Serria and Keur have been investigating candy that is killing children.
I need to call the bank to get that kind of money,” Georg said.
“Not you,” Rohn said. “Serria. She’s the only one I trust.” He grabbed Bethany by the neck, dragged her off to the corner, and pulled out a knife. Rohn pricked her neck, and blood trickled out.
How did they get into this building with a gun and a knife, Serria wondered. Maybe through a basement door or did they have a confederate, a mole, in the president’s office. That sent a chill through her if dozens of centipedes with icy feet danced down her spine, Bethany’s face turned ashen, and her lips trembled.
Rohn’s gaze darted around. Sweat dripped down his face. The Kaskellian neck corded, and his nostril flared. Keur’s hands turned white as he clutched the back of a chair.
“I need to make the call from the outer office,” Serria said. Mister President, do you have a code I can give the bank so they know I’m authorized to request the money?”
President Ahlberg snatched a piece of paper and pen before writing down a string of numbers and several words. “Ask for Tomas Milson. Those answering the phone will know what to do. When he comes on, read off this information. He’ll take care of everything.”
As he handed her the paper, the Kaskellian tried to grab it, but Serria seized it and ran from the inner office, shutting the door behind her.
“What’s your name?” Serria asked the secretary, huddling under her desk.
“Milly,” she said.
“Push your chair over to the door and sit in it, holding it closed,” Serria instructed.
Nodding her head, Milly did as told.
Serria’s first call was to Keur’s aunt and Vik’s mother.
“Hello,” Skerry said.
“This is Serria,” she said. “I have a situation at the president’s office. Do you know of someone I can call, someone I can trust, at the Kaskellian embassy here in Kondreal?”
Skerry was quiet for a moment, then said, “Ask for Gintus Chen. He’s the deputy head of the mission, economic and political agenda. Tell him Skerry Royk suggested him.” She gave Serria his comlink number.
“Thanks,” Serria said. After disconnecting, Serria dialed that recommended number.
“Hile,” a female voice said.
“This is Serria Stripelaw,” she said. “Please ask Deputy Chen if he will talk to me. Say I am a friend of Skerry Royk.”
“One moment,” the voice said.
Seconds later, a deep male came on the line. “Deputy Chen here. What is Skerry up to now?” He laughed.
“She lives outside of Kondreal,” Serria said, and then explained the situation.
“Do you know the name of the Kaskellian?”
“No,” she said and described him.
“Sounds like my cousin, Josin,” he said. “Always has been on the wrong side of the law. I’ll inform the ambassador of the problem. Get that money deal set up and call your local police force for help.”
“Thank you,” she said and cut the call.
Next, Serria tried to get a hold of Detective Dansforth. Since he didn’t answer, she had to leave a message.
Last, she got hold of the bank.
“This is Serria Stripeclaw calling on behalf of President Ahlberg,” she told him. “I’d like to speak to Tomas Milson.”
Seconds later, a man came on the line. “Tomas Milson.”
“The bridge over the Larinet River is broken and needs to be fixed,” the PI said, then read, “Six, eight, twelve, twenty nine, and sixty two.”
Tomas gasped. “Tell Georg the current on the Larinet is strong, and it is rising. Twelve, sixteen, twenty four, fifty eight, and one twenty four. Please write all that down and repeat.”
Serria did as commanded. Tomas broke the link.
She turned to Milly. “Get your purse and get out of here. Go home and lock your door.”
Milly jumped from the chair, grabbed her purse, and scurried from the room.
Serria tore up the first note in tiny pieces. She removed the chair, but before she could open the door, it was yanked open.
“Get it here,” Josin commanded, or I will shoot Bethany!”
With the new information in hand, Serria strode into the office. This time she found Bethany tied to one chair, her mouth taped shut. Keur was in another chair in the same situation, and the president had been imprisoned in his own chair.
Josin marched to the president and aimed the gun at his head.
President Ahlberg’s green gaze glared at Serria who read off the information. He nodded his head.
“Rohn, get that note,” Josin ordered.
Serria stuck it down her blouse.
Rohn hesitated, pressing his lips together in a slight grimace.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Josin said. “Just rip her top open and snatch it.”
“He knows better than to try it,” Serria growled and narrowed her gaze on Josin.
Rohn swallowed again. “She’s a trained Crescenji warrior. I really don’t want to tangle with her.”
“Oh,” Josin said. “Didn’t know that.”
Serria leaned against the far wall. “Rohn, how did you get involved in this scheme?”
The man in question took a deep breath. “After losing my job at Charbessa Industries, I needed money, so I started stealing it from Bethany’s account.”
Bethany’s eyes shot him a blaze of anger.
“The Syndicate caught me.”
Josin gave him a poisonous look and threw a paperweight at Rohn’s head. He managed to dodge it.
“Shut up,” Josin spat. “Or I’ll shoot you first.”
Dramatis Personae of Deadly Sweets
Cultures of Deadly Sweets
Alosian—canary yellow skinned, Nordic culture
Crescenji—brown-skinned, warrior culture
Jetahn—white-skinned, Russian culture
Kaskellia—red/crimson skinned, Chinese culture
Muswella—black-skinned, Scottish culture
Muswella—desert, brown-skinned, Meiglan, Islamic culture
Muswella—desert, brown-skinned, Nutmeigs, Radical Islamic culture
Serria Stripeclaw—Crescenji Warrior, private investigator, partnered with Keur
Keur Matiason— Half Alosian, half Kaskellian, computer expert, private investigator, partnered with Serria
Vik Juleskova—Half Jetahni, half Kaskellian, trader, owner of RAINBOW DREAMS
Mike Brimsen—Alosian, trader, co-owns the SILVER MOON
Shaylyne Brimsen—Alosian, trader, co-owns the SILVER MOON
Alyci McCready—Muswellan, black-skinned, agent at Thair and Thatt Agency
Lieu Kwan—Kaskellian, Keur’s aunt, famous for her teas
Skerry Royk—Kaskellian, Vik’s mother, bioengineering specialist
Rogel Irriksohn—Alosian, rich, owner of Irriksohn Corporation
Mak Redtail-- Crescenjian, doctor on Alosian Space Station, Serria’s boyfriend
Neu Knotts—Alosian, rich, trading partner with Keur Matiason, owner of BRIGHT STAR
Hans Dansforth—Alosian, detective on Kondreal Police Force