going to go for that?”

“She’s the one who told me to call you guys.”

I shuddered. At the beginning of June, Nick had asked to come down for an extended stay, and Sid and I were pretty sure Rachel was hoping we’d take him for the summer. Sid had told Rachel (through Nick because Rachel would only speak to Sid or me directly if she absolutely had to) that Nick would have to go home periodically. Sid had even written Rachel a letter with the dates that we knew we couldn’t take him, adding that there might be additional dates when Nick couldn’t visit. So, when Rachel had demanded that past Friday that we send Nick home, we were a little surprised. Only now I wasn’t. I was as sure as I could be that Rachel still wanted us to take Nick for the entire summer, but was going to make demands every so often just to show us she was still in charge. That was going to make things difficult, especially right then, because Sid and I really couldn’t keep Nick for the summer or we would have.

“I’m so sorry, Nick, this is not a good week,” I said. “Your dad did tell you that it could happen this way.”

He sighed and I braced myself. Nick had tried the manipulation thing a few times before but had quickly learned that it did little but make Sid and me angry.

“Okay,” he said, understandably sadly.

“You know we’d love to have you if we could,” I said. “But we can’t.”

“I get it,” said Nick. “Can I come next week?”

“I’ll check with Sid and call you by Friday,” I said.

“Okay. Thanks.”

As I hung up, I wondered if Rachel would call, but she didn’t. Henry did, however.

“They found Sid’s car,” he told me. “It’s been sitting in the parking lot at a new housing tract in Mission Viejo.”

My heart stood still. “Could they be keeping Sid there?”

Given that Southern California was going through a major housing boom, certain bad guys had discovered they could hide out in a newly-built house that was waiting to be sold. There were hundreds of housing tracts all over the region, all in varying degrees of development. As long as the neighbors hadn’t moved in and the bad guys took care to muffle any noise and black out the windows, there was no one to see or hear anything nasty going on.

“Hard to say,” said Henry. “The development is huge, for one thing, and there’s no guarantee that someone didn’t move Sid’s car to throw us off the track.”

“Or, come to think of it, that Sid wasn’t moved for some reason,” I said. “Shavings. Now what?”

“I’m coming to get you and we’ll go out to Mission Viejo,” Henry said.

He arrived about fifteen minutes later. He’s a tall man, balding with gray hair and a face that is perpetually flushed for some reason. It took a little over an hour to get down to the new housing tract being built in the southern part of Orange County. Sid’s BMW sat in the small parking lot in front of the sales office for the tract. An Orange County Sheriff’s car was parked next to it. The tan-clad deputy stood next to Sid’s car shaking his head at another man in a dark gray three-piece suit with a small metallic bronze nameplate pinned to the lapel.

Henry walked up first, flashing his badge at the deputy. The deputy, who was about average size with dark hair and a square, tanned face, nodded at Henry, then turned back to the small man in the suit.

“I’m telling you, there’s no reason he can’t park here,” the deputy said.

“We put a sign out,” yelled the suited man. According to the nameplate, he was James Martens. He pointed to a small white sign at the edge of the lot.

“I’m sorry, sir, but a sign by itself has no legal standing. You need a citation from the state vehicle code to get that.”

“Then why do we have a sign out here?”

“I can’t tell you, sir,” said the deputy. You could tell he was doing everything he could to keep his eyes from rolling.

“That car has been here since Sunday morning, maybe even Saturday,” Martens yelled.

Henry smiled at the smaller man. “Why do you think it could have been Saturday?”

Martens glared at him. “I don’t have to talk to you.”

“You might want to,” said Henry, with far more patience than I felt. He flashed his badge again. “Henry James, FBI. This car may be connected to a case I’m working on. So, why do you think this car could have been here as early as Saturday?”

“I dunno.” Martens shifted uncomfortably. “I think I saw it when we locked up that evening. Yeah. That’s it.”

“I see,” Henry said.

Martens looked again at Henry. “Did you say FBI? Is this connected to that house you guys borrowed from us?”

“Could be.” Henry kept his face blank, but I could tell he’d been caught off guard. “Why don’t you show it to us?” He looked over at the deputy. “In the meantime, can you get this towed to the L.A. lab?” Henry got out his wallet, shuffled through it and handed the deputy a card. “Here’s the address and phone number. They’ll ask you for a case number. Just tell them that it’s under review.” He glanced at me. “Agent Donaldson’s case.”

Given that I had an alter-ego as Janet Donaldson, I wondered what Henry was doing and why he didn’t want to use his name.

“Yes, sir,” the deputy said with a sigh.

Henry turned to Martens. “Can you tell us where the house is?”

“Sure. I can even take you up there.”

“How about we follow you in our car,” Henry said.

Martens shrugged. “Give me a minute to get the keys.” He waved at a black Cadillac in the lot. “That’s my car.”

He took his time in the office, but that could have been my own impatience. We followed the Cadillac up through the winding streets of the subdivision. It was huge, covering most of a hillside and it looked as though no one lived there yet. Most of the lots were empty, and what few houses there were did not have yards yet.

“I may not have need to know,” I said. “But why put the car under Agent Donaldson’s name?”

“I don’t want the lab techs looking at it,” Henry said. “They won’t do anything until the paperwork comes through, so we’ll have some time to get it released before the techs start asking for it. Hope you don’t mind going in tonight to get it.”

“I’ll have to,” I grumbled.

The house we were directed to was an enormous two-story with tile roof and beige walls. It sat at the end of a long street of mostly finished houses waiting to be sold. It looked as though they’d built that part of the housing tract first.

Martens parked on the street while Henry pulled his car into the driveway. We got to the door and Henry took the keys from him.

“I’ll bring these back to the office when we’re done,” Henry said. “And I’ll need to see any paperwork you have on the place.”

“Paperwork?” Martens gulped. “There isn’t any. We were told it was a top-secret operation. The man’s credentials looked legit. Just like yours.”

“Really?” Henry asked.

“Yeah. His name was, um, Lou Parsons.”

“Did you get his ID number?”

Martens sighed. “Uh, no. It was only going to be for a week or so. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem.”

“We’ll see,” said Henry. “Thanks for your help.”

Martens went back to his Cadillac and Henry unlocked the door to the house.

It was bare of carpeting and other flooring, those were presumably custom elements that would be added when the house sold. There weren’t any kitchen or bathroom cabinets, either. Whoever had been hiding out there had done a very good job of getting most of the traces out of there, but Henry and I found several windows with bits of masking tape and black paper on the frames. I went upstairs right away. There were five bedrooms, and they were all huge. Still, I looked for the smallest.

I found it at the back of the house. There weren’t any bloodstains, thank God, but the door had a few fresh gouges in the hole where the knob would eventually go. The windows also had secure locks on the frames and I could see scratches where someone had tried to break the lock. Sid always had something on him that he could use, so I wasn’t surprised. I looked around the room more carefully as saw some tiny scratches on the wall next to the closet, just above the baseboard. I looked more closely and laughed.

“What?” asked Henry, coming into the room.

“Sid was here, alright,” I said, pointing to the scratches. “He left a message for me. Proverbs twenty-seven, fourteen.”

“Sid’s quoting the Bible?”

“‘He that greets his brother with a loud blessing in the early morning, a curse shall be laid to his charge.’ It’s one of my favorite verses.” I sniffed a little. “I am not a morning person and Sid really is.”

Henry looked the room over. “I don’t see any signs of scrubbing or fresh paint.”

I nodded. “Thank God.”

“They must have taken him somewhere else.” Henry looked a little grim.

There were reasons why they would have done that, but the big reason is that it’s easier to move a living person than a dead one. It didn’t look good, especially since there wouldn’t be a good reason to keep Sid alive.

“I’d better see what more I can get out of our salesman,” Henry said.

We agreed that I should let Henry lead, even though I had my FBI ID for Janet Donaldson on me. The fewer names Martens had, the better, just in case.

Martens didn’t have anything to add, though. He shrugged helplessly when Henry asked for a description of the agent.

“He looked pretty normal,” Martens said.

I nudged Henry. He glanced at me with a quizzical frown, then nodded.

“Was Agent Parsons an average-sized man, brown hair, brown eyes, with a scar on his left hand?” I asked.

“Yeah.” Martens’ eyes lit up. “That was him.”

“It was?” Henry asked.

“Yeah. He had that scar right along here,” the man answered, running his finger along the outside of the back of his hand from the wrist to the pinkie. “Big old white one. Don’t want to think what did that.”

“No, you don’t,” said Henry with a tight smile.

There was something definitely very odd about how Henry was acting, not that Martens noticed. I looked at Henry, who thanked the man and we left.

Henry was silent in the car as we drove back to Los Angeles.

“Did I screw that up?” I finally asked.

“What?” Henry glanced over at me. “Not at all. Where did you hear about that description?”

“It came from Upline last week,” I said.

“That’s interesting,” he muttered.

“We’ve gotten the impression that they’ve been keeping you in the dark on this case.”

Henry sighed. “They most certainly have, and now I know why.”

There was a pause.

“Let me guess,” I said. “You’re not going to tell me.”

“Nope.”

I sighed. “So, now what?”

“We get Sid’s car released. We’ll say they towed the car by accident.”

“So, I tell them I left the car to go tail someone with my partner?”

Henry nodded. “That sounds good. I’ll have to get the paperwork generated at the office, but I’d rather no one saw you pick it up. In fact, I’d rather you didn’t come by the office at all for the time being.”

“Just me?”

“Nope. Sid, too.” He glanced my way again. “Look, I know you’ll probably jump to a conclusion or two. That can’t be helped. Just don’t act on anything, okay? Not without orders from Upline.”

“Yeah. Sure. But how am I going to get the paperwork?”

Henry suddenly smiled. “Lydia has been after me to invite you and Sid over for dinner. Why don’t I call her when I get back to the office and you can bring your fiance over, too.”

Lydia as Henry’s wife. Sid and I were friends with her, too, so that made things a lot easier. However, Henry must have been really worried about someone connecting us to him for some reason. I tried not to speculate, especially since Sid and I had already made some guesses.

When Henry dropped me off at the house, I was mildly annoyed to find George’s car in the driveway. He was waiting on the front porch for me.

“Did you track Sid down yet?” he asked after giving me a big hug and kiss.

“No,” I said, unlocking the front door, then disarming the alarm. “I’m getting really worried.”

“He’ll be alright,” George said, following me into the office. “So, when do you want to go to dinner?”

“Dinner?” I dropped my purse onto my desk. “I just made a date to go to Henry and Lydia James for dinner. He invited you, too.”

“I was going to take you out tonight.”

I smiled at him. “That’s sweet, George. Thanks. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d really rather eat with the Jameses.”

“I suppose,” George said. “So, what do you want to do until then?”

I rolled my eyes. “Work. I’ve got a lot to get done and it’s been hard enough to concentrate with worrying about Sid.”

I also did not want George around for any phone calls, but he didn’t get the hint. I did get him to run to the post office to get the extra postage for the queries. He came back all too quickly and hovered until it was time to go to Henry and Lydia’s. Fortunately, the only call I got was Henry confirming the dinner invite.

George and I got to the James house in Encino at six-thirty. It was a large, sprawling ranch-style house. You could tell the James family had been living there forever. Lydia was a warm, full-figured woman, not quite as tall as her husband, with dark blonde hair.

“I hope it wasn’t too much trouble having us over at the last minute,” I told her after I’d introduced George and Henry had led George into the living room.

“No trouble at all,” she said, with a laugh. “I just threw another potato into the pot.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

She led me into the kitchen, which was just to the left of the front door. “Why don’t you help me bring everything into the dining room?”

She had a salad bowl out, filled with salad, two dishes with vegetables, and another with a pot roast swimming in gravy dotted with bits of potato and carrot.

“Looks like you did more than just add another potato,” I said, picking up the salad and a bowl of green beans.

“Well,” Lydia chuckled. “When I heard you were coming, I threw in more like four or five.”

I laughed and blushed. I have to admit, my appetite is pretty phenomenal. Much to Sid’s dismay, I eat like a small horse and never gain an ounce. George thought that was great, but then George thought anything I did was just great. After dinner, George offered to help clean up and Henry got me alone long enough to hand me a manila envelope, which I stashed in my purse.

“You know where the lab is, don’t you?” he asked.

“I’ve got the address.”

“Good. Make sure you get in there tonight. Like I said, there isn’t any other paperwork on Sid’s car and I don’t want anybody either asking for it or looking at that car.”

Sid and I both had specialized radio and tracking equipment locked in our glove boxes, and the trunk in Sid’s car had a false bottom.

“Tonight?” I winced. “How late can I go?”

“The lab is open twenty-four hours, but I’d get there before eleven or so. After that, it slows way down and you might get noticed.”

I looked back at George, who was saying something to Lydia with an earnest expression on his face.

“That might be a little dicey,” I said.

“Do your best.”

We finally got out of there just before nine and got back to the house at a quarter to ten. George wanted to stay and talk for a while.

“I hate to do this to you, George, but I’m really bushed,” I said as we stood on the front porch.

“Lisa, I just want to be with you.”

“I know, but I’m tired.”

“You don’t seem very tired.”

I sighed, thinking how very tired I really was. “I’ve been very worried about Sid and…”

“Then why don’t you let me stay and take care of you?”

I threw up my hands. “Because I don’t want to be taken care of. I just want to be left alone.”

“Why would you want that?” It figured George would be baffled.

“Because I like being alone.”

George looked at me. “Lisa, that doesn’t make sense.”

“Of course it does.”

“You’re upset and worried. No one wants to be alone when they’re upset and worried. You’ll just brood about it.”

“Well, then let me brood,” I snapped.

“Lisa, you’re holding out on me.” George frowned at me.

I squirmed a little. “No, I’m not.”

“I’m going to be your husband. We can’t have secrets between us. Tell me the truth.”

“I am. I want to be alone!”

“Why?”

“I don’t know!” I glared at him. “I just want to be alone.”

George sniffed. “I think you’re trying to get rid of me.”

“Yes, George, I am.” I crossed my arms and stepped back. “Sid isn’t really missing. He’s in the back bedroom and I’m trying to get rid of you so that we can continue our clandestine affair.”

George’s eyes grew wide. “Lisa?”

“Oh, come off it, George. I was being sarcastic.”

He sighed. “You’re getting angry. Let’s calm down and we’ll talk about this tomorrow. Come on and kiss me goodnight.”

I kissed him quickly and there wasn’t quite the rush I usually got. Once again, George was avoiding the issue, and that really bothered me, especially since I was beginning to notice that we never seemed to talk about it later. On the other hand, it was getting George on his way home.

As soon as he left the porch, I hurried inside. Leaving the lights off in the living room, I slid to the front windows. The headlamps from George’s car lit up and the car drove off down the hill. I called the limousine service to take me to the lab, which was near the airport. While I waited for the limo to show, I got out my blonde wig and put on a lot of make-up, shading and contouring my make-up so that anybody who saw me would have a hard time recognizing me again. It’s not a perfect disguise, but it’s good enough.

The limo driver was a bit on the chatty side, so I told him that my car had been towed and I had to go to the impound lot to get it back. I didn’t want him remarking on the odd address or anything. The driver went off on an extended monologue on the perfidy of the parking regulations in Beverly Hills and environs. I just nodded and let him go. I was annoyed enough as it was. It didn’t help that it was a little after eleven when I finally got to the lab building, which was in an industrial park just south of LAX. I figured it was just as well that I was cranky. If my car had been towed by mistake, I would be.

The man behind the window in the lobby was skinny and wearing a white short-sleeved shirt with an ugly blue-striped tie and ugly black-rimmed glasses. The name on his ID said Fred Stubens.

“What’s this?” he demanded when I handed him the three-part form.

“My car got towed here today,” I explained. “It was a mistake and I need to get it released. It’s been approved.”

Stubens read the form, then looked at me. “What are you doing here at this hour?”

“Trying to get my car back,” I said.

“I understand that,” he replied, his voice far more testy than necessary. “Why are you doing this now?”

“Because I need it.”

“You know what the rules are. Or you should.”

“My supervisor told me to get it released tonight.” I looked down at the form. “It says emergency release, right there.”

“I know what it says.” He looked me up and down. “But the rules say we do not release any vehicles of any kind except during business hours.”

“Even with an emergency release?” I asked.

“Those are the rules.”

I tried not to groan. “But I’m in the middle of a hot case. I need that car.”

“Maybe you should have thought of that before you had it towed.”

“I didn’t have it towed. Some other idiot did. I didn’t even know where it was until four hours ago. That’s why I was given an emergency release. Do I have to call my supervisor?”

His sigh was deep, profound and made it very clear just how completely put upon he was.

“I’ll go ask my supervisor,” he said, picking up the form with his thumb and finger.

He retreated to a room at the far end of the office he was in. The roar that emanated through the open door was quite gratifying. I could hear the whining, but not what Stubens said.

“The rules allow for an emergency release!” yelled a deep voice between an assortment of swear words. “That’s why it’s an emergency release, you idiot.”

There was another whine.

“Go ahead. Write me up. We’ll add it to the stack. You know, the one buried under all the complaints about you!”

More whining.

“Never mind!”

A minute later, a stocky man in a tan dress shirt, no tie, and creased polyester slacks came over to the window with my form.

“Sorry about Stubens,” he grumbled, scratching behind his ear. His badge said that he was Dominic Fanelli. “They put him here because no one else will work with him.”

“No surprise there,” I said.

Fanelli grinned. “Yeah. I’m still trying to figure out who I pissed off enough to get him. Now, let’s see.” He read the form. “You got your ID?”

“Right here.” I pulled Janet Donaldson’s ID case from my monster purse and flipped it open.

“Great. Donaldson.” Fanelli picked up a pen and check a couple boxes on the form. “Oh, crap. It’s the Beemer.”

“Yes,” I said cautiously.

“Mr. Charm School back there, when he heard it belonged to one of ours, wanted to report the owner for corruption.”

“Oh, no!” I squeaked, trying to think of a good reason why a lowly Special Agent would be driving a very expensive car. “It’s part of my cover. That’s why I need it tonight.”

Fanelli looked me over critically. “It’s okay. No one reads any of that a– Uh, jerk’s complaints.”

He went back to making notes and stamping paper while I fretted and tried not to show it. After Henry had gone to all that trouble to avoid being connected to Sid’s car and the Donaldsons, I was afraid our cover been blown.

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