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Camino Winds (Camino Island, #2) by John Grisham Read Online (FREE)

 

 

 

CHAPTER SIX
THE CONSULTANT
1.
Three years earlier, when Mercer returned to Camino Island for the first time in many years, she did so under the pretense of taking a sabbatical to finish a novel. She settled into the cottage built by her grandmother, Tessa, which was still owned by the family. She hung around the bookstore, met Leigh and Myra, Bob Cobb, Andy Adam, and the rest of the gang, and quickly ingratiated herself with the island’s literary mafia, of which Bruce was the unquestioned leader.

She made little progress with the novel, though she claimed otherwise. The writing was part of the act, the ruse, the smokescreen to divert attention away from her real motive: she was being paid a handsome sum by a mysterious security firm hired by an insurance company that was desperately searching for some stolen manuscripts. A lot of money was on the line, especially for the insurance company, and the security firm had come to believe that one Bruce Cable had the manuscripts hidden somewhere on the island.

 

And they were correct. What the firm didn’t know was that Bruce was suspicious of Mercer from day one, and as she got closer and closer, and indeed all the way to his bedroom, he became even more convinced that she was working for the enemy. Her presence prompted him to ship the manuscripts overseas and eventually sell them for a fortune in ransom.

Though the elaborate ruse had failed, in the end all parties were happy, especially Bruce. The owner, Princeton’s library, got the priceless manuscripts back. The insurance company took a hit but the damage could have been far worse. Of the actual thieves, little need be said. Three were in prison. One was dead.

Since then, Bruce had marveled at the security firm’s elaborate scheme. It was nothing short of brilliant and had almost worked. He became convinced that he needed to know more about the people who had almost ruined him. He leaned on Mercer, who reluctantly made the phone call and established the contact. Her handler had been a shrewd operator named Elaine Shelby, and Bruce was determined to meet her.

2.
The building was one of half a dozen tall, new, gleaming structures near Dulles Airport, twenty-four miles west of the U.S. capital and in the sprawl of northern Virginia. From the moment Bruce parked his rental car underground, he felt as though he was being monitored. At the front desk, he was photographed, body-scanned, and asked to stare into a camera to record forever his facial features. As he was led to an elevator he searched in vain for a directory on a wall, but didn’t see one. Evidently the folks who leased these offices did not favor publicity. A security guard was waiting when he stepped off on the fourth floor. No smile, no pleasant greeting, no meaningful word. Just a grunt and a motion. There were no work pods with multiple desks, no pools of secretaries. From the time Bruce stepped off the elevator until he walked into the office of Elaine Shelby, he saw no one else except the guard.