My next book is coming extremely soon, and here’s an exclusive preview for you lucky Quinlan Vaulters.
“Oh boy, this is such a mess, Morgan.”
“I agree. How did you let it come to this?”
“Maybe I should have helped them.”
“Maybe you should be my lackey instead.”
“I might just take you up on that offer.”
“You almost had me there for a moment.”
“Yeah. Just a joke, for sure.”
“But really, you’ve got a knack for certain things, and I’m glad to see them.”
“Thank you. I’m glad you’re so capable yourself.”
As you can see here, Lamar and R8PR have been hitting it off WELL lately. Too well, some might say. “Some” being me.
I was invited here to the penthouse up for wine, and I don’t turn free alcohol down, as you are probably aware by now. When I got here, Lamar was already sitting on the couch, chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool-like with his new best buddy.
Listen, bub. Lamar. You’re here because I’m your awesome friend, and you better not sideline me for this ill-mannered hunk of titanium.
I don’t want to be a third wheel.
They both notice me and my sour disposition, and pause their otherwise unceasing camaraderie.
“Anything wrong?” Lamar asks.
“I wanted to solve this big mystery myself…” I raise my shoulder and slump my head down like some poor mud-covered child trying to get back into the house without Mom noticing.
“You came close,” R8PR says. “There’s no shame in reaching out to your computer-powered pals. It’s a case we can barely do ourselves, and that’s only thanks to all the info you’ve given us.”
“I’d have never broken out of the Japanese mob base,” Lamar says. “You do amazing stuff every day, Morgan.”
“Aw, thanks.” Wait, I’m not allowed to be sincerely happy about things. “Mah, I suck. I’m not worth the clay I was formed with.”
“Are you Adam?” R8PR asks.
“Wait, how are babies made, again?”
My robot friend ignores me. “At least your encounter with Kusata has answered us one very important question: How does Mighty Slammer tie into Ohata King’s plot?”
“…It answers that question?” I scratch my forehead. “I distinctly recall him saying he had no idea what I was talking about with the gold. How does that solve anything?”
R8PR and Lamar look at each other.
“They don’t know yet. They still haven’t figured it out.” R8PR giggles.
“Nope.” Lamar smirks at me.
I’m annoyed by their reluctance to just tell me what the answer is, but some tiny little spark starts gnawing at my brain.
That spark travels through a little bit of mental gunpowder…
And some more…
Suddenly, this whole giant, stupid case gets blown wide open in my brain. All because I didn’t step back from the weeds, I never saw it. But now I do.
“Holy shit, it’s NOT a big conspiracy,” I gasp.
They shake their heads at me.
“I’ve been trained all my life as a hero to connect the dots and figure out these big plots that all tie together into one grand villainous line. But the thing that’s been staring me in the face this whole time, the thing I inexplicably never realized… is that there’s not one mystery to solve here. There’s two.”
R8PR nods his head so affirmatively it’s like he’s become a bobblehead for a second. “I only realized it myself when you told us about the Anime Attic being robbed. It happened yesterday, which is BEFORE you told Kusata about it. If he didn’t know, then neither did anyone else. Which means a completely separate party is involved.”
Ugh! It was all so simple!
By that I mean, it was much more complex than I realized!
“Two separate mysteries at the same time, and I’ve been trying to figure them out like they’re one. I feel like an idiot, and yet somehow smarter as well. So we’ve got the Japanese mob and Ohata King with their whole deal planning a big terrorist attack at the Summer Festival. And then we’ve got Mighty Slammer, who’s been destroying restaurants and receiving gold bars for it for unknown reasons, by unknown people. One of them, we’ve already figured out and we’ve got to prevent it immediately. The other, we’re completely in the dark about because I ran down the wrong trail and now I’m lost in thick of the Beltline Loop.”
Lamar pats me on the back. “You got it all, without even a computer for a brain.”
“Almost all,” R8PR.
“Wait… Wait, there’s more,” I say. “These two mysteries were never part of one grand conspiracy, but they were linked together, or I’d have never stumbled from one to another so naturally. There has to be one common denominator that impacted me, one factor that connects Ohata King to Mighty Slammer. Something, or someone, or someplace…”
Another boom goes off in my brain. Only this time it makes me feel dumber, not smarter.
“I figured it out,” I say. “But I hate it.”
“What’s the link, Morgan?” R8PR asks, despite knowing full well what the answer will be.
“It’s Phil. It’s fucking Phil, that idiot warehouse worker.”
All this nonsense started because I listened to that guy and he gave me his burner phone. I’d have never even have known about Nami or Ohata King if he didn’t help me.
So, unfortunately, it looks like I’m going to have to go back into Tracy Silver mode and find this dude one more time.