Ten minutes later, we were recluses in a taxicab. I was surprised that they even took passengers at this time of night. Perhaps, though, we were becoming part of their greatest revenue. Moscow and its secrets.

“What now, Miss King?” Mr. Thomason said, biting his nails. I moved his hands away and shrugged.

“We’ve hit another brick wall. I bet Del’ll turn up soon, though.”

“She’ll turn up dead!” exclaimed Richard, causing the driver to eye us through his mirror.

I sighed. “Let’s just go inside, maybe explain the situation to Inspector Simnova, mull it over. I am sorry, though. I did think that – hang on! What’s that?”

I pointed through the frosted window at the target of my roaming gaze. We had turned back into the road in which Karkroff Hall was the most prominent building. Richard shuffled up beside me. He swore and I knew that he had caught sight of the dark shapes moving out from a car parked in front of the house: somebody leading – no, I was certain that one was dragging the other – another. The second figure stumbled, as if they could not see where the road met the pavement.

All the windows of the night were dull. As the cab drew nearer, the figures retreated from the headlights.

“Driver, stop cab here, please,” I commanded. Despite my accent, the driver obliged, and Richard and I watched as the two figures disappeared across the lawn.

“That leads to the wine cellars,” Richard said, pointing. His breath steamed up the window and he swept it away with a shaking hand.

The car in front of us roared as its motor engaged. It picked up and began to leave, but still the figures did not return.

“More than one!” I cursed. “I’ll bet anything that Del’s gone with whoever that was in there.”

“Anything?” came Richard’s voice.

“Not now.”

Richard jumped up, lanky legs heading to kick out the door. Aside from wanting to keep the cab intact, I had a second reason for stopping him leaping out there and then.

“What are we waiting for?” he snapped.

I shook my head. “We can’t risk being spotted. Driver, please hold here. I’ll pay. So you say that leads to the cellars? Are you sure?”

“Positive. There’s no way into the house that side, and the path hits a dead end at the cellars. Someone would go that way only to get to the cellars – or if they wanted to climb in via a window. Yeah, I know: not likely.”

I rolled my eyes. “Five more minutes, I think. Mr. Thomason, you need to listen to what I say, and do exactly as I ask." His eyes glinted, about to protest that a girl would be giving the commands now, but instead I lifted a finger for silence. “Please, do exactly as I ask.”

The End

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