Sometimes, a person can tell just from the atmosphere, that the universe is gearing up to strike another blow from which there is little to no escape. Soon, Bethany Randall will feel that blow.
The moment she walked into Blair and Franklin Financial Corporation on a bright and cheery Friday morn-ing, the atmosphere changed and darkened to a cloudy gloom. Her co-workers stopped talking as she walked by or turned away when she approached.
Felicity Craig, the vice president’s executive secretary, was waiting by her office. Edmund Cramer was, in Bethany’s estimation, a person who felt he was better than everyone else. He treated everyone as his inferior. No one in the company cared much for him, including her. So what was a man who was so full of scorn and had a perpetual sneer curling up his mouth want with her?
Cramer was a tall slender man with silver hair and a very straight nose, a nose that was too long for his face, a face that was cold and eyes just as wintry. His suits were expensive and all tailored to his frame. His tie-pin flouted a diamond in the middle of the clasp.
Bethany followed Felicity to Cramer’s office. Felicity did not go in but quietly closed the door, leaving Bethany alone with a man she detested. He didn’t have the courtesy to ask her to sit.
He got straight to the point, not even acknowledging her presence. “I had all your accounts audited, Miss Randall. Where’s the million dollars you embezzled from company funds—or I should say from client accounts?”
Bethany opened her mouth in protest but he threw up a hand to stop her. “Don’t even try to deny it. Numbers don’t lie.” He leaned toward her over the desk and snarled, “Where is the money?”
“I didn’t steal any money, Mr. Cramer. I didn’t.”
“The audit was done by an outside party. Like I said before, numbers don’t lie.”
“But I didn’t ta—”
“I don’t want to hear it. Pack up your things and clear out your office. An arrest warrant is pending and the authorities will be here soon so don’t think you can get away with this even if you do turn in the funds. You committed a crime against this company and I will see to it that you spend the maximum time in prison allowed.”
Bethany felt panic jam her throat as she tried to breathe. Bewildered by this turn of events, she slowly stood and exited the office. Everyone turned their eyes away as she walked by. It was all she could do to maintain her dignity by not breaking down and weeping hysterically.
All the cards were stacked against her. She did not steal funds from client accounts, had never even thought about it. Someone had, though. Who could have set her up to take the fall? No one knew her password into her computer.
But someone did. And she was being blamed.