Moon In Scorpio

Chapter 27

Pulling her helmet off, Kate attaches it to the lock and carefully dismounts, her back still reminding her that she needs to take things easy. Walking round the corner she heads towards the shop with Paroisse Antiques on the window.

Pushing open the door it knocks against the little brass bell on its coil which tinkles a second time as she closes it behind her. On the way to the back of the shop she passes an oak refectory table which she can just picture in Castle's loft as she runs her fingers along the polished surface, ignoring the silver candlesticks, sets of trays and other bric-a-brac scattered across it. She suddenly stops, colouring up at what her mind has just thrown at her.

She's still in that position, colour beginning to recede from her face when a voice says "What's up girl, you wet your pants?"

With a startled laugh she looks up to see Lanie Parish standing hands on hips watching her from the office doorway.

Giving her a hug, she warns her just in time about her back and sees the look of concern on her friend's face. She tries to deflect but Lanie Parish on a mission is a bulldog with a bone and she eventually has to give in. One look at her back and Lanie is scooting round to look at her from in front. Holding up her index finger she states flatly "One, that is not a fall from your bike, and two …" holding up another finger "… someone has been treating those wounds! So …" now glaring at her "… give!"

She tries to duck out of it, heading into the office and taking a chair by the overcrowded Victorian mahogany pedestal desk, turning to face her friend and asking "Nothing on the news?"

"What, about the hash up the other night? Girl! Just what are you playing at anyway ... I mean twice?"

Kate pulls out the two tubes from the backpack and places them on the pile of paperwork in the centre of the desk. Lanie closes the office door and moves to stand by the front of the desk, pulling open a drawer and removing a pair of cotton gloves which she pulls on, her questions momentarily forgotten as she picks up the first tube, removes the top and slides the contents out.

Carefully she unrolls the Sarah Goncarova and stares down at the seascape of deep blues and bright whites. She's aware of Kate fidgeting on her chair, but ignores her as she studies the brushstrokes, the signature and quality of painting. Rolling it back up, she replaces it in its tube, recaps it and opens the second one.

The Richard Scott one is a portrait of a young girl in a black dress, smaller than the first, but of excellent quality. After several minutes of looking it over she also returns it to its tube and caps it. She picks up both tubes, pulls open a hinged mirror on the wall and places them in the safe behind. She's about to close it when Kate asks her "Lanie, do you still have those pieces from the last one?"

Lanie turns to look at her, eyebrows raised, "You think I can shift them with the kind of shit the press was stirring? Those are red hot for at least another three months … why?"

"Could I have them back?"

That makes Lanie turn completely round to face her "Come again?"

"I said, could I have them back?"

"Kate Beckett, are you out of your tiny little mind! Just what's got into you, girlfriend?"

Kate shrugs, trying to keep from blushing or otherwise give herself away to her friend, if she tells her what she really means to do with them she'll never live it down. "I just liked them and as I've missed this month's payment, they're not really that important anymore, those should be more than enough for next month" she says nodding at the pictures now in the safe.

"If I can shift them for you by then yeah, but what if they're too hot after your screw up?"

"I'll find something else, make sure I scout the place out like always … this one was just a rush job and I shouldn't have done it that way, I know … but with the deadline coming up and just a few more bits of evidence needed …"

Lanie watches her friend, she knows there's more to this than Kate's willing to tell her, she knows Kate. The items she steals mean nothing to her, they're only a means to an end. So why should she suddenly get attached to a few of pieces of jewe … oh! … "It's that writer guy you like isn't it … you telling me you're gonna get sentimental over some bling you took off the guy?"

"It's not that Lanie!" She tries for outrage and hopes she's not colouring up, "I just happen to like those pieces!"

Lanie decides to let it go, they're too hot at the moment to move anyway and she doesn't like sitting on stolen items for any longer than strictly necessary, it's one reason why she's not even on the cops' radar, that and the fact that she only deals with Kate and a couple of other 'professionals'. Giving a shrug she turns back to the safe and removes a small bag before closing the safe and pushing the mirror back into place.

With a sigh she hands Kate the felt bag and says "I jus' hope you know what you're doin' babe"

They spend another hour chatting and drinking one of Lanie's herbal teas which Kate doesn't really like but would never dream of saying so to her friend. When Lanie steps out of the office to deal with a customer, Kate pulls out the felt bag and tips the contents into her palm. Four pieces of jewellery glint back at her, a mocking reminder of her messed-up burglary. With a shake of her head she returns them to the bag, pulls the draw cord tight, knots it and slips it into the pocket of her coat, making sure the zip's pulled up closed. The last thing she needs is to lose them.

When Lanie returns to the office she sits down and puts on her serious face. "Ok, we done with our chit-chat and the yours is nicer than mine crap, now tell me girl, where you been for the last twenty-four hours?"

Kate shakes her head, "Look Lanie, I'll tell you ok, just give me some time to get things sorted in my own head will you?" She's almost pleading which is not the Kate Beckett style, so after glaring at her for a few moments, Lanie decides to let it go, she knows she'll hear about it eventually, and she can't help feeling worried, but if her friend needs time, she'll give her some.

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