Incandescence (Part I)

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The Discovery

That night I dreamed of Bradley, so I was disappointed to wake up and find my bed empty. Bradley got up early and left for work and once again, I was home alone.

I made myself a coffee and decided I’d spend the day reviewing Mandy’s files. I pulled out the invoices and scattered them across the dining table.

Not knowing where to begin I decided to group the invoices based on the goods and services rendered. There was no obvious pattern so I shifted my focus to the invoice amounts, sorting the invoices from smallest to largest.

There was an invoice for software that caught my attention as I specifically recalled our IT department were yet to upgrade the Sales CRM system. This invoice was for $112,000; I was surprised at how expensive IT software was.

‘Check Solutions’ was the name of the supplier so I decided to go online and research their business; but I couldn’t find anything. It was as though this business didn’t exist. I tried the website that appeared on the invoice, but that lead me to a blank page. I logged onto the Governments online search engine to look up the business number that was provided on the invoice. I carefully typed the number in three times, each time getting the same message ‘the number you have provided is either incomplete or incorrect’.

I moved on to the next invoice, this one related to billboard advertising and was for $57,500. I typed the website provided on the invoice, but it didn’t exist. I tried to google the business name ‘Light it Up’ but nothing related to billboard advertising. I then went back into the Government website and once again the business number provided was not correct.

I spent hours going through each invoice, searching for websites, online presence and business number; but each invoice returned the same result - nothing.

Was Mandy aware of this? Was she trying to collate the information so that she could present it to the Directors; or was she involved, was she part of an elaborate plan to embezzle money from the company?

Was Mandy the victim she had made herself out to be or was she in fact the villain, sneaking around the office on weekends creating fake invoices.

I remembered that day in the photocopier room when Jackson had threatened to expose her for going after an engaged man. Was she manipulating Jackson, using him to commit company fraud? My train of thought stopped as Bradley, his father and brother entered the apartment.

‘How’s my little Sherlock going?’ Bradley teased as he saw the dining table covered in invoices.

‘Laugh all you want, but you’re all going to need to be seated for this' I replied. They could see I had discovered something and quickly made their way to the dining table.

‘Well’ Leonard said as he waved his hand towards the invoices and I immediately started to tell them everything I had just discovered.

All three Salvatore men sat there in disbelief before Mr Salvatore spoke up ‘So what you’re telling me is someone is embezzling money from me and my sons’ he was angry and directed his fury at me wanting answers.

‘It appears so’ was all I could say.

Bradley stood up and started tracing his finger over the invoices ‘Are they using the same or different bank account numbers?’ he finally asked.

‘I hadn’t thought that far’ came my reply and suddenly we all found ourselves frantically sorting through the invoices, grouping them by bank account numbers. We ended up with seven piles.

We spent the next few hours going through the company's accounting software, trying to determine the extent of fraud we had just uncovered.

The invoices on the dining room table amounted to over $1.8million, but we knew the actual loss was far worse.

It was late and Leonard arranged Pizza for dinner; good thing Leonard was always thinking of his stomach – I had been so busy analysing invoices all day that I’d forgotten to eat lunch.

When the pizzas arrived we finally cleared the dining table and sat down to eat. Bradley sat next to me at the table and whispered ‘You’re amazing’ in my ear. Everyone at the table heard him and raised their glasses; the gesture was lovely but I couldn't take full credit.

Shifting the focus from me, I thanked Leonard for his help in sneaking into the office to get the files.

After dinner Leonard took his father home and Bradley contacted his Private Investigators with details of the suspect bank accounts. It was after 10.00pm and I was exhausted.

‘Thank you for believing in me and giving me a chance to look into those files’ I said to Bradley as I was making my way to bed.

‘I meant what I said earlier, you really are amazing’ came Bradley’s response before he kissed me goodnight.

I showered and slipped into one of Bradley’s t-shirts before going to bed. I had purchased new pajama’s, but preferred wearing Bradley’s t-shirts as they carried his scent, which truthfully helped me sleep. I was too tired to worry about putting on Bradley’s boxers that night, so made my way into bed and fell into a deep blissful sleep.

Once again, my sleep was broken when I woke up screaming. By the time I was seated upright Bradley was already by my side holding me close.

‘What did you see?’ he asked and when I didn’t answer his voice became louder and more demanding ‘Tori, what did you see?’ he turned me so that I was facing him and he held my eyes, not breaking the glance.

I took a deep breath ‘I was in the carpark, I could hear the gunfire and as I dropped to the ground I realized it was a female standing there. The gunman was a woman, I remember seeing the high heels she had on before I passed out’ it was so vivid as the memories of that night flooded my mind.

Bradley held me close and asked if I remembered anything else but I didn’t. I wasn’t as petrified as I was a few nights earlier, but I still asked Bradley to stay with me. I needed the security of having him close and he was only too happy to oblige with my request.

The following morning I woke up to his kisses. I was sleeping with my back against his chest and all that stood between us was his t-shirt that I was wearing. He continued kissing my neck as I pretended to sleep, not wanting the moment to end.

‘Angel’ he finally spoke ‘I’ve got to go into the office early, I need to work with our investigators. And your mum will be here soon; heaven forbid another parent walk in on us’

‘Just a few more minutes’ was all I was able to say and Bradley was only too happy to comply with my request. I openly stared at Bradley as he got out of the bed, he really was breathtaking.

‘Do you remember what you saw last night?’ Bradley asked as he got dressed and I nodded. It was good to have some closure, now the detectives and police could narrow their search to a female.

I pulled the bedsheet off me to get out of bed and watched Bradley’s eyes as they followed my leg all the way up. As I looked down, I remembered that I had only worn his t-shirt to bed, and that t-shirt provided very little cover, Luckily I was wearing my nice new underwear.

Bradley smiled when I caught him staring at me and I patted the mattress gesturing for him to sit by my side. At that moment I wanted to throw myself on Bradley, I don’t know how I managed to control my urges and I saw Bradley gulp 'I see you're still wearing my t-shirts' he finally managed, but I didn't answer.

I climbed over him so that I was practically kneeling, thighs parted between his now tense body. His hands slid up my thighs and rested on my waist. I leant in to kiss him, making sure the kiss was long and sensual. My body was craving him, and from the way Bradley was gripping me, I knew he felt the same.

I was lost in the moment before breaking the kiss. As badly as I wanted him now wasn’t the time, Bradley had to go to work and mum was on her way over.

I seductively made my way off Bradley’s lap and towards the bathroom ‘See you tonight’ I said with a wink and left a bewildered Bradley to finish readying himself for work.

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