King of Paine: Sample Page 10

When the irate nurse insisted she had explicitly withdrawn consent using a prearranged signal, Reyes asked her if she saved logs of her online chat sessions.

She shook her head. “Can’t you get a copy from CyberLine?”

Reyes frowned. “Unfortunately, no. Most online services don’t store content, like e-mail, chat, or instant message data on their servers. It’s expensive, and they’re not required to do it unless we make a request to preserve specific records.”

“There might be another way to confirm her story, “ Carlisle said.

Penny admitted using the hospital’s computer that morning to chat but did not know whether the Carter Medical Center used keystroke-logging software. The agents agreed no further progress could be made without reviewing the chat logs. Reyes escorted Ralston to his home in the wealthy Buckhead section of town, and Carlisle followed the nurse back to the hospital to check if the IT department had captured her chat session. Tomorrow, they would analyze the computers in the Cyber Squad’s forensic lab.

As the party broke up in the Four Seasons’ parking deck, Frank slumped into the passenger seat of Woodbridge’s black Dodge Durango. He had averted disaster, for now. But as they silently listened to the Cotton Bowl announcers prattle on the radio, one thought plagued him. Somebody—whether Jolynn Decker or another anonymous stalker—had concocted an elaborate ruse to set up Ralston and the girl, and he or she might have more dramatic plans for a high-profile target like him. Was this simply a cryptic tease frame from a more elaborate extortion plot?

He closed his eyes, preparing himself for war. When he had awakened this morning, he resolved to play the first hand of many in a game to win back his self respect, and maybe even Jolynn’s heart. Now the stakes were higher, and he faced an opponent. No problem, he thought. Poker presented a more exciting challenge than solitaire. And, like Jolynn had always said, “No risk, no thrill.”

* * *

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 Copyright © 2011 by Larry Kahn

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