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Genre – Legal Thriller
Rating – PG
It’s the drug of the century, a miracle weight loss compound worth billions, invented by Jon Vickers shortly before his death. So why is Jon’s brother Benedict risking his inheritance, his brother’s legacy, and even his own life to keep the drug from the market?
And why is Olga Mueller, a jaded lawyer Benedict met by chance while traveling to Istanbul, willing to help?
Can they take on a powerful venture capitalist and a ruthless top-tier law firm and win? Or even survive? In a world where money rules, does truth stand a chance?
Peter Gardiner’s suicide merited a Breaking News bulletin on CNN. His body was found by a couple of hikers coming back from an afternoon trek. He was slumped on a park bench near the exit from the Palisades State Park, on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, his right hand still gripping the gun with which he’d shot himself. His Baltic Black Maybach 57-S was in the parking lot, and his suicide note, addressed to his wife and handwritten, was found inside a manila envelope on the driver’s seat.
Of course, most of these details were not communicated in CNN’s bulletin. Instead, the news channel concentrated on Gardiner’s achievements. He was a renowned economist who created and managed a family of well-regarded and highly profitable venture and hedge funds. He was on the Economic Advisory Panel for the current president as well as his two immediate predecessors. His status as a fixture of New York society and his patronage of the arts was also duly noted.
Benedict Vickers caught the last few seconds of the bulletin as he walked into the living room from the kitchen, wiping his hands after washing his coffee mug. The news made him stop. He slung the dish towel over his shoulder and quickly grabbed the remote to see whether other channels were also discussing this development. None were.
Benedict returned to CNN, increased the volume and dropped the remote onto the leather armchair next to him. They’ll return to the story soon enough, he assured himself, and walked back into the kitchen. His phone rang just then and he picked up on the first ring.
“Did you see the news?”
“Just caught the tail end of it on CNN. That was unexpected.”
“Are you being sarcastic?”
“No. I really am surprised.”
“Are you okay?”
“I didn’t think he’d off himself. Poor Jennie. She doesn’t deserve this.”
“Does it change our plans?”
“I don’t think so. Although I’d rather leave the country today instead of waiting until Friday. Come with, won’t you?”
There was a long pause on the other end of the line.
“Please?” Benedict prompted gently.
“I’ll meet you at Grand Central and decide there.”
Benedict sighed with relief. “Right. By the information booth in the middle? In an hour?”
“See you there.”
Benedict hung up and headed to the third floor of his townhouse, taking two steps at a time. In his bedroom, he took a small suitcase out of the closet and checked its contents. It was nearly fully packed, and he decided it only required the addition of toiletries, a pair of socks, and a pair of cuff links.
After quickly showering and changing, he went downstairs and scanned his suitcase and himself for tracking devices with a hand-held wand, silently cursing his paranoia, but not willing to take a chance. Satisfied that he wasn’t a walking beacon, he armed the state-of-the-art alarm system he’d recently installed and left the house.
October 14, 2010 (eight months earlier)
Terminal 1 at John F. Kennedy International Airport wasn’t busy when the chauffeured Lincoln Town Car dropped Benedict off. Having ascertained that he had all necessary documents, he grabbed the handle of his suitcase, hoisted his carry-on bag onto his shoulder, and proceeded to the Turkish Airlines business class check-in counter.
As the ticketing agent was printing his boarding pass, Benedict’s attention was drawn to the tall woman standing next to him, talking to an agent designated for coach passengers. The woman seemed excited, clapping her hands and beaming widely. Benedict, finding the behavior childish, raised an eyebrow and gave her a frosty, questioning stare.
“Upgrade to business class,” the woman informed him, still beaming and looking up at him with startlingly light blue eyes. At least she’d stopped clapping. “Sorry about the seal imitation,” she said, not looking sorry at all. Benedict sighed and said a silent prayer that his seat would be as far away from the woman’s as possible. Despite finding her attractive, she struck him as a talker, and he was in no mood for that.