Read Honeymoon Online

Authors: James Patterson,Howard Roughan

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #detective, #Mystery & Detective, #mystery, #Suspense, #Police Procedural, #Fiction - Mystery, #Mystery fiction, #Government investigators, #Mystery & Detective - Police Procedural, #Suspense & Thriller, #Investment bankers, #Witnesses, #Women interior decorators, #Investment bankers - Crimes against

Honeymoon

date. You could come to my office?"

 

"No, that's okay. Please, come inside."

 

Nora started toward the house. I followed. So far, so

 

good. I wondered if she was a good dancer. She certainly

 

was a good
walker.

 

"Vanilla hazelnut?" I asked.

 

She looked back over her shoulder. "Excuse me?"

 

I motioned toward the ground coffee peeking out from

 

the grocery bag. "Though I recently came across some of

 

those newfangled crème brûlée beans, which smell
awfully

 

similar."

 

"No, it's vanilla hazelnut," she said. "I'm impressed."

 

"I would've preferred to have been blessed with a ninety-

 

mile-an-hour fastball. Instead, I got a heightened sense of

 

smell."

 

"Better than nothing."

 

"Ah, you're an optimist," I said.

 

"Not these days."

 

I smacked my forehead. "Damn. That was dumb of me

 

to say. I'm really sorry."

 

"It's okay," she said, and almost smiled.

 

We walked up the front steps and went inside the house.

 

The foyer was a lot bigger than my apartment. The chande-

 

lier over our head was at least a year's salary. The Oriental

 

rugs, the Chinese vases. Jeez, what a spread.

 

"The kitchen's this way," she said, leading me around a

 

corner. When we got there, it too was bigger than my apart-

 

ment. She pointed to the granite slab of counter next to the

 

refrigerator. "You can put the groceries there. Thanks."

 

I placed the bag down and started to empty it.

 

"You don't have to do that."

 

"It's the least I can do after that optimist comment."

 

"Really, it's okay." She walked over to me and picked up

 

the bag of vanilla hazelnut. "Can I offer you a cup?"

 

"Absolutely."

 

I made sure it was nothing but small talk while the pot

 

brewed. I didn't want to do too much too fast -- the risk

 

being that
she
might ask too many questions. As it was, I fig-

 

ured a couple were already headed my way.

 

"You know what I don't understand?" she said a few

 

minutes later. We were sitting at the kitchen table, coffee

 

mugs in hand. "Connor had plenty of money and no ex-

 

wife or kids. Why would he bother with life insurance?"

 

"That's a
good
question. I think the answer lies in how

 

this policy originated. You see, Mr. Brown didn't come to us.

 

We went to him. Or rather, his company."

 

"I'm not sure I follow."

 

"Something Centennial One is doing more and more of

 

is workers' compensation policies. As a way of enticing

 

companies to insure with us, we offer the top people free

 

term life insurance."

 

"That's a pretty nice perk."

 

"Yeah, it seems to seal the deal a lot for us."

 

"How much did you say Connor's policy was for?"

 

As if she'd forgotten.

 

"One point nine million," I said. "That's the maximum

 

for his size company."

 

Her brow furrowed. "He really listed me as the sole ben-

 

eficiary?"

 

"Yes, he really did."

 

"When was this?"

 

"You mean, when was the policy administered?"

 

She nodded.

 

"Fairly recently, it turns out. Five months ago."

 

"I suppose that would explain it. Though we'd been to-

 

gether at that point for only a short time."

 

I smiled. "He obviously had a good feeling about you

 

from the start."

 

She tried to smile back, but the tears coming down her

 

cheeks wouldn't let her. She began wiping them away while

 

apologizing. I assured her that it was more than okay, that I

 

understood. Actually the scene was kind of touching.
Or

 

she's very good.

 

"Connor had already given me so much, and now
this.
"

 

She wiped away another tear. "And what I wouldn't give to

 

have him back."

 

Nora took a long sip of her coffee. I did the same.

 

"So, what's supposed to happen? I assume I've got to

 

sign some stuff before the payout is made, right?"

 

I leaned forward a bit on the table and gripped my mug

 

with both hands. "Well, you see, that's why I'm here, Ms.

 

Sinclair. There's a little bit of a problem."

 

 

Chapter 31

 

HE KIND OF
sounded
like an insurance man, but he didn't

 

really
look
like one to Nora.

 

For starters, she noticed that he wasn't that bad a dresser.

 

The tie matched the suit, and the suit had actually been in

 

style sometime during this decade.

 

Another thing was that he had a nice personality. The

 

few insurance guys she'd met before seemed to have about

 

as much charisma as a cardboard box. In fact, all things

 

considered, Craig Reynolds was an attractive man. Nicely

 

put together. He also drove a pretty good car. Then again,

 

thought Nora, this was Briarcliff Manor, not the East Bronx.

 

To manage the field office for a big insurance company in

 

this neck of the woods, you'd kind of have to look the part.

 

Still, she wasn't about to let her guard down.

 

She'd been watching Craig Reynolds carefully and making

 

mental notes -- from the moment he first showed up to

 

when he wrapped his hands around his coffee mug and an-

 

nounced that there was "a little bit of a problem" with Con-

 

nor's policy.

 

"What sort of problem?" she asked.

 

"Ultimately, I don't think it will be much of one at all.

 

The thing is, because of Mr. Brown's relatively young age,

 

they've decided to investigate the claim."

 

"Who's
they?
"

 

"The home office back in Chicago. They basically call

 

the shots."

 

"You don't have any say in the matter?"

 

"Not too much in this case. As I mentioned, Mr. Brown's

 

policy originated in our corporate division, which is run

 

from the home office. Who services it, however, is based on

 

proximity to the client. Meaning, if it wasn't for the pending

 

investigation, I'd be the one handling everything."

 

"So if you're not, who is?"

 

"I haven't been told yet, but if I had to guess, it's going to

 

be a man by the name of John O'Hara."

 

"Do you know him?"

 

"Only by reputation."

 

"Uh-oh."

 

"What?"

 

"When you said that, you frowned a little."

 

"No, it's no big deal. Supposedly, O'Hara's a hard-ass --

 

pardon my language -- but that's par for the course with an

 

insurance investigator. From what I can tell, this should be

 

a routine inquiry."

 

As Craig Reynolds reached for his coffee again, Nora

 

made another mental note: no wedding band.

 

"How do you like the vanilla hazelnut?" she asked.

 

"Tastes even better than it smells."

 

She sat back in her chair. Having already turned off her

 

tears, she gave Craig Reynolds a pleasant smile. He came

 

across as caring and thoughtful. Better yet, she noticed that

 

when he smiled back at her, his cheeks produced a cute pair

 

of dimples.
Too bad he doesn't have any money.

 

Not that Nora was complaining. From where she was

 

sitting, Craig Reynolds the insurance man was worth $1.9

 

million. It was a windfall she wasn't about to turn down. The

 

only wrinkle was the investigation. Routine as it sounded, it

 

made her nervous.

 

But not overly so. She had a very good plan, and it was

 

made to hold up to scrutiny. By the police, by the coroner's

 

office, by the likes of anyone or anything that might stand

 

in her way. And that certainly included an insurance inves-

 

tigation.

 

Just the same, after Craig Reynolds left the house that af-

 

ternoon, she decided it might be a good idea to make herself

 

scarce for the next few days. She was supposed to see Jeffrey

 

that weekend anyway. Maybe she'd go up a day early and

 

surprise him.

 

He was, after all, her husband.

 

 

Chapter 32

 

THE NEXT MORNING, a Friday, Nora walked out of the

 

house in Westchester and popped open the trunk of her

 

Benz convertible parked in front. In went her suitcase. The

 

weatherman on TV had promised nothing but blue skies

 

and sun with the temperature reaching a high of eighty. A

 

"top-down day" if there ever was one.

 

Nora pressed the button on her keyless remote and

 

watched as the roof of the car began to recede quietly. That's

 

when another car caught her eye.
What the hell?

 

Out on Central Drive, parked under towering maples

 

and oaks, was the same BMW as the day before. And sitting

 

in the front with his sunglasses on was the insurance man.

 

Craig Reynolds.

 

What's he doing back here?
One sure way to find out. Nora started to walk straight

 

 

for his car. She thought he'd been so friendly when they first

 

met. But now, this… watching her from his car. It was a

 

little creepy. Or worse, a little suspicious. Which was why

 

she cautioned herself not to overreact.

 

Craig saw her coming and promptly hopped out of his

 

Beemer. He began walking toward her in his tan summer-

 

weight suit. He gave her a friendly wave.

 

They met halfway.

 

Nora tilted her head and smiled. "If I didn't know any

 

better, I'd say you were spying."

 

"If that's the case, I probably should've chosen a better

 

hiding place, huh?" He smiled back. "My apologies -- it's

 

not what it looks like. Actually, you can blame the Mets for

 

this."

 

"An entire baseball team?"

 

"Yes, including the general manager. I was about to pull

 

into your driveway when the Fan went to a commercial

 

break, saying the club was about to make a big trade with

 

Houston. So I pulled over to listen."

 

She gave him a blank look. "The Fan?"

 

"It's an all-sports radio station."

 

"I see. So you weren't spying?"

 

"Nope. I'm no James Bond. Just a long-suffering Mets

 

season-ticket holder."

 

Nora nodded. She figured either Craig Reynolds was

 

telling the truth or he was a born liar. "What were you com-

 

ing to see me about?" she asked.

 

"Good news, actually. John O'Hara, that guy I told you

 

about from the home office, has definitely been placed in

 

charge of the investigation into Mr. Brown's death."

 

"I thought that wasn't supposed to be such good news."

 

"No, but
this
part is. I talked to him early this morning

 

and he said he thought there wouldn't be any problems."

 

"That is good."

 

"Better yet, I got him to fast-track the thing. He gave me

 

his hard-line spiel about not giving special treatment, but I

 

asked him to do it since the Westchester office has been

 

such a rainmaker for the company. Anyway, I just thought

 

you'd want to know."

 

"I appreciate it, Mr. Reynolds. It's a nice surprise."

 

"Please, call me Craig."

 

"In that case, call me Nora."

 

"Nora it is." He glanced over her shoulder at the red con-

 

vertible in the driveway, the trunk still up. "Taking a trip?"

 

"Yes, as a matter of fact."

 

"Anywhere interesting?"

 

"That depends on your opinion of south Florida."

 

"As they say, it's a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want

 

to vote there."

 

She chuckled. "I'll have to use that one on my client in

 

Palm Beach. Or maybe not."

 

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