To my readers, please feel free to leave feedback for me so that I know that you liked my stories, what you would like to see, and perhaps maybe suggest one. Please also vote on how you liked it, every vote does count. If you'd like to read it over and over again, favorite it and come back to enjoy it like an old friend. I look forward to hearing from you...K'Anne
Alice closed her laptop after making certain that it shut down completely. She knew very few people in the world could break the encryption code it would take to get into the computer and the regular password and thumbprint were to keep out the amateurs, but it never paid to not be careful. She was a creature of habit on certain things, these habits were automatic and deeply seated, she had to finish what she had started, shutting down the computer completely was one of those habits. Her cell phone rang and she picked it up.
"Hi Alice, I have those test results you asked for."
"'bout time" she griped good naturedly.
"Hey, I put off city work to get your results for you" he returned defensively.
"With the amount of money I and others pay you, you should" she said with a slight smile as she looked down at her manicure, she needed to add more polish.
"You're sure that money is safe?" he quavered with unease.
She grimaced. She wasn't fond of cowards, but she needed his expertise occasionally so she put up with his slow results and his constant worry. "Yes, I told you, they will never be able to track it. You have enough put by to retire comfortably on."
"Well, I better not say much, they may be monitoring the phones."
Instantly annoyed she asked "are you calling on your cell or a landline?"
"My cell, but I saw...."
She interrupted "you watch too many CSI shows, unless you've raised red flags to arouse their suspicions there is absolutely no reason for them to go to that expense" her voice was a warning despite the reassurances.
He immediately calmed down; she had brought him many 'benefactors' and the amount in his portfolio in off shore accounts was impressive. He couldn't afford to anger this particular client. There was something about her, he couldn't put his finger on it but something told him not to piss her off. There was nothing about the petite blonde that physically intimidated him but still, there was something...he always got the impression she could and would do his job better and more thoroughly, or that she knew the results before he had a chance to even run the tests. He never understood why she needed them done, but with the amount she and others paid him under the table, he wasn't going to begin asking questions, he knew better by now.
"Just drop the results in the normal way" she told him impersonally, her mind already elsewhere. Maybe she would spend some time on her manicure.
"Are you sure you don't want me to deliver them personally?" he asked hopefully, he loved seeing her in person, she was worth the look, and he always hoped she would take a personal interest in him.
"No, I'm going out of town" she told the lie without a hesitation, it lent credence by saying it so quickly and succinctly. He was always trying to have more of a relationship than she was willing to give, wasn't the money enough? She sighed, someday she might have to eliminate this particular relationship, and she didn't want him knowing where she lived or what she did with his test results. The P.O. Box he would send them to in the anonymous county mail envelope would be enough.
Disappointed he said "well call me if you need help interpreting any of the ....."
"Okay, goodbye" she interrupted knowing that he would blabber on indefinitely if she didn't stop it now as she disconnected the call. Getting up from her desk she looked out over the balcony to her living room. It was fastidiously clean and in order, but then, she wouldn't have had it any other way. Some might find her taste in furniture futuristic; she found it orderly and functional. It required a minimum of cleaning; she could dust, vacuum, and clean the room in twenty minutes flat, something she had timed herself out of boredom one day. Her entire apartment never took more than an hour unless she decided to disinfect the bathrooms. She was a neat person normally, but occasionally, the bathrooms needed extra attention.
Thinking about the rest of the day she thought about how she would pass the time. The cleaning had been done yesterday; her work necessitated a minimum amount of her time and this periodically during the day unless the market was wildly fluctuating. She could access some of her business accounts from her smart phone, and unless needed, her laptop rarely was opened but once a day, ritualistically every morning after she got up and ate breakfast.
Most mornings she got up out of bed; pulled the blanket and sheets back to air the bed for the twenty minutes it would take for her to bathe. She hated showers, and loved to soak in a tub. It warmed the bones and her delicate ones were frequently cold. Even washing her long blonde hair didn't take any time at all. Shaving was no longer necessary since she had laser surgery to remove the excess hair on her legs, feet, toes, underarms, and knuckles. She had hated having it waxed and detested shaving it, having the money to do what she wanted she had justified the expense by the time and effort it saved. With blonde hair, laser surgery took a little longer, something about the pale blonde follicles or some bullshit; she figured the technician just wanted to see her repeatedly for these two hour stints until all the hair was removed, permanently.
After bathing she would dry off as much as possible, rubbing the excess water out of her locks while she made her now aired bed. Once a week she changed the expensive Egyptian cotton sheets and changed them to another almost identical set. Buying these in bulk saved her money but occasionally they didn't have the same pattern and while it annoyed her, she shrugged off these little human idiosyncrasies. Getting angry over sheets was not in her forte. Quickly, efficiently, the bed looked like no one had ever slept in it. Even the pillows were smoothed out and looked welcoming to their next occupant, weather it was her or a guest she might bring in. As this was rare, she didn't worry about it.
Quickly she looked around to make sure everything was in order, nothing left on the floor, or side table. She went to the dresser and brushed out her hair before stepping into the bathroom again, down the small flight of stairs to the next landing, her bedroom being on the uppermost landing of her series of lofts. Now that her body was dry she rolled on anti-perspirant and brushed her hair again before fastening a couple of barrettes to keep it back from her face. She checked the mirror for any blemishes or imperfections that would need dealing with. She still occasionally got them but knew how to deal with them quickly. Returning to her room, she swore she got her exercise from going up and down these infernal steps, she dropped the towel to change into underwear she had bought in France. It was sexy lingerie but also functional. It enticed when she allowed it to be seen, it intrigued for the casual glance down her blouse, and it made her feel sexy besides, attitude was everything. Pulling on functional but classy clothes she was soon dressed. Wiping off the top of the dresser from where she had leaned on it, the droplets of water from her hair brushing and body cleaned off the top with her towel. A minimum amount of makeup and she was good to go for the day.
Hanging the towel in the bathroom on her way down, she turned and looked into the spare bedroom on the second landing, no one ever used this room but she felt better having it, it led to the impression that she was expecting someone, that a friend could stay anytime. It had never been used. Even when family came to visit she convinced them that a hotel was a better place to stay. Something about having this empty room made her feel comfortable, almost luxurious, she had worked hard to achieve this kind of space and this empty room was one of her indulgences. It only made her uneasy occasionally and this was why she checked it occasionally, obsessively, daily to see that all was in order within. The bed never changed, the minimalist furniture never changed, nothing was ever out of order, but she couldn't help checking it to see all was in order. Periodically she pulled the sheets and blankets from the bed to wash them but otherwise it always looked ready to accept a guest, no one had ever slept in the bed though. Her paranoia over this room led her to check the empty closet, making sure the hangers were one inch apart and ready accept someone's offerings to hang up apparel, they had never been touched since she set up this room years ago when she bought the place.
She glanced at the loft office room on this second level that contained the bathroom, the guest bedroom, and the office. Nothing was out of order and she resisted the urge to go to her laptop and do research or check balances of her various accounts. That kind of obsessive compulsive behavior she was able to resist. She didn't realize the rest of her own OCD. She headed down the final steps to the main living room and then turned down a short hall to the kitchen which was under the main bedroom loft. Ah, her coffee was brewed to perfection, accurately timed to her schedule. She popped a bagel into the toaster and sipped her coffee black while she waited for it to pop. When it did she put down the cup of java and pulled a plate from the cupboard, not before, as the bagel needed to cool marginally before she would put butter, not cream cheese on it. She wanted the butter to melt slightly but not drench the hard bagel and make it soggy. Today she had indulged and she had blueberry in her bagel and she stood there eating it and sipping her coffee as she finished her breakfast. Washing the plate, her cup, and checking for crumbs on the counter she quickly dried both and put them away. Looking around the kitchen she saw it was all in order and she went back to her office to start her day.
Now her morning ritual was complete and she had the rest of the day to do what she wanted. She could go for a walk in the Marina, use her boat, or borrow a kayak. She didn't want to get wet, salt sprayed, or sweaty though and when she glanced out the window she saw it was a gloomy sort of day. Something Southern Californians were used to during late May and all of June and sometimes into July, these June glooms as they were called were a fact of life.
'Going out of town' made her think over her conversation earlier, maybe she should go out of town. She opened a locked desk drawer and checked that her passport was there. Other sets were in the safe under her feet but she had no reason to use these other sets, they had other names and her face on them and she had used them rarely. In fact, she didn't check this safe but once a month or even longer, her obsessive checking of her things not lending to this particular aspect of her life. She didn't want any tell-tale signs leading to this safe that contained false identification, money enough to start over, although she could access her money from anywhere in the world and had it spread out enough that no one would ever find all her hidey holes, cash though bought immediate need things if necessary. Money though gave her a thought about getting out of town; it was time to open another account.
Picking up her phone she checked her contact list and using a code only she understood found the number she was looking for. That way if she ever lost her phone, Uncle Bob wouldn't mean anything to the casual observer. She had several copies of her SD card in the safe for safe keeping. She rarely had to add new numbers and this only occasionally, the main numbers she kept were safe forever.
She called the airlines to get an open ended flight to South Carolina. To anyone who might be tracking her she was taking a vacation to a beachside location she frequented. She didn't think anyone was tracking her but it paid to be careful. Her second call to Uncle Bob assured her another flight, but this one from a beachside quay that few people knew about. Thinking momentarily, she carefully peeled back the carpeting and opened her safe using a set of algorithms that would defeat most safe crackers and few of any of the most expert people in the world who would break into such a safe or have reason to. She knew when she employed one of them to put it in that they would someday be back to try it out and had added a few of her own surprises. She was a fairly intelligent woman and had watched and learned from some of the best people, this safe was just one of the many things this condo contained to protect her and her anonymity. Learning how to install it, how to avoid detection, what to do to prevent others from getting inside had been easy. Topping it and preventing the expert teacher had been hard. She carefully avoided the laser insights, the claw that would grab an unsuspecting hand and rip it off at the wrist, she deactivated a few of the other safety protocols, even a rat trap that would break fingers to the unsuspecting. Some of these were inspired by late night movies, some mere annoyances, all designed to keep someone out of her personal and more private information. She gathered cashier's checks and bonds in a large bag and threw in one of her alternate passports as an afterthought before reactivating her layers of security to the safe.
The expert who had installed this safe she had found dead here after a delightful weekend spent in the wine country up in Central California with 'friends' or rather a delicious and delightful redhead. She had known that the lure of why she needed a high tech secured safe such as this would bring the thief back someday and her little surprise additions had proven useful. The beams that would have set off an alarm had been child's play to the thief but the claw and the rat trap amused Alice at their efficiency. The thief had bled out from the claw, the harder she pulled, the tighter it gripped the vein in her wrist and the rat trap had to have added to her agony when it broke her fingers. The money that had been in the safe was rendered useless by the amount of blood that had dripped on it. The entire safe casing had to be replaced but Alice had been able to do that herself. She had rinsed the previous casing but made sure it was recycled in a fiery furnace before she breathed a sigh of relief over minute traces of blood. She had also had to replace the carpeting in this room. Her thief had bled on it as well and nothing could get out those stains. An off duty carpet installer had gladly shown her how to stretch the new swatch of carpet in her office, never noticing the wood flooring square that hid her safe. He had been more interested in the possibility of dating the little voluptuous blonde and while she had enjoyed his company she hadn't been interested in sex with the boy. She dated him a little while, having fun with him, but the romantic chemistry wasn't there or so she led him to believe. It had been easy to get rid of her admirer; it had been harder to get rid of the body of her safe cracker. Fortunately the old carpet came up with the padding easily and rolling her in it had allowed Alice to drag her down the steps and out the patio door to her dock where her boat lay. Having to do it on a dark and awfully rainy night had been miserable but Alice figured the rain washed away any signs of the drag to the dock, and perhaps any minute traces of the woman's DNA. A midnight ride in a choppy ocean was not her idea of fun but she drifted enough that she could honestly say she was caught in the storm. Weighting down the body and the carpeting had cost her another anchor and chain. The whole experience had been distasteful to the petite blonde but then she had taken care of business matter of factly, the thief had gotten what they deserved, a bit more possibly than they deserved, but business was business and Alice's business was private.
Scrubbing down the room with bleach and another chemical not readily available on the market but obtained from her admirer at the lab she breathed a sigh of relief that any investigation would not show traces of her thief having been there. Any DNA elsewhere could be explained from when she installed the safe. Alice really didn't worry; there was nothing to tie her to this or that body. There was no reason for anyone to investigate her. Her boat was washed down from the storm and while she had a hell of a time bringing it back to the harbor, she felt no one could have seen the blacked out boat leave in the first place in the storm. No one had ever inquired.
Alice packed a bag with enough clothes for a few days. She looked around her bedroom one more time to be sure everything was in order and stopped in the bathroom to pack a few things before leaving that room in order as well. She loaded her laptop into a shoulder briefcase and it's accessories including the thumb pad, the charger, and her roller track ball which she found more comfortable than the pad on the actual laptop. Packed discretely into the lining of her briefcase was the flattened bag containing the bonds, the extra passport, and the checks. To a screener it would look just like paperwork which was to be expected in a briefcase.
She placed it all by the hallway and checked the patio doors to be sure they were locked taking the added precaution of a hunk of wood in the track and screw locks at the base of each of the doors to keep anyone from just randomly opening the doors and unless they broke the glass they couldn't get in. She glanced out at her covered boat floating at the dock and nodded to herself as she closed the drapes. Security in this gated community was adequate to her needs but Alice always took the extra measure as she armed the pad and went out her front door. She drove herself to the airport in her Porsche, barely hesitating at the gate as the admiring gatekeeper watched her drive down the road in the expensive car. For someone to live in this community they had to have a lot of money and while he knew she was in investments he wondered what kind would afford such luxury. Alice never gave him another thought as she drove first to the P.O. Box she kept in a Postal Annex franchise. She knew the results wouldn't be there yet but she gathered her mail that was now there as other mail would build up for the few days she was planning to be gone. She glanced at it and threw the junk mail in a recycling bin by the photocopier before taking the rest out with her and stuffing it in her briefcase, further making the hidden bag look normal with the addition of the envelopes.
Driving to LAX or Los Angeles International Airport was always an adventure. It could be two o'clock in the morning and there would be a traffic jam. It was constantly a challenge and she effortlessly drove the powerful Porsche in the traffic. It didn't take long as she knew what freeways to avoid and what city streets would get her where she needed to go. God I love this city she thought as she avoided an idiot driver from colliding with her car. It would of course have been the other driver's fault, never hers.
Parking in the long term parking lot she set the alarm on her Porsche. She had been lucky in the year she had owned this particular car, no break in's but it might happen at any time and she was kind of resigned to it. She kept nothing of value inside the expensive car, just her registration in the glove compartment. Just the fact that it was a Porsche would tempt a thief and while she had a Harmon Kardin radio and sound system, the car itself would be the draw. She shrugged; she was insured for this sort of thing. She walked confidently to the overpass that would take her over the roadway to the terminal and an elevator down to the check in. In the elevator she was accompanied by several people and one set off her internal alarms. He looked at her a little too intently, a little too long, and Alice played the dumb blonde to the hilt as though she wasn't aware of his interest. She wasn't sure his interest wasn't romantic or at least lustful, she engendered this reaction in men and women but she also couldn't be sure it wasn't more and was careful about what she did.