The Gifted Realm: Academy - Volume 1

Chapter 36 - It All Comes Tumbling...

That evening after putting Aida to bed, Dan settled back on the sofa with his wife. “I’ve got to get this case figured out. It finally occurred to me today that I want this done before Princess Halia makes her debut. After that, Venton can go fuck itself sideways.”

His wife offered him a bemused expression. “You know what else we might want to do before our little princess arrives?”

“What’s that?”

“Get you to stop saying that the place where you work can fuck itself any way at all.” She brushed a kiss on his jaw.

“Sorry. I don’t know why I’m so pissed about this whole thing.”

“We’re going to have to get a swear jar.”

“Fi.”

“Kidding. I’m kidding. Let’s see here, if I were to take a quick guess at why this whole thing has you so riled up, I’d go with something along the lines of you feeling placated with this case, which you do not consider to be actual police work, and you feel like you’re not only losing your edge but that none of this really matters in the grand scheme of things.”

“I’ll drop a twenty in the swear jar. You’re too fucking good. Am I that easy to read?”

“For me, yes. Oh, and you’re also getting cranky because pelvic rest means no sex. I could do something to help you out with that.”

“I’m fine.”

Fionna giggled. “I know. Why do you think I’m offering to help you out?”

“Why don’t you just help me figure out if this affair has anything at all to do with the stolen tests. Apparently, a dozen more quizzes from every department were uploaded today, which pretty much decimated my theory about Bryant being the one stealing them. She hasn't been there.”

“She hasn't been there that you've seen. I still think she's sneaking in at night or something."

"You suggesting a stakeout?"

"Um, no. I like my snuggly bed in my house at night."

"Agreed."

"If you could have gotten high A’s on everything by doing nothing more than memorizing what was actually going to be on the test, would you have done it?” Fionna’s deep sienna eyes burned with intrigue.

“No. I knew from early on that what I learned at Venton would prepare me for Iodex. Criminals don’t often go by the pre-planned test.”

“So, maybe what you’re doing is actually really important. Maybe your father and Governor Haydenshire didn’t give you this case because they were trying to placate you into keeping a job they probably guessed you wouldn’t like.”

“Well played, Mrs. Vindico.” He planted a kiss on her cheek. The warm coconut flavor of her skin tasted far better than admitting she might’ve been right.

Before he could dig back into the exchanged emails between Wilshire and Bryant, Dan’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket.

“I’m starting to dread his calls.” Dan sighed before answering Jeff’s call.

“Hey, Mentor Vindico, Terry Bryant is over at the Wilshire’s mansion screaming at the front door. The video is all over Snapchat. Wilshire called Iodex. I’m going on the call.”

“Who’s your accompanying officer?” If Portwood was actually concerned, he would never have sent Jeff out to investigate. Dan told himself to trust Portwood’s judgement. That wasn’t any easier than making himself believe his current profession was worthwhile.

“Ericcson. I just thought you might want to check it out before we get there.”

“Will do.”  Dan ended the call. “Okay, how does one Snapchat?”

Fionna wrinkled her nose. “Promise not to think I’m old.”

“Baby, you’re younger than I am.”

“I know but I still have no idea how to use it. The school sent home a bunch of warnings about it but Aida doesn’t have a phone yet and the whole thing sounds weird to me.”

“Even if I figured out how to use it I have no idea how I’d see the video Jeff’s talking about. Wouldn’t I have to be friends with whoever is posting it?”

“That sounds right. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m blaming this on pregnancy brain.”

Dan scrolled through a list of names on his contact list. “I’m going to call Ramier and ask him to look it up for me. I’ll tell him I don’t understand it because of pregnancy brain. We’ll see what he does with that.”

The melody of Fionna’s laughter soothed the spike of tension set in his shield.

“Talk to me,” Ramier gave his customary greeting.

“I’m officially asking for a favor this time. What the hell is Snapchat and how do I use it?” Dan supplied.

“I owe you a lifetime of favors, man, but you ought to ask your boy Jeff. That’s his generation’s social media, not ours.”

“Jeff is on his way to the Wilshire’s mansion. Terry Bryant is there making a scene which is what is supposed to be on Snapchat.”

“Ah, I see.”

Dan heard Ramier’s fingers whisking softly over computer keys.

“This might take me a minute.”

“I’m going to ask you what I used to ask you every single time you found something for me when I was your boss.”

Ramier laughed. “Go for it.”

“Is what you’re doing legal or do I need to figure out some other way to secure whatever evidence you’re about to send across my desk.”

“Definitely not legal, but this isn’t a real case, right? Iodex can’t get involved.”

Another round of harsh realization sank through Dan. “Right.”

“The idea behind Snapchat was to make it conversational between friends. Snaps aren’t supposed to stay around long. They’re pitch is that it’s not about the perfect photo. Most kids use it to share stupid photos of themselves.”

“What do you mean they aren’t supposed to stay around long?”

“You really believe I can’t get to any snap anytime I want? Databases are supremely hackable.”

“Had a feeling you were going to say something like that.”

“All right, looking for stories running near the Wilshire’s neighborhood.” Keys continued to clack. “And there it is.”

“Can you get it to me?”

“Not easily. How about I tell you what I’m seeing?”

“That works.”

“Looks like Ericcson just pulled up. Oh, and Haydenshire’s there, too. Wonder why Portwood sent them both?”

“I bet Wilshire called both precincts.”

“Idiot.”

“That has been proven several times over. Is Terry Bryant still there.”

“I’m guessing he’s the guy pacing and occasionally screaming.”

“Sounds about right.”

“Garrett got him to sit down on the curb. They’re talking.”

“Can you hear what he’s saying?”

“Oh, he’s up again. Ericcson’s going in. He’s demanding full custody of his kids. Guy looks rough. Wonder what went down at home?”

“I’d heard she moved out.”

“We sound like gossiping old men. You know that, right?”

“Lately gossip is all I have to go on.”

“Jeff just pulled up. Oh, holy shiz, Wilshire’s coming out of the house.”

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