Lemon Muffin paced around the office, a bad case of verbal diarrhoea following in her wake. It was clear to Inspector Gache that Lemon Muffin was uneasy about the idea; this was a good thing. Yes he needed to know that Muffin would follow his lead over any others, but it was never wise to get into business with anyone who would screw over old loyalties at a drop of a hat. Still, her constant verbal reasoning with herself was getting a little much and he needed to move this along.
“Muffin, please. I understand I am asking you to help us break into your own offices and go against the very orders you have been given. I understand you will be breaking oaths and vows and all that nonsense. But we do this not for fun or pleasure, but to finally catch a serial cake killer who is on the prowl. We do this to save lives.” Gache said.
A bit heavy handed? Sure. But somewhere in this serial there had to be a speech that BAFTA would like, and with Breads being cut this one would have to do. Besides which the words hit home and Muffin stilled for a spell, finally taking a seat at her desk.
“Good. First question. Where is the silver tart?” Gache asked.
“In the main vault, basement two.”
“Do you know the security measures?”
“The vault can only be opened during work hours and is in complete lock down otherwise. A guard and an authorised employee need to open the vault together.”
“And are you such an authorised employee?”
Her squirm told Gache all he needed to know. She was, and she was not going to admit it.
“I am not. But I know someone who is.” Muffin said.
Gache smiled a little. She was not willing to take this hit herself, but there was someone, some muffin, she was willing to throw under the bus here. Of course it also meant that she was probably more than willing to throw him and Bread under the bus too. He would need to be careful with this one.
“What about the guard?” Gache asked.
“No problem. I can ask the authorised employee to get the item for me. Rather than tackling the vault I can make the switch there, but the fake will have to be damn good.”
A look of confusion washed over Gache’s face. Muffin had gone from unwilling accomplice to mastermind in the blink of an eye. It was clear this was not an off the cuff plan. For a second Gache wondered if he was being played here, but he dismissed the notion easily. Instead he asked,
“What is it you have planned to steal before Muffin?”
She squirmed again. She would not say but he now knew there was something in the vault that she wanted. For now it would remain a curiosity, but it was always good for people he knew to have a few little secrets that could maybe be exploited at some point in the future.
Before she had a chance to reply, and to her visible relief, Bread returned. He went to pass the counterfeit tart to Gache but was intercepted by a visibly nervous Muffin.
“What is she so excited about?” Bread asked.
“It seems Little Miss Muffin over here has a head for grand larceny and had a ready made plan all stored in a box ready to bake.” Gache said.
“But she never baked it?”
“I don’t know, and I doubt she will tell us.”
Muffin stared at them, a cold stare undermined by a glint of mischief. Rather than address the idle chatter she dragged the conversation back on track.
“This is a very good fake. How could anyone make it so fast?”
Gache and Bread shared a knowing look, which annoyed Muffin no end.
“What?” She asked.
“That’s not a counterfeit, that is the real one.” Bread said.
“And I would really like to see it, if it pleases you?” Gache said.
Unbelieving and with a slight nervous shake she handed the tart over to Gache. Lemon watched him roll the thing over, squeeze it, breath on it and even lick it. She watched as he pulled out a magnifying glass and examined the piece closely.
“Did the muffins examine this?” Gache asked distractedly.
“Yes.” Muffin replied.
“And what was there conclusion?”
“Well made, real sliver, real gems. No doubt a real piece of jewelry only available to the top tier. They also theorised that the tart design was a little out of place, so wondered if the original piece had been stolen and altered to avoid detection.”
“Hmmmm” Gache replied.
Muffin went to speak but was silenced by a motion from Bread. Leaning in he whispered,
“This is quiet time for us, just sit and watch.”
So they did, for almost two hours, until Gache finally put the piece down.
“This is the original design, and if I am correct will not be reported as stolen or missing. This sliver, although marked as cake mined, is in fact imported from the biscuits; a highly illegal but lucrative trade.”
“So the victim is an importer?” Muffin asked.
Ignoring her, Gache continued,
“The gems however are legal, and old, Red Velvet old…”
“So a descendant of the old royal family?” Muffin said.
“…but the design here is key. A silver tart, that is the victim, or the key to leading us to the victim.”
“A prostitute?” Bread said.
“Indeed, one involved directly or indirectly with illegal silver trade and the old royal family. Here is the real kicker though. I think the Slicer himself made this, which means he also intersects with illegal trade. I don’t think these victims will be random this time, I think every single one will lead us closer to understanding who the Slicer is.”
The room fell silent.
“But we can’t get lost in that. We need to head to Bakewell Street and start talking to the tarts.”