~ To the Hounds!~

Richard Capinger was forty-two years old, five feet five inches tall, slim and as nondescript a person as there could be. In other words, Richard liked to say to colleagues, he was ideally suited for the job of private detective. Minutes after meeting him, a person was hard-pressed to point out anything distinguishing that could single him out in a crowd. As a result, anyone availing himself of Capinger’s impeccable service quickly came to believe that the man was indeed created for the job.

The late Stefan Cassadine had been one such astute person. He had engaged Richard’s services for a small personal matter. At the job’s conclusion, the head of the Cassadine family signed Richard into exclusive service. Not for the Cassadine family as a whole, but for Stefan and his immediate loved ones. The position paid Richard several times what he would have amassed on his own. All that was required of him was results and discretion, two things he had no problem delivering. Now he was in the employ of the current head of the Cassadine clan, Prince Nikolas.

Capinger got straight to the point as soon as the young Prince answered his phone. “I have come across an interesting lead.” He did not bother with the normal pleasantries of conversation. Richard knew that Nikolas did not require it of him. “It may have nothing to do with the job you assigned me. Or it may have everything to do with it. I will follow things to see where they lead.”

There was a pause. “I am curious,” Nikolas said, “as to why you are informing me of this development. You have never seen fit to keep me apprised of the day-to-day details of your work.”

“I suspect that my investigation will lead me into sensitive areas of Cassadine concern,” Capinger explained. “I didn’t want you unaware of my presence there.”

“What is this lead?” Nikolas sounded both intrigued and worried.

“I will know soon.”

Richard ended the call without ceremony. Already a picture was beginning to form in his mind. If correct, it was one he’d seen many times before in his career. The sooner he got to the truth about it, the better for all parties involved.

The detective studied the papers he’d found in the float of the toilet tank in Samantha McCall’s apartment. Sealed in plastic, they were rolled into a tight scroll and pushed down into the plastic ball for safekeeping. It was a pretty common maneuver among drug addicts and con men.

Richard made one last round of the apartment. Just as he knew, there was not a single hint that he had searched the place from top to bottom, or that he had examined Samantha McCall’s belongings with a fine-toothed comb. The only clue the young woman would have that her apartment had been breached would come when she went to retrieve the stash of papers hidden in the toilet and found them missing.

Idly, the detective wondered just what young Miss McCall’s reaction would be.