When Florida’s housing crash derails his shot at partnership, lawyer David Friedman rolls up his sleeves and lands the client of his dreams—Frank O’Reilly, a real estate developer embroiled in dozens of lawsuits and hell-bent on turning a profit during the recession. Little does David know that Frank’s company is involved in a murderous conspiracy to cover up years of mortgage fraud in the Sunshine State.
As David prepares Frank’s case for a trial that will make or break his career, he discovers evidence that a secret investor in Frank’s company is responsible for murder and will continue killing to hide the truth. The only thing David can’t figure out is whether Frank is the conspiracy’s victim or its mastermind. To answer that question, David must risk far more than partnership as he unravels one dark secret after another about his client, his law firm, and, ultimately, himself.
The elevator eased to a halt high above the beach. The door behind David glided open. He took a final glimpse at the beach, then turned to follow Robbie into a living room of sprawling cherry wood floors and walls that in the dark appeared dusted with ash. The kitchen was cold stainless steel and dark cabinets that matched the stained wood floors. David set his bag on the polished granite countertop. Then he followed Robbie through another living area, this one with open French doors that led to a balcony that wrapped around the beachside perimeter of the penthouse.
Outside, Frank shielded a joint from the flickering rain that was finding its way under the balcony’s awning. David could still hear swells beating the shore twenty-five stories below.
“One of the few sounds I never grow tired of.” Frank held another hit and stared over the balcony.
“I found him down in the sales office,” Robbie said.
Frank seemed like he could care less.
“I didn’t know you lived up here,” David said.
“This one I personally designed.” Frank seemed to be talking to himself. “My masterpiece.”
David almost forgot why he was here.
“What did Katherine say?” Frank asked Robbie.
“She’s not coming,” Robbie answered.
“I guess that’s good.”
“Frank,” David said, “you wanted to talk about—”
Frank raised his hand. “I know damn well why you’re here. I’m just not ready to go there yet.” He stared at Robbie. “Did you tell her I’m leaving?”
Frank took the last hit from the stub between his fingers. Then he squashed it like an ant, popped it in his mouth, and swallowed. “So be it.”
Frank rose and leaned against the balcony wall overlooking the beach. “Come here.”
David presumed he was talking to him, so he took a few steps in his direction.
“Closer,” Frank said.
At least David knew to whom Frank was talking now. He joined Frank, side by side.
“You like the view?” Frank asked.
Frank’s breathing was heavy, nearly panting. David couldn’t tell if it was from the smoke or anger or both. “You want to work with me?” The breathing was growing guttural.
“Of course. I brought the engagement letter with me.”
Frank put his arm around David. David smelled the stench of marijuana and curry and a storm brewing in the Gulf. “You need to learn some rules then.”
“What’s the problem, Frank?”
Frank’s grip tightened, filling David with the realization of just how strong this guy was. Not just strong arms, but a strong torso, a primal strength genetically honed over centuries of labor.
“Here’s some rules,” Frank said. “One. Never make a concession without my approval.”
“What concession?” David asked.
“Don’t argue with me. Just listen. No concessions. And that concession concerns rule two. We don’t produce escrow records.”
“Cummings asked for that, Frank. You don’t have to sign it. It’s just a draft.”
“David, repeat after me: we don’t produce escrow records.”
“It’s not that simple, Frank.”
Frank squeezed him like a constrictor. “We don’t produce escrow records. Say it.”
“Okay, Frank. We don’t produce escrow records.”
“Good.” Frank loosened the grip a few notches, but kept David locked.
David didn’t want to push his luck. “As your counsel, I need to advise you that Florida statutes require you to keep those records for five years.”
Frank laughed. “Hear that, Robbie? We have to keep them for five years. We’re paying this guy the big bucks to tell us this.”
“I hear you, Frank,” Robbie said, but David had no idea where Robbie was standing right now.
“David, look down here with me.” He pulled David closer again and made sure he was looking over the balcony. “You like this feeling?”
David felt a surge of nausea. “It’s a great view.”
“You feel tied to me, David? I fall, you fall?”
“That’s how it feels, Frank.”
“Because if I fall, David, you fall. You willing to fall with me?” Frank jerked David, causing David to flinch. “Is that a ‘no’?”
“No, Frank. It’s not.”
“You’re not willing to?”
“I am, Frank. I’m your guy. I’m on your team.”
“What are the rules, David?” Frank jerked him again.
David closed his eyes. “No concessions without your approval.”
“And?” he screamed with another jerk.
“We don’t produce escrow records.”
“You afraid of dying, David?”
“I’m sure,” David said. “I know, death, Frank. Too well.”
Frank pulled David away from the wall. “Give me a hug, young man.” He pulled him even tighter for a bear hug. “Welcome to the team.”
“Any other rules I need to know of?” David asked.
“That’s all I can think of for now.” Frank let him go and grinned. “You’re my attorney now, David, isn’t that right?”
“As soon as you sign that retainer agreement and give me my check.”
“Robbie will take care of that.”
Frank returned to his chair and reclined. A gust of wind blew debris in his face and knocked his ash can over, but Frank seemed oblivious to it all.
“There’s one more thing we need to discuss,” David said.
“That’s news to me,” Frank sighed.
Frank rubbed his head like he had a migraine. “In due course.”
“It’s urgent, Frank.”
“In due course.”
Robbie stepped forward and pulled on David’s shoulder. “Let’s get that agreement taken care of.”
David followed Robbie back into the kitchen, and pulled the agreement from the bag he’d left on the countertop. “You can sign for the company?”
Robbie nodded. He scribbled his name on the signature line. Underneath, he printed a title, COO.
“I didn’t know you were an officer of the company,” David said.
“Now you do.” Robbie retrieved an envelope from a drawer and handed it to David. David opened it and found a check. The watermark glistened under the light of the kitchen. Payable to Hollis & Alderman, in the amount of $50,000.
David’s pride swelled as the elevator descended. Having the check and signed agreement in hand gave him the confidence to ask Robbie something that had long been on his mind. “So what’s the story with Frank and Katherine? They an item?”
Robbie grunted. “He’s old enough to be her father.”
“Well, this is Gaspar County.”
“Is incest common in Gaspar County?”
“I don’t follow,” David said.
The elevator stopped on a dime on the ground floor. David grabbed the rail.
“She is his daughter,” Robbie said. “Frank’s only child.”
“Are you serious?”
“He didn’t know her until five years ago. Now she’s his right hand.”
That made perfect sense to David. Almost perfect sense. “But I thought you were his right hand.”
Robbie grinned. “Frank’s left-handed.”
S.D. Thames grew up in the Midwest but has lived in the Tampa Bay area since 1992. When he’s not working as a litigation partner at a national law firm, he’s writing mysteries and legal thrillers exploring the dark side of the Sunshine State. His first novel, an offbeat legal thriller set during Florida’s housing crash of 2008, was be published through Kindle in September, 2015.
This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for S.D. THAMES. There will be multiple US winners of 1 copy of Foreclosure by S.D. Thames. The giveaway begins on October 12th, 2015 and runs through October 13th, 2015. For US residents only. a Rafflecopter giveaway