Title: NUMBERS NEVER LIE
Author: Diane Burton
Genre: Romantic Suspense
A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.
As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack's an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.
Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that--an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.
A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?
When his eyes started watering, and the numbers on the computer screen blurred, Jack knew it was time to quit. He whipped off his glasses and tossed them on the desk he used at Vander Haar Manufacturing. They skidded across the papers and would’ve fallen on the floor if not for his quick grasp. Damn, he was tired. He rubbed his eyes before glancing at his watch. Twelve-twenty. Time to get home. He interlaced his fingers, reached over his head, and stretched. The cricks and pops told him he’d scrunched his shoulders while crunching numbers.
Jack shut down the company’s computer, closed his laptop, and packed the latter into his briefcase, along with his glasses. He locked all the company papers, and his notes, in the desk. Lot of good they did. Thanks to his online classes, he’d recognized the signs of a problem the first day. Problems that became worse the more he investigated.
For the past year, he’d worked on his Master’s degree in forensic accounting. He never mentioned that to anyone. Ben was always too busy to just chat. Even before the accident, his partner had been out of the office more than in. He hadn’t thought to tell Maggie. They always had so many other topics to talk about. If he’d gotten hold of Drew last night, he would have told him. Damn, he needed his advice. Maybe he should stop by.
Twelve-twenty? Waking up his best friend, along with his daughter in the middle of the night was not a good idea.
Besides, Jack needed sleep more. He’d call Drew in the morning.
Slinging the laptop case/briefcase over his shoulder, he checked the room assigned to him for the audit to make sure he hadn’t left anything out. He shut off the lights and locked the door behind him. He still had much to do. This morning, Ben said he would finish the audit. But, that wasn’t the way Jack worked. When he started something, he always finished.
“Working kinda late, arncha, Mr. Sinclair?”
Startled, Jack spun around.
The janitor leaned on his mop. “It’s after midnight.”
“No rest for the weary, Max.” Jack pocketed his keys.
“You be careful going home, Mr. Sinclair. Fog was rollin’ in off the lake when me and the missus drove in to work.”
“Thanks for the heads-up.” Jack saluted the affable worker and headed down the hall. The doors to the other offices were closed. Only the cleaning crew remained.
Hazel, Max’s wife, stopped dusting the receptionist’s desk. “’Night, Mr. Sinclair. You best be careful. Noticed you parked all the way at the end of the parking lot. The light there is out. Saw that when we came in. The company what takes care of our lights won’t come out ‘til Monday. You want Max to get a flashlight and walk out with you so’s you can find your car? What with the fog and all?”
Jack forced himself to smile. In the five days he’d been auditing the books at the manufacturing plant near Muskegon, he often worked late and ran into the older couple. “I’ll be fine.”
“’Night, then. You be careful, now. Ya hear?”
Even before he pushed open the heavy glass door, he saw that Max and Hazel were right. The solitary light at this end of the parking lot barely penetrated the fog. Maybe he should have taken Hazel up on the offer of a flashlight. He wasn’t worried about finding the Blazer in this pea soup. He worried more about tripping on the curbs and breaking his arm. Wouldn’t that be a fine mess? Worse than Ben. A one-armed accountant.
Duh. The flashlight on his cell phone. He should’ve thought of that sooner. Jack clicked it on, but it shone only a foot or so in front of him. A soft skitter came from near the dumpster. Rats? He shuddered and clicked his remote. From fifteen feet away, his head- and taillights barely penetrated the mist.
It would be a slow drive back to Grand Rapids. He should get a motel room for the night. As his spirits lifted at the thought of a motel nearby, he groaned. Finding a vacancy anywhere along the Lake Michigan shoreline would be next to impossible in the summer and even more so late on a Friday night.
Weary beyond belief, he dragged himself to his SUV. He needed to return tomorrow—make that later today. He had to do more digging in the company’s files. He couldn’t believe what he’d discovered so far. This went way beyond anything he imagined. The implications—
Startled by the familiar voice, he dropped the keys. His phone slipped out of his fingers and skidded away. The fog gobbled up the light, and he lost sight of it. He peered in the direction of the sound. A figure stepped away from the dumpster’s hulking shape.
“We need to talk.”
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What makes this book a must-read and/or what inspired you to write this story:
NUMBERS NEVER LIE is a relationship story—between a brother and sister; and best friends. I worked with a super-helpful accountant and thought it would be fun to make one of the main characters an accountant.
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Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
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