The Gemini Hustle: Chapter 26

The Gemini Hustle: Chapter
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Chapter 26

“How was your journey?” Lyselle—the same Lyselle who’d served Harry the tracer-laced seltzer—asked as she ran the scanner over Harry.

“I’ve had worse.”

That gave her pause. “You didn’t find the trunk of a ground car a bit cramped?”

“Oh, I did,” Harry said. “But the last time I was in someone’s trunk, it belonged to a serial killer. Tammas Ren,” he recalled with a genuine shudder, before adding, “He was not well.”

He could see the internal war in Lyselle’s eyes—she was nowhere near as well trained as Jessyn—before she caved. “And what became of this Tammas Ren?”

“He’s not killing anyone anymore.”

“Interesting,” she said, before reactivating the scanner to finish her work.

As she came close, her perfume, a bit musky for Harry’s taste, tickled his nose, so he turned his head away, focusing on his surroundings, which looked like the inside of a geode. Nearby sat a grouping of scoop-backed chairs seemingly molded from the same material as the floor, and against one glittering wall stood a bar in the same design as the chairs, behind which tiers of bottles lined up like bared teeth.

Shaking his head at the imagery, Harry turned back to Lyselle as she completed her search with a quick pat down.

“Find anything?” he asked as she finished invading his privacy.

“Nothing to speak of,” she said.

Harry smiled. Lyselle responded with a rude gesture and left the room, leaving Harry with the two guards, a Gmell and Rasalkan respectively, who’d hauled him from the car.

He shrugged and eased the cuffs at his back. He was just wondering how long he’d be stuck here when another woman strode through the glittering arch.

She was slender under the glimmer of her jeweled gown. Her hair, an artful mass of braids, was pulled back from warm terracotta features, and her lips were turned up in a crooked smile Harry had last seen over twenty standards ago.

* * *

On the second-level terrace, Sims Al-Kar watched Neishi and Gavin lead the crumpled wreck of their boss to a private room where Neishi could nurse Gemini through the shock of seeing a Judon.

Sims, who had a good idea what form that nursing would take, suppressed a shudder and turned his attention back to the lower floor, where pockets of Draconis and Rose soldiers eyed one another with suspicion.

All it would take, Sims thought, was one wrong word and—boom.

As he thought this, he received a comm from Neishi, not about the boss, but to tell him that Finn had been brought in by House Szado.

Which was good, Sims thought, and might even help Gemini get right with himself, but—

And then his thoughts froze, because Jessyn had just entered the club, trailing a few steps behind Arrion Degas.

And it was at this point that Sims forgot about the summit, forgot his boss was a frothing mess, forgot, even, his promise to Gavin.

All he saw was Jessyn, and seeing her, was overcome with a sense of wanting, even as he recognized that he in no way deserved the one thing he most desired.

Which he might have been able to accept, were it not for the fact that Slater was also here, walking at Jessyn’s side, his hand placed protectively at the small of her back, as if he did deserve her.

Sims was heading downstairs almost before he realized it.

* * *

Harry’s heart gave a quick stutter—very quick, and soon over—because one look into the woman’s dark eyes told him that, while the features were familiar, this was not Siane but Siane’s sister, Mariska Breeshandra.

“Mr. Finn, I presume,” Mariska said as two more figures entered, only to remain in the shadows of the entrance. “You have caused an incredible amount of trouble in a very short time.”

“It’s a skill set,” Harry admitted. “Madam . . . ?”

“Dama, in fact,” she said, the crooked smile deepening. “But I think you know that. In fact,” she continued, “I believe that you know a great deal about Rasalkans, for an offilan.”

“And why would you think that?”

“Because Neishi uncovered your secret,” she told him. “The czozprjz andi.

“Gesundheit,” he replied.

“Neishi also said you had a sense of humor.” Then she leaned in so her forehead was touching his. Neishi said more, her voice sliced into his awareness like the beginnings of a migraine. She also told me about the briefcase you took from the cell.

“I don’t—”

He stopped, or rather, his voice stopped—cut off at the larynx by some unseen pressure.

“I understand lying is second nature to you,” Mariska said, running a hand down his face, his throat, resting her fingers over his jumping pulse. “But there are ways around that.”

Then the muzzling pressure on his throat released. “Neishi’s way?” he asked, his voice hoarse, his attitude seemingly fearful.

“Sadly, Neishi is otherwise occupied at present,” Mariska told him, at which point the seeming fear became genuine concern because, for his plan to work, Harry needed Neishi.

“Fortunately,” Mariska continued, gesturing toward the door, “we have a visitor with a similar skill set. Unless, that is, you wish to spare yourself and confess to your crimes, now.”

“Crimes?” Harry echoed, adding confusion to the concern.

* * *

Inside Fayla’s C&C, Mollin, who was listening to Harry’s comm feed, let out an explosive curse.

“What is it?” Caris asked, looking up from her panel, which was linked into Eineen’s crew.

“We have a problem,” Mollin told her. “I need to link the primary team into Harry’s feed. Now.”

* * *

“Ah, I see,” Mariska murmured, tapping a finger over Harry’s collarbone. “You really believed your murders would go undiscovered.”

Murders? Harry thought. “Wait,” he said.

* * *

Azfylnja, Fayla cursed silently as Mariska’s accusation flitted through her comm.

She’d been in the main lounge, moving quietly around the pockets of conversation in a gown of unadorned white which draped from the black rose clasp on her shoulder.

The simplicity of her dress stood out in the sea of excess, which was possibly why Mariska’s head of security found her, so quickly.

“Dama Fayla.” Asha approached, offering the crossed-arm salute. “Dama Mariska wishes to speak with you.”

“I imagine she does,” Fayla murmured.

Asha’s brows knit. “Dama?”

“Nothing,” Fayla said and followed the other woman onward, Eineen following a step behind.

* * *

“Let me introduce you. Dré Altimus?” Mariska gestured to the entrance.

Harry turned to see a tall, broad, silver-haired human, dressed in an immaculate black suit with the head of a dragon stitched in blood read on the lapel.

“I have to admit,” Altimus said, “I never expected it’d be a lawman killing off our people.”

Neither did Harry.

“Nor did I expect to encounter an old acquaintance,” the second shadow said, and hearing that voice, Harry’s gut clenched and his bones turned to ice.

He didn’t need to see the newcomer step into the light or hear the whispering chime of the Judon veil.

“It is good to see you again . . . Finn-Haija.

“Lok-Kaija,” Harry replied, distantly pleased his voice worked. “Been a long time since the Kelm,” he added, for the benefit of those on the comms. “Still in the interrogation business, then?”

“Generally no,” Gajor Lok replied. “But I do keep my kit near to hand,” he added, in a way that told Harry the Judon was smiling. “For special occasions.”

* * *

/Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck, fuck!/ Mollin’s voice followed Gajor Lok’s over the group feed, followed immediately by a “sorry.”


FYI, The Libra Gambit, Book 2 of The Zodiac Files, is now available. Pick up your copy today!

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