Chapter 3

Brutal Tendencies

“I’m telling you that we should kill her,” Parker hissed.

“Easy for you to say, boss. You just give the orders. I’m the one who has to hide the body.”

“She’s going to be trouble.”

Caleb shrugged his massive shoulders and glanced down at his employer. It seemed to him that Parker saw trouble everywhere. He looked up and scanned the street, but saw no sign of Jeanne Delvare or her new companion.

“I said that she is going to be trouble.”

“I heard you boss. What do you want me to do about it? Killing her seems a bit of an overreaction, given the difficulties involved, but even if you told me to do it we’d need to find her first.”

“Don’t get smart with me, Caleb, or I’ll have you fired.”

At least he’s not threatening to have me killed, thought Caleb. He scanned the street for any sign of their quarry, but they were long gone, disappeared into the crowd. “What do you want me to do, other than killing them?”

Mister Parker glared at him for a long moment, then turned and looked back at the diner where they had found his phone, abandoned in a trash can by the bathrooms. The problem had been solved, as far as Caleb was concerned, but an unwritten part of his job description was to keep a lid on Parker’s brutal tendencies.

“Track her down. There’s got to be some way for you to find her hotel room, or find out who she ran off with.”

“Already have part of that for you,” Caleb said, pulling a notepad from his pocket and thumbing through it. His left hand trembled a little, a lingering effect of the stun charge that he had been shot with as he stepped into the entry hall, but he snapped it a few times and the tremor faded. “Looks like she left with a man named Oliver Lucas. He’s been a member of the club for a while, so the doorman and guards trusted him.”

“Those bastards. Did you hear them say that my membership is suspended for starting a fight? They told me my membership will be permanently revoked if I I’m involved in another altercation.”

Caleb’s eyebrows twitched, but he succeeded in not raising them, shrugging, or otherwise displaying his skepticism. He offered a silent thanks to the drill instructor who had taught him to think better of betraying sarcasm back during his basic training.

“Did you try paying them for more information?”

“Sure thing, boss. Problem is that place hires on trust and pays decent. That, and nobody there takes cash.”

“Bunch of techno-anarchists, the lot of them. I’d never go in the place if half the best runners in the country didn’t insist on meeting there.”

Caleb shrugged and scanned the street again. He was responsible for keeping Parker from getting killed and occasionally bashing a few heads to expedite negotiations, not selecting contractors for jobs or choosing where they went to dinner. To borrow a phrase from his father, that was all above his pay grade. Not seeing any obvious threats in the pools of light spilling from crowded bars and clubs, he turned back to Parker and said, “Want me to drive you back to the office so you can report in?”