Vamp 16: A Phone Call


Dean!? With her heart pounding, Sam quickly locates the story online and reads more.

Passers-by were horrified at the sudden fall of a man onto the street from a midtown Manhattan residential building. Police have taped off the block while the investigation is underway. A woman who lives in the neighborhood and was returning from lunch was an eye witness. “I just happened to look up and my god I see a man coming down, his blue shirt and then … he, he hit the ground. It was terrible.”

Officials are not yet making a public announcement as to the man’s identity. One spokesman, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that it appears to be a suicide, although they have not ruled out the possibility of foul play. Investigators are waiting for  results from the coroner’s office.

Wasn’t Dean at some midtown office?  Sam’s uneasiness grows as she contemplates the lack of communication with Dean, his non-appearance at BubbleTrendz today. Feeling quite unsettled  she goes looking for Gil and finds him at the coffee station. He knows more.

“They’ve just identified that guy. It’s Perry Hinds!”

“The guy who founded NetPlow?”

“Yeah, that one.” Gil gives her a sad look.

“He had the world on a string. Why would he do that, assuming it was suici-”

“The guy was a known bi-polar.”

Sam and Gil turn to see Evan standing there, fetching himself a red bottle of some power drink from the refrigerator.

“Did you know him?” Sam asks Evan with a touch of hostility in her voice.

He shrugs dismissively. “I’ve worked with Joel on a lot of projects. Joel bought in to Hinds latest venture, Xxalo. I spent some time around the guy. It was common knowledge.” Evan takes a big swallow from his red bottle and looks at Sam. “I didn’t take him for such a drama queen, though, doing that jumper thing in broad daylight in downtown Manhattan.” Evan heads briskly down the hall, having lost interest in further conversation.

Gil glowers after him. “It’s not clear Perry Hinds did jump. He might have been pushed.”  He adds more assertively, a shade louder. “Evan possesses more arrogance than curiosity. Bad trait in a hacker.”

~

There is still no word from Dean by close of day Friday. Sam, preoccupied with this observation, is collecting her things to leave. She glances up to see Sandor standing at her desk.

“I’m planning to work late tonight,” he tells her. “Could I have the key to the Somerville apartment for the weekend?”

Sam is unprepared for this sudden request. “Oh. I thought we’d go back to the ocean house for the weekend, for some relaxation after your first big week?”

“I don’t mind if you want to go. I’m going to stay in town, though.”

His choice of words doesn’t give her many options without just flatly denying him the key to the apartment. He’ll probably be fine in Somerville. Why is she so concerned?

Rina approaches them. “All kinds of stories in the news today,” she reports, smiling at  Sandor, but including Sam in the conversation. “Some guy is claiming he was bitten by a vampire, a beautiful woman!” Rina smiles broadly, relaying more of the story in her warm Russian accent. “”Two little puncture wounds on his neck. Could be anything, except,” her face is alight with curiosity now, “It’s an unknown DNA from the sample what they took. Maybe related with people, but not a known monkey.”  Rita sees the sudden change of expression on Sam’s face and validates it. “Weird, isn’t it?” she reflects more seriously.  “Sometimes reporters don’t get the story right, though. Especially science.” Rita gives Sandor an anticipatory smile that is clearly laced with flirtation. “Do you think there could be another hominid we don’t know about?”

The palest tint of blush crosses Sandor’s cheeks and he gives Rita a somewhat desperate smile but says nothing.

After Rina returns to her office, Sandor directs a penetrating gaze at his cousin. In a quiet tone he remarks “I thought you didn’t hunt prey where you worked.”

Sam is shocked by his direct accusation. What’s the point in denying it. Angrily she gazes into his eyes. “Exactly where do you think the substance in the bottles you drink comes from? Yes! I went on a hunting expedition and the recipient of my, well, attentions, is perfectly healthy. I’m certain of it.”

Sandor looks down. Sam is dismayed, disconcerted by his expression. He looks tragic.  “You have to come to terms with this!” she tells him in an emphatic whisper, her eyes scanning the hallway for their coworkers. Her hard look softens. “Come with me this weekend. Sandor, we’re related to each other. We need to get to know each other a little.”

“I’m staying here. I can hang out in cafes. I can sleep in my office.”

Sam shakes her head in defeat, rummages in her bag and presses the key to the Somerville apartment into Sandor’s hand.  “Please drink something? I trust you.”

~

Zaira leans her head back in the foamy tub, a classic Red Mimosa within hand’s reach. She has the French doors to the balcony opened wide and their full-length ivory chiffon curtains are billowing in the sharp breeze that’s coming in off the ocean. Steam rises from the spa-like heat of the jacuzzi and Zaira’s red hair, piled high on her head, is damp from it. She is annoyed with herself for continuing to brood and fixate on Sandor, not allowing herself to slip into her cherished personal sanctuary. She’d read the two stories in the news about the incident with the sailor. Clearly she’d been careless, clearly she should have driven a hundred miles away to seek prey. Is this why she’s angry tonight?

Her cell phone jingles the tone for Anatol, her investment partner.

“Zaira? I know it’s late to be calling, but I also happen to know that you are a night owl.”

His pleasant, ironic voice is like comfort food. She laughs. “I’m in the jacuzzi with a red mimosa.”

“A red one? With pomegranate?”

She smiles, her incisors uncapped. “Something like that.”

“Of course you know already about this high publicity suicide today? The Hinds guy?”

“Do you think it was a suicide, Anatol?”

There is a pause on the connection. “I’m not certain.”

“He has — he had — a connection with Joel Anderson’s group. The guy who scooped us with Dean.”

“I know. Perry Hinds also fired one of his employees.”

“Why does that matter?”

“The Xxalo employee is being indicted on charges of hacking into the computer systems of the stock exchange.” After a pause he adds, “That’s not so easily done.”

“Something to do with the flash crash?”

“Possibly. Probably is my guess.”

Zaira lets out a long sigh. “Dean Divers attended a meeting yesterday in New York with Joel Anderson. I have reason to believe he was going to sell a controlling share of BubbleTrendz to the Anderson group. I also understand through my sources that Dean has not returned to Boston today as expected.”

“Ever had direct dealings with Joel Anderson?” Anatol asks her.

“Not to date. I have a feeling I wouldn’t like him much.”

“Nor I, although I have to admire the fact that he’s grown a two billion dollar investment fund from scratch. He’s a damn smart guy I imagine.”

Saira smiles cynically. “He outsmarted us on the BubbleTrendz deal.”

“I lost over a million dollars in five minutes during that flash crash. Fortunately I recouped it, but you can believe I will be tracking this ex-Xxalo employee story.”

“I’ll see what I can learn through back channels here,” Zaira tells him as she watches the wings of an owl flash by the balcony. A fellow hunter.

“Thank you, Zaira. And please enjoy your champagne with the pomegranate. I must try one sometime.”

She cannot resist smiling into her cellphone. “You shall.”

— to be continued —

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