Cubicles, Blood, and Magic – Chapter 9: Sign on the Dotted Line

We now continue with Chapter 9 of Cubicles, Blood, and Magic. If you missed the earlier chapters, click here.  (PG-13)

Cubicles, Blood, and Magic: Dorelai Chronicles, Book One

 Lynn Kilmore

Second edition copyright © 2014 by Lynn Kilmore

Copyright © 2012 by L. M. May

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 9:

Sign on the Dotted Line

My ability to even make small talk had left me as I sat before my half-eaten plate of supper at the table with Louie and O’Keefe in the Knossos library/conference room. My eyelids and shoulders drooped despite my struggles to stay awake. The cascading piano notes of Chopin’s Nocturnes made me think of raindrops in a forest.

Trelton,” Louie said.

Startled, I tried to sit up straight. I could barely get my eyes back open. And I had a feeling that this hadn’t been the first time Louie had called my last name.

He was frowning at me again.

I found I didn’t care. All I wanted to do was sleep. My eyes ached, so I closed them.

From a distance, I heard Louie say, “There’s no bloody way you’ll get her limp body up all those stairs to her flat without someone seeing you and calling the police.” Hands gripped my shoulders and shook me.

I pulled away. I was slumped in my chair at the table and Louie was standing over me. He’d shaken me awake.

“Go sleep on the sofa,” Louie said.

I grumbled to myself at having to make the effort, but as a programmer, getting to collapse face down on a couch appealed to me. It was worth the effort of dragging myself to my feet and walking over to it. I picked up the plaid flannel blanket and wrapped it tight around my head and body for comfort, and flopped down on my stomach.

Heaven. The flannel on me was warm and soft, and the couch cushions were firm instead of mushy. This was an aristocrat of couches compared to my own and the former programmers’ couch at Granite Hills.

As I began to drift off, I heard O’Keefe’s laugh and the rattle of dishes being picked up.

“What the devil has gotten into you?” Louie said.

“Trelton’s gonna be pissed when she finds out she slept in her clothes again.”

“What do you mean, ‘again?’ … Good God, don’t tell me you all went on a bender at her flat while Peter and Beth were lurking about. O’Keefe—”

“Rabbi Eli misjudged how much wine Trelton could handle for Shabbat. He was mortified once he realized what he’d done.”

There was the noise of a dish-piled cart being pushed out of the room, and all the library lights went off except for one wall sconce. The Chopin music stopped.

Louie said, slowly, “So they celebrated Shabbat together. Interesting.”

The library door shut and I heard the lock go snick, but I was too tired to care that I was locked in, and went to sleep.

*

O’Keefe was right. I was pissed when I woke up to find I’d again slept in my clothes.

When I lifted the flannel blanket from my head, I found that the lack of windows from being underground made it impossible for me to tell what time it was. I had no idea if it was in the middle of the night, dawn, or even Sunday afternoon.

A huge basket on the coffee table caught my attention. There was a note beside it. I reached over (not bothering to sit up, the couch was too enjoyable to get up yet) and plucked it off to squint at:

Hi Dorelai,

Louie asked me to obtain outfits you could wear either as an AOX Investigations employee or for undercover work. Good thing I started on your wardrobe right away, since I didn’t know you’d need clothes so soon. I’ve hung a suit in the bathroom that you can wear today. Let me know if anything doesn’t fit or is missing.

Regards,

Ines

Pushing myself up so that I could peer into the basket, I saw it was stocked with shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, hairdryer, and towels. I’d be able to get cleaned up properly this morning.

I looked around the library. The table had been cleared of last night’s meal.

A faint noise of A/C blowing out a vent could be heard, but otherwise it was silent. No muffled voices could be heard through the closed door to Louie’s office.

I’d gone from being called “Dorelai” by Louie to being called “Trelton.” I wondered if I’d get a rise out of him if I started calling him “McDonough” just to even things up.

My purse still hung from my chair at the table, so I stood up (sighing at the sight of the loafers on my feet—I’d slept in my shoes again, dammit) and walked over to dig around in it for my cell phone.

The time was 7:18 a.m. according to my phone clock, but I couldn’t get a wireless signal in the room, so that might be wrong.

For a moment I stood there and wondered if Sariel had done anything to me that had changed me. But as far as I could tell, I was the same person I’d been yesterday.

Not that I’d be able to tell if it did change my personality or memories. However, I don’t think that is Sariel’s way of doing things.

I carried the basket into the bathroom, and found hanging on a hook behind the door a navy wool business suit on a hanger, as well as a blue silk blouse. Navy business pumps, stockings, full slip, and underwear were in a shopping bag hung around the hanger as well. I was grateful for Ines’ thoughtfulness in being so thorough, but uncomfortable about the clothing style. I was a programmer, not a partner in Thanos’ law firm.

Well, beggars couldn’t be choosers. And there was no way I was going to stay in dirty clothes if I was given the chance of wearing something clean.

So I took a long hot shower, scrubbing down, and then enjoyed the feel of putting on silk and wool. It took effort, but I was able to get my hair to fall neatly around my neck instead of frizzing.

Everything fit, even the pumps. Once the bathroom mirror unfogged, I saw within it an alternate universe Dorelai who had done an MBA.

“Hah,” I said to my reflection. “I’d even blend in at a sales convention until I opened my mouth.” I turned to check the fit of the jacket from behind. Not a wrong crease anywhere. I was in danger of wanting to buy this expensive suit from AOX so that I’d own it.

I shoved yesterday’s clothes and shoes into the shopping bag, and hung it on the hook.

Opening the bathroom door, I stepped back out into the library and rubbed my hands together. “I should go to the next family gathering dressed like this, and tell them I’ve applied to law school.” I snickered to myself at the uproar that would cause.

“Wouldn’t that be rather too easy sport?” Louie said.

The library door to the office was now slightly ajar. His voice had come from the other room.

His words made me pause. There were things I’d said to him during our talks in the emporium that I would never have said to a boss.

Louie knew way too much about my family and their quirks.

I yanked my mind away from those thoughts and passed through the doorway into his office. He looked up from the stack of papers on his desk, gave a nod of approval at my attire, then went back to organizing the forms. Today he’d decided to dress “casual” by wearing tweed.

“Have a seat, Trelton. There’s much to cover this morning. Paperwork and investigation matters first, then I’ll answer some of your questions.”

The offer of answers was a damn carrot dangled before me to keep me in line. I resented it, but starting a fight with Louie would get me nowhere fast.

The leather chair was still where I’d sat in it the day before, so I settled into it. Despite my determination to appear cool and collected, I felt compelled to keep an eye on his hands in case he decided to do a repeat of yesterday’s lightning demonstration.

“Coffee and breakfast will be here soon,” Louie said. He picked the top letter off the stack and pushed it across to me. “Here’s the offer letter from AOX Investigations, to start work as a computer security analyst for our firm.”

I stared at the letter, making no move to pick it up yet. “But what about the interview with the other partner, Ms. Adams?”

“I want you in AOX now. You’re to read and sign the offer letter today before you leave Knossos. Ms. Adams will switch the focus of her interview to planning out your training schedule and work assignments for the next few months. She’s going to start your self-defense training tomorrow night at six.”

“Self-defense?” Actually, when I thought about it, I could go along with doing that.

“As well as firearms,” Louie said. “Training in those two areas is mandatory.” He watched me to see if I was going to protest.

The thought of learning to shoot didn’t appeal to me, but O’Keefe’s comments about bullets and one’s magical enemies would be stupid for me to ignore.

I picked up the offer letter to read, and nearly choked when I got to my salary—almost double what I made at Granite Hills. And after five years, I would have the chance to make partner.

“Dress code at AOX Investigations is business formal,” Louie said. “Always a suit, unless a particular job requires otherwise. The cost of a proper wardrobe is added into your salary.”

The two suits I owned were cheap off-the-rack things for interviews, and surely Louie had surmised that. Suits were for upper management and salespeople, not engineers.

“Mrs. Gomez will assist you in making sure your wardrobe is up to our standards.” He twitched a finger at me to indicate what I was wearing right now. “Keep what she’s already picked out—you need at least one proper suit on hand.”

I pinched the wool between my finger and thumb, enjoying the feel. I’d buy it. But this job offer—the pay, the partnership terms—was too good to be true. There was a catch lurking underneath, and I was determined to find it.

I said, “Just what, exactly, am I going to be doing day-to-day?”

Louie sat back in his chair and steepled his fingers together under his chin. “So, you’re not going to blindly rush forth to sign the offer?” His mouth quirked. “Very good. Quite a number of fools would have just signed for the money alone.”

There was a knock on the door to the receptionist’s area.

Louie stood up. “Stay here. I’d rather you weren’t recognized.” He strode over to the door and opened it enough to slip through, then closed it behind him.

I heard muffled voices. It sounded like Amanda from the Pomegranate. Then I heard the door from the receptionist’s area into the basement hall open and shut.

A moment later, the receptionist door was pushed open, and Louie shoved a serving cart with hot coffee and covered trays before him into the office.

“Grab the paperwork,” Louie said, “and we’ll reconvene at the conference table.”

I scooped up the papers into a neat stack as Louie kicked shut the receptionist’s door, then shoved the squeaking cart into the library.

Before I could help, Louie had already gotten the covered trays on the table. Same setup as last night, with him at the head of the table and me sitting on his left.

I set the papers down next to my tray, and went over to the cart to pour myself a cup of coffee. I skipped the sugar—from the coffee’s aroma I could tell it would taste great on its own. “What do you want in your cup?” I said.

“One sugar,” Louie said as he lifted the tray covers off to show omelets, sliced strawberries, and crumpets to view.

Bringing over the coffee, I set them down before our trays as Louie scooped up the stacked papers to flip through them as he sat back down.

He scowled down at a thick triplicate form, then spun it across the polished wood to me. “As an employee of AOX, your medical costs with Dr. Xu are completely covered. This form is for our outside health insurance needs. We use medical outsiders as little as possible, for obvious reasons. Fill it out.”

Ah, so Louie wasn’t even going to play the “I paid for your treatment” card.

It came to me that Louie’s attitude of urgency was missing. I thought back over the last two days, and realized he’d already achieved what he probably considered the most crucial goal: I had seen Sariel.

What had happened to me in the sphere might have bound me to Sariel in some way I didn’t realize yet. Only time would tell.

I nudged my tray aside—eating could wait—and sipped my coffee as I looked the form over. Typical insurance form.

Then I realized Louie had successfully changed the subject from what I’d actually be doing at AOX. I set the form aside. “Back to our earlier discussion. What are my duties at AOX?”

Louie moved his own tray aside to concentrate on his coffee and the stack of papers. He took a deep breath, then said, “You’re not going to be able to hide behind a desk anymore. Half of your job will be coding and computers, but half will be learning how to do investigative work in the field.”

I took a swallow of coffee to give myself time to think. I’d always seen myself as a programmer, and had planned to go back for my Ph.D. in computer science in my early thirties, when I’d likely be tired of private industry work.

Instead of trying to fill the silence, Louie pulled his tray over to eat.

Twenty-seven. I’d be twenty-seven in December. And I had yet to take a job since MIT that pushed me to the limits of what I could do. Without a doubt, AOX would shove me to the brink of what I was capable of.

Perhaps even beyond.

“I’ll sign the offer,” I said.

Louie slid the letter and a copy over, and dug a gold pen from his pocket to hand over to me. “Sign both. Then I’ll sign.”

The pen was still warm from being in his pocket as I signed my name to both letters. I felt both excited and terrified, as if I’d just bungee-jumped off a river bridge. Only time would tell if the cord held, or if I’d hit the river rocks far below.

*

Between bites of omelet, I filled out all the paperwork.

Once he had the papers stacked neatly next to him, Louie offered me his hand across the table, tone and expression solemn. “Welcome to AOX Investigations, Ms. Trelton.”

I gave his warm calloused palm a firm shake, but we went on too long, lingering, as if we were both saying farewell to the casual friendship we’d briefly shared.

He was the one to pull his hand away first.

I pushed away from the table, and picked up my tray. “Where do I put this?”

“There’s a lower shelf on the cart.” He cleared the table of his tray, and helped me shove both trays onto the cart’s lower shelf. Checking his watch, he said, “Make yourself another cup, because it’s going to be a long morning. There will be a meeting where you and I and Dr. Xu and Rabbi Eli are going to discuss that git Jake.”

The muscles in my shoulders and neck spasmed at the mention of Jake’s name, and I had to put the coffee pot back down before I poured. Tomorrow I was going to have to see that weasel and continue my act of not knowing what was going on.

Shit. Starting tomorrow, I was the team leader of a dying project. A job I’d be abandoning a lot sooner than expected. Ed would probably put Jake in charge.

“What is it?” Louie said. He picked up the pot and poured my cup for me, then his own.

“Thanks.” I carried my cup back and dropped back down in my chair. “What sort of notice am I to give Granite Hills?”

“Give two weeks’ notice this Friday,” Louie said as he stirred a sugar cube into his coffee. “More than enough time for what needs to be done about Jake. And a lot more notice than what they would give you.”

I sighed. “Layoffs. Tim wanted me to try to keep the project going for few more months.”

As he sat back down, Louie said, “They’re bleeding too much cash for that.”

I remembered how frantic Patel and Ed had been about selling to Louie. “Tomorrow’s sales meeting—”

“Won’t make a bloody difference in saving Granite Hills,” Louie said. “Even if I buy everything they offer, it won’t be enough to stop the layoffs and the death spiral. Your company was dead the moment that blithering idiot Dysart walked in the door as CEO.”

I stopped drinking my coffee to stare unseeing at the bookshelves. I felt rather blue about Granite Hills going under. Everyone had worked so hard on the software code for CorporateSystems and EmbezzleWatch, and it was all in danger of being swept away in a tidal wave of budgetary red ink.

Depressing.

Louie said, “Are you having qualms about my trick to get into Granite Hills?”

“A little. But right now I’m thinking about EmbezzleWatch. We put so much work into building that product, and now it’ll never reach actual customers. They’ll just put our prototype to sleep.” I tried to distract myself from that miserable thought by focusing on taking another sip of coffee.

Instead of blathering a stupid platitude, Louie said, “I’ve got to get some records for the meeting. I’ll return in ten minutes.” He gave me a nod, and stepped back into his office, closing the library door behind him.

I covered my eyes with my hands. My depression about all that wasted work on EmbezzleWatch was soon joined by my embarrassment about how I’d poured out my troubles about my work and relatives to Louie in past talks in the emporium.

By the time Louie came back with a thick folder of notes and a yellow legal notepad, I had my feelings under control and was making my third cup of coffee.

Louie tossed the folder and pad down onto the table before his chair. He said, “I’ve already gone through the reports about the events of Friday night and Saturday morning, and have talked at length with Mr. O’Keefe and Rabbi Eli about what has been going on.” He settled into his chair with pens and the legal pad ready before him.

From a pocket he took out a voice recorder, to set by me.

He said, “I want you to tell me about everything you have seen, heard, or done since you found that manila envelope in your flat. Leave nothing out. Especially anything involving magical patterns you’ve seen.”

I looked at his folder, paper, and pens with disapproval. Way too low tech and inefficient for retrieving data. The recorder was a step up, but not by much.

Dryly, Louie said, “It’s low tech for good reason. Begin.” He pressed the RECORD button.

I began my recital of everything that had happened since Thursday evening, and took tiny sips of coffee to keep my mouth from getting dry. Once I got to Peter on the way to The Silver Diner, I recalled how he’d looked with so much loathing at Eli. “Why does Peter hate Rabbi Eli so much?”

Louie kept writing. “Because Rabbi Eli is a ceaseless reminder to Peter of what a despicable lowlife he’s become as a Magus.” His pen never stopped while he spoke.

“Why?”

“Being nosy is a valuable trait in an investigator,” Louie said, still writing, “but restrain yourself. Rabbi Eli’s sorrows are deep and wide and barely healed over. If he wishes, he’ll tell you himself—someday—about Peter. Until then, keep your mouth shut and leave him alone.”

There was no hostility in Louie’s voice, but his tone was clear. I was not to pursue the matter unless Eli chose to let me in on it.

I continued on with the tale of Friday night. I wasn’t sure, for Louie was too good at keeping his expression neutral, but as I described the burgundy glow of Veronica’s phone I noted that his fingers tightened on the pen. And when I got to the part about asking Veronica if I could bring a date, Louie actually looked up from his notes. “That was useful on your part.”

I sat up straighter in my chair and plowed on forward in my tale. When I got to the golden tendrils emerging from Peter’s fingers, I couldn’t resist stopping to ask, “What would have happened if Rabbi Eli hadn’t stopped him? And why can he see Peter’s magic, but not yours?”

Louie put his pen down beside the legal pad. “Is there any possibility that you gave away to Peter what you could see?”

I thought over the encounter. “I don’t think so. Also, by slamming the cup and saucer down like he did, Rabbi Eli gave me an excuse to be staring at Peter’s hands.”

Louie scowled as he hit the STOP button on the recorder. “Peter was using a magical ability given to him by Zaliel for compulsion. On you it wouldn’t have worked, neither on Rabbi Eli, but Peter would have been able to compel your coworkers to be more forthcoming in their comments. The ability can be used to worm out deep emotions and secrets.”

“Like a truth serum?”

“Much worse than that.”

“I was told you were once one of Zaliel’s Magi. Were you forced to become a Magus?”

Bloody hell!” Louie tossed his pen aside. “Can’t Rabbi Eli keep his mouth shut around you for once?”

“He only spoke of it inside Knossos.”

“That is not the point, Trelton.”

I picked up a gold pen within reach and studied the reflections on its surface as I thought about all the snippets of information I’d been told or had learned about Louie. The pen felt cool and smooth on my fingertips as I rolled it between them.

In the meantime, Louie went back to writing notes.

Louie, I decided, was much like an encrypted software program that did fascinating things. I very much wanted to crack the encryption and discover how the mysterious code worked.

Louie McDonough and Knossos Tower were going to be the ultimate hack.

His pen slowed as he became aware that I was watching him. Finally, it stopped altogether and he looked back up at me, raising his eyebrows in mock alarm. “I thought I told you not to stare at anyone’s magical aura.” Suddenly his eyes narrowed. “I know that look. You get it whenever you’re watching me take apart something that intrigues you.”

Swiftly I gazed down at the pen in my fingers to twiddle with it. “I’m waiting for you to explain about Rabbi Eli being able to see what Peter was doing.” When I thought I’d gotten a bored expression on my face, I looked back up at him.

“Bollocks!” He pointed his pen at me. “You’re bright, you’re nosy, you adore disassembling things, and I can see I’m going to have a devil of a time keeping you out of my business and out of areas within Knossos that are forbidden. You will stay out of forbidden places, or I’ll fire your arse so fast you’ll find yourself hitting the curb before the words are even out of my mouth.”

I said as meekly as I could fake, “Yes, sir.”

He continued to point his pen at me. “It won’t work, Trelton, I’m on to you.” He lowered the pen and placed it on the legal pad. “As for your question, Rabbi Eli has been messed with so many times by the Magi and Zaliel that he’s become sensitive to their magic. He can see it and Zaliel itself. He can’t see most of my magic because I haven’t hurt or overwhelmed him with it … and speaking of magical attacks, due to his past poisoning the Rabbi can easily see nightmare dust and the antidote.” Louie checked his watch. “Time is getting short. Back to what went on yesterday.” He hit the RECORD button.

Misdirection. He hadn’t answered my question about being a Magus. Maybe I could get some answers from Eli and O’Keefe.

I sighed, then went on about Friday’s events (I skipped the part about getting tipsy), then Saturday morning’s encounter with Dereck.

At the end of my tale, Louie said, “I don’t like it. I find it hard to believe that it is coincidence that this Dereck fellow decided now to attack you.” He tapped his fingers on the table, thinking.

A knock on the service corridor door to Louie’s office put an end to his musings. He got up to go into his office to open the door, and I debated getting a fourth cup of coffee, and decided against it.

Rabbi Eli entered the library, and he was dressed again as Rabbi Rzondzinski, his hair color back to being black. And his beard and hair were, amazingly, back to their original length. By some miracle they had gotten his skin back to its scholarly paleness.

At the sight of me in a suit, Eli smiled and said, “Mazel tov, Dorelai. Either you signed on with AOX, or got a big promotion.”

“The first,” I said. “Thanks.”

Dr. Xu came into the library with a fat folder of printouts tucked under his arm. “Brah, I heard you looked totally sweet in that Hawaiian shirt of mine. You gotta let me see next time before you head out. O’Keefe said he wants to put you in more of them if he can.”

I choked back a laugh.

Do not wish that on me, Tom,” Eli said.

Both Eli and Xu poured themselves coffee before settling down at the table. Eli sat on my left, Xu where O’Keefe had sat last night.

Today Eli smelled like clay and wool. His hands glowed brighter than ever with their aura, and there was red clay under his fingernails.

Up close, looking at his profile, I realized that the beard was fake and the hair was a wig.

Louie strode back into the library and took his seat, interlacing his fingers as he stared at each of us in turn. “We are here to discuss the usage of nightmare dust by Mr. Jake Drummond on Ms. Dorelai Trelton and her coworkers, Mr. Tim Lowrey and Ms. Monica Fagan, at Granite Hills. Dr. Xu?”

Xu cleared his throat as he tugged a thick printout from the folder and flipped it open, making the pages rustle. “From the dust analyses I’ve done, as best as I can discern, Ms. Trelton was successfully dosed with nightmare dust four separate times—”

Four!” Eli shouted.

“—four separate times in the past two months,” Xu said. “That does not, of course, include the attempted dosage of Ms. Trelton on Friday morning.

I was shocked. Jake had been one hell of a busy weasel.

Louie said, seemingly casual, “Trelton is very fortunate in having had an anomalous reaction to nightmare dust.”

“Was the spilled dust from Dorelai’s coffee recovered from the Granite Hills garbage?” Eli said.

No,” Louie said. “Jake must have seen to it that the trash bag with the specks was smuggled out to be destroyed, for it was nowhere to be found Friday when the hair samples were collected from Granite Hills.”

“What hair samples?” I said.

“Tim and Monica’s,” Louie said. “Their symptoms pointed to them being poisoned, but we wanted confirmation of it. Nightmare dust must be primed with hair from the victims before it can be used on them. Dr. Xu needed hair samples to run the tests.”

Xu jabbed at something on his printout with his finger. “The earliest two dust doses from Trelton’s bloodstream have traces of her DNA and Tim Lowrey’s bound to it. It is very likely Jake preferred to dose them at the same time once he decided to target her as well as Tim. The third dose was bound with Trelton’s and Monica Fagan’s DNA. But the fourth dose was bound to Trelton’s DNA alone for priming.” He tapped a finger against the printout. “The first three doses of dust Trelton ingested all came from the same batch. Medium-grade quality. The fourth was a different batch. Much higher grade. I would love to know what kind of nightmare dust had been in Trelton’s coffee Friday morning.”

“Wouldn’t we all,” Louie said sarcastically. “Though I doubt Trelton would have appreciated carrying it in her bloodstream to us. Go ahead and tell them the amount of the doses, Dr. Xu.”

“He gave Trelton a typical dose the first time—enough to give nightmares and loss of appetite. The second time, he gave her twice the typical amount—more than enough to result in hospitalization from the hallucinations. For the third dose, he went with triple the typical amount—enough to risk permanently crippling the mind from the side effects.

“But for the fourth dose from that manila envelope,” Xu said and leaned toward me, jabbing at the printout for emphasis to his words, “you had ten times the typical amount in your bloodstream. Ten times! No one, who has any consideration for human life, should have done that. It’s unspeakable.” He stood up, and placed the printouts before Louie. “It’s all here, dude. I’ve got a patient I have to get back to.” He nodded to Eli and me, tucked the folder back under his arm, and left.

Louie waited until he heard the door from his office to the service corridor shut. “Jake Drummond didn’t come up with the idea to slip an envelope under Trelton’s door.” He pulled out a penny, and began to move it across his fingers and palms, making it seem to appear and disappear by magic, as he frowned in thought.

“Friday morning,” Louie said, “from what Trelton described seeing in her coffee, Jake put in a dose quadruple the typical dose—fits in with his idiotic pattern for the earlier doses. One, two, three, four. And it makes absolutely no sense for the git to dose her again so soon after giving her the manila envelope Thursday night. Absolutely none. Nor is he the sort to bother with forging a rental management office letter to put Trelton off her guard. Too much work. Much easier to just dump extra doses in all her coffees on the same day.”

The penny seemed to disappear into the air, to reappear in Louie’s other hand.

Louie said, “So, who shoved that bloody envelope—filled with enough high quality nightmare dust to kill—under the door of Trelton’s flat? Whoever did so then ignored ample opportunities to break into Trelton’s flat to take away the envelope and letter after her poisoning.” He snatched the penny from the air and put it back in his pocket. “And who provided Jake with his nightmare dust and the antidote? Rabbi Eli, tell Trelton what you learned.”

“I was able to find out, Dorelai, that a man that matched Jake Drummond’s description was on the streets of Mather on Tuesday night trying to buy nightmare dust. No one in their right mind goes about openly searching for dust. Too dangerous with all the Magi that lurk in Mather. His search reached the ears of the Magi, and now they are observing Jake and those closest to him. They watch, but take no action. Yet.”

I thought of Peter following me onto the bus Friday morning. The Magi worked fast.

“I was unable to find out,” Eli said, “if Jake succeeded in finding a new supplier. I doubt it. His lack of caution would have alerted dealers to have nothing to do with him. The first supplier must have given him more.”

“It would come as no surprise to me,” Louie said, “if it were to be discovered that Jake was given a nightmare dust batch that was supposed to be used with discretion, and instead the prat used it all up trying to make Trelton sick enough to quit. I would also wager Jake was searching for a second supplier on Tuesday night, so that he would not have to confess to the first that he had run out.”

There was a sour taste in my mouth. I didn’t appreciate how hard Jake had tried to get rid of me. “That scenario sounds just like Jake,” I said.

“Quite,” Louie said. “Rabbi Eli, I have a dangerous task for you.”

************** End of Chapter 9 *****************

Chapter 10 will go up next Tuesday. (Note: If you are reading this post after June 11, 2013, click here to go to Cubicle‘s main page on this website so you can find Chapter 10.)

This e-book is available at iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Diesel, Sony, and other e-bookstores. Since the internet changes over time, these links may change, so click here to go to Cubicle’s main page where the links will be kept current.

Looking forward to posting something new after Chapter 10. Cheers, L.M.

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