Monday 17 – Tuesday 18 February 2014
‘I’m so glad that you agreed to come to dinner. It’s been so long since your mother and I have seen you.’
Adelaide Danvers looked around the room to make sure that her mother was out of earshot before she spoke.
‘I didn’t come here for you, dad, I came for mom. Never forget that. I came for mom’s sake.’
‘You think you’re some kind of hero, don’t you? Trying to bring me down. Trying to pin whatever you can on me. What did I ever do to you to make you so bitter towards me?’
‘You really need me to answer that for you?’ Adelaide fired back.
‘Actually, yes, I do.’
‘You’re a criminal, dad. You seem to think that you can do whatever the hell you want to do to get what you want, and you don’t care who gets hurt in the process. You think that because you’re Robert Carter, head of Carter Industries, that you’re untouchable, exempt from all of the laws that everyone else has to abide by.’
‘And there we have it,’ Carter whispered. ‘You do realise that everything that you consider my criminal activities . . . it all went towards giving you the life, the education that you had? You realise that, don’t you?’
Adelaide looked directly at her father, disdain welling up inside of her.
‘What I know is that you have killed, injured, maimed, blackmailed, extorted, stolen, and kidnapped your way to the top of business. What I know is that you have no concern for anyone other than yourself. What I know is that you will have to pay for what you have done.’
Without missing a beat, Carter responded to his daughter.
‘Your loyalty should be to me and this family.’
‘As should yours,’ Adelaide replied. ‘Not to your company.’
‘Have you considered what this little witch hunt of yours will do to your mother?’ Carter snapped.
‘Not as much damage as what you’ve already done.’
* * * * *
After only a few hours of searching, Mike Albright had compiled an extensive dossier on Harper Cahill. There was still much more to uncover about the feisty little woman, but for the moment, he was satisfied with going back to basics, and staking out her office and home. He had settled in for the night, a thermos of coffee, newspaper, and the golden oldies radio station keeping him company, when tapping on the passenger’s side window startled him. Harper Cahill peered through the glass, urging him to roll down the window. Somewhat deflated, he obliged.
‘Is there something that I can do for you?’ Harper asked.
‘No, no,’ replied Albright. ‘I’m just waiting for a friend.’
‘Really? And who would that friend be?’
Albright was a quick thinker when caught on the hop.
‘Lives in that building over there.’ He pointed to the building across the road from Harper’s apartment block.
She glanced over her shoulder, and smiled.
‘I ask again, really? Please, that building has been vacant for the last three years, courtesy of your employer.’
Albright grinned; Harper Cahill was going to be a challenge.
‘You’re not really very good at this stake-out malarkey, are you?’
‘What are your reasons for asking?’ Albright asked.
‘Oh, I don’t know . . . the fact that I know you’ve been tailing me pretty much since I left Carter’s office the other day. And you were at my office this morning. Now you’re parked out the front of my apartment building . . . doesn’t take a genius to recognise that you’re tailing me, and that you work for Carter.’
He had to give Harper credit. She was astute, intelligent, and bold.
‘Touché,’ Albright replied. ‘So why don’t you save me the trouble of the whole stake-out malarkey, as you called it, jump in the car, and we’ll go for coffee, and you can fill in all of the details about you that I don’t already have?’
She burst into a fit of laughter at his comment.
‘You’ve been sent by Carter, and you expect me to get into a car with you? Seriously? The man is known for killing people, and you think that I’m stupid enough to go along with you? Wow . . . you’ve certainly underestimated me.’
‘Maybe I have, Ms. Cahill, maybe I have. Let me start again. My name is Mike Albright, and yes, I work for Robert Carter. I’m an investigator for his company.’
He leaned across the passenger’s seat, and stuck his hand through the open window ready for Harper to greet him with a shake of his hand.
She looked at his hand, and then at his face. Cautiously, she accepted his hand.
‘There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?’ he asked.
‘I must admit, Mr. Albright, I did have my suspicions that you’d grab my hand and pull me, kicking and screaming, through the car window.’
‘And I must admit, Ms. Cahill, that I did actually think of doing that, but really where would that get me? And I may have done some abhorrent things on my employer’s behalf, but I do have some level of common decency. Now, if you’re still concerned, why don’t you get in your car, and I’ll follow you to a coffee shop or diner of your choice, and we can talk where you feel safe. That’s all I’m asking . . . to just have a conversation. That’s it. Nothing nefarious . . . yet.’ He snickered as he spoke the last word, but Harper didn’t find the humour that Albright obviously did.
‘Against my better judgement, okay, we’ll go somewhere and talk. Wait here while I get my organised.’
She crossed the road back to her apartment building, and entered the front door, pausing for a minute to look back at Mike Albright sitting in his car. He gave her an innocuous wave, and waited for her return.
. . . To be continued . . .