Except for the Bones

Except for the Bones by Collin Wilcox Read Free Book Online

Book: Except for the Bones by Collin Wilcox Read Free Book Online
Authors: Collin Wilcox
Tags: Mystery
ago, he’d printed BM on another slip of paper. It had happened less than a month before his marriage to Millicent. The man—Gordon Betts—had once driven for him, and had been fired for drinking. A college dropout with a high IQ, Betts had been knowledgeable about investments. He’d also been a talented, resourceful eavesdropper who’d remembered snatches of overheard conversations, and played the market accordingly.
    Betts was also knowledgeable about the penalties for insider trading. Since he was being fired, he’d said, with nothing to lose, why shouldn’t he tell the authorities what he knew about Daniels’s “little shortcuts”? And he’d smiled: that fresh-faced, all-American smile.
    At about that time Daniels had learned that Bruce Kane had once been arrested for flying drugs into the country. There’d been juvenile offenses, too, and one arrest for aggravated assault, part of a consistent pattern of violence. But Kane had never been convicted, and he’d been allowed to volunteer for Vietnam, where he’d learned to fly. He was a natural pilot. And a natural soldier, too: a born killer.
    At first Daniels had considered firing Kane: there were, after all, scores of corporate pilots available. Then he’d realized that one problem could cancel out the other. The conversation with Kane had taken almost two hours out of a busy day. But never had he concluded a more effective, more subtle negotiation. He’d begun by expressing a desire to help in Kane’s “rehabilitation.” Two hours later, they’d had a straight business deal: for a five-thousand-dollar cash bonus, Kane would work Betts over, threatening to kill him if he tried blackmail again.
    Three days later, Kane called him on his private line to say that “the problem” was taken care of. Later he’d learned that Betts had been in intensive care for three days.
    He heard the note of the engines change, felt the angle of the floor shift. They were letting down for the landing at Westboro. He locked his chair to face backward and fastened his seat belt securely. Then he reached for the air-to-ground telephone, touch-toned Jackie’s private number.
    “This is Jackie Miller.” As always, she spoke crisply, concisely. Without Jackie—someone like Jackie—he would never have done it: gone so far, so fast.
    “Yes. Jackie. How’re we doing?”
    “Chester should be arriving at the airport just about now. Are you down yet?”
    “We’re on the approach, should be down in ten minutes. I want you to contact Chester. Tell him I’ll meet him outside the terminal, at the curb. I don’t want him to drive out on the ramp.”
    “Right.” In her voice he caught a hint of puzzlement. A limo on the ramp to meet an arriving CEO was, after all, de rigueur.
    “What’s my day look like?”
    “I’ve got Kent Williams scheduled for two-thirty.” She let a delicately timed beat pass. Then: “He’s coming here.”
    Appreciatively, he smiled. Originally, the meeting had been planned for Williams’s hotel. As always, Jackie had anticipated, taken the initiative, given him the gift of time. God, how it steadied him, hearing her calm, measured voice. He tried to express his appreciation in the warmth of his own voice as he said, “You charmed him, Jackie.” She made no reply. It was a complacent, self-confident silence. Yes, Jackie had it. And, yes, Jackie knew it. “I was going to offer Mr. Williams a ride out to Los Angeles in the Beechcraft,” she said. “Shall I? You won’t need it for four days. At least—” A delicate pause.
    Delicate? Why?
    “At least,” she continued, “not for business. Not that I can see.”
    Had her inflection changed?
    Did the change signify some secret agenda, some preliminary positioning, perhaps to distance herself from him—from what could happen? Had Jeff Weston called the police? Was it possible that the police had called from the Cape? Was there a message waiting for him? A slip of paper instructing him to

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