Tour’s Books Blog

August 6, 2015

RF and the Yacht Theft Case – cont’d

Filed under: Adventures Of Reachfan Groundhog — toursbooks @ 11:05 pm
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RF and Trey wandered into the Casino Royale, Trey playing occasionally and winning far more often than losing.  He didn’t linger at any one table and politely refused a high stakes Texas Hold’em game after Rupert muttered about more marked cards.  Rupert, however, won another good round much to the shock and disgust of serval people.  RF was busy watching them when she felt eyes on her.  She tapped Trey’s arm and he strolled outside into the warm, humid tropical air.

“You see him?”

“Yup.  Not casino security.”  So they waited and strolled.  About 10 minutes later a man approached.  Not one that was at the table with Rupert, but one that sat near Trey a few times.

“Good evening, Mr Deveau.”  He’d used the name of Trey’s alias, close enough to his one it didn’t jar his senses.

“You seem to have the advantage of me, sir.  Have we met?”  Trey’s Cajun accent was like honey, far stronger than the faint hints RF normally heard that gave away his birthplace.

The man’s smile never reached his eyes.  “Think of me as a friend.  I don’t know what your friend Mr Soulis is doing, but he’s interfering with the wrong people.  He could get hurt.”

“In my experience, Mr Soulis is more than capable of handling himself though I will pass on your thoughtful concern.”  Trey could lie like a champ and do it with style, far better than the low-class thug disguised as a wealthy man could.

The thug eyed RF with disgust.  “Where I come from, those animals are hunted for their fat which is said to be very therapeutic for people with joint problems.  Mr Soulis might have need of that therapy.”  Then he walked away as Trey kept a firm grip on RF who obviously wanted to teach the man a lesson.

Finally, she calmed down enough to say, “Well, at least we know he’s Eastern European. Austrian or some nearby country in the area.”

“Maybe Rupert picked up on the player’s accent.”

“Two casinos, the biggest ones, both getting cheated the same way.  And yacht thefts happening on 4 islands nearest the casinos.  Maybe those thefts are to cover gambling debts from fixed games.”

Trey nodded thoughtfully.  “I think we need some police help – discrete police.”

“Well, I’m sure Rast would not object to some time on Anguilla and St Maarten.”  RF hummed happily.  This case looked interesting.  Cards cheats and yacht thefts.  Smacked of big business.  “Maybe we should ask Hondo, Ethan, and Devlin down too.  Ethan can stay at a resort on Anguilla and the other two with us.  That way we have eyes on the island.  He’s been here before so he knows his way around.”

Trey carried RF back indoors and murmured, “Just once, I’d like a simple case of theft.”

“Oh, this is much more fun.  Maybe I can turn the thug into a giant cockroach!”

“NO roaches, RF.  None.  Ever.”

She gave Trey a look.  “Squeamish, are you?”

He shuddered.  “YES!”

“Good to know.”  Her evil smile made Trey want to strangle her, but just as they walked inside, a shout went up and the people at Rupert’s table congratulated him.  Their djinn had won again.  Getting him to give back his ill-gotten gains was going to be hard going.  Maybe he could keep what he won off the crooks.

“Guess that’s our cue.”  Trey began strolling over and RF lolled in his arms like a pampered pet …………. except she caught the two men sliding out into the night at the nod from the thug in the garden.  This should be interesting.  The casino management and security was thick.  Maybe staying here for the night would be a good idea.  Better than getting shot at in the streets.  Unless the casino had a private boat to take them back to Anguilla.

******************************************

Turned out the Casino Royale was more than happy to have Mr Soulis and his friends taken back to Anguilla on a private boat owned by them, especially when they heard where they were staying.  They also offered to comp him a suite if he wished to spend the evening sometime.  Rupert was as gracious as a king – well, he did have thousands of years of practice.  Trey and RF managed to stay straight faced during the whole thing, but RF lost it when they got inside the villa and just rolled around laughing hysterically.

“I thought I did that rather well.  They all think I’m some kind of Royalty traveling incognito,” and he certainly sounded haughty enough as he stepped over the laughing groundhog into the living room.

“It went well tonight, sir?”  Jacobs always stayed up, no matter what they said about his getting some sleep.

“Quite well, Jacobs.  You might want to have security keep a close eye on things.  We’re calling down Ethan, Hondo and Devlin.”

“Very good sir.  Will they all be here?”

“No.  Ethan will be at one of the resorts.  CuisinArt probably.  They have golf.  I’ll have him bring his clubs.  Hondo and Dev will be here.”

“Excellent, sir.”

RF recovered from her laughing fit, but still smiling looked up, “Go to bed Jacobs, it’s been a long day.”

“Of course Ms RF, as soon as I speak with security.  Have a good night.”

RF watched the major domo walk off and said to Trey, “I don’t know what Big Daddy pays him, but it better be a LOT of money.”

“I’m sure it is.  And you had books stolen in the Miss Scarlett swap.  Apparently it’s all Professor Plum’s fault.”

“HA!  Like I’ll believe that twaddle.”

“We can chat when you’re done.  Let’s get Rupert moving before he tells Marilyn and your cousins about every hand he played.”  Trey scooped her up and herded everyone outside.

The next day Hondo and Ethan arrived on the same small inter-island prop plane from San Juan airport.  Neither man gave the slightest indication he knew the other.  Hondo got into the car from the villa that would take him to Trey and RF.  Ethan was heading by private car to the CuisinArt Resort.  Devlin was the one that was staying on St Maartin at the Karibuni Lodge on the French side and would spend time over on the Dutch side at the casinos as needed.  Devlin was fluent in French, so it was a good fit, even though everyone spoke English and island patois was quite different, just as Cajun French was though Trey managed very well too.  Dev also loved boats and was a very good sailor, so he’d rent a sailboat for a day or two and get to know some of the dockhands where the yachts were.

The SEAL’s had communications set up in nothing flat.  Ethan was a wealthy business man.  Dev, was someone who liked vacationing in comfort outside traditional hotels and indulged his love of sailing with bare boat rentals.  Hondo was a villa guest and friend of Trey’s.  Rast wasn’t due in for another day or two.

Before heading over to the casinos, the group – minus Ethan and Dev – was heading to the patio when everyone did a double take.  Strolling up from the tiny beach area were two RF’s – which meant Tour was there as well.  She waved at them.

“Did you know Tour was coming, Lula Mae?”  Trey was stunned.

“RF never said anything.  Cleatus, she say anything to you?”

“She said something about needing another set of eyes.  I figured she was talking about Hondo.”  Cleatus turned to the ex-SEAL. “She come with you?”

“No.  I don’t know anything about it.”  Hondo sounded as baffled as the rest of them.  Rupert walked up and asked, “Why is everyone staring at …………… Is that Tour?”

“I guess you didn’t bring her then,” muttered Marilyn.  The djinn just shook his head no.  He wasn’t even sure where she lived.  Jacobs calmly saw to an extra place setting at the table and spoke with the head chef.  Trey asked quietly, “Did Big Daddy send her?”

“No Mr Trey.  Ms Tour simply arrived about 45 minutes ago.  She seems to have private transport of some sort.  Ms RF has mentioned several times she has an ………….. unusual means of getting around, so never asks for Mr McCauley’s jet.”

Everyone looked at Rupert, who just shook his head.  “No djinn or ifrit have been near here.  No demons either.  I would have known.”

“Does anyone else find Tour a little, unnerving?” Asked Marilyn.

Lula Mae gave her a dark look.  “You’re a witch and fly a broom and some ordinary groundhog unnerves you?”

“There is nothing ordinary about Tour.”  Hondo spoke with a kind of absolute certainty.

Trey agreed wholeheartedly, especially after what happened at the clan gathering this year.  She might not be a spellcaster, but Tourmaline Groundhog was ….. unique and truly formidable.  And she was here for a reason.  Now he just had to find out what that reason was.  From a distance, he simply could not tell them apart.  Until the book theft alarm rang on his phone.  RF’s head whipped up with a snarl, but Tour just rolled her eyes and walked to the table, ignoring her cousin.

Tour said hello to Jacobs and asked after his family as he seated her.  She seemed to know them all by name.  She smiled at Trey as walked past to grab his testy partner.  “Honestly, what that man puts with from her and those blasted book swaps.”

“It’s just one of her little quirks, Ms Tour.”

“That’s not a quirk, Jacobs, that’s an unhealthy obsession.”

Jacobs bent down and whispered something in her ear.  Tour looked at him then started laughing.  “Fair enough Jacobs.”

Two days later Interpol Chief Detective Inspector Rast arrived, but stayed at the villa to rest while the other once again headed to the casino’s after a few nights away.  Rupert was winning at the high stakes Texas Hold’em table and Ethan, who turned out to be a lethal card player himself, was winning at the black jack table at the Atlantis Casino.  RF and Trey had played a bit of roulette and black jack, and Trey was a few hundred ahead for the night, nothing dramatic.  He let Rupert have the drama.  Last night, the marked cards did not show up, but apparently they did at the Casino Royale where Dev was playing the slots and losing slowly but steadily.  Hondo caught the card switch using special contacts, but the dealer just grabbed a fresh deck when called for and there it was.  That meant they did it smarter.  The dealer was not involved.  Someone in casino security was in on the scam, because the deck had to be added INSIDE the casino then delivered to the right table.  This was a large team, but how could they scam enough money to make it pay for all of them?  This wasn’t Vegas.  Then again, in Vegas this crew would have been caught in 2 days.

Dev rented a bare boat to do some sailing and tomorrow was taking off for 4 days.  He was getting to know the dock hands after a few single day rentals to get his very slightly rusty skills back – supposedly (Hondo told them Dev would live on a boat if he could and just sail all the time) – and learning about the various yacht owners.  He planned to sail to St Barths and docked in Gustavia.  He’s done a lot of sailing and carried a US Coast Guard Limited Master’s License, so he could rent anything he wanted, but he stayed at a nice 36 foot sailboat he could easily handle alone and live on it once on St Barths.

The Casino crew seemed to be avoiding Rupert if they could.  Even as human, djinn vision was different and after winning another night, though more modestly, be choose black jack after Ethan left the table and ……………. marked cards showed up.  But no one was at the table taking advantage, so Rupert didn’t either and left when the marked decks played out, about breaking even.

Then Dev called in.  A man was losing big time at the Casino Royale.  Hondo disappeared and went in to act as another spotter, but everyone else conspicuously stayed put.  Tour had talked to Hondo for a long time that afternoon and RF could get nothing out of either one of them.  RF didn’t handle frustration well.  Her curiosity was driving her mad.  That’s when the call came.

“Guys, Marilyn just walked into the Casino Royale with Tour.  No idea how she got here.”

“Probably flew that damn broom of hers.  She brought it at the last minute.”  RF suspected Tour had something to do with that.

“Well, she looks a bit rumpled.”

“I bet she still can’t land worth a damn.”

“Tour’s wearing what looks like a diamond collar with a big canary colored center stone and large pearl drop.  One of yours RF?”

“No, that’s her’s.  It’s worth a fortune.  That yellow stone is a diamond!”  She all but hissed that last part.  RF had thing for colored diamonds.

“Concentrate,” Trey ordered her.  “Why is Tour here and what’s she up to with Marilyn?”

“I’ve been trying to figure that out for 3 days.  I even had the Watkins boys check on Erma the Evil U-Haul Clerk.  She’s still in that dump of a trailer in Florida.  But I bet this has something to do with that nutjob.  It’s the only reason Tour would just show up and then involve Marilyn in it.”  RF looked thoughtful for a moment.  “Or it involves on of her Wordies somehow.”

“ummmm ………… Guys, Marilyn is at a high limit black jack table.  Now what?”  Hondo sounded a bit rattled.

‘What the hell is Tour up to?”  RF was almost beside herself, so Trey and Rupert made a hasty exit and took the casino’s launch back to Anguilla.  The moment RF was away from strangers, she threw a complete and total hissy fit about Tour and Marilyn.  By the time they reached the villa, she’d worked herself into a real froth.  And for two hours she paced, threatened, and generally acted like a complete lunatic.

Marilyn and Tour arrived back with a crash, and an, “Oopsie!” and Marilyn walked in brushing herself off, Tour trailing behind just shaking her head and looking faintly amused.  RF turned on her cousin and yelled, “WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING?”

“None of your business.” Then she walked away.  RF followed her, but Tour simply would NOT give her any answers.  It was a looooong night – until Trey heard – “One more word and I use the skillet!”  And RF finally shut up.

******************************************************

Marilyn had only been slightly more forthcoming about the night, saying Tour wanted to see the casino and check a few things out, and Marilyn would be a splendid distraction.  Given Marilyn’s figure, and the low cut neckline Tour told her to wear, as well as the lovely pendant she loaned the witch, well, it was an easy assumption.  The next night she and Tour went to Atlantis Casino and again played at the black jack tables doing very well.  And again, Tour had on one of her collection of exquisite gem studded collars – this time rainbow tourmaline, Tour’s favorite gemstone and her namesake, mixed with D flawless diamonds in a stunning freeform collar with a huge copper-bearing paraiba tourmaline in the middle.  RF knew her gems and she knew ALL the tourmalines in all the colors were copper-bearing, given their unusual brilliance, and the colors were beautifully saturated.  That meant all the gems were from a spectacular, but limited, find in Africa and some of the finest in the world.  She also knew something else, Tour had designed that necklace herself and Big Daddy paid Chopard to make it for her.

Then RF thought about the headlines for the last few days about the staggering gem heist straight from ‘To Catch a Thief’, except this gang was not John Robie and used guns.  They were Eastern European.

“Have you gotten any calls about the jewelry thefts in Cannes and Monte Carlo?”

Trey looked at his partner.  “About 10 in the last two days.  I told them no.  And do NOT think about going after those idiots.  They’re armed and dangerous and those gems are long gone.  Re-cut, reset, and all over the world.  Chopard’s insurance company is having a heart attack, but then, they allowed the crappy security, so I have no sympathy.”

“They consulted you and you told them it wasn’t good enough.”  RF was grinning.

“Actually, I said it was a written invitation to gangs.  They ignored me.  They deserved to have them stolen for their carelessness alone.”  He looked down at RF.  “That has nothing to do with yacht thefts.  That gang operates in Europe, mostly on the Riviera.  That’s it.”

“But the guy who threatened you was Eastern European.”

“RF, Eastern Europe has more gangs than you can count.”

“But it is funny how they keep choosing wealthy socialite playgrounds and places with casinos.”

“That is where the money is and where people are looking to show off and their gems.  Thieves like that don’t knock off the local 7-11.”

“No, but St Maarten is hardly the nexuses of rich and famous that the French Riviera or Monte Carlo are.  So why cheat at cards here.  This might not be the local convenience store, but it isn’t in the same league as places in Europe or Vegas or Macau.”

“Vegas would be a death wish.  You’d be an idiot to try anything in any casino in that town.  Rob a pawn shop?  A jewelry story?  You do as well on Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue – and be a lot less likely to be caught.”

“Less security?”

“No, it’s just that big cities have big distractions for cops, like murders, gang warfare, drugs, violent crimes galore, plus organized crime doing all kinds of crap.  Knocking off a jewelry story is a flash in the pan, providing no one is hurt.  But it lacks the panache of stealing from famous hotel in Cannes.  Vegas casinos have security places like this can’t dream of affording.  And their entire city lives and dies with the tourists coming in to gamble.  No beaches, no atmosphere that they haven’t made up, like Disneyland.  Not even Monte Carlo does security better than Vegas.  Macau is nearly as tight as Vegas. And compared to them, these places are just a few steps up from a 3 card monty game on some street corner.”

“So why cheat here?”

“It’s harder to get caught.  Easier to disappear.  But the payoff is a lot less.”

“Unless there are high stakes private games.”

“RF, there are ALWAYS high stakes private games, even where gambling is illegal.  The whole damn stock market is a giant high stakes gambling game.  These people just play with dice and cards.”

“Yeah, but what if what you’re losing is insurance money?  Then that’s like playing with someone else’s money, right?”

Trey looked thoughtful.  His wily partner might be on to something.  “Most of yachts have big mortgages, but the ones that were stolen didn’t.  Either there never was a mortgage, or it was nearly paid off.”  Trey thought some more.  “So they steal the yacht, you get the insurance money and pay them off, but you’re still out the yacht AND the insurance money.”

“Not if they take the yachts, rework them, then sell them back to different owners at a below market rate.  You don’t get back YOUR boat, you get one of the other victims and it becomes a game of musical yachts.  Why tell the police anything when you lost a fortune, but most of it was insurance money?”

“OK, that’s possible.  But why is Tour here?”

RF let out a frustrated growl that had the slinky blond approaching Trey change direction.  “She knows something, or suspects something and it has to do with what’s happening here!”

“Maybe if we ask nicely, she’ll tell us.  So stop trying to nag it out of her.  She’s as stubborn as you.”  RF snarled, and a redhead changed direction.  “You know I just chased off two really hot babes, don’t you?”

“Yes.  But I also know really hot babes like that are looking for either a quick roll in the hay or a sugar daddy and they are looking in the wrong place with me.  Besides, anyone you could scare off wouldn’t be worth knowing for more than a night.”

“You’re using me to scare off women?”  RF managed to inject some outrage into that, even though she wanted to laugh.

“Of course I am.”

“Older woman approaching, on your six.  Want me to snarl?”

“Behave.”

“I’m told your name is Trevor Deveau, but I seem to recall you had a different one when you stayed at Trent’s Barbados villa along with your unusual partner.  I’m Ellen Donohue and I wonder if we might have a word in private.”  Her brisk businesslike tone had Trey nodding agreement and they stepped out into a balmy night on the tropical grounds of the resort.  RF was really curious about what Mrs Donohue had to say.  And it turned out to be really interesting.

 

The next morning RF was still mulling over everything they learned from Ellen Donohue.  She apparently knew at least 3 people who were ‘victims’ of yacht thefts and all three had taken substantial loses at high stakes games – two off casino property.  Then 6 months later 2 of the three ‘victims’ used their insurance money to buy ‘new boats.  One gave Mrs Donohue a tour of his prize and she recognized a boat stolen the previous year thanks to the unique paneling in the lounge and master bedroom.  She said nothing to the owner and hesitated about involving the police, but when she saw Trey she knew he did insurance recovery and wanted to tell him.  She seemed almost relieved to learn that’s why he was here and said bluntly,  “Thanks heavens I’m not turning into so crazed conspiracy theorist!”   At Trey’s request, she sent over a list of ‘victims’ and what she knew of each one and who had and had not bought replacement yachts.   They had a place to start for a paper trail that Rast was best equipped to follow.

The next night, the gang made their first move.  Trey was playing at a black jack table and winning modestly when a server who brought his drink also brought a plate of petit fours.  Neither Trey nor RF gave it a thought as chefs often sent out samples to her.  It wasn’t till 20 minutes later that Trey realized RF had gone completely limp.  He’d raced back to the villa to get help.  Rast roused a small animal vet in France who said it sounded like she was heavily drugged, but if her breathing was good, to let her sleep it off.

Tour stood over RF, waiting for her to wake up.  She’d been asleep for over 16 hours.  Tee had an overwhelming urge to go bite someone.  Trey looked like hell.  He’d hardly slept, worrying over his partner.  Even Lula Mae and Cleatus had been up most of the night.  Tour leaned down.  RF was breathing normally, just sleeping.  She knew how to end this.  She whispered to Jacobs, who looked uncertain but took off while Tee sat and waited.  About 15 minutes later, Jacobs was back with a cart full of food and Tour directed him to stand to one side of RF.  She then dumped a bucket of ice water over RF and yelled, “Theresa STOLE YOUR BOOKS!”  Jacobs set the slice of chocolate cream pie down directly in front of a wide awake and snarling RF.

“WHAT??????  She stole WHAT????”  RF looked around.  The last thing she remembered was eating a petit four at the casino while Trey was playing black jack.  What the hell – it looked liked afternoon.  She grabbed the pie.  “Somebody better start explaining what happened and why my head is  pounding like a bass drum.  And why am I wet?”  She sounded surly, unpleasant, and irate.  Pretty much like her normal self.

Trey dried her off while she ate hungrily.  “You were drugged at the casino.”

RF blinked.  The towel still over her head like a huge shawl.  She looked ridiculous.  She also looked seriously pissed off.  “I was DRUGGED?  How?”

“The chocolate petit four.  There was enough ‘Special K’ in that thing to take down an angry Doberman.”

“How do you know that?”

“When you went out, Trey had the presence of mind to ask for the rest for the petit fours and he brought them back here.  I cut each one open and every chocolate one had ketamine in it.  The chocolate masked the smell, plus it looked like it was encapsulated in a thin shell of some kind.  It wouldn’t last that way, but it lasted long enough.  If you’d had two, you wouldn’t be here.  Good thing you ate the orange one instead.”

“The chocolate tasted really off and I only had half and (she avoided looking at Trey) I dropped the rest under the table.  That’s how they drugged me?”  Tour nodded yes.

Rast walked in, looking as tired and exhausted as the rest of them.  “Luckily, I was able to reach a small animal vet at the Paris zoo and he said so long as you were breathing without difficulty, to let your system work it out.”  He smiled at RF, still wearing the towel draped over her head like a pro athlete, or an elderly lady, a comparison that, if said aloud, would have him turned into a frog.

She looked around, wrenched the towel off her head and grumbled, “What time is it?”

“Nearly 3 PM local time, and you’ve been out nearly 16 hours.”

RF really snarled and bit into a fresh eclair.  The sugar was hitting her system and was waking her up.  “So you threw ice water on me and yelled about books being stolen?”  She glared at her best friend and cousin.

Tour shrugged, unrepentant.  “It worked.  Besides, your books were stolen.”

“WHAT???????????????????  WHO STOLE MY BOOKS????????  AND WHY IS EVERYONE LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT??????”

“They were really worried.  They thought you were going to die.”

RF chose to ignore the uncomfortable feelings of caring that she felt, and instead snarled at Tour.  “Obviously, YOU weren’t worried.”

“Oh please, you were snoring like a warthog with a head cold.  I’m just amazed the neighbors didn’t complain.  Besides, 16 hours was more than enough sleep.  I thought you’d enter hibernation if I didn’t wake you up.”

IT’S THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER!  NOT EVEN WILD GROUNDHOGS HIBERNATE THEN!  AND I DON’T HIBERNATE AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Maybe you’re just lazy.”

“LAZY????  LAZY?????”

“Hey, don’t yell at me!  I’m not the one who was snoring her head off for 16 hours!  Besides, you’re holding up a swap.  So finish that cake and get your butt in gear.”

RF narrowed her eyes at her cousin.  “Maybe I’m still too tired.”

“The only thing you’re in danger of right now is diabetic coma from too much sugar from all the desserts you just devoured.”

“You’re a worse nurse than Lula Mae,” RF grumbled as she got a bit unsteadily to her feet.

“And you’re lucky you have so much extra body fat to fight off the ketamine.”

RF’s head came up and she glared at Tour, who looked completely unmoved – though Cleatus, Lula Mae, Marilyn and Rupert all took a few steps back while Greta and Johann slipped out the door to hide.  Trey just sighed and dropped his head in his hands.

“I am not fat!  I’M ZAFTIG!

Tour snorted.  “You must weigh 5 pounds more than I do!”

“THE HELL I DO!  AND I’M TALLER THAN YOU!”

“Yeah, by 1 inch.   And wider by 5 pounds.”

RF took off after Tour and they went right out the doors into the yard, Tour laughing and calling RF, “Dumpy looking.”

Cleatus watched them, shook his head, then said, “You know Aunt Lula Mae, I think Tour can annoy RF faster than you.”

“I ain’t dumb enough to say anything about her weight.  At least not that directly.  I don’t know why RF hasn’t turned her into a gerbil.”

“I think Tour is sort of immune to magic.”  Everyone turned and stared at Marilyn.  She cleared her throat, unaccustomed to being the center of everyone’s attention.  “Everything she did during the Mutant Lizard Wars, all the things that didn’t affect her, but got everyone else, it seems like she’s immune.”

Lula Mae looked confused.  “But Lucifer keeps telling her to read those books her Great Aunt left her, and she was a spellcaster who trained RF.”

“But the books she left Tour weren’t about spellcasting.  Those all went to RF.”

“How do you know that?”  Trey forgot just how tired he was as he stared at Marilyn, who was surprisingly observant.

“I asked Tour.  I was kind of curious after what she did at the reunion.  And she never worries about RF turning her into anything and she has that strange aircraft taking her everywhere.  I saw it arrive the other day.  It was silent.  All I can tell you is it’s not magic.”

Trey looked at Rupert to get some confirmation.  He knew a lot more about those things than Marilyn.  In response to Trey’s unspoken question, Rupert shook his head no.  “It doesn’t feel at all magical when she comes and goes.”

Rast sat heavily in the nearest chair and even Jacobs broke all protocol and sat.  Trying to wrap his mind around it, slowly Trey said, “What is in those books left to Tour?”

“Well, she did have a lot of strange weapons during the Mutant Lizard Wars.  And she doesn’t exactly live in a local zip code.  I mean even Rupert can’t get to her.  Yet folks from all over the world just stroll in and out of the OTC Bar, Grill, and Bakery from thousands of miles off, and walk out and go home.”

“I just always thought is was like RF, kind of like magic,” Trey said almost plaintively.

“‘ Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.'” Jacobs cleared his throat.  “Sorry.  I’m a fan of Arthur C Clark and that’s one of my favorite lines of his.”  Remembering himself, he stood.  “I’ll have a buffet set out so everyone can eat something then go a rest.  It has been a stressful day.  Mr Ethan, Mr Hondo, and Mr Dev will carry on.  Excuse me.”  He walked out with the dignity of a king.

“What’s in those books everyone wants Tour to read?”  Trey repeated.

Tour walked in, dripping and panting, RF right behind her – also dripping and panting.  “What’s in what books?”

“The ones you’re Great Aunt left you?”

“Oh those.  Just stories.  Is Jacobs getting food?  I’m hungry.”  She looked toward the bathroom where RF had turned on the shower, “Hey!  You have a book thief to transform!”

“When I’m done here!”

“Well don’t come to the table reeking of those stupid herbs!  I’ll throw you back in the pool!”

“In your dreams!”

Tour turned, looked over her shoulder, and just smiled at everyone.  “You just have to know what buttons to push.”  And she walked off to shower as well yelling, “Don’t use all the hot water!”

Trey watched her walk away and finally said, “OK, I think I speak for everyone when I say I am now completely freaked out.”

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