Carly immediately felt sorry for anyone who worked in the county records department. The county appraisal office upstairs had been nice, with new desks and plants and windows. They'd sent her to the records department in the cold, dusty basement, with clearly cast off furniture and a computer so old she guessed it couldn't even run the first version of Windows.
An severe looking older woman looked up from behind the ancient computer. "Can I help you?" she asked, her tone anything but helpful.
Carly smiled. "I'm looking for the owner of record for 55 Cherry Lane and tax payment records for that property."
"What do you need the records for?"
She eyed the woman before coming up with a story. "Nasty divorce," she replied casually. "Guy set his mistress up there, got caught and now that the wife is taking him to the cleaners, he's saying he doesn't own the place. He's lying, of course, I just have to prove it for her lawyers, you know?"
The woman seemed to soften somewhat and handed over a clipboard with a form on it. "Fill this out and I need a copy of your identification."
Carly really hoped the WSB would get her off for lying profusely on a government document, because this was going to be pure fiction. "Of course."
Frisco stepped out elevator at the eighth floor and strolled around, staying away from the nurses' desk. Luckily, the few remaining nurses he knew weren't working this floor. He glanced at the clock. He had called in a favor from his brother and gotten the psychiatrist's schedule. He'd had to tell Tony it was about Luke and he had the feeling that lie was going to come back and haunt him later.
He waited twenty minutes before the doctor emerged from the hallway where his office was located. He intercepted the man before he could reach the elevators. "Doctor Lewis," he said, smiling, "glad I caught you."
"Barely, I'm on my way home. If you want to make an appointment, the nurses at the desk can help you."
"I'm not here to get my head shrunk."
The elevator doors opened. "Sure about that?" Cameron asked as he stepped inside.
Frisco followed him. "Positive. I'm here about a former patient. Charlotte Roberts."
"I'm bound by doctor-patient confidentiality. You'll need to get written permission from the patient. Preferably I'd like to speak to them. My patients need to feel like they can tell me anything..."
"She's not a psych patient. Do you remember operating on a teenage girl back in Florida? Blonde, car accident, severe injuries. Someone other than her parents was calling the shots."
The doctor looked at him suspiciously, but didn't deny it. "Who did you say you are?"
Frisco rolled his eyes and flashed out his identification, mentally praying it wouldn't get back to Tony. "Special Agent Jones, World Security Bureau."
"And what does a teenage girl have to do with an intelligence agency?"
"So you've heard of us."
"My brother's a cop in this town. It's come up on occasion."
"I'm sure. How is Guy these days?"
Cameron stepped back, as if he'd been physically hit. "How do you know my brother's name?"
Frisco studied the older man. The eyes gave him away. He was scared, really scared. "He was my chief back when I was on the force. Look, do you remember the girl or not? I need to track down the woman who covered her hospital bills."
"I did rotations in the ER, like every other doctor in that hospital. There were a lot of girls in car accidents. I don't remember them all."
The doors opened to the first floor, near the main entrance. Cameron stepped out and walked towards the doors.
Frisco didn't buy his story and followed him. "But you know the exact girl I'm talking about, don't you? You're the only one who spent time with the woman that authorized her care. Who was she? Give me a name, anything." He reached out and grabbed the man's shoulder, turning him back around. "Please."
"Have you ever looked evil in the eye, Special Agent Jones?" Cameron snapped. "I can't tell you anything, except this- I have run into her in very unexpected places since."
Cameron walked away, out of the hospital. Stunned, Frisco just watched.
Carly sifted through the property records, making sure the information she needed was there. The legal excuse was a good one, she'd gotten permission to make a copy of the file; she'd go over the information at home, where she could immediately verify details.
Whomever had made the alias had a sense of humor. The property had been bought by a William Bonney, a former resident of Lincoln County, New Mexico, just over three years ago. According to file, he was an executive with Cartagena Shipping, a name she didn't recognize.
Carly grinned. The county had a policy of copying checks used to pay property taxes and placing them in the file. For the lake house, she had clearly visible bank and account numbers for all three years. The banking information she guessed was fake; at least one of the routing numbers she recognized was from Dubai, a bank she knew the Alcazars did business with.
Frisco was still mulling over Cameron Lewis's words when he found himself shoved up against the wall.
"Who the hell do you think you are!"
Frisco blinked, wondering how a teenaged girl, much less his daughter, had gotten the better of him.
Maxie held him against the wall, hands digging into his shirt. She was seething. "You have no right to interfere in my life! You gave that up when you ran back to the WSB!"
"Max, what are you talking about?"
"Kyle broke up with me because of you. Because you scared him."
He took a deep breath. Lying would just make things worse, but he was sure the truth wouldn't go over much better. "Did you really think I wouldn't find out what he did and not say anything? He's lucky I don't arrest him. You're better off, Princess. You can do so much better than him."
"Better off?" she repeated, pushing away. "You don't get it! I'm a pariah now. A loser. Do you think anyone wants to hang out with the girl whose dad threatens to torture her friends? My life is ruined!"
"I'm pretty sure I didn't threaten torture."
"Whatever! My life is over and it's your fault!"
Carly was hard at work in Luke's office when Frisco arrived at the club, as they'd agreed. "Hey!" she said, looking up to see him enter the office. "You're not going to believe what I found at the records office."
Frisco ignored her and just slumped in a chair, looking miserable.
"Didn't get anything out of that doctor?"
"Just a riddle." He inhaled sharply. "Ran into Maxie, though."
Carly winced in sympathy. "Yeah?"
"Apparently Kyle broke up with her because I threatened to torture him and now her life is ruined." He ran a hand through his hair. "If she didn't hate me enough before, she really hates me now."
"She's a teenager," she replied, trying to be comforting. "Just give her a couple weeks, she'll have moved on to someone else and will hate you for the regular old reasons."
Frisco just glared at her. "So, what'd you find?"
She dropped the file on the desk in front of him. "Everything, including the checks used to pay property taxes on the lake house. Copies anyway, but close enough. We should be able to track the bank information. But the mortgage forms and the deed, those were really interesting."
"Mortgage company went bust years ago."
"In Europe. Never did any business in the US, but it had been used as a front in Eastern Europe for criminal activity."
"According to the deed, the property owner is one William H. Bonney, formerly of Lincoln County, New Mexico."
"Billy the Kid? That's the alias they went with?"
"The previous owner was Michael Smythe."
He snorted. "Gotta be a fake name."
Carly looked at him strangely, until she remembered he hadn't been around. "Michael Smythe is currently serving a life sentence for murdering his wife. This would've been about the time he was needing funds for his legal defense. It was a big case, all over the news."
"Motivated seller. Alcazar got a good deal."
"What about the checks?"
"The bank details printed on the checks are totally false, but the routing numbers and the account numbers were, and still are, live."
Frisco was surprised. "They trace to actual accounts?"
"I haven't gotten to tracing ownership yet, just that the numbers are valid."
She pulled out the copies of the checks and handed them to him. He looked at each, but recognizing only one. He held up the third copy. "This is one of the shell accounts out of Consolidated Exports." A half-smile appeared on his face and he actually looked proud. "This is solid information. Good work, Carly."
Carly was unable to keep from smiling.
Frisco took another sip of his scotch and flipped a page in the file he was studying. Shouts came through the door and his gaze moved to the door. He listened, slowly reaching for his gun, until he recognized the voices. Luke and Lucky, arguing again. He relaxed and went back to his file.
The door opened. "You're still here?" Luke scoffed.
"Yes..." Frisco drawled, looking at the older man. He glanced at the door and saw Lucky, arms crossed, leaning in the doorway. He quickly closed the file and tried to cover the other files on the desk. Luke may have known his job at the club was a front, but Lucky didn't. "I could leave if you two..."
Luke poured himself a drink and immediately downed it. "Don't bother. The conversation is over."
Lucky pushed off from the door frame. "No, it's not, Dad."
"See the sign on the outside, cowboy? It says Luke's. I'm Luke and I say no."
Frisco looked at Lucky. "Dare I ask?"
"Your friend came through," Lucky said.
Luke turned his anger on Frisco. "Your friend? You're the one that put him up to this?"
"I put him up to nothing," Frisco replied defensively. "I just called in a few favors I still had. What's the big deal, Luke? It's just a concert. You used to do those a lot, I seem to recall."
"I don't have the kind of money he wants to spend."
"Sell off a few more pieces of the Ice Princess."
"I'm out of that business, since my last buyer held my kid hostage."
Lucky rolled his eyes. "It's Bruce Springsteen! You'll make the money back, Dad. This place used to be fun, not just a dank place to get drunk."
"It's not dank!"
"It's not fun either!"
"Bringing back the musical acts could get more people coming in," Frisco chipped in.
Luke pointed at him. "You don't get an opinion!"
"He's right and you know it!" Lucky shouted.
Frisco stood up and held up his hands. "How about a compromise?"
Luke poured himself another drink. "Like what?"
"Do this one concert. If it fails, Lucky doesn't get to do any more and it never gets brought up again."
"And just what do you get out of this, secret agent man?"
Frisco smirked. "Free concert."
Luke looked between the two men and dropped into a chair. "Fine."
Carly squinted in the bright light of living room, blinking to allow her eyes to adjust. It was the middle of the night, she wasn't expecting everything to still be on. She walked through the room and found Frisco still at the dining room table.
He'd come home and set up both laptops, using the table to spread the Alcazar files out. She'd helped him for a while, tracking accounts to locate the source of the money to buy the lake house. She had gone to bed about midnight. Apparently, he hadn't. He had, however, fallen asleep in his files.
She came up behind him and gently shook his shoulder. He jumped, wide awake.
"Frisco," she said quietly, rubbing his shoulders, "you should go to bed. It's late."
"It's not that late," he replied, looking at his watch. "Oh. What are you doing up? Is my adoring wife concerned for the welfare of her husband?"
Her hands slipped from his shoulders. "Please." She pulled out the chair next to him and sat down. "I was thirsty. I came downstairs for water."
"I've been trying to find a connection between Charlotte and the Alcazars and I can't. I can't even find a reason why they'd put up with her insanity."
"Wanting to take over your life? Blaming you for something she could have ended with a single word years ago if it bothered her so much? I can't figure out why they would've indulged her for so long."
"Since the accident. Cameron Lewis told me the blonde was evil, so I figure she has to be either Isabella Alcazar, Ramon's wife, or Carlotta Ruiz, his mistress and assassin. Both are blonde, neither have ever been accused of being nice."
He pulled up their photos on the laptop and showed her. Carly looked closely, but only recognized one. "I saw her," she said, pointing to Carlotta Ruiz, "when Alcazar had me in South America."
The color drained from Frisco's face. "You didn't tell me they'd..." He trailed off, unable to say the word. "You didn't tell me that."
She saw the worry, the fear in his face. "No," she said quickly, to reassure him. "I just saw her in passing." She paused. "I could hear the others, the ones she did torture, from my cell."
He exhaled in relief. "Good."
She gave him a small smile. "Thank you for being worried for me anyway."
She walked into the kitchen and pulled a bottle of water from the refrigerator. He was sorting through papers when she walked by, looking like he was getting back to work. She leaned over and kissed his cheek.
"You need to sleep. Put this stuff away for the night and go to bed. You can pick it back up in the morning."
Frisco looked at her thoughtfully and nodded. Carly walked back upstairs to her own bed, stopping only to glance back at him from the stairs.