I tapped Blair's shoulder. He started and took off his headphones.
He turned his face in my direction with a big smile. "Jim! I didn't hear you come in."
"No wonder, Dr. Bookworm. What has you so engrossed?" I sat down on the couch next to him and gathered him in my arms. He tilted his head up and kissed me.
"Just reading the latest journal."
"You in that one?" I picked up the empty box. Journal of Urban Anthropology. "That thing on cops as an urban tribe?"
"Nah. I'm in next quarter's." He sniffed. "Good thing you came home. Dinner's ready." He disentangled himself from my arms, made sure his tape machine was off and made his way into the kitchen to poke and sniff at the food he'd prepared.
I got up to set the table. When he heard me clatter around the silverware drawer, he turned to give me another smile. I smiled back, even though he couldn't see it.
"Roger, you *don't* have to do this...yes, I am. I swear to you. Look, just let it go, man." Blair took a deep breath, holding in his anger. I just shook my head. He was wearing his Academy uniform, a white uniform shirt and dark blue pants with a blue clip-on tie, but his hair was still brushing his shoulders, so the effect was very Blair. "Okay, okay. It's a waste of time and I'm out of that life, but if you're going to do it, do it. Let's cut the last cord....yeah, thanks. I'll talk to you." He hung up the phone.
"What's up, Sandburg?"
He looked at me. "I've tested those ears. You heard every word."
"Yep. And if he can get you cleared..."
"It's a waste of time. And useless. I'm a *cop* now. Or I will be. I don't give a damn if some peer review clears me. Which they won't." He closed his eyes and shook his head, sending his curls flying. "Any leads on that thief?"
"Yeah...while you were in class." He'd tested out of most of his classes, but not all. He had permission to "observe" me the rest of the time, so long as he wore his cadet's uniform and no gun. He hated the uniform, which was why he rebelled and wore his hair loose when he worked with me. As I said, the effect was very Blair. Made it difficult to keep my mind on work. A few weeks earlier, I would have believed he was doing it on purpose. He would have grinned and flirted and tossed those curls around and dared me to grab him in the break room with his eyes. These days, he was quiet and subdued except when he spoke to this Roger guy.
"So?" He leaned forward on my desk.
"It was actually something that you said at breakfast this morning...that tomorrow sometime, another jeweler store will be robbed and we'll talk to the owner or the manager and that Manzo guy would be there shaking his head and denying the claim."
"Hiding in plain sight, too. He's the insurance guy, isn't he? So it make sense he was there."
"Yes, but there are two other firms besides his who handle claims like that. I checked."
His eyes widened. "How many other agents does his firm have for jewelers?"
"Just him. He specializes in these things, and it's not a big one."
"And part of insurance is seeing how security is handled..." He was sitting up straight now. "That's not enough...you got anything else?"
"Yeah. He gambles. A lot