Read The Taxman Killeth Online

Authors: Mary Ann Mitchell

The Taxman Killeth

 

 

 

The Taxman Killeth

 

Mary Ann Mitchell

 

http://www.maryann-mitchell.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s
imagination or used fictitiously.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Mary Ann
Mitchell

 

 

 

Prologue

 

“This job, you’re going to like,”
said Joey.

“It’s a suit job.”

“Hell, what’s so bad about
wearing a suit and tie for a while? Can’t always go around in jeans.”

“I could.” Todd dropped a manila
folder down on the marble-topped coffee table.

“Wait till you see the office
manager. Curves. Red hair. She even seems to have a personality.”

“The report also stated she was
bright.”

“You’ve never had a problem
talking women into helping you, even those with Ph.D.’s. Don’t sweat it.”

Todd had a knot in his gut. He
knew something was going to go wrong. He didn’t know what it was, but there
were bad vibes coming from somewhere.

“Of course you won’t be able to
use the shoulder holster. Better stick to the small pistol and ankle holster,
because I know you’ll whip the jacket off as soon as you get settled in at the
office. And accountants aren’t expected to work armed. You’d have a lot of
convoluted explaining to do if the lawyers see that you’re packing a weapon,
even with that phony ID I had made for you. Oh, and try to keep the tie on.”

Todd grimaced.

“Hey, the job pays well.
Besides, it will get me off the hook with a few guys I owe a favor to.”

“Is that why we didn’t get an
advance?”

“Don’t worry. When we do get
paid, you’ll have enough to lie around in your jeans for a few months. Just don’t
forget you’ve got to move fast on this one.”

“What if the office manager
doesn’t want to cooperate?”

“I’m not worried about that. You’ve
got the ability to spin webs of silk around whatever woman is nearby. Besides,
she’s in a dry spell. Hasn’t been seeing anyone for the past six months. And
stop calling her the office manager. Start using names. You got them down pat
yet?”

“Yeah. Amy Simpson, Trudy
Welch...” Todd went on with his list as he stood and walked across the living
room. The sun was setting beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. The orange sky was
succumbing to the jumble of clouds. He slid the glass door open and stepped out
onto his terrace. A sudden rush of the wind made his body tense against the
force. A lone sailboat was heading back to the pier. The small boat listed
further onto its side, and Todd imagined the crew rushing around to try and
right it.

“Been a long time, hasn’t it?”
Joey had joined Todd and rested his arm across his partner’s shoulders.

“Maybe we should buy our own
boat and take off to some of those islands we liked so much.”

“After the job, Todd. Then we’ll
have the cash to consider doing whatever we want.”

Todd shook his head. He knew he
was searching out ways to fill the empty gaps in his life. But what had he
expected when he had gotten into this line of work? Secrecy and brutality
constantly hovered over his life. And there was no escape from the violence he
was trained to inflict in his world. Nevertheless, there were Jennie and the
kids to worry about. He had to make sure they would be well-cared-for in case
he should be wasted on a job.

Yes, he made good money. That’s
what had bought him the luxury condo and stylish furniture and designer
clothes. But sometimes he worried about the lives he affected, the homes and
families that disintegrated when he completed a job. The people he took down
deserved it, no doubt about that, but still...

“Why don’t we go out, grab a
bite to eat?”

“I’m not hungry. I don’t like
this one, Joey. I get the feeling someone’s going to get hurt.”

“Who? I tell you it’s a clean
job. The redhead will spread the files wide open for you. And probably anything
else you’d like to sample.” Joey slapped Todd on the back.

Joey’s insouciant comment
worried Todd. His work was starting to show signs of shoddiness. The report on
the law firm was decent enough, but didn’t have the precise hands-on quality
that Joey usually turned in.

“Who made up the report, Joey?”

“What’s this? Listen, if you don’t
want to do the job, say so.” Joey didn’t bother waiting for an answer; instead,
he stepped back into Todd’s apartment.

Todd stayed out on the terrace
for another fifteen minutes, weighing the pros and cons. The only negative was
a vague apprehension: nothing he could verbalize. But there had been times when
his intuitiveness had saved his life.

Joey and he had a long history.
Both men had racked up a lot of time working in the field. Details were always
covered with care, and back-up support was never questioned. Jeopardizing one’s
life for the other was routine.

When he re-entered his
apartment, Todd found Joey in the kitchen, spreading mayonnaise across some
white toast.

“Got some bacon frying up, and I
found a couple of nearly ripe tomatoes next to the wilted lettuce. Care to join
me?”

“Naw. I’m surprised the bacon
wasn’t covered with mold. I forgot it was in there.”

“Trimmed it a bit.”

Todd laughed.

“Let’s go out and splurge on a
decent meal before I begin this lucrative job you’ve been harping about.”

 

 

 

Chapter 1

Taxed

 

Amy gathered the bundled papers
in her arms and proceeded down the hall to the conference room. It was that
time of the year again when she would be spending hours, days, weeks in the
company of crotchety Mr. Pickle, real name Pickens.

This was the worst part of her
job as office manager of the two-hundred-and-fifty-man law firm. Otherwise, she
loved her work. She met exciting people and had a considerable amount of
influence on the inner workings of the firm. Unfortunately, at tax time, the
chore of tolerating Mr. Pickle, the firm’s outside CPA, fell on her shoulders.

Amy gave a slight push to a
half-open door and it swung wide, allowing her to enter. She dropped all the
material on the conference table and watched as a few pages slid across the
surface of the table and floated onto the floor. Egad, she thought, it’s going
to be a bad day. She rushed around to the other end of the table and picked up
the papers, placing them on top of one pile, which was next to a higher pile,
which was in front of a set of books, which was next to... Oh! She didn’t even
want to think about it.

As Amy left the conference room,
she peeked down the hall at the reception area. At the same time, a stupendous
male stepped off the elevator. “Wow!” she whispered. “Trudy has all the luck.”
The dark-suited hulk with broad shoulders and crooked smile walked over to the
reception desk, where he was instantly greeted by an enthusiastic Trudy. And
with whom do I get stuck? Amy groused. Pickle Pickens. She couldn’t stand
watching any more of this and barged into Stu’s office, demanding his books.

“Today? You mean today you get
to entertain your friend Pickle.”

“Today, tomorrow, every day
until he’s finished. It always seems like an eternity, Stu. I think the man was
born cross. He’s so demanding, and those thick glasses which keep riding down
his nose to perch atop the bulb at the tip are so awful. Especially when he
sniffles and they start to wiggle around. He looks like the rabbit out of Alice
in Wonderland.”

“How do you keep from laughing?”
asked Stu as he handed her his heavy journal.

“He’s too nasty to be funny, Stu.
Thanks.” She took the journal and left Stu’s office. In the hall she stared
down at reception. He must be six-two, at least, she contemplated, as her eyes
caressed the impressive figure speaking to Trudy. Since she herself was
five-eleven barefoot, his height alone was temptation enough to go and
introduce herself. But what could she say, and besides, Pickle would be there
any minute. Amy looked at her watch: 10:30. She looked at the elevator,
expecting the doors to open any second, revealing Mr. Pickle Pickens in all his
five-foot-two splendor, with his pants just a tad too short and his oversized
padded shoulders. She glanced at the dreamboat, who was about to take a seat
across from the reception desk. His jacket had natural shoulders. He certainly
didn’t need any help there and, she guessed, not anywhere else, either.

Amy shook her head out of her
reverie as Stu came out of his office.

“Trudy’s looking for you. Says
you have a visitor.”

“Oh, thanks, Stu.”

As Amy moved down the hall, she
kept glancing around the reception area. She couldn’t see the entire room, but
most of the seating was visible from the hall. Could Pickle Pickens be lurking
somewhere beyond the reception desk, perhaps taking in the view from their
twenty-third floor window?

When she entered the reception
area, she could feel the tall man’s blue eyes following her, taking in her
curves, gestures, and walk. Her face felt warm. Quickly she looked around for
the Pickle. She had to get out of there fast, or she would surely say or do
something nebbish.

“Trudy, where is he?”

The receptionist smiled
cunningly and pointed toward the blue eyed, tanned brunet male seated just
behind Amy.

“No! I mean Mr. Pickle ahhh...
Mr. Pickens.”

There was a deep male laugh, and
she turned to see the handsome man’s blue eyes sparkle as he stood.

“Mr. Pickens,” Trudy emphasized,
“has retired. The accounting firm has sent Mr. Todd Coleman as the replacement.”

Amy’s lips parted, but what
could she say? After several moments of silence Coleman spoke.

“I don’t have quite as many
years in the business as,” here he stopped to smile broadly at Amy, “Mr.
Pickens, but my superiors have full faith in my proven abilities. So I hope you
won’t mind working with me.” His gaze swept across her classic features: green
eyes and full red hair. “I’m certainly looking forward to working with you.” He
reached toward Amy and took the journal from her wet palms. “Looks like we have
a lot of work ahead of us and we’ll be spending a good deal of time together.”
His eyes twinkled, and his lips quivered over a half-smile.

Amy wasn’t sure she could move.
However, she remembered the direction of the conference room, so with a little
nudge from Todd’s hand, she started to walk on shaky legs. This just might be
the best tax year yet, thought Amy.

Todd Coleman paused at the
doorway to the conference room to allow Amy to enter first. For Amy it was
proof he was a gentleman.

“It’s a little disheveled in
here,” she began to say.

“They should have given you advance
warning a month ago,” he said.

“They did,” she admitted. The
blue of his eyes darkened, and a furrow formed across his forehead. I blew this
one, she acknowledged to herself. Trying to salvage the situation, she began to
enumerate the various tasks she had been performing for the past several weeks.
In the midst of her explanation she realized that she sounded ridiculous.
Coleman was ignoring her while removing his supplies from his briefcase.

Amy stopped talking and he didn’t
seem to notice. As he took off his jacket Amy could see the expanse of his
chest against the white button-down shirt. He wore no undershirt, and the
outline of his pectorals was clear and seductive.

“Maybe I could get us some
coffee?” she asked.

“I would prefer that you get all
this material in order and then collect the rest of the data.”

Perhaps this wasn’t going to be
as enjoyable as she had anticipated. She quickly sorted out the piles,
explaining each grouping to Coleman.

“What’s missing?” he asked
briskly.

“A few lawyers haven’t handed in
last month’s time sheets yet. It can be very difficult to—”

He wasn’t listening to excuses;
she could tell by his abrupt movements as he re-positioned the work before him.

“I’ll get the rest,” she said. “Would
you like anything else, Mr. Coleman?”

“Todd.”

“What?”

His eyes met hers. The darkness
had lifted.

“Call me Todd.”

A meek smile came to Amy’s lips.

“May I bring you anything, Todd?”
Her voice was soft and personal.

“The rest of the data,” he
stated coldly. But there definitely was a hint of a smile above his dimpled
chin.

Amy nodded, turned, exited the
room, and softly closed the door behind her. She was about to begin her quest
for the missing time sheets, when she glanced down the hall toward reception.
Trudy was leaning over her desk beckoning to Amy.

When Amy walked into the
reception area Trudy squealed.

“Lunch! You must take him to
lunch, Amy. I’ll call that little French restaurant where we had Mr. Chase’s
promotion celebration, and—”

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