Credible Threat

By: Heather Woodhaven

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.

—Colossians 3:23

To the fire marshal who thought my research questions were grounds for placing me on the FBI watch list, thank you for still talking to me. Also, if it makes you feel better, I’m pretty sure my search history placed me on that list seven books ago.


Rebecca Linn slid in her socks across the gleaming wood floor, cozy and happy to be in her favorite flannel pajamas. She filled the ceramic mug with hot water and a chamomile tea bag before returning to her grandfather’s desk. She had one more week in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, to finish up an audit for Vista Resort Properties before flying back to Ohio.

Her firm would’ve put her up in the resort and spa, but it seemed like a conflict of interest to audit the company while being pampered in one of their resorts. Besides, her grandfather, a federal judge in town, owned a magnificent house overlooking the lake. Staying at his place was luxurious enough.

She dropped into the desk chair and her empty laptop bag fell to the ground. A black flash drive slipped out of the front pocket, reflecting off the soft glow of the desk lamp. Rebecca leaned forward and squinted. She’d never seen it before and she’d just reorganized her bag that morning before meeting with the accountants of Vista Resorts. She picked up the drive and turned it in her fingers. Other than a scratch on the back, the casing had no telltale markings to jog her memory.

Babette, a Siamese mix with white fur and blue eyes, jumped onto the ornate cherry desk and flopped down onto her side beside Rebecca’s laptop, purring. She absently moved to pet her with one hand, but the cat swatted her away. Figured. She liked only Grandpa. “What are we going to do about this, Babette?”

The cat held up her head for a second but didn’t answer. Procedure would have her send the strange drive into the corporate office for the IT department to scan, but it wasn’t as if she’d found it in the middle of a parking lot. It had been in her laptop bag. So, either one of the accountants had accidentally placed it in her bag or one of them had put it there on purpose.

A few hours earlier an accountant had bumped into her on his way out of the building. There had been plenty of room in the hallway—in fact she’d been standing to the side, admiring the potted plants that resembled mini palm trees—so she knew it’d been on purpose. She’d waited for him to try to hit on her but instead he’d rushed out the front door without so much as an apology. What if she had a whistle-blower on her hands? In that scenario, it seemed more prudent to see what was on the drive than to wait for a few days for IT to sort it out. Sleep wouldn’t come any time soon without satisfying her curiosity.

She turned off all internet access and inserted the stick into the USB port of her laptop. The chamomile tea had cooled enough to sip on while she waited for the antivirus software to scan the contents. Finally the cursor reappeared and allowed her to click on the lone file.

A spreadsheet of Vista Resorts’ assets and liabilities, remarkably similar to the one she’d saved on her online server, loaded. She never would’ve put a client’s information on a portable, unrecognizable drive, so that definitely ruled out any forgetful actions on her part. As she scrolled down the spreadsheet, several lines were highlighted in yellow.

“What are we looking at?” she muttered to Babette. It seemed that millions of dollars had been diverted to—

A creak behind her sent chills up her spine. The intrigue of the mysterious flash drive coupled with the settling of the house had turned her nerves to jelly.

Babette perked her ears and sat up in attention. That was odd. The cat let out a warbled growl that should’ve made her laugh if she wasn’t so freaked out. She spun around to the empty living room. The open floor plan allowed her to see the kitchen, as well, from her vantage point.

Rebecca blew out a breath. “See, it was nothing.” She grabbed her phone anyway. In reality, she had nothing to fear. Her grandfather owned a state-of-the-art security system and he’d made a point to tell her it was activated before he’d left. No alarm meant there was nothing to worry about. Her fingers clutched the phone tighter despite the reassuring thoughts.

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