Wednesday, July 4, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde
A gaggle of giggly teenagers flooded into the diner. Kass gathered her things and moved to a quieter end of the counter. She visited Landgrabb Financial’s website. Nothing too suspicious. All the right phrases. Long-term growth. Securing your funds for the future. Be ready for the big moments in life and trust us with your financial success. She absently clicked through a few more pages and landed on the board of directors page. As she scrolled through, her eyes landed on a familiar name. She leaned back in shock. Albert C. Alto.
That can’t be a coincidence. She rubbed her face. Why was an Alto on the board of directors for a Langrabb bank? This information was left for me for some reason. Madison trusted me to find the links. But how? What am I missing? She plucked the business card Mrs. Andrews gave her from her purse – Delores Miller. Kass bit her lower lip and called the number. The woman answered on the third ring. After Kass explained who she was and how she made the contact, Delores agreed to meet with her in thirty minutes at the diner.
That was fast, Kass shrugged. And convenient. While she waited, she decided to type up the list of numbers and letters, including the ones she hadn’t deciphered yet. It would be easier than explaining the “invisible ink” and decoding she had to do in order to find this information.
Opening a new Netquest browser window, Kass searched for the name Delores Miller as well as forensic accounting so she wouldn’t be caught incompetent. The woman was linked to a number of high profile cases in Sim City, Starlight Shores, and Bridgeport. She was called for expert counsel on behalf of the Sims National Intelligence Agency. She published a book on her area of expertise – Yay Tax Shelters! She even consulted on the set of Roaring Vice in Roaring Heights, Sultona and was credited with a small appearance in season nine, episode seventeen – Strangled in Simoleons.
Forensic accountant sounded expensive, so Kass began determining the possible ways she could convince Jennifer to pay for the help, or how she would come up with the money on her own. Maybe her grandparents would float her a small loan so she could cover Delores’ costs.
Before she could call Jennifer, Kass spotted Delores Miller, wearing a gray blazer, loose black tie, white collared shirt, and jeans entered the restaurant and immediately began looking around for her contact. Too late. Better to ask forgiveness than permission, Kass supposed. She gulped and closed the laptop lid, and waved timidly. Get it together, Kass! she chided. Just cuz the woman did an episode of your favorite crime show…
“I see you’re doing your research,” the tall woman said upon approach and stuck out her hand.
Kass blinked rapidly. The woman looked familiar. “Ms. Miller, I presume? I’m Kass Fullbright.”
“Don’t let me stop you,” the woman shook her head, sliding onto the adjacent barstool. “I did my research on you too.”
“What?” Kass paled. “Um?”
“Salutatorian. Four point oh grade point average from Community School for the Gifted. Law clerk intern for Jennifer Martinez at the Legal Aid Office in Sunset Valley,” Delores Miller rattled off. “Expected to attend Edgewater Global Business University next semester. Daughter of Amy Riviera and Howard Fullbright. Overachieving perfectionist with borderline obsessive tendencies,” she stopped and smiled. “Am I close? It’s my job to know my clients.”
Except for the daughter of Howard Fullbright thing. Kass flinched, the relationship a sore spot. She still hadn’t chatted with her dad… or whatever he was… about the awkward discovery.
“You sure… do your research…” Kass remarked, slowly.
“No need to be nervous,” Delores continued. “I know your boss. She’s cool.”
“Everyone says that,” Kass replied, a little too quickly.
The heat rushed to her cheeks. I’m like a stupid little kid.
“Uh…” she shoved her laptop in her side bag. “I mean…”
“Relax kid,” Delores chuckled lightly. “I actually called Jennifer before I came here.”
“You did?” Kass’s eyes widened.
“Yes, and she’s impressed with your doggedness, Kass. Working a case on your off time… it’s tenacity like that that got me noticed and helped me move up the chain, but… there is such a thing as overworking,” she winked. “Your boss sends you home for the night and you pour over bank numbers and call a forensic accountant instead.”
Kass winced. “I just want to see justice for… my friend.”
“That is admirable,” Delores nodded. “Jennifer called me just yesterday. We were going to meet in the office tomorrow, but…” she waved her hand.
Kass turned to see her boss through the door. She didn’t look happy. She gulped, realizing she was probably in trouble. And what were the odds? Calling the one forensic accountant who happened to be friends with Jennifer Martinez, Attorney at Law, and Victoria Andrews, private investigator?
“Jennifer,” she laughed uncomfortably as the woman settled on the barstool at the adjacent counter. “I was going to call you.”
“I thought I sent you home for the night,” Jennifer lifted her bag off her shoulder and flagged the waitress. “And here you are still working. Hiring people on my dime?”
“Oh… uh… I was going to… cover it… I mean, figure out a way to pay for it,” Kass rushed the words. “I mean… I planned to call you… tonight… to tell you what I found.”
“Really?” Jennifer quirked a brow, skeptically, and ordered the hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and brown gravy. “And just when were you planning to call me?”
“Um…” Kass swallowed hard. “I found something… and Tori Andrews suggested I ask an accountant… a forensic accountant… like Ms. Miller here…” she nodded toward Delores. “And… I know sometimes you consult with Tori… I mean… Ms. Andrews… and um… I didn’t know, Jennifer. I swear… I didn’t know we were going to meet Ms. Miller tomorrow at the office.”
Jennifer frowned, and requested a pot of coffee for the group. She pressed her fingers against her forehead.
“Kass, you have good intentions, I know, but sometimes you get ahead of yourself,” Jennifer sighed. “This is why I wanted you to walk away from the case.”
“I know…” Kass hung her head. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t sweat it, kid,” Delores piped up. “And don’t be so hard on her, Jennifer. She’s doing what you pay her to and then some. I wish I had ten more like her with the guts to call an expert in to confirm some information for me. Her boldness shows imitative and passion. I seem to recall someone else like that…” her brown eyes twinkled mischievously. “…in law school.”
“You’re supposed to be a filing intern, Kass, not a private detective,” Jennifer waved her hands. “…but we’re in this together. No more cutting out the big boss, okay?”
“You got it,” Kass grinned, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Over the next hour, Jennifer explained she confirmed the DNA results at an independent lab and combed through Madison’s financial records, discovering additional details that flagged her suspicions. She also revealed she had hired Victoria Andrews discreetly to follow up on some leads regarding the Madison case like discreetly questioning the people listed on the police report the night of Madison’s death and attempting to locate the witness – the lady in red from Big Box Superstore.
Tori discovered the woman was also seen at the Landgrabb Sell n’ Swap on July eleventh. Kass gasped. She was the same woman in the store when she first approached Horace Horner regarding her bisnonna’s brooch? Then it wasn’t Bella Goth, but she did recall something about the woman was familiar. Her heart sank. She had hoped. But there wasn’t any way she wouldn’t recognize her idol… even all those years after her infamous disappearance right?
So does that mean the Bella lookalike came back to Horace’s shop recently? Which might mean… her heart pounded in excitement. She slowed her breathing, trying to calm down. Two different cases, Kass. Two different, but related cases? And did that negate the whole bizarre Madison – push pins – poster – travel agency – law firm – Bella Goth connection? While Delores cross referenced Jennifer’s information with Kass’s data, Kass filled the ladies in on her attempts to find the brooch. When she mentioned Detectives Hunter and Goddard, she could see the recognition dawn in Delores’ eyes if only for a fleeting second as she glanced up from the notes.
“The same detectives working the Madison case?” Jennifer inquired as Delores handed the papers back to her clients.
“Uh, yes,” Kass frowned. “All done? That was fast.”
“Cursory stuff really,” Delores replied. “I can do more tomorrow.”
“Did you find anything?” Kass asked.
“Well, yes,” Delores smiled. “I found the WBAN numbers.”
“In Madison’s financial records?” Jennifer said, excitedly.
“What is a WBAN number?” Kass asked.
“World Bank Account Number,” Delores replied. “An alphanumeric code used to identify banking information, usually a country identifying code, transaction number, sorting code, etcetera. They are useful for determining the exact location of funds at any one given time.”
“Great! How does that help us?” Kass inquired.
Jennifer’s eyes lit up. “You can tell us the exact bank and account where these transactions took place? And we have the dates from Kass’ information.”
Kass beamed, glad to feel useful.
“Yes, and I can tell you exactly who withdrew money and where it went and to whom,” Delores said, glancing around and lowering her voice. “But not here… tomorrow. Jennifer, you can get a court order in the morning?”
“Yes,” Jennifer bobbed her head.
“For what?” Kass interjected.
“I have half a mind,” Jennifer said, quietly. “To pull the entire department’s financial records.”
“If the judge lets you, do it,” Delores replied. “This kind of scheme is exactly the kind of case I consult on. Consider me hired. And I’m expensive. The Sandcastle Resort good for you?” she smirked.
Jennifer laughed. “You wish. You’ve been in town for over a month.”
“Yeah,” Delores stretched. “But the Sandpiper Motel isn’t the same.”
“Over a month?” Kass puzzled, and then gasped. “The clinic! You were at the clinic?”
“Yes, so?” Delores tilted her head.
“Looking for Hunter?” Kass probed, and tucked a hair behind her ear. “A Detective Hunter, perhaps?”
“At the Sun Valley Clinic?” Delores squinted her eyes. “Oh yes, but it’s classified.”
“Classified?” Kass sputtered. “Wait… what department? Are we talking the police department? Jennifer…” she whipped her gaze to her boss. “What’s going on?”
Jennifer sighed. “Kass, I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
“But…” Jennifer lifted her hand. “For now…go home.”
Author Notes: Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the never-before-published images. I’ve been waiting to use them for awhile. I really do love that Kass is surrounded by strong, independent, successful career women in these last few chapters. Woot! Delores Miller is actually a social worker in game from Roaring Heights, but in my story, she’s a financial consultant and forensic accountant. Yay Tax Shelters! is actually a business book in TS3. You can learn more about forensic accounting here.
I’m sure I got some of the details wrong, but we’ll call it creative liberties. 🙂 WBAN is my Simworld version of IBAN (International Bank Account Number). We don’t use them in the US, but they do in other parts of the world. I thought it would be useful for story purposes to include it. Maybe I rushed some stuff and it’s a bit implausible how everything came together, but I feel like it’s time to get moving on resolving loose ends and solving the mysteries, and again, I’ll cite creative liberties. Hope you enjoyed.