Moon In Scorpio

Chapter 33

Time seems to stand still for several seconds as she absorbs the fact that he's just done that. Her wide, green eyes move from his thumb, still hovering close to her mouth to his eyes which are looking at her in something close to trepidation. She remembers that survival includes breathing and once she's processed the thought, she lets her pent up breath out. Finally she gives him a nod of thanks and picks up another piece of bread, trying desperately to ignore the sauce-covered thumb which is still hovering a few inches away.

It takes Rick several more seconds to get his mind in gear and he quickly withdraws his hand and grabs his wine glass, almost choking as he takes a swallow of the rather pleasant Seghesio. For the next minute there's a bit of an awkward silence, then, glancing at her, he catches her biting her lip and trying to smother a grin. His own somewhat relieved smile makes her burst out laughing and the awkwardness dissipates amongst the comments on how good the sauce is, that it came from a recipe he'd picked up on a book tour in Colorado and how garlic bread always adds a touch of something extra.

"Desert's plum, hazelnut and chocolate cake, would you like some now or have a coffee and maybe some cake and coffee a bit later?"

"Oof!" she says, patting her tum, "I think a coffee is all I can manage right now, but the cake sounds great for later"

They clear the table, put all the dirty items in the dishwasher and eventually head over to the couch, Castle carrying both coffee cups. They settle down, facing each other as she sits with one leg up on the couch, booted ankle tucked under her other leg. She fidgets a bit and then asks if he minds if she takes her boots off. He offers to help, but she shakes her head, stands and heads over to the door where she pulls them off and places them neatly side by side against the wall. When she returns, she sits on the couch and tucks both feet under her, letting out a sigh of satisfaction which has him grinning at her.

"So …" and there's a momentary hesitation before he decides to take the plunge "… you were doing your sideline act at the messenger service, what happened to make you change … your act?"

She has to grin at his rather diplomatic terminology, puts her cup down and sits back resting an elbow on the back of the couch as she runs her fingers through her hair, staring all the while at her other hand which is nervously picking at the seams of her jeans. "I followed instructions for about four months, built up sufficient credit each month for Valote to carry out his investigation on my Mom's case. I was able to slowly build up a file with all sorts of information that I'd never even heard of before … nothing conclusive, but enough to begin to build a picture of what she was doing in the area where she was found …" she shrugs, taking a deep breath as she continues. "Then, about mid-may I walked in and the place was full of Narcs. I thought I was for the high jump, but after spending most of the day hanging around the precinct, having my clothes and bike tested for traces of dope, waiting to be interviewed, it turned out that they were after Joe …" she looks up at him "… the dispatcher-come-manager and two of the messengers"

Leaning over to take another sip of coffee, she sets the cup down again and settles back. "It got me to thinking that maybe the whole thing was just some front for the mob. I'd been there for about six months when Valote approached me over the documents thing. The two messengers the cops kept asking about had been working there a lot longer. Most of the others had been working there for less time than me. Maybe there was a sort of hierarchy … the longer you worked there the higher you progressed …" she shrugs "… anyway, it made me think that maybe Rico's death was some drugs deal gone wrong … made more sense than it being over stolen documents. I spent most of the day in a funk, waiting for the hand on my shoulder, but luckily no one said anything … I realised later that Joe must have known all along, even though I was 'requesting' …" here she used her fingers to make quotation marks, "… certain routes, and he obviously wasn't going to add to his own troubles. He'd probably been the one to leave the notes in my locker, which would explain why I never saw anyone; he'd know when I was out on a run"

Kate pauses here and they both finish their coffees, Rick's brow furrowed as he works through the information she's given him.

"So you think the mob was using the messenger service to shift drugs around the Manhattan and using the documents they could get their hands on for what … maybe insider trading?"

She nods, "Who's going to stop a messenger? They're easy to recognise, part of the scenery, cops aren't even going to consider them in the same thought as dealers. It's a pretty easy way to get packages from point a to point b, no questions asked. They probably got caught because they used the same pick-up or drop-off addresses too much. I guess if Narcotics suspected an address was being used for dealing and the same messenger kept appearing …" again she shrugs, "… its only supposition, but it makes sense to me"

"So the cops stake out the dealer, stake out the messenger service, work out who's involved, don't realise what you're doing because you're not sent with those packages … yeah makes sense … close call though" he adds.

She nods in assent. "I realised then and there, that if I was to continue getting information off Valote, I'd have to change … my activities … I couldn't risk being involved in something I had no control over. It scared the pants off me that I could have been involved in moving dope around without even being aware of it!"

"One of the girls I'd been working with called me up to say she'd found work with University Messenger Services and that there was a vacancy if I got my ass down there quick. I decided to take the job. If I thought there was anything suspicious I'd get out quick, but at least it gave me the chance to pay my bills"

Licking her lips she continues, "I'd been into enough high-end properties delivering messages to realise that there was quite a bit of stuff lying around that would be easy to take and would cover my needs. It took a lot of soul searching but, it was either that or cut the supply of information over my Mom's murder …" she peters out here looking at him almost in despair.

He can't help but place his hand on hers where it rests on the back of the couch and gives it a gentle squeeze. For a moment she just stares at his hand covering hers and then takes a deep breath before continuing. "I decided that if I was going to get involved in that sort of thing I needed to train up a bit and I also set out some ground rules for myself"

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