فصل 11

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فصل 11

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter eleven

Leah’s Story

Paulo Miranda’s last phone call from his daughter had been two days earlier. She was in a hotel in New Orleans. She was scared, though trying desperately not to show it. He was angry that she wouldn’t give more details, and he was worried about her. And he was tired of the men who were following him everywhere he went.

After finishing his work, he walked to his car in the parking lot. He was thinking, his eyes down. A small red van was parked next to his car. As he approached, the driver got out and opened the back door, but Paulo didn’t notice. Osmar stopped Paulo and roughly pushed him into the van. The door closed. A gun was pointed between his eyes, and a voice told him to be silent. The van raced away.

An hour and a half later, it stopped behind a farmhouse, and Paulo was led inside. He wouldn’t be harmed, he was told, unless he tried to escape. A phone call to the police informed them of the kidnapping. Calls were made to Paulo’s son in Rio, to the manager of Eva’s apartment, and to one of her friends. The message was the same: Paulo Miranda had been kidnapped, and the police were investigating.

Eva was staying in New York, moving frequently. She called her father, and there was no answer. Then she called her brother and learned about the kidnapping. He was going crazy. No, there hadn’t been a request for money.

Against Patrick’s specific instructions, she called him, speaking in Portuguese. “Patrick, it’s Leah,” she said, trying to show no emotion.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, in Portuguese. He wasn’t pleased to hear her voice.

“It’s my father,” she said and told him the story of Paulo’s disappearance. “I have to go home.”

“No, Leah,” he said calmly. “It’s a trap. They’re not asking for money. They want you.”

She played with her hair and watched the people rushing by. “So what do I do?”

“Go to New Orleans. Call Sandy when you get there.”

While she waited at the airport, she thought about her father and the terrible things they could be doing to him. They were hurting him because of her. And there was nothing she could do.

Patrick called Sandy. “She’s in serious danger. Be extremely careful when you go to meet her,” he said.

An hour later, Sandy left his office and walked around the block three times. When he was certain no one was behind him, he went to Leah’s room.

“I’m sorry about your father,” he said. “Have you heard anything?”

“No. I’ve been travelling.”

“Who are these people?”

“There’s a file on the table,” she said, and poured coffee. “Patrick and I met two years ago, in 1994. Patrick said he was a Canadian businessman and needed a lawyer who had experience with international money and banking. But he really needed a friend. I was a friend for two days, and then we fell in love. He told me everything about his past. He’d made a perfect escape, and he had lots of money, but he couldn’t forget his past. He had to know who was chasing him, and how close they were.

“In August of 1994, I came to the US and contacted an investigation firm in Atlanta - the Pluto Group. I gave them a false name and told them I needed information about the search for Patrick Lanigan. I paid them 50,000 dollars. They sent people to Biloxi, contacted Patrick’s old law firm, and pretended to have information about where he was. The lawyers referred them to Jack Stephano. They met with him in Washington and offered to sell their information. Stephano agreed to pay 50,000 dollars if it led to Patrick. During these meetings, they learned that Stephano believed Patrick was in Brazil. This, of course, frightened Patrick and me.

“I continued to contact the Pluto Group every few months. They were hired to follow Stephanos investigation. They contacted Benny Aricia and the insurance companies with the same story about possible information. They were always referred to Jack Stephano.”

“How did Stephano find him?”

“I can’t tell you that. Patrick will have to do it.”

Sandy thought for a moment. It would be easier if they told him everything so that he, the lawyer, could help them with their future. Maybe they didn’t need help.

Leah handed him the file from the table. “These are the people who have my father,” she said.


“Yes. I’m the only person who knows where the money is, Sandy. The kidnapping is a trap.”

“How does Stephano know about you?”

“Patrick told them. You’ve seen the burns, haven’t you?”

Sandy stood. “Then why didn’t Patrick tell them where the money is?”

“Because he doesn’t know I have control of it. Now I’m being chased, and my father’s caught in the middle.”

“What am I supposed to do?”

She opened a drawer and removed another file. “This contains information about the FBI investigation of Patrick. The agent in charge is a man named Cutter, in Biloxi. As soon as I knew Patrick had been captured, I called Cutter. It probably saved Patrick’s life. I told him that Patrick had been found by people working for Jack Stephano. We think the FBI went straight to him and threatened him. His people in Brazil tortured Patrick for a few hours, almost killed him, and then gave him to the FBI.”

Sandy listened with his eyes closed tight. “Go on,” he said.

“Two days later, Stephano was arrested in Washington.”

“How do you know this?”

“I’m still paying a lot of money to the Pluto Group. We suspect that Stephano’s talking to the FBI, while at the same time he’s quietly following me. And my father.”

“What am I supposed to tell Cutter?”

“First, tell him about me. Tell him that I’m making decisions for Patrick and I know everything. Then, tell him about my father.”

When Dr. Hayani looked into Patrick’s room in the morning, Patrick was sitting in a chair by the window, looking at the closed curtains. “Patrick, are you OK?” he asked.

After a minute Patrick answered, “I’m fine, Doc. But I didn’t sleep at all.”

“You’re safe now, Patrick. The sun’s up.”

When he left, Patrick got up and walked to the door.

“Did you sleep well?” the guard at the door asked, as he did every morning.

“I slept safe, Eddie, thanks,” Patrick said, as he did every morning. He returned to his room and did some exercises.

The routine was the same every day. He wanted to be Danilo again, with his quiet fife in his small house. He wanted to walk along the streets of Ponta Pora and run in the country. He missed Brazil. And he missed Eva - her soft touch, her beautiful smile. He couldn’t live without her. He’d escaped before. Why couldn’t he escape again? He’d have a perfect life with Eva. He’d put her in danger, and now he must protect her. Could he do it again? Or had his luck ended?

Sandy met Cutter at 8 A.M.

“Do you remember that phone call you received thirteen days ago?” Sandy asked. “The lady from Brazil?” Cutter said he did, and Sandy continued, “I’ve met with her a few times. She’s a lawyer for Patrick.” He quickly explained most of what he knew about Leah, though he never mentioned her name. Then he asked about the Stephano investigation.

Cutter became cautious. “How do you know about that?”

“The lady from Brazil knows all about Stephano. Remember, she gave you his name. He’s still trying to get my client, and I’d like to stop him.”

“And how do you know this?”

“Because his men in Brazil have kidnapped the woman’s father.”

Cutter’s mouth opened, and he looked at the ceiling. Then it made sense. “Does she know where the money is?”

“That’s a possibility. The kidnapping is an effort to make her go back to Brazil. Then they’ll capture her and treat her like they treated Patrick. It’s all about money.”

“There’s not much we can do about it.”

“Yes, there is. Put pressure on Stephano. Tell him the woman isn’t going to be trapped, that she’s preparing to go to the Brazilian police with the name of Jack Stephano.”

“I’ll see what I can do.” Cutter hadn’t forgotten the fact that Sandy had filed a several million dollar lawsuit against the FBI for crimes it didn’t commit.

“Stephano only cares about the money,” Sandy said. “If the old man gets hurt, Stephano will never see any of it. Tell him to release the old man. Then we might talk about the money.”

Patrick walked around one end of the doctors’ conference room while Sandy sat and listened. “Things are changing, Sandy,” Patrick said without looking at him. “We have to move fast. She won’t stay here while her father’s missing.”

“As usual, I’m confused. But I’m just the lawyer. Why should I know anything?”

“She has the files and records, and the story. There’s a beach house at Perdido. She’s waiting for you there.”

“And I’m supposed to change all my plans and race over there right now,” Sandy said angrily. “I have other clients. I have court this afternoon. My daughter’s got soccer.”

“I’m sorry, Sandy. I couldn’t know about a kidnapping. Try and understand.”

Sandy took a deep breath. “What might we discuss at the beach house?”


Sandy parked in front of the beach house. Leah answered the door with a smile. On the table was a box, and beside it were papers neatly arranged. “This is the Aricia file,” Leah said. “Patrick prepared it.”

They sat at a small table in the kitchen and ate.

“How’s Patrick?” she asked.

“Patrick’s OK. The burns are getting better.” He ate a bit. “I’m sorry. I forgot to ask about your father.”

“I talked to my brother today, and there’s still no word. It’s difficult. I can’t go home, and I can’t stay here.”

“I’m very sorry, Leah.” He asked more questions - general questions, not about the kidnapping - as he ate. She didn’t touch her food.

When he finished, they moved to the table with the box and papers on it. “How much do you know about the Aricia matter?” she asked.

“Just the information that was in the paper.”

“These documents and tapes are the evidence for everything I’m going to tell you. The Aricia claim was false from the beginning.” She spoke slowly. “Benny Aricia made the plan to cheat both his company and his government. He was helped by some very good lawyers - Patrick’s old firm - and a senator, Bogan’s cousin, in Washington.

“Patrick was a new partner then. He wasn’t included in the Aricia plan, but he knew something was happening. He found out that the secrecy was because of Aricia, and he was patient. He pretended to notice nothing, but he was gathering evidence. A lot of it’s in this box.”

“Explain how the claim was false.”

“Aricia ran New Coastal Shipyards in Pascagoula. It’s a small division of Piatt & Rockland.”

“I know all that. They have big defense contracts and are known for cheating the government.”

“That’s right. New Coastal was working on an enormous building program for the Navy. Aricia wrote false work records, claiming thousands of hours for work that was never done, for employees who never existed. He charged unbelievably high prices for materials - drinking cups for thirty dollars each, for example. He created piles of paperwork, very little with his name on it. He kept good records, which he later gave to his lawyers. They would file the lawsuit with the government, and Aricia would get the reward.”

“And Patrick got the records.” Sandy looked at the box. “And this has been hidden since he disappeared.”

“Yes. Patrick always knew he’d be caught.”

Sandy had lots of questions, but he told himself to relax. “So Aricia’s plan worked. Did Bogan know Aricia had caused the overcharges?”

“Yes.” She pointed to the box. “This box is full of tapes of their conversations.”

They loaded the whole Aricia file into the trunk of his car and said good-bye. She promised to call him within twenty-four hours.

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