The Thomas Stone Mysteries
Barnes & Noble.com
casting the first Stone.com
The first story of the Thomas Stone mysteries.
Stone's life has been turned upside down He's lost his job and could be losing his home. Things are bleak. Multi millionaire Wellington Carter's daughter has been kidnapped and being held some where in Denver. The two worlds collide when Carter offers three million for the safe return of his child. Thomas and childhood friend Anthony Brown take up the challenge. Read what happens as they search for a child whose time is running out.
It All started at 5:40 on a warm Tuesday evening, Tony and I sat at a downtown restaurant call the Paramount cafe sipping beers and watching the girls go by. It was early evening in Denver the sun setting just behind the mountains of Colorado. It was the first time we'd been able to talk since he returned home from Pittsburg. We'd been best friends since he and I were back in grade school and I had missed him for the three years he was in Pittsburg.
My friend was Anthony Brown, 6'8", 290 pounds and all pro defensive end for the Pittsburg Steelers. He had just retired from football unexpectedly after three years. Taking his team, coaches and friends all by surprise. The talking heads questioned his courage and the media called him a quitter. I knew Tony and quitting wasn't in his nature. He was a man who believed in doing his job and moving on to the next phase of his life. He'd signed a three year contract and fulfilled it. Tony explained to me that all he wanted to do in professional football, and buy his mother a house. He told me he was bored with the game.
I, like so many of his friends watched his retirement press conference on the local sports stations. When he was asked about his retirement he simply said. "My N.F.L. experience was great but it was time to move on." He thanked coaches and friends he'd made, but his decision was final and he walked away. The
steelers were upset they'd have to pay his salary for another three years. He wasn't into the money, he could have made a ton more. Tony was different... a philosophy major in college he thought about the consequences of his decisions before he made moves in his life.
I on the other hand was experiencing a difficult time in my life. I had married my high school girl friend shortly after she'd returned from college. We had a little girl and everything was going smooth until I was fired from a job I'd had since high school. I'd been there almost seven years, An argument with a new supervisor and I'm out. I couldn't believe that people who I thought were friends had shafted me. Almost seven years gone down the tube after one disagreement with Jeffery Stewart.
As a matter of fact I was there to ask my friend for a favor. I didn't want to be there, I would have given anything not to be. Karen was working her butt off; the least i could do was try to help. Months of doing work weren't paying the bills. I was desperate.
Tony was staring at the television and talking to me at the same time. "Man it's a shame about that guy's kid." "What are you talking about T.?" I asked as I sipped on a beer.
"That rich guy Carter.: Tony said his eyes fixed on the tube.
"Yea that's messed up. They have no clue where that little girl is." I said. The cafe was packed with patron, many I suspected worked down town or even lived close by . Down town Denver had changed so much over the years, adding luxury apartments and lofts to accommodate the people who wanted to live in the area.
The police were doing the best they could. Eight year-old Amanda Carter had been kidnapped from the Cherry Creek Mall in broad daylight a week before. I wasn't really concerned about her, I was there to borrow some money so I could feed my own little girl, and it was killing me.
"I'm sorry Tommy how much did you say you needed?" Tony said still staring at the television on the wall. "I don't know man, maybe $1500.00." I replied. This was hurting man to ask and he knew it. "Is that going to get you through the month Tommy?" My friend said, finally looking at me. I thought about food and next months mortgage. I Hoped I'd get a job by then. "Yea that'll get me through for a while," I said. "Alright man, if you need more, tell me... you know I got your back," He said with a big smile.
"Thanks T. I'll get through this," I said trying to sound confident. I was feeling the strain of not working, and I'd never had to do it before.
"You always do," He said as he again focused on the television screen. As we sat I glanced around the room at the other patrons enjoying their drinks and conversations. I wondered how many other people there were just leaving their jobs and beginning to let the days trails and tribulations melt away with a few beers. The bar was alive with spirited chatter in a variety of subjects and languages. I watched their faces with a degree of jealousy. I knew I shouldn't have, but I just felt at a loss.
The newscast blared on. The usual talking heads crap. What's in for spring... the newest fashion's coming from New York. The weatherman was about to give us another incorrect weather report when the new anchor broke in to say there was some breaking news on the Carter's case. Tony thinking the worst, immediately said, "They'd found the little girl, and she was dead."
I was so into my own problems, I really was paying much attention to the television. After an extended commercial break, the news cameras came back to a worn looking man I guessed was Carter. Tony asked to have the sound turned up. (This Nine News at five, and this is live.)The camera cut to a room at the Bufford hotel where we saw Carter staring through tired eyes into the camera.
"My name is Wellington Carter, and somewhere here in Colorado, someone has a little girl that belongs to me... the people who have her have asked for a large ransom," Carter said staring into the camera. He paused for a moment then continued, "The FBI have tried to convince me to pay the ransom, but I think I might be better served giving this to the people of Colorado... because in my business, I believe people are motivated by what they can get." Now slowly the noise in the room grew silent, as each person turned his or her attentions to the weary face on the screen. Carter wiped a tear from his cheek and went on: "These men who have my daughter can see the reward, but I don't think they're the ones I should be giving this to." His voice grew stronger as he spoke. "I'm here to change the rules. I want my little girl back safe and sound, and I don't think that will happen without some help from the people of this city. This is a message to you, who ever you are... I want my baby back, and now the whole state will be searching for her. This three million dollars is now open game for anyone who has information that brings my baby home."
Wellington Carter stepped away from a table filled with stacks of cash, more money than most of us in that cafe had ever seen before. The bills are stacked high on the table, and everyone in the bar was now staring at the television screen. "Holy shit!" someone shouted, "Did you hear what he said?... that's three million dollars!" another voice in the room shouted.
Carter continued on, "If anyone has any information, please call the Denver police, and if your information proves to be the contributing factor to bringing my daughter home, this is yours." The news cameras panned to a close-up of the table full of cash. Then news anchor stepped in to give a recap of what Carter had just done. The cafe was alive with chatter n every corner of he room. The room was filled with emotions for the father looking for his child. A young waitress stood transfixed in the scene around her. She looked at me and said, "I hope he finds his daughter." A young man at the table across from us heard her and scoffed, Maybe if he had paid them, now his kid is gone for sure." Her gesture to him as she moved through the crowd told him what she thought of his comment.
I stared unblinking at the television envisioning the chaos that was about to be released on to the city. "Is he kidding? Does he know what he's about to start? Everyone who thinks they saw anything will be calling the police," I thought to myself as we stared at the screen.
Tony just turned to me and smiled. In my mind, I couldn't believe he put that money out there, I knew what kind of fire he was starting and didn't want any part of the bullshit that was about to take place all over the state, Tony just sat there smiling at me.
"What are you looking at?" I asked. The room was abuzz with chatter about Carter's announcement. "I just remember back in school, you used to find everything that we hid all over the school. There wasn't anything you couldn't find." Tony said with a huge smile. Casting the first Stone by A.L. White,