Port Carling. Friday, April 26.
It was a cool day for late April. The temperature had struggled to reach fifty. Rain was heavy and constant.. Following a suggestion from Gail Menschew, Kerri had asked Steve to drive her car all the way from Toronto to Muskoka. She believed that it was time to re-introduce him to a driving experience. He had performed his assignment flawlessly, never once displaying any sign of trepidation. She had concluded that he had succeeded in subverting his fear, or he had done a masterful job of hiding it.
During the two hour drive, she had, in addition to monitoring his performance, explained to Steve, in considerable detail, what she was doing and what she intended to do. She had left nothing out, describing her communications with Sandra Schafer and her subsequent discussions with Karen and her father. She had done so because she loved and trusted Steve, wanted him to know her motivation for getting involved, and most importantly, needed him to be in her corner, in case anything went wrong.
They arrived in Muskoka for the first time since their defining moment nine days earlier. They had been virtually inseparable during the interval. Long walks, endless discussions, mutual discovery, affectionate touching, and frequent sex had filled their days and nights. Creative and imaginative disguises had miraculously saved her from being identified as The Iacardi Santa Claus and the media frenzy that would have inevitably ensued. The anonymity and the joy of being in the company of Steve had given her an inner peace. She had begun to enjoy her new life, out of the pressure-cooker atmosphere of New York, and at last free to choose instead of decide. There was, however, one final hurdle, one that terrified her, yet strangely attracted her. She was about to become a whistle blower, lifting the curtain on the illegal and corrupt activities of Enerco management. To bolster her courage, she had continuously told herself that she was embarking on a crusade for all the reasons her father had identified. Try as she did to deny it, however, she was compelled to admit to herself that at least a tiny component of her motivation was revenge.
The heavy rain continued as Steve stopped the car in front of the Port Carling post office. He kept the motor running, then ran inside to pick up his mail, including Sandra Schafer’s package, a wrapped legal page-sized box over four inches thick. He raced back to the car and drove to his home. Once he and Kerri were inside, he turned on the electrical base board heaters, built a roaring fire in the bowels of his pot-bellied stove, and prepared a large pot of coffee. While Steve continued to work, Kerri eagerly opened Schafer’s package and began to read. She continued to do so until the aroma of freshly brewed coffee invaded her nostrils. She interrupted her reading and looked up at Steve. “If it’s half as good as it smells, I’ll have a cup,” she said.
Steve removed two dark blue ceramic cups from his cupboard and filled them. He gave one to Kerri, then sipped his own as he watched the most beautiful woman he had ever seen continued to read. Intrigued and curious, he also began to read. By coincidence, he picked a section of Schafer’s package that she had entitled ‘Illegal Mark to Market Accounting.’ While the process was extremely complex, understanding it was greatly facilitated by notes Schafer has hand written in the margins. Minutes passed with only the pounding of heavy rain disrupting the silence.
His profound distaste for dishonesty was quickly offended. “This is incredible!” he declared, shattering the silence. “I’m not an accountant, but I can understand this. These people are declaring profits they haven’t even made. How the hell can they get away with it?”
Kerri smiled, delighted that Steve had not only shown an interest, he was now involved. “They can’t. I’m going to make sure of that,” she promised. Instead of continuing to read, she stared at Steve, her blue eyes conveying love and admiration. “You’re a hell of a guy, Steve Monteith. You’re really into this thing, aren’t you?”
He smiled, blew a kiss to her, then held up the papers he had been reading. “Absolutely. I started reading this for you, but that’s changed. It took me five pages to realize I’m reading for us.” He paused and displayed a worried expression. “This stuff is unbelievable. Are you sure you want to do this? It’s obvious you’re dealing with dangerous people.”
“I have to. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t,” Kerri replied, straining to avoid showing any sign of the fear that had gnawed at her from the moment she listened to Schafer’s message.