Miami – Wednesday, Feb. 19, 6:00 p.m. EST
After striking out at Torenmaas’ office, Anna meandered down the wide-open sidewalks past the bank buildings and luxury high-rises along Brickell Avenue, jammed with commuter traffic. The setting Florida sun and ocean breeze taunted her. She half-wished dark clouds would roll in so the weather would align with her mood. Anna weighed Raven’s offer. If she helped me, what would I owe her?
At the Azure Ocean, Anna headed for the hotel bar, which included a patio. Blue and orange hammocks hung between palm trees. The bar also offered a “beach,” a sand box for grown-ups, where several people were well on their way to forgetting their troubles. Anna sat at a bistro table near the hammocks. A chalkboard announced the cocktails of the day, and she ordered a cosmo with fresh lime juice and a twist.
Waiting for the drink, she checked her email and messages, while the people in Channarong’s division cycled through her mind. Anna had left a voicemail message with every person there, including Channarong’s own program assistant, Sara Reedman. Interviewing those who knew Evy, especially anyone Evy considered a friend, would be amazing. But so far, no one had replied. Bank employees weren’t supposed to talk to reporters without clearance from PR, but still. She hoped someone might. What might shake the Dutch kingpin out?
The sound of the waiter placing the cosmo on the table startled her. He asked about dinner.
Anna ordered beef sliders and fries, and he returned to his shift. Sipping the drink, she contemplated her professional obligation to leave no stone unturned and the one pretty obvious boulder. Swallowing her pride along with the remainder of her cosmo, she dialed the phone.
“Anna?” Raven answered. “Already?”
“Raven, listen, I know you have this funeral to attend, and a million other family things to manage, but I need to take you up on your offer.”
“I expected you to take at least 24 hours to come to that conclusion.”
“Well, I’m eating humble pie today,” Anna said. “Look, I staked out Torenmaas’ office and….”
“And let me guess. He put you off?” Raven interrupted.
“Otherwise, how did he seem?”
“Composed. Unfazed. I don't know," Anna said. "Why?”
“Did you tell him about that video—of him and Channarong together?”
“I didn’t have time.”
“Right. Hey, I’ll call you back.” Raven hung up.
Ire rose in Anna’s gut. Why did Raven have to be rude? Before her annoyance had time to fester, the waiter delivered the food, and Anna allowed the distraction. She was biting into her third slider when the phone rang. “Raven?” Anna said.
“It’s all set,” Raven said. “We can meet him at 10.”
“You got an appointment?”
“Yes. At 10.”
“That’s what I said. What’s wrong with you?”
“You and me. You didn’t think I’d miss this, did you?”
“I hadn’t thought about it.”
“Some things never change.”
“No, I mean, it’s fine. He’s your contact. I get it. Come with. How did you do it?”
“That’s my little secret,” Raven said.
“Uh, OK,” Anna said. “So, where?”
“Out on Key Biscayne. I’ll pick you up at 9:30.”
“Is that safe?”
“Nothing to worry about.”
“How can you be sure? I don’t want to drown in a mangrove swamp.”
“Stop being paranoid.”
“No, you stop being naïve. I’m sure you get as many of those misogynistic hate messages as I do. We have to be careful.”
“Alright. I get that. But this guy isn’t going to hurt us.”
“I don’t agree,” Anna said. Her phone vibrated, indicating new text messages.
“You trust me. And I trust him, which means you have to trust him.”
“To be honest, Raven, I don’t trust you,” Anna said. “I called you, because Tanner needs this connection, and I hit a dead end. But I don’t want to risk my life. We’d be idiots to assume Torenmaas is trustworthy.”
“Thanks a lot, Jones. Nice to know how you really feel,” Raven said. “Be ready at 9:30. Cheers.”
Copyright © by Wolf Bahren. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher with “permission requests” in the subject line at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.