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Carats

 

Carats

 

G. F. Kaye

 

 

  • * * * *

 

 

This is a work of fiction.

All physical locations are fictional, as are events described, and exist only in the mind of the author.

Any resemblance of characters contained herein to any specific person, persons, or beings, living, dead is purely coincidental.

 

Carats

Copyright 2015, G. F. Kaye

All Rights Reserved

 

This short story is a free publication intended to familiarize readers with this author’s work. It is copyrighted, however, and any sale or use generating profit to anyone but the author is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

 

Thank you for respecting my work.

 

 

First Published by G. F. Kaye at Shakespir. Also by G. F. Kaye @ Shakespir

 

 

Stories of the Marlowe, Inc., Crew:

 

The T-bone Affair

 

 

Also:

 

Ikon

A Witches Tail

 

  • * *

 

 

 

Ivana Sergeiyevna Modorina, giggling merrily at something the driver had just said, hopped from her cab at a truly ungodly hour of the morning. Stepping to the lobby door of an old warehouse in the west twenties, she glanced up the street before swiping her key card through the entry lock. Pausing, hand extended, lock forgotten, an eyebrow climbed out of sight. There was a blue and white parked at the curb, maybe a block up. Unless she missed her guess, which didn’t happen very often, there were a couple plain wrappers parked with it.

“Huh. Curiouser and curiouser, as the boss’d say,” she murmured. Tucking her card in her top and her hands in her pockets, she started to walk that way. “I must admit, however, she’s usually talking about me when she says it,” she giggled while increasing her pace. Frowning at the clicking of very high heels, she paused, glancing down at her clubbing attire. Shrugging, she laughed, “So the guys get a thrill tonight! Oh, well!”

That said, the very pretty, petite blonde, who, in the summer and a bikini might pass on Jones Beach for a just slightly displaced Malibu Barbie, flipped the collar of her leather bomber-style jacket up over the back of her neck against the brisk chill of a fall night and went to see what was what. As it was, the coat was about her only concession to the increasingly cooler weather, or so the brief, sequined denim scooter, cream-colored halter, and strappy, spike heeled sandals comprising the rest of her attire would tend to indicate. However, a scooter of some kind and brief top weren’t unusual garb for her when the weather allowed, and most of those at the local precinct were used to it. There were some that might not be used to the sight of a perky, waist length, natural platinum ponytail bouncing down the sidewalks of Manhattan at four o’clock in the morning, but they usually got over it – usually after a couple of the guys that’d witnessed her unarmed combat drills with her boss filled them in. For those in the know, it wasn’t the pretty blonde that had to worry when venturing on the streets of New York in the wee hours of the night, it was those having the distinct misfortune of being the targets of her hunting foray. In truth, there were those that would inform you – in clear and succinct language – that everything about that particular pixyish, happy-go-lucky blonde was a carefully calculated, quite lethal weapon, including her disarming, beach-bunny appearance. It wouldn’t have surprised them that she was walking up to an apparent crime scene to have a look-see, either. In fact, considering the pretty lady was the star tactician, data cruncher, and strategist for one of the fastest growing private investigation firms in the country, most would’ve been surprised had she not, including the officer leaning against the storefront, watching her bounce along with a headshaking grin. “Hey, Micele,” she greeted the jeans, t-shirt, and Levi jacket clad detective cop, a member of the robbery-homicide division of New York’s finest, with a big smile. “S’up?”

“Thought that was you, getting out of that cab,” he grinned. “S’up, yourself, Ivana?”

“Hey! Spotted me a whole block away! You’re getting better at that detective stuff, guy,” she chuckled, playfully punching him in the arm before settling back against the storefront, herself.

“Well,” he snorted, looking her up and down quite frankly. “It’s not like you’re that hard to spot. What brings you around at this otherwise peaceful time of night?”

“Peaceful?” she laughed. “That why you’re here?”

“Nothing gets by you, does it?”

“That is what the boss lady pays me for,” she snorted, rolling her eyes.

“Ah, the boss lady.” He winced. “And how is herself?”

“Herself is herself. What can I say?” she shrugged, grinning impishly. “She’s over being mad at you, Mike, if that’s what you’re actually asking,” she chuckled. “Will that help you sleep a little more soundly tonight?”

“You mean today?” he pointed out, looking up at the moonlit sky. “Not much left of tonight.”

“Whatever!”

“Think maybe she’s calmed down enough to let the chief put me back on days?”

“Hey,” she laughed. “What can I say? You get back on days, she’s calm enough. I’ll ask her when I see her, if,” she grinned, “you’re really sure you want me to bring you up, that is.”

“Maybe not,” he chuckled, shaking his head. “She was pretty mad.”

“Well, how would you feel if you’d been on a stakeout for days, then got busted by uniforms for hooking just as something started to go down?”

“She could’ve just told the uniforms who she was. She didn’t have to wait for me to get there and spot her.”

“What!? Blow her cover?” the blonde snorted. “You know better!”

“I should by now.” He shook his head. “She get the guys?”

“They relocated.” She shrugged. “It happens when a squad of cops shows up on the corner you’re doing felonious business on, you know.”

“Yeah. She’s still mad,” he sighed, ruefully, sliding his hands into his pockets, slowly shaking his head.

“She’ll get over it,” she grinned lopsidedly, patting him on the arm. “So.” She made a show of looking over his shoulder into the shop. “What’s going on?”

“Got a funny one, here, Ivana,” he frowned. “Watchman was in the back taking lunch when the perimeter alarm went off. He dropped his sandwich, locked and loaded, and came up front.” He waved his hands. “Nothing. Nada. Front door was unlocked when he checked it, so he was looking the place over with the lights on when we showed up. Doesn’t look to me like anything’s missing; not from the front of the shop, anyway. We’re waiting for the owner to get here from Queens to make sure.” He shrugged. “Following procedure. You know the drill.”

“Hmm,” she muttered thoughtfully, shaking her head. “I also know the shop. Mind if I talk to the watchman?”

“Like I’d be able to stop you?” he laughed. Turning, he opened the door, waving her in with a bow. “Heads up guys!” he sang out as she strolled in. “Chief on the floor!”

“Cripes, Micele!” she giggled, waving at the grinning uniforms, most of whom she knew.

The detective laughed and waved her toward the far end of the counter, where an older guy in a military styled white shirt, complete with epaulettes, and dark slacks was standing, looking very unsure of himself. “Mr. Brosky,” Micele announced as they approached him, “Ms. Modorina. She’d like to ask you a couple questions. She’s not a cop, but she’s okay.”

“Modorina?” a gravelly voice came from the surprised looking guard with an obviously eastern European accent, rolling the “r” as he even gave her name the proper inflection.

Da! Ivana Sergeiyevna. Russkiye?” she smiled easily.

“Da!”

Nodding, she proceeded to quickly converse in Russian with the old man – for some time – while Micele looked on in confusion. Finally, smiling, and making what sounded, from her tone, to be encouraging remarks, she gently patting the guard on the arm. Still smiling, she turned to look over the shop from a new vantage point. Micele asked what was going on, but she held up a hand while slowly turning to take in the room. The detective, having seen this before, settled back to wait. The guard studied her curiously, no doubt wondering about this slip of a girl that “was not a cop,” but that cops seemed to listen to. For her part, she continued scanning the room, noting everything in it and where it all was. After patting Brosky’s arm again, she began to walk around, hands on hips. He’d told her he’d just gone back to the rear room to eat his lunch at a table in a back corner. He’d barely finished unpacking his sandwiches and pouring his tea when the alarm sounded. He’d also reaffirmed that nothing appeared to be missing from the shop, which belonged to a relatively small-time diamond cutter and jeweler that, Ivana knew, only employed two people, doing mostly custom work. That did, in fact, appear to be the case. She frowned, looking down the polished glass front of the counter, which had several items of jewelry displayed in dark red velvet cases, as well as several pieces of fine crystal and silver which she knew to be accents, to set off the jewelry. Most of it was old stuff, probably worth a couple bucks in its own right. However. She frowned, reconsidering. Who’d pay any attention to a candlestick that just happened to be in a case with a treasure trove of diamonds? Even the owner might not notice it was missing. She walked down the length of the counter, just to make sure, but didn’t see any obvious voids in the displays. She did see a lot of fingerprint dust. Getting to where she was working, Ivana paused and asked the tech if she’d found anything unusual.

“No. No prints,” the tech frowned, continuing to dust. “Not surprising. Brosky says the owner wipes the counter down last thing before closing. Does a good job,” she grinned at the blonde. “Wonder if he does windows?”

“Might depend on what got taken,” Ivana snorted, turning to study the length of the counter from her new vantage point. Something caught her eye. Frowning, she quickly strode to the far end of the counter as the tech, on the other side, having spotted the signs, followed, curiously. “Got gloves?” Ivana asked, frowning. The tech pulled a spare pair out of a pocket and slapped them into her outstretched hand.

Nodding with a grin, “Get used to it!” Micele laughed. “When this girl’s on the job, just stand back and give her what she needs, or brace yourself for a lot of grief.”

“Sounds like the voice of experience, Lieutenant,” the tech grinned.

“Or the voice of someone who didn’t know any better the first time.” He shook his head slowly with a rueful expression, before returning his attention to Ivana. “Find something?”

While he and the tech’s exchange was taking place, she’d picked up a crystal goblet that’d been laying on its side, studying it closely. A moment later, however, she was peering at the counter’s surface where she’d found it from a couple inches away. Returning her stare to the goblet, ignoring Mike’s query, she turned to the watchman and asked him a question in Russian. He responded at length, showing her into an office that opened from the rear of the counter area. She thanked him and walked in, noting a clean desk with the typical in-out paper trays, a nameplate, a computer monitor, and not much else. Her attention was immediately drawn to an ornately painted, very large safe in the far corner. “Huh,” she grunted. Turning, goblet still in her hand, she studied the ceiling, especially a camera mounted in the opposite corner of the room from the safe. Walking out, she handed the goblet to the tech almost absentmindedly, looking around the ceiling in the front room. Seeing what she’d expected, muttering quietly, she turned and headed for a rear door, poked her head in, and nodded before returning to stand before a thoroughly confused Micele, deep in thought, studying the dropped ceiling.

“Think I should print this?” the tech asked, holding up the goblet.

“Waste of time,” Ivana muttered distractedly.

“Waste of time?”

“Complete and utter.”

“Okay, Ivana. Why is it a waste of time?” Micele wondered aloud.

“Nothing on it but dust,” she shrugged. “Which’ll match the dust on the counter,” she added. “Knocked over, but not set upright again. I don’t think anyone ever touched it.”

“I get it. The dust will match, though?”

“Pretty sure.”

“You going to tell me about it anytime soon?”

“You haven’t figured it out, yet?” She grinned, dropping her gaze to the cop’s face.

“Figured what out?”

“It’s an inside job,” she chuckled.

“What?”

“Inside job!” She shrugged. “Just have to figure how they set it up.”

“Set what up?”

“The inside job,” she nodded, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. He was just about ready to blow a fuse when she waved, cheerfully, at the shopkeeper as the uniforms parted, like the Red Sea, to let him in.

“Ivana,” the owner, one Sigmund Gelb, frowned, looking around before resettling his eyes on the petite blonde and giving her a quick hug. “I wish I could say it was good to see you, my old friend, but the presence of these many police officers tells me you’re here on business, this time. What has happened?”

“I think you need to count your stones, Siggy,” she nodded slowly.

“My stones?” he frowned. “Why?”

“In a minute. First of all, was there anything at all unusual about today?” she asked.

“Not that I can think of.”

“Nobody doing anything out of the ordinary – like fixing a problem with the security cameras?”

“The cameras? How did you know?” He grinned. “Were you spying on me?”

“No. No dust.” She waved at the nearest lens. “Where else were they working?”

“They? You know there was more than one workman?” Gelb laughed, shaking his head. “You never cease to amaze me, Ivana. Tell me. What did they look like?”

“That’s what you’re going to show me,” she giggled. “I want to see the tapes.”

“DVD,” he nodded. “Tapes are so yesterday, as my Sarah would say.”

“Okay, Siggy. DVD. The junction box for the camera feeds is up there?” She pointed to a spot on the dropped ceiling.

“Ye-e-e-es,” he replied. “But how . . ?”

“Later, Siggy” she chuckled. At that, Micele snorted disgust, raising his arms, shaking his head, and looking at the ceiling with a “Why me?” expression.

“Blood pressure, Micele!” Ivana giggled, then returned her attention to the owner. “Can I see the ta . . . – excuse me, DVD, now?”

 

 

Much later, after the uniforms had been hurriedly sent to the address on the security camera repairman’s work order, Micele looked up as Ivana lightly dropped from the hole where a panel of the ceiling had been removed – and which he’d had the distinct pleasure of boosting her into a short time ago – onto the countertop. The tech, of course, had already photographed the surface. Now, Ivana dropped to the floor, studied the marks in the fresh coating of dust that’d dropped with her, stepped back into her heels, and nodded. “This building was built first,” she nodded to Micele and the owner as the watchman stared in amazement at the lithe figure. “There were high windows that were covered over when the one next door was built, but the openings were never filled. Maybe a previous tenant had flowers up on the ledges, or something.” She shrugged. “Who knows? Anyway, the repairman had a little bitty female helper, and I’ll just bet she has a sister.”

“What makes you think so?” Micele frowned.

“Easy,” she shrugged. “The evidence told me what had happened, then the security DVD’s,” she emphasized to Gelb, “told me how. The second girl slipped in, climbed the ladder, and hid on the ledge, watching a remote monitor, I’ll bet – something small and hand held – and waited. Her butt-print’s in the dust. The repairman and the first girl finished their job and left. She stayed. Check him out, too, Mike,” she said, waggling a finger at the cop, “before busting his chops. He may never have known the second babe was up there. She looked so much like the first one, in fact, I’ll bet nobody paid any attention when she walked right into the shop with a tool. The thing is, I counted. She walked in one more time than she walked out. Went up the ladder, said hi to sis, settled in and waited. When Brosky took his lunch break, she dropped from her hideaway – after setting ten minutes on this little goodie, which turned the security system linefeeds off.” Grinning, she handed a very small electrical component to the surprised detective. “So much for the ten minute jump in the security recording date/time stamps we wondered about, eh? Then she went into the office, opened the safe,” she held up a finger for emphasis, “left the big stuff alone, took just a couple stones from each tray of the smaller ones, very carefully replaced each tray, then quietly relocked the safe. Then she left by the front door. No muss. No fuss. Nothing apparently out of place, and it might’ve been a year, even longer, before you inventoried those stones, Siggy, and came up short. As for tonight?” She shrugged. “Just an alarm glitch! Sure the door was unlocked, but who would’ve suspected anything? I’d change the way the camera in the office is aimed, though, by the way,” she winked at Gelb. “That’s how she got the combination.”

“Tomorrow!” he declared. “I’ll watch the guy every minute, too!”

“Learns quick!” she grinned, heading for the door while sighing tiredly. “Well. I’ll just let you guys clean up, if you don’t mind. It’s way, way past my bedtime.”

Micele walked her to the door, not saying a thing until they got there. “Okay, Ivana! I’m curious. You were looking around as soon as you walked in. How’d you know a crime had even taken place?” he asked, opening the door.

“I didn’t. Not for sure, Mike. Not until Siggy counted his stones. It was this door, actually,” she chuckled, patting the frame lightly. “Usually, when a door’s open that’s supposed to be locked, it means somebody went through the thing. If they did, they had to have come from somewhere. They hadn’t come in, or Brosky would’ve seen them when he came rushing from the back. Right? So they had to’ve gone out. Had to be. After that, it was just a matter of figuring where the someone had come from. As my boss’d say, it was all right there in front of you; all you had to do was look. Might want to put more carrots in your diet, Micele. They’re good for the eyes, you know.”

Giggling merrily, she patted his cheek, leaving him standing there, shaking his head. Chuckling quietly to himself, he watched her walk into the shadows and home.

Finally.

 


Carats

Ivana Sergeiyevna Modorina, star programmer, control, and tactician of Marlowe, Inc., had just come in from a night of clubbing. Spotting a bevy of patrol and unmarked cars of the NYPD a block away from her loft, of course she just had to investigate. Follow one of the favorite characters of the Marlowe, Inc., series as she wanders into a crime scene and shows New York's finest how it's done. A free short story to introduce you to just one of many real characters in the series.

  • ISBN: 9781310147371
  • Author: G. F. Kaye
  • Published: 2015-12-31 22:20:06
  • Words: 3222
Carats Carats