Chapter 35 & 36
Meaghan dragged herself to work early on Monday. The last girl left early Saturday afternoon, so Sunday was spent in setting the house to rights and listening to Leaf prattle about the party. With Rickie in attendance, the fashion show was a complete success, and the girls gave nothing but high marks for the entire party. Rickie left not long after the girls had finished walking the ‘runway’, leaving a chorus of girlish sighs behind him, and one very private, very wonderful kiss outside.
She was not long at her desk, however, when she received a phone call.
“Hello, Meg?” Cynthia’s sober voice came through the earpiece. She sounded so formal that Meaghan was alarmed.
“Cynthia, what has happened? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, but I wanted to give you some bad news. Remember Ivoire, your contact in Nice?” Meaghan felt a frisson of fear travel down her back.
“Her body was found last week in Bangkok, apparently the victim of a violent crime. We were contacted when the Thai authorities called the main office through the embassy. Jules remembered you recently received an email from her. Do you know anything about what might have happened or why she was in Thailand? Meaghan?”
She could only stare at the walls of her cubicle in shock, unable to process what she just heard.
“Ivoire? Is…is dead?” She bit her bottom lip as tears formed in her eyes. “I…can’t believe it. Do you know what happened?”
Cynthia’s voice softened at Meaghan’s obvious distress. “The authorities haven’t said anything, but they do have a lot of questions. I know it’s tough for you, but do you have any information that might be helpful to the investigators?”
Meaghan thought for a moment, and then shook her head. “She never told me she was going there. I didn’t even know she had left the company until I received an email from her replacement. I haven’t actually spoken to her in over a month…”
Meaghan’s voice trailed off as her tears overwhelmed her. She barely heard Cynthia sign off and hang up. Woodenly she placed the handset back in the cradle and slumped in her chair.
She remembered the last time she spoke with Ivoire. Her friend had just temporarily moved into an apartment, and was planning to stay there a couple of months until she found more permanent solution. She was a competent, friendly, well-travelled individual who had a lively curiosity. It was hard to think that she wouldn’t be there anymore to hand off the monthly files…
The file. She remembered the fear she felt from those few words from Ivoire in that email. Maybe that file was the reason she was…she was…
Meaghan wiped her eyes and blew her nose; she vowed to go through that file again and discover what was so important about that information that may have caused Ivoire to be killed.
‘Ivoire’, she silently prayed, ‘Please help me find out what happened to you and bring them to justice.’
Rickie was looking over the plantation outputs when he heard a tentative knock at the door. The door opened to reveal a somber Meaghan with a manila folder in her hand.
“Do you have a moment, En Ahmad?” This woman with bruised eyes was nothing like the glowing woman from the weekend. For a moment, Rickie was worried that something had happened to her or her sister, but then remembered his conversation with Cynthia on Friday.
“You heard about your coworker from your supervisor this morning.” Rickie’s voice was gentle. At her jerky nod, he asked, “Do you need to take some time off?”
At that, Meaghan stiffened her spine and shook her head. “No, I want to continue my analysis. I have some information I want to show you.”
Rickie was proud of the way she pulled herself together, and noticed the determined spark that reanimated her beautiful chocolate eyes. ‘Business time,’ he reminded himself. Out loud, he said, “What have you found?”
Meaghan sat down on a leather chair in front of the desk.
“I cross-referenced the distribution information and government data, with the information from CMPrindle, and found the following.” She handed him a chart from the folder, and Rickie’s eyes were alert as he looked at the report. Meaghan continued.
“From the wiretap information, I researched upcoming holidays and festivals. The closest three are Gawai Dayak, King Agong’s birthday, and the Dragon Boat Festival. This year they fall in succession: June 1, 2, and 3, respectively, so it could be any or all of these. Since June 1st is this Friday, I wanted to bring that to your attention.” Rickie nodded, and waited for the next information.
“I also reviewed the Thai reference for a possible corporate correlation, but there haven’t been any significant changes for the Thai businesses we have in our database. I reviewed the Thailand military along with MJP25, and we don’t see any recognizable movement along any of the borders. In fact, little has changed from any of our neighboring countries, especially after the agreement between China and India over oil exploration last September.
“I think whatever may be going on, it does not appear to be government-based action. It is probably the work of a small number of people or some type of extremist group. Ahjummabunny is checking known organisations to look for any recent activity, and I’m going to continue looking at corporate accounts.” With that, she sat back in the chair, and waited.
Rickie reached out across the desk and laced his fingers with hers. “If you do need some time off, let me know.” Meaghan gave their combined hands a squeeze and then pulled back and stood.
“I just don’t understand it. She was very friendly and inquisitive, liked to talk and learn things, travel…” she choked back a sob. “How could this happen?”
Rickie stood up, strode around the table, and wrapped his arms around her. She shuddered once and slumped, allowing him to support her for a moment before standing back up and wiping her eyes. Rickie softly kissed her forehead as she sighed.
“Thanks. I’m alright. I’d better get back to work.” And with a watery smile, she left his office.
Rickie sat back down and rested his chin on his hands, thinking.