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Jack’s phone rang in the middle of the night. Making a note to tell him to change the shrill ring tone I put my pillow over my head and tried to go back to sleep.
The damned thing rang again.
“Fuck,” I muttered getting out of my bed and walking over to Jack’s room.
“Colson! Your phone!”
“Wha-? What?” he said sleepily.
Men. I fucking swear, if the building was burning around them, they still wouldn’t wake.
I switched on his lights, went to the nightstand and handed him his phone.
He sat up, put on his reading glasses, and looked at the number.
“Shit.” He redialed.
“This is Jack. Uh, okay. I’ll be there in twenty.” He sighed. “I don’t know why I pay them.” He swung his legs off the bed and looked up at me.
“Dad,” he said in response to my questioning look. “He gets these nightmares. The nurse’s aid can’t handle him. “
“How often does this happen?”
“Couple times a week.” He sighed. “Go back to sleep, Annie.”
“No. I’m awake now. I’ll go with you.”
“You don’t have to,” he said as I walked out of the room.
In the middle of the night there were few cars on the road, so it didn’t take long to get to Jack’s father’s house. It was chilly this time of morning, the hours before dawn. As Jack opened the door, I heard yelling, and the sound of glass breaking.
Alarmed Jack ran up the stairs, and I followed.
“Dad, dad, it’s me, Jack!” I heard as I got to the top of the stairs.
In his bed, Jack’s father flailed his arms. “Go away! Leave me alone!”
I walked in, and saw the terrified nurse’s aid backed into the wall.
“Dad, calm down!”
“Jack,” I said. “Move away. Don’t touch him.”
“He’s not even awake.” I moved over to the bed and ran my hand over the top of elderly man’s head.
“Sssh, sssh,” I said gently. “It’s okay. It’s just a bad dream.” After a minute or so of me stroking his head, the man stilled, and then opened his eyes.
“What the hell?” he said. “What are you doing here?” His eyes widened when he saw Jack and the nurses aide. “What are you all doing here?”
“You’ve been giving Ginny here a bad time,” said Jack.
“I did no such thing.”
“Of course, you didn’t,” I said. “But you scream a lot in your sleep and it scared Ginny.”
“Sorry, Ginny,” he said grumpily.
“Can I get you something, Mr. Colson,” said Ginny.
“Yeah, I can use a drink.”
“Get him some tea,” said Jack. “Black, no sugar.” Jack’s father rolled his eyes.
“Yes, Mr. Colson.” Ginny left, looking glad she did so.
I took the controls of the automatic bed and raised the head of it, then went around the bed and straightened the covers.
“You found yourself a good one here,” said the elder Colson. “I approve. I won’t have to cut you from the will after all.”
My eyes met Jack’s and I held his gaze for a couple seconds. I saw everything in his eyes, that what Jack’s father said wasn’t a bad joke on his part. I finished straightening the blankets.
“I’ll go see what’s keeping Ginny,” I said.
As I walked to the door, Jack grabbed my arm.
“Annie.” His eyes pleaded for my understanding.
I shook off his arm.
“Do you want some tea, too?”
“I’ll be downstairs.”
Making my way down to the first floor, Ginny passed me, with the tea on her way up. I didn’t know what to feel. Of course I knew Jack had ulterior motives for his marriage proposal. I didn’t realize just how ulterior they were.
Jesus. Jack’s father was beyond words. What kind of father threatens to cut his only remaining child from his will? I guess the kind of man that raised someone like Jack Colson.
I moved down the hall at the right of the stairway, going to the bathroom room there. On the right there was an open door and looked in. It was a family room of sorts. Curious I entered, and looked at the pictures on the wall. There were pictures of Jack, Jack and his mother, Jack and his sister and his various cousins, but curiously, none of Jack and his father. On the left of me was a glass-covered bookcase. Inside were sports trophies, everything Jack achieved while growing up. Baseball, basketball, hockey, golf. Jack took home more trophies on his own than all my children put together. In the center of the top shelf was the largest one. High school boxing champion. Yes, that suited Jack. He always did come out punching.
I looked at all the trophies again. All these trophies won to impress a man that was never around. What was going on in Jack’s head now wasn’t about money. It was about trying to get a man’s approval that would never give it.
I turned, and Jack was standing in the doorway.
“Annie,” he said.
“Don’t say anything, Jack. I understand. I don’t like it, but I understand. Let’s just go home.”
I sat at my desk in the morning. Jack had gone over to check on his father one more time, and I promised to hold down the fort. I was still pissed at him and I was doing ankara eryaman escortlar a slow simmer. Of course, part of this is my fault for letting him draw me into his little drama.
I was trying to reconcile invoices to checks cashed and kept running into the same problem. Those checks just weren’t in the bank account. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could cash checks made out to a business, but I suppose anything was possible. Calling the people who sent the checks, asking for a copy would be embarrassing and could hurt the business’ credibility. As I was thinking through how to handle this, one of the production crew walked in holding something in his arm.
“Where’s JuJu?” he said looking around the office.
“Oh, here are the daily production reports.”
I motioned to an in box on the desk, and at the heavy sound of papers hitting it, looked at the thick stack.
“If these are daily reports, why don’t we get them everyday?”
“Um, JuJu never minds. We get busy, you know, and its okay with her if she gets them once a month.”
“Well, it’s not okay. Bring one everyday, understand?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He left quickly.
My eyes flicked over the production reports again. And got an idea.
It took me a bit to find the production reports. JuJu had them tucked away in the closet, which was unusual. She usually kept records in the cabinets that lined the left wall. It was a pain hauling them out, and then matching the jobs to the invoices. She hadn’t been too smart about what she did. And I found out why the invoices and the bank records didn’t match.
When Jack came to the office, I showed him what I found.
“Sonabitch,” he said. “So I can fire JuJu now?”
“Yes,” I sighed. “You’ll have to. But you know that is just part of this whole mess.”
Annie suggested I hire a private investigator. It took a few days before he got the evidence. The result was about to play on my computer screen. I sat in my office queuing up the video the private investigator shot for us to see. Annie stood at my shoulder.
“Do you really think we should watch this?” said Annie.
“Hell, yes,” I said. “After what they put us through, we deserve a little amusement.”
There was a knock at my office door.
“Come in,” I said.
The female Ryan entered.
“Ah, Mr. Colson. Glad to see you are in.” Her words dripped in sarcasm.
“Is there something I can do for you?”
“I, I mean we have some questions about the financials.”
“I’m sure you do.”
I got up and walked over to her, standing as close as I could to her. I put my hand on the door closing it and held my hand on it, my arm now over her shoulder.
“Yes,” I said in a low voice. “That is why you are here.”
She swallowed hard, and moved away.
“I should get back to my desk,” said Annie.
“Good idea,” I said.
“No!” said Miss Ryan. “I mean, you might help answer the questions too, Miss Lloyd.”
“Actually,” said Annie, “That’s Ms. or Mrs. to you, Miss Ryan.”
“Uh, huh,” she said I moved closer to her. She looked up at me with wide eyes.
“Uh, going through these invoices, we find a number of them that are marked paid, but we can’t find the deposits for them.”
“Really,” I said continuing my stare. Without looking back I said. “Annie, do you know anything about this?”
“I found the same thing, Jack. It is a puzzle.”
“Hmm,” I said undressing Miss Ryan with my eyes, “I’m sure you and your crack team will find the answer. That is, after all, why you are here.”
“This is very serious, Mr. Colson! Money is missing. Someone,” and she looked directly up to me, “could go to jail.”
I mustered the best “fuck me” voice I could. “That does sound serious,” I said. “Perhaps we should meet later, to discuss the ramifications of that.”
“Oh no,” she said, growing more flustered. “That would not be appropriate, Mr. Colson.”
“That’s a shame,” I said.
“So you are saying you have no idea why that money is missing.”
“What do you think?” I said, still laying on the sexy voice.
“I think you are impossible! And that you are going to jail!”
“Is that so? Then I better have all the fun I can before I get there.”
With a squeak, she jumped a little and I moved away. She jerked open the door and fled.
Annie, who had been holding it in, started laughing.
“Jeez, Jack. You’ll be lucky she doesn’t file a sexual harassment charge against you.”
“Let her. You’re my witness. Did you see anything inappropriate?”
“Me? I didn’t see a thing.”
“There you go. Okay, let’s see what the PI has for us.”
I paid for the PI to film everything in as much detail as possible. The room was dark, but there was enough light coming from the motel bathroom to see more than what we needed to see.
Miss Ryan entered the room, and a man, his back to the window embraced her. They kissed passionately for a couple minutes, his hands running up and down her perky little body. We couldn’t see much from this escort etimesgut angle, but I caught where he pulled up her skirt, and I could only imagine him fingering her pussy. That’s must have been it, because she threw back her head, her mouth forming o’s.
“Jack, let’s just fast forward to the end,” said Annie.
“What, getting hot, Annie?”
“No,” she said with tightness in her voice.
“Too bad,” I said.
She made a little noise, and I imagined she was rolling her eyes. I didn’t look back to see though. I was watching proper Miss Ryan throwing her leg over the man’s hip. Quickly, his slacks slid down his legs. He pushed her to the wall. She pulled down his jockey shorts, revealing a large dragon tat on his ass. Soon his hips pushed back and forth, Miss Ryan holding onto his neck for dear life. Then a second leg came over his hip. He pushed roughly her up and down the wall, her blonde hair falling out of its neat bun and spilling on her shoulders.
Annie, behind me, took a sharp breath.
I was getting a little hot myself, even without my little blue pills.
He pulled her away from the wall, and turning, fell with her onto the bed. He pulled her legs over his shoulder, and he was pumping her again with a force so primal that my heart started pumping hard.
“Oh shit,” said Annie.
Shadows fell across his face, so I didn’t get a clear view. Her face I could see, especially since he fucked her so viciously that he pushed her partially off the bed. Her head hung over the edge, her face contorted in passion. Her shirt was unbuttoned, her breasts pointed up to ceiling, jiggling with the force of his thrusts. Her faced grimaced as she came, and with a few more thrusts, he did too. He fell against her, his face still hidden.
“Fuck,” said Annie. “We can’t see his face.”
“I don’t need to,” I said. “I recognize that tat.”
“And just where would you see a man’s tat on his ass?” she said.
“I was there when he got it.”
It was the fastest audit ever. On Thursday after noon, Ryan and Company announced they were done. With a speed that never affected my family before, we were all in the conference room waiting to hear what the auditor’s had to say Friday morning. My father wasn’t there, but Tad, Midge, Teddy, Sylvia and Robert Anson were.
Annie sat next to me, sitting on the edge of her chair. I put my hand on her knee.
Jerry Ryan, and his confederates sat across from us.
“Shall we get started,” said Tad.
“Yes. Do.” I said.
“Well,” said Ryan, “We did a comprehensive test of all the financials given to us. We found that someone is embezzling money.”
“And who would that be?” he said.
“We couldn’t determine that,” he said. “We couldn’t locate where the money went.”
Everyone one in the room exploded, demanding explanations.
Tad whistled and quieted everyone down. “The person that needs to answer to this is Jack. He is ultimately responsible. Jack, what do you have to say? Because if you don’t have a good explanation, we are going to have to ask for your resignation.”
I just smiled. “I’ll let Annie answer that. She’s the one that found out what happened, not these high priced jackasses you hired.”
“I couldn’t find the money either,” said Annie. “And I checked everywhere.” She looked around the room. “The reason that neither I or Ryan and Company couldn’t find the money is that there wasn’t any money to begin with.”
“What are you talking about,” said Ryan. “The invoices were there, marked paid. But the money wasn’t.”
“That’s because the invoices were fake,” said Annie. “Oh, it wasn’t easy to find. But once I matched the invoices with the production reports I figured it out.”
The room exploded again. I nodded to Annie, who walked over and opened the door.
“Come in, JuJu,” I said.
JuJu entered, stunning in a black dress that hugged her curves. But her beauty wasn’t going to save her today. She looked around shyly.
“Not all of you know, JuJu, but until recently she was my executive assistant. In fact, she was my father’s also,” I said. “Tad, you know JuJu very well, don’t you.”
“Tad. Let’s not play games. My father has some very interesting video that displays how well we both know JuJu. Do you want me to show it?”
If looks could kill, I’d be dead right now.
“I don’t really blame JuJu, because she is who she is. JuJu, what did Tad promise you if you posted those invoices to the books? Marriage?”
JuJu just stood there, stunned.
“But you see, JuJu, Tad had no intention of marrying you. Nor you, Miss Ryan.”
The female member of Ryan, Roberts and Ryan blanched.
“I don’t know what you are talking about!”
“It was Tad that suggested your firm. Now we know why.”
I pulled out stills of the video the private investigator took and started passing them around the table.
“Those are the mildest ones. There are others that are more…descriptive of the type of relationship you and Tad have.”
JuJu batıkent escort caught a glimpse of the pictures and launched herself at Tad.
“You bastard!” She hit him on the head, and he tried his best to back away.
“Well,” I said. “I think that clears up everything. We’re adjourned.”
I stood and held my hand out to Annie even while Tad was fending off JuJu.
“Come on, Annie, let’s get out of here.”
I wasn’t earning points for myself by calling out of work. But I couldn’t leave Lynn alone all day. I also couldn’t tell Carl the exact reason I was calling out either. He had this protective streak about Annie that was a mile long and even though, technically, we were done, I knew that old man wouldn’t understand that either.
I spent my time, not with Lynn, but on Craigslist looking for another car. Lynn had properly pissed me off this time. In talking with the insurance agent, I found out that Lynn dropped the collision coverage on the car. I was screwed. I’d have to dip into my shrinking savings to get another car.
“Where did the money go that I paid you for insurance, Lynn?”
I wasn’t very nice when I said this, but after being shocked from what the insurance agent told me, and sore from sleeping on the uncomfortable couch all night, I couldn’t be blamed.
Lynn didn’t say anything. She just turned over and pulled the blanket over her head.
Later, Lynn, contrite, and filled with pain meds, agreed to pay for a rental. But a rental was expensive, and wasn’t going to take care of my long-term need for transportation.
When Carl called, I thought it was about the job. I was wrong.
“Abel, you still need a car?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Turns out, it couldn’t be salvaged.”
“You got a few minutes? I can swing around and pick you up so you can take a look at what my friend’s got.”
I looked at my bedroom door.
“Yeah, I’ll meet you downstairs.”
I got into Carl’s Chevy Nova.
“Thanks, Carl,” I said.
“You’ve been okay?”
“I haven’t felt well. Stomach bug. I’m better, but you know how those stomach cramps are.”
“Yeah,” said Carl. “especially when they’ve been brought on by car crashes.”
“I’ve got buddies on the force. I heard about it.”
“Look, your business is your business. You don’t get paid if you don’t work, so I figure what ever it is, if you aren’t earning, it must be for something important.”
“I’m just helping out a friend.”
“Sometimes you have to do that. Here we are.”
We pulled up to an auto repair garage though look like it hadn’t been painted in twenty years. Paint peeled from around the glass window in the from that proclaimed Jimmi’s Auto Repair in faded gold letters outlined in red. There was one gas pump by the side of the building, and the parking lot was just dirt.
Carl and I got out of the car, and we walked up to the repair bay. I smelled the usual things that people did at these places, oil and gasoline and the musty smell of a place that never been properly cleaned.
“Hey,” Carl called out.
A young guy maybe in his early twenties came out of the garage wiping his hands on an oily rag.
“Hey, Uncle Carl!”
“Hey, kid. Your gramps here?”
“Yeah, he’s in the office.”
“This is Abel. He’s one of my employees.”
The kid cocked his head as if trying to figure something out.
“Good to meet you, man,” he said, showing me his greasy hands. “You don’t mind, do you? You know the car trade.”
“Yeah,” I said though I knew shit about repairing cars.
“Come on, Abel. Rob here has to finish up, so he can go crack the books.”
“Uncle Carl,” the kid protested.
“You should get out of here, before your mother finds out you’ve been dipping your hands in grease again.”
“And how would she find that out, eh?”
“I’ll tell her.” Carl said this so sharply even I backed away.
“Okay! Okay! Good thing you aren’t my real uncle.”
“Get outta here you brat.”
Rob smiled at him and threw the dirty rag at him, laughing.
“Brat!” Carl called again. But he smiled.
Carl made his way through the repair bay, and I followed. We entered a small office covered in dust and grease. There was metal desk that had to be from the forties, and some chairs lining one wall. A grizzled elderly man sat behind the desk, his back to us, speaking on the phone.
“Yeah, well I have some plans for that bastard. Look, gotta go.”
He spun around and looked us both over.
“Hello, Carl.” he said in a tone that much more polite than his previous conversation on the phone. “Who’s your friend?”
“This is Abel, Mr. P. I told you about him.”
The man stuck out his hand.
“Nice to meet you, Abel. Carl says some good things about you.”
“Carl’s a good guy.”
“I’ve always said the same. Looking for a car, are you? How much can you spend?”
“My budget’s getting tight. Maybe five grand.”
The man stroked his chin. “I think I can help you out. Come on.”
He led us through a door that brought us through a hallway and to the back of the building. There were a number of cars there, all in a varying states of disrepair. But there were two cars by the door, including a beautifully restored red Mustang from the sixties. I whistled. “Now I see where Carl has the work done on his car.”
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