Hidden Riches

Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online

Book: Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nora Roberts
wanted answers, and he wanted them now.
    More to the point, Finley wanted answers, and wanted them yesterday. DiCarlo tugged on his silk tie. He didn’t have answers yet, but he would. The phone call from Los Angeles the day before had been crystal clear. Find the merchandise, within twenty-four hours, or pay the consequences.
    DiCarlo had no intention of discovering what those consequences were.
    He looked up at the big white-faced clock overhead and watched the minute hand click from 9:04 to 9:05. He had less than fifteen hours left. His palms were sweaty.
    Through the wide glass panel stenciled with an overweight Santa and his industrious elves, he could see more than a dozen shipping clerks busily stamping and hauling.
    DiCarlo sneered as the enormously fat shipping supervisor with the incredibly bad toupee approached the door.
    â€œMr. DiCarlo, so sorry to keep you waiting.” Bill Tarkington had a weary smile on his doughy face. “As you can imagine, we’re pretty frantic around here these days. Can’t complain, though, no sir, can’t complain. Business is booming.”
    â€œI’ve been waiting fifteen minutes, Mr. Tarkington,” DiCarlo said, his fury clear. “I don’t have time to waste.”
    â€œWho does, this time of year?” Unflaggingly pleasant, Tarkington waddled around his desk to his Mr. Coffee machine. “Have a seat. Can I get you some of this coffee? Put hair on your chest.”
    â€œNo. There’s been an error, Mr. Tarkington. An error that must be corrected immediately.”
    â€œWell, we’ll just see what we can do about that. Can you give me the specifics?”
    â€œThe merchandise I directed to Abel Winesap in Los Angeles was not the merchandise which arrived in Los Angeles. Is that specific enough for you?”
    Tarkington pulled on his pudgy bottom lip. “That’s a real puzzler. You got your copy of the shipping invoice with you?”
    â€œOf course.” DiCarlo took the folded paper from the inside breast pocket of his jacket.
    â€œLet’s have a look-see.” His fat, sausage fingers moved with a quick, uncanny grace as he booted up his computer. “Let’s see now.” He rattled a few more keys. “That was to ship out on December seventeenth. . . . Yep, yep, there sheis. She went out just fine. Should have arrived yesterday, today at the latest.”
    DiCarlo ran a hand through his wavy black hair. Idiots, he thought. He was surrounded by idiots. “The shipment did arrive. It was incorrect.”
    â€œYou’re saying the package that plopped down in LA was addressed to another location?”
    â€œNo. I’m saying what was in the package was incorrect.”
    â€œThat’s an odd one.” Tarkington sipped some coffee. “Was the package packed here? Oh, wait, wait, I remember.” He waved DiCarlo’s answer away. “We provided the crate and the packing, and you supervised. So how in the wide, wide world did the merchandise get switched?”
    â€œThat is my question,” DiCarlo hissed, his hand slamming the desk.
    â€œNow, now, let’s stay calm.” Determinedly affable, Tarkington hit a few more keys. “That shipment went out of section three. Let’s see who was on the belt that day. Ah, here we go. Looks like Opal.” He swiveled around to beam at DiCarlo. “Good worker, Opal. Nice lady, too. Had a rough time of it lately.”
    â€œI’m not interested in her personal life. I want to speak to her.”
    Tarkington leaned forward and flicked a switch on his desk. “Opal Johnson, please report to Mr. Tarkington’s office.” He flicked the switch off, then patted his toupee to make sure it was still in place. “Sure I can’t get you some coffee? A doughnut, maybe?” He tossed open the lid on a cardboard box. “Got us some nice raspberry-jelly-filled today. Some tractor wheels,

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