“Are you sure you haven’t seen this man?”
The stone-faced bartender kept staring at me “Yes.”
“You haven’t even looked at the picture!”
“I’m positive. Now, are you ordering something or not?”
Trying to contain the frustration I had been feeling for the past hour, I looked around the bar. It was pretty much empty. Only a few hard-core regulars had decided to spend Thursday morning in the fancy club. None of them looked like they would be able to remember the men I was looking for – some of them looked like they wouldn’t even be able to remember what their own mother looked like.
I looked back at the bartender. “Would you look at the picture if I ordered a drink?”
“You have been the most unhelpful person in what have become a morning full of unhelpful people. You must be a cold person to not care about the fate of seven women.”
The mountain troll stared back at me with an impassive look on his thick sleet grey face. “Can’t help you.”
“Won’t help me seems to be a more accurate statement. Well, if you grow a conscience and want to share any information about the men, do give me a call.” I put my card on the bar and left the gloomy, depressing place.
Outside the day wasn’t much brighter. A dark overcast sky promised more rain and an icy wind nipped at my cheeks.
I had spent the past hour speaking to staff at the three clubs where Thomas said women had gone missing. Sam Cartell, the nightclub owner whom Thomas had mentioned, was away on business according to his PA.
No one was talking, and it was driving me crazy. I really should be handling it better. After all, being a PI usually meant you had to speak to people who didn’t want to speak to you, so this was nothing new. It was still annoying as hell, though.
I took a deep breath and let the cold air calm my irritation. The internet search last night hadn’t really brought up anything useful and now that people weren’t talking, I wasn’t quite sure where to go from here. I needed more information.
A dad with his young daughter walked past. He was struggling to hold on to a blue balloon that was dancing wildly in the wind, much to the delight of the girl.
I pulled out my phone and hit speed dial.
“Supernatural Private Investigation, Carol speaking. How may I help?”
“Hi, Carol. It’s Casey.”
“Oh hi, Casey. How are you?”
“I’m well, thanks. You?”
“Yeah, I’m not too bad. Fahim brought in doughnuts for the whole office, and they are delicious!”
“Sounds great. Hey, can I ask you a favour?”
“Can you please call our client on the Elisa Ó Ceallacháin case? I need to speak to him, preferably today.”
“Sure, I’ll call him now and see if he can come in today.”
“No problem, bye.”
I hung up and was putting the phone back in my bag when it suddenly rang. An unfamiliar number flashed on the screen. “Hallo?”
“Am I speaking to Miss Hamilton?”
“You are. Who’s asking?”
“Miss Hamilton, it’s Thomas Pelletier. I’m calling you because someone broke into my office last night. I think they were looking for the video recordings I gave you. They’ve also gone through some of my files. However, I can’t seem to see a connection between the files and the video recordings. You might want to take a look at those files and see if this new development makes more sense to you than it does to me.”
“Okay, I’ll swing by now and get them then.”
“I have moved the files to my home where the security is better. You are welcome to come and see them there tonight if you are free? I have some important business to sort out today, but I should be available at 7.30pm.”
My gut feeling didn’t like having to go to his house, but I didn’t want to jeopardise my tentative relationship with Thomas. “Okay. 7.30pm. I can do that. Where’s your home?” Even if he did give me the creeps, he was proving to be quite the information source, which was something I desperately needed at the moment.
“150 Winchester Lane, West City.”
I noted the address. “Okay, I’ll be there at 7.30pm then.”
“Great. See you later then, Miss Hamilton.” He hung up, and I was left with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Shoving the notebook, pen and phone back in my bag, I headed towards my car.
The drive back to the office was pretty uneventful, and the office itself proved to be pretty dull too. It looked like everyone had crashed after a doughnut fuelled sugar rush and now just longed for a nap.
I made my way through the energy deprived lot and walked up to the reception desk where Carol was staring at her desk plant with an empty expression on her face.
“Hi, Carol. Any luck with getting that client in I called about?”
Carol looked up and blinked slowly. “Hi, Casey. Sorry, what did you say?”
“What the hell was in those doughnuts that Fahim brought in?” I looked around the office. Everyone seemed to be fighting back yawns. “What kind of mythical, magic mumbo jumbo did he spike them with?”
Trying to conceal a yawn, Carol followed my gaze. “It’s not the doughnuts, though they’re not helping. Alex was checking the expiration date on one of our snoozer bombs when Tammi ran into her.
“Must have been pretty old if people are still awake.”
“Yeah, but it knocked out Alex and Tammi. We’ve put them in the small meeting room to sleep it off.”
“Good thing it’s almost weekend, eh?”
Carol nodded. “Yeah, can’t wait.”
“Right. Did you manage to get through to the client I called about?”
“Yeah.” She looked at the clock above the door. “He should be here in ten minutes.”
“Great. Is the big meeting room free?”
“Yes, until 4pm.”
“Okay. Could you please show him to the room when he gets here?”
“Sure, will do.”
“Thanks, Carol.” I spotted Aidrian at the other end of the office. He was sitting at his desk with a giant stack of papers in front of him and an unhappy expression on his face. Just the man I needed!
I walked to my desk and sat down on the scratched wooden surface. “So, you could have warned me about Thomas Pelletier.”
Aidrian looked up from the stack and while his eyes looked tired, he managed to put a smug smile on his lips. “Whatever do you mean?”
“You know perfectly well what I mean. What kind of magic user is he?”
“Shaman, and a powerful one too.”
“Ah, that explains a lot. There’s something about him, though. Are you sure he’s okay?”
“I don’t know. My spider senses are tingling. There’s something not quite right about this guy.”
“Besides the fact that he is extremely easy on the eyes? The guy is pretty to look at – even I have to admit that, and I’m straight. It might just be lust that’s making you tingle.” The humour in his voice was coming through nice and clear.
“You might have a man crush on him, but he makes my skin crawl – even if he is good-looking.”
“Well, he is the best lead we have, and I have never had any problems with him in the past. Word on the street says he keeps his promises.”
I held up my hands. “Alright, alright. I was just asking.”
A tall, elegantly dressed man came into the office and walked up to the reception. His long icy blond hair and aristocratic features caught my eye. He was definitely fae and pretty high up the ranks by the looks of it.
Carol got up and led him into the big meeting room.
“Ah, that must be my client.”
Aidrian had followed my gaze, and his smiley demeanour vanished. “Who are you meeting with?” His sharp tone caught me by surprise.
“Mr Ó Ceallacháin. He’s our client on the Elisa Ó Ceallacháin case. I thought it would be useful to speak to him. He might provide me with some information, cause right now I’m pretty stuck.”
“Can I sit in on the meeting?” His tight features suddenly relaxed when he noticed me studying him.
With a casual shrug, he leant back in the chair, but his eyes were still locked on the door to the meeting room. “Might be interesting.”
“Nope, if that’s your excuse then you can’t join.” I got up, but before I could walk past his desk, Aidrian grabbed my arm.
“Then just give me two minutes with him before you speak to him.”
I pulled my arm free.
He immediately let go and stepped back. “Please, Casey. It’s important, but I can’t tell you why.”
It was rare to hear one of the fae say ‘please’, and I’d never seen such an intense expression on his face.
I looked towards the meeting room, my natural curiosity roused.
Perhaps feeling it, Aidrian stepped closer. “I really need to speak to him first, Casey. It’s fae politics.”
“You can have one minute with him.” I looked him right in the eye. “But if you do or say anything to him that will prevent me from solving this case, you will regret it, Aidrian. I mean it.”
He nodded and walked towards the meeting room. I was curious as hell, but I also knew that fae politics was some serious shit. It would likely have come back to bite me in the ass if I’d denied Aidrian his request.
I went to grab some stale coffee in the kitchen before I walked into the meeting room without knocking.
“Are you sure you haven’t seen this man?”