I grabbed my phone and sent her an apology hoping that my explanation would be enough for her.
Me: Brittany, I apologize for not responding sooner but I had some things come up while I was on the flight that needed my immediate attention. I have just now been able to read your message but I hope you will forgive me for my delayed reply.
Placing the phone down on my desk, I reached into my bag and grabbed my laptop hoping to do some investigative work myself. I logged into the server back home but I was limited to what I could do since I was overseas and Landon’s team was too busy scouring the server to give me full access.
Closing my computer in frustration, I tried to think of who would be trying to get into our system and why. In all the years we had this business no one had ever caused an issue let alone posed a threat and now all of a sudden that we started all these new programs there had been more and more problems.
I sighed and looked at my phone realizing that it had been two hours since I messaged Brittany and I hadn’t heard anything back from her. Picking it up, I typed another one and sent it to her.Me: I hope you aren’t upset with me for not answering you sooner.
“Ethan?” Julia called out before she entered my office.
“You look like shit.”
“It’s good to see you too, Julia.” I said as I brushed my hands through my hair trying to make myself look more presentable before I met with the board.
She smirked then walked in and sat down in the empty chair across from me. “What's wrong?” She asked.
I stood up and walked around the desk and sat on the corner as she watched me closely then folded her hands in her lap and said, "Mhmmmm. I've known you long enough to know something's wrong."
I should have known I couldn't keep anything from her, she did know me well. She has seen me down more times than she should have, never judging, just being a friend and lending an ear when I needed it.
"Someone tried to hack into my computer system back home."
Her eyes widened and she got up from her seat. "You don't think..."
"I don't know who could have done it. My tech team can't seem to find anything. Whoever it was is good and they left no trail."
She walked around me then picked up the phone and when dialing. Since I moved my practice here I figured it would be a good idea to learn the language so when she asked the person on the other end for a favor, I knew what she was doing.
After she hung up she said, "Your American team may not know how to hack a hacker but Petra will."
"Julia, you can't just use your insiders at the Foreign Intelligence Service to look into this."
"Why not? You and I have business together, if I think there is a potential threat to me, I very well use them to find out who it is. And if it has anything to do with..."
She looked down choosing her next words carefully, knowing they could easily send me into an angry fit of rage at even the thought that this had anything to do with her.
"She isn't that smart, Julia and besides what would she possibly want with my clients information."
"She tried to ruin you. You may not believe she manipulated you but we both know the truth. Don't you remember what she said did? I remember because I picked up pieces of your broken heart from the floor."
I wanted to believe that Lauren had nothing to do with all this but what Julia said was starting to convince me that she had more than enough ammo to cause these problems, only no one had seen or heard from her in a year.
"The statute ended a week ago and if you're accusations are true, that means she's back in town."
My blood began to boil as I thought about her being anywhere near me. She had been court ordered to remain 500 miles or more away from me for a year or she would be sentenced to 5 years in jail but now that the year was over, she had ever reason to return and try to make my life hell as payback.
My office phone rang and Julia picked it up. She began writing down what the caller was saying and asking questions as I grabbed my cell phone and called the office back home. I hadn't checked in since I got of the plane and I was curious to see if they had made any progress when I heard Julia hang the phone up and Marco finally answer.
He told me they found something but were working to get a more precise location and a name.
"Marco get me an address and find out if this Robert guy has any connections to Lauren... Yeah last week... I wouldn't put it past her or her father... My meeting is today and I will be getting back on the plane as soon as it's over... We need to make sure we have all the evidence we need to nail her, I will not let her fuck with me again."
I looked over at Julia who had the sheet of paper in her hand and said, "What did Petra find out?"
"Seems little Ms. Martin has been busy. She got to town a few weeks ago and was seen with your friend's brother."
“Somewhere called Noir Disctrict.” She looked at the paper and then handed it to me.
The address made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, surely she wouldn't be involved in this kind of stupidity? And to drag her pathetic little sidekick along with her was even dumber. It was like she learned nothing from what she had done and I needed to make sure she couldn't get anything from me or my partners.
“Here is Petra’s number. When you get back home call her and she give your team a program to keep this from happening again. Now get ready the meeting starts in 10 minutes.”
She left my office just as my cell rang again.
“Hello...Yes, I know...And she’s with Renfroe...Find out of he’s heard from him since last month and call me back. My meeting shouldn't take too long then I will be on a flight back home. We need to get ahead of this before she inflicts any damage.”
When the call ended I noticed I still hadn't heard from Brittany so I sent another message, this time I was mad as hell and didn't mind letting her know I meant it and if having to punish her made her understand, I would gladly drive right to her house as soon as I got off the plane and prove it.
Me: If you are ignoring me, you already know the consequence of your choice so I suggest you message me back.
Almost immediately I got a reply but I was expecting something snarky instead, her answer was simple.
Brittany: I'm glad you made it to Sweden in one piece and no I was not ignoring you I've had a very busy couple of nights.I had forgotten about her having to work tonight and that James said he hoped she didn't burn the place down while he was at the store getting something for her dish. He was quite pleased when he arrived and not only was it still standing but she had averted a major crisis for him while he was gone.
Me: It seems you did. James told me about how well you handled their situation. He made the best choice in hiring you.
Brittany: It wasn't too difficult but I also had some help from a friend so that made it easier.