A Shared Confidence
blackened bronze plaque – the unblackened letters standing out in sharp relief – proclaimed: “Beldham & Morrissey, Bankers of Baltimore, est. 1837”. Inside was an impressive-looking lobby in marble and dark wood. Sleeve-gartered tellers worked efficiently behind a high counter, and a scattering of men sat at desks behind a wooden railing. An open brass gate toward the rear showed the vault, its heavy steel door open for business. I didn’t make immediately for the tellers, and the first person to notice me was a tall blonde man who’d been standing near one of the desks, talking with another man behind it. The blonde man excused himself and stepped out from behind the railing to greet me.
    â€œGood morning, sir. May I be of assistance? I’m Nathan Caine, Vice President in charge of Small Business Loans.”
    â€œThen you’re just the man I’m looking for,” I smiled, sticking out my hand. “Kelly Shaw from Denver. Looking to maybe do some business with you fellows.”
    Nathan and I had worked it out last night on the porch. I would present myself at the bank as a potential customer, a business man seeking a loan for a new venture. Better if whoever was behind the missing money didn’t find out that Nathan had called in a family member, let alone a detective. Under the guise of a new client, however, I could spend time in Nathan’s office and ask all kinds of questions without raising suspicion. And no one seeing us together would figure we were brothers.
    â€œIt’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. Shaw. Would you care to step into my office? This way if you please.” Nathan ushered me to a glassed-in enclosure next to several others that made up the far wall. We passed a portly, gray-haired man and I caught his stuck-out lower lip and jowly nod of approval. Wasn’t that just like Caine? Stepping right out onto the floor to draw in the new business. They’d promoted the right man, all right!
    Nathan’s office was exactly what I would have imagined. Clean, neat, and orderly to a degree that bordered on unhealthy obsession. There was one potted plant on top of the filing cabinet (not a single, stray brown leaf in the dirt), a picture of Nathan, Marie, and the children in a silver frame on the bookcase, and a desk that was cleared for business – just a telephone, intercom, a few folders, and three pencils so sharp you could play a game of darts with them. It was all right angles and symmetry everywhere you looked.
    We sat down, both of us aware how visible we were through the glass. Nathan planted his elbows on the desk and steepled his fingers while I leaned back in my chair and brushed at the brim of the hat in my lap. Just two men talking business. I went first, my relaxed posture and easy smile not really matching my words. Nathan sifted through the folders on his desk, nodding occasionally. He already had the three documents ready for a look-see. He slid one of the open folders across the desk to me. I stroked my lower lip casually, making a note of the bogus company names and addresses.
    â€œNathan, do me a favor,” I said quietly. “Act like you’re making notes on that pad. What I really need you to do is to write your own signature at least three times.”
    Nathan wrote his signature four times, because “at least” would have meant being satisfied with the bare minimum. He tore off the top sheet and handed it to me. I looked at it, scratching my jaw absently as though we were hashing out how much I might want to borrow over how long a time. Reaching out to the open folder with the three bogus loan documents, I rotated the whole thing until I was looking at it upside down, then placed the sheet bearing Nathan’s four signatures on the desk the same way. For a minute or two, my eyes went back and forth between the loan documents and the sheet.
    â€œPretty good job of forgery, isn’t

Similar Books

Strictly Friends?

Jo Cotterill

Divas and Dead Rebels

Virginia Brown

Sweet Reason

Robert Littell

Paper Aeroplanes

Dawn O'Porter

After the First Death

Robert Cormier

The Exception

Sandi Lynn