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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 65

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Gerlach erupted, "What business is that of yours? Don't you dare bring up my wife's name!"

"Actually, it's much worse than that, Mr. Gerlach. You see, your wife was hired by a man who knew of your first wife's recent death, who knew you were vulnerable. She was instructed to seduce you, and so she did. She's a professional, after all. When you asked her to marry you, the man she worked for was very pleased. She soon convinced you to collude with that man, didn't she? It must not have taken very long to convince you, Mr. Gerlach, since the shutdown of the Missouri plant and the sabotage of the Spanish plant happened eight months ago. How much money was promised you?"

Gerlach was breathing hard, his face turning alarmingly red. "I do not know what you are talking about. You will cease your slander of my wife, do you hear me?"

Savich said, "Do you wish to tell Mr. Dieffendorf who you've been working with? No? It was Claude Renard, the CEO of Laboratoires Ancondor, the man whose company has profited so handsomely from the skyrocketing sales of the cancer drug Eloxium, since you arranged for the shortage of Culovort to begin."

Savich pulled a photo out of his briefcase. "This was just sent to me by the Frankfurt police." He turned the full-color photo faceup.

It was Laytha Guerling Gerlach, seated behind a young man on a motorcycle. Her arms were wrapped tightly around his waist, her long blond hair blowing wildly about her head. She was smiling.

"I'm sure you recognize your wife. The man is Rupert Snelling, your wife's lover since before you met her."

All the color drained from Gerlach's face. "No," he whispered. He reached out toward the photo, then slowly pulled his hand back. "No, that can't be true."

"Believe it, Mr. Gerlach." Savich picked up the photo and held it out to face Gerlach. "This photo was taken yesterday morning. How much of the immense profits is Renard siphoning off to you, Mr. Gerlach? We know Caskie Royal had over four hundred thousand dollars in an offshore account. Who recruited him? Renard? You?"

Dieffendorf roared out of his chair, knocking it backward. "You traitor! You mewling fool! I trusted you, I was even a bit envious of you when Laytha wanted to marry you!" He grabbed Gerlach by his collar and jerked him forward. He shook him like a rat.

Sherlock took his arm. "Mr. Dieffendorf, you really don't want to kill him in front of three FBI agents. Let him go, sir, let him go."

"You betrayed me!" He shook him one final time and dropped him. It was only luck that Gerlach fell back into his chair. He swallowed, but remained silent.

Savich continued. "You and Mr. Renard have been very careful with your wire transfers. It will prove very difficult to track down those transactions, but your wife, Laytha, was not nearly so careful. She and Renard have a joint bank account, Mr. Gerlach. Someone has been making regular large deposits into this account. I've been working with the German authorities for the past day tracking their source in France."

Gerlach raised dead eyes to Dieffendorf. "Not Laytha, not Laytha. She loves me." He put his head between his arms on the table and wept. His sobs were the only sound in the conference room until Dieffendorf yelled, "You idiot, I remember when you met her! I'll wager her name isn't even real, you old fool!" He whirled around to Savich. "Am I right? What is the woman's real name?"

"Gerda Wallenbach."

"Yes, yes, you see? I knew she was too good to be true, you bloody blind sot!"

Gerlach never raised his head. His voice was liquid with tears. "She played tennis, her education was paid for by a rich old aunt. She was refined, she adored Wagner! I loved her!"

Dieffendorf hit his shoulder. "And she demanded what? Clothes, shoes, trips? You couldn't afford all her demands, and you were afraid she'd leave you? You probably saw Renard as your savior, with enough money to convince your precious young wife to stay with you.

"It's not like you weren't paid a princely salary by Schiffer Hartwin," Dieffendorf said. "Given the bonuses, you are rich, do you hear me? Rich! You've worked by my side for years now, moving up in the company just as I've moved up, to garner great responsibility. Did your loyalty to the company, your loyalty to me, mean nothing to you? Damn you, how long did it take her to talk you into it?"

Savich waited a moment, then said, "Your wife spent at least two hundred thousand dollars in the first month you were married, Mr. Gerlach. I have copies of bills from travel agencies, jewelry stores, fashion houses. Did you see financial ruin coming?"

Gerlach's head snapped up. He shouted, "None of this is true! It's all lies! It was Caskie Royal's doing, all of it." He strained to look up at Dieffendorf's furious face. "That is why I sent Kesselring here, to find out the truth. That is why there are phone calls between us. I had no idea you had also sent Blauvelt for the same purpose. I did not know!"

Dieffendorf shouted down at Gerlach, "When all's said and done, the truth is, you're a greedy little bastard who has to wear two-inch lifts in your shoes! I'll bet you couldn't wait to sign on with Renard. You know what? I can see your precious Laytha and her boyfriend laughing about what a preening little cock you are!"

Dieffendorf frowned down at him, then said slowly, "No, wait. No one held a gun to your head, did they, Werner? Not Laytha, not Renard. You wanted all that money for yourself, didn't you? How much was Renard paying you?"

Gerlach didn't answer. He was crying.



Sunday evening

"I would like to speak to the vice president alone, Agent Jarvis. Would you and Agent Paul wait just outside, please?"

"I'm sorry, sir, but you know we can't leave the vice president alone."

"Come, Jarvis, I've known him since we were very young men. It's a personal matter that is rather urgent. I need only five minutes."

Alex Valenti opened his eyes and his mouth widened just a bit in a smile. His voice was hoarse when he whispered, "It's all right, Agent Jarvis, I'm sure the man has already been frisked like a criminal. You can stay right outside the glass door."

Agent Jarvis continued to look uncertain, but he finally nodded. "Very well, since it's important. Senator Hoffman, the vice president is very weak, so please keep it short, all right? Press the call button if you need anything." He gave Hoffman a quick nod. "Thank you, sir."

"This won't take long, I promise," Senator Hoffman said, and watched Jarvis leave, closing the glass door quietly behind him. He looked down at a nearly motionless Alex Valenti, a man he'd known for-how many years was it now? Forty? He said, "I tried to see you earlier, but was told only family was allowed. I'm glad I could see you this evening."

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