Home > Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1)(6)

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1)(6)
Janet Evanovich, Phoef Sutton

“It’s so good to see you, Emerson,” Werner said, rising from his executive office chair, offering him a hearty handshake. “Have I told you how deeply your father’s death has affected all of us?”

“Yes. At his funeral. Several times. But nice of you to reiterate it.”

Emerson took a seat at the round table by the window. The view of the Capitol was breathtaking, but Emerson took no notice of it.

“Mr. Knight has some questions,” Riley said.

Werner took the seat opposite Emerson. “Of course he does. And I don’t blame him. I’m familiar with the Knight account and would be happy to jump in.”

Werner moved into full salesman mode and proceeded to fill the air with such double-talk and gobbledygook that even Riley had trouble following it, and she had a degree from Harvard Business School.

“I’m not interested in hedge funds, venture capital, or fixed income portfolios,” Emerson said, interrupting Werner’s dissertation on the world economic system. “I want to see my gold.”

Werner leaned forward. “Excuse me?”

“I’d like to see my gold,” Emerson said. “I’m thinking of moving it.”

“Of course,” Werner said. “I’ll make arrangements and we’ll get back to you.”

“Now,” Emerson said. “I want to see it now.”

“Even I need to make arrangements to get into the vault,” Werner said. “It’s very secure. In the meantime, is there anything else I can do for you? Would you like tickets to a ball game? We have a hospitality suite for the Redskins.”

“I’m also interested in Günter. And where he’s gone,” Emerson said. “I haven’t been able to speak with him for some time.”

“Günter isn’t a typical Grunwald,” Werner said. “He’s a bit of a free spirit.”

“That may be the case,” Emerson said, “but I’ve done a small amount of investigating and the results are intriguing. From what I can determine, Günter has been missing for at least a month. Irene Grunwald filed papers to gain power of attorney for the joint property owned with her husband. She informed the court that said husband, Günter Grunwald, was missing. Oddly, Mrs. Grunwald never filed a missing persons report with the police.”

“Irene might have a small drinking issue,” Werner said.

“I turned up more missing persons,” Emerson said. “Yvette Jaworski, a key Blane-Grunwald employee, went missing two months ago. Hasn’t been seen since. Two people in a firm that employs thirty-one thousand seven hundred worldwide? Not statistically significant. But interesting. Also, there have been two suicides of high-profile Blane-Grunwald executives in the past month. One in Tokyo, one in London. Both leapt from their office windows. Both men worked in the division that handled commodities, like gold. As did Yvette Jaworski.

“It’s a stressful job,” Werner said. “How did you come upon this unfortunate news? Do you have a contact within the firm?”

“I have a contact within the Internet,” Emerson said. “And the ability to focus my mind with laserlike precision on any subject.”

Riley thought the laserlike focusing was in the ballpark of the mind-clouding disappearing act. A little out there, but what the heck did she know? There were people who could lower their blood pressure and sleep on nails, right? Maybe she should ask Emerson if he could sleep on nails.

“There’s something else,” Werner said. “I’m telling you this in utter confidence. There have been some improprieties in our bookkeeping.”

“You mean embezzlement,” Emerson said.

“That’s the layman’s term. But I assure you, all the misappropriated funds have been identified and replaced.”

“And did this misappropriation coincide with Günter’s disappearance?”

“Yes.”

“And did it involve Günter’s clients?”

“Some of them.”

“Me, for instance?”

“Yes, but as I said, as soon as the discrepancy was identified, the money was replaced.”

“How long did that take?”

“Six hours,” Werner said, his face a mask of remorse.

“That’s rather fast.”

“We keep a close eye on our clients’ portfolios.”

“How much was appropriated by the misappropriation?” Emerson asked.

“The culprit took only a small amount from a limited number of clients,” Werner said.

“The amount?”

“One hundred thousand dollars from each client.”

Riley had to remind herself that she was living in a world where a hundred thousand dollars was a small amount.

“And you’re thinking that your brother absconded with these funds and disappeared?”

Werner nodded grimly. “It appears that’s what happened.”

“How many clients were involved?” Emerson asked.

“Six.”

“How much is Günter worth? Conservatively speaking.”

“I’m not sure I understand what you mean,” Werner said.

“When his wife sued for power of attorney. How much was at stake?”

Riley thought she saw a flash of anger in Werner’s eyes. And then it was extinguished.

“Approximately ninety million dollars,” he said.

“Ninety?”

“Approximately. Most of that comes from the family holdings.”

Emerson focused on Werner’s face with what Riley could only call laserlike precision.

“You’re telling me that Günter left ninety million dollars behind and ran off with a paltry six hundred thousand?”

“I know it seems strange. But Günter’s wealth is tied to this firm, to his family, to his wife. If he wanted to make a clean break, to get off on his own, he might have felt he needed to…”

“Misappropriate?”

“There’s no telling what he was thinking. Günter had been going through what I suppose you’d call a ‘midlife crisis.’ He’d been acting strangely, disappearing for days at a time, missing work, going off on his own for long weekends.”

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,” Emerson said, “we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

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