Suspicions - By Lisa Jackson

Book One:


Chapter 1

The telephone receiver was slammed back into its cradle with such force that the paperweight sitting next to the phone slipped off the desk. Two framed pictures of a round-eyed, blond-haired girl rattled and then dropped onto the corner of the desk. The tall man who had slammed the telephone so violently righted the portraits with care, clasped his hands behind his back and resumed his pacing. Would it ever be possible to communicate with Krista again, he wondered. His shoulders were slightly slumped, and there was a pained darkness just beneath the anger in his eyes. He swore an oath, aimed for the most part at himself, and continued pacing in front of the wide plate-glass window.

For a moment he paused to look out the window and try and control his rage. A fading California sun was dispersing the final rays of daylight inland as it settled peacefully into the tranquil Pacific Ocean. Long lavender shadows had begun to deepen against the white sand of the beach, and the first cool hint of autumn hung crisply on the air. Kane closed his eyes tightly, as if to shut out the serene view. Turbulent emotions stormed through his body. He kept telling himself that he couldn’t change the past, that he couldn’t blame a dead woman for his daughter’s condition, and yet he did.

A solid rap on the door interrupted his black thoughts, and automatically Kane called out a terse acknowledgment. A moment later Jim Haney marched through the door carrying an ungainly sheaf of papers and a long manila envelope. Jim’s tired face held a genuine smile, although he also noted the severe lines of stress that contorted Kane’s body. Kane’s normally impeccable wool suit was wrinkled and his expensive silk tie askew. Harsh creases webbed from the corners of Kane’s deep-set gray eyes and there was a cold, hard determination in the set of his jaw. It wasn’t hard for Jim to surmise the reason for Kane’s obvious annoyance. Jim knew Kane well enough to recognize that Kane was angry and concerned over his eleven-year-old daughter. The guilt that Kane bore silently was beginning to show. Kane needed to think about something else—anything else—and Jim hoped that he had found the solution to Kane’s studious disinterest in anything other than the near-fatal accident that had left his daughter disabled.

Jim’s smile remained intact as he met Kane’s annoyed gaze. “I guess this about wraps it up,” Jim announced, fanning the air with a smooth sheaf of computer printouts. Kane’s cool eyes followed the green and white pages with only feeble interest while Jim continued. “The Seattle sale—it’s final—and all of the loose ends are tied upcexcept for one.”

“So quickly?” Kane asked skeptically as he settled into the worn leather chair behind his desk and began scanning the printout.

“For once it looks like we may have gotten lucky.”

“Good!” There was a note of finality to Kane’s words. He looked up at Jim with a grim smile. “Then there’s really no reason for me to wait, is there?”

Jim coughed nervously before meeting Kane’s unwavering gray stare. “Are you sure that you’re making the right decision?”

Involuntarily a muscle in Kane’s jaw tightened. “Let’s just say that I’m making the only decision possible.”

“But to just pack up and leave all of thisc” Jim’s voice trailed off as he waved expansively. The gesture encompassed the entire gray concrete office building of Consolidated Finances, the understated but costly furnishings and the calm ocean view.

Kane’s eyes swept the office, noting the leather furniture, the thick plush carpet, the book-lined cherrywood walls, and then fell back on his friend. “Think of it as a prolonged leave of absence, if you like.”

“Then you will be back?” Jim asked guardedly.

“When I have to be,” Kane agreed, with an expression of distaste. “No doubt the board of directors will insist that I come back and oversee the operation from time to time.” Kane returned his attention to the computer sheets before him. Quickly shuffling through the smooth, flat pages, he located the report that he sought. A dark furrow etched its way across his forehead as he reread the printout. “Still losing money in the legal department?” he asked, almost to himself. “I thought that we had cleared up that embezzling scam last week and had gotten rid of Cameron—or whatever his name was. Didn’t we?” He turned his sharp eyes on Jim.

“That’s the one loose end that’s still dangling. It looks as if Cameron has