Chapter Two 940 words
Jacob Faxton stood in front of his twenty-seventh floor, boardroom windows watching Harbor Air's Twin Otter. Fully aware of the woman seated behind him, he allowed himself the brief pleasure of following the airplane as it taxied into the wind. No sound came through the thick glass installed on the Bentall Tower as it began taking off. The clients of expensive lawyers didn't like their conversations interrupted.
When two streaks of white scratched the ocean surface, Jacob, or Jake, as his partner's called him, brought his mind back to his visitor. Elaine Simms was no stranger. Indeed, their paths had crossed many times, mostly in company with her husband, Caldwell, but more recently with his brother Vince as her escort.
Below, the white wakes ceased as the seaplane rose into the sky and banked over Stanley Park on its route to Victoria. Precisely where he should be, had it not been for Elaine's hysterical phone call earlier that morning.
Turning, Jake studied the woman, now seated before him. Attractive, she favored low-cut dresses, and from bar talk with his brother, he'd learned she wore unpadded push-up bras. No surprise to any man who stood in front of her. Jake suspected the bra was still there, only today its cleavage hidden by a light-blue and white jogging suit, zippered to the top.
"Okay," he said, "Tell me once more what happened."
She jumped up, wrapping her arms around him. "Oh, Jake."Feeling uncomfortable with her so close, Jake eased her arms off his shoulders. "You're safe here." To open some distance between them, he settled against the edge of the long table, eventually half sitting on it.
Elaine turned toward the window with its panoramic view of the North Shore mountains. "If they got to Caldwell, they can get to me."
"Who's they?" Jake asked.
Elaine turned, looking at him with reddened, hazel eyes. Jake caught a flash of anger in them before they closed and she shook her head.
Jake stood up, throwing both hands into the air. "I can't help you, Elaine, if you don't confide in me." I probably can't anyway, he thought, remembering he was a corporate lawyer and unfamiliar with criminal law. "Did you kill him?"
Elaine's eyes snapped open. "How can you even ask a question like that?"
"Your recent relationship with Vince could be the perfect motive."
"For him, not me."
"The living widow inherits the dead spouse's assets."
"I loved him."
"Come off it, Elaine. You played the field. Vince is only your latest."
"Caldwell wasn't a saint either, but he was the father of my son."
"All right. All right." Jake turned to the windows, ignored their view, then swung around and addressed Elaine. "This isn't getting us anywhere. What was Caldwell into lately?"
"Drugs or minerals?"
"Your choice," Jake said.
Hesitating, Elaine sighed. "He had something going in the Northwest Territories.""That's out of province. What was he looking for up there?"
"Diamonds," she said.
Jake whistled at that. "They find any?"
The answer came a little too quick. Jake held her gaze until he was sure she was lying.
Looking away, she diverted Jake's attention. "Vince put up most of the money. I told him not to, but he said this was too good to pass up. Even tried to get Barry Mathers involved, but he wouldn't budge. Told Vince he was a stupid ass to deal with Caldwell."
Jake knew his brother had bucks and hoped he was smart enough not to spend it all on Caldwell's dreams a second time. "Where was your husband's money coming from?" Not a bad question, Jake thought, as Caldwell never risked his own fortunes.
"I don't know."
Another lie. Jake knew the one thing she kept track of was their money. "Where, Elaine? Drugs?"
Elaine shook her head, eyes cast down. Jake stood before her, waiting.
When she looked up, it was not to make a statement. "Will you protect me?"
"I'm a lawyer. I represent people in trouble. Are you in trouble?"
"The media is flashing pictures of my husband hanging in the park with nothing but that damn thong he always wears, and you ask if I'm in trouble?" Her voice went from hysterical to sobs.
"I'm sorry," Jake said, reaching, then holding her gently. He could be such a clod at times. Even when they were kids, he'd be sarcastic to Vince until he cried. That was until his brother grew six inches taller and forty pounds heavier, then broke his nose. Elaine drew back, and while wiping her face with a tissue, said, "Caldwell had something big in the pipe. I think he was branching into heroin, playing the Asians against an East Indian syndicate."
"Well, it caught up with him didn't it?"
"Did it?" Elaine asked, turning her back on him as she opened her cell phone.
"Who you calling?"
"My mother. I'm checking on Caldwell Junior."
Jake waited for her call to go through. He'd never met the woman but knew she lived alone and was devoted to her grandson. Elaine's eyes grew large. "Oh God!" Her grip on the phone weakened, allowing it to slip free.
Jake caught it, placing it to his ear only to find the connection gone. "What?" he asked.
"A man answered." Panic descended across Elaine's face. "He spoke with a foreign accent."