The kick-ass return of Kat and Mouse
in
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The Devil You Know

A 6-Chapter Foray in Future-Noir!

by Abner Senires
About the author

What Has Gone Before: Someone snatched Mouse, mistakenly thinking she was the rich tycoon's daughter, Natalia, who was her exact double. Kat is out for blood. From a contact, she learns who it was hired her to "babysit" Natalia -- Deborah Kelly, an employee of AstraNova, the Dad's company. Kat decides to pay Ms. Kelly a visit...

******

Episode 3:
Daddy's Money



AS NATALIA AND I WALKED INTO the conference room at the AstraNova building, the corp rose from her seat at the far end of the long table.  All business in a dark blazer and matching skirt, her auburn hair pulled back into a tight bun.

I stopped just inside the door.  Natalia followed, keeping the cap low over her face.

I said, "We're here to see Deborah Kelly."

"I'm Deborah Kelly," the woman said.  "Senior Vice President.  Chief Operating Officer."  She gave me an appraising look, then said, "Your... associate contacted me.  I agreed to meet, but something tells me this is out of the ordinary."

"Not normal S.O.P.," I said.  "But under the circumstances..."

"Circumstances?"

"Miss Renaldi is missing," I told her.

Out of the corner of my eye, Natalia shot me a furtive look from beneath the ballcap.  I kept my eyes on Kelly.

I went on.  "She was abducted about an hour ago by an unknown number of persons."

"I see." Kelly took a seat at the table then settled her gaze on me.  "And this is what we paid you for?  To lose your client?"

"It happens," I said.

"How nice.  I'm sure Mr. Renaldi will be happy to hear that."

"We will get her back, Miss Kelly.  Count on it."

"Don't tell me.  Tell Mr. Renaldi.  Although I don't think he'll appreciate your incompetence in this matter."  She shook her head.  "He should've hired Excalibur, the old fool--"

Natalia inhaled sharply and started forward.  I stepped between her and Kelly.

"We do just fine, thanks," I said.  "But my partner is kinda touchy about that.  I wouldn't get her angry if I were you."

Kelly's eyes narrowed.  "Is that a threat?"

I shrugged.  "A warning."

"Our security teams are very quick."

"You don't want that.  Could get messy."

Kelly studied me for a long moment.  Then she said,  "How do I know you're not making this up?"

"Would I be here if I was?"

"It could be a trick.  Some kind of ploy to get more money out of Mr. Renaldi--"

"I never said anything about money."

She gave a start, then recovered.  Too late.  I caught it.

She said, "Then your fee hasn't changed?"

I looked at her.  Her face had become expressionless again, but something flashed behind her eyes.  Something predatory.

I smiled.  "Tell Mr. Renaldi he'll probably get a call from the abductors demanding a ransom of some sort.  Have him contact me through my associate.  We'll help out as much as we can."

"You'll do more than that," a voice behind us rumbled.

I'd heard him padding down the hallway ten seconds before he spoke.  Necessary skill in my line of work.  Still, I turned around with the others.

Phillipe Renaldi stood in the doorway, suit jacket slung over one shoulder, tie loosened, sleeves rolled up.  He looked as he did in the 'zines: tall and darkly handsome, like the leading men in one of Mouse's late-night vids.  The Aussie who played an ancient warrior, for instance.

But a scowl etched itself on his features.  I'd seen that look before, on the faces of people I tend to encounter.

Out for blood.

Renaldi looked at me.  "You are going to get my daughter back."

***

Renaldi followed me and Natalia back to the underground parking garage.  He told us he had gotten the call from the abductors during his meeting, half an hour before he arrived in the conference room at the AstraNova building.

"By 18:00 tonight," he was saying.

I switched my optics to the clock.  Two and a half hours.  "Where?" I asked.

"They'd tell me.  Half hour before."

Typical.  "How much?"

"Ten million."

I whistled.  "Lot of money."

He grunted.  "Chump change.  We're talking about my daughter."

"I understand."

"I believe you do."  We reached the loaner.  Natalia got into the passenger seat.  I pulled open my door.  Renaldi put a hand on the doorframe.  "Despite what my colleague in there said, there's no blame.  I knew the risks."

"We'll get her back, Mr. Renaldi."

"I know you will.  When you do, I'll triple your fee."

I started to shake my head.  "Sir--"

He smiled for the first time that evening.  "Chump change.  We're talking about my daughter."

I returned the smile, stared to get in the car, then stopped.  I turned back to Renaldi.  "Mr. Renaldi," I said, "I have a favor to ask."

***

We came up the parking garage ramp onto 6th Street in Renaldi's black BMW sedan.  Behind us, the AstraNova building disappeared among the steel and glass towers of Corporate Plaza.

My cellphone chirped.  Fast Eddie.

"You got something."

"Don't I always?" Eddie said.

"Spill it, choom."

"Better if I show you.  Come to the shop."

"There in fifteen."


***



Back to Episode 2 : Daddy
On to Episode 4 : Daddy's Business




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Babysitting Blues and the characters of Kat and Mouse are copyright by Abner Senires. It may not be copied without permission of the author except for purposes of reviews. (Though you can print it out to read it, natch.)