“Did I tell you that they’re sending me to Bell Island?” Martin called from the hallway bathroom where he was doing a last once-over before leaving for work.
His daughter, Brooke, who was reading in the living room of her father’s Anacortes home, looked up from her book. “No. Where’s Bell Island?”
“Just east of Crane Island,” he said, now in the foyer as he gathered his things. “It should be a quick in-and-out, but I’ll have to charter a boat to get there. Probably be gone all day.”
Brooke nodded, brown eyes going back to her forensics textbook. Martin, her old man, was a private investigator often contracted out by the San Juan County police department to look into spurious goings on in their sleepy little corner of the world. Brooke had been raised in it, her mother having passed away when she was younger, and was fully committed on entering into the family business once she was done with school.
Though she wasn’t often privvy to the details of his cases, he had always, always told her where he was going and when he would be back… just in case. You never knew what trouble might find you in such a line of work. Dangerous situations happened.
“What kind of case is it?”
“Private client,” he said, looking for his keys. “Guy wants to know what his business partner is up to… I guess the man dropped off the map a few years ago and still owns half the company.”
“Yikes,” she said non-committaly. “You think he’s dead?”
“That’s what we’re going to find out.” With keys successfully located, he opened the door and stepped out. “I’ll be back before dinner,” he called. “Have a good day!”
She flatly returned the goodbye and promptly went back to reading.
Her father was not, in fact, back before dinner. That in itself wasn’t especially unusual, but what was is the fact that he hadn’t contacted her all evening. She picked up the phone and called the station, but the young detective on the other end of the line hadn’t heard from Martin since the day before. Brooke was beginning to worry, sitting in tense silence over her microwave dinner as she tried to convince herself that maybe his phone was just dead, or maybe he dropped it into the water while on his way over, or…
Her own phone buzzed then: a text message from an unfamiliar number.
Hi honey, looks like I’ll be staying here for a few days
Relief washed over her… for a moment. Brooke looked at the message again, feeling that the wording wasn’t quite right. Her father had never called her honey – and the details were just vague enough to be suspicious. She started to get ready for bed, but sleep would be slow coming until the hamster wheel of thoughts stopped turning in her head.
School over the next two days kept her busy enough. Midterms were coming up, there was lab work to do, and her “side” job of answering the phones for her dad’s PI business distracted her from the fact that she hadn’t heard from him since that night. It all seemed like such a routine job – the guy was either there or he wasn’t, right? One morning she happened to discover that he hadn’t brought his medications with him: they were still on the bathroom counter, where he took them every morning before brushing his teeth. This was not good.
Brooke knew something was wrong, so she sat down at Martin’s desk and began to do her own research about where, exactly, the man had gone.
Bell Island, she found out, was a privately owned piece of land in the middle of the channel and some acres in size. A wealthy, young tech entrepreneur had bought and built on it some six years before, after his AI dev company, Orcasoft, launched a wildly successful IPO. 2 years ago, though, this entrepreneur, a certain Jack Ilyin, had taken an extended leave of absence and never returned, leaving his VP, Gary Patel, to run the whole damn show.
“Well this is interesting,” Brooke muttered to herself as she squinted at a headline showing up on the page of search results: Possible Orcasoft acquisition on the table. Google, apparently, was in talks with Mr. Patel about a buyout. But as Brooke suspected, a deal couldn’t be made until Ilyin could be tracked down – whether he approved or not was anyone’s guess at this point, but either way, the acquisition was dead in the water until they could get the man’s John Hancock on the dotted line.
Brooke sat back in the desk chair and thought. Certainly, she felt a little better now, knowing that her father was not likely in immediate physical danger. This was a high-profile business, run by high-profile businessmen – surely, then, the specifics of Ilyin’s apparent renunciation of society was a tangled mess of financial and legal complications that, truth be told, might be better hashed out in court.
Of course, that’s probably the advice her father was giving to Mr. Ilyin right now, but still… Brooke wanted to make sure everything was alright. And at least take him his medications. She glanced at the clock, and decided to call up a friend of hers at the marina.