Материалы к занятию
“Good idea,” I say, selecting the pair of diamond stud earrings that Ryan gave me for Valentine’s Day last year.
He pulls his phone from his pocket and scrolls through his contacts. “Here,” he says. “Davis, Emmerson, and Barrett. Talk to Bruce Barrett. He’s an attorney but works closely with a team of forensic accountants who do that sort of work all the time. Maybe you could work something out with them.” He shrugs. “I’ll text you their info.”
“Thanks,” I say.
He looks at me for a long moment, and if I could crawl into his mind, I know I’d see how much he wishes I would just let Cade be. Let the system take care of him. Stop worrying about him and instead focus on my life, our life. And yet I can’t. He knows that. I know that.
“You look beautiful,” he says, beaming at me after I’ve slipped on my dress, black with a lace bodice.
“And you look very handsome,” I reply. The truth is, Ryan always looks handsome.
When we arrive at Serafina for the party, at least a dozen of our friends are already there. I see Tracy across the room with an attractive gray-haired man. I wave and walk over. Ryan stays by the entrance of the restaurant to talk to a colleague from his office who has a chic-looking brunette on his arm.
“Look at you,” she says. “Love the dress!”
“Thanks,” I reply, smiling. “This must be Trent.”
“Yes,” she says, turning to her date. “Trent, this is my best friend, Kailey.”
“We finally meet,” he says, extending his hand. His grip is firm, his eyes kind. I like him instantly.
“I hear you have a boat,” I say. “A sailboat?”
“I used to sail,” he says. “But then I turned forty and got lazy.”
“Trent is being modest,” Tracy says. “He has a beautiful yacht.”
“Oh, fun,” I say.
“If you have a free day before the wedding, I’ll take you and your fiancé out on it to celebrate.”
“We’d love that,” I say, just as Ryan nestles beside me, wrapping his arm around my waist.
“I’m Ryan,” he says to Trent. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Trent,” he says.
“We were just talking about his yacht,” I say to Ryan. “He invited us to come out sometime.”
“Wonderful,” Ryan replies. “I grew up on boats. Someday I hope to talk this one into buying one of our own. Until then we’ll live vicariously through you.”
“Trent,” I say, “do you happen to know the brand Princess?”
“Princess Yachts? Sure. That’s a quality line. I have a Sunseeker, but Princess is just as well regarded.”
Ryan waves at a work colleague who has just arrived and kisses my cheek. “Excuse me for a moment,” he says. “Trent, so nice to meet you.”
After he’s gone, I continue. “If someone owned a Princess Yacht back in 1998, is there any way to track it?”
“Tracy told me you work for the newspaper,” he says. “Investigative reporter?”
“Yes, but I’m more into social issues than aquatics,” I say with a smile. “This is a personal project.”
“Well,” he says, “if the person bought it new, you could definitely find purchase data on it. I have a buddy who used to work in yacht sales. I could ask him.”
“That would be wonderful,” I say. “Thank you.”
It’s a lovely party, and all around people are smiling, drinking, laughingthe trifecta of joy. And for a moment, I sort of forget that it’s my engagement party instead of a gathering of old friends. But then I hear the tap of a microphone, and the room silences.
“Is this thing on?” Ryan says.
Everyone laughs, and one of his work friends makes a wisecrack that I don’t quite understand.
“Okay, now that I have your attention, you rowdy crew,” Ryan jokes, “I’d like to make a toast: to my beautiful bride-to-be, Kailey.”
I feel my cheeks get warm as the room’s collective gaze turns to me. I smile, but it feels forced, and my cheeks feel tight, as if I’m straining my muscles.
“My beautiful girl,” he says. “The day I met you, I was done. Arrow through the heart. I was yours. And I knew for a million reasonsyour smile, your kindness, the way your nose crinkles a little when you’re laughing, the way you know the difference between tarragon and thyme and any spice from A to Z.”
I smile, remembering one of our first dates, when I made him dinner at my old apartment in Belltown and gave him a lesson on herbs and spices.
“I love more things about you than I could ever recite here. And mostly and especially, I love your spirit and your heart. And I’m so honored that you’ve agreed to spend your life with me.” He clears his throat. “The road to this moment hasn’t always been perfect. And you’ve endured more hardship than I have, hands down.” He raises his glass. “So this toast is for you, Kailey, and to all the plans that didn’t work out, all the perceived failures and falters and detours in the road. Because without them, this life we’re living, this love we’re feeling wouldn’t be possible. Disappointment is really just a stepping stone on the path to better things, to the best thing.” He pauses and wipes a tear from his eyes, then turns to me. “And, Kailey, for all the detours you have had, and I have had, you are the best destination. And I am so grateful that my path led me to you.”
Everyone claps, and the room parts so that I can find my way up to Ryan. I give him a kiss, and I hope he doesn’t notice that my lip is trembling. “Thank you,” I say. “That was so beautiful.”
“I meant every word,” Ryan says before his brother walks up to him and pats him on the back.
I see Tracy ahead and I weave through the crowd to her, waving at Jan and one of my coworkers from the Herald across the room.
“Trent had to leave early to pick up his daughter,” she says.
I tug at my dress, unable to look her in the eye.
“Kailey, I watched you during Ryan’s speech. He was speaking from the heart tonight, but his words went right through you.”
“I’m fine,” I lie, trying to quell the quiver of my chin and lower lip.
“You’re not, and I know it.” She reaches for my arm. “Please, I’m your best friend. If you can’t be honest with me, who can you be honest with? Kailey, you don’t need to do this alone.”
“You can’t marry him, Kailey.”
“But I’m going to,” I say, holding my head up higher and turning to look at Ryan in the distance: so handsome, so confident, so…everything. “Tracy, I love him. I really do.”
“Yes,” she says. “But, honey, you know as well as I do that sometimes love is not enough.”
When I look up, Ryan is walking toward me. If he was ever worried about Cade, he’s successfully dealt with his fears and chosen to trust me, and my inability to settle my feelings leaves my stomach in knots.
“Hi,” he says to me, kissing my cheek before smiling at Tracy.
“We were just talking about how great your toast was,” Tracy says, coming to my rescue.
“It was wonderful,” I say, finding my voice.
The jazz band we hired returns to their instruments and begins playing. I don’t recognize the tune at first, but then it hits me: “All of Me,” that old song my grandmother used to love.
All of me, why not take all of me?
I blink back tears as Ryan pulls me closer. And I know, in that moment, that as hard as I have tried, I’ll never be able to give him all of me.
Due to a lucky cancellation, I’m able to get an appointment to meet with Bruce Barrett, the attorney Ryan suggested, and at nine he greets Cade and me in the reception area of his office. He’s a large man with gray hair and a Cheshire-cat smile. He wears a tweed suit and navy-blue tie, and when he shakes my hand his grip is so firm that it hurts a little. I assume this is why Cade seems uneasy.
“Thank you for meeting with us,” I say.
“The pleasure is ours,” he says, leading us down a small hallway to a conference room. On the table is a breakfast spread: stale bagels, sad-looking grapes and melon. The eggs look somewhat petrified.
“Help yourself,” he says as another man, a bit younger and more serious-looking, walks in.
“It’s okay,” I say. “We already ate.”
He nods. “This is Tom Lawton, one of our best forensic accountants. Tom leaves no stone unturned, I assure you.
“Now,” he says, clasping his hands together, “you have quite a case on your hands. I’ve taken the liberty of briefing Tom, and he’s done a little digging this morningwell, with what little time he had. We think you’ll be pleased with what he’s already been able to find.” He opens a folder and slides a piece of paper toward us, and I lean forward to take it. Cade looks over, as if the words and numbers on the page are in hieroglyphics.
“Mr. McAllister,” Bruce says, “when you disappeared, you were a rather rich man.”
Cade looks at me, then back at Bruce skeptically.
“You owned half of Element Records,” Bruce explained, “a car, your condo in Pioneer Square, and you had equity in two buildings downtown.”
I nod. “But Element Records was on the verge of bankruptcy,” I say. “The company was struggling.”
He shakes his head, flashing his Cheshire smile again. “Maybe it was then. But that company went on to gross millions, all of which appears to have been folded into a newer company, belonging to a certain Mr. Keatley.”
I shake my head. “So what happened, then? Where are Cade’s savings? His share of the companysurely he can still access it.”
“As it stands, no,” he replies. “Mr. McAllister’s savings are wiped out. His condo was absorbed by Element Records LLC, which was dissolved some time ago.”
My heart beats faster. “So somebody took everything?”
“Everything,” he says. “Plain and simple.”
I shake my head again. “But how could they?”
“Easy,” Bruce says. “Was Mr. Keatley’s name on all the deeds, all the contracts? Did he have power of attorney? Could he withdraw funds?”
“Yes, I think so,” I say. “He managed the company’s finances. Cade was more of the creative side.”
Bruce smiles again. “Then there you have it.”
Tom, the ninja accountant, produces another document and shares a copy with us. “Mr. McAllister, we believe you are owed at least eight million dollars, possibly more, once we factor in the current market value of the condo and your personal possessions.”
Cade’s eyes are big. And I squeeze his hand under the table.
“I say this all with a caveat,” he continues. “You are owed this money, but whether or not it exists anymore is anyone’s guess. And it will be harder to prove criminal intent here, as this is a complex case. Cade’s assets, including his condo and car, were intertwined with Element Records’. But there are people behind all of that, and I believe they need to be held accountable.”
I hang on his every word.
“It took a little sleuthing,” Tom continues, “but I found a series of transfers from the business account of Element Records to a private account.”
“Any idea of the name on it?”
“Not yet, but we’re committed to getting to the bottom of this.”
“As are we,” I say. “And I understand, based on our phone conversation, that you take twenty percent of whatever you can recover?”
“That’s right,” Bruce says.
“That will be fine,” I say, looking at Cade for approval.
Bruce’s eyes narrow. Any trace of his smile disappears as he leans in. “I need to caution you not to try to confront this business partner,” he says. “We need the element of surprise to solve this case. No pun intended.” He winks. “Best to catch them with their pants down, if you know what I mean.”
“Well…I’ve already been in touch with him,” I say a bit remorsefully.
“Does he know you’re working with an attorney, an accountant?”
I shake my head.
“Good. Keep it that way.” He looks at Cade, then at me. “And you need to protect yourself. When this much money is at stake, people can lose their minds and do unspeakable things. Money is an ugly beast.” I feel a chill creep over me. “Just be safe,” he says. “Don’t go poking around where you shouldn’t. Let us handle that.”
Before we leave, Cade, who’s been mostly silent through the meeting, extends his hand to Bruce, who receives it with a firm shake of the wrist. “Thank you,” Cade says to him, “for helping me.” He casts an assured look at me. “I’m ready to get my life back.”
I drive Cade back to Harborview, and once he’s settled into his two o’clock session I stop into Dr. Branson’s office.
“Oh, Kailey,” she says, looking up from her computer. “It’s nice to see you.” Behind her are a dozen or more framed artistic renderings of the brain.
I sink into a chair beside her desk. “He’s doing so well,” I say. “Today when I was driving him back from an appointment, he recited the Robert Frost poem I used to love.”
She smiles. “Which one?”
“Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
“Ah,” she says. “One of my favorites, too. I was a literature major before I decided on premed.” She closes her eyes as if to extract the words from one of the lobes of her brain. “So dawn goes down to day.”
We recite the last line in unison. “Nothing gold can stay.”
She smiles. “Such a beautiful stanza. I’ve always felt that it’s a realistic view of life, though a tad pessimistic.”
“Nothing gold can stay,” she says, releasing the words into the air again. “It’s a commentary on how good things don’t last. True, in some cases. Not all good things last, so when they’re with us, they must be savored. But I’m not sure I entirely subscribe to that thinking. Ultimately, I believe good things can, and do, last.”
“Do they?” I say skeptically. “I’m not sure. Maybe that’s the whole concept of beautiful things. We can only have them for a moment.” I think of flowers that bloom and wilt in the summer, leaves that turn brilliant shades of gold in autumn before shriveling and falling from their branches. Parents who die. Love that is lost. In the world, and my life, gold does not stay.
She shakes her head. “I wouldn’t be practicing medicine and so focused on the way the brain can heal and regenerate if I believed that. Sure, nothing lasts forever, but gold can stay for a long time. And I’m in the business of helping it do just that.”
“Well, you’ve almost made me a believer,” I say with a smile. “You’ve done amazing things for Cade.”
“It’s remarkable, really, how far he’s come in this short time,” she says. “Brain science is the last frontier of medicine. We don’t know why some patients respond to treatment as well as they do, or why others don’t. But Cade is talking; his speech is fluid. His memories are returning, and according to his imaging, his brain shows signs of repair.”
“I know,” I reply. “It’s almost like he’s himself again. Almost.”
Dr. Branson looks thoughtful. “And he may always be an ‘almost.’ ”
I nod, thinking of the Cade I used to knowthe man who charmed me from the moment I laid eyes on him, made me laugh at the drop of a hat or whisked me away to Big Sur on a moment’s notice.
“I expect him to continue to improve,” she says. “We’d normally like our patients to complete the full year program, but we’re learning as we go, and Cade may do well blending back into life on his own. We probably should begin talking about his plans for finding work and housing, that sort of thing. Have you thought about what kind of job Cade might apply for?”
“Job?” I say.
“Yes, perhaps janitorial work, a restaurant position?”
It’s hard to imagine Cade washing dishes at some restaurant or vacuuming the carpet at a dentist’s office. “He used to run a multimillion-dollar company,” I say.
“Yes, I understand,” she says, unfazed. “But he may be happier doing…simpler work now.”
“Right,” I say, thinking about our meeting with the attorney earlier this morning and hoping that they’ll be able to recover at least a portion of the funds that are owed to him.
“Well,” she says, standing up. “I’m late for my afternoon session.”
I follow her out to the hallway, and she turns to me once more with a smile. “Gold can stay,” she says. “Don’t forget that.”