Home > Sunrise on Half Moon Bay(8)

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay(8)
Author: Robyn Carr

I have a friend going through a divorce. Do you know a private investigator who does domestic investigations? I’d like to be able to recommend someone.

A name and phone number came back to her right away. She called a man named Logan Danner, a recently retired police lieutenant who worked for a private investigator’s office out of San Francisco. She asked to make an appointment to discuss a possible job. She named the detective who had recommended him and said the issue was domestic. And personal.

“Thanks. I’ll remember to tell him I appreciate the recommendation. Why don’t you tell me when you’re available and where I’ll be researching if you hire me. Then I can suggest a meeting place.”

“You don’t have an office?” she asked.

“Sure, but it’s better to meet in a public place that isn’t too busy. That way you’re not seen going into a PI’s office...”

“I go into PI’s offices from time to time, though mostly they come to me. I’m an attorney. However, in this—”

“Where and when, Mrs. Somersby. Let’s make this easy.”

She sighed. “I’m still just a little wobbly about doing this...”

“We’ll talk about that, too.”

“All right, you’re the expert. Any day after four and before seven, and I suppose you’ll be looking around San Jose and as far south as Half Moon Bay.”

“Perfect. There’s a great little Chinese restaurant in South San Jose called Chen’s. Have you been there?”

“I haven’t, no,” she said.

“Then it’s perfect. If we meet there at four thirty, it will be quiet. You can even get takeout for your dinner if you want to. Are you in a hurry?”

“Of course,” she said, but she said it tiredly. “Today?”

“Today it is,” he said. “Although it’s possible there won’t be many people in the place, I’m forty-eight and ordinary looking. Brown and brown. You?”

“Fifty-two, short blond hair, business attire.”

“Lawyer attire,” he added with a chuckle.

“I’m a corporate attorney,” she explained. “I read a lot of prospectuses. And contracts. And stock option proposals and documents filed with the SEC.”

“Noted,” he said. “See you a little later.”

For the rest of the day, she fluctuated between anxious for some details about her husband and frightened of what this detective might find. She wasn’t really sure if she hoped Scott wasn’t found to be doing anything egregious or if she hoped he was nailed with a red-hot poker. After all, what Adele had seen was not benign. Passionately kissing someone else was not allowed in their marriage.

Perhaps it was forgivable and survivable, however. She wasn’t sure how, but perhaps. However, was there enough love left between them?

* * *

She arrived at Chen’s a little early. There was no one dining at the time, and she told the hostess she’d be meeting someone at four thirty. The woman said, “You want food? Of course?”

“Of course,” Justine said, but she was thinking about what she could order that wasn’t exactly a meal. Her appetite had disappeared with Adele’s news. “A cup of tea for now, thank you.”

What she said and did today could decide the rest of her life. It was not too late to change her mind, forget about hiring a detective. If Scott ever found out... Wait a minute, she said to herself. He’s kissing some strange woman! That’s a worse crime than hiring a detective, isn’t it?

Her appointment walked in. Just his entrance alone was memorable. He spoke softly to the hostess, smiling at her. Then with an arm sweeping wide, the hostess indicated Justine. Logan Danner thanked her with another big smile and walked toward Justine.

“Mrs. Somersby?” he asked, putting out a hand.

“Yes. Thanks for meeting with me so quickly,” she said, noting his firm handshake.

“I’m happy to. It happens I’m not working tonight, so there’s plenty of time to talk about how I can help.”

“I’m not even sure what I’m looking for,” she said.

“How about I ask you a few questions to help us get there?” he suggested.

“Of course,” she said.

“Infidelity?” he asked.

The hostess brought her tea and for Logan, a tall blond beer. For both of them, water. Then she left quickly.

“I suspect so. My sister saw my husband kissing a woman. She described it as passionate kissing. In a dark restaurant.”

“Forgive the question, but is there any reason you know of that your sister would make up something like that? Some ax to grind. Family arguments, jealousies, anything?”

Justine shook her head. “Addie loves Scott,” she said. “She told me immediately. She’s outraged and hurt. I didn’t get overwrought, at least for her to see.”

“Who might he have been kissing?” Logan asked.

“I don’t know the woman, but Addie was with a friend who said her name is Cat Brooks and she owns a kayak rental shop in Half Moon Bay. That’s where I grew up. I’ve been gone for over twenty years, since college, only home for brief visits. Addie still lives there. She’s quite a bit younger than me—twenty years younger.”

Logan frowned. “Kind of ballsy, kissing some woman in his wife’s hometown, his sister-in-law’s town of residence...”

“Well, Addie lives there, but she has a very small circle of friends and doesn’t have much of a social life. For years she cared for our parents who were disabled and in need of medical care. Our mother only recently passed away. Addie can finally go out with friends, if they haven’t all deserted her by now. She was out for a pizza with a friend she’s known since childhood.”

“So, what is it you want me to do?” Logan asked.

“Let me tell you some things first,” she said.

“Of course,” he said. He took a swallow of his beer. Then he pulled a small notebook and pen from his pocket. “Take your time. Tell me what you think is important.” Pen poised over notebook, he gave her a nod.

“I’m a corporate attorney for a major software developer. Sharper Dynamic. I have two daughters, age sixteen and seventeen. Scott has been a stay-at-home dad since Amber, my oldest, was born. We’ve been married twenty-eight years but started dating in college. And I’ve provided most of the income the last twenty years.”

“Most?” he asked.

“When Scott didn’t have the responsibilities of two babies or toddlers or preschoolers, he sometimes worked part-time. Usually sporting goods retail—he liked the discounts on his gear from golf clubs to high-end mountain bikes. Discounts for the whole family. One year he even gave me a profit and loss statement showing me how much money he saved the family with his discounts. Enough to take a great vacation.”

She sounded ridiculous even to herself.

“And,” Logan said. “I sense there’s more.”

“He managed the finances. He would ask my opinion from time to time. No, that’s not right. He would tell me things like he was moving a little money to lessen our exposure in a volatile market. And I would say okay. But I rarely looked at a credit card bill or a phone bill or a bank statement. For all I know—”

“What do you want to know?” he asked.

“What do I want to know?” she repeated. “I guess I want to know if he’s having an affair.”

Logan leveled his gaze on hers. “I think you already know the answer to that. You just can’t prove it. In your capacity as an attorney, you’ve had occasion to work with an investigator or two.”

“On a regular basis, yes. But in quite a different way. Background checks, financial records, lawsuits, et cetera. I can honestly say extramarital affairs never crossed my desk.”

“Unfortunately, there seems to be an epidemic. You’ve been married a long time. Have you considered counseling?”

“We’re in counseling now. At Scott’s suggestion. Do you suppose that means he wants to save the marriage?”

“Let me be honest, Mrs. Somersby—”

“Please, feel free to call me Justine.”

“Justine. He might be trying to demonstrate he’s made an effort when he has no intention of staying in the marriage. I suggest you acquaint yourself with the accounting just in case...”

“Right...” She suspected they both knew this could be the death knell of a marriage.

“I can surveil him, find out how and where he spends his time, ascertain if there’s any inappropriate behavior that would suggest an affair, do a public records search of the woman he’s involved with, that sort of thing. To get started, I just need your husband’s full name and a license plate number. A picture would help. If the car he drives is registered in both your names, you can put a GPS tracker on the car. I can do that with your permission.”

“All right. And yes, the car is registered in both names. How much time will that take?”

“A matter of days, depending on the schedule your husband keeps. But plan on a couple of weeks. That way you won’t get impatient. A retainer and a very brief contract is required. It only states that you’ll pay for my time and expenses and I’ll deliver information to you and only you.”

“What if what we learn is the worst-case scenario? What am I supposed to do?”

“I’m an investigator, Justine. I’m not a marriage counselor. I don’t know the answer to that.”

She took a sip of her tea. “I might be the primary breadwinner, but I’m completely dependent on him.”

Logan didn’t say anything for a moment. “If you have a business card with your email address and cell number, I can send you an attachment with our agency contract. You can also wire me the deposit through this cell number.” He handed her his business card. “You’ll want to stash this card in a secure place. Unless you have a lot of PI business cards already so this one wouldn’t seem suspicious.”

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