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Alexander's Obsession: A Novel By

Alexander's Obsession: A Novel By

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Alexander's Obsession: A Novel By

Länge:
282 Seiten
3 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Dec 21, 2006
ISBN:
9781467080675
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Judd Harmons life is in chaos. His young son is dead . . . his wife is gone . . . his creditors are relentless . . . and unsavory acts he committed as security vice president for faltering Linton Technologies are about to surface.


When the reclusive and vengeful billionaire, known only as Alexander, offers Harmon a fortune for orchestrating a forced takeover of a major pharmaceutical company, Harmon is compelled to listen. Alexander knows the skeletons in Harmons closet, including the most devastating one. Faced with an offer he cant refuse, Harmon agrees to cooperate. Aided by Cory, Alexanders brilliant and beautiful chief strategist, Harmon has just three months to assemble a takeover team and accomplish his mission . . . Martin, Alexanders merciless enforcer, vows to keep Harmon fully motivated . . .


Visit: www.alanbeske.com

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Dec 21, 2006
ISBN:
9781467080675
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Alan Beske is the author of serial killer mystery, Ancient Legacies Unleashed, and several short stories.  He and his wife live in the North Georgia mountains.


Buchvorschau

Alexander's Obsession - Alan Beske

you.

Prologue

It was the first warm night of spring. Jeremy Blake slept on top of the sheets in his second-story bedroom with the windows open. Light from the full moon gave sufficient illumination for the intruder as he crept to the bed and banged his fist against the headboard. Startled, Blake jerked his head upward, giving the intruder room to whip a chain around Blake’s neck.

Listen good and you won’t get hurt, the intruder whispered, keeping his face behind Blake’s head. Say nothing at the trial and there’s no problem. If you squeal, your wife won’t get out of the hospital alive!

The intruder held the chain tight, but not tight enough to cause choking. Nod if you’ll cooperate and I’ll let you go.

Blake struggled, twisted his body, and pulled a gun from under his pillow. The intruder lunged for the gun while trying to hold the chain in place. With the intruder off balance, Blake rolled into the intruder and they fell to the floor. The intruder managed to knock the gun from Blake’s hand, but lost his grip on the chain. They fought for the gun. Blake heard an explosion and felt pain surge through his body. He went limp.

The gun’s recoil drove it under the bed. As the intruder groped for the gun on the dark floor, the shrill repetitive ring of the doorbell pierced the night. A frantic fist pounded on the front door. Jeremy, are you all right? … Jeremy, what happened? More pounding and doorbell ringing. I’ll call 911 and come right back!

Feeling panic, the intruder fled to his car parked nearby. His planned scare tactic had turned to disaster. He cursed as he drove away, not realizing his face, illuminated by the patio lights, had been captured on video tape as he entered the house.

One

Judd Harmon was thrust back in his seat as the jet climbed from the Teterboro runway at six-thirty p.m. on Friday, January seventh. The angle of ascent seemed steeper than he’d ever experienced in any commercial airliner.

The cockpit door was closed. Small overhead lights dimly lit the cabin. Judd pushed a button on his armrest and turned on a reading light. He toggled the light on and off a few times and then left it on. This trip could lead either to disaster or freedom, but he felt he had to make it.

He hadn’t been allowed to fly on any of the Linton Technologies planes, even though he’d tried to do so on several occasions. Finally he gave up asking, realizing his position as security vice president was insufficient politically to win him the perks enjoyed by the principal executives. They never invited him to the key meetings, the golf outings, or the power lunches. Granted he didn’t have the Ivy League schooling and family heritage shared by the others, but he still resented the treatment he received. However, when there was something distasteful to be done, he got the job.

Maybe things would be different if he worked for Alexander. Judd felt important sitting as the sole passenger in the luxury of a corporate jet for the first time in his life. The plane smelled as if it had just come from the production floor. The seats, all richly upholstered in champagne-colored leather, coordinated perfectly with the carpeting, cabinetry and other appointments in the cabin.

Judd could only imagine what it was costing to transport him to his meeting with Alexander. He hoped to survive the next couple of days and experience a similar return flight on Sunday. No one had ever given him such celebrity treatment in the past. He relished the feeling and, after a few more glances around the cabin, he picked up a golf magazine from the rack beside him. He loved the game, but hadn’t been able to play a round of golf, or do anything else enjoyable, for at least three years. As he finished scanning the magazine, there was a chime from the overhead speakers.

Mr. Harmon, weather conditions look good and you may take off your seat belt if you’d prefer. Feel free to help yourself to any of the refreshments in the cabin. We’ll be airborne for several hours. I’ll advise you when we’re about to land.

Judd unfastened his seat belt and explored the cabin. He found a refrigerator filled with beer, wine, soft drinks, sandwiches, cheeses, fruit, and other items. There was ice in a freezer, a sink, napkins, condiments, a large assortment of salty snacks, and many types of liquor and liqueurs. He poured a generous dose of Glenlivit over ice cubes and returned to his original seat after sampling three of the other eight seats.

While he was trim, at six feet two, he always felt cramped flying coach. Here, he had plenty of room to stretch out. It felt good. He lowered the seat back and sipped his drink. The taste was rich and soothing. While always conscientious about keeping his seat belt fastened in cars and on planes, tonight it felt good relaxing in the large comfortable seat with no belt across his lap. He stroked the cool soft leather and began to relax. After draining his glass, he loosened his tie, leaned back, and closed his eyes.

The peacefulness he felt at the moment was unlike anything he’d experienced in years. Things had not been going well for him. Cheryl had left him and filed for divorce six months ago, not that he could blame her. He’d seldom been home, and she’d worried about the things she suspected him of doing at work. Their fifteen year marriage had been ideal for the first twelve years, but it began unraveling as Timmy’s condition deteriorated in his battle with leukemia. Both of their hearts shattered when he died just after his ninth birthday. While nearly a year had elapsed since his death, the painful memories had hardly diminished with the passage of time.

The insurance coverage had been very inadequate and Timmy’s uninsured medical expenses, combined with stock market losses on margin, had left Judd deep in debt. He lost the house soon after Cheryl moved out. He’d been forced to replace his BMW with an old wreck, and the meager apartment, where he now lived alone, was the best he could manage. Still, creditors hounded him constantly.

His personal life was in shambles, but his professional life, if you could call it that, was even worse. Linton Technologies, like so many other technology companies, had come on hard times when the markets collapsed. This led to some desperate moves as the executives tried to make things look better to the outside world than they actually were. There were top management changes and things got even worse. Judd, as head of security, ended up with some of the most deplorable assignments. But he needed the job to satisfy his creditors, and knew he would have no hope of finding another one paying anything close to what he now earned. He felt trapped, and he expected things at Linton to self-destruct within weeks. There were too many warning signs.

His fortunes were about to change … for better or for worse. Three days ago, Tyro Smith, an emissary from Alexander, explained that Alexander had a proposed assignment for Judd which would remove him from his troubled circumstances and make him extremely wealthy. Smith knew about Judd’s financial problems and knew about the skeletons in Judd’s closet. Smith made it clear that Judd would wind up either dead or in jail if he didn’t cooperate. Now Judd was flying to a secret destination to meet with Alexander and hear his proposal. This could be his ticket to a great new life or it could be the biggest mistake he ever made.

Judd felt his tensions rebuilding as he reflected on all of the possibilities. He fixed another Scotch and tried to clear his mind while he sipped his drink. He relaxed again and began feeling better as he stared out the window beside him. The cloud cover was heavy and Judd could see no lights from below. He didn’t know where the plane was taking him or when he would get there. It was a strange feeling. When his glass was empty, he made another drink. He had slept little the last few nights and was exhausted. After finishing his drink, he leaned back, closed his eyes, and fell asleep.

Judd awoke when he heard a voice over the intercom. Mr. Harmon, please put your seat back in the upright position and fasten your seat belt. We will be landing soon.

Judd readied himself for the landing. He looked out the window, and in the moonlight saw they were over water approaching land. He’d been required to surrender his watch when he boarded the plane, and he had no idea how long he’d slept.

The pilot touched the wheels down smoothly. They taxied for a short time and came to a stop. The airport was small. Some distant buildings were dimly lit, but Judd saw no clues as to where he was. After a few moments, the engines shut down. One of the pilots opened the cockpit door and said, I hope you enjoyed your flight. Please remain seated for the time being. A customs inspector will go over some particulars with me, but probably won’t ask you any questions.

Judd nodded.

The pilot pulled a lever opening the passenger door and let the steps swing down. Warm, humid air invaded the cabin.

Good evening, Raul, the pilot said as a dark-skinned man in a uniform walked up to the top step and looked into the cabin.

The man replied softly and began a conversation with the pilot. They spoke in tones too low for Judd to hear. The man, whose face was shielded by his hat, glanced at Judd and then questioned the pilot. The pilot showed him a clipboard. After a few more comments, the man left.

The pilot turned to Judd. Rex and I are getting off. Cory will be picking you up any moment. Please wait in your seat until she comes aboard. Good night.

Judd didn’t respond.

Both pilots left the plane.

Judd heard voices outside the plane and then a young woman with long dark hair entered the cabin. She wore a yellow polo shirt, white shorts, and sandals. Mr. Harmon. It’s nice to see you. We’ve been waiting for your arrival.

She extended her hand and smiled. Welcome, I’m Cory. I’m going to escort you to the island where you’ll meet with Mr. Alexander tomorrow.

She continued to smile as she sat down in the seat facing him. How was your flight?

Judd studied her pretty face and glanced at her slim bronzed legs. Your Tyro Smith told me to bring clothes for the tropics, but he said nothing about an island.

Mr. Alexander owns the island where his headquarters is located.

You mean I’m not there yet? What’s the name of the island?

Mr. Alexander values his privacy and I can’t give you any specifics about where you’re going. We’ll drive to a dock, then board a boat for the rest of the trip. Please forgive me, but I’m going to ask you to wear these dark glasses for awhile. She pulled a pair of wrap-around glasses with black lenses from the purse hanging under her shoulder.

Judd started to feel tense. I’ll skip the glasses.

Cory gave Judd a pleading smile. Sorry to trouble you with them, but it’s part of our normal procedure. Judd leaned his head back, but Cory persisted. May, I? she said as she leaned forward, put the glasses on Judd, and slipped the attached elastic band behind his head, using her right hand to smooth some hair which had been ruffled in the process. She smelled like jasmine-scented soap. Judd didn’t care for the glasses but was pleased with the guide Alexander had chosen for him.

Thanks for bearing with me on this, Mr. Harmon. There’s no need to be nervous. Now, please take my hand, and I’ll lead you down the stairs to our limo. Our driver will get your coat and luggage.

She helped him out of the plane and down the steps. Judd liked the feel of her soft hand but was nervous about what might come next.

You’ve been sitting for awhile. I’ll let you stand and stretch for a few moments before we leave.

You’re a compassionate slave driver, at least, he replied as he flexed his legs and arms. If you can’t talk about the island, where are we now?

I’m afraid I can’t tell you that either, but it’s not relevant. We usually bring the jets in here, and the customs officials are very cooperative. Mr. Alexander feels that a runway on his island would be too conspicuous. We normally travel there by boat, but it’s also accessible by helicopter. Okay, I’ve opened the door. Let me help you get into the car.

Two

Judd estimated the car ride took fifteen minutes. He could see nothing other than occasional thin strips of light around the perimeter of the glasses as they passed street lights along the road. He thought about removing the glasses, but decided against it. Cory sat beside him, but said little during the drive. The driver was silent.

When the car stopped, Cory said, Here we are. I’ll walk around and guide you to the boat. Please don’t remove your glasses.

Cory then led Judd down a dock and on to a boat. She took him through a lounge area and into a cabin. She closed the door behind them and said, I’m going to remove your glasses now.

She leaned close to him. Judd again caught the jasmine fragrance. Cory put the glasses on a table and used her hands to brush Judd’s hair in place.

Cory looked at his face for a moment. Some of her concerns about Judd diminished. You’re more handsome in person than in the pictures in our files. And I know you’re forty-two, but you look younger than that.

You have pictures?

Yes, from your driver’s license, passport, Linton Technologies ID, high school yearbook, and other sources. Our people know how to get such things.

I don’t appreciate all of this cloak and dagger stuff. I should have stayed home.

That wouldn’t have been a healthy option for you. Please relax and keep an open mind. I think you’ll be glad you came. There’s a restroom in the corner, she said, pointing behind Judd. I’ll be back soon.

Cory left and closed the door. After a moment, Judd tried the door. Locked. No way to unlock it from the inside. No surprise there. He used the restroom then sat on a comfortable couch.

Judd surveyed the cabin. It was elegantly furnished and about eighteen by twenty-five feet. In addition to the couch, there was a bed, round oak table with six chairs, bar, desk, and shelves full of books. Oil paintings of sailing ships adorned the walls. There was a large book on ancient Greek art and architecture on the coffee table in front of him. Judd flipped through the pages.

There was a soft knock at the door and Cory entered carrying a tray. A young man in a white uniform followed her with Judd’s trench coat and travel bag. He put these items on the bed and departed. Cory put the tray on the coffee table and sat down beside Judd on the couch. She took a drink from the tray, smiled, and handed it to Judd saying, Glenlivit on the rocks, especially for you.

I think you’re reading my mind.

It wasn’t a lucky guess.

Judd decided to let that remark pass. He sipped his drink and then saw on the tray a Reuben sandwich and a small bowl of vanilla pudding topped with walnuts. He felt goose bumps on his arms as he wondered how they had found out so much about him. He took another sip of the exquisite Scotch. You’ve done your homework.

Cory replied, I felt you’d appreciate your favorite sandwich and some walnuts. What’s with the walnuts?

Judd cringed. You must have more spies than the CIA.

Cory smiled. I’m curious about the walnuts.

They’re good for your cardiovascular system and cancer prevention. Keep you healthy. I don’t know whether to be impressed with or worried about your thoroughness.

Mr. Alexander insists on being thorough.

Based on what Tyro Smith said a few days ago and what you’ve just demonstrated, you seem to know everything about me. How do you do it?

Cory smiled and said, Mr. Alexander’s intelligence-gathering capabilities are superior to those of most countries. It’s something he takes very seriously.

The engines came to life and the boat rocked slightly. We’re getting underway now, Cory said. We’re expecting calm seas.

I understand your boss really isn’t named Alexander?

True. He’s a student of history and a strong admirer of Alexander the Great. Someone likened him to Alexander years ago, and the name stuck. It’s a fitting title in many ways.

I’m beginning to realize that. How did you find your way into this mysterious organization?

She laughed and stood as she replied, That’s a long story, but let’s not concern ourselves with that tonight. Please enjoy your food while I get myself a drink.

Cory made a drink, opened a cabinet over the bar, and pushed buttons on a console. Rich music at low volume flooded the cabin from speakers surrounding the room.

Judd watched Cory as she stood by the bar and walked back to the couch. After she sat beside him he said, You look very nice tonight.

Cory smiled and turned to face Judd. These clothes are perfect for the climate here.

Both the clothes and you look nice.

I’m glad you approve, Cory replied, again smiling, feeling she was perhaps being a little too friendly. She knew enough about Judd to be wary of him, yet he really was handsome, especially his vivid blue eyes.

She’s pretty and self-assured, Judd thought. He was nervous about the journey, but Cory’s presence calmed him. He wondered what her role was and hoped to learn more about her.

That’s Hayden’s Minuet in D, in case you don’t recognize it.

Sounds familiar. Do you like classical music?

Definitely. I majored in music before I went to law school.

So you’re a musician and a lawyer. Interesting. Smith said Alexander surrounds himself with talented people.

If that’s a compliment, I accept it.

What are you drinking?

I’m not a big drinker, but I love my Kahlúa … it’s refreshing.

What can I expect to learn while I’m here?

It’s a two-way process. We already know much about you, but there’s still more to learn. From your point of view, you’ll meet Mr. Alexander and learn why he wants your help. You haven’t been given details up until this point, but will get them tomorrow. I advise you to absorb all you can and not be offended by our security practices.

I didn’t appreciate Smith’s threats. It seemed like I had no choice but to make the trip.

Cory looked at her drink but didn’t answer.

"What if I don’t like what I hear tomorrow? Will I get

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