“I’d like to preview the product,” Ashlan said, “before buying it.”
“Naturally,” Connor said. He placed a flash drive in a port on his laptop and called up the media viewer.
Ashlan leaned forward as images of documents appeared on the screen. The scene was misty at the edges, but the words on the pages were clear enough. Ashlan took special note of the dates on the pages, which were two years in the future.
The door of William’s inner office opened and a sad clown walked in. He quietly closed the door behind him and shuffled to a corner where William could see him but where he was out of the way.
William regarded the clown sourly but said nothing and bent his head to his work. He made occasional furtive glances at the corner and saw the clown standing there, regarding William morosely. Each successive irritable peek at the clown led William to work harder to plow through the stack of papers on his desk.
Clients came in to keep their appointments, and William would talk them through their financial concerns and what the next step in the process would be. If any of the visitors noticed the clown, they were polite enough to make no mention.
Acevedo checked Park’s office, just in case the man was ignoring his telephone. But no; he wasn’t there. Acevedo sighed and picked up the phone himself and made a call to building security.
“The atrium. Thank you.”
He shook his head as he walked down the hall to the elevator. He got out on the 70th floor and walked down another hall; it broadened into a large, open public space enclosed in glass. Various employees were taking their break there, looking out at the city or enjoying the numerous plants and trees that made the area a garden spot.
Acevedo quickly found Park; he was the only one not wearing correct business attire. Instead, he wore a black T-shirt with a wide red stripe across the chest, blue jeans, and yellow tennis shoes. He faced the center of the room and leaned back comfortably against the glass wall. Acevedo suppressed a shudder.
Creston Fulmont Jr. smiled at his computer’s monitor. Wall Street was loving his layoff of one-third of Fulprise Corp.’s employees. The company’s stock would likely set a record by the end of the day.
He looked up and continued to smile at the long rows of gold-framed magazine covers that bore his face. A more introspective man would have been at least mildly curious about having his face on the cover of Seventeen, but Fulmont took it as his due.
The storm raged on, showing no signs of abating, and nearly covering the sound of gunshots inside the Salvorson mansion.
Three men, who had come from different parts of the mansion, stood around the body of their late, unlamented business partner, Brock Salvorson. He was lying at the bottom of a long, steep flight of stairs.
“If it weren’t for the multiple gunshot wounds, we could have said he fell,” Ian Irwin said.
“I think we must also rule out suicide,” Philip Ordell added.
“Gentlemen,” said Tate Fanchon, “one of us is a murderer.”
“And we all have motive for killing the S.O.B.,” Ordell said.