Chapter 23: Investigation Pt. 3

“So you think he’s after Gates,” she concluded, not in the mood to humor his ego. “Who’s still milling about with those majors near the bar, by the way. And I think he’s after you. We now have less than ten minutes to figure something out. How about we agree to disagree and work on the contingency that it could be either?”

“Fine,” Fiearius agreed, back to business at last. “You got an idea?”

Leta smirked. “I do. But you’re not gonna like it.”


Liam half-walked, half-ran down the hallway. Walked only because he knew it was in everyone’s best interest to stay quiet and undetected, but ran because he absolutely had to find Leta and Fiearius as soon as physically possible. He’d known something was fishy about the ordinary-looking man who’d been staring at them from across the room, but despite his suspicions, the worst he’d expected to uncover when he followed him upstairs to his guest quarters was a wealthy Carthian with a particularly nasty grudge against his cluster’s second admiral. The truth, he’d found in his years of reporting, was typically droll.

Not this time.

When he reached the stairs, he barrelled down them, no longer caring who heard. There wasn’t time. This go-around, one of the guards let out a semi-scolding, “Hey–” but Liam was already out of the stairwell and into the ballroom before he could manage much more.

For all he knew, this discovery was the exact thing Leta and Fiearius had been so worked up over when he’d found them earlier. But they had been in a different room. And if they knew what he knew, shouldn’t he have run into them during his investigation? If they knew, where were they now?

He stumbled to the edge of the dance floor, paying no heed to the group of women who glared at him for nearly bumping into them. Hurriedly, his eyes scanned the room. The two of them shouldn’t have been hard to spot. Both were tall, which helped and Liam had never met anyone else with hair as ridiculously iconic as Admiral Soliveré. If they were in the ballroom, he’d see them. And he didn’t see them.

Abandoning the dance floor, he started to race through the support hallway where he nearly ran into a parade of waiters carrying ornate dessert platters towards the main hall, but still no sign of either Leta or Soliveré.

Next he tried the foyer, the entrance hall, the vestibule. He even attempted to head back towards the stairs until the same guard that had called him out before pointed a finger his way and growled, “That’s the one! Been sneakin’ around–” Liam quickly hurried the opposite direction.

He was running out of places to look. Most of the ballroom was sitting down to eat their elaborate single-serve cakes, but the two people he needed, the two people he absolutely had to tell this news, were nowhere.

Where were they now?

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