Walsh and Alec were at their usual table in The Jade Dragon. Eli resisted the urge to duck back into the kitchen and escape through the side door there. He only had a single hour left in his shift, and it had been going as well as could be expected- a few decent tips, no aggressively obnoxious customers, no complaints about the food. All he'd wanted was to finish his shift in peace and go home, maybe think about the case, but at home and not at work, where he was already seen as the weird guy too closely associated with murder for comfort.
"For the love of god," he hissed under his breath, still maintaining a customer service smile. He was grinding his teeth by the time he reached the table.
"We have another lead," Walsh said, like she didn't notice Eli's irritation. In reality, it was much worse: she noticed, but didn't see how it mattered.
"I tried to convince her to wait another hour," Alec said, expression resigned. "But she wouldn't be convinced."
"Why do you do this to me?" Eli whined as he dropped menus on their table.
He retreated, and was given a short respite while he refilled water glasses at one of his other tables, but he had to return in order to pretend to take Walsh and Alec's orders.
"Mrs. Fukui had a lover- Giovanni Quinn," Walsh said while Eli wrote down their usual orders on his note pad. "Apparently he was upset with her and left an aggressive message on her phone, though I've yet to hear it."
"Police won't give it to us: Ye's hands are tied and the Commissioner's spooked everyone into keeping their mouths shut," Alec explained and then added, slightly louder, "And I'd like an order of spring rolls."
"Aren't you supposed to be a doctor? Those things are bad for you," Eli said, and then noticed that his shift supervisor was lurking a few tables away and giving him a look.
"Just because I know something is bad for your health doesn't change anything," Alec retorted and handed his menu back.
They hung around for the rest of Eli's shift, much to his shift supervisor's obvious annoyance.
"Don't make this a habit, Doyle," she said once his shift ended and Walsh and Alec had disappeared outside to wait for him. She was nineteen years old, rarely did anything other than hover unpleasantly over the other employees, and was either the daughter or niece of the man who owned the restaurant. It was galling to know that a single word from this teenager could be enough to cost Eli his job. Luckily, he'd come prepared for dealing with her, as usual.
"They left a two hundred dollar tip," Eli said and shrugged his coat on. All employees shared tips and the two of them were the only wait staff working that shift.
"I have suddenly changed my mind," she said.
"Thought you might," Eli said and left the restaurant.
Outside, Walsh was nowhere to be seen, but Alec was lurking a few feet away from the employee's entrance, glowering at his phone.
Having only slightly more social graces than Walsh, Eli immediately tried to peer over his shoulder, but he did at least feel a little bad about it.
"Mother is now attempting to bribe me into going to the gala," Alec said, rolling his eyes at Eli's antics and tucked his phone away.
"What, is she going to buy you a pony?" Eli asked, looking around for Walsh. He spotted her partway down the block, her phone to her ear, an unusually soft expression on her face. She must have been talking to Dr. Mullins. Or her husband, Raul Mullins. Eli still had no idea what was going on there, and he was kind of sure he didn't actually want to know.
"No, she's offered to fly me to Fiji for a two week vacation," Alec said. He sounded offhand, like an extended tropical vacation was a reasonable thing for a parent to offer in return for going to a single event.
"Do not leave me here alone," Eli said, clutching at Alec's coat sleeve desperately. "I'd do something stupid like try to murder Walsh when she inevitably gets bored without you and starts showing up at all of my shifts to talk about decomposing bodies or something."
"Believe me, there's nothing mother could offer me that would convince me to spend any amount of time around Ashley Abrams," Alec said dryly. "Knowing my mother, by the time dinner was over everyone there would think we were engaged."
Walsh hung up her phone and headed back to them, her usual cool expression back in place.
"Eli," she said once she was closer. "Finally."
"Sorry to bother you with my annoying normal person job," Eli grumbled, but Walsh either didn't hear him or didn't deign it worthy of a response, and predictably, a cab appeared like she'd mentally summoned it. Eli had no idea how she always seemed to know how to perfectly time getting one of those.
The cab rolled up in front of Giovanni Quinn's home, which appeared to be an ordinary brownstone and was located in a relatively ordinary part of town, slightly upscale but not outrageously so. It didn't seem like it could be housing a murderer, but Eli had long ago realized that murderers could come in all shapes and sizes. Or type of home.
There was no answer when Alec knocked, or when Walsh held the doorbell down for a solid thirty seconds. Walsh eyed the door, then went and knocked on the door of the neighbour's door.
There was a muffled curse, a thump, and then an elderly woman opened the door.
"Can I help you?" she asked, eyeing them cautiously. "I'm not interested in buying anything," she added.
"We aren't selling anything," Alec said quickly, before Walsh could immediately ask her if she thought her neighbour was a murderer. "We're looking for Giovanni Quinn."
"Oh, Gio," the woman said, smiling warmly. "Such a nice young man. I haven't seen him in a few days- he left in quite a huff and hasn't been back yet."
"Which day was that?" Eli asked.
"Oh, the seventeenth, I think. It was around ten, I remember because I'd gotten up to call my sister- she's twelve hours ahead, you see- and I heard him shouting and slamming doors and such. He was making a real racket, I could hardly hear a thing Susan said," the woman said with a small disapproving frown.
"Was that sort of thing normal for him?" Alec asked, jotting everything down rapidly.
"Not precisely, he kept funny hours, for an office worker, but he's always been a good neighbour," she said and then paused, and asked, expression growing concerned, "Why are you looking for him, exactly? He's not in any sort of trouble, is he? He wouldn't harm a fly."
Walsh was exactly the sort of person to tell an old lady her neighbour was a suspect in a murder investigation just to see how she'd react, so Eli quickly hedged, saying, "A friend of his died earlier this week, so we need to contact him."
"If he comes home, you can call me at this number," Alec said and handed the woman a card.
They caught another cab back to Walsh's home, though part of Eli wished he could go home and wash the smell of fake Chinese food off his skin. A greater part of him wanted to comb through his photos of the crime scene to look for more clues. Walsh was a terrible influence.
"Well that wasn't terribly useful," Alec drawled, flipping through his notes.
"Gio could be the killer," Eli pointed out. "We know he wasn't at home at the time of the murder, and it's a bit suspicious that he hasn't come back since. Especially if he was arguing with Ms. Fukui that night."
"I need to hear that message or speak to Quinn directly before I make any assumptions," Walsh said eyes distant, "But I wouldn't be hasty in assuming his guilt. Fukui and Chlebek were already getting a divorce- what would drive Quinn to kill Fukui when she's leaving her husband, possibly for Quinn's sake?"
"People do plenty of incomprehensible things when it comes to affairs," Eli said with a shrug, but had to agree with Walsh. It was impossible to come to any sort of conclusion about Quinn without having spoken to him, or at least having heard the message on Ms. Fukui's phone. Speaking of... "So, next stop is the police station to wrangle that message out of Ye, right?"
Before Walsh could reply, Alec's phone rang.
He pulled it out and looked at the number, eyebrows raising in surprise. "This is Alec Barrington-Johnsen," he said. He listened for a moment, then said to Walsh and Eli, looking even more surprised, "It's Chlebek. He's been arrested."
Captain Ye was waiting for them outside the precinct, looking even less impressed with the world than usual. He held a slowly burning cigarette in one hand, but didn't bring it up to his lips.
"Captain," Walsh said, surprised to find him outside. It wasn't the first time she and her assistants had been called down by someone under arrest, but normally Ye would speak with them inside right before they were allowed to see whoever was under arrest. Departure from routine signified something else was afoot.
"Just out for a smoke break, things are rather tense inside and I needed some air," Ye said. Walsh knew for a fact the man didn't smoke, but pretended he did for instances such as this, when he needed an excuse to be away from the office without scrutiny. "The commissioner himself has a particular interest in this investigation," Ye continued. He was surprisingly good at faking a casual tone. "He's been dropping by frequently since Ms. Fukui was discovered, and it was under his orders that Mr. Chlebek was arrested."
"You don't agree with him?" Walsh asked, not missing the narrow look Ye shot at the doors to the precinct.
For all that she'd once been a police officer and still spent a significant amount of time around criminals and the police force, she'd yet to actually meet the commissioner. That hardly mattered- it was common, albeit unspoken, knowledge that he was on the take for every important criminal organization in the city. The fact that he was the one to move to have Chlebek arrested certainly seemed significant, and added credence to her suspicion that Chlebek was merely the scapegoat for someone much more dangerous.
Ye snorted, tacitly agreeing with all that she hadn't said. "I'm sure the commissioner has his reasons," he said blandly. "I just feel we might have made a move too soon; the evidence we have against Mr. Chlebek for the homicide isn't airtight. I also haven't seen the evidence showing him kidnapping Mr. Quinn, which he has also been charged with."
Walsh raised her eyebrows. "There was evidence of them having known about each other?" She hated how little she really knew about Quinn- she'd only learned of his existence earlier that morning and hadn't yet had a chance to do any digging, leaving her in the unusual position of knowing less than the police did. It wasn't a feeling she enjoyed, especially when she suspected that Quinn was at the heart of the whole convoluted mess.
"Phone records show that they frequently called each other, and Chlebek made frequent purchases at a gas station close to Quinn's home, despite living on the opposite side of town."
Walsh's suspicion piqued. That was not behavior one expected from a cuckold husband and his wife's lover. It was also exceptionally tenuous evidence of being guilty of kidnapping, even if one took into account the tangled infidelity of the three people involved.
"That's certainly not enough to justify assuming Chlebek is the kidnapper," she pointed out casually. There had to be more. Even if Chlebek was being framed, they had to have something they were using, since not every person in the judicial system and media could be bought. Ye was eyeing the entrance to the station even more warily. He likely was running out of time to be away from the precinct without anyone questioning it.
"The commissioner said that Chlebek left several suspicious messages on Quinn's phone," Ye said. His mouth quirked up in the wry smile Walsh recalled seeing whenever the pair of them had run headfirst into the stranglehold that the mob had over the police force's senior management. "Unfortunately, after the messages were passed onto the forensic linguist out of town, there was a computer error and the original copies were lost."
"How unfortunate," Walsh remarked, barely keeping the irritation she wanted to express in check.
"These things happen," Ye said with a shrug that said he thought these things happened a little too often in Summerport. He stubbed the half-burnt cigarette out on the heel of his shoe and tossed it in the trash. "Well, thanks for keeping me company out here, Walsh. I'll see you inside." He was halfway to the front entrance when he paused and looked back at her and added, "Oh, and I might not see you at the pub next week, the Commissioner wants me to spend some time at the main office, clearing up a few loose ends."
Walsh nodded agreeably enough. She never associated with Ye outside of a case, much less at a pub. Being temporarily under the direct eye of the Commissioner's office could only mean one thing: she couldn't rely on Ye for any more information for this case.
Ye entered the building and Walsh allowed herself a small snort of amusement. For all that she accused Ye and his force of being incompetent, he was a lot more intelligent than she often gave him credit for. She wouldn't waste all that he'd told her.
Hushed whispers followed the three of them as they walked through the precinct to where Chanda Chlebek was being held. Walsh paid them no mind, but Eli struggled not to narrow his eyes at the cops following their path inside. He knew the majority of them were on the take, but it was still unnerving to be under such scrutiny.
Walsh was allowed into see Chanda by one of the junior officers, as Chanda's legal counsel.
"What about these two?" the officer asked, stopping Alec and Eli from following after her.
"My assistants are necessary and have the required credentials," Walsh said irritably.
Which was patently untrue, Eli reflected. He had half a paralegal certificate, which meant nothing, and Alec didn't even have that. Luckily, most of the officers knew better than to tangle with Walsh, since it made life less messy.
"Take it up with Ye," Alec said and ducked under the officer's arm, dragging Eli with him. The officer frowned, but didn't stop them.
Chanda was a wreck inside the interrogation room. His shoulders were hunched and his eyes wide and frightened, though he looked marginally calmer once he saw Walsh.
"I didn't kidnap anyone," he said the moment the door was closed behind Eli.
"Obviously," Walsh said, ruthlessly cutting Chanda off. "We wouldn't be in this room if we thought you had kidnapped Giovanni Quinn. What I need to know is why anyone wants us to believe that you did."
Chanda's eyes flickered to the one-way mirror on the far wall, then back to Walsh. The message was clear. There were some things that couldn't be said in front of the police, especially with the commissioner and his men sniffing around.
Walsh frowned and then nodded at Eli, who sighed, but stepped forward to do what Walsh was wordlessly asking him to do. It might have been necessary, but there was something deeply humiliating about acting like a complete idiot in front of the police.
"Oh, looks like you could use some more water," Eli said and winked as he reached across Chanda to grab his half-empty cup of water. The position made it look like he was being a brainless flirt for anyone watching through the mirror, but blocked Chanda's face temporarily.
It also put Eli's ear close enough to hear Chanda just barely breath, "Saul Casale."
Eli twitched his head in the smallest possible nod and stepped back.
The rest of their time with Chanda was largely unproductive: Chanda had been home alone and had no alibi, he had met Giovanni Quinn before but held no grudge against him, and Quinn definitely hadn't been Lydia's lover but they had known each other.
Just as they were gathering their things to leave, Chanda stared hard at Eli, and said, "Please. Find Giovanni Quinn."
Eli stared back helplessly back. Chanda's gaze was intense, his eyes were desperate but determined. Eli couldn't do anything except nod back.
"Interesting," Walsh murmured, once they were safely outside the precinct.
"What is?" Eli asked curiously.
"Chlebek was telling the truth, Quinn and Fukui were not lovers," Walsh replied and climbed into the cab that appeared in front of them.
"You mean that wasn't a man lying about not knowing about knowing about his wife's infidelity?" Alec asked, looking skeptical. "It would make sense for him to not want to admit to knowing about that, it would give him motive for kidnapping Quinn, even if we know he's innocent."
"Chanda didn't exactly talk about Quinn like he was hiding a lot of resentment," Eli pointed out. He could see where Walsh was coming from- even if Chanda were an amazing actor, it would be hard to fake the casual way he talked about Quinn. But there had been something in his eyes...
"I suspect Chlebek and Quinn are lovers," Walsh announced calmly.
"Chanda and Quinn?!" Alec asked, floored. "Where do you get that? Not being jealous doesn't exactly spell boyfriends."
"It makes a sort of sense," Eli said slowly, lost in thought. "What? It does!" He defended when Alec shot him a disbelieving look.
"Alright, Daphne, amaze me with your deductive reasoning based off of nothing," Alec said with an infuriating smirk.
Eli bristled like a cat brushed the wrong way, but he took the time to start thinking out loud. "Okay, well despite what Chanda said, he and Ms. Fukui getting a divorce right before her election doesn't make a whole lot of sense if their only reason was that it 'wasn't working out'- it would be safer to just continue to live separately and divorce after she won the election."
Through the rearview mirror, Eli could see Walsh watching him closely from the front seat. Her eyes didn't give anything away, but she wasn't stopping Eli, so he figured that he had to be onto something, so he continued, "But if Chanda was seeing someone else- a male someone else- Ms. Fukui probably wouldn't want to risk the potential scandal of having a gay husband, so getting a divorce would make sense."
"Why would Chanda have married her in the first place if he's gay?" Alec asked doubtfully, though his expression was thoughtful.
"Chanda's an MMA fighter," Eli pointed out.
"Your detective skills are astounding, Eliot. I wouldn't have been able to figure that out," Alec drawled, and dodged the smack Eli aimed at his head.
From the front seat, Walsh rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, but competitive sports are still pretty homophobic, especially when you go pro," Eli said. He'd dealt with plenty of shit when he was playing baseball in middle school- he could only imagine what it would be like as an adult and in a sport that involved wearing next to no clothing and climbing all over each other and pinning each other on the ground. "And I'm willing to bet that MMA fighting is even worse than other sports. Being married would have been useful for both of them."
Alec hummed thoughtfully, accepting Eli's point with about as much grace as could be expected. "I suppose if Chanda met someone else he'd want to get a divorce fairly quickly, provided it also benefited Ms. Fukui, which would explain why he was the one to file the divorce," Alec conceded. "But we have no way of knowing if this is pure speculation or not without asking Chanda directly, which he can't answer anyways while he's in the precinct."
"While we cannot confirm this, I suspect it's correct given the way Chlebek spoke about Quinn," Walsh said from the front seat.
"What do you mean?" Eli asked, because as much as he thought he was right, he also had to agree with Alec- they couldn't confirm his hypothesis until Chanda was out from under the commissioner's thumb. "He didn't really seem to have any sort of feelings about Quinn, positive or negative."
"Chlebek does seem to be an excellent actor, to be expected from a closeted man in an exceptionally homophobic work environment, but he appeared very concerned about the fact that Quinn is missing. And there is the matter of what he said when we left the interrogation room," Walsh said.
"'Find Giovanni Quinn'," Eli repeated, eyes widening. He'd assumed Chanda had said it because it would prove his innocence, but if he was romantically involved with Quinn... Well, he'd want him found for other reasons too.
"What did Chlebek tell you while you were pretending to be a fool?" Walsh asked.
"He said 'Saul Casale'," Eli reported, frowning. "Do you recognize that name? Because I sure don't."
Alec frowned. "It sounds familiar, but I have no idea where from."
Walsh mentally sorted through her index of Summerport's criminals capable of murder, but came up short. Of course, it was entirely possible that 'Saul Casale' was merely an alias, or was a small-time criminal who had yet to put himself onto Walsh's radar- the possibilities were endless given their lack of solid information. Walsh tried to reign in her frustration, but it had been a long time since a case had been so ephemeral in its details. Nevertheless, she was a professional and had many years' experience dealing with Summerport's secretive underbelly, so by the time they entered her apartment, she had collected herself.
They arrived back at Walsh's apartment in mutual silence, all three lost in their musings.
"Let us go over the facts," Walsh said, once they were all settled. She might have been a genius, but she knew her own failings, and as much as she hated to admit it, she might have missed something in this tangled web of half-truths and speculation.
Alec and Eli obligingly ended whatever squabble they'd been having, and Eli pulled out the small white board they used for such instances.
"Lydia Fukui, who was a senator candidate, was murdered four days ago," Walsh said, writing this information down at the center of the board. "What motives would someone have to kill her?" she asked Eli, not because she couldn't think of any, but because Eli needed more practice on this sort of thing.
Eli frowned and tapped a finger to his chin thoughtfully. "Well, it's either personal or political," he said. "I'm leaning towards political, since the crime was made to look like it was personally motivated."
"It could be both, killing two birds with one stone," Alec mused from where he on the couch behind Walsh and Eli. They both turned from the white board to look at Alec. Walsh's eyebrow ticked up as if to say 'elaborate', so Alec continued, "What if there's someone who would benefit from having her not get the senate seat, and who also has a grudge against Ms. Fukui? Or Chanda for that matter, since he was the one the suspect tried to frame for murder. But that's all speculation, so it doesn't really matter at this point."
"Okay, so realistically, we don't have any solid evidence on why Ms. Fukui was killed," Eli said and put a question mark next to the word 'motive' under her name. "But we do know that the killer did a bad job of framing her husband Chanda Chlebek."
"It's common knowledge that Chlebek and Fukui were married, given their public statuses," Walsh said, eyes narrowing. "But knowledge that they were getting divorced wasn't known to many."
Eli's eyes widened, and he said, "Yeah, how exactly did the killer find those divorce papers? I doubt they just happened to be out on Ms. Fukui's desk, and the killer decided to throw it in. They had to have brought them to the crime scene on purpose."
"A gun was also taken from her safe," Alec pointed out, and then asked thoughtfully, "Did we ever see the ballistics report?"
"The bullet that killed Fukui matches the caliber of gun that was registered under Fukui's name, but the gun itself was never recovered," Walsh said. "The killer had to have known that Fukui had a gun, and how to get into the safe. This, along with knowledge of a divorce, suggests a personal connection, if not a personal motive to kill Fukui."
"That's not even including Giovanni Quinn or whoever Saul Casale is," Eli said, and added their names to the already tangled web he'd been drawing on the white board. Saul Casale's name was accompanied by several question marks and a small frowning face. "Gio disappeared after Ms. Fukui was killed and Chanda is the prime suspect again. What if Chanda's the main target here, not Ms. Fukui?"
Walsh considered this, but quickly came to the conclusion that it didn't fit quite right. "If Chlebek were the target, I suspect the killer would be more thorough on making sure he appeared indisputably to be the culprit. The reason he's a suspect in Quinn's disappearance isn't due to poorly placed evidence, and more due to the involvement of the police. That suggests someone is trying very hard to convince us that Chlebek is guilty."
Alec rolled his eyes as Eli and Walsh descended into an argument over whether Chlebek or Fukui was the main target and got up to make dinner. Both of his companions were too focused on their case to remember that human beings needed three meals a day, but Alec wasn't about to let them get away with skipping dinner again.
Thirty minutes later, pasta in hand, Alec came back to the living room to turn on the news. Walsh and Eli were still at it- though Alec thought it sounded like their argument had shifted subjects to the subject of the elusive Saul Casale.
He was halfway through his plate of pasta when something on the news caught his eye and he swore loudly, distracting both Eli and Walsh from their argument.
"I think I may have figured out Saul Casale's connection," he said before they could do more than turn to stare at him. His expression was grim as he grabbed the TV remote and turned it up so it was more than just background noise.
"-leaves us wondering what will become of the many political positions Ms. Fukui was championing," The news anchor was saying. "One such position was her hard stance on the strict prohibition of the drug Luminex, commonly as prescription pain medication, but which has frequently been found mixed in other illegal substances. Ms. Fukui's top contender for the senate seat, Mr. Brown, has gone on record saying that such a prohibition would do more harm than good. With Ms. Fukui no longer in a position to drive her prohibition forward, it seems that Luminex will remain largely unregulated and available to the public. Good news for businessmen like CEO and owner of Tessaro Pharmaceuticals, Luvardo Tessaro- Summerport's own billionaire-"
Alec hit the mute button on the TV, abruptly cutting off the news anchor, and turned to face Walsh and Eli, a weary look on his face.
"I remembered where I heard Saul Casale's name before. I've met him before at an event I attended with my parents, years ago," he explained and sat down at the kitchen table, pinching the bridge of his nose. "He's Luvardo Tessaro's 'personal assistant'." Here Alec rolled his eyes at the words 'personal assistant', a wry smile flitting briefly across his face. Eli knew exactly what sort of assistant Saul Casale likely was, and it likely involved far more bullet shells than coffee runs.
"Casale was always at Tessaro's side," Alec continued, "But he rarely spoke or even gave anyone his name. It wasn't that noticeable, most people like my parents don't even take note of PAs and the like. I probably saw him a half dozen times, but he was so forgettable that the only reason I remembered him was because the last time I saw him, years ago- Tessaro was yelling at him in the hallway outside a Gala and I felt embarrassed for Casale. He was just that unremarkable."
"Makes sense if you're a mob boss's trained dog," Eli remarked, scowling at the TV, which had by then finished its segment on Lydia Fukui. "So, Tessaro had Lydia taken out so he didn't have to worry about her prohibition while also giving to the senate seat to someone he could more easily manipulate?" Eli asked Walsh, starting to see how the parts fit together, though they didn't come together perfectly. He just knew he was missing something important. "And then he had Chanda framed for her death... Framed badly. You'd think a bigshot crime guy could do a better job at that sort of thing."
"Exactly," Walsh said, having reached the same conclusion the moment Tessaro's name had come up. "Tessaro wouldn't have made the mistakes I found immediately at the crime scene."
"But who else would want to prevent the prohibition on Luminex?" Eli asked and scratched his head quizzically. "Another drug company?"
Alec shook his head. "No, Luminex is patented, it's Tessaro's main money maker."
"Chlebek gave you Saul Casale's name specifically," Walsh said. "He must be involved some way, and not just as Tessaro's employee."
"So, we've got a pharmaceutical company drug lord slash CEO's enforcer, who killed a senator candidate, and who did a bad job at framing her possibly gay husband, and we don't know why," Eli concluded. He looked to Alec and said wryly, "Well, I don't know about you, but I feel even more confused than ever."
"The problem will be getting close to Tessaro and thus Casale," Walsh said, ignoring Eli, as she often did whenever he said something she found especially nonsensical.
"I'm guessing we can't just go up to either of them and say 'hey did either of you kill Lydia Fukui and kidnap her husband's boyfriend'?" Eli asked.
Walsh didn't roll her eyes but she did shoot Eli a narrow look that said she did not appreciate his shallow attempt at humour. "No, none of us would even be able to get close enough to say so much as a hello. The three of us have gained a certain… notoriety within men like Tessaro's circle."
Alec sighed deeply and pinched the bridge of his nose again. "I might have a way to overcome that obstacle. But I don't like it," he said, voice tight, like the words were being forced out of him.
"Does it involve dogs?" Eli asked, remembering Alec's near comical aversion to man's best friend. That had certainly been a fun case.
"No," Alec snapped, glowering at Eli.
Eli beamed back unrepentantly, but he did casually step out of reach. Just in case.
"Worse," Alec said darkly. "It involves my parents."