Chapter 45 & 46
Thursday morning, Meaghan barely stirred when her alarm went off. Her limbs felt like lead, and a tickle in her throat warned her that she probably was coming down with something.
After multiple attempts she was sitting up, but the dizziness that accompanied it made her feel slightly nauseous. Her face felt hot, too. Realizing the futility of going to work in this state, she called the office.
“Hello!” Somehow MJP25’s perkiness made her feel even worse.
“Hi, MJP. It’s Meaghan. I’m too sick to work today. Can you let everyone know?”
Her voice instantly became concerned. “Anything we can do for you, Meg?”
“No no, I’m just going to stay in bed today. If something comes up that’s important, though, call me.” At least she had her laptop and could work a little from home if needed.
“Okay, Meg. I hope you feel better,” MJP25 replied.
~ ~ ~
After a hot bath and some medicine, Meaghan felt marginally better. Straightening the house left her feeling exhausted, so she sat down on the couch, a box of tissues within reach and a thermos of hot tea on the end table. She glanced around the room until her eyes rested on her computer bag. Maybe this is a good time to go over Ivoire’s files again, she thought.
She heaved herself off the well-sprung cushions and shuffled to the bag. She sat back down on the couch with an audible sigh, plugged in the power cord to the wall outlet, and booted up the computer.
While sipping the hot, strong tea, her cell phone went off, and she smiled when she saw who it was.
“How are you feeling? Do you need anything? Should I come over?” Rickie barked the questions out, his concern underlying the bossy tone.
“I’m fine, Rickie. I’m just resting a bit right now. It’s just a slight fever, and I’m sure I’ll feel better soon.”
Rickie’s voice became gentler. “I don’t like you being alone when you’re not feeling well. Should I have Sethe keep you company?”
“I’m fine,” Meaghan insisted, “I’m going to read a little, have some tea, and rest some more.” A quiet beep showed the computer was ready. “If I need anything, I will call you. I promise.”
“Are you sure there’s nothing I can do that would make you feel better?” Rickie’s tone became intimate, and Meaghan squirmed at the image that suddenly popped into her mind; lying on Rickie’s chest, hearing his heartbeat against her ear while he stroked her hair. She took a sip of tea to ease her suddenly-dry throat.
“N…nothing comes to mind,” Meaghan said. A low chuckle greeted this, and Meaghan knew he caught her stammer.
“Call me later, Meggie. I want to know you are still doing okay.” After she promised, he disconnected, and Meaghan fanned her face, feeling hotter than the fever warranted.
Once her unruly heart slowed, she plugged in the thumb drive and began looking over the files, trying to find whatever data Ivoire had tried so desperately to send her.
Meaghan pulled up the most recent data from France and compared it to the information found in Ivoire’s file. It was clear that several businesses were missing. She compared the files and found the same companies that she had flagged previously based on the wiretap information were suspiciously absent from Mystisith’s files:
Chiang Tung Investments. The Samui Group. Chiang Mai Distribution.
Meaghan pushed back from the laptop and sank back into the cushions of the couch with a sick feeling in her stomach. The similar nomenclature of the names; the wiretap discussion of festivals.
Mystisith was more than likely involved, and not in a good way.
It was probably going to begin tonight, at the start of Gawai Dayak.
And it was happening on Rickie’s drilling platform.
Her heart in her throat, she quickly attempted to call Rickie, but the call went straight to voicemail. She left a voicemail asking him to call back as soon as possible, then walked to her bedroom and began changing into outside clothes.
~ ~ ~
Just back from lunch, Rickie contemplated leaving early to go see Meaghan. She had sounded a little congested; surely she would appreciate someone bringing some abalone porridge and a sympathetic demeanor, someone willing to keep her company and cater to her every need. He grinned as he pictured her, curled up on the couch and wrapped in a fluffy blanket.
He was reaching for his phone when it rang. Looking at the Caller ID, he answered it.
“Selamat tengah hari, JoAnne. How are you this afternoon?”
“We have a problem at our Nice office.” The seriousness of her tone had Rickie sitting up.
“The building is on fire. Witness said they heard what sounded like an explosion. Since it’s early in the morning in France, there wasn’t anyone besides the custodial staff, and they have all been accounted for. The firefighters are still battling the blaze, but it looks like our offices have been gutted.”
Rickie leaned back in his chair. “At least no one was injured. Our servers back up at midnight there, so we shouldn’t have lost anything.” There was a long pause, and then JoAnne sighed.
“It appears there was some type of malware or worm that made it past our firewalls. The backup servers have been completely corrupted. For all intents and purposes, the office has disappeared.”
Rickie couldn’t speak for a moment, thunderstruck at the complete destruction of the branch. He mentally shook himself, and then addressed JoAnne again.
“I’m on my way to the house. Please collect whatever information we can gather, and get in contact with our command staff in France. Let’s see what we can do.”
“Okay, boss.” JoAnne brusquely signed off.
Rickie collected his keys and computer bag. Heading out the door, he looked at his cell
phone and realized Meaghan had called and left a voicemail. He put the phone in his pocket with some regret; his visit with his woman was going to have to wait a while.