When I arrived, Yvette had the entire team hard at work. A few officers were on the main floor, questioning the building security team. I bypassed them and headed straight for the elevator, anxious to get this whole debacle overwith.
When I hit our floor, I walked into a minefield of personnel running this way and that, computer equipment scattered across the lobby and lots of anxious chatting about firewalls, hacking, and other terms I was unfamiliar with. Yvette caught me in the hallway on the way to my office.
“Has Zoe arrived?” I asked.
“Yes, she’s in her office going through her things right now,” she explained.
I nodded and opened the door to my office. It looked like mine had become host to a small gathering. “What do you need me here for if they’re already searching my stuff?”
“They can’t get into your locked drawers or personal items – they’re just checking the security of your computer backup and phone system.”
“Okay, so what do I need to look for, exactly?”
“From what we’ve been able to find, we think the intruder was hoping to hack into our network from a home base – meaning they haven’t been able to access it remotely. From what we can tell, they didn’t have any interest in any physical items within the office. No locked drawers were opened and no safes were accessed. So we think they were looking purely for intelligence. To verify that, please check all your secured spaces and we’ll have you walk us through your computer files as well.”
I slumped into my office chair and pulled out my keys. It was going to be a long afternoon.
Two hours later, I had been through everything. Not an inch of my office hadn’t been scoured by me personally and I was ready to go home.
“You’re sure nothing seems out of place?” Yvette asked.
“I’m sure,” I clarified.
“It looks like the intruder left your data files more or less alone, but your list of personal contacts embedded in your email program was accessed. Can you think of any reason why someone would have interest in that information?”
I shook my head. “Not in the slightest.”
“You need to think hard on this one, Ms. Felix. This typically only happens when a hacker is seeking to find a connection between you and someone with a questionable reputation. Is there anyone listed in your contacts that could hurt your reputation?”
I thought over that one. I always synced my phone with my computer to keep everything up-to-date so just about anyone I’d ever called would be in there. Zoe’s urgency to speak with me about Mason and his sudden desire to explain her outburst hit the forefront of my mind. What has he been involved in? As far as I could tell, he came off from his own business dealings squeaky clean, but maybe there was more to the story.
“You’ve run background checks on my personal contacts before, right?” Yvette nodded. Do it again, please; I’ve added a few since the last audit. Please start with Mason Thacket this time.”
She nodded her head. “Good idea, Ms. Felix. We’ll find something in there and trace it back to the person who did this.”
I nodded my head. In the meantime, I was determined to get my own answers.
Before Zoe could accost me, I stole out of the office and down the escalator to the lobby. I immediately called my car and asked to go straight to Mason’s apartment. If he had some illegal activity in his past that could hurt my reputation, he was going to explain it to me to my face. I began to regret my recklessness in pretending he was my beau at the charity event the night before.
When I arrived on his floor, I stormed past his hired help to find him waiting for me in the living room. I could hardly look at him – I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what sort of criminal activity he’d gotten me mixed up in.
I looked straight into those steely blue eyes. “You said you have an explanation for me; let’s hear it. Because I’ve got security all over my office right now over some hacker who apparently has taken an interest in my personal contacts. What have you done that they might be interested in connecting me to?”
Mason’s forehead creased. “I do have an explanation for you, but…” He scratched his chin. “…It doesn’t involve any illegal activity. No one else knows about it but me. Well, until yesterday when Connor got drunk and way too curious…”
“Mason, will you quit stalling and man up already? What the hell are you hiding from me?”
He looked me up and down and that worried look came across his face again. “Okay, but…just keep an open mind, okay?”
I rolled my eyes, but he grabbed my hand and led me down the hallway to the room I’d almost entered earlier that day. He pulled out the key and opened the door.
“If you run out of here screaming, I’ll understand. If you never want to talk to me again, I’ll understand. But this is who I am. So you may as well know now before we…”
I raised an eyebrow. “Before we what?”
“I don’t know. I don’t really know what ‘this’ is,” he gestured between the two of us. “But I’ll happy if you don’t hate me after you leave.”
I’d had enough with the riddles and theatrics. I stalked into the room ready to face whatever weird skeletons or demons he had hiding in the closet. I had no reason to even stay in contact with him anyways – walking away would be easy as pie.
I entered the immaculately clean room and saw the horse whips I’d noticed before. Okay, no big deal. What is this guy so nervous about?
Then the rest of the room came into view and my breath caught in my throat.