194 More Than What You Buy
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“Oh, Heavenly Lord.” One of the officers said as they opened the door to the study and covered his nose and mouth with a hand. It didn't help. “Call it in.”

“Why is it always us that finds these things?” His partner asked as they stepped in and gave a cursory look around.

“We're just lucky, I guess.” He said as they backed out and closed the door.

“Yeah, luck.” His partner said and used his shoulder radio to call it in.

Half an hour later, Detective Olivia Tanner showed up at the residence and sighed. Despite knowing the man was involved in Arnold's cases, according to her, she had been assigned to the suicide. She almost scoffed when the chief told her that's what it was. There had been far too many deaths that involved people who had crossed Arnold and she didn't like that they were ruled suicides and accidental deaths.

Why can't the chief see the connections? Olivia asked as she got out of her car and went inside the house. It was expensive, ostentatious, and more than a little gaudy. She did her best to ignore that nothing had been taken and waved the two officers aside from the closed door they were guarding. She slipped on a medical mask that she hoped would help her from gagging and opened the door.

Olivia heard the two officers cough and she stepped in and closed the door. She did a cursory look around and she sighed. It really did look like a suicide, even to her expert eyes. Just the splatter alone told the tale. It would be extremely difficult to get that by shooting someone across the room, unless you shot them on an upward angle. She mentally drew a line from the middle of the splatter, across the head, and to the floor at her feet.

They would have to be laying on the floor or crouched in front of the desk. Olivia thought. If all that paperwork was out of the way.

She glanced at it and right on top was the newspaper with Brad's father's blatant bribes to the judge, the county, and to the prosecutor. Of course, next to it, on the corner of the desk, was the denied life insurance policy that the company refused to pay, because Brad had died under suspicious circumstances and in the middle of a potential crime.

Olivia sighed and searched around for anything useful and couldn't find anything. Nothing was disturbed, nothing appeared to be missing, and she couldn't understand why someone would take their own life over things like this. Of course, she didn't have children herself and might not ever have them, so losing a child wasn't something she had personal experience with. Not that she would ever want to experience it.

She stayed as far away from the body and the blood splatter as possible while she examined them, then her eyes caught glint of something. She moved around and bent over close to see the golden band on the victim's ring finger.

Dammit. Olivia thought and walked over to the door, then slipped out into the hallway. “Check the phone. This man is married and if he's been undiscovered for several days...”

The two officers nodded and went down the hallway to the house phone with a display for them to check. “We've got 'mother' and 'Carol' as the last two entries and they are from two days ago.” One of them said.

“He's been here a lot longer than that.” Olivia said. “Probably close to a week.”

“We'll keep checking.” The other officer said after writing down the numbers.

Olivia nodded and took out her cell phone. She needed forensics there as soon as possible to determine the real time of death. She thought about the cause and held in her sigh, the only consolation was that at least it was quick. For some reason, she believed this was a genuine suicide and she wasn't going to find any evidence that either Arnold or Charlie were there at all.

Little did she know that the two officers walking into the room had added their police issue shoe prints to the carpet that matched the pair Officer Arnold had worn. That was twice that she had been so very close to getting evidence of him being at a crime scene.

*

Arnold shook the account manager's hand first and then the woman accountant stood up and had a smile on her face. “I know I need to ask if you want a kiss or a handshake now.” He said to her.

The woman glanced at the account manager and then she smiled. “Oh, what the hell. Kiss, please.”

Arnold stepped close and took her into his arms as he gave her a kiss. The woman shivered a little and put her arms around him as she kissed him back. The kiss went on for several minutes, then the woman shivered a little again and broke the kiss. Her face was flushed red and she stared at Arnold like he was a particularly delicious scoop of ice cream that she wanted to eat.

“Ahem.” The account manager said and the woman jumped a little from being startled. “Mr. Strickland, I believe you have a college grant for us to look at.”

Arnold nodded and took out the large manila envelope from his backpack and handed it over. The three of them sat down and the account manager and the woman quickly read over the relevant points in the thick grant.

“Surprisingly, this is quite similar to your scholarship grant and we should have no problems setting up another account with it.” The account manager said. “I'm surprised it's for so little.”

“You skipped the third page where it details this is only the construction grant to build or rent appropriate facilities and to buy equipment.” Arnold said and waited for them to flip back. “On the fifth page, it details there will be a rolling contract for a follow up grant.”

They flipped to the fifth page when they were done reading the third page completely. The man gasped when he saw the amount that was the annual budget and the woman shivered again. A rolling contract for a million dollars a year, that Arnold wanted to deposit into their bank and not use the local branch near the college.

“W-why...” The man started to say, his voice breaking up, so he coughed and composed himself. “May I ask why you've brought this to us?”

“You both helped my family deal with everything after my father's death.” Arnold said. “When I told the professor I wanted to use this bank and gave the same reason, he gave it to me and told me to take care of it.”

The account manager and the accountant exchanged knowing looks. “Well, I'm sure it won't take us long to handle this for you.” The man said. “We can have this processed as quickly as possible and...”

“I have a building purchase contract as well.” Arnold said and took out the contract for a building for nearly half of the grant.

“I think I love you.” The woman said and both Arnold and the account manager looked at her. “I knew it was the right thing to do everything we could to help you last time and... and I never thought you would come back to us with something like this.” She touched both contracts. “You don't know what this will do for our bank or the doors this will open for us.”

“He doesn't really need to know that.” The account manager said. “It doesn't affect him or his business with us.”

“But, don't you see? It does.” The woman said. “If he knows that bringing us business like this gives us more clout and financial stability, as well as access to other government and private grants...” She smiled. “His own money, clout, and financial stability is also important.”

Arnold raised his eyebrows slightly at her.

“Just wait. You are going to have several private inquiries over the next few weeks when this goes through.” The woman said. “I'm an accountant. Money attracts money, you see. The more you have, the more you have access to.”

Arnold thought about it and nodded. He had definitely found more money on richer people.

“Don't worry about it for now. We can handle all the little details when you leave.” The woman said and tapped the account manager's arm. “Bring any more contracts or grants directly to us and we'll take care of them for you.”

Arnold nodded again and the woman smiled.

“Let's get started.” The account manager said.

*

The electronics store guy laughed when Kelly tried to flirt with him, then he really laughed when she told him what she was trying to do. Apparently, Arnold's honesty policy when speaking didn't always work.

“You're so cute.” The guy said and Kelly blushed a little from both embarrassment and the compliment. “So, what can I do for you today?”

“I... well...” Kelly wasn't sure how to broach the subject if her flirting had failed so spectacularly. “Do you remember that computer you built for me a few months ago?”

The guy nodded. He had given her a ridiculous deal on the price, just because he wanted to test the build. “What about it? Is it on the fritz?”

“No, it still works great.” Kelly said. “It works so well that... well...”

“Your friend wants one, too?” The guy asked with a knowing smile. He was glad that his system was wanted by someone else that wasn't a computer junkie.

“No, he... he wants ten of them.” Kelly said.

The guy's eyebrows disappeared into his hairline. “I might be able to hide one, maybe two...” He started to say.

“He also wants both a normal VR headset with the gaming controllers and the full dive headsets.”

The guy just stared at her. “Are you kidding me?”

Kelly shook her head.

“Jesus.” The guy said and rubbed his face. “Oh, man. Man, oh man.” He took a deep breath and let it out. “I never thought I would regret giving you a store discount.”

Kelly blushed for a moment, then she had an idea and the blush faded. “What if we advertise that it was your store that provided the equipment?”

“What do you mean?” The guy asked, curious.

“I'm buying the equipment anyway, since we need it, and I already warned you that I was going to abuse my discount.” Kelly said with confidence. “That doesn't mean I'm not appreciative of your work.”

The guy made the 'go on' gesture with his hand.

“We're building a computer lab at the college and I'm sure my friend won't mind having your flyer in the window and maybe a business poster on the wall of the waiting room.”

“For free?” The guy asked, surprised.

“In exchange for the discount on new purchases.” Kelly said, getting into the groove of negotiation. “Everyone that passes by the building will see your ad and will know you provide equipment for a college grant.”

The guy stood there and thought about it. “Do you want the latest versions of the helmets?”

“No, as long as they work.” Kelly said. “You get to clear out the older stock, I get my discount, and you get free advertising in another market area.”

The guy smiled as he reached across his desk and held a hand out to shake. “You've got a deal.”

Kelly smiled back and shook the offered hand.

*

The account manager wasn't surprised that arranging a grant was almost as easy as setting up Arnold's scholarship account. Even the follow up grants could be folded into the setup when they came through and he would handle any hiccups that might come up.

“...and we're done.” He said and nodded to the accountant who had helped getting everything sorted. “Great work.”

“It was my pleasure.” The woman said and stood up as she walked around the desk they sat behind. “Arnold, thank you for using our bank for all of your needs.”

Arnold stood up and the two of them made out for several minutes.

The account manager just sat there, a little stunned at the public display. He was glad that he had his own office and no one else was seeing this.

The woman stopped kissing him with a sigh. “Are you in a rush to go anywhere?”

Arnold took out his cell phone and exchanged several texts with Kelly. “The computers are being built now, so I have a couple of hours before I have to go there and buy them.”

“Wonderful.” The woman purred and caressed his suit jacket. “I only stayed here for you, so I can leave at any time.” She looked at the account manager. “I'll see you tomorrow.”

The account manager could only nod in response.

“Thank you.” Arnold said and held a hand out for the man to shake, then he left the office with the arm of the accountant around his waist and his over her shoulders.

What... what just happened? The account manager asked himself as his door shut behind them.

*

Arnold drove Pam's car down the street to what looked like a big fancy hotel. The woman on the passenger side hummed appreciatively and the two of them got out of the car and went inside.

“We need a room for the night.” Arnold said. “Presidential suite.”

The woman on his arm took in a sharp breath.

“Cash, debit, or credit card?” The clerk asked.

“Cash.” Arnold said and the woman raised her eyebrows slightly, because she thought he would debit with his new card, especially for such an expensive room. The clerk told him the price and Arnold took out a small wad of bills and added enough to cover the cost and then some. The woman stared at the money and then looked at his face. He smiled and gave her a kiss as he put the wad of money away, left the change as he picked up the key, and they went to the elevator.

What followed was several hours that the accountant would never forget. The expensive room, even more expensive room service, and the best sex she ever had. When asked about it the next day by several of her female friends, she wasn't sure what she liked more. Being treated like a lady for an hour, being treated like a tramp that loved sex for an hour, or being treated like a queen for the last hour.

It had all melded together and created the best time of her life. In fact, she had stayed there all night, at his insistence before he left, and she ordered breakfast the next day and checked out before going back to work. He had even prepaid for breakfast and she appreciated his forethought to handle it for her. All in all, it was a great time and she would eagerly await any news about him coming back to the bank.

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