Moon In Scorpio

Chapter 10

Twenty minutes, one quick toilet call and a coffee later, he sees her come back out, package under her arm, helmet swinging from her hand. She slips the package into one of the saddlebags, straddles her bike, pulls her helmet on and is soon slipping out into the stream of traffic.

He gets up quickly, pays and leaves the coffee shop, crosses the street and steps into A & G Sports where he buys a UNY baseball cap before walking down past Bagel Bob's and pausing to look at the opening times on the UMS office doors. Pulling the cap's peak well down, he enters and gives the young girl behind the counter a watered down version of the patented Castle smile before asking for a business card. Thanking her he leaves and walks to the corner before hailing a cab.

As he heads home he does some quick calculations. The opening hours on the door had stated 6:30 am till 10:30pm. That means at least two shifts. Assuming she has been there from early in the morning, her present shift should end in about two hour's time, which will give him just enough time to head home and organise some transport.

Back at the loft he prepares himself a quick lunch, leaves a note for Alexis for when she returns from school in case he's still out and then calls Crown Cars, his usual limo service. He hadn't been able to resist using them the first time, over three years ago, when he'd seen the name. He arranges with them to pick him up in forty minutes using their most discreet vehicle, and though he thinks a Cadillac Escalade is not exactly discreet, it is better than one of the limos or sedans they run.

By two o'clock they've been round the block a couple of times before they find a parking space on East 9th, just round the corner from the UMS office. Rick steps out of the SUV leaving Simon, the chauffer, with precise instructions, before crossing the intersection and heading up University Place on the other side to the office. He can see her Harley is once again parked up and pauses, back to the bike, pretending to look into the furniture shop's window. He pulls his phone and discreetly takes a shot of the bike, trying to get the plates, before moving on and taking a table at Amorino's once again.

He's hoping his well-worn jeans, a loose T-shirt and Airstream sweatshirt, along with his old Knicks cap means he won't be recognised from earlier in the day. He orders a coffee and pays for it before checking the picture on the phone. The angle's a bit crap but the bike's number shows up clearly. He may need to have Javi or Kevin trace it, but he's hoping that won't be necessary. At two thirty on the dot, he sees her make her way out of the office, waving back at whoever is inside. He's immediately on the phone to Simon before leaving a tip on the table and heading out onto the street corner. He sees the SUV coming round the corner at the far end of the street even as she's slinging her leg over the bike. He crosses the intersection staying on the opposite side of the street and keeps the SUV between himself and her as she slips her helmet on. Climbing aboard he tells Simon to keep the Harley in sight but not crowd it. His research and time with both the CIA and the NYPD had given him plenty of theory on the art of trailing a vehicle, now it is up to him to put it into practice.

The traffic isn't too heavy, allowing them to keep the bike in sight as she turns right onto East 10th and then again as she heads southwest down Broadway. Here the traffic is heavier and they have a couple of moments especially when the traffic lights go against them. Simon's experienced driving and possibly the Escalade's bulk allow them to nudge their way through the traffic when necessary to keep the bike in sight.

About twelve minutes later they see the bike turn right again into Prince St. The lights hold them up at the intersection and by the time they've followed, she's no longer in sight. They travel down Prince with Simon checking streets to the left and Castle those to the right. As they cross the second intersection Rick thinks he sees something. With a bit of angry honking from behind, Simon manages to back up sufficient to make the turn and drive down the cobbled surface of Greene Street.

Sure enough, they spot the bike parked to one side. Rick checks that it's the right plates, Simon slowing down slightly and then speeding back up again. Rick gets him to pull over towards the end of the street. They adjust mirrors so that both of them can keep an eye on the bike. Rick can feel Simon's curiosity consuming him, but the driver knows better than to ask.

They sit there for over an hour. The bike remains unattended during that time. It's possible she's visiting friends or family, working at a second job or busting a property, but Rick reckons that after a full shift at work her most likely destination would be home. He believes she must live somewhere within walking distance of this spot and after a further half hour he calls it a day, telling Simon to drop him off home and thanking him for his services.

He spends the rest of the afternoon working on the text he'd hammered out the night before, correcting and changing, adding new ideas and making a list of names for the characters in the story, or at least for the principal ones. Alexis arrives from school, pops her head in through the door to let him know of her arrival and then heads upstairs to do her homework. During dinner he checks that his mother will be in for the evening, explaining that he will be out all night researching his new idea. Both mother and daughter regard him with some scepticism but let it go.

At ten o'clock he heads down to the building's garage, throws a small holdall onto the front seat and climbs into his Malibu. Not long after he's parked in Greene Street, about a dozen spaces back and on the opposite side of the street, the bike just visible through the windows of a parked saloon. Lowering the seat back a little he settles down to observe ... this was either going to be an extremely long and boring night, or an interesting one.

It's the sound of a bike kicking into life that wakes him. He feels stiff and cold, and by the time he's realised where he is and why, the Harley is disappearing down the street. Looking at his watch he sees it's a couple of minutes after six, the cold, early morning light only just making its presence felt.

He straightens the seat, pulls out and without undue haste heads for University Place. Driving past the UMS office he confirms that the Harley is indeed parked outside and heads back to his loft, a few hours in a decent bed and a shower right now his only desires.

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