Sun Catcher - Book ThreeBy: Giselle Fox
Iowa, USA, 18 years earlier
Lexi Duke sat back in her chair and smiled at the image of Cindy16 on her screen. “Gotcha,” she said. As she’d suspected, Cindy16 wasn’t really a high school chess club geek but a thirty-nine-year-old stock trader named Kevin York. What Kevin was doing prowling the state chess club practice room had yet to be determined, but Lexi had smelled a rat the first time she’d seen him play.
She filed his work profile image into her ongoing projects folder and was about to terminate her session when a message popped up in the corner of her screen. “That was fast,” Lexi said as she crossed her legs. She’d only sent Cindy16 the attachment a few minutes before. Kevin, the eager beaver, had opened it and now the keylogger—and a few other exploits she’d crafted—were installed on his machine. “Hope that picture of Rainbow Dash was worth it,” Lexi said to the screen since he’d probably hoped for something a little less PG. “Let’s see what you’ve been up to.”
She scanned the list of running processes on his computer. “Hmmm, a porn site, quelle surprise; a bunch of spreadsheets, Word docs, and emails. Why, Kevin, are you still at work?”
Lexi scanned through the list of folders on his computer and settled back in her chair while Kevin’s keystrokes were reported back to her. “Where’s your camera,” she said as she peered through his list of hardware. “There it is.” She waited for it to boot up. When Kevin’s fish-eyed image popped onto her screen, she winced. “Dude, you really should take better care of yourself.”
Poor Kevin was pasty and unshaven, and his greasy brown hair stood up at odd angles like he’d been pulling at it all night. Lexi knew an attractive man when she saw one, but Kevin York was not one of them. “I bet that’s why you’re working late,” Lexi said to the screen. “No one’s ugly when they’re rich.”
She watched Kevin’s hands type furiously until he bent and pulled something from his bottom drawer. A bottle of some sort appeared at the edge of the screen. When Kevin lifted it to his lips and took a long swallow, Lexi read the label out loud. “Glen something. Blech.”
She took a sip of her soda but spat it back into the can when she realized it was from the night before. She read through one of the open Word docs. “A press release,” Lexi read out loud, “dated three days from now. That’s Friday. How very interesting.”
The release disclosed the results from a core sample taken from a penny stock prospect in Alaska. “A vein equal to blah, blah, blah,” Lexi read. “This is insider information, Kevin. It’ll get you a nice haircut and a holiday. Maybe then you’ll meet a girl your own age.”
After a few more minutes, Lexi grew bored of watching Kevin so she cut the connection. An alert for an incoming ICQ session popped onto her screen.
Are you there? it read.
A few seconds later the response to that question was typed back from somewhere inside her own house.
I’m here, it read.
Lexi leaned forward in her chair again. “Who are you talking to, Granddad?”
There was a short pause in the conversation until another message came through.
We need to meet.
Several seconds went by until her grandfather’s simple reply was typed back. No. That was the agreement.
No meeting, then consequences.
You’re threatening me?
Another long pause and no response from her grandfather.
Still there? the incoming message read.
Yes. Having a hard time believing this.
Is you-know-who there?
I’ll take that as a yes.
Another long pause as her granddad tried to come up with a response. I’ll arrange something. Will get back to you.
Don’t be long.
The session ended.
Lexi sat back in her seat and let out the breath she’d been holding. “Shit.”
She’d already worked out that her grandfather’s business dealings were a lot murkier than anyone on the outside knew; that the company he’d kept in the old days included some very sketchy characters. It didn’t surprise her that someone would try to blackmail him. But where would that leave them if he couldn’t give them what they wanted?