“Your husband is an unmitigated pain in the ass,” Mitchell said as soon as I took the call.
I would have sighed and banged my head on my desk, repeatedly, except for the fact this was full video and that I was working on dissembled explosives. Separated, the stuff that goes boom was inert, but still, banging your head on decade old chemicals was usually a bad idea.
Mitchell is one of those men who have a long fuse to a big bang, so I give him the once over after turning down the magnification on my work glasses.
Scrunched shoulders. Frown. One hand tapping a stylus. Eyes that simultaneously said “kiss me now” and “you are pissing me off”.
Oh yeah, he was about to burst, and part—okay most—of it was my fault. The last time we were in bed together I was so exhausted from fieldwork that I actually fell asleep while he was, you know, well never mind.
“Sweetheart, which husband is that?”
“Bill. Can we divorce him, please?”
I actually laugh, and then feel bad because I am laughing while he is miffed. Mitch gives me a weak smile though. Divorcing Bill was a long running joke in the family—even Bill uses it.
Bill is the junior husband, and is very assertive. Which is why we all married him but still, he gets on the other three’s nerves and I am the ‘neutral’ party usually assigned to broker a deal, or prevent bloodshed.
“I’m sorry Husband One, but I am very fond of Husband Four. He’s, um, rich, and has this girth thing going for him.”
“God, you are so predictable. And why is it you always bring that up when we talk about him, anyway? Trying to make me jealous?”
Okay, this conversation is going somewhere, finally. I have Mitch pegged. He is lonely, which is my fault. And also the fault of Husband Two and Three. They took the two dogs while going fishing. I should have seen it coming but I have been busy with this stupid bomb, which may be part of a run off the same line. The same type of bomb used for a bit of industrial sabotage. The client was paying me many credits to nail who did it, so it has been work work work. Plus, someone using war shit for their own gain just pisses me off. It was personal.
Bill, being a pain in the ass, was still just a symptom.
“I always use intimate little details when talking about other husbands to put you all in your place.”
Mitch cocked an eyebrow. “Eh? What do you say about me?”
“I refer to you as ‘He who stole my virginity at a tender age’, which usually is very distracting to the others.”
Mitch is fighting the smile but it finally comes out. Then he chuckles.
“Ha. Anyway, Bill wants my next day on the calendar.”
“Well you told him no, didn’t you?” Bill should know better. I let them broker calendar dates amongst themselves, but everyone knows I botched my last day with Mitch.
“No, actually I was calling to tell you that I said yes.”
“What? But I miss you. I wanted to be with you!”
“Sorry. He had a convincing argument.”
Oh my God.
“This wasn’t a trade, was it? Please tell me he did not bribe you with credits.”
Now Mitchell was grinning ear-to-ear. “Yes, he did.”
“Mitchell Jameson Toulouse! And how much was I worth?”
Mitchell laughs. “Sorry, Honey, but it’s your own fault. There is only so much Lexus Pie to go around and I don’t like mine falling asleep.”
I sigh. “Fine.”
“Oh it’s the ‘fine’, is it now?” He crosses his arms.
“You’re mean. You know this case is important. You know how much war shit bugs me. And here I was going to offer to meet you in my office!”
His eyes go wide. “Really?”
“Well forget it.”
“No way. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“I’ll give you the 500 cred.”
“MITCHELL! I am not the family whore!”
“I’m coming over there. You will be naked by the time I get through the door. You will take the credits. Are we clear on this, Lieutenant?”
I snort. Mitchell was never in the military. I do not even think he knows what a Lieutenant grade actually is. “Or what?”
“Or I will call Bill back and tell him he can have the second day too. And for what he is planning, you’ll regret the four days of Bill Time.” Mitchell was grinning again, and this time it was all predatory.
“What?! What does he have planned?” This did not sound good, not good at all.
“Leaving now.” He stabbed a button and the video went off.
“Ahhhhhhhhh!” I actually scream. It does not make me feel better. Why why why, why did I get married at all, much less four times? I have no one to blame but myself.
Well, this bomb was not going to go anywhere. I carefully lock away all the parts, snap my sidearm to the side of my desk, take off my clothes and lie on top of the workbench, staring at the ceiling.
It only took him eight minutes to get to my office, which was impressive; as was the speed of which he peeled out of his own clothes. I start to giggle and he jumps on me, kissing me, putting his hands on me.
I do not fall asleep. If Mitch was annoyed with me, he sure does not show it. His passion consumes me and soon I am mindless.
And I wind up taking the credits when he points out I can use them to buy Bill something nice. Fine.
“You have a priority call on line three,” Bob, my office comp, tells me sweetly. It wakes me up instantly, but Mitch just grunts and snuggles closer.
“Privacy audio only, connect.” Mitch does not need to know work details. Line three was official Investigation business.
“LT, this is Scott.”
Uh. Scott. Scott is a Constitutional Enforcement Officer. This call will not end well.
“What up, Scott?”
“Kaliston.” Bob is listening, of course, and instantly puts up a map of Washington on the ceiling. Kaliston is in central Washington, in the middle of nowhere, not even close to I-90. Nothing but desert and wheat fields.
“Double homicide,” Scott adds. “A mother and her daughter.”
Now it was my turn to grunt. “Why me?” Anyone who knows anything about Investigators knows I do not advertise for homicide. I saw enough dead bodies in the war, and the Reaffirmation. And Scott knows everything. Maybe literally.
“You’re the best LT, and my field comp got a flag from your agency on this one.”
I can feel the blood running away from my face, the room grows cold.
“Were they found tied together, facing each other?”
“I’m taking a hopper. I’ll be there soon.”
“Got it.” Scott disconnected. Only a CEO would be un-frazzled by an Investigator use of an orbital hopper. Actually, nothing usually bothers Scott; he has the emotions of a work bot, but I could hear it in his voice. This bothered him.
As it should.
I get up, pushing Mitch off. But I feel dizzy. Mitch says “Hey!” and stands up, grumpy that I interrupted his post-euphoric nap by pushing him off the workbench.
“Mitch, can you hand me that wastebasket?”
Mitch nods seriously and hands it to me. He really is a sweet guy, really he is.
I promptly throw up my lunch.