Murder Beyond The Milky Way

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Chapter Thirty-Eight

Harry was exhausted. He had had sex until he thought himself physically incapable of going on. Pumped up by the stimulant Quincey had ordered him to eat, Harry continued his romp with Diana until his back hurt and he was physically too tired to move. Harry had no idea what time it was when his body gave out. All he knew was that they slept, awoke, showered and attempted to have breakfast which Diana cooked in an apartment-like complex hidden behind one of the tapestries.

Standing next to the heat generator, Diana was naked except for a small, blue apron that barely protected her breasts and upper thighs. Harry was also naked beneath the floor-length, matching blue robe she had given him to wear. While she cooked, she asked Harry about his life on Earth Prime. She was cute and coy and sounded really caring. But Harry wasn’t fooled. He knew she was probing him for information. She wanted to be sure that Harry could deliver on what he promised.

What Harry told her was almost the truth. He merely made his position stronger than it really was. He needed to convince her that he had the power/pull/knowledge to get her brother out of the Aldebaran-2 penal colony. The fact that he had been chosen to lure Lydia back to Earth Prime and the fact that he still had the bruise from where he had already been shot in the execution of his duties added weight to his stretched truth.

Watching her cook, Harry became aroused again and breakfast was ruined when he took her on the table in the kitchen. They showered again. When they finished, Diana took him back through the same nondescript hallways he had come in by.

They said their good-byes on the dining platform. Harry left Turgenev’s and began the circuitous cable-car ride back to Steve’s place. On the way he thought about the night and discovered that despite all the sex, he felt strangely unfulfilled. When he found himself wondering what Allyson would look like in a small, blue apron and what her hair would feel like cascading across his fingers, he knew why.

Quincey and Lydia were waiting for him in Steve’s living room when he returned.

“Well?” Lydia asked. She may have been seated, but her tone of voice had her standing and tapping her foot.

“You sound just my school proctor,” Harry said. “Or worse... like my mother when she caught me coming in after curfew.”

Quincey snorted trying to stifle a laugh. “What did you learn?” he asked rubbing his nose with a finger as if he had just sneezed.

“I learned that Jane has been a very busy and very naughty little girl,” Harry said facetiously.

“Jane?” Lydia said with more than a little surprise in her voice.

Harry filled them in about Diana’s brother, Steve’s offer to pay for his release and Jane’s covert mission to broker the deal using her meeting with Fitz-Porter as a cover.

“Like father, like daughter,” Harry added when he had finished.

“Jane? I can’t believe it,” Lydia said.

“Believe it,” Harry said. “It may be disconcerting, but it gives us a motive or two for Steve’s death.”

“And what would they be?” Quincey asked.

“Either someone doesn’t want Diana’s brother released from Aldebaran-2,” Harry said. “Or someone took offense at Steve’s plans to use the red-ore to pay off whoever needed to be paid off.”

“But who knew?” Lydia asked.

“You’re right,” Harry said after a moment’s reflection. “Steve, Jane and Diana were playing this one close to the vest.”

“I wonder if that’s why he wanted to speak to Mrs. Lehman?” Quincey said softly.

“When I talked with her about the possibility of the Directorate smuggling an assassin on and off the planet, she seemed to know a lot about it,” Harry said.

“I think I’ll have a look at her file,” Quincey said.

“I thought Lydia already looked at her file,” Harry said.

“Maybe another set of eyes will find something else,” Quincey said.

“Where was he going to get the red-ore?” Lydia asked.

“Didn’t you say that he was given 10% of the gross product?” Harry asked.

“Yes, but that’s at the other end of the processing,” Lydia said. “He doesn’t own a mine. He really didn’t have access to either the raw product or the processed bricks that they ship from here.”

“Maybe he was going to steal it,” Quincey said.

“Is that even possible?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know,” Quincey said. “It’s never been done before.”

“He WAS a commerce raider. He’s been signaling a mystery ship. Maybe he was planning on raiding an outbound freighter,” Harry suggested.

“I doubt it,” Lydia said. “If he did that, the First Space Cavalry would have to respond. No... if he were planning something, it would have to be far more clandestine.”

“Whatever he was planning would have made him really unpopular with the mine owners,” Harry said. “If they got wind of this little scheme of his, any one of the six would have reason to kill him.”

“But they all have airtight alibi’s,” Quincey said.

“They do?” Lydia said.

“Sure. They were all with you and me at that meeting,” Quincey said.

“Everyone but Harlas,” Lydia said.

“Where was he when Steve was killed?” Harry asked.

“That’s a good question,” Lydia said. She turned to Quincey. “Maybe you should look into that.”

“Maybe I should.” Quincey stood up.

“Do you want me to come with you?” Harry asked.

“It would probably be better for you if you didn’t,” Quincey said.

“Good,” Harry said. “I want to take another shower and get some rest after last night.”

“How did the stimulant bars work?” Quincey asked.

“Go to Hell,” Harry said. He stood up and left the room.

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