She was on the phone so Kincaid just leaned against the desk. “But I have clearance, this is the DA’s office. What do you mean you can’t, no I don’t need a supervisor…” She growled and very carefully hung up the phone, closed her eyes and took a few breaths.
“Yes. I have the codes, passwords. They always give me grief. It’s just a criminal report.”
“Cheer up, Kate,” Kincaid said, setting a package of maple cookies on her desk.
She grabbed them with a squeal, all ready opening the package. “Where did you get these? I haven’t found them anywhere.”
“I got relatives up north. Might want to hide them, so Elizabeth doesn’t steal them.” He grinned as Elizabeth flipped him off without looking away from her screen.
“God, these are good,” Kate said, munching on one and putting the rest away in a drawer. “Thanks, Kincaid. But you just didn’t come here to give me cookies.”
Kincaid sighed and stood up, shoving his hands in his pockets. “No. I need to talk to the boss. Judge Tyler was killed last night.”
“What?” Her eyes were wide. “I spoke to him just yesterday evening in the courthouse before I went home. What happened?”
“Arson. Somebody burned his house down and he never even got out of bed. Found the firebug in the backyard, next to what was left of a gas can.”
“Oh that is terrible. What about his daughter?”
“Daughter? We didn’t find anyone else,” Kincaid said slowly. “Do you know her?”
“Just to say hi. She’s in university, I think. I met her at a Christmas party.”
“Ok, I’ll make sure she’s being ran down. Make sure no one wants to hit her as well.”
“Kincaid, what are you doing standing here flirting?” The DA stood in the now open door of his office. “If you got nothing to do, we sure as hell do. Kate, you need to go downstairs and meet the investigator. Go get that paperwork sorted out.”
“All right. On my way.” She logged off the computer and pulled out her purse, locking the desk. She patted Kincaid’s arm. “Hope you’re wearing your fireproof undies.”
He stood in front of the large desk, hands clasped behind his back, trying not to fidget. His suit was far more uncomfortable then he was used to. The old man was still on the phone, ten minutes after he had asked Blake to come in. Finally he hung up the phone and turned his chair around.
“So, Blake…”, his voice trailed off and he leaned forward, peering at Blake. “Where did you get that suit?”
“Sears. A bit higher then I like to spend but they had a big sale.” The old man was notorious for his dislike of expensive clothing. He wanted his people to dress like “regular people” in his words. Blake had even heard he’d taken a riding crop to a man who’d shown off his new Italian suit.
“Hmmph. Anyway, how are things going with this trial business? Will my son serve any time?”
“Most definitely, Mr. Shelton.”
“I thought I was paying you to see that he didn’t.”
“And I told you that there was no way that would happen unless he left the country. The feds have done their work too well. The best we can hope for is to get him a smaller sentence.”
Shelton grunted. “Fine. Maybe it’ll toughen the little pussy up. So what happens with this judge dead?”
“They pick a new one. He decides if the trail continues or to call a mistrial and start a new one. Which is why we had Tommy’s lawyers make so many motions before the trial started. Chances are the new guy looks at that file and throws his hands up. Start it all over.”
Shelton nodded, tapping a pen against his desk. “How does this help?”
Blake bit back a sigh. He’d told the man all this before several times but Shelton always liked to play the simple country boy. One of the things that had kept him alive and in power but it was infuriating to those who worked for him. “Not every judge is as inflexible as Tyler. We may get someone who is more…friendly to our organization. Maybe we’ll be able to apply leverage. Could get lucky with the jury. However it shakes out, he’ll be better off then he would have been with Tyler on the bench.”
“He better be, Breckinridge. It won’t be so simple as cancelling a check.”
Blake leaned forward, a slight smile tugging at his lips. “Don’t threaten me, Shelton. I took the job, I’ll do the job. You might be the boss here but you ain’t the big boss. You’d be a damn sight easier to kill then a fucking judge.”
The two men stared eye to eye, silent, until Shelton started laughing. “Damn, son, you don’t push easy, do you?” Breckinridge just kept his gaze on the old mans. “Nice to know where I stand. Now, what about the shithead that torched the house?”
“Dead. And burned to a crisp.”
Shelton raised an eyebrow. “I see you are as thorough as promised.” He opened the large checkbook on his desk and ripped out a check all ready filled in. “Or do you prefer cash?”
“Check is fine.”
“What are you doing next?”
“See if I can’t get info from someone at the DA’s office. There’s one or two vulnerable people there.” He stood up, sliding the check into his jacket pocket.
“Call me if you need anything,” Shelton said. “Oh, and Breckinridge? Be careful who you threaten. Lot of hollars you could end up lost in.”
“Shit. No one lives forever.”
“Oh, damn it,” Kate muttered. She knelt down, gathering up the files she had just dropped trying to get her car unlocked.
“Can I help you?”
She looked up, hand darting to her purse and the pepper spray inside. Squinting, she peered at the man. The sun was behind him, making it hard to make out his features. “No, that’s all right. I can get it.”
He crouched down anyway, picking up a few of the folders and holding them out. She sat the stack on the roof of her car and unlocked the door, palming the spray and tossing her purse in the passenger seat. Eyes narrowed, she studied him and finally took the files.
“Do I know you?”
“I did some investigating work for the DA office a while back. Kate, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name.”
“Blake. Blake Breckinridge.”
She frowned, thinking. That name sounded familiar. “Used to be a cop?”
“Wow, you are good,” he grinned. “Yeah, a lifetime ago. Now it’s some of the same work. Pays better though.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Breckinridge. But I really got to get going.”
He slipped a card into her hand. “Give me a call sometime. Get a cup of coffee, maybe some dinner?”
“Um, yeah, maybe.”
He gave her a wave and walked across the parking lot, leaving her watching him before looking back down at the card in her hand. She pulled out her phone. “Anita, what can you tell me about a Blake Breckinridge? Besides the way he fills out a pair of jeans.”