Blood Lines Chapter Thirteen
'Nelson Investigations. No one is available to take your call, but if you leave your name and number as well as a brief outline of your problem?’’
'You're my problem, Nelson,’’ Celluci growled as he dropped the receiver back into the cradle. He glared at the clock on the kitchen wall. Ten twenty-five. Even at this hour of the morning, theoretically well past rush hour, driving from Downsview to the center of town was going to take just about all of that thirty-five minutes. He couldn't afford to wait any longer;Cantree had an understandable objection to his detectives wandering in to work when it suited them.
Of course, there was another number he could call. Fits Roy himself would have long ago crawled back into his coffin for the day, but Vicki might still be at his apartment.
Celluci snorted. ’’No, at his condominium.’’ God, that was such a yuppie word. People who lived in condominiums ate raw fish, drank lite beer, and collected baseball cards for their investment potential. Granted Fitzroy did none of those things, but he still played at the lifestyle. And romance novels? Bad enough for a man to write the asinine things but for a? a? for what Fitzroy was?
No. He wasn't calling Fitzroy's place. It was a big city, Vicki could be anywhere. Very likely she was taking young Tony home and tucking him in. The thought of Vicki in such a maternal role brought a sardonic smile and the thought that followed lifted his eyebrows almost to his hairline.
Tucking Tony in?
No. Celluci shook his head emphatically. Thinking about Fitzroy was driving his mind right into the gutter. He shrugged into his jacket, grabbed his keys up off the kitchen table, and headed for the door. Vicki no doubt had a good reason for not calling. He trusted her. Maybe Tony's fears hadn't been completely unfounded-Fitzroy had been hurt facing the mummy, and she'd taken him wherever one took a hurt? romance writer. He trusted her innate good sense not to have used the information Fitzroy may have brought back and gone out after the mummy herself?
'And if there isn't a message waiting for me at the office, I'm going to take her innate good sense and beat her to death with it.’’
The phone rang.
'Great timing, Vicki, I was just on my way out the door. And where the hell have you been anyway? I told you to call me first thing!’’
'Celluci, shut up for a minute and listen.’’
Celluci blinked. ’’Dave?’’ His partner didn't sound like a happy man. ’’What's wrong. It's not the baby, is it?’’
'No, no, she's fine.’’ On the other end of the line, Dave Graham took a deep breath. ’’Look, Mike, you're going to have to lay low for a while. Cantree wants you picked up and brought in.’’
'He's got a warrant for your arrest.’’
'On what charge?’’
'There doesn't appear to be one. It's a special?’’
'It's a f*king setup.’’ Celluci grinned, suddenly relieved. ’’You didn't actually believe it, did you?’’
'Yeah. I believed it. And you'd better, too.’’ Something in Dave's voice wiped the grin off his face. ’’I don't know what's going on around here today, but they've shuffled a couple of departments around, no warning, and that warrant'll stand. I've never seen Cantree so serious about anything.’’
'Shit.’’ It was more of an observation than an expletive.
'You can say that again, buddy-boy. I'm not sure I should ask, but just what have you done?’’
'I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I found out something I shouldn't have.’’ Celluci considered what Vicki had told him about the Solicitor General's Halloween party. Cantree. God damn it! The son of a bitch has subverted one of the few honest cops in the city. He had to assume that Fitzroy had been an accurate witness, but the thought of Cantree, of all people, blindly dancing to another man's tune made him feel physically ill. And he's dancing right over me. The next time I think there's a mummy on the rampage in Toronto, I'll keep my f*king mouth shut. ’’Are you calling from headquarters?’’
'Do I look like an idiot?’’ Dave's voice was dry. ’’I'm at the Taco Bell around on Yonge Street.’’
'Good. Look, Dave, this is bigger than just me. Watch your back and, for the next little while, keep a very, very low profile.’’
'Hey, you don't need to tell me. There's something majorly weird going down around here and I've never been keen on being strip searched. How do I stay in touch?’’
'Uh? good question.’’ He could access messages off his machine by remote and as long as the messages were short enough there wouldn't be time to trace the line back;but they'd be monitoring and that would put Dave right in the toilet with him. Odds were good they'd also be monitoring Vicki's line. Cantree was well aware how close the two of them had been and how close they'd stayed. Best to keep away from Vicki's place completely and that included keeping Dave away from Vicki's answering machine.
'You could call me.’’
'No. Even if they don't suspect you warned me, they'll be monitoring your lines. You're the logical person for me to call. Damn it all to hell anyway!’’ He slapped his palm against the table and stared at the scrap of pink memo paper that fluttered down to the floor. Fitzroy? Why not. ’’I've got a number you can leave a message at. I can't guarantee I'll get it until after dark, but it should be safe. Memorize it, don't write it down, and use?’’
'A public phone line. Mike, I know the drill.’’ Dave repeated the number three times to be sure he had it, then warned, ’’You better get out of there. Cantree might not have wanted to wait until you came in. He may have sent a car up.’’
'I'm gone. And Dave? Thanks.’’ Partners who could be depended on when the chips were down-or sideways-had saved the lives of more cops than a thousand fancy pieces of equipment. ’’I owe you one.’’
'One? You still owe me for a half a dozen meals, not to mention getting that asswipe from accounting off your back. Anyway, be careful.’’ He hung up before Celluci could reply.
Be careful. Right.
Accompanied by a fine libretto of Italian swearing, Celluci threw a few clothes, some papers, and a box of ammunition in a cheap Blue Jays'gym bag. He had no time to change out of his suit, but the moment he could he'd ditch it for the uniform of the city-jeans and a black leather jacket worked better around Toronto than a cloak of invisibility. Not counting a pocket load of change, he had twenty-seven bucks in his wallet and another hundred in emergency money taped under the seat of the car. He'd take the money;he'd have to leave the car.
On his way out the door, he stopped and glanced back at the phone. Should he leave a message on Fitzroy's machine for Vicki? A second thought decided him against it. Cantree was likely to have a check run on all the numbers he'd called in the last couple of days and if Fitzroy's number showed up on the list?
'Good thing I didn't call it earlier.’’ It appeared his ego was looking out for him.
He slipped the chain on, pulled the door closed, and heard the deadbolt click. His security system had been designed by one of the best break and enter boys in the city. Cantree would probably have the door smashed-the police were often less subtle than those they arrested-but it ought to slow the bastards down.
Very faintly, through the steel-reinforced oak, he heard the phone ring. It might be Vicki. He couldn't afford the time it would take to go back and answer it. If it was Vicki? well, Vicki had always been able to take care of herself and besides, she was safe enough for now;Cantree wanted him, not her.
The holding cell smelled of vomit and urine and cheap booze sweated out through polyester layered over years of too many desperate people and far too little money. A half dozen tired looking whores, waiting for their morning trip to court, huddled in one corner and watched Vicki forced down on the bench.
'What's she in for?’’ asked a tall brunette, adjusting what was either a very wide belt or a very short skirt.
'None of your damned business,’’ grunted Mallard struggling with the cuffs, his shoulder pressing Vicki hard against the wall.
The hooker rolled her eyes. The other nodded.
'What was that?’’ Gowan asked. His position outside the cage had allowed him to see the expression Mallard had missed. ’’You got a problem with the officer's answer?’’
'No.’’ Her voice dropped just to one side of servile. ’’No problem.’’
Gowan smiled. ’’Glad to hear it, ladies.’’
Her expression supplicating, she gave him the finger, the gesture carefully hidden behind one of her companions. Working girls learned fast that cops came in two basic varieties. Almost all of them were just regular guys doing a job, but a nasty few would like nothing more than an excuse to pull out their sticks and apply a personal judgment. If fate threw them the latter, maintaining the merchandise dictated ass-kissing as hard and as fast as necessary.
Swearing softly, Mallard yanked the cuffs around on Vicki's wrists to give him a better angle with the key. ’’Goddamned things are stuck a? there.’’ They dropped into his hands and he straightened. Without his support, Vicki sagged away from the wall and toppled sideways off the bench.
Although voluntary motor functions seemed to be under someone else's control and all the crevices of her brain had been filled with mashed potatoes, she was completely aware of everything that was going on. This was the Metro East Detention Center on Disco Road. Mallard and Gowan had tossed her bag at the Duty Sergeant and dragged her past saying, ’’Wait until you hear the story on this one?’’ They were now, obviously, going to leave her in the holding cell. Locked up. They said they had a warrant.
What the hell is happening?
She managed to focus on Mallard's face. The son of a bitch was smiling.
'Such a pity when a cop goes bad,’’ he said clearly.
Cop? God damn it, don't say I'm a cop. Not here!
He reached down and pinched her cheek, hard enough for her to feel it through the drug, and gently resettled her glasses on her nose. ’’Wouldn't want you to miss any of this.’’
Don't leave me here! You can't just leave me here, you bastard! The thought slammed around inside her head but all that made it out was a kind of stuttering moan.
'I'll always remember you like this.’’ His smile broadened, then he turned and moved back out of her line of sight.
She couldn't turn her head fast enough to watch him go.
Heels rang against the concrete floor and Vicki struggled to focus on the young woman now standing over her.
The toes of her boots were dangerously pointed. Fortunately, she didn't know where use them to their best advantage. Nothing broke.
Vicki made an effort to remember the face behind the garish makeup before pain squeezed her eyes shut.
'Leave her alone, Marian. She's too stoned to feel it anyway.’’
She could feel snot running over her upper lip. She could feel something damp soaking through her jeans where her hip pressed against the floor. She'd never felt so desperately helpless in her entire life.
Eyes glowed red and Akhekh fed.
'How long do you figure the drug will last?’’
Gowan shrugged. ’’I dunno, a few hours. It's the same stuff the animal control people use to bring down bears. Doesn't really matter how long it lasts. After the story we spun, they're not going to believe a word she says.’’
'But what if she gets a lawyer?’’
'Not where she's going.’’
'Chill out, Mallard.’’ Gowan pulled carefully out of the parking spot and waved at the driver of a wagon just coming in. ’’Cantree said he needed a couple of days to get the evidence to nail the bitch and we've given it to him. It's his problem now.’’
Staff Sergeant Gowan nodded. ’’And hers,’’ he repeated in pleased agreement.
* * *
The whores had been taken away. Vicki didn't know when. Time moved so slowly she might have been in the holding cell for days.
Inch by inch, she crawled one arm up the wall far enough for her hand to grab the edge of the bench. It took four tries for her grip to finally hold and another three before she could remember how to bend her elbow. Finally she was sitting, still on the floor but a definite improvement.
The massive physical effort needed to get this far had held panic at bay but now she could see-thank God, they hadn't taken her glasses-it rolled over her in turgid red waves that crashed against the backs of her eyes, receded and crashed down again. The only coherent word in the surging tide was NO! so she clutched at it and used it to keep from being pulled under.
NO! I will not surrender!
A sharp slap on her right cheek gave her a new focus and she managed to drag herself partially free.
'Hey? I said, can you walk?’’
Vicki blinked. A guard. The panic receded further and relief flooded in to take its place. They'd realized what had happened and come to get her. She tried to smile and nod at the same time, couldn't do both so achieved neither, and threw everything she had into a struggle to get to her feet.
'Atta girl, upsa daisy. Christ,’’ the guard grunted as she ended up lifting most of Vicki's weight. ’’Why are the stoners always so f*king big?’’
The second guard, standing at the door of the cage, shrugged. ’’At least this one doesn't stink. I'll take a head over a drunk any day. Drugs don't make you puke on your shoes.’’
'Or my shoes,’’ the first guard agreed. ’’Okay, you're up. Now then, left foot, right foot. None of us will enjoy it if we have to carry you.’’
It was more of a threat than an encouragement, but Vicki didn't notice. She could walk. It was shuffling, unsure, and slow, but it was forward locomotion and while both guards seemed merely satisfied, Vicki was overjoyed. She could walk. The drug must be wearing off.
Her relief grew when they took her straight to the Duty Sergeant and pushed her down onto a wooden chair.
I'm on my way out of here?
'So,’’ he said when the door closed and they were alone, ’’the two officers who brought you in suggested I book you myself.’’
He patted the warrant with his fingertips. ’’They've left me a number to call for the official explanation. I can't wait. Cops who take advantage of their position to molest little kids don't go down very well with my people, or the inmates either for that matter. The officers seemed to think it would be better if no one else knew what you'd done.’’
I haven't done anything!
'Now they had no idea what drug you'd taken and I can't wait for it to wear off-if it's going to wear off-so we'll just enter your information off the warrant.’’
Okay. Don't panic. My name goes into the system, someone'll recognize it.
'? age, thirty-two? five-foot ten? one hundred and forty-seven pounds?’’ He clicked his tongue. ’’Shaved a few pounds off there, did we?’’
It's me, but it's not my name. Detectives were issued fake ID all the time and her specs were probably still on file. What the hell is going on ?
The sound of his fingers against the keyboard began to sound like nails pounding into a cage being built around her. She couldn't just sit there and let it happen.
’’I am not who they say I am!’’
Except her mouth refused to form the words. Nothing came out except guttural noises and a trickle of saliva that ran off her chin to drip slowly into the hollow of her collarbone.
'Now then,’’ he set the keyboard to one side and reached for the phone, ’’let's see what headquarters has to say.’’
'The Solicitor General's office. One moment please, he's expecting your call.’’
The phone on Zottie's desk buzzed but the Solicitor General just stared at it, a puzzled smile on his face.
'Pick it up,’’ Tawfik commanded softly. The man would not last much longer. Fortunately, he wouldn't have to.
'Zottie here. Ah, yes, Sergeant Baldwin. Well, actually, it's not me you should be talking to. Hold on?’’ He passed the receiver to Tawfik, then lapsed back into semi-awareness as Tawfik began to speak.
The Solicitor General? Oh, God, then that means?
After his initial enthusiastic greeting, the Duty Sergeant said little. Finally, even the monosyllables faded into a blank stare.
This time the panic came with words.
The mummy put me here. Not Mallard and Gowan. The mummy. Christ. I should have remembered Cantree is under its control. But why? How? It doesn't know about me. Henry. Henry talked to it. Did Henry betray me? Without meaning to? Meaning to? Henry? Or Mike. It found out about Celluci. He was there. At the museum. It got Celluci. Took what it needed to know. I'm just another loose end. Mike? Are you dead? Are you dead? Are you dead?
She couldn't breathe. It hurt to breathe. She couldn't remember how to breathe.
The? mummy? has? to? be? stopped. And if Mike Celluci was dead? His death must be avenged. A? venged. She breathed in the first syllable and breathed out the second. A? venged. A? venged. Avenged.
'It will be done.’’
Eyes wide, unable to look away, Vicki watched him hang up the phone, pick up the warrant, her warrant, and walk over to the shredder.
She'd been entered into the system and as far as the system was concerned she now belonged here until they pulled her for a court appearance. Court appearances were booked by warrant. Without a warrant, she would rot here forever.
I could jump the sergeant. Hold him hostage. Call the newspapers! Call? call someone. I can't just disappear! But her body still refused to obey. She felt muscles tense, and then go slack, and then she began to tremble, unable to stop it or control it.
Sergeant Baldwin looked down at the shredder, frowned, and brushed one hand over the gray fringe of his hair. ’’kon***son!’’
'Sarge?’’ The guard who had lifted Vicki to her feet back in the holding cell, opened the door and stuck her head into the office.
'I want you to search Ms. Hanover and then take her down to Special Needs.’’
'To the nut bars?’’ kon***son's brows rose. ’’You sure she shouldn't go to the hospital? She doesn't look so good.’’
The Sergeant snorted. ’’Neither did the kid when she got through seeing to him.’’
Vicki heard the guard's voice pick up an edge;skinbeefs against children were universally despised. Strong fingers closed around her upper arm and heaved her up and out of the chair. Shoved toward the door, she struggled to remember how to walk.
'Oh, and kon***son? I want it to be a thorough search.’’
'Aw, come on, Sarge!’’ The guard's grip loosened a little as she turned to protest the order. ’’I had to do the last one.’’
'And you get to do this one, too. Here.’’
Vicki heard kon***son grunt as she caught something heavy and managed to get her head turned enough to see that it was her black leather shoulder bag.
The guard looked down at the huge, bulging bag in disbelief. ’’What am I supposed to do with this?’’
'It came with her. When you've got her put away, you can enter the contents in her file.’’
'It'll take days.’’
'All the more reason to get started.’’
'Why me?’’ kon***son muttered, throwing the bag over her shoulder and dragging Vicki out of the office.
The grip on her arm had not been retightened. While going through the crowded doorway, Vicki attempted to twist free, reaching for her bag. If she could get her hands on it, it would make a decent weapon. She shouldn't be here. Anything to attract attention?
'Don't do that,’’ kon***son sighed, effortlessly bouncing her off the wall and then propelling her forward. ’’I'm not having a very good day.’’
The strip search was worse than Vicki could have imagined although, as she'd regained some gross motor control on the walk down the hall, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Trapped inside her own head, there wasn't anything she could do but endure. She didn't blame kon***son, the guard was just doing her job, but when she got out of there Gowan and Mallard were going to be having their balls for breakfast. The image helped sustain her.
kon***son peeled off the rubber glove and tossed it into the trash. ’’These things only come in two sizes,’’ she said, replacing the clothing Vicki had removed with jail issue. ’’Too big and too small. Can you dress yourself, Hanover?’’
'Yuh?’’ My God, that was almost a word! She tried it again, humiliation wiped out in that one small victory over her body. ’’Yuh, yuh, yuh.’’
'Okay, okay, I get the picture. Jesus, you're drooling again.’’
With every article of clothing a small measure of control returned. Her movements were still jerky and unsure, but somehow she struggled into the jail blues, oblivious to the bored stare of the guard, oblivious to anything but the battle she fought with her body. Hands worked. Fingers didn't. Her sense of balance was still skewed and large movements nearly tipped her over but she leaned against the wall and got into the underwear, the jeans, and the shoes. The T-shirt nearly defeated her. She couldn't find the opening for her head and began to panic. Outside hands yanked it down, nearly taking her nose with it.
'Come on, Hanover. I haven't got all day.’’
The cotton overshirt with its wide v-neck was a little easier.
The drug's wearing off. Thank God. As soon as I can talk, someone's going to get one hell of an earful. As carefully as if she were threading a needle, Vicki reached for her glasses. kon***son reached them first.
'Forget that. You'll just have to squint.’’
It had never occurred to her that they wouldn't let her keep her glasses. Of course they wouldn't. Not in Special Needs. Glasses could be used as weapons.
But I can't see without my glasses.
All the composure she'd managed to gain with the control over her muscles fled.
I'll be blind.
It was what she'd been terrified of since the retinitis pigmentosa had been diagnosed.
'Nuh!’’ Using her arm like a club, she knocked the other woman's hand away and attempted to snatch her glasses up off the pile of discarded clothing. But her fingers wouldn't close fast enough and a sharp shove from the guard sent her lurching back against the wall.
'Here, none of that! You show fight and you wear the restraints. Understand?’’
You don't understand. My glasses?
Something of Vicki's fear must have shown on her face. kon***son frowned and said brusquely, ’’Look, Hanover, you convince the shrink you don't belong in Special Needs and we'll give you your glasses back.’’
Hope. The psychiatrist would listen to her. Probably even recognize the drug.
'Now come on, I haven't got all day. Christ, it'll probably take me the rest of the shift just to list what you've got in that bag.’’
The world had condensed into a fuzzy tunnel. Vicki shuffled along it, heart leaping as doors and furniture and people loomed up without warning. She cracked her knee on the edge of something and slammed her shoulder into a corner she couldn't see.
kon***son sighed as she steered her charge through the first of the locked doors and onto the range. ’’Maybe you'd do better if you just closed your eyes.’’
The noise was overwhelming;the clatter of a busy cafeteria with the volume control gone and so many women's voices that all individual sound was lost. The smell of food overpowered the smell of prison. Vicki suddenly realized that she hadn't eaten since about nine o'clock the evening before. Her mouth flooded with saliva and her stomach growled audibly.
'Great timing, kon***son,’’ called a new voice. ’’We're just counting the spoons. You'll have to keep her out here until we finish and lock 'em in for cleanup.’’
'Oh, joy, oh, bliss,’’ kon***son muttered. Vicki tensed as the guard pushed her back until her shoulder blades pressed against the concrete wall. ’’Stay there. Don't move. You've missed lunch, but considering the food in here, that might be a good thing.’’
Vicki could feel people staring. The bars were a hazy grid at the edge of her vision and beyond that she could make out only a shifting sea of blue.
The hair on the back of her neck rose. You're only in there until you talk to the shrink. You don't need to see anything.
To her right, she could hear the clatter of spoons against a plastic tray and then the new guard's voice rising above the noise. ’’So, what've you got?’’
'Skinbeef. Brain-fried, too.’’
'Can she piss in the pot?’’
'Well, thank God for small mercies. I've already got four that have to be hosed down. Where the f*k am I supposed to put her though, that's the question. I'm three down in fifteen out of eighteen cells now.’’
'Put her in with Lambert and Wills.’’
During the long pause that followed, Vicki realized the two guards were talking about her. As though she wasn't there. As though she didn't matter. Because she didn't.
'Skinbeef, eh?’’ The second pause had a more ominous sound. ’’How old was the kid?’’
'Well, I think Lambert and Wills will make her feel real welcome.’’ She raised her voice. ’’All right, you lot, get inside, you know the drill. Oh, for Christ's sake, Naylor, take Chin with you. You know she gets lost?’’
Gradually the sea of blue receded, turned into separate shapes, then disappeared. Vicki heard the sound of steel doors closing.
'Shu? shu? shu??’’
'What the hell are you muttering about?’’ kon***son's face swam into focus as she grabbed Vicki's arm above the elbow and tugged her toward the set of double doors that led into the cell block.
'Oh, the shrink. Hey, Cowan, the shrink been in yet today?’’
'Yeah. Came and left before lunch.’’
'You heard her. Looks like you're in here until Wednesday at least.’’
Wednesday. Monday's half over. Then Tuesday. Then Wednesday. But the shrink came in the morning. So really only two days. Half of Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday. I can do two days. I can make it. Even without my glasses.
They stopped in front of one of the cells and Vicki was willing to take any odds that the two women inside were watching her suspiciously from their bunks. The cells were built for two, a third meant the beginning of crowding that often went as high as five. She intended to move quietly into the cell, but her legs froze at the threshold and the panic started to rise again.
'Come on, Hanover, move it!’’
A shove in the small of her back catapulted her forward and after three wild steps she crashed to her knees.
It's okay. It's only two days. Once the drug is gone, I'll be fine. These people are crazy. I'm not. Slowly, carefully, she got to her feet. Behind her, she heard the cell door locked and kon***son moving away. Even if the mummy got to Henry, or Celluci-and dealing with that possibility would have to wait-it can't have gotten to the psychiatrist. Two days. I'll be out of here in two days.
The bunk to her right squealed a protest as the woman reclining on it swung to her feet. Hands held out from her sides, Vicki turned to face her cell mate. Remember, she's crazy. Probably confused. Lost. You're not. Two days.
Cropped gray hair and a tiny, whippet-thin frame. Large dark eyes in a face that seemed all points. Something familiar? but Vicki couldn't see well enough to determine what.
'Well, well, well. Will wonders never cease.’’ The voice sound low and clear and frighteningly sane. ’’Isn't it amazing the people you meet in these places, Natalie?’’
The grunt from the other bunk could've meant anything.
Vicki felt a dry palm and fingers wrap around her right hand. Her knuckles began to rub painfully. She tried to return the pressure without much effect.
'It's so nice to see you again, Detective Nelson?’’
Lambert. Angel Lambert. What the hell is she doing in Special Needs?
'? you can't imagine.’’
Oh, yes, I can?
'Nelson Investigations. No one is available to take your call, but?’’
'Damn it, Vicki, where the f*k are you?’’ Celluci slammed down the receiver and slammed out of the phone booth. Vicki never used her answering machine when she was home. So she wasn't home. So where was she? He'd left a message on Fitzroy's machine and called Vicki's apartment half a dozen times from half a dozen different areas in the city.
She was probably out working;tracking the mummy, gathering information;maybe even doing her laundry or the grocery shopping. He had no reason to believe she might be in danger.
Cantree's looking for me. Dave would've mentioned it if she'd been pulled into this as well. Trouble was, Cantree, not to mention a good part of the force, knew about their relationship. And if Fitzroy had found something out about the mummy that Vicki thought she could use, and then she had, Cantree and the Metro Police could be the least of her worries. She was a good cop. One of the best. You don't get to be one of the best without learning not to throw yourself at a superior force.
So that takes care of Cantree and the mummy, Celluci told himself. Vicki's fine. There's no reason to believe she's in any danger just because she didn't call you when she said she was going to. You're the one up shit creek without the paddle.
He lit a cigarette, shoved his hands back into his pockets, and slouched down the street, trying not to inhale-a haze of cigarette smoke made an almost impenetrable camouflage when people thought they were looking for a non-smoker. It had been one of Vicki's tricks for going undercover and he suddenly realized how much he'd been counting on her help. Sure, she rushes right over when Fitzroy needs her, but when my balls are in the fire where is she? ?