Gone Gull | Chapter 31 of 42 - Part: 1 of 5

Author: Donna Andrews | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1889 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 26

Shortly on the heels of Jason and Lance, three employees from Mutant Wizards, Rob’s company, arrived in an RV packed chock-full of electronic equipment. I immediately set them to work installing the shortwave radios in the bus and in Cordelia’s office. To my relief, recent events had completely overcome Cordelia’s previous objections to installing a security system, and before the shortwave installation was complete she began dragging the techs around the building, pointing out the entrances and exits and trouble spots.

After trailing along behind them for a few minutes, I decided I could stop worrying—luckily, since it was getting close to the time when I should start my afternoon class. So when Cordelia and the techs left the terrace, I stayed behind, perching on the railing and letting the view soothe my jangled nerves. And doing a little more of Rose Noire’s deep breathing. Somehow it seemed a lot more useful out here in the mountains, with the fresh air and the smell of pine and spruce.

I was slightly annoyed when my phone rang, interrupting my efforts to regain serenity. I glanced down to see who was calling. Cousin Mary Margaret. I hurried to answer.

“Anything wrong?” I asked.

“Not a thing.” She sounded cheerful, so I relaxed. “Just wanted to let y’all know what’s up with Mrs. Venable, in case you were worried that she hadn’t shown up for her class this morning.”

“Actually, we hadn’t noticed,” I said. “I trust she’s making good use of her time.”

“Been prowling all over the woods behind your grandmother’s house,” Mary Margaret said. “In addition to stomping around at midnight with their flashlights, I had the kids we hired drop a clue back in the woods.”

“What kind of clue?”

“An old pith helmet your grandfather left behind when he was here last summer. Soon as she found that, she was off into the woods like a hound who’s caught the scent of a rabbit.”

“Good job,” I said.

“Of course, she could be in for a nasty surprise later today,” Mary Margaret went on. “I had them leave the pith helmet in the middle of a big stand of poison ivy. I’ll keep you posted.”

Mary Margaret’s call left me feeling more cheerful. I went back to my breathing in a more cheerful mood.

My phone rang again. I glanced at the caller ID—my nephew Kevin. Okay, maybe another useful, rather than annoying, call. I answered the phone, heading for a quieter part of the terrace as I did so.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I’m still working on those million-and-a-half names you gave me. The students and the faculty and the staff and the Jazz Hands people and the Dock Street people. And remember Smith Enterprises, that developer that’s been annoying Great-Gran? Him too. Looking for connections.”

“If you’re angling for more brownie points, you’re going about it the right way. I know I gave you a completely unreasonable number of names. Have you found anything else interesting about any of them?” Sensing—or at least hoping—that the answer would be a long one, I made myself comfortable in one of the Adirondack chairs at the far end of the terrace.

“Well, I’m not sure if it’s useful, but I found it pretty interesting that the guy who owns Smith Enterprises isn’t really named Smith.”

“He’s not?”

“No. His real name’s Rahn. Charles Rahn.”

“Then why is his company called Smith Enterprises? You’d think he’d want to use his own name—it’s much more distinctive. Did he buy it from the original owner?”

“No, he is the original owner, and he didn’t want distinctive. Not all that many Rahns out there, so if you Google it you’re probably going to find him. But using Smith makes it a lot harder to figure out what he’s really up to, because it’s so hard to separate his outfit from the dozens of other Smith businesses, nearly all of them completely legit and respectable.”

“That sounds like the kind of sneaky thing he’d do. Anything else?”

“Dunno,” he said. “Is it interesting that Jazz Hands and Smith Enterprises both use the same lawyer?”

Interesting? Yes, though downright implausible. From what I remembered of Cordelia’s recent jousts with the developer’s counsel, he was with a white-shoe law firm with offices on K Street in D.C. and in the Fan District of Richmond—what our savvy attorney cousin, Festus Hollingsworth, who was representing Cordelia, called a worthy opponent. By contrast, E. Willis Jasperson, Esq., the Jazz Hands attorney, seemed to be a one-man show who, according to Festus, would have to step up his game considerably to be considered a bottom feeder.

“It could be interesting,” I said aloud. “Tell me more. Are we talking about E. Willis Jasperson?”


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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