(Author's note: this is a bit farther down the line in the plot...)

I jiggled the thin strip of plastic between the door and the doorjamb.  This was just all getting out of hand, I had to find out for myself...

The deadbolt finally gave way, and I slid noiselessly into her apartment.  Her back was to me, furiously packing things into a small hip case.  I edged along the wall, trying to watch my step.

Unfortunately, squeaky floorboards aren't easily noticed until it's too late.

In one fluid motion she had pivoted to face me, a gun in her hand pointing directly at me.  I held my hands up slightly.

"Oh."  She spun the pistol in her hand lazily before sliding it back into in a pocket on the right side of her body.  "I'm sorry, Inspector.  I wasn't expecting you."

"I thought you were right handed, Ms. Shannon."

She nodded.  "I'm ambidextrous, to tell truth.  Quite useful, really."

"I can imagine it would be."

"It helps when changing positions."

I cocked an eyebrow.  "What do you mean by 'changing positions,' Ms. Shannon?"

She kept one eye trained on me, the other making sure whatever was behind her was completely concealed.  "You know, shifting roles when necessary," she replied, trying to sound relaxed about it.  "It always helps to have good use of one's left and right hands, Inspector."

"I hope I wasn't interrupting anything?"  I chanced a step towards her.

"Oh no, of course not," she replied, further trying to hide whatever it was on the counter.

"Were you... going anywhere?"  I took another step forward.

"Just ready getting ready to leave, actually.  Important engagement, can't miss it."  She reached behind her, pulling on a black ski cap.

"Why all the black, Ms. Shannon?  The black jeans, the dark three-quarter sleeves... all rather specialized-looking, in my mind."  I edged closer.  "If I didn't know better, call me crazy, but those look a lot like those clothes a stereotypical thief."

Shannon didn't have too many tells, but she showed one of them: the tiniest curl of a smile, more visible in the eyes than anything.  A playful, jesting spark in her bright blue eyes.

"I've noted before that you have excellent eyes, have I not Inspector?"

"Well, I'd like to see what you're hiding back there, Ms. Shannon."

She smirked impishly.  "Now what makes you think I'm hiding something, Inspector?"

Before she could react I dove for her ankles, bringing her to the floor.  She tried to wriggle away, but I had a tight grip on her foot.  A short scuffle ensued, but I finally had her cuffed a support beam in the corner of the apartment.

Thank God for being prepared.

I stood up, dusting myself off.  She and I were both a bit out of breath.  She rose, leaning against the beam.  I kept my eye on her as I backed up to the counter.

A brilliant bloodred garnet veined with pink no bigger than  my thumbnail sparkled on the countertop.  I picked it up, looking between it and Shannon in astonishment.

She shrugged.  "I guess I have quite a bit of explaining to do, eh Inspector?"

"Quite a bit?" I asked, incredulously.  "Ms. Shannon, you have a hell of a lot of explaining to do."

The End

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