Reformed burglars never rest
Sleuth About Town
"Brr... I'm cold."
Those were the first words that came out of Elizabeth March's mouth as she entered the hall of the well located house in London. Luckily, the place was warm and cozy.
Empty, too. She wondered were all the servants were.
Well, they'd show up, eventually. She could bet they were in the kitchen, talking and playing cards. She didn't mind. They deserved their rest and some fun.
With that in mind, she moved to the living room, dragged a chair near the fireplace and sat there, just staring at the roaring fire.
Much was in her mind. Her past life as a burglar still haunted her. All the wrong things she had done still lived in her nightmares. The woman let out a tired sigh. All that was in the past now.
She had a new life. An agency. Friends. A new name.
Yes. A new life.
It could be a better one, if she didn't have to carefully hide her past from everyone. She had to mind every word that came out of her mind. Every letter she received. Every phone call...
She sighed and got up, reluctantly.
"Miss Elizabeth March?"
"Yes. Who's there?"
"Just a friend who wants you to know that dreams may shatter like glass..."
"What, what do you..."
He had hung up, and so did she.
She was still standing by the phone, trembling, when she heard the footsteps. She didn't turn around. It was probably just one of the servants. Yes, it was Gerald, her butler.
He had asked something whose meaning she couldn't reach. Maybe how she was.
"Sorry, Gerald. I'm fine. I was talking on the phone, and felt slightly light-headed."
She forced a smile to the man. He smiled back.
"Maybe you should take a bath and rest, ma'am.", the man suggested, carefully.
"Not now. I've got a phone call to make. After that, I'll do what you say."
She watched as the man left the room and picked the phone back up. She dialed a number, hoping the person on the other side was home. (...)
"Elizabeth and I were romantically involved with each other. We met when we were thugs of the streets." Orsini said.
"What happened between you two?" Marc asked.
"Elizabeth..she..broke my heart-"
"That's a little personal don' t you think?"
"Orsini" Molly said, "Do you want off the list of possible suspects?"
Orsini rolled his eyes. "Anway, she broke my heart. She had been working with some mafia group and used me to get some information. I myself, was in love with her and couldn't believe it."
"Elizabeth is a reformed burgalur and a new person. She's been that way for quite some time," Marc said, "lately she's been recieving phone calls about dreams shattering like glass. Do you know what that means?"
"No but I do know a name of interest that would have motive to kill her if he saw her."
"Who is it?"
"His name is Tim O'Leary. A former Green Hand Mafia Boss. I know that he and Elizabeth had some kind of connection." Orsini said.
"Where can we find O'Leary?" Pierce asked.
"He lives out by the library on the north west side of town."
Marc turned around and made for the door with Molly and Pierce right behind him. They left Orsini on the floor to pick himself up and they made for O'Leary's place.
"That's a little personal, don't you think?"
And with that, Molly found herself suddenly sprawled awkwardly on the floor as Marc snatched the man right out from underneath her.
"Oy!" she called irritably. "Play nice."
She watched with some amusement as Marc did a number on Orsini, and instead raised herself onto the chair and dusted off the hem of her skirt. Her cigarette had gone out; she pulled out another one and Pierce gallantly lit it.
He finished up and headed towards the door, and Molly obediently followed him, blowing a kiss at Orsini as she went.
Three knocks came to the door back at the hotel room and Charlie was suddenly alert. "They must be back," he told Miss March.
Elizabeth looked up from the book she was reading, "So soon?" she was astonished knowing Orsini lived somewhat far away.
Charlie proceeded to open the door and to his astonishment he saw Clift Garrett standing there looking astonished himself.
"Clift?!" Charlie was shocked.
"Charlie?!" Clift was equally as surprised. "You're the die hard fan who begged my agent over the course of the past week to get a signed autograph?"
"Fan? What are you talking about, Clift?" Firstly, I'm not that big on Broadway or West End productions -especially musicals- secondly, we're friends, if I wanted your autograph I would ask for it!"
"Sorry there buddy, I was told by my agent that a fan who kept harrasing her for my signed autograph was staying here in the hotel, room 607."
"That's the room across the hall, Sir..." Miss March politely interrupted. "This is 608..."
Clift suddenly realized a woman was in the room and flushed red. "I beg your pardon, Miss..." He then turned to Charlie. "I'm so sorry to interrupt! This is terrible!"
Charlie shook his head. "Clift, this isn't what it looks, I'm on a case... actually it's Lacrimosa's case..."
"Marc Lacrimosa? I've heard of him... Apparently he's good." Clift mused.
"Still keep tab about the world of detection? How long has it been since you retired?"
"Longer than I care to remember! I must apologise about our last meeting in New York. The dinner had ended to abruptly, I was meaning to call you regarding a reschedule-"
But before Clift could finish his sentence, three knocks came to the door.
"Bloody hell, I'm beat." Molly announced dramatically as Charlie opened the door. She marched in self-assuredly and threw herself in a nearby chair. She kicked off her pumps and stretched out her legs with a happy sigh as she did so. Then she caught sight of Clift. Narrowing her eyes slightly, she tilted her head and looked him over.
"I beg your pardon, you must think me so rude." she said, smiling prettily. She stretched out a hand. "I'm Detective Molly Maltese, and you are?"
** On the Northwest part of town **
Zeo couldn't believe the case would take him to London. He guessed he now knew where retired Mafia Bosses spend their easy earned blood money after leeching another country dry. Sitting underneath the crystal chandelier in the grand mansion across from the British library, Zeo knew very well that he was in the wrong place of a wrong country, but somebody had to do it.
"I am a legitimate businessman, Mr. Lieutenant." The big man in his shiny black tuxedo mocked. Zeo figured the tux the man was wearing was worth 5 months of Zeo's bureaux salary, and the shot of cognac his sausage finger was holding -- another 2 months' worth. Legitimate business my arse! Zeo thought. "Unless you have proof of all your allegations, Lieutenant, I believe your trip to England is in vain."
"You know very well, Mr. O'Leary, that we had a dozen witnesses back in America who could put you arse in jail for fifty lifetimes over..." Zeo uttered with controlled rage.
"Ah, you HAD. Is that what you just said?" Tim O'Leary barked a laugh. They both knew those witnesses all ended washing up to some shores, dead, with many of their body parts missing, especially the tongue. "I assure you it will be the same thing in this country as well. You will find nothing but dead people, I just hope you will not be one of them."
"Is that a threat O'Leary?" Zeo stared fire into that fat head. Several body guards stood up around O'Leary and Zeo. The air in the study froze.
"My-my! Look at the time!" The former Green Hand mafia boss took out a diamond studded pocket watch, "I am late for the Opera. Good evening to you too Mr. Lieutenant.... Zeo, is that correct? I shall remember that name." He lowered his voice, "How bold and witless of you to come charging into my house!" O'Leary then flashed a smile that never touched his eyes and mocked before his took leave, "Stay safe, SIR." (cont'd)
Zeo knew very well that the reason O'Leary even cared to meet him was because Zeo was part of the Federal bureaux. At least now the cards were all on the table. It was true, Zeo had no solid proof on O'Leary's dealings and the lieutenant's sudden visit was nothing about an alarm bell for the former mob boss. How foolish it was of him? Zeo could blame nothing but the tiresome investigation across America, and only to have himself end up in the United Kingdom of all places; the country where his daughter grew up....
Smoke from Zeo's cigarette whiffed away as the limousine carrying O'Leary rushed by. The fat man gave Zeo a condescending smile from his car window. Seconds later he was gone. Zeo cursed under his breath and kicked the lamp post, channeling all his buried frustration. The lamp post actually shook, the lamp light swung around, causing the shadows in the surroundings to rotate.
Zeo then realize someone was standing there, someone in the shadow. Just as the first time Zeo met him, the man had his fedora hiding half his face, but Zeo now knew the man enough to recognize Marc Lacrimosa right away.
"Anyway, darlings. I just came by to keep Charlie posted. We talked to Orsini, Marc's out looking for another suspect now. Pierce is waiting downstairs for me," Molly said, putting her shoes back on with a sigh. "I suggest we all have dinner tonight, however--what is that bloody ringing?"
Everyone in the room suddenly became aware of the insistent noise that had been the backdrop of the conversation for the past ten minutes at least. They listened, and then suddenly Molly realized it was coming from her room, straight across the hall.
"Who in the blazes could want to get ahold of me so badly?" she wondered, standing up and digging out her room key as she opened the door. She crossed the hallway as the others looked on and opened her door, rushing in to grab the phone impatiently.
"Hello? Molly Maltese speaking." she said, leaning against the table. She examined her nails, but suddenly stood up straight, her knuckles turning white as she grasped the phone. "What? When?!"
She whirled and grabbed for a pad of paper and a pen, biting the cap off with her teeth and spitting it impatiently onto the floor. "Describe him to me NOW!"
She listened intently, and then hung up the phone without bothering with any pleasantries. Instead, she grasped her gun from her holster and raced out of her room, leaving the door hanging ajar in her hurry.
She took the stairs as fast as humanly possible, and when she saw Pierce she jerked her head. "You need to come with me now."
They raced down the street, and she remained silent despite his frantic questions. She even thought she saw a surprised-looking Marc and another man, but she paid them no mind.
She finally slowed in front of the orphanage, where the nun from before was waiting out front with an ashen face.
"What happened?" Molly demanded, grabbing her by the shoulderse. "Tell me now!"
"Four men crossed the street minutes after you left, Miss." the woman gasped. "One vaulted over the fence and just..took her! They took Anna!
Marc stood in the shadows watching while Joseph Zeo and Tim O'Leary spoke. Before he found O'Leary, he went to his house. There, a someone had told him that O'Leary had gone to the library. When Marc got there it was too late. He saw someone talking to him. He hoped and prayed it wasn't a police office about to make an arrest because he needed some valuable information. The man talking to him turned slightly and Marc's eyes nearly popped out his head.
It was Joseph Zeo. It had been almost a year since Marc had last spoken to him, ever since they met in Delhi (See chase around the world in 80 days). The man growled something at Zeo and left in a hurry. Marc stepped out of the shadows with his fedora covering his face. Zeo approached him and said to Marc, "It's been a while."
Marc looked up and smiled. "You haven't aged a bit since that chase around the world," and the two men shook hands.
"So what brings you out hear to United Kingdom?" Joseph asked.
Marc explained about his most recent case and how after everything that went on, he decided to leave New York for a while.
"I was called the other day and asked to find out who was harrassing this woman named Elizabeth March," Marc told Zeo.
"What were you doing in the shadows?" Joseph asked.
"Well, I was going to talk to Mr. O'Leary until I saw you already talking to him. I figured when you were done, then I could talk to him. But now he's gone. Do you know where he went?" Marc replied.
"You needed to talk to O'Leary? A former Mafia boss of the Green Hand?" Joseph asked sounding surprised.
"Well...yeah..he's a suspect in my case. I had a few questions for him." Marc said.
"He went down to the theatre. If we leave now we can catch him." Joseph said. And the two men left.
It took the better part of the afternoon for the two men to make it back to down town London. On the way, Joseph and Marc caught up on old times telling each other about cases with whack jobs and quacks for clients.
Marc was just as shocked to see Joseph as was Joseph to see Marc. Especially in a case like this. O'Leary had disappeared and went to the theatre where Marc and Joseph headed to pull him out and question him aobut his relationship with Elizabeth March.
With about a block and a half left, the two men ran into Molly and Pierce who seemed to be in a hurry. Marc was surprised to see them leaving the hotel.
He opened his mouth to speak when he heard,
"Four men crossed the street minutes after you left, Miss." the woman gasped. "One vaulted over the fence and just..took her! They took Anna!
"Molly?" Marc asked, "What's going on?"
Molly glanced back over her shoulder, taking in the presence of Marc and his companion.
"Well, sh*t." Molly said resignedly. "The cat's really out of the bag now."
At this point Pierce spoke up. "She's your daughter."
Molly dragged a hand through her hair, then cursed."Yes. Annabelle Christie Mahler is her name. She's 8. Jack didn't know...well, he must now. I should have figured on being watched!"
She rubbed her temples in frustration. "I don't even know where he could be. In any case Marc, you shouldn't concern yourself. You've got a case to solve without my twisted marital affairs interfering."
Molly shook her head, utterly refusing to cry. "I guess...ugh. I've got people to talk to."
And with that she grabbed the nun standing nearby by the elbow and dragged her purposefully towards the orphanage. They had just moved through the front doors when the phone rang. Molly shoved the nun towards the phone.
"Answer it." she said impatiently, and the nun did as she was bid. She listened for a moment, and then handed it to Molly, fear written plainly all over her face. Molly took it and listened to the familiar voice at the other line for a moment.
"Jack, you bastard. What have you done?"she hissed, her voice dripping with malice.
"Temper, temper, Molly. You shouldn't be the one angry, I've been lied to about my own child, after all."
"I never lied. After you torched my apartment and tried to kill me, I figured you probably weren't interested in the domestic life." she spit, and he laughed.
"Tell you what, we'll cut the charming catch-up, and you can come meet me at this address in exchange for the rug-rat. How's that sound?"
Molly motioned for a pen and paper. "That sounds perfect." she said, and meant it.
Address obtained, she took one look at it and grinned. She knew the place quite well; it was one of the places she and Jack had first met. She dropped the paper on the floor and ground it underneath her heel before striding out of the room.
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