Excerpt from Robbery on the High Seas

             “Naia?”

            She started, then lifted her head. “I’m sorry. I must have drifted off.” A red spot on her cheek marked where she’d been lying on it.

            “It’s been a long day,” he chuckled.

            She blinked and yawned. “Wh-what time is it?”

            “Nearly seven.”

            “Already?”

            Parking himself on the edge of the mattress, he grabbed a chicken leg from the tray. It wasn’t seafood, but it was cold and still delicious. “How far did you get?”

            “I got through all of them. All three hundred six.” She managed a small smile. “How about you?”

            “Same here. I’m ready to call it a day. Unfortunately, the work’s just beginning.”

            She sat back in the chair and turned to look at him. “What’s our next step?”

            He pointed to the desk. “We go over what you found out. We interrogate all the shark nons.”

            “That’s going to be a problem. The employment records show who’s a non, who’s a static, and who’s human, but that’s all. The nons don’t specify what their other form is specifically, and it’s not required.”

            “Shit.”

            “That’s exactly what I said,” she confessed.

            “So how many nons are we looking at?”

            She checked her pad. “Not too many. A hundred and one.”

            “Roughly a third?”

            “Actually, no.” She picked up the pad to check her numbers. “Forty-seven are statics.”

            “Which means the largest percentage are human.”

            “Looks that way.” She cocked her head at him. “Hey. Cheer up. It could have been the other way around.”

            Rob snorted and started to shove another piece of chicken into his mouth, when he caught sight of some large, dark particles in the sauce covering the skin. “What is this? Mushroom sauce?”

            “I don’t know. I think so. Why? Are you allergic to mushrooms?”

            He knew he shouldn’t be eating the chicken since it had mushrooms, but a little voice derided him, as well as his stomach. What were the odds, anyway, if he did eat them?

            “No. Just curious. I’m so hungry, I could eat a whale. What else did you find? Anything?”

            “Yeah.”

            Her tone of voice immediately caught his attention, and he froze. “What?”

            She picked up the folder sitting on the desk, which turned out to be two folders, and handed them to him. “These two men.”

            “What about them?” He eyed the names and details. The first thing he noticed was they were both nons.

            “They’ve been watching me. I’m pretty sure they’re also following me.”

            He jerked his head up to stare at her. She was unusually pale. Little worry lines furrowed her forehead and the corners of her eyes.

            “It seems like everywhere I go, they’re there. If it’s not one, it’s the other.”

            Rob picked up one folder and studied the photo attached to the employment application. Tor Sharvis. A coldness immediately shot through his spine. It was the steward who’d let him into the cabin moments ago. The other face was vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t pinpoint where he’d seen the man. The guy’s name was Alex Shears.

            “We’re not looking at one murderer, Naia.”

            “What?”

            “I haven’t revealed that tidbit to Captain Fairbanks. Some information is always held back during an investigation, so that when a suspect is questioned or confesses, if they reveal that suppressed detail, there’s a whopping good chance you’ve got the right guy.”

            “How many are we looking at?”

            “I think just two.”

            “What makes you think there’s more than one killer?”

            He snorted. “You have two men in holding. One’s being slaughtered. You think the other one’s not going to yell his head off?”

            “So…two people went in, one to a cell, and each killed a man?”

            “That, or one did the deed while the other stood lookout. If anyone approached wondering why the commotion, he could explain the prisoners were trying to attract attention, and it would be wise to ignore them.” Rob wiped his mouth and fingers on a cloth napkin. “My money’s on the second scenario.”

            “Why? Just curious.”

            He raised an eyebrow at her. “Who’d be guarding the door while the both of them are busy?”