"Activists, radicals. I can find some. They usually come out from California, stay for a while spouting the La Raza stuff. Then they figure out South Texas isn't L.A. and they go home."

"You know anybody named Sanchez?"

"This is San Antonio, man. I know seven thousand anybodies named Sanchez.


"SAPD let that name drop."

Berton shrugged. "I'll ask Erainya. She's been making some calls to the police."

"You worried about this at all?"

"Oh, yeah. You know the last time the FBI had something to do in San Antonio besides polish their sunglasses? They're going to love this. Even if I find this guy first, I won't have time to submit one report before the Feds come in busting heads. UTSA doesn't have much to worry about, Tres. They want to pay us to duplicate efforts, that's fine by me."

"SAPD seems to think the Feds will take a pass."

George laughed.

"That's what they said," I insisted.

George waved the comment away. "Give me a break, Navarre."

Jem kept working on the perpetual motion machine. He had one wheel that turned two others and made the top spin around like a helicopter. He was now trying to figure out how to stabilize the base.

Kelly flipped a page in her magazine. "So, Tres — you still going on that double date tonight? With your face looking like that?"

I flashed George a look to let him know I would murder him later.

He held up his hands. "Hey, Tres, I told her you were doing me an act of charity, man. That's all."

"What a guy," Kelly agreed. "Always giving. Who was the recipient last month — Annie?"

George said, "Yeah. The banker."

Kelly made her lips do a long silent M. "If your love life was a disease, Tres Navarre, it would have killed you long ago."

"You prescribe chicken soup?"

"Among other things. Not that you listen."

George cleared his throat loudly. Erainya gave him another look-of-death. "Hey," Berton whispered to Kelly, "you get tired of waiting, chica—" He curled all his fingers toward his chest.

Kelly actually blushed.

"She did great on the background files for this UTSA case," George told me. "Stuff on the professor, his family. Amazing what this girl can pull together in a morning. You know this dead professor, this Aaron Brandon guy — you know he's part of the same Brandon family that was in that thing a few years ago? "

"That thing."

I looked at Kelly for enlightenment. She didn't give me any.

"Yeah, you know." George made a gun with his hand. "Pow, pow."

"Pow, pow?"

"Yeah." George smiled, apparently satisfied that we were on the same page. "Family's got some bad damn luck. Anyway, Kelly pulled up all of that in one morning. Just on the computer. She's something."

"She's something," I agreed. "Speaking of those background files—"

"You're going to want a copy." Kelly opened my side drawer and produced a thick rubber-banded folder, plopped it in front of me. "Erainya got me started while certain other people were out getting themselves blown up. Regretfully, not completely blown up. Was there anything else?"

Her tone was super-sweet.

I said, "Ouch, already."

She batted her eyes.

Erainya hung up the phone, put her hands on her desk, and hoisted herself to a full imposing height of five-foot-zero. She looked across the office at me, her eyes black and piercing.

"So, what—?" she demanded. "You managed not to get yourself killed. You think that makes your morning successful? Come back here."

"Been nice knowing you," George commiserated.

I rapped my knuckles on his desk, then went to see the boss. I could feel Kelly Arguello's eyes on my back the whole way.

Behind every man, there is a woman whom he's successfully pissed off. Unfortunately, with me, there's usually one in front, too.


Erainya's desk was piled high with manila case folders arranged in precarious spirals like cocktail party napkins. In the valleys between were crumpled balls of legal paper, framed pictures of Jem, two phones, investigative reference books, surveillance equipment, and the disgorged contents of several purses.

Multicolored sticky notes were slapped down here and there like stepping-stones through the chaos.

It was difficult to tell, but the project on top seemed to be a spread of brochures, glossy three-folds like mailers for investment companies. The one nearest me read St. Stephen's. Excellence Is Our Tradition. A sepia photo of an adolescent boy with glittering braces smiled sideways at me.

Erainya nodded me toward the client's chair.

She had on her usual outfit, an unbelted black T-shirt dress that hung on her body like a handkerchief over an Erector set. No makeup, no jewelry, no hose. Simple black flats.

"This is your idea of a thank-you for the nice job?" she demanded. "You get yourself detonated?"

"I'm ungrateful, I know."

She made a sideways slap at the air, a gesture of annoyance she does so often I'd learned not to sit next to her in restaurant booths. "You're lucky UTSA is  keeping us on."

"Totally ungrateful," I agreed. "You arrange a teaching position for me without my knowledge, let me win you an investigative contract with the University, and I don't even say kharis soi."

Erainya frowned. "What is that — Bible Greek?"

"Only kind I know. I'm a medievalist, remember?"

"The modern phrase for 'thank you' is ephkharisto, honey. Good one to learn, seeing as I keep doing you favors."

She reached toward her spiral files, used her fingers as a dowsing rod, then pinched out the exact slip of paper she wanted. She handed me a printout of classes — medieval graduate course Lit 4963, Chaucer undergraduate seminar Lit 3213, one section of freshman English.

"Three classes," Erainya said. "Wednesday and Friday afternoons. You're a visiting assistant professor, six thousand for the rest of the semester allocated from the dean's discretionary fund. I don't call that bad."

"What's your commission?"

She sighed. "Look, honey, I knew you had some hard feelings when you had to turn down the teaching position last fall."

"Completing the license was my decision, Erainya."

"Sure, honey. The right decision. I'm just saying — this opportunity came up—"

"A man getting shot to death."

"—and I figured it was perfect. You get to teach some classes, keep working for me. They offer you a contract next fall, you'll get full benefits and thirty K a year. Plus what you make for me."

I drummed my fingers, let my eyes weave across the clutter of Erainya's desk.

"You're going to send me to boarding school if I say no?"

It took her a second to remember the brochures. "They're not boarding."

"Private school for Jem?"

She scowled, began gathering up the brochures. "I want the best."

"These places have scholarships?"

"Stop changing the subject."

"Most people still do public, Erainya. Kids turn out fine."

"You're telling me Jem is most kids?"

I looked back at Jem, who was now trying to explain to Kelly Arguello how the gears for his Tinkertoy motion machine worked.

"All right," I admitted. "He's exceptional. Still—"

"You worry about your college classes. Let me worry about kindergarten."

"And the Brandon case?"

"Let George take care of that."

"SAPD give you anything?"

"I just told you — wait a—"

I leaned toward the morass of papers on her desk and did my own dowsing job, plucked a phone message slip that was sticking out of a stack of reports. "Put that back," Erainya demanded.

I read the message. "Ozzie Gerson. Deputy Ozzie Gerson?"

"I'm not talking to you."

"Ozzie's about as low in the sheriffs department as you can get without crawling under one of their patrol cars. You're asking him for information. On a city homicide case, no less."

Erainya tapped her fingers. "Look, honey, I know you."

"Meaning what, exactly?"

"Meaning if I tell you details, you're going to decide it's your case. You're going to go poking around when what I really need for you to do is stay safe and make UTSA happy."

"Is this connected with that thing a few years ago?"

"That thing."

"Yeah. You know. That other guy named Brandon. Pow, pow."

Erainya folded her arms. Her black hair stuck out wiry free-style, not unlike Medusa's. "Just do your teaching, honey. Give George a week and he'll have a full report for UTSA. You got an advanced degree. You can read it."

"Gosh, thanks."

"And what I said about the sheriffs department — just because Ozzie's a mutual friend, don't get any bright ideas."

"You know I'll ask him."

"Let me pretend, honey. For my pride, all right?"

"Anything else?"

Erainya picked up the private school brochures again. She shuffled through them, contemplating each, then carefully dealt out three in front of me. "If you were choosing between those, which would you pick?"

I frowned at the brochures. Maroon, green, blue. All very slick. All sported pictures of venerable school facades and happy honors students, grinning and hugging their textbooks like old friends.

I looked up at Erainya. "I know nothing about schools."

"You know Jem?"

"I have that pleasure."

"All right, then. I'm asking you."

I picked up the brochures reluctantly. A weird memory came to me from thirteen years ago, when I'd looked through brochures for graduate schools. The forms, the spiel, the tuitions. These were about the same. "Eighty-five hundred a year? "

Erainya nodded. "Cheap."

"For New York, maybe."

"I want the best," Erainya insisted. "I'm not asking you about the finances, honey. I'm asking you about those three choices."

Hesitantly, I held up the green brochure. "This one. I've heard it's a nice place. Small. Got an arts program. It isn't Catholic."

"I thought you were Catholic."

"I rest my case."

Erainya took back the brochure. "I'll get Jem a visiting date. He'll want you to take him."


"You don't know Jem adores you, honey? You blind?"

"We need to work on the kid's taste."

"No argument." Erainya collected the brochures. "Now get out of here and rest. You got class tomorrow. And no poking around in George's case." "Suggestion noted."

Erainya shook her head sourly. She gazed at the gilded icon of Saint Sophia hanging on the wall next to her desk and muttered something, probably a Greek prayer to deliver the Manos clan from wicked, disrespectful employees. As I was going out, George Berton was fielding another call. He covered the receiver long enough to say, "See you tonight."

Kelly looked up from Jem's Tinkertoys. "I'll see you Thursday."  I agreed that he would and she would.