I stare at my reflection in the mirror. Why did I have a sudden feeling that this was a bad plan?
Mushu yowls at me from the floor. I look down at him. "What? You think this is a bad idea too?" Mushu meows at me before dashing off. I really should have gotten a dog instead.
I hear a knock at the door. Was it already time? I glance at my clock. Sure enough, it was. "Just a minute!"
Sliding on my heels and grabbing my clutch, I head to the door.
I stare at the open doors. Light and music pours through them. No turning back now.
"Let's go find Elijah," Micaiah stops at my side, offering me his arm, "Shall we?"
I take his arm. "Miles said he'd be waiting for us inside."
"Let's not keep him waiting any longer, then." Micaiah leads me towards the doors. "He might take our absence as an opportunity to slip out."
Inside, it doesn't appear to be a ball. From the balcony, I can see the dance floor, but only a few couples occupy its space. Everyone else stands about the large open room, chatting while the piano's chords float above them.
"Took you long enough to get here," Miles's voice says as he appears at my side.
"Now, now," Sofia stands at his side, "Elijah, loosen up. This is a party after all." Her eyes fall on me and she smiles. "It's nice to see you again Detective Fullin. I hope Elijah hasn't been too stubborn."
"Miles's stubbornness isn't something I can't handle," I tell her.
Sofia smiles. "Good. Now, I had best be off. If they are involved, then they'll be aware of the Night World. I don't want to accidentally ruin this plan by being present." With that, she turns and wanders off into the partygoers.
"Have you seen the Jones's, Miles?" I ask him.
"They got here shortly before the two of you did. They've since disappeared into the crowd."
Micaiah glances over the railing. "Well, we can't watch for them from here. If they notice us up here first, that might trigger a warning."
"We don't have comms so we can't exactly split up either," Miles puts in.
I study the room as the boys continue to speculate. The dance floor is mostly central and still mostly empty. "We dance." I begin heading to the stairs. Noticing neither boy is following me, I pause and look back. They're both staring at me. A thought strikes me. "Don't tell me neither of you can dance."
"No, he can dance," Miles points toward Micaiah, "But how is that going to help us find them?"
"No one is going to be able to tell if two dancers are casing the room. You'll just have to stay within view and find a way to be discreet."
"That's. . ." Miles tilts his head, "Actually not a bad plan."
"Thank you. Now let's go." I begin down the stairs again.
At the base of the stairs, Miles melts into the crowd and Micaiah offers me his arm. Taking it he leads me to the dance floor. The melody is slow and steady. Micaiah leads us into a waltz.
We easily glide across the floor. Through the turns and twists, I casually glance about the room. No sign of them yet.
"You're quite an excellent dancer," Micaiah says as we spin once more.
"I'm just glad the dance lessons are finally paying off," I reply easily twirling under my arm.
"You take dance classes in your free time?"
I laugh. "Hardly." Another spin. "My mother insisted I learned. Besides, a waltz is easy."
Micaiah spins me, releasing a hand and spinning me to the side. Before he can pull me back towards him, a hand catches mine, pulling me away from him. I'm surprised to find myself now dancing with Miles.
"I thought you couldn't dance?" I ask as we move across the floor.
"I never said I couldn't, I just didn't want to," he counters, "But that's not important." Miles dips me easily. "The bar." I let my eyes move to the bar. There stands Mr. Jones. Miles pulls me up. "Ready?"
"Let's do this."
"I'll meet you there."
Before I can respond, he spins me away, right back to Micaiah. He catches me easily, raising an eyebrow questioningly.
"They're here. Mr. Jones is at the bar," I tell him.
He easily pivots us, eyes scanning across the crowd. "Perfect timing. This song's almost over."
As the music fades, we separate to join the clapping with the other couples. Linking arms, we make our way to the bar.
"Follow my lead," Micaiah whispers as we break through the last of the crowd separating us from the bar. He laughs easily, so I smile. At the bar, he releases my arm, leaning against the counter. "A scotch for me, on the rocks and," he looks at me, "What would you like Winter?"
"A glass of red," I tell the bartender. I notice Mr. Jones glancing our way.
Nodding, the bartender goes to collect our drinks.
I easily slide onto the barstool next to Micaiah. "Tell me, do you already have another case lined up or are you getting a breather?"
"You should know as well as I do when you work for the city, there's no such thing as a breather."
The bartender reappears with our drinks. I nod my thanks.
"DA Cullen!" Mr. Jones appears at Micaiah's side, "Why am I not surprised to find that you've found someone to spend your evening with?"
Micaiah laughs, offering Mr. Jones his hand. "Mr. Jones, a pleasure as always, but I'm afraid you are mistaken. This lovely woman is my plus one for this evening."
Mr. Jones shakes Micaiah's hand. "Well then," Mr. Jones turns to me, offing his hand, "May I say it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss. .?"
"Fullin," I say, taking his hand, "Detective Fullin."
He pulls his hand back, "So you're the famed detective Chief O'Brien wants for his replacement."
I smile, "Guilty as charged, though I've little interest in it."
"I think Chief Fullin has a nice ring to it," Micaiah says with a sly smile.
"No," I shake my head laughing, "Your flattery really knows no bounds, Micaiah."
"But if you were chief, you'd have an excuse to see me more often."
"George!" A voice calls before I can respond. Mr. Jones turns towards it. Mrs. Jones approaches with, surprisingly, Miles in tow. "Look who I found! You remember Elijah, Micheal's boy?"
Miles looks less than thrilled to be dragged along by Mrs. Jones. I lift my glass for a sip to hide my small laugh. As Mrs. Jones pulls them to a stop, Miles shoots me a murderous glare. I straighten in response. Just what kind of play was he now going for?
"Of course, you're here," he says, venom dripping from his voice.
Micaiah must be similarly shocked as he pushes off the bar to stand straight. "I thought you weren't coming."
Miles turns his glare on Micaiah. "Not that I'm ecstatic to see you either, but at least I don't have to see you on a daily basis," he snaps.
"Oh, like you're such a joy to work with." Miles turns an offended look on me. "Oh, don't play innocent," I chide him, "At this point, I'm inclined to say you're purposely hindering the investigation."
"Day Division has no right to this case. You're the one hindering the investigation," he snaps back.
"Oh dear, you were right," Mrs. Jones says.
"I told them it was a bad idea for joint custody of the case," Mr. Jones mutters in agreement.
"I hope your double drops next," I hiss at Miles.
"Okay, let's all just calm down and be civil," Micaiah says, holding up hands as if to ward off our fighting.
"Fine," we snap.
"If I had realized I was going to start a minor catfight, I wouldn't have brought Elijah over," Mrs. Jones apologizes.
"Well, we wouldn't be fighting if someone could stop being stubborn and just admit that my theory is worth investigating," I say offhandedly, lifting my glass for another sip.
Miles must see where I'm going. He crosses his arms. "Well, you've got your impartial jury here. Why don't you ask them?"
I can see Mr. Jones start from the corner of my eye, but I keep my gaze leveled on Miles. "Clearly the Jones's know you. They're hardly impartial."
Mr. Jones nods his head but freezes when his wife begins speaking. "Nonsense. I know full well how stubborn Elijah can be. Tell me your theory dear. I'll put him in his place if need be."
Bingo. "Well, Mr. Hardy's son, Thomas Hardy, mentioned that he was going to be taking his father's place on the bank's board. Chief O'Brien wants me for his replacement in the future. My theory is that our two cases are related as we were both set to take prominent positions of power and the next target will similarly be so. We aren't looking into it because Miles thinks it's not worth looking into. Will you please tell him to stop acting like a child?"
Mrs. Jones is very still. Mr. Jones looks very uncomfortable. He clears his throat. "That's quite the theory."
Mrs. Jones nods quickly. "Besides, you've said it yourself, you've no interest in becoming the chief. Why would you be a target?"
"See?" Miles asks. "Not worth looking into."
"But what if it is? What if there is a connection?" I challenge. "Or better yet, what if following this lead leads us to the culprit's motives."
Miles laughs. "Are you suggesting the Double Doctor wants to run Copultin City?" I don't miss the Jones's shared uneasy look.
"Now, now," Mr. Jones says, drawing our attention to him, "I'm sure if someone were trying to take over the city the council would know."
"Exactly!" Miles points at Mr. Jones, "He'd make a more reasonable target than you."
Mr. Jones laughs, a slight unsteadiness to it, "Let's not be preposterous, I'm not making any major calls."
Micaiah laughs. "You're the most senior councilman, Mr. Jones, I doubt that."
Mrs. Jones shakes her head. "I don't know what to think if I'm being honest, but I'd say you'd best be careful. Night Division and Day Division are separate for a reason you know. Oh! Is that a tango? It is! Come, George. It's been forever since we went dancing. You children get along now."
Taking her husband's hand, she leads him off. Once they're out of sight, Micaiah slumps back against the bar as Miles slides onto the barstool next to me.