Born to Bite
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The sound of the door opening stirred Armand from sleep. Blinking his eyes open, he peered toward it, a relieved smile claiming his lips when he saw Eshe entering. She wore jeans and one of the new T-shirts they'd purchased on their shopping expedition. She looked good. Better than good, she looked like nothing had ever happened.
His smile faded the moment the next person walked in though, and Armand scowled at his brother with disgust. "Get out, Lucian. I don't want to talk to you."
Eshe's eyebrows rose, her head swiveling to peer at the man behind her and then back to Armand in question, and he shifted restlessly on the bed, and then explained, "He had me drugged."
"It was so you'd sleep through the healing," Lucian said with a shrug, moving out of the way as Leigh, Bricker, and Anders followed him into the room.
It was getting damned crowded in his room, Armand thought with disgust, but said, "It wasn't for healing the last time. The healing was mostly done by then."
"Mostly," he agreed. "But Eshe's wasn't and you were trying to get up and go to her."
"She was screaming her head off," he pointed out grimly. "You're damned right I was going to her. Wouldn't you have gone to Leigh if the situation had been reversed?"
"Of course," Lucian said calmly. "That's why I had Anders drug you again. You needed your rest and there was nothing you could have done for her."
Armand snorted with disgust. "God, you are such an arrogant ass."
"I try," Lucian said with unconcern, ushering Leigh to the chair beside his bed as Eshe moved toward the bed itself.
Armand scowled at his brother for another moment and then glanced to Eshe as she settled on the side of the bed. He managed a smile for her, and asked, "How are you?"
"Alive. Thanks to you," she murmured, and leaned forward to kiss him, then whispered, "Thank you."
Armand sighed unhappily, knowing that if he hadn't bitten her the last time they'd made love, both of them probably would have woken sooner. In effect, he'd damned near killed them with that stunt. Forcing a smile for her benefit, he squeezed her hand when she slid it into his, and then glanced to the others in his room. "So what's all this about?"
"Time to talk," Lucian announced quietly.
Armand grimaced at the words. He'd hoped to have a moment alone with Eshe before this conversation, but supposed it was better just to get it done and over with. Kind of like ripping a bandage off in one swoop and suffering a quick sharp pain, rather than suffering the long, drawn-out effort of feeling each little pull of hair as it was slowly worked off.
"Fine," he said at last. "Obviously Leonius II has found out where Eshe is and she needs to be moved to a safer location."
The response to that was decidedly strange. Everyone in the room turned to Lucian, deferring to him...except Eshe. She was peering down at their entwined hands, but she was obviously attuned to Lucian, as were the others. The moment he started to speak, she cut him off by saying, "There is no Leonius to have to hide me from."
"What?" Armand asked with surprise.
"I mean there is, but he's not after me," Eshe said quietly. "That was just-"
"I sent Eshe here to investigate the deaths of your wives," Lucian interrupted.
"What?" he asked sharply, his gaze shifting between the two of them. "Why?"
"Because Nicholas's life depends on it," Eshe answered at once.
"Eshe!" Lucian snarled, glaring at her across the bed.
"He has a right to know. It's his son," she snapped, glaring right back, and then added, "Besides, he won't do anything foolish like try to break him out. He wants to find out what happened to his wives as much, if not more, than anyone."
"What have the deaths of my wives got to do with Nicholas?" Armand asked, glancing from one to the other. "And what do you mean Nicholas's life depends on it? And break him out of where? Has Nicholas been found?"
"Yes," Eshe murmured. "And there's some doubt that he killed that mortal fifty years ago."
"I know he didn't do it," Armand said grimly, and it was true, he'd been positive then and still was that Nicholas had not killed the mortal he'd been accused of killing fifty years ago. Armand had even driven up to Toronto at the time and tried to figure out what really had happened, but everything had seemed to point toward Nicholas. Still, he hadn't been able to believe it. But he also hadn't been able to prove otherwise. The story of his life, he thought bitterly.
"I'm sure he didn't," Eshe said quietly, and he relaxed a little as he heard the sincerity in her voice. When he nodded, she continued, "It seems Annie was asking a lot of questions about the deaths of your wives before she died, and in fact called Nicholas the night before her death saying she had something to tell him, but died before she could do so. Nicholas was understandably distraught at first, but some weeks after Annie's death, he recalled that phone call and tried to find out what she'd wanted to tell him. In his memory of the night of the murder of the mortal he was accused of killing, Nicholas started out heading to the hospital where Annie used to work, intending to speak to a friend and coworker of hers and ask her if she knew what Annie may have wanted to tell him. However, his memory skips from crossing the hospital parking lot to opening his eyes in his basement with a dead mortal in his lap. He's been on the run ever since."
Armand closed his eyes briefly, guilt slithering through him. His son had lost his life mate to whoever it was who had killed his own wives. He just knew it. It was all his fault somehow. The frustrating thing was Armand just didn't know how. He didn't know why anyone would kill any of the women who had died. That had been the problem from the beginning.
"Nicholas is locked up at the enforcer house," Eshe murmured quietly. "He's waiting to find out his future. If we find the culprit behind the deaths, he will be found innocent and go free. He'll get his life back."
"And if we don't?" Armand asked sharply.
Eshe shook her head and actually smiled. "That won't happen. We've obviously got someone scared, otherwise why lock us in the shed and set it on fire? We'll catch them, Armand," she vowed. "And Nicholas will go free."
Armand almost asked how she knew they'd been locked in the shed when she'd been unconscious, but then realized Lucian had probably told her. His irritating big brother had just been finishing grilling him about what exactly had happened at the shed when Eshe had started screaming from the next room. Armand had tried to leap up to go to her at once, and Lucian had pushed him back down on the bed and ordered Anders to give him a shot. Then the lights had gone out.
Now he was awake and learning that Eshe wasn't being chased by a psycho Leonius the Second, but was here to investigate the deaths of his wives and try to save his son. Obviously he needed to figure out what the hell had been going on all these years. He'd tried looking into the deaths before, but had come up with nothing, but now it was imperative he find out what the hell had happened and who would have it in for him. Otherwise his son would probably be executed and everyone Armand cared about would be at risk...including Eshe.
His gaze slid to her. His life mate. After Rosamund's death he'd had suspicions, but that was all. He hadn't been able to find any proof that any of his wives had been murdered. On the surface the deaths had all appeared to be accidents, and that was it. Still, he'd suspected, and that suspicion had been strong enough that in an effort to keep the rest of the women in his family safe, Armand had shut himself off from them, thinking that if he was wrong and the deaths had all been accidents, then the only person hurt by the action would be himself. However, if he was right and didn't do his best to keep them safe, he never would have been able to forgive himself.
The same still held. If someone was killing the women he cared about, then Eshe as his life mate was definitely at risk, and the best thing he could do for her was send her somewhere safe while he sorted out this mess.
Nodding to himself, he shifted his gaze to Lucian and said grimly, "As my life mate, Eshe is most at risk. You need to get her away from here."
"Being away from you didn't save Althea," Eshe pointed out, not appearing either upset or angry at his words. In fact, she was suspiciously calm as she added, "In fact, it's you that is the largest concern."
"Me?" he asked with surprise.
"Yes. I'm an enforcer. I'm trained for this," she pointed out gently, as if talking to a child. "You, however, are a civilian. And while I was probably the target with the fire in the shed, you nearly died there with me. It's probably best if you went to stay somewhere safe." She turned to glance at Lucian. "Perhaps you should have Anders take him back to the enforcer house and lock him up with Nicholas. No one could get to him there and they could visit and get caught up on-"
"I'm not going anywhere," Armand said with amazement, and then glared at Lucian as if the man had actually agreed as he added, "You aren't locking me up. This is my life. They were my wives, and I'm staying right here to figure out what the hell's going on."
"I don't know, Armand," Eshe said quietly. "I'd never forgive myself if anything happened to you because of me."
"Well, I'm not going," he informed her firmly, crossing his arms stubbornly over his chest.
Eshe sighed, but after a moment gave a small nod. "Very well. Then why don't you get dressed and come downstairs. We can talk down there and Bricker can make breakfast and coffee for all of us."
"I can?" Bricker asked dryly.
"I'll help," Leigh offered.
"I agree we should move downstairs then," Lucian said arrogantly.
Thinking he'd definitely feel at less of a disadvantage if he weren't sitting there naked, Armand nodded grimly.
"Good," Eshe murmured, and leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek. "Then I'll see you when you get downstairs.
She stood then and Armand found himself smiling faintly as she led Leigh and Bricker out of the room. The woman was walking sex, every move seductive to him. He-
His thoughts came to an abrupt halt as it suddenly occurred to him that he'd started out trying to make Lucian send Eshe somewhere safe and somehow ended up dropping that to argue defensively that he himself shouldn't be sent away. He wasn't sure, but had the distinct impression he'd been played there somehow.
"Yes, you were," Lucian said, and while his face was expressionless, there was no missing the amusement in his voice.
"She played you like a pro," Anders agreed dryly, making it clear Lucian wasn't the only one reading him. The man shook his head and said, "It was beautiful to watch. I almost thought you were going to thank her for letting you stay before she left the room."
"So she somehow turned the tables and did it on purpose?" he asked with a touch of outrage.
"Of course," Anders laughed.
"Hmm," Lucian muttered. "It was disturbingly like watching Leigh and me disagree."
"Let me guess," Anders said with amusement. "You start out upset about something, confront her on it, and somehow by the end of the argument you're the one apologizing."
Lucian nodded with a grunt of disgust.
"Women are sneaky," Anders said dryly.
"No, they aren't," Armand disagreed with a sigh as he tossed the blankets aside and got up. He had learned something in his three marriages, short as they were. Moving toward the walk-in closet to find clothes, he explained what he'd learned, "An angry male can be intimidating, especially when he's stronger, as men generally are even when it comes to immortals. I think women have had to develop the intelligence to deal with our anger. So, while we stomp around roaring like wounded lions, they use their heads as a sort of defense."
"Hmm," Anders muttered, appearing at the door of the walk-in closet as Armand dragged on a pair of jeans. "So you're suggesting they've evolved to be smarter than us?"
Armand smiled faintly at the arrogant disbelief in the enforcer's voice and said, "Only in communication skills. They can dance circles around us on that front. Or at least most of them can," he corrected himself dryly. He had met women who were failures in that area and men who had better communication skills than most. "But we've got the edge in other areas."
When Anders merely grunted doubtfully at the claim, Armand simply smiled and shook his head as he retrieved a shirt and pulled it on. The man would learn.
"So?" Lucian asked as Armand stepped back into the room from the closet. "Are you going to try to insist Eshe leave?"
Armand paused to peer at him with consideration. "Would you send her away?"
Lucian shrugged. "It's your home. I would make her leave if you wished it...and set her up in the motel beside the diner."
"Right, so she'd still be here under threat, but without anyone to watch her back," he said dryly and then sighed. "She can stay. We'll work this out together. But I'm not letting her out of my sight."
"We'll see," Lucian murmured and headed for the door.
Armand scowled at his back and followed.
"That was a nice bit of fast talking upstairs," Bricker congratulated as he followed Eshe and Leigh down the stairs. "You turned the tables on Armand beautifully."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Eshe said innocently, and caught Leigh's grin out of the corner of her eye as they stepped off the last step to start up the hall. In an effort to change the subject, she added, "Sorry about volunteering you for cooking duty. I'll help too, of course."
Bricker snorted at the offer. "You can't even open a strudel box. You aren't going to be much help."
"Which is why I volunteered you," she pointed out, unoffended. "I'm sure I'll catch on to this cooking business quick enough now that I'm eating again. I just haven't bothered with food for a long time."
"I still don't get that," Leigh said as they walked into the kitchen. "I can't imagine not wanting to eat. I mean life just isn't worth living without chocolate and cheesecake."
"Cheesecake?" Eshe asked dubiously. It didn't sound very appealing. Cheese was lovely, but dropping blue cheese or even old cheddar in a bowl with flour and whatnot and then cooking and icing it just sounded bizarre to her.
"You haven't had cheesecake yet?" Leigh asked with amazement.
Eshe shook her head, and Leigh gave her a pitying look that seemed to suggest she was missing something.
"If we stay, I'll pick some up today. You have to try it. It's manna," the woman assured her.
"It's a girl thing," Bricker said wryly when Eshe glanced his way in question. "I've never met a woman who didn't like cheesecake."
"And you don't like it?" Leigh asked him with disbelief.
"It's all right," Bricker said with a shrug.
"Lucian likes it. He can't get enough," Leigh announced. "But most men seem to be more into greasy foods like bacon or burgers than the sweet yummies."
"Bacon is good," Eshe said, sighing at the thought of food. It felt like days since she'd eaten real food, and her stomach felt empty.
"It has been days," Bricker pointed out, reading her thoughts. "You haven't had anything to eat since Sunday and it's Tuesday now."
Eshe frowned at this announcement. It had been Tuesday night when she'd arrived to start this job. It had been a week, and the only thing she'd done was question Harcourt. At this rate, Nicholas was going to fry.
"Don't be so hard on yourself," Bricker said quietly as he opened the refrigerator and began removing eggs, bacon, and butter. "You questioned Armand too, and we have tried to question Susanna's brother and sister. They just haven't been around for questioning."
Eshe grunted and scowled at him for reading her mind, but he didn't notice. His back was to her as he retrieved a frying pan from a cupboard beside the stove.
"Shall I make coffee?" Leigh asked, glancing around the kitchen. "And then I could start on toast."
"That would be good. Thanks," Bricker said.
"What do you want me to do?" Eshe asked as Leigh moved to grab up the empty coffee carafe and carried it to the sink to fill it.
Bricker frowned and glanced around and then said, "You can set the table."
Eshe raised an eyebrow. "Where do you want me to set it?"
"Ha ha," he said dryly, and then his expression turned uncertain. "You are kidding, right? You know about setting the table; putting plates and silverware on for everyone and butter and salt and pepper and maybe some jams?"
"Of course I do," she said dryly, moving to the cupboard to begin searching for the items he'd mentioned. Although the truth was, while she'd heard the term setting the table, she hadn't been sure what that involved. Now she did and found the plates to begin counting out five of them. Anders, she knew, didn't eat, so she didn't bother with a setting for him.
The coffee was just finishing when the other three men arrived. Anders immediately settled at the table, but Lucian and Armand headed for the coffeepot to get themselves coffees.
"The cream and sugar are on the table," Eshe told them as she searched the fridge for a selection of Mrs. Ramsey's preserves.
"Come sit down, Eshe," Lucian ordered as he moved to the table with his coffee.
She set the jams on the table, and then hesitated, but Leigh was manning the toaster, and Bricker seemed to have the stove under control, so she poured herself a coffee and moved to join the three men at the table, taking the seat beside Armand.
"As you pointed out upstairs, you've obviously got someone's attention with your investigations," Lucian said grimly as she dropped two cubes of sugar in her cup and reached for the cream. "We need to figure out how."
Eshe was silent as she poured cream into her coffee and then stirred the steaming drink. Setting the spoon aside, she then sighed and admitted, "I'm not sure how. We've really only managed to question Armand and Harcourt. Although our presence has been widely noted," she added dryly, think of the reaction in the diner.
"William?" Armand asked with surprise. "You can't suspect him. He wouldn't have killed Althea. She was his daughter."
Eshe grimaced. "I agree with you on that. I don't think he's behind the deaths, but talking to him was useful. We did learn some things."
"Yes, they did," Lucian said quietly. "Harcourt alibied you for Rosamund's death and was sure you couldn't have followed them to Toronto when Althea died. He said you were working with a foaling mare?"
Armand grimaced, an unpleasant memory obviously sliding through his mind. "We lost the foal. Nearly lost the mare too," he said, and then stiffened with realization. "You suspected me?"
"Well, as far as I could tell you were the only obvious connection between the three women and Annie," Lucian said with a shrug.
"We had to cross you off the list, and talking to Harcourt did that," Eshe said quietly. "As well as Marguerite. She and Jean Claude apparently visited while you were away, arriving after you left for court, and leaving early on the evening of the fire. She verified that you were away while they were there."
"Right." He sighed. "But William Harcourt was at court when Cedrick and I got there. He left before I did, but he was with me when Rosamund died. So if all three of my wives were killed, then he isn't the culprit either."
"So that takes both William and Cedrick off the list too if Susanna's death wasn't an accident," Eshe said with a shrug.
"What about the brother and sister?" Bricker suggested, turning from the stove to glance their way.
"Susanna was very close to her brother and sister," Armand said quietly. "That's why she turned Agnes. They wouldn't have hurt Susanna, and they weren't even in the country when Althea died."
"It's sounding like no one could have done it," Anders said dryly.
"That was my conclusion a century ago when I started looking at the deaths myself," Armand admitted, sounding depressed.
"Well, someone did something," Lucian announced grimly. "There's some reason why you two were locked in a burning shed."
Silence reigned around the table for a moment and then Eshe glanced at Armand. "Is there anyone else at all you've known since before Susanna's death?"
Armand thought for a moment, but shook his head. "We were a lot more spread out then. The Harcourts weren't that far away, and neither were Marguerite and Jean Claude, and of course Cedrick worked for me at the castle and Susanna's brother and sister were there, but..." He shrugged helplessly. "That's it."
"Maybe Susanna's death was an accident and you only need to be looking at Althea, Rosamund, and Annie's deaths," Anders suggested.
"That's possible," Eshe murmured.
"I don't know," Bricker murmured from the stove. "Althea's death sounded like it could have been an accident too."
Eshe glanced to him with disbelief. "You're kidding right?"
He glanced over his shoulder with surprise. "No. It was a hotel fire. It could have been an accident."
Eshe frowned, "You didn't notice anything fishy about Althea's death when William Harcourt was describing it?"
Bricker was frowning now too as the others watched and listened curiously. "No. Not really. I mean, it was a hotel fire. They happened."
Eshe shook her head with amazement and marveled, "It was obvious when he was telling the tale that Harcourt didn't pick up on it either, but then he's a man."
"Hey. I'm a man too," Bricker protested.
"Oh right," she said, and bit her lip to keep from laughing at his expression. Smiling, she said, "I just think of you as an enforcer rather than a man."
"I can't be both?"
"Maybe when you're older," she allowed.
"Gee thanks," he said dryly.
"What did you notice that Bricker didn't that makes you think she was murdered?" Armand asked, and he sounded almost eager. She supposed he would be glad to at least know one way or the other in his own mind if his suspicions had a good reason.
Eshe hesitated, aligning her thoughts in her mind, and then said, "Well, it was a hotel fire as Bricker said...but it apparently started in her room during the day."
Bricker shrugged impatiently. "You guys used lanterns and candles back then. One or the other probably got knocked over or fell or something."
"But it was during the day," Armand pointed out, his thoughts apparently following along Eshe's. "Althea slept during the day as a rule. But even if she wasn't, she wouldn't have needed a lantern or candle during the day."
"Exactly." Eshe smiled at him.
"Yeah, I guess that's kind of odd," Bricker allowed with a frown as he turned back to begin turning the strips of bacon.
Eshe nodded, and then said, "Except that she wasn't sleeping."
Bricker wheeled back around at once, a piece of dripping bacon dangling from the end of his fork. "What do you mean she wasn't sleeping?" Bricker asked with surprise. "William said she was exhausted, that she asked for the room at the back of the hotel so it would be quiet and Mary took Thomas so he wouldn't disturb her. She-"
"She was wearing the earrings her parents gave her for her eighteenth birthday," Eshe interrupted to remind him.
Bricker stared at her blankly. "So?"
"Althea never wore her jewelry to bed," Armand said quietly.
"William said she was tired," Bricker pointed out, and suggested, "Maybe she was so exhausted she just crashed and forgot to take them off."
Eshe shook her head. "They're too uncomfortable. She wouldn't have forgotten."
Bricker snorted. "I've slept with lots of mortal women who kept their earrings on."
"I'm sure you have," Eshe said dryly. "But mortals have pierced ears and most immortals don't."
"Yeah," Leigh said on a sigh. "I have to say that's kind of a bummer. I had pierced ears as a mortal, but after the turn?" She shook her head. "My ears healed up the moment I took out the earrings I was wearing when I turned. I tried getting them pierced again, but they just healed up again when I took the studs out."
Eshe grimaced and nodded. "You'd have to repierce them every time you wanted to wear earrings, and you'd have to do it with the earrings you want to wear."
"No thanks," Leigh said dryly.
Eshe smiled wryly. "Most immortals aren't sadistic enough to want to do that. Generally we wear clip-ons that pinch the lobe."
"Sounds uncomfortable," Lucian murmured, standing to fetch himself another coffee.
"They are," Leigh said dryly, and scowled at him as if he were at fault for her having to wear them.
"Sorry, my love," Lucian murmured, and bent to press a kiss to her forehead.
Leigh's scowl faded. "It's not your fault."
They shared a smile, and then Lucian kissed her again before turning to cross the room.
Eshe eyed the man curiously as he reclaimed his seat. It was the first time she'd witnessed this softer side of him. It made him seem almost human.
Catching her watching him, Lucian raised an eyebrow. "You were saying?"
"Right," Eshe murmured, and then regathered her thoughts. "So, anyway, aside from the pinching, the fashion back then was large, clunky pieces that would have been uncomfortable to wear while lying down. Impossible to sleep in and definitely not something Althea would have worn to bed," she murmured, and then added, "Besides, William said when they brought out her remains, the only thing left was her charred head and that's just wrong. The nanos make us highly flammable. Everywhere. She should have gone up like a Roman candle if she caught fire. There shouldn't have been anything left...unless the head was away from the actual fire itself."
"And away from her body when it went up," Lucian said thoughtfully. "You think she was awake and alive for some reason and beheaded like Annie and Rosamund, then her body set on fire?"
Eshe shrugged. "That would explain why her head survived mostly intact while her body didn't. It might have rolled under the bed or somewhere else where it was just slow roasted rather than going up in flames."
"Right." Bricker sighed with defeat. "It is sounding less like an accident."
They were all silent for a moment, and then Bricker said with bewilderment, "But who could have done it? William said the trip to Toronto was a spur-of-the-moment thing. For someone to have followed them to kill Althea, they would had to have been directly on their heels."
Everyone turned to Armand.
"Hey, don't look at me," he said quickly. "I was busy with the mare."
"Yes, but you were also at the farm when they left," Lucian pointed out. "Was there anyone else there? An immortal who would have left right behind them?"
Armand frowned, his expression thoughtful, but finally said, "No. John and Agnes were in Europe and I'd sent for Cedrick when the mare first started having trouble. He was there with me helping the whole night and well past dawn."
"It doesn't have to be someone who was around when Susanna died if hers was an accident," Eshe pointed out.
Armand took another moment to think, but finally sighed and shook his head. "I'm sorry. There was no one. Besides," he added grimly, "I did look into this myself after Rosamund's death. I asked questions and even read minds. None of the people you've mentioned lied to me as they answered the questions I asked."
Eshe nodded. "I read William's mind too when we talked to him. He was definitely telling the truth about the deaths he knew about."
"Then we're back to no suspects," Lucian said dryly.
Armand hesitated, but then said, "I don't suppose Jean Claude..." He let the sentence trail off and then grimaced when Lucian began to look like thunder. "I'm sorry, Lucian. I know the idea upsets you, and frankly, I can't think of a reason he would have wanted to hurt me like this, but I can't think of anyone who would, and he did do some crazy things."
"He did," Lucian agreed coldly. "But he didn't set the shed on fire. He's dead."
"He's been dead before," Armand muttered with disgust.
Lucian suddenly looked weary. "Yes, well, trust me. He is dead now."
Armand sighed. "Fine. Then we're back to square one. Four women dead, no rhyme or reason for it, and no suspects. Welcome to my world," he said bitterly.
"At least you can be relatively certain now that Althea was murdered," Bricker pointed out. "I mean, we're agreed on that, right?"
When everyone nodded silently, Bricker shrugged. "And someone nearby is nervous about the investigation or they wouldn't have tried to kill you two in the shed," he pointed out. "I guess we just keep asking questions. Someone somewhere has to know something that can lead us in the right direction if Annie found out something fifty years ago."
Eshe noted the sharp glance Lucian then turned on Armand. She saw his eyes narrow and then he said, "I asked you this in the diner, but I'm asking again. Annie was apparently asking a lot of questions about the deaths of your wives. It wouldn't be unexpected that she'd try to talk to you. Did she ever come down here?"
"I told you no," Armand said quietly. "I wasn't lying. I never met Nicholas's Annie."
"Maybe she gave you a different name or didn't give you a name at all," Eshe suggested quietly. "Did anyone at all show up around that time asking questions?"
Armand shook his head. "No. I'm sorry."
Eshe sat back with a sigh and then shrugged. "Well, then Bricker and I keep asking questions."
"We three will all keep asking questions," Armand said grimly.
When Eshe glanced to Lucian in question at that, he said, "Leigh and I are returning to the city after breakfast, but I'm leaving Anders with you. I want you to split up into two pairs. Eshe, you're with Bricker. Armand, Anders will be with you. I want one pair to talk to Susanna's brother and sister and the other talks to this Cedrick fellow. Find out what they remember about the deaths and if any of them spoke to Annie. Find out everything you can and then call me in Toronto and we'll talk again." Before anyone could comment, he then turned to glance to Bricker. "How long until we eat?"
"Right now," Bricker said at once, handing a plate of bacon to Leigh as she paused beside him with a plate of stacked toast already in hand. As Leigh carried those two plates over, Bricker pulled two more plates from the oven to carry them to the table as well.
Eshe's eyes widened when she saw that while one held a dozen eggs cooked in a fashion that the waitress at the diner had referred to as "over easy," the other plate held a small mountain of hash browns. She hadn't noticed him cooking those, but then she'd been distracted by the conversation at the table.
"I want to talk to you before you leave," Armand said quietly to Lucian as they began serving themselves.
Eshe glanced at him curiously, but suspected she knew what he wanted to talk to Lucian about. She'd noticed the way he'd reacted to Lucian's assignment of pairs. She suspected he was going to argue that she be paired with him rather than Bricker. But she also knew without a doubt that Lucian would say no.