Now that Bobby and the Noir are out of the picture, it remains to take out Donnan Varin. Is a military maneuver their best option? Or would some handy manipulation of Varin’s greed serve them better?
Amber Garwood, aka Scarlet Varin, sighed heavily, sitting down at the table with them. She laid her head on her arms, shoulders hunched as the tears fell.
“Please don’t tell Don you found me,” she begged. “He wants me dead.”
“I figured that out,” Fiddlestix told her. “What I don’t know is why.”
“I told about the buildings.” Scarlet Varin raised her head. “He says the decisions were made without his permission, but it’s not true. Before his death, he gave instructions about the housing developments. It was all in files that I took with me.
“He’d been pulling his illegal activities for years. I finally decided I had to tell someone. I took the files to the district attorney, only to find out he was in Don’s back pocket. I had to run.”
“So this whole thing about wanting to find you was just a blind?”
She nodded rapidly. “But it’s more than that. He’s been secretly supporting Château Noir for years. He was trying to get Bobby to take over the Harlich land for him.
“You see, this is prime property. If he could get his hands on this and build expensive houses in a safe environment for the ultra rich, he could make a fortune.”
“But it’s only safe because of Karl and the Harlichs,” Fiddlestix was appalled.
“Exactly, but he was figuring on the protection of the Noir. With them behind him, no one else would dare to mess with him.”
“I just can’t believe I fell for it!”
“Don can be a pretty convincing actor when he wants to be. He had me fooled for years, and I lived with the man!”
“So are we taking this Varin guy out?”
Deacon had been quiet for awhile, but Fiddlestix could see he was fuming.
“Is he really a threat anymore?” This from Karl. “He no longer has the Noir to back him. How dangerous is he?”
“Very,” Scarlet Varin said adamantly. “He’s a rich, determined man. He’ll just hire someone else and try again.”
“There must be a way to get to him!” Fiddlestix told them. “There has to be!”
“There is a way,” Scarlet Varin whispered. “But it’s going to take all the cunning we’ve got.”
Scarlet smiled disarmingly, the genuine delight making her face light up. Most of her makeup had been rubbed off since morning and her hair was no longer helmet hard. It made her look far more friendly and approachable.
“Deacon, how well can you act?”
Several days later, they headed to Varin’s island estate, approaching his compound from the ocean using the Ophelia.
Deacon was resplendent in a shiny, royal blue suit. His blond hair was neatly plaited, falling down his back in a long queue. Loki, Tully and Stumpy flanked Deacon were dressed as corporate bodyguards. The three of them looked uncomfortable in their black suits and narrow ties. Tully was understandably distressed at having to leave his arsenal behind. However, he couldn’t play his part if he clanked.
Varin met them at the dock. Smiling like a movie star, Deacon walked off his boat surrounded by his bodyguards. Hand extended, he approached like Don Varin was his best friend.
“Mr. Varin,” Deacon said loudly in his best Southern drawl. “Preston Keith, pleased to meet you.” He pointedly ignored the bodyguards.
“Mr. Keith, welcome to my humble abode,” Don Varin said with false modesty. “Won’t you all come in,” he invited with a gesture.
Loki took in details of the house transmitting them to the boat with his cyber eye. Fiddlestix and Deacon’s soldiers watched on a computer screen and listened to the conversation on their earpieces.
“Please sit down, Mr. Keith,” Varin gestured grandly to the most comfortable couch Deacon had ever seen.
Instead of sitting on the luxurious, dove gray leather, Deacon sat on an uncomfortable looking chrome chair because it had the best vantage point in the room. He couldn’t help thinking like a soldier even if he was pretending to be a corporate. Stumpy, Tully and Loki took up positions around him, each scanning the room as discretely as possible.