New York attorney turned venture capitalist, Max Slade, knows a thing or two about high-stakes situations. But when the man who stole his ex-fiancée away is murdered, Max suddenly finds himself in a brand new role: that of prime suspect. With the threat of prison in his future, Slade turns his hand to investigating and finds himself digging into the dangerous world of corporate takeovers, high-tech espionage, and deadly liaisons in the Big Apple. With his girlfriend pushing their relationship, his past threatening to catch up to him, and a killer closing in, Slade’s days are numbered. But if he can outrun the competition—without spilling his scotch—he may just be able to outwit a killer. That is, if the killer doesn’t catch him first…
“Murder.com is the perfect blend of Lee Child’s The Killing Floor and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch.” —Jackson Stein, thriller author
“With just the right mix of humor, suspense, and clever twists, David Deutsch has created a winner in Max Slade!” —Gemma Halliday, New York Times bestselling mystery author
Targeted Age Group:: 18-65
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I went into it writing the novel with the idea of a strong couple. I wanted the feel of a modern day film noir with quick exchanges, humor and a good mystery to solve. But, more importantly, I wanted the female lead, in this case Ginny, to be Max’s equal. I would argue that at some points in the novel she’s even a little more than his equal.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters are my vision of what a modern day noir would like. I wanted two characters that had quick wit, snappy dialogue, and a way of complemented each other even though they often exchanged verbal barbs.
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Copyright © 2015 by David Deutsch
Cover design by Yocola Designs
Gemma Halliday Publishing
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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I had just walked through the door of my house, kicked off my shoes, poured myself a generous four finger scotch, and sat down on my couch when there was a knock at the door.
“Did you see what happened?” my neighbor asked, pushing her way into the house.
“What? How could you have missed it?” she asked, staring and waving her hands at me.
I excused Imogen’s rude behavior mainly because she was dressed in a slim-fitting outfit accentuating her fantastic body, and, more importantly, she had a lovely English accent. Not to mention I was in love with her.
“Max, the house down the block. The police are all over the place.”
“What the heck happened?” I asked, taking a sip of Glenfiddich 18.
“You really are clueless sometimes.”
“Well, I need a bit of liquor in me before I’m thinking clearly.”
“What happened? How could you have missed it? Something big, around the corner!”
I let this information pour over me as my second sip of scotch warmed a path down my throat.
“Did you hear what I just said?” Imogen asked.
“How do you know?”
“I live here. It was hard to miss the screeching sirens. Come on!”
Imogen pulled my arm, almost making me spill my drink. I grabbed my coat and my drink, threw a leash on my black lab Jabber, and we all strolled down Seymour Drive. When we came around the corner, about a quarter of a mile down the road, I saw police tape boxing in the understated colonial mansion. How had I missed this? There were official emergency vehicles everywhere, flashing lights, and uniformed men darting every which way. A white van was in the process of unloading an empty gurney.
“Looks like we just made it,” I said, standing with Imogen behind the police tape.
Do you know whose house this is?” Imogen asked.
“You know him?”
“You could say that. I’ve had a history with him over the years.”
I indeed had a history with Ted. We were both venture capitalists. Very good ones. And ones that ran in the same circles. Although I tried to limit my circle time with him.
Imogen and I, along with a few other neighbors, milled around just outside the yellow-taped perimeter. After chitchatting with some people whom I had never met, nor seen before, nor had any desire to see again, I waved over one of the uniformed police officers.
“What happened?” I asked.
“There was a death in the house. You a neighbor?” he asked, walking over, one hand resting on his holstered weapon.
“Yes, I live around the corner. Is there anything that I should be worried about?”
“As I have told some of your other neighbors, nothing you should be concerned about.”
“Well, I see some guys running around here in suits. I’m no cop, but they certainly look like detectives to me.”
“Move back, sir.” The cop sternly directed me with his words and his hands. This conversation was over.
Every time I’d ever asked a cop what had happened, they have never answered. It was always nothing to see here, move along. They were all the same. They never wanted to open up.
We hung around for a few more minutes, saw a gurney—no doubt the one that we saw when we arrived, now with a white sheet covering a body being loaded into a white van. One of the neighbors had told me that a man had died. Apparently, he had gotten further with the police than I had. I knew that had to mean Ted. He had lived there alone with his wife. We watched the door shut. The show was over. I wasn’t going to hang around and chat with the neighbors any more than I already had, so we decided to head back to my place.
When we arrived home, I let Jabber off her leash and poured myself a drink.
“What do you think happened?” Imogen asked, concerned, watching me fix my second scotch of this short evening.
I took a sip.
“If I had to guess, I’d say that Ted was murdered.”
Once they threw the sheet over your body and you were loaded into one of those white vans, you usually didn’t make it out for dinner. I was confident we wouldn’t be visiting Ted in the hospital anytime soon. And I could not care less.
“Oh my!” Imogen raised her hands to her mouth. “Why in the world would someone do that?”
“I could give you ten reasons off the top of my head,” I said, walking over to my couch, ready to sit down.
Imogen glared at me. “Max, you’re such an asshole sometimes. Don’t you care?”
“Sure I care. But I figure he’s out of his misery.”
Imogen stared at me as if bewildered. Just about to sit, I decided to head back over to the bar in the corner of my living room.
“Would you like a drink?” I asked.
“How can you just stand there stone-faced? You said you knew the guy.”
“I know a lot of people, my dear. Scotch on the rocks?”
I knew her drink. After five years of dating, I should. But I liked to ask. I liked the banter. It kept the romance alive.
“Scotch and soda.”
“Ah, yes.” I mixed the drink and brought it over to Imogen. “Have a seat,” I said, motioning over to the white Italian leather art deco couch adorning my retro living room.
Money could buy you a lot of things. Not all of them nice. The one thing it couldn’t buy you was taste. Luckily for me, I had both. But some of the people around here were lacking on the taste front. They decorated their homes like they lived in manor house. I couldn’t stand stuffy, stately looking rooms. Never could. I was not landed gentry. I didn’t have a valet, footman, cook, and scullery maid. No use pretending that I was. I wouldn’t be fooling anyone.
Imogen sat, took a sip of her drink, and put her feet up on the ottoman while staring at the pitch-black television screen. I sat down next to her, put my feet up, and took a long sip of my scotch.
“Who would do such a thing?” Imogen asked.
She looked puzzled. She looked concerned. There was nothing to worry about. Ted was dead. And, I hated to say it, the world was a little bit better of a place.
“Perhaps things will become a little clearer in the morning. Care to discuss it over breakfast?” I asked.
My phone rang. I answered it, excusing myself from Imogen’s company, and walked into the kitchen.
“I need your help,” the voice on the other end of the phone said.
Kitty. She was alive. Which meant it was indeed Ted who was dead. Why on earth would she be calling me? I would assume she’d be a tad occupied at the moment. Considering her husband had just died.
“How did you get my number?”
“I saw you outside of my house. Can you help me?”
“I’m not sure what kind of help you need, but surely you need to talk to the police first.”
“I already did that. I need to talk to you.”
“Then go ahead and talk.”
“Not on the phone. Can I come see you?”
“Not tonight. I have company.”
“Same old Dutch.”
Dutch. She never called me by my name. I took a sip of my drink. It was much better than this conversation.
“I’ll be over tomorrow morning,” she said, and disconnected our call.
I strolled back into the living room.
“Who was that?”
“You staying a while?”
I didn’t know why I bothered to ask. That was typically what lovers did. They spent the night. But I liked to pretend I was still on the chase for her affections. She liked to play hard to get.
“Well, why don’t you kick off your shoes and get comfortable.” Imogen was halfway through her first drink.
“Max, you’re terrible.”
“I know you mean that in the best possible way, my dear.” I leaned over and gave her a kiss.
Imogen woke me around nine in the morning. I was lying soundly in my bed, wrapped in my down comforter—a cozy cocoon. I was barely awake, quite content to make this morning a leisurely one.
“I’ve made breakfast, luv.”
“That means I have to get out of bed to eat it.”
“If you think I’m bringing you your breakfast in bed—”
“I wouldn’t have it.” I started to rise. “Certainly not after you took all the trouble to make it.”
I figured that French toast, eggs, bacon, and hash browns were best eaten at a table.
Jabber was standing by the side of the bed, nose cold as ice, nuzzling my leg, tail wagging. I reluctantly pushed the covers off me, exposing the inner sanctum of my warm sanctuary to the elements. Rolling into a seated position and wiping the sleep from my eyes, I gave her a pat on her head as I stood.
I met Imogen in the kitchen. Jabber followed me.
“Cereal? That’s what you cooked up?”
“Who said I cooked anything?”
Annoyed that I would be dining on cereal with soy milk, since Imogen forbade me from bringing dairy into the house due to her dairy allergy, I sat down at the table. She joined me.
I’d gotten used to soy. Or maybe I’d just convinced myself that I’d gotten used to soy. Imogen has claimed that I could, indeed, bring dairy into the house. She’s even gone so far as to purchase it. But why bother? If she was allergic to it, I didn’t need it. Sure, soy didn’t taste like milk. And it certainly didn’t taste like cream in my coffee. But we all must make sacrifices for love. Mine just came at the expense of an enjoyable breakfast.
“I did make coffee,” Imogen said.
“Gold star for you.”
Coffee and cereal with soy milk does not a breakfast make. I would have prepared a proper meal. Pancakes. Breakfast burrito. Fried eggs. Something that requires fire. Cooking. Maybe that’s because I liked to think of myself as a chef, but without formal training I was more like an advanced home cook. That was why I’d outfitted my kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, including a top-of-the-line double oven. It wasn’t just there to look pretty or to prove that I could afford one. I actually used it. And I cooked a mean lasagna.
Imogen walked over to the coffee pot on the counter by the oven. She prepared my coffee the way I always took it at home, with soy and two sugars. I needed the sugar to offset the soy. She knew that about me. All the more reason to propose one of these days.
“Here you go.” She placed the coffee down in front of me. Hers was already sitting at the table, with a dash of soy.
“Thank you, Imogen.”
“So, is anything clearer this morning, Max?”
“The only thing I can focus on right now is trying to ingest some caffeine as soon as humanly possible into this old body of mine.”
“Since when is forty old?”
“Since I turned forty.”
“Bloody hell, speak for yourself, Max.”
I ate my cereal and soy while Imogen peppered me with questions about Ted, none of which I could answer. My phone buzzed, and it was a text message from Kitty saying she’d be at my place in five minutes.
“You might get some answers to this thing in a few,” I said.
“Why do you say that?”
“We’re going to have a visitor shortly. Why don’t you stick around?”
“Sure. It’s not like I have anything else to do today.”
That was true. Besides being a total knockout and having a lovely English accent, Imogen was loaded. Family money mixed with her own hard-earned cash. Like me, Imogen was an investment banker. But unlike me, she’d worked at a proper investment bank before she’d retired five years ago at the ripe old age of thirty-five. I, on the other hand, had made my money from selling dotcoms. Then, once I had some money to play with, I’d started a venture capital firm, and now I spent my days with twenty-somethings that were busy asking me for money to fund the next big thing while Imogen got to work on her tennis game. I was a bit jealous. But I couldn’t seem to walk away from work.
“I suggest we both put on some clothes. I don’t think anyone wants to see me in my skivvies. But I’m sure plenty of guys would love to get a glimpse of you right now.”
“As Moneypenny would say, I’m for your eyes only, Max.”
We both threw on some clothes. The best I could muster up was a pair of creased khakis and a blue polo shirt. Imogen was remarkable. She always managed to look like she had just stepped off the runway. Within seconds she had on beautiful cream-colored tailored pants and a white button-down blouse that looked like it must have been specifically designed for her. Just another reason why I loved her—the art of the quick change and her willingness to allow me to grace her well-dressed arm.
“Where did you find that outfit?” I asked, since it was different than the clothes that she had on last night.
“Seriously, Max, you really are clueless sometimes. I’ve taken over half of your closet, or haven’t you noticed?”
I hadn’t noticed. I didn’t know what that said about me. The doorbell rang. In walked Kitty Baxter, all five feet ten of her picturesque frame. She had long blond hair, piercing blue eyes, and was dressed in a cream skirt and blue button-down blouse that made her look like a walking Chanel display window. Apparently skirts, pants, and blouses are the uniform of beautiful, well-to-do ladies. I, in stark contrast, looked like a schlep.
“Dutch!” Kitty exclaimed as she grabbed my shoulders and gave me two air kisses.
“Hello, Kitty!” I said, feigning excitement.
Kitty immediately noticed Imogen standing off to her left. She looked at her mischievously, like a kitten sometimes looks at a ball of yarn.
“Allow me to introduce my friend Imogen Whitehall,” I said.
“Friend?” Imogen asked.
“Lover?” I asked.
“Girlfriend,” I said, playfully.
Kitty didn’t need any insight into my romantic life.
“I guess. For now.”
“Kitty Baxter, please allow me to introduce my girlfriend Imogen Whitehall.”
Imogen, seemingly shocked by the revelation that this woman was married to the recently deceased Ted Baxter, froze for a moment, staring into space.
“Well that was certainly awkward,” Kitty joked. “Pleasure,” she said as she extended a hand to shake.
Imogen, now back to her charming self, extended her hand.
“He’s incorrigible,” Imogen said, shaking hands.
“He’s just Dutch.”
“So you two know—”
“Kitty, I’m terribly sorry about what happened last night,” I offered.
“Thank you, Max. It was certainly a shock.”
Kitty was composed as ever as she tried to convey some semblance of sorrow.
“I should say,” Imogen said.
“I knew you had to have some idea what had happened, because I saw you and Miss Whitehall standing right outside of the house last night.”
“I don’t know very much. The police were pretty tight-lipped.”
“They saw you two while they were busy questioning me. Me! Of all people.”
“They, as in the police? Why wouldn’t they question you? You’re his wife, or had you forgotten?”
“Oh, Dutch. Ask me a few questions, sure. But to question me all night? I hardly think I deserved that. There are only so many ways to say I didn’t kill Ted.”
I was more concerned about why the police would care about me. Yes, I had known Ted. A lot of people had. But I didn’t want him dead. Sure, I had wished it once or twice. He was a nasty man. And one who didn’t respect anyone’s personal boundaries. But I certainly wouldn’t have killed him. They didn’t have scotch in prison.
“So, the police saw me—why would they care about me?” I asked.
“I’d prefer to chat without the presence of Miss Whitehall. No offense, my dear.” Kitty turned toward Imogen.
“You can speak freely with her here.”
“Kitty, Miss Whitehall stays. Why don’t you have a seat?” I motioned for her to pull up a chair.
Kitty glared at me, not happy with my response. Possibly jealous of Imogen as well. Imogen found a place on one of the chairs next to me, facing Kitty, who was now seated in a plush chair opposite both of us.
“Ted was murdered last night,” Kitty said, this time emitting some emotion, perhaps even a tear. But her frozen expression made clear that it was disingenuous. Maybe it was just the plastic surgery.
“Oh my!” Imogen gasped.
“Jesus, Kitty, that’s horrific,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
This comment elicited a bit of a smirk from Mrs. Baxter. There was the Kitty I used to know.
“I see you’re terribly broken up about it,” I said.
“I’m not going to lie. I’m not that upset. We’ve had our troubles over the years.”
“And he’s had some women?”
“You could say that.”
“Any in particular that stuck around?”
“He was seeing one for a while. I think it was getting serious with her, but you could never tell with Teddy. One minute he loved you, the next he never spoke to you again. He was a fickle sort of bastard. I don’t have to tell you. You knew him.”
“Well, that was a long time ago.”
“Seems like yesterday to me.”
“You’re surely not here for a walk down memory lane. So, what do you need to talk to me about?”
Jabber strolled around the living room, brushing past Kitty before settling down in the corner.
“The police were asking about you.”
“Yes, we’ve established that. Now why would they be asking about me? I don’t have a relationship with Ted. Hell, I haven’t even been alone with him in years.”
“They know about you and me and Ted.”
They knew about me. Kitty. Ted. What was to know? That I hated him? Plenty of people did. He was an asshole. One of those guys that you wanted to punch in the face every time that you saw him. Maybe it was his nose that drove you to rage. It was always turned up at you. Like he thought he was better than you. Like he could own anything that he wanted. Even your fiancée.
“Yeah, well, that’s ancient history,” I said.
“Well, the police don’t seem to think so. They were pretty interested in my story.”
“So you’re telling me the police think that I could have killed Ted?”
This was outrageous. There was no reason for me to kill Ted. He had nothing that I wanted. Nothing that I needed. And, on top of that, he wasn’t even on my social radar. I never thought about him. If last night had never happened I wouldn’t have even remembered that he was alive.
“I’m not sure, but they’re not ruling you out as—”
“Wait a minute. You think Max killed Ted?” Imogen appeared shocked.
“I’m not saying that, Miss Whitehall. I’m just telling you what the police told me. They found it curious that Max used to be my fiancé—”
Imogen seemed visibly annoyed at the fiancé revelation. I had kept that under wraps until now.
“Even if he was your fiancé,” she said with an edge to her voice, “what would that have to do with Ted?”
The jig was up.
“He was the one who stole her away,” I said before Kitty could beat me to the humiliating punch.
“Stole her away?” Imogen asked.
“I’m afraid so, Miss Whitehall. Ted swept me off of my feet,” Kitty said.
“After we were engaged, Kitty,” I reminded her.
“Yes, I know that, Dutch—”
“Why do you call him Dutch?” Imogen asked.
Kitty laughed. “It’s an old nickname. When Max and I used to go out to dinner, we’d go dutch. We were both just starting out. So we used to split the bill. It became kind of joke, so I started calling him Dutch. It stuck.”
“Jesus, Kitty. Thank you for that,” I said, annoyed that she had introduced this nickname into Imogen’s consciousness.
Imogen just sat and listened with a big grin on her face.
“Anyway, Max, it still bothers me to this day that I did that to you. You didn’t deserve that. No one does.”
You could say that again. No one deserved having their love stolen from them. But Kitty wasn’t a saint. She had allowed herself to be swept off her feet—fancy clothes, fancy cars. I, on the other hand, had been in love. But if money had been enough to capture her heart, it was clear that she wasn’t the one for me. The trouble was, knowing that hadn’t made it feel any better at the time.
“Believe me. He’s over it,” Imogen added in my defense. Yet another reason I loved her.
“Of course he is. He’s got you,” Kitty retorted.
I smiled at Imogen. She caught my gaze and shot me a smirk back. I was glad that she seemed to be taking this well.
“Now that you’ve dropped a bombshell on Miss Whitehall, is there anything else that you want to talk to me about?”
“I want you to help.”
“Help what? Write his eulogy?”
“No, Dutch. Help me figure out who did this.”
“Kitty, I’m a lawyer, and barely one at that, not a detective.”
I had graduated law school and had taken the bar but had never practiced. Kitty had met me when I was a poor law student.
“But you’re smart and you run in the same circles as Ted. Maybe you could poke around?”
“I’m not a detective, Kitty. I don’t work for the police. I’m a venture capitalist.”
“I don’t think the police are going to solve this. And I’m worried.”
“What? You think you’re the main suspect? Did you kill Ted?”
“You sure? If you give me a dollar, you can retain me as counsel and we’ll have attorney-client privilege,” I said, joking.
“Dutch, I didn’t kill Ted!”
I could believe that. She was cold, manipulative, and a heartbreaker, but a murderer? I found it hard to believe that a woman could kill her husband.
“I’ll take you at your word for now, but listen, Kitty, I can’t help you.”
“Dutch, I’m not worried about me. I’m worried about you.”
Worried about me. Well, that was a first. She hadn’t been too worried about me when she’d broken off our engagement and I’d had to face our friends and family with the news.
“The police scared me. They might think that you did this!”
“Kitty, that’s absurd. I didn’t kill Ted.”
“I know that. But they seem to think you might have had something to do with it. And I’m scared that they are going to come after you.”
“Kitty, I appreciate your concern, I really do, but let them come. I’ve got nothing to hide. I didn’t do anything. I’m not a murderer.”
“I know that, Dutch. Listen to me. The way they were talking last night, I’m just scared, that’s all. I think you need to do something. Poke around, see if you can find out who really killed Ted. I don’t want you to wind up being arrested for something that you didn’t do because of our past.”
“Just promise me that you’ll think about it. It might be the only way to prove your innocence.”
I explained to Kitty a few more times that I didn’t kill Ted, that I had an alibi and that the police were sniffing around the wrong hydrant and that she was better off cooperating with the police, as I was going to do if they came knocking. She begged and pleaded for me to help for “old times’ sake” and for my sake but finally gave in to my desire to stay out of the mess. She got up from her seat, we all exchanged some pleasantries, and off went Kitty Baxter, zipping into the late-morning sun at the helm of her powder-blue Bentley convertible.
Moments after the door slammed and as we watched Kitty wind her way down my driveway back toward town, Imogen turned to me and asked, “Your old fiancée, huh? Interesting.”
I knew that one was going to come back to bite me. But what was I to do? I knew that I should have filled Imogen in on my past. After all, things were getting serious. I had just never found the right time to tell her. It wasn’t exactly the kind of thing that popped up during dinner conversation.
“Does it matter? What did you think of Kitty?”
“Does it matter that your ex-fiancée lives around the block, and her husband, who stole her away from you, is dead? Yes, it does matter. I think it matters a great deal, Max. And for the record, I think Kitty is gold digger, if you really care.”
She had a point.
“Jealousy does not become you, my dear.”
Sarcasm. That was about the only retort that I could muster up. How else could I respond to something like that? Make a joke and hope for the best. Slide it under the rug of laughs. Then quickly change the subject.
“What do you think?” I needed to get her take on what had just transpired.
There was a lot to think about. Were the police coming for me? I wasn’t scared. I knew that I was innocent. I didn’t kill Ted. But why would they think that I could have? That was troubling. What did Kitty tell them, exactly?
“Well, for starters, I’m not sure that I believe her,” Imogen said.
“Believe the story about me, Ted, and Kitty? Unfortunately, that’s true. As much as I hate to admit it.”
“No. No. That’s not what I mean. I’m just not so sure that she didn’t kill Ted.”
“You think that she murdered her husband?”
“I don’t know if it was her, per se, but I wouldn’t put it past her. Anyone who is heartless enough to run off with another guy and to call off an engagement isn’t a good person. I know that much.”
“I couldn’t agree more.”
I wasn’t interested in getting involved in helping Kitty solve the mystery of Ted’s murder. If the police came, they came, and I’d deal with it then. At the moment, there were two things that did interest me. Having dinner with Imogen tonight and fixing myself a scotch.
“Dinner tonight?” I asked, fixing my cocktail. Halfway there.
“Jesus, isn’t it a little early for a drink?”
“It’s not every day that your old fiancée stops by asking to help solve the murder of her husband,” I said, and took a sip.
“You do realize we’re not on the set of Mad Men, right?”
“Why must you keep reminding me of that? I’d make a great Don Draper.”
“You’ve certainly have got the drinking part down.”
We went on with our day. Imogen went home for a spell, most likely napped, showered, and changed. We hadn’t done very much sleeping last night. I played a little tennis—after all, I needed all the practice I could get in order to beat Imogen—showered, then had a pre-dinner drink while relaxing and listening to some music.
When I finally got around to checking my phone, there were several text messages, two of which were interesting or desperate, depending on how you were looking at the situation.
Dutch, I realize our past wouldn’t exactly prompt you to cooperate but I could really use your help.
What is your email address?
I decided to answer and sent Kitty my email address.
Halfway through my drink, Imogen knocked on the door. I fixed her a drink and we exchanged some small talk, none of which included discussing Ted or Kitty. After about an hour, we hopped in my black Audi RS 7 and headed off to dinner.
We were dining at Circle this evening. A very upscale French fusion restaurant. Imogen looked fabulous in a black dress. Her green eyes were glowing, accentuated against her straight black hair and the dress.
“Charles,” I said, extending a hand, greeting the maître d’.
“Ah, Max and Imogen, lovely to see you both. Give me a minute and I’ll find you a table.”
We ate out a lot.
“No rush, we’ll wait at the bar.”
Imogen and I walked over to the bar and proceeded to embark on our first drink of the evening. Technically, our second. But who was counting?
“I’ve been thinking…”
“Never a good thing,” I retorted.
“Nevertheless, I’ve been thinking.” Ginny, as I was apt to call her on occasion, especially when she was looking sexy, turned toward me, crossing her legs and revealing a bit of exposed thigh.
“How about you elaborate a bit, my dear? Things is a bit broad.”
Just then, Charles walked over to us and informed us that our table was ready.
Saved by the bell.
He escorted us off to the left of the restaurant into a private booth.
We picked up the menus and scanned them briefly.
“Red or white, my dear?”
The waiter took our drink order, filled us in on the specials, and then disappeared. Moments later he returned with our bottle of wine, poured two healthy glasses for us, and then once again departed to give us time to sip our wine and to decide on dinner. Imogen and I always put our phones on vibrate when we arrived at a restaurant in order to make sure that we would not be distracted by them. No checking Facebook, Twitter, texts, or email during dinner. Any message, email, or status update could wait until after.
“As I was saying, Max, I was thinking.” Ginny looked intensely into my eyes.
“Yes, I believe we have covered the fact that you’ve been thinking.” I took a sip of my wine.
“I’ve been thinking about us.”
“I think about us all the time,” I said.
“Isn’t it time?”
“Well, it’s about nine.”
“You’re such an asshole.”
“I wasn’t asking the time.”
“I know. I’m sorry. Go ahead. You were thinking about us, and what did you come up with?”
“Well, we’ve been together for a while and I love being with you and spending…”
At that moment my phone went off with a notification that I had received an email. Normally I would not have cared, but Kitty’s text had me a little curious. I couldn’t help myself.
“Hold that thought,” I said, reaching for my phone.
“What are you doing?”
“Give me one second,” I said, viewing the notification on my phone that I had received an email from Kitty. I opened my email, and this appeared:
From: Kitty Baxter
Subject: Fwd: *CONFIDENTIAL* SCV
To: Max Slade
Thought you should see this. See below.
Begin forwarded message:
From: Mike Miller
Subject: *CONFIDENTIAL* SCV
To: Ted Baxter
I’ve discussed this with Clarke, and Overlord is a go. With or without you. ACAE. For your own well-being I would suggest that you reconsider our last conversation.
Mike S. Miller, Esq.
Baxter, Miller & Clarke Capital Inc.
“Dinner’s on you,” Imogen informed me.
She was right. Dinner was indeed on me. The rules of our game stated anyone who picked up their phone during dinner also picked up the bill.
“You’re worth it. Get a load of this.”
I read Imogen the email.
“Kitty sent you an email?”
“How’d she get your email address?”
“She texted me earlier. I sent it to her.”
“Your ex-fiancée is now texting you? I’m beginning to really not like this woman.”
“Jealousy does not suit you, my dear.”
“Didn’t we cover that already? Deal with it.”
“Forget about Kitty for a second. What do you think about the email?” I sat back in my chair, sipping my wine.
Ginny thought for a moment. “Possibly a veiled threat, that’s, um, not so veiled.”
“Possibly. What do you make of ‘Overlord’?”
“Not sure. I think that was the code name for D-Day. Maybe Mike or someone at Baxter, Miller & Clarke has a World War Two obsession?”
“Yeah, maybe. Who knows? Could be a threat, could just be work stuff. The tone’s a bit strong. I certainly don’t send emails like that, but that doesn’t really mean too much,” I said.
“I don’t either. At the very least there was some disagreement at the office. But would that lead to murder?”
“Who knows? I am sure that whatever Overlord is it must be worth a whole lot of money. Men have killed for a lot less than that.”
“I guess. Can we get back to dinner, Max?”
“So, you were saying…”
One thing was for sure: something was going on. Something odd. And Kitty was in the middle of it. And, thanks to her, I just might have been as well. Damn Kitty.
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