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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

on earth could you possibly want from me now?” Aiden decided on a diplomatic
approach, despite his impatience.
“I understand you are a member of the Culdeny Gentlemen's Club?”
“Indeed I am. It is a place I go to unwind from the hassles of my office, such as
yourselves. What business is it of yours?”
“I have need to speak with Ronald Bartlett, co-owner of the North Shore Trading
Company, and I have been informed I will not be permitted into the club.”
“Q uite so,” Buchanan replied haughtily. “Try not to take offence, as the club exists
primarily to keep people like you, away from people like us.” Aiden stared blandly at the
overweight man for a few moments before he could compose his next thoughts in the
form of a question, instead of a fist to the man's face.
“We've just come from the barracks, where I spoke with Sergeant Ariel. An incident
occurred this morning concerning the security of the town, and she wants Ronald Bartlett
to answer some questions. Being the discreet and thoughtful individual she is, the
sergeant thought it would be better if the questions came from a man. So, if you could see
your way clear to allow us entry for a few minutes, we could get this whole matter
resolved promptly.”
“You can't expect me to...” Buchanan stammered, peering incredulously at the
rough- looking group. “I mean, my reputation would be ruined if the lot of you were to
show up.” Sensing the failure of diplomacy, Pacian stepped forward.
“It's in your best interest to help us out here,” he said, keeping his voice low and
casting his gaze around, as if to check for who might be listening. “Some information we
recently received implicates you and the mayor of Bracksford in some, shall we say,
highly illegal activities with the North Shore Trading Co mpany. Does the name Merin
ring a bell? Help us out here, and that information will almost certainly be tragically lost
somehow. Otherwise, well, these things have a way of getting out, if you know what I
“You wouldn't,” Buchanan said under his breath, turning bright red and breaking out
in a sweat.
“What goes around, comes around,” Colt growled, playing along. “You should be
thankful we haven't turned your fat arse in to the authorities already.” Buchanan glanced
over at his assistant, whose had buried his head in a pile of papers on the desk, working
feverishly so he didn't have to face his boss.
“As it happens, I would be more than willing to aid your efforts in assist ing my
extremely competent woma - I mean sergeant of the guard,” Buchanan relented. “Here,
take this key,” he added, fishing a small silver chain out of his waistcoat and handing it to
Aiden. “That will allow you access to the club. I expect that returned promptly, sir.”
“Your dedication to the safety of this town has been noted, mayor,” Aiden replied
dryly, taking the key and placing it in his pocket. “Good day to you sir.”
Buchanan nodded and mopped his forehead with a handkerchief, as Aiden led the
others back out through the hallway again, igno ring the black looks from the waiting
“I don't recall seeing Buchanan's name on that document we took from Merin,”
Aiden asked Pacian when they were safely outside of the echoing hallway. “How did you
know the mayor was in on it?”