Chapter 43 & 44
Meaghan was sipping her morning coffee when Tina emerged from her room, wearing a bright pink shirt and Patrick Starr boxer shorts. Yawning, she shouldered past Meaghan, grabbed a container of orange juice from the refrigerator, and fumbled for a mug on the countertop.
“You’re early today,” Meaghan observed over her steaming mug.
Tina shrugged. “I didn’t finish my homework yesterday, so I wanted to wake up early and finish it before school.” Giving her sister an absentminded hug, the younger girl wandered back to her room, mug in hand.
“Don’t be late for the bus!” Meaghan called. She finished her coffee, rinsed out the mug and placed on the drying rack. Taking her time back to her bedroom, she bumped the sideboard, causing their parent’s wedding album to hit the floor with a soft thump.
She picked up, and noted that the threads holding the leather cover together were unraveling a bit on one of the corners. Feeling guilty about dropping it, she carefully replaced it and proceeded into her room to get ready for work.
~ ~ ~
At the office, she continued her analysis of the information trickling in from CMPrindle. It had been a week since the first wiretap information, and she had an idea on how everything was interrelated. On impulse, she pulled Ivoire’s file from her bag and plugged the thumb drive into her computer, and attempted to match any key words.
One of the companies immediately caught her eye, and she wondered why she hadn’t seen it before. She cross referenced her current data, and there it was: Chiang Tung Investments. The company was identified both in Ivoire’s file and in the data coming from her co-workers.
Feeling like she was onto a lead, she sent an email to Rickie asking to meet him.
Later that afternoon, when Meaghan walked to Rickie’s office, she was sure that her instincts were on the right trail. Her thoughts were scattered to the four winds, however, when, as soon as the door was opened, she was enveloped in a hug, the familiar scent tugging at her senses.
Rickie savored the feel of his woman. She fit perfectly under his chin, her hair smelled of strawberries. She gave him an answering squeeze and then pulled back.
“I needed that,” he admitted out loud.
At his statement, she placed a warm palm on his cheek, a gesture he already recognized and craved. Stepping back further, he took her hand and guided it to one of the chairs in front of his desk, and sat in the other, their knees almost touching. With an effort, he stopped staring at the length of leg revealed by her skirt, and tried to focus on the folder she handed to him.
“What did you find?” He asked in an almost normal tone.
She stopped smiling and turned very serious. “I think something bad is planned for this weekend.”
She pointed out a chart on the top of the paperwork.
“The wiretaps have mentioned Thailand, but it seemed like a codeword or a concept more than the country. The taps also mentioned a festival and we have several starting this weekend that are in the early part of the month. I spoke about that last week, if memory serves. There are several companies in our database that use derivatives of Thai words, and they seem to be in similar fields.
“Chiang Tung Investments is located in Shanghai; they invest in energy exploration. There’s the Samui Group who specialize in petroleum geophysics, supplying manpower.
“Then there is Chiang Mai, which is a marine distribution company. There has been an increase in exports of containers identified as industrial machinery being shipped from China to Malaysia. Oddly enough, for this company, it seems they have little activity planned for June, which is unusual given their manifests for May.” She leaned forward.
“I think that something is being planned to happen the beginning of June.” At this admission from Meaghan, Rickie looked through the report, made the decision, and met Meaghan’s eyes.
“I think you’re right too, Meggie. Now we have to figure out what it is. I’ll meet with Raine either tonight or tomorrow and see what she thinks. Did you want to come to dinner with us?”
Meaghan shook her head. “I promised Leaf I’d help her with a school project tonight. If you would like, I can send her my report via email,” she offered. Rickie nodded and stood up. Meaghan did likewise.
“Please do. And if something else comes along, contact me day or night. In fact,” Rickie’s eyes warmed, “Call me for any reason whatsoever.” He touched her shoulder, and ran his hand down her arm, intertwining their fingers. He held her hand for a moment, gave her a quick kiss on the back of her hand, and then reluctantly released her. The bright pink spots on either cheek belied his effect on her as she bobbed her head and hurried out of the office.
Outside his door, Meaghan held her hands to her burning cheeks and willed them to die down. Making her way back to her desk, she sent the file to Raine’s email box and prepared to finish up for the day.
~ ~ ~
Rickie met Raine at Hillary’s restaurant. She had taken them to an out-of-the-way corner table, and promised to return when she had a moment. Meanwhile, they sipped glasses of wine as they waited for their entrees.
Raine reviewed her copy of Meaghan’s report. “I think it’s a good call on Meg’s part, but we need to pinpoint the location if at all possible. Any ideas?”
“I have two consultants on my gas rig near Pulau Serasan. I checked their references this afternoon, but everything appears to be legitimate.” Rickie thought for a moment. “I’ll go ahead and check with my contacts, and see if anything unusual pops up. My first impression was that they were a bit odd, but I’ve only been working the family interests for only a short while, so I don’t personally know their reputation.”
Hillary showed up with their meals, and after serving them, and sat down with the pair. They had a friendly discussion of favorite wine selections, and the meal proceeded amicably.
~ ~ ~
In the quiet darkness above the bustle surrounding the drill, two figures leaned against the railing around the helipad and looked down at the movement below. A matched flared up as John lit a cigarette, deeply inhaled and then sighed a puff of smoke.
“Are we prepared for tomorrow?”
“Affirmative. And you know,” Ani added dryly, “Those things will kill you.”
A laugh was the only reply.