Flash Point (Fault Lines #2)@Thomas Locke

BOOK 1

1

You’re going to get yourself fired.”

“That is a distinct probability,” Lena Fennan agreed.

“Forget probable.” Robin Galwyn was another junior analyst at First American Bank, hired the week before Lena. Robin would have been Lena’s best friend in the city, if either of them had the time or energy for friendship. She occupied the cubicle three down from Lena. The two cubicles separating them were empty, the result of recent layoffs.

Lena was tall and rangy and still held to an athlete’s build, though she was ready to drop her gym membership since she seldom found time to work out. She wore a rumpled suit from Ralph Lauren that had seen better days. Her long dark hair desperately needed attention. Her features were stained by the months of too much stress and not enough sleep. She had named Wall Street as her goal while still an undergraduate at Georgetown. She had played varsity basketball and she had majored in economics and she had made friends and she’d had a life. But deep down where it mattered most, Lena had already taken aim. A master’s in finance at Rutgers had followed, with two summer internships at hedge funds to beef up her CV. Now she was here, getting ready to walk away from everything she had worked so hard to achieve.

All because of a voice from beyond.

Robin went on, “Vacation time for junior analysts is a theoretical construct. It only exists in a parallel universe. We survive by working longer and harder than anyone else.”

Lena offered Robin the note she had just written, which was the reason they were almost arguing. The typed single sheet announced that Lena was taking a long break. For the first time since setting foot on Wall Street, Lena would not be reachable. Robin’s task was to wait until Lena had left the building, then slip inside Wesley’s office and leave the note on his desk.

Lena asked, “Are you in or are you in?”

“Oh, give me that.” She swept the note from Lena’s grasp. “I hope he’s worth it.”

“It’s not a guy.”

“Forget tall and handsome. I’m thinking limo and a private jet.”

“It’s not like that at all.” Lena slipped her laptop into her briefcase, alongside the file she had been preparing ever since the Weasel had shot her down. Just touching the file’s cover was enough for her breath to lock in her throat. At midnight last night Lena had received a wire transfer confirmation for 3.1 million dollars.

She rose on unsteady legs, picked up the suit bag she had brought from home, and said, “I have to get out of here before Weasel gets back. Wish me luck.”

“Waste of a good breath.” Even so, Robin hugged her. Hard. “Let me know where you land.”

Lena left the bank’s headquarters, her suit bag slung from one shoulder, her briefcase on the other. She did not use a purse. While she was still an undergrad, a visiting woman executive had commented that purses were for ladies who lunch in Kansas City. Since her arrival on Wall Street, Lena had seen any number of women execs who used purses as a fashion accessory. But the remark had stuck. Lena made do with a billfold in her Versace briefcase’s side pouch.

She turned onto William Street and started looking for a taxi when it happened. Again. Another unmistakable message. Like the other two that had already wreaked such havoc in her world.

Your ally is inside.

The message arrived with the force of a punch to her brain stem. It rocked her so hard she tripped on the sidewalk and almost went down. Just like the three previous events. Which was how Lena had regarded them ever since she realized they were neither imagined nor random nor one-off.

Events. With the power to change her life permanently. Whether the change was good or bad, she had no idea.

She said out loud, “I’ve had just about all I’m going to take.”

One grey-haired exec glanced her way and smiled. Otherwise no one paid her any attention. Other pedestrians probably assumed she was talking on a hands-free. Either that or she was just another junior analyst going off the edge.

Lena stopped and considered her options. The heavy pedestrian traffic flowed around her.

Regardless of how borderline insane this might seem, the previous two messages had proven to be definite hits. The first had drawn her into analyzing what at first had appeared to be just another crazy series of possibilities. The second had told her where to obtain the required