PART I: SUSPICION

Chapter One
Tuesday, March 31, 1993

"Tits!" she exclaimed. "You all think I got the promotion because I'm a woman. I know it; so don't try to lie to me." Rae Kirkland was in rare form as she stood behind her desk and addressed her former equal --- now subordinate --- Ken Mason. "The real reason you didn't get the job is because you don't have enough drive, enough ambition. It shows, you know. Hell, you didn't even act like you wanted it!" This, of course, infuriated her, too. He was the best auditor in the department, but he didn't seem to care about his career. And now he was her problem.

Mason made a murmuring sound he hoped would pass for a suitable comment, since he had no idea what to say. Then he tried looking out the window of the General Accounting Office at the late winter drizzle of Washington, D.C. The rain had made the large brass letters G A O set in the sidewalk treacherous, as usual. He watched a visitor lose his footing and land on his back. What a miserable climate! If he could, he would move the nation's capital to somewhere dry and warm, maybe Arizona. He agreed with former President Reagan's observation that the East Coast would be a wilderness if the Pilgrims had landed in California.


"You're a daydreamer, too. It's a mystery to me how you ever get anything done."

"Uhm," he murmured again. He had heard this all before from his ex-wife --- before the "ex" became a prefix. Why did people who professed to like him always want him to change?

"So, do you have any questions about my position?
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