That was her name, Angel, the meanest woman on Earth. She had made a fortune trafficking in women, children and drugs but had not caught our attention until she began to traffic in weapons.
Angel was a public figure, heiress to a fortune; the public had no idea what her foreign "charities" were. Her local charities were legitimate and her city of Marseilles very much loved her. She had as good a cover as one could have.
I was a private contractor for various international government agencies; I would neutralize bothersome entities for an exorbitant fee. I never killed anyone purposely but would fix things so that after I led them to a bit of paranoia his or her own associates would force the organization to disintegrate.
I was a bit skinny, of average height and wore glasses. I was average in looks and shy, I was the anti-James Bond. I had several personas I could slip into and spoke various languages in various voices but my main weapon was that I was a very good accountant. I could make ledgers sing or scream.
My first step was always the hardest; I had to convince the target that they needed to hire me. I took a short cut when I induced an apparently near fatal heart attack in Angel's business office as I interviewed for a job. The recipient of my magic potion was the mid-level accountant interviewing me. I was widely credited with saving his life. I got the position of top ranking accountant for the charities home office in France.
I came in early and stayed late, I claimed I needed extra time to get used to their system but I was simply copying everyone's files. I took the copies with me and used my own program to ferret out anomalies. I found none in any of the European charities but could not get into the files of the overseas groups. All were password protected. I had not expected it to be easy, it almost never is, and decided I needed to make some friends.
In most places I infiltrated I was the quiet new guy and in most of those places there was somebody that wanted me to join in with the gang. That was the person checking me out to see if their secrets were safe with me. I gave my reluctant non-participant speech and retreated deeper into my personal shell.
Eventually someone similar to me would seek me out. In the Angel headquarters it was Ana. She was a somewhat plain looking bookkeeper, a bit younger than me and as tall as me. She had nice breasts and a small waist. Her hometown was Barcelona and had worked in France for just over a year. Ana nearly jumped for joy when I spoke to her in Spanish and asked me to keep her company for lunch.
She was lonely. Seducing her was so easy I felt a trace of guilt. She did have some spectacular orgasms however so I was happy to provide her with those. I liked her.
I learned from her who the visitors representing the overseas charities were. Ana referred to all of them as animals including the woman overseeing an orphanage.
Ana told me which accountants they visited and that Angel did not know them as far as she knew. The vice president for finance did know them and greeted them warmly. He was Angel's uncle Maurice.
I asked Ana if she ever had dealings with Angel herself and she answered, "No, no one does except her uncle and her executive secretary. If we need clarifications or anything from her we go to one of them and ask. Sometimes we get an answer the next day by e-mail, sometimes the question is never answered. I have never seen her in person myself even though she has an office one level up from us."
"I will bring dinner," I said as I caressed her hand before I left for my desk.
Ana was very good in bed. We were also good company for each other. We began to go out on dates and always held hands. She loved the symphony and she loved dancing. We began to travel to Barcelona on some weekends because she also loved Barcelona futbol.
Before I went to her flat that day I put in inquiries about her uncle, Angel's secretary, and on each accountant handling the foreign "charities." When I returned to my flat late that night I had a folder in my computer with the results of my questions waiting for me.
The results for the executive secretary showed she had expensive tastes but nothing to send up any red flags. There was nothing very interesting about the accountants other than they lived well above what should be their salary level.
However there were very interesting notes on her Uncle Maurice starting with the fact he was fond of girls. He also owned pieces of all the illegal companies under Angel's umbrella.
I loaded photos of innocent looking girls in school uniforms and used them as my screensaver. The girls in the photos were actually women, (one was thirty-two and my first lover), that were the cast of a Little Orphan Annie spoof which played small theaters.
As bait the photo worked well. Maurice asked me who they were and I told him they were actresses in a play and I had done the books for them; which was actually true.
He did not seem to believe me but said nothing. I asked him if he wanted me to e-mail the picture to him and he accepted the offer with enthusiasm. The next day I saw the picture on his desk computer. I was in. My screen saver had an embedded program that allowed me into his computer.
At home it took me just two tries to figure out Angel's Uncle Maurice's password, "fillette." I had tried it with the term petit first.
I found a trove of porn but nothing on the overseas charities.
I figured he had a different password for those files and I began to search for clues to his personality in his computer. I was stunned to see Shakespeare as his most non-work, non-porn reference. His screen savers were mostly posters of his plays. His password had to be "Iago."
I tried it that evening and got into his files. Most of it would pass an audit by an independent agency but in my experience I knew there were layers under the numbers. I dug into the prostitute files first because I figured that would be his favorite offshore "charity." Over one hundred working girls a year had been sold to clients in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Some had apparently stayed with him for a few weeks first.
One night at about ten PM I joined the cleaning crew and went into Angela's office. I was surprised to find that her office was bugged. There was also a security cams recording everything Angel did. Why would anyone bug the bugger? I asked myself. I copied Angel's computer hard drive and just on a whim I also copied her secretary's but I expected little out of that one.
I checked through them at home. Angela's computer had not one reference to the illegal activities and no mention of income from them. All of her business notes where about her charities in Spain, France, and Italy.
There where some files that were protected but almost anyone who knew her would guess her password was stvincent. The protected files had employee records including their salaries and found that her uncle, her secretary, and the targeted accountants were not paid anywhere near enough to support their lifestyles. Angel was listed as earning one euro a year. I began to suspect she had no idea what was going on.
That triggered some doubts in my head so I went back to her uncle's files and I realized Angel had never been mentioned once. I had gone into the job expecting she was the mastermind of the organization but I was now thinking it was all her uncle. I needed to meet Angel.
My opportunity came when it was time to do her personal taxes. The accountant designated to do her personal finances was the accountant for the home office and that would be me. Her uncle warned me that her income and expense reports had always been a mess.
I found that she had underpaid her taxes by millions and dug into it and found unspecified income received from donations to her charities but never used by the charities.
I had her uncle call her and asked to allow me to see her under the pretext that her favorite store had charged her for deliveries when she had apparently picked up the items at the store herself.
The ploy worked and she asked me to come up. I took Ana with me so she could meet her hero. Her secretary hovered around us at the start but when I began to quiz Angel about the store she left the office.
Angel was older than her photos suggested; she was now in her mid-forties. She was more than a little underweight and very pale. She looked as if she may be ill. She was a bit quirky and absent minded, very pleasant to be with. Of course it could have been an act but I became was pretty much convinced she was not capable of running a criminal empire.
Ana was upset by Angel's appearance and Angel noticed.
Angel told her, "I have been trying to get my people to update my photos but they keep saying that they are selling an image and the image brings in the money Do I look that bad?" she asked Ana.
"No, you still look like a model," Ana lied.
Well perhaps she didn't lie, she likely still saw Angel with her heart, not her eyes.
I stealthily turned off the intercom and turned on my bug disrupter then stood between the camera and Angel and showed her the discrepancy between income and expenses that was going to cost her millions in taxes. She was stunned.
"That isn't what my accountant shows," she said. "I have last years papers right here," she added as she opened a desk drawer and pulled out a folder. All of the amounts listed were much smaller than they should have been. The incomes from the overseas accounts were not there.
"Who prepared these for you?"
"Uncle Maurice's son, my cousin Carlo. He does our family taxes."
"Well, one of these sets of numbers is wrong. Do you have the papers for the last five years?"
"Yes, in that cabinet. I think we have to keep them for five years but I have them for the last twenty. The earliest are in francs."
"May we take them with us? We will copy them and bring them back this afternoon. That will help us figure out where it went wrong."
"Ok. I'm sure it is all a simple error somewhere."
"Thank you. We will get on it immediately. If we may suggest don't tell your uncle about the discrepancy. It might make trouble for Carlo."
"Oh, right. Carlo is such a sweet boy but I was surprised he became an accountant, I didn't think he had the intelligence for it."
"We will find out if he does. Thank you. We will return with this before five. Oh, did you pick up the items from this store or did they delivered?"
"In truth I have no idea."
"Then I will check with them for you."
I stopped by the secretary's desk and asked her about Angel's health as Ana went past with the folders. The secretary said Angel had a problem with digestion and all she seemed to eat were crackers and tea. The charities own doctor was taking care of her.
I went to Maurice's office and waited as he talked to the guy that ran the drug operation and when he left I told him that Angel had no idea if she picked it up or not.
The uncle said, "She is like that, her memory is not very good and she starts projects, buys things, and even promises to appear someplace then forgets. She is an angel but a bit ditzy. I suggest you just go by the numbers you have."
"Will do. Thanks. I do have a call to the store to check their records and she has asked me to tell her what they said. It bothered her."
"OK, no problem. How long will the return take you?"
"I thought it would take forever but following your suggestion I should have it ready to sign in a week."
"Fabulous. Go crunch numbers."
As I walked to my desk I decided that Maurice did not know much about bookkeeping or accounting either but was more of an office manager. Each legitimate and each illegal charity had its own accountant and bookkeeper. My bookkeeper was an older woman that needed no supervision. Ana was the bookkeeper for the charities in Spain. All of us reported to the uncle.
I was now certain he did not have the ability to check our figures. Someone else must be running the show and I decided to inquire about Carlo.
Ana copied the tax files and we took them back to Angel as soon as her secretary left her office for the day and put them in Angel's file cabinet.
"Does your organization have a preferred banker?" I asked Angel.
"Yes, Bank of France and Lotus Bank Shares in Grand Cayman. The last one protects us from taxes."
As we left Angel's office I asked Ana, "Why would a charitable organization need to be protected from taxes by a foreign bank?"
"It wouldn't," she said. "Are you coming over tonight? I will help you with your homework."
"I will bring dinner."
It became our daily routine. I would go to her home; we had dinner, tried to put the puzzle together, and then had sex. Most nights I slept in her bed and we had sex again before going to work.
We were a couple by then even though we had never talked about our relationship. I soon had most of my stuff in her flat and lived there. I went to my flat only to work on my assignment. Somehow in the intervening weeks Ana had become very pretty.
Ana had deduced I was there as an investigator. She never asked about what but had obviously assumed I was on Angel's side. I was happy I was now on her side although tentatively.
I managed to get into the computers of the targeted accountants through Maurice's computer and began planting little untraceable snippets to the people running the scams. It was basically a hint that someone in their organization was trying to force them out. When I got a return inquiry I cited that the numbers for their organization did not add up and they were going to be blamed for the shortfall.
My inquiry on Carlo told me he had nothing to do with accounting. He had not passed a single math class since the fourth grade. That brought my suspicions back to Maurice.
Ana traced back Angel's taxes and found that the deviation began in 2005 and had become massive the last three years.
Uncle Maurice became the office manager in 2005.
Ana and I were stunned when one piece of the puzzle came into place. Angel's charity had 2.8 billion euros stashed in the bank in Grand Cayman, that was where the extra income was going. The next piece of the puzzle hit us hard, the only one authorized to withdraw funds from it was Angel herself.
I used my special channels and found that she had never withdrawn money from the account.
"So, who would inherit the money if she died?" Ana asked me.
"Let's find out."
On the larger front my small injection of paranoia had worked wonders. Maurice was visited by the bosses of each overseas organization demanding to know who was setting them up. Their accountants all swore they had not sent any messages and it was obvious no one believed them. Everyone checked with the bookkeepers and all claimed no knowledge. The accountants and bookkeepers were siphoning money for themselves so the nervous denials were noted. No one trusted any one now. I was winning.
While distracted after the meetings Maurice gave me permission to talk to Angel. I told him the tax forms were ready for her to sign. Once in her office I asked her if she was healthy, did she feel well?
She said she felt low on energy but felt OK otherwise.
I asked her who would inherit her fortune if she died.
"Uncle Maurice and Carlo," was the answer.
Then she turned on the light bulb.
"My secretary would be the executor of the will. She used to be my chief accountant but Uncle Maurice thought they should trade places and did. He had been my aide."
Her secretary was the brains of the outfit and had power of attorney; she could withdraw the money.
That evening I checked on the secretary's copied hard drive and found an enormous slice of memory assigned to a folder titled "Other" but I could not get into it. I searched for frequent references and was not too surprised that her most referenced non-work subject was also Shakespeare. Rumors of a relationship between her and Maurice were rampant in the office.
I tried "ladymacbeth" and I found the entire plot in her files. We had suspected there were four illegitimate companies but I found seven. Fortunately the accountants, bookkeepers and local managers were listed.
That Friday I called my support team and had them pick up Angel and give her a complete physical over the weekend looking for poisons. Then as a government inspector I sent each chieftain a portion of the financial record that showed they had shortchanged the Angel Charities and asked who did their numbers.
The organizations soon collapsed from internal pressure. Each of the foreign charity accountants charged with their books vanished. Foul play was suspected but we knew those people had considerable cash stashed away and were probably in Tahiti.
Their bookkeepers were a bit slower to react and three ended up in custody. We were sure one was erased by their client. Three had vanished with the accountants they worked for. Maurice and Carlo also fled and I now controlled the office. I froze the assets of each overseas entity.
Angel was checked out at the hospital and found to have elevated levels of arsenic in her body. Her personal assistant had disappeared but was charged with attempted murder and arrested at the London airport as she hurried to catch a plane to the Cayman Islands. I had already frozen the charities accounts in Grand Cayman so the money there was safe from her.
I had figured out who was helping the secretary with her schemes against Angel and the doctor supposedly treating her and her lawyers were also arrested.
The arms dealing end was left with no arms to deal, they had lost any credibility and no one would provide them with inventory unless they paid cash. They ended up turning states evidence against each other.
The trafficking in children ended when the offices of the so-called orphanages were raided. I had sent the authorities details about their organization and asked them to check if they were using Angel's name to cover a scam. The children were being used as factory workers. All employees were arrested. We talked various religious orders into running the orphanages for us.
The drug cartel split into factions and all of those became eradicated by existing cartels. They had been the most violent group and the biggest moneymaker.
The prostitution ring ended up with a complete overhaul of personnel and set up as a normal business in the countries where it was legal, we paid the taxes. All the ladies and the few gentlemen were placed on yearly contracts of salary and commission. I also allowed their bosses, all of which were accountants, to put them on our medical plan that included monthly exams. The managers for each enterprise were the most reliable ladies in each location. Even with generous salary and bonus plus the taxes I found that prostitution was a moneymaking business. That profit was diverted to the orphanages so the tax was minimal.
The smugglers and black markets managers were apprehended although they were soon back in business under different sponsors.
Angel never understood what had been happening to her. She was stunned to learn her secretary and her doctor were trying to kill her and sill believed her uncle and Carlo where good people even though she did not know where they were.
My people found them in Guyana. They were soon dead at the hands of their former drug cartel. I never told Angel.
I married Ana; she was great in bed. She was great in the kitchen. She loved to travel. She also worshipped me. I loved her more than a little. Well, maybe even more than that. I was faithful and happy. I understood we belonged together. She was gorgeous.
The public love for Angel multiplied tremendously when the plot against her life was announced. The illegal activities were buried by the outrage over the attempted murder of one everyone already believed was a saint.