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From Inside the Flap
There was just one thing worse than having a wife: having a wife you couldn?t find. This thought nagged at Piers Lafournier as he hunkered down at the edge of the waters of the James Bay, an Iridium 650 satellite phone cupped to his ear, and listened to the brisk tones of his financial advisor coming to him from 600 miles away in downtown Toronto. As he listened, he rubbed at the soot on his face and silently cursed Carmen, his wife, his ex-partner, and the one woman on the planet he?d thoroughly enjoy getting his hands on right about now. No, he hastily amended. That wasn?t quite accurate. He didn?t want Carmen. What he wanted was the $80,000 she?d run off with in her slender, manicured little claws.
"Hello? Did you hear me?"
Piers blinked against the droplets of water trickling down into his eyes. "Yes, I heard you."
"Good. I thought I?d lost the connection there for a moment."
He could only be so lucky. "No, I?m here."
As ever, Donna was unruffled by his abruptness. He could hear her typing away on her computer while she talked to him on speakerphone, probing into his life with her usual aplomb.
"So? What’s the answer? Can you get Carmen’s signature? If not, you won?t be able to touch your joint banking account."
Piers dried his hands on his shirt and shifted the phone to his other ear. How could he tell no-nonsense Donna that Carmen had vanished like a thief in the night more than a year ago? Donna would likely harangue him on his lack of financial (and personal) planning. Didn?t everyone prepare for the worst, whether it was in business or in relationships? Donna did. That’s why she refused to marry; too many unpredictable contingencies. Or so she?d told Piers. He should have heeded her cheerless wisdom when he?d had the chance.
"Can?t you make an exception this once? Without that money, I won?t be able to meet payroll this month. My men will walk, the company will go bust."
The typing noise ceased. "It’s that serious?"
"You know it is. You?ve seen my account balances."
That was only partially true. Donna handled his personal finances, not his corporate ones. That money stayed in the bank in nearby Moosonee. The bank was small and friendly, with tellers who knew your name and a manager who actually had time to sit and chat, which was exactly how Carmen had managed to wheedle the money out of their account. Since Carmen’s hasty departure, Piers had bankrolled his company from his own pocket-pockets that were now empty except for the $10,000 he?d squirreled away in a joint account. One niggling problem: without his wife’s signature, Piers couldn?t touch the cash. The survival of his company hinged on Carmen, the woman who?d robbed him blind. The irony of the situation didn?t escape Piers. A note of deep regret filled her voice.
"I?m so sorry, Piers. As much as I?d like to do this for you, I can?t circumvent bank policy. If someone happened to find out, I?d lose my job."
His hopes sank further into the abyss. "No problem. I completely understand." He said goodbye then tossed the phone back into his knapsack, cursing softly. What now? As if in answer, the phone trilled from within the recesses of his knapsack.
Piers snatched it and hit the button. "Yes?"
"This is Dr. Thomas at the Department of the Environment. Am I speaking to Piers Lafournier?"
Piers? fingers gripped the phone tight. His thigh muscles flexed then straightened as he rose from the waterside.
"Dr. Thomas. I wasn?t expecting to hear from you."
"Obviously. Am I catching you at a bad time?"
?Bad? was an understatement. But with a huge government endowment potentially on the line, Piers wasn?t about to go into the details of his less than ideal day.
"No, it’s fine, really. What can I do for your, Dr. Thomas?"
"Actually, Mr. Lafournier, it’s more what I can do for you."
For the next five minutes Piers listened in stunned amazement as Dr. Benjamin Thomas explained the reason for his call, and with a wave of his magic funding wand, solved every last one of Piers? money woes. What do you say to someone who’s just saved your proverbial hide?
"Thank you," Piers was able to get out at last. "You don?t know what this means."
"Believe me, I think I do."
After promising to contact Piers with more details, Dr. Thomas hung up and Piers stood there, the phone dangling from his fingers, as he stared out at the inky waters of the Bay.
"Two million dollars," he mumbled in disbelief.
The project would last three years and would yield a revitalized soil stratum that, with careful management, could support a healthy logging industry for many years to come. Northern Pine Logging & Reforestation wasn?t going under just yet. A smile broke across his face. His prayers had been answered.
Well, Piers clarified as he headed for his pickup truck, one prayer; a half-dozen others remained in the queue. Time would tell if they?d meet with the same kind of luck. His wristwatch beeped, snapping him out of his euphoria. Piers checked the time: 5:00 on the nose. It was time to get a move on.
"Let’s see if the new school teacher can answer prayer number two," he said, to no one in particular, but he wasn?t worried about the outcome of this meeting.
Tate Stirling would have to be an utter wreck of an educator, and human being to be able to rub any of the shine off this magnificent day.
Blood Moon Publishing is an imprint of Double Dragon Publishing