"DEFENSE OF THE REALM"
Two unmarked police cars converged upon an apartment building near Clement and 29th Street. Darryl and Olivia climbed out of one car. The remaining members of their squad climbed out of the other.
"Why are we all here?" Marcus Anderson demanded. "For one suspect?"
Darryl checked his pistol. "Because this particular suspect happens to have known accomplices. Everyone ready?" The others nodded. Darryl then gave his squad instructions on how to approach Gallagher's apartment building. Seconds later, the five police officers started after their prey.
Both Darryl and Olivia entered the building through the front door. An elevator conveyed them to the building's fourth floor - the location of Gerry Gallagher's apartment. After the pair approached the apartment door, Darryl knocked. For a brief moment, no one answered. Then he knocked again. A voluptuous blond woman opened the door.
"Yes?" she answered nervously. Her eyes conveyed anxiety.
Darryl smiled and flashed his badge. "Lieutenant Morris of the San Francisco Police. Does Gerry Gallagher live here?"
The woman blinked. Several times. "No. Uh, . . . why don't you come in?"
Strange. Darryl frowned, as he and Olivia began to enter the apartment. Why would she . . .?
"Gallagher!" Olivia's voice boomed in the hallway. She turned to Darryl. "He left through another door!" She raced back into the hallway. A gunshot ricocheted not far from her head.
Darryl turned to the woman. "You stay here!" The he followed his partner. "Suspect is heading toward the east staircase! And he is armed and dangerous!" he barked into his walkie-talkie. "Carmen! Scott! Head for the building's entrance! Marcus! Block the back entrance!"
He continued to follow both Olivia and Gallagher down the staircase. By the time Darryl had reached the fifth floor, he paused before a window, climbed out and landed on the fire escape. Then he quickly made his way down the latter, and to the alley below. Seconds later, he heard Olivia's voice crackle on the walkie-talkie, "Suspect has broke off and is using the south fire escape to reach the alley on the building's west side!"
Sure enough, Darryl spotted Gallagher drop to the alley a few yards in front of him. The police lieutenant withdrew his pistol and pointed it at the suspect. "Gallagher! Hold it right there!" Gallagher froze. "Get your hands up! Slowly!"
As ordered, Gallagher raised his hands in the air, revealing a revolver in his hands. "Drop the gun!" Olivia cried. She had appeared on the scene, after following the robber on the fire escape. Gallagher allowed the gun to slip from his fingers and drop to the ground. She kept her pistol aimed at Gallagher, while Darryl cuffed him. "So, how did you know?"
"Know what?" Darryl replied.
Olivia shot him a dark look. "You know what! How did you know that he would use the fire escape?"
After he finished cuffing Gallagher, Darryl said, "What can I say? Police instinct. Well . . . I figured that if I were him, I would use the fire escape to avoid the front and back of the building."
"Hmmmm." Olivia lowered her gun, as Darryl forced Gallagher to sit on the ground. "Clever." While she talked to the other squad members on the walkie-talkie, Darryl read the Miranda rights to their suspect.
Cole and his uncle stepped inside a local restaurant in the San Francisco downtown area. "Very nice place," the older daemon declared. "What's the name again?"
"The Tadich Grill," Cole replied. "I'm surprised that you've never heard of it. This restaurant is practically a local institution. When I had first started coming here, it had already been opened for at least sixty years."
The maitre'd led the two men to a nearby booth. After they had sat down, a waiter appeared and asked if they would like to order drinks. Cole ordered his favorite - a Gibson. Marbus asked for a Scotch, neat.
When the waiter left, Marbus added, "Strange, I've never been here. But then, I'm not that familiar with San Francisco."
"Not even when my parents were married?" Cole asked.
Marbus shook his head. "Sorry lad. The first time I had ever clap eyes upon you, Benjamin had been dead for over a year."
Cole frowned. "And yet, you're familiar with Cordelia Morton and her family." He was referring to one of San Francisco's wealthiest families.
"I usually see them in Europe. Either in Monte Carlo or Portofino." Marbus opened his menu. "Now this sounds interesting. Pan-fried sole. What are you having?"
"I haven't decided yet," Cole murmured. He stared at his uncle. A deep suspicion glimmered in the back of his mind that this lunch was more than a friendly gathering between two kinsmen. "So . . . Marbus. Are you going to tell me why you had invited me to lunch?"
Marbus' blue eyes widened with innocence. "What do you mean?"
Cole leaned forward in a sinister manner. "Marbus."
The older daemon leaned back against the cushioned seat. "Bloody hell," he murmured. "If you must know, I need your help."
"Need my help for what?" Cole demanded.
The waiter returned with their drinks and left. After taking a sip of his Scotch, Marbus continued, "I need you to give refuge to a friend of mine."
Cole frowned. "What friend?"
"I've told you about her, once." Marbus took another sip. "Natalia Stepanova. She was one of the two whitelighters who had warned me about plans to vanquish you."
Now Cole remembered. The whitelighter's name brought up memories of a warning he had received from Marbus, about the Elders' intentions to kill him. "Why does she need refuge from me?"
Marbus explained, "Your flat is the only place where she can be safe. The Elders had managed to track her to the Gimle Realm. I got her out before they could snatch her. Then they traced her to the mortal realm. She's now inside my hotel room, but I figured that you're the only person powerful enough to prevent her from being captured."
"And why in the hell are the Elders after her?" The moment Cole had asked his question, the answer came to him. "Wait a minute! Has this anything to do with the death of that Elder? Phoebe had dropped by the penthouse to tell me about it."
A grim-faced Marbus added, "Four of 'em are dead now, lad." While the daemon and the half-daemon sipped their drinks, Marbus revealed the unfolding crisis within the Whitelighters Realm. Only one Elder had been killed on Earth, while the other three had been killed above. Marbus also told Cole about Natalia's revelation regarding the Elders, the Source and the Charmed Ones. He simply could not believe what he had just heard. By breeding a powerful sorcerer with a low-level witch, the Elders had created a powerful weapon to bring down the Source. And endangered the balance of good and evil within their universe.
"Why go through so much trouble?" he asked Marbus. "Why didn't the Elders simply ask this Phillip Lacey to kill the Source, himself?
"He didn't realize that he was being manipulated by the Elders, lad. I suspect that a whitelighter had acted as an agent on earth to ensure that he and Charlotte would meet." Marbus sighed. "And it's possible that he wasn't strong enough to get rid of the Source."
Cole asked, "Does Leo and the other whitelighters know about all this? About this whole mess with the Source and the Elders?"
Marbus shook his head. "Natalia had managed to stumble across all of this in the Realm's archives, recently. And I don't think that she and Barbara DeVilliers had the opportunity to spread the word beyond their followers."
Cole sighed. "If Phoebe and her sisters ever found out about this . . ."
"Well, there's a more immediate matter to consider," Marbus said. "Like providing protection for Natalia." He peered at his nephew from behind the rim of his glass. "Would you mind?"
"Of course not. Bring her by my place, this evening. At least before seven. I'm taking Phoebe out for dinner, tonight."
One of Marbus' brows quirked upward. "Really? You and Frances have been dining out a lot, lately. Haven't you?"
"Her name is Phoebe," Cole said for the umpteenth time. "And what's the problem?"
Marbus coughed slightly. "Nothing. Never mind." He glanced around the restaurant's dining room. "Now what happened to our waiter?"
A defiant Gallagher sat inside one of the police station's interrogation rooms, while Darryl and Scott Yi hovered over him. Olivia sat in one of the chairs, opposite the suspect. "I don't know what the hell you're talking about!" he declared. "How many fucking times do I have to tell you?"
"So far, you've only told us twice." Darryl leaned across the table to face the robber. "Now, I'm going to ask you one last time. What do you know about a robbery and murder at a shop on Kearny called Kostopulos's Antiquities? And about the murder of a dealer named Gregory Liederhoff, at the Powell House Hotel?"
Gallagher shouted, "Nothing! I . . . know . . . nothing!"
Darryl stared at Olivia, who merely shrugged. Scott seemed slightly amused. "So, you don't know a thing. Huh?"
"That's right!" Gallagher sneered. "Now, when are you going to let me go?"
Olivia chuckled mirthlessly. "Oh don't worry. We'll let you go. After you've been charged with robbery and murder . . . and after your attorney has arranged for your bail. And only then will we release you."
Gallagher shot out of his seat. "What the fu . . .?"
"Sit down!" Scott ordered in a harsh voice. "Now!"
Reluctantly, the suspect did as he was told. "You have nothing on me," he whined in an uneasy voice.
"Wanna bet?" Darryl shot back. "Ballistics has discovered that the bullets found in Stefan Kostopulos and Gregory Liederhoff's bodies match the bullets from your gun. The gun you were carrying, when we arrested you. And what you had used to fire a shot at a police officer."
Panic filled Gallagher's eyes. "Wait a minute! I didn't know you guys were cops!"
"Oh, so you admit that the gun is yours?"
"I . . ." Gallagher immediately closed his mouth.
Someone knocked on the door. Then Carlotta poked her head inside. "Say Darryl?"
"Yeah?" the police lieutenant replied.
"Marcus and I found some interesting items inside Gallagher's apartment." Carlotta strode inside and dumped a plastic bag on the table. A triumphant smile curled her lips. "Including this."
Darryl grabbed the bag and dumped the contents upon the table. A small bundle of bills. "Well now! Look at what we've got here!" he crowed.
"Hey, that's not mine!" Gallagher protested. "You guys had planted it on me!"
Carlotta rolled her eyes. "Spare us your bullshit! Marcus and I had found it, along with other bags, hidden underneath the sofa. Items from other . . . jobs, I would assume. And we found all of this stuff in front of witnesses."
"Cops!" Gallagher shot back.
"Including your girlfriend?" While Gallagher's shoulders sagged with defeat, Carlotta continued. "We were able to lift prints from the bag. They match our suspect's prints, perfectly." She nodded at the cash on the table. "That should run to the amount of three thousand, seven hundred and forty-two dollars. Which is exactly what was missing from Kostopulos' cash register."
All four detectives stared at Gallagher. Darryl said, "Are you sure you don't have anything to tell us?"
Fighting the urge to smack the suspect on the side of the head, Darryl continued, "What if I told you that we have a witness to the Kostopulos murder?"
Again, Gallagher shot up from his seat. "Your witness is lying!"
"Sit your ass back down on that seat!" Scott barked. Glaring at the police officers, the suspect did as he was told. "Between the witness, the bullets and this evidence, Gerry," Scott continued, "you're looking at a world of shit! What do you have to say?"
Gallagher suddenly blurted, "It wasn't my idea to rob that place! I was hired by . . ."
"Yes?" Olivia added.
The robber sighed. "This woman . . . she had hired me. She wanted me to do the Kostopulos job as soon as possible. But I had other plans that night, so I did . . ." He hesitated.
"You had another job and you had decided to rob Kostopulos in the daytime," Olivia finished. "What about Liederhoff?"
Gallagher nodded. "Him too. The lady wanted both men dead."
"She . . ." Gallagher lowered his head. "This woman and her two flunkies had approached me. Her name was Lin Bryant." Darryl heard an intake of breath from Scott. Gallagher continued, "She's a . . ." He shot a nervous glance at the young detective. ". . . part Chinese or something. She owns an auction house. Only I don't know where this place is. She had hired me to get . . ."
Darryl corrected him. "To steal."
Gallagher's face turned red. "Yeah. She wanted me to . . . steal these objects."
Olivia held up the Kostopulos photograph of the medallion. "This?"
"Yeah. Apparently, both Kostopulos and Liederhoff each had one." Gallagher paused. "That's it."
"Lin Bryant." Darryl savored the name. "Where can we find her?"
Gallagher rolled his eyes. "Hey! It's like I said. I don't know where the fuck she is! We had met at the Golden Gate Park every time."
Darryl turned to Carlotta. "Get Marcus in here. Mr. Gallagher is going to provide us with a description of this Lin Bryant." The policewoman nodded and left the room. Darryl returned his attention to Gallagher. "Right, Gerry?"
The robber merely looked away, with a morose expression stamped on his face.
END OF CHAPTER 6