Cass has always been the planner.
I'm the dreamer.
That's how she was able to handle organizing the whole maskirovka after Derek's death.
I'm good in a crunch, and I can imagine what I want to happen, but I've never been good at the nuts and bolts.
Chapter 27: Bad Girls World
Mac was right. She found an appropriately crooked cop who was only too pleased to help out Mr. Kaine and his trusted assistant, Lt. Rasczak, with a potentially embarrassing situation. The body of Derek James had barely been transported off the grounds before the official determination of “death while attempting to avert a home invasion” was registered in the Rangers’ database. After that, the legal machinery started to turn, seeking to settle the estate of the late Mr. James.
Kendra and Cass headed straight back to Los Alamos by the shortest route. Another “friendly” official had provided them with a particular transponder. Mounted discreetly in the Veyron, it would transmit a “don’t stop me” signal to every patrolling officer between Houston and the border. Mac’s magic performed a similar trick on the Sonoran systems. Thus covered, they were able to make the run in just over four hours, arriving home before Kaine “committed suicide.”
Mac went back to HLC with Stone, still playing the role of Lt. Rasczak, and done her level best to sanitize Kaine’s office. They removed a satchel full of documents and files. Stone found a standalone server Mac stripped of data before physically tearing out the memory.
“Just in case,” she said.
They were out of the office before the regular workers started trickling in at nine. Shortly after that, the body of Courtney was discovered. With Kaine out of his office, the investigation fell to Assistant Deputy Director Jordan. The murder weapon was found immediately and tied to Kaine. Not only was it registered to him, but only his prints were lifted from it. Attempts to contact Kaine were naturally fruitless. Montana held onto his comm, and any time a signal came in, Alycia or Bruce would let it go for a bit, then reject it manually. Once, seeing the identification of HLC, Alycia opened the channel, made some indistinct noises, then disconnected.
By three, the crew was ready to roll. Mac used Kaine’s computer to send “his” suicide note to various people at HLC, including the Director of Operations and Deputy Jordan. Seconds later, the Octol Alivia and Elle had planted detonated. Kaine, his house, and a substantial portion of his property turned into a rapidly-expanding ball of gases and debris.
Cass and Kendra were home when, at four thirteen, SARAH announced they had a call from the law firm of Milton, Chadwick & Waters, a Mr. Baddiscombe calling. They had discussed this on the drive back. Kendra spoke.
“I’ll take it,” she said calmly.
A tenor voice said, “To whom am I speaking?”
“This is Kendra Cassidy. Who are you?”
“My name is Giles Baddiscombe. I’m a partner at Milton, Chadwick & Waters, a law firm in Geneva.”
“Geneva? Goodness, it must be terribly late there.”
“After midnight,” said Baddiscombe. “Is anyone with you? I’m afraid what I need to tell you is confidential.”
“My wife is here, Aiyana Foster-Briggs.”
Kendra heard the riffing of papers. “Ah, excellent. She’s on my list. That will save me time. Good evening, Ms. Foster-Briggs.”
“Hello,” said Cass.
“Is anyone else there?” persisted Baddiscombe.
“No,” answered Kendra. “Our husband, Derek James, has business in Houston, in the Republic of Texas, but I don’t know when to expect him. Does he need to be here? Should we wait?”
“Ah, no. What I need to discuss with you is concerning your husband.”
“Oh? What on Earth could that be?” Aiyana stifled a laugh at Kendra’s blatant overacting.
“Ms. Cassidy, I’m terribly sorry to be the one to inform you, but it appears that your husband was a victim of an attempted robbery earlier today. A home invasion, at the residence where he was staying.”
“No! Not Derek!”
“I’m afraid so.”
Kendra was entirely into her role of concerned wife. Aiyana was finding more and more challenging to resist laughing. “Is he in trouble? Are you his lawyer? Do we need to bail him out? No, he has money. He’d be able to bail himself out. Why are you calling us?”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that,” said Baddiscombe, trying and failing to sound reassuring.
“What is it?” insisted Kendra.
“Ladies, it is my unfortunate duty to tell you that Mr. James was killed by the invader.”
“Oh my god,” said Cass, deadpan, earning a fulminating look from Kendra.
“Did they catch the bastard who did it?” asked Kendra.
“No arrests have been made, though I’m assured by the District Attorney that they will make every effort to apprehend the criminal who committed this atrocity. I don’t have many other details, but I can forward you the contact information for both the Houston police and the DA.”
“Thank you,” said Cass shakily.
“I’m certain the Houston DA doesn’t need a lawyer from Geneva to tell us our husband is – dead,” said Kendra, allowing just the slightest catch in her voice.
“No,” agreed Baddiscombe. “Not at all. The purpose of my call is to inform you that, as wives to Mr. James, you are co-inheritors of his estate. Pending, of course, clearing of probate and other legal niceties.” He added the last with a hint of an edge as if he doubted the legitimacy of their claim.
“Yes,” said Baddiscombe, sounding much more comfortable to be on his usual legal grounds. “Mr. James had naturally prepared a will, several years ago, and had left it with Our Firm –” They could hear the capital letters, “- In the event of his death. However, when we were notified of his unfortunate passing, we discovered that he registered marriage to you, Ms. Foster-Briggs, and to you, Ms. Cassidy.”
“Yes,” agreed Kendra. “Just yesterday, in fact. Right here in this house.”
“The paperwork was filed in Los Alamos, Sonoran Republic,” confirmed Baddiscombe.
“That’s where we live,” she said.
“You may not be aware of this,” continued Baddiscombe. “When two – or more – persons marry in the Sonoran Republic, national law is unambiguous. All prior wills and final testaments are rendered null and void. The parties entered into the marriage are designated each beneficiary and inheritors of the others’ estates. Of course, any subsequent will would override that designation. As Mr. James had not done so, we are left with our current situation.” He stopped, seeming to wait for applause for his masterful summation of the laws. He was disappointed.
“So we inherit,” Kendra snarled. “Meanwhile, our husband is dead, and the most you can say about the person who did it is that “every effort” is being made to catch him! I am telling you, Mr. Bad Scone –”
“Baddiscombe,” corrected the lawyer.
“Bad Monkey, for all I give a shit,” snapped back Kendra. “I am not happy. Not at all!”
“I realize that this may be something of a shock –” Baddiscombe tried to regain control and failed.
“A shock? You think? Sweet suffering Hera. We’ve lost our husband. You might have been Derek’s lawyer, but you’ll never be ours. I want a human being as my lawyer. Now, before my wife and I arrange to retrieve Derek’s body and take care of arrangements, is there anything else you need to tell us?”
Baddiscombe knew when to cut his losses, at least. “No. Our Firm will be in touch with you as the estate is probated, should anything need additional attention.”
“Then goodbye,” said Kendra and closed the connection.
Cass finally gave up and burst out laughing.
“What?” said an aggrieved Kendra. “Was it too much?”
“Ken, babe, you might have done all those sensies, but you don’t ever have to worry about your speech at the Oscars!” And she laughed more.
“I’m sure it sounded appropriately distressed, angry, hurt – all the emotions a new widow would, should, be feeling, but, well, it wasn’t subtle.”
“I wasn’t trying for subtle,” said Kendra. “Not with that jackass. And I was genuinely angry, if not at him.”
“Derek. I still can’t believe he tried to kill you.”
Aiyana looked guiltily at her wife. “Neither can I, and I feel worse, because I’m the one who brought him into our lives.”
Kendra sat next to her and took her hands. “We both missed it, babe.”
“I guess.” Aiyana squeezed Kendra’s hands back, then smiled faintly. “I’m sure Baddiscome will remember your reactions.”
“Damn right,” Kendra agreed fiercely.
“I need two things.”
Aiyana’s smile broadened. “A kiss, then help me think.”
“A kiss will help you think? Since when?” asked Kendra, coming close and giving her the kiss. “Think of what?”
“Well, we have a bunch of bodies in the freezer,” reminded Cass. “I don’t want them there much longer. Do you?”
“I certainly don’t!” said SARAH. “It’s untidy.”