Paranoia (050 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.

Part Three: 25 (Cont'd)

I sat down in my reading chair and pored over the file.

It was obvious that a lot of time and effort and money had gone into it. P.I.s had followed her around, taken close note of her comings and goings, her habits, the errands she ran. There were photos of her entering the Trion building, at a restaurant with a couple of female friends, at some kind of tennis club, working out at one of those all-women health clubs, getting out of her blue Mazda Miata. She had glossy black hair and blue eyes, a slim body (that was fairly evident from the Lycra workout togs). Sometimes she wore heavy-framed black glasses, the kind that beautiful women wear to signal that they're smart and serious and yet so beautiful that they can wear ugly glasses. They actually made her look sexier. Maybe that was the point.

After an hour of reading the file, I knew more about her than I ever knew about any girlfriend. She wasn't just beautiful, she was rich—a double threat. She'd grown up in Darien, Connecticut, went to Miss Porter's School in Farmington, and then went to Yale, where she'd majored in English, specializing in American literature. She also took some classes in computer science and electrical engineering. According to her college transcript she got mostly A's and A minuses and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year. Okay, so she was smart, too; make that a triple threat.

Meacham's staff had pulled up all kinds of financial background on her and her family. She had a trust fund of several million dollars, but her father, a CEO of a small manufacturing company in Stamford, had a portfolio worth a whole lot more than that. She had two younger sisters, one still in college, at Wesleyan, the other working at Sotheby's in Manhattan.

Since she called her parents almost every day, it was a fair guess that she was close with them. (A year's worth of phone bills were included, but fortunately someone had predigested them for me, summarized who she called most often.) She was single, didn't seem to be seeing anyone regularly, and owned her own condo in a very upper-crust town not far from Trion headquarters.

She shopped for groceries every Sunday at a whole-foods supermarket and seemed to be a vegetarian, because she never bought meat or even chicken or fish. She ate like a bird, a bird from the tropical rainforest—lots of fruits, berries, nuts. She didn't do bars or happy hours, but she did get the occasional delivery from a liquor store in her neighborhood, so she had at least one vice. Her house vodka seemed to be Grey Goose; her house gin was Tanqueray Malacca. She went out to restaurants once or twice a week, and not Denny's or Applebee's or Hooters; she seemed to like high-end, "chef-y" places with names like Chakra and Alto and Buzz and Om. Also she went to Thai restaurants a lot.

She went out to movies at least once a week, and usually bought her tickets ahead of time on Fandango; she occasionally saw your typical chick flick but mostly foreign films. Apparently this was a woman who'd rather watch The Tree of Wooden Clogs than Porky's. Oh, well. She bought a lot of books online, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, mostly trendy serious fiction, some Latin American stuff, and a fair number of books about movies. Also, recently, some books on Buddhism and Eastern wisdom and crap like that. She'd also bought some movies on DVD, including the whole Godfather boxed set as well as some forties noir classics like Double Indemnity. In fact, she'd bought Double Indemnity twice, once in video a few years earlier, and once, more recently, on DVD. Obviously she'd only gotten a DVD player within the last two years; and obviously that old Fred MacMurray/Barbara Stanwyck flick was a favorite of hers. She seemed to have bought every record ever made by Ani DiFranco and Alanis Morissette.

I stored these facts away. I was beginning to get a picture of Alana Jennings. And I was beginning to come up with a plan.

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