Invasion of Justice (Shadows of Justice)(8)

By: Regan Black

She remembered studying the prohibition era in the 1920s and realized how little people changed. Technology and laws, maybe, but at the base of it, people stayed the same. She hadn't yet decided if that was a positive trend.

In her pocket, her cell card hummed. Petra pulled it out and recognized her office number.

"Hi, Kelly," she answered.

"Lucky guess," Kelly replied with a smile in her voice. "It was nearly your mother. She seemed to think you were about to go flying off without a ground person."

"So nice to be loved," Petra said.

"Yeah, well, I deserve a raise for keeping her off your back. How're things in the big city?"

"How're things ever, where I am?" she groused.

"Red alert, Pet's whining. What's up?"

"Sorry. Just a bad day. I'll send you a copy of my report to file. You should know Nathan's been arrested for murder."

Kelly gasped, sputtered, and then swore with such vengeance Petra actually laughed. "Thanks. I know the charges are false," she managed at last. "But it feels better to have someone agree with me."

"I'll start hacking around–"

"That's nonsense," Petra cut her off. The last thing she needed was Kelly to get caught snooping where she wasn't welcome. "Why don't you come meet me here?"

"Great! We'll hack around together. I can be on the road as soon as you tell me where you stashed the spare keys to Nate's car."

"I think not." Petra tried not to be amused and failed. Kelly's devotion and enthusiasm meant everything on a day when the foundations of her personal life were crumbling.

She had a sister she'd never known. A sister capable of surviving life and death combat. And she had a brother she'd loved all her life in jail for a crime she knew he didn't commit.

"Pet? You there?"

She refused to cry again. "Yes. I'm here. You can't drive Nate's car."

"Oh, yes I can. I'm getting better all the time."

Petra pictured her sprightly assistant's long, dark hair, obsidian eyes, fine boned features, and impish grin. From the moment they'd met, she reminded Petra of a misplaced, mischievous fairy.

In truth, she didn't want anyone else behind the wheel of the gorgeous vintage Mustang. It was foolish, she knew, but the car was her only physical link to her brother and she didn't want anything muddling up the tenuous bond.

"You're considering aren't you?" Kelly persisted.

"No." Petra lowered her voice. "I've decided you should stay put."

Gideon had just strolled by the bar for the second time.

"There's trouble here, Kelly, and you can be more help from a distance. Do me a favor?"

"Sure, boss."

Petra smiled again. The only time that phrase came out of Kelly's mouth was when she was pouting. "Track down my birth records and my mother's OB history."

"OB as in obstetric?"

"Yes. I've got to go, Mom." Gideon was aiming straight at her. "We'll talk soon. Bye." She hung up on Kelly and turned off the card as Gideon slid into the chair opposite hers.

"Does Mom know you're scoping a night on the town, Petra?"

"That's Ms. Neiman to you."

"Right," he said, stretching out the word. "I'll take your indignant expression for a no. Polite ladies like yourself really shouldn't explore night life around here without an escort."

"Is that a threat?"

"Could be an offer."

"Then I decline without regrets."

"Ouch," he said with a cocky grin, laying his hand over his heart. "Shot down before the hunt begins."

Something in his tone caught her attention. This wasn't a man who instilled trust, but he did rouse her curiosity. His hovering combined with the bogus CRIA order to leave Kelly at home had her on full alert.

She toyed with her cash card as she studied him. Under the closer scrutiny she realized his posture was off. He showed a distinct favor in his left shoulder, though she'd bet he thought he projected an invincible front. He'd irritated her enough during the earlier interrogation she took the opening.

"I could help with that, y'know. Your shoulder," she clarified when he scowled.

"I'm good, thanks."

"Are you doing your exercises?" she pushed.

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