Kevin stared into the television monitor watching them all crowd into the elegant, polished elevator. “So were we right?” he said to a grim-faced Ray beside him.
Ray didn’t respond right away, he was too focused on what the hidden elevator cameras were showing on the faces of the dismissed attorneys: fear, stress and gallant attempts at covering it up.
He nodded finally, running a hand through his closely cropped salt-and-pepper hair. “Yes. He couldn’t conceal it. I could practically smell the guilt on him. I hate it but at least we know.”
Kevin nodded thoughtfully as his cell phone chirped and he looked down. “I’ve got to run, Ray. When will we contact him?”
“It’s happening as we speak.”
Seventeen floors below, the elevator doors were opening and the L.A. legal elite were emerging in their designer suits and Italian leather loafers, their confidence sufficiently restored. The joking that accompanies people on the inner circle of a profession continued again and a few overdue lunch appointments were scheduled, more out of courtesy than any real desire to connect. They were, after all, rivals and competitors, although most of them now carried the secret hope that they might soon work on the same team, Kevin Gunther’s team.
They exited the building and dispersed along the crowded California sidewalks, some hailing cabs and others waiting for their drivers to pull up to the curb beside them.
All but one of them. Elliot Blythe stood off by himself, shading his eyes from the California sun with the morning’s Wall Street Journal. He was looking into his hand at a note that had been stuffed into it as he had exited the elevator and pushed his way through the crowded lobby. He hadn’t noticed whom it came from and he was shaking his head disgustedly, both angry and terrified that he hadn’t been more observant.
He thrust the note inside the side pocket of his briefcase and hailed a cab, sliding on his dark sunglasses and looking over his shoulder nervously. How could the word have leaked out? He was certain that he hadn’t been followed. He mumbled into his cell phone, ordering his assistant to clear his morning’s schedule and then slid into the backseat of a yellow cab. The driver raised his eyebrows in inquiry and Elliot shook his head, “I don’t care. Just get me away from here.”
Ray Gibbs closed his office blinds as the yellow cab drove off, carrying Elliot to the nearest bar where Ray knew he would sit and drink and stress about his future. Then he pushed “send” on a new blackberry and the text message was shipped to Elliot’s phone.
It had begun.
Ray took a deep breath, made an entry by hand in his little, leather notebook, paged his secretary and continued with his day.
In the meanwhile, Elliot’s day was collapsing.
“Vodka on the rocks.” Elliot ordered ignoring the smirking look of the bartender.
Despite his chosen profession, the bartender must have thought that nine o’clock in the morning was a little early for straight vodka. On the other hand, he was open for business at nine o’clock in the morning in the hopes that someone just like Elliott Blythe might wander in for some solace or escape. In some ways, he was like a priest offering absolution, only he didn’t prescribe penance, he just poured a drink. He chuckled to himself, amused by his recurring thought, as he reached for the Grey Goose vodka and poured two fingers into an ice-filled tumbler. “Enjoy.” He said blandly to Elliott who downed the drink and promptly ordered a second.
Elliott gulped the second drink in similar fashion and then slowed down with his third and began to consider his options. He looked at the note again.
“Elliott, we know you talked.”
There were no instructions or threats, just the statement. “We know you talked.” Questions were swirling. Who was “we”? How much did they know? Did they know about Father Jefferies?
Elliott’s cell phone vibrated briefly, informing him of an incoming text message and instinctively Elliott knew that it didn’t bear good news. He had lost his phone two days earlier and he was still using a cheap replacement Go Phone and had no idea how anyone would have been able to access this number.
His pulse began racing as he slowly flipped the phone open, clicked the messaging icon and read, “Stan is dead. We need to talk.” He gasped and then nodded, knowing that the inevitable moment had come.
“Bartender.” He ordered his fourth drink.
End of Chapter Thirteen. To purchase this book and continue reading in printed or electronic form click here.