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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

“I didn't,” Pacian shrugged, trying to keep his face free of a smug smile that
threatened to take it over. “It was a gamble, but it paid off better than I could have hoped.
I didn't even have to work for that result, the man just burst out in a nervous sweat
straight away. If you ask me, I reckon their whole shady deal has gone belly- up, and
that's what has him so worried.”
“You just got lucky,” Colt grunted.
“What was the worst thing that could happen?” Pacian asked the big ranger. “He'd
kick us out of his office maybe?”
“It might have been grounds to have us locked up,” Aiden mused. “Making an
accusation like that, straight to the face of a powerful man like Buchanan rarely ends
well. Colt's right, you just got lucky.”
“Told ya,” Colt growled. Pacian merely shrugged.
“I don't understand any of this,” Sayana muttered, sounding lost.
“Don't worry, sweetness,” Pacian consoled her. “The men have things under control,
you just stand there and look pretty.” Sayana gave him a solid punch to his left arm
without even turning to look. Aiden grinned, seeing yet again a demonstration of how
dangerous speaking before one thinks can be.
Chapter Eleven
The Gentlemen's Club was situated in the north-east of the town, above the North
Shore Trading Company's offices in one of the larger houses. Ronald Bartlett was
apparently the wealthiest man in town, and it wasn't much of a stretch to assume he set up
the club for his rich friends to compliment each other on being rich.
It was a brief stroll to the very elegant manor house with a well-tended garden and an
imposing metal fence. The gates were open, and a sign declared this the offices of the
North Shore Trading Company, open for business. Three expensively dressed men were
leaving the house, talking amongst themselves as they walked.
“Well, let's head inside and see what we can learn shall we?” Aiden said, looking up
at the building before them.
“I'm wondering how you're going to go about this,” Pacian asked hesitantly.
“I was going to head in and ask Mister Bartlett a few questions abo ut any deals he's
done with mercenary companies lately,” Aiden explained slowly.
“You mean... be honest?”
“Mostly, yes,” Aiden replied dubiously. “I have a little diversion in mind though.
What are you getting at?”
“If I may be so bold as to make a suggestion?” Pacian asked delicately. “Lie. A lot.
If this bloke is indeed involved somehow, then he's not going to be straight with you.
Confronting him directly isn't going to get us the answers we need, so yeah. Lie.”
“I wasn't exactly planning to stride in there and point my finger at the man, accusing
him of treason,” Aiden replied with a raised eyebrow. “But I'll take your advice into
consideration.”
Aiden walked along the short path that ran through the front gate, and past a water
fountain with a fish carved from stone on top of a small column. The fresh water gave
Aiden an idea. He reached into his belt pouch and pulled out a piece of cloth, then leaned
over and dipped it into the water. Then he reached over and started dabbing the wet cloth
 
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