36 Back To Business
Rickie was looking over the plantation outputs when he heard a tentative knock at the door. The door opened to reveal a somber Meaghan with a manila folder in her hand.
"Do you have a moment, En Ahmad?" This woman with bruised eyes was nothing like the glowing woman from the weekend. For a moment, Rickie was worried that something had happened to her or her sister, but then remembered his conversation with Cynthia on Friday.
"You heard about your coworker from your supervisor this morning." Rickie's voice was gentle. At her jerky nod, he asked, "Do you need to take some time off?"
At that, Meaghan stiffened her spine and shook her head. "No, I want to continue my analysis. I have some information I want to show you."
Rickie was proud of the way she pulled herself together, and noticed the determined spark that reanimated her beautiful chocolate eyes. 'Business time,' he reminded himself. Out loud, he said, "What have you found?"
Meaghan sat down on a leather chair in front of the desk.
"I cross-referenced the distribution information and government data, with the information from Carmen, and found the following." She handed him a chart from the folder, and Rickie's eyes were alert as he looked at the report. Meaghan continued.
"From the wiretap information, I researched upcoming holidays and festivals. The closest three are Gawai Dayak, King Agong's birthday, and the Dragon Boat Festival. This year they fall in succession: June 1, 2, and 3, respectively, so it could be any or all of these. Since June 1st is this Friday, I wanted to bring that to your attention."
Rickie nodded, and waited for the next information.
"I also reviewed the Thai reference for a possible corporate correlation, but there haven't been any significant changes for the Thai businesses we have in our database. I reviewed the Thailand military along with Maya, and we don't see any recognizable movement along any of the borders. In fact, little has changed from any of our neighboring countries, especially after the agreement between China and India over oil exploration last September.
"I think whatever may be going on, it does not appear to be government-based action. It is probably the work of a small number of people or some type of extremist group. Annie is checking known organisations to look for any recent activity, and I'm going to continue looking at corporate accounts." With that, she sat back in the chair, and waited.
Rickie reached out across the desk and laced his fingers with hers. "If you do need some time off, let me know." Meaghan gave their combined hands a squeeze and then pulled back and stood.
"I just don't understand it. She was very friendly and inquisitive, liked to talk and learn things, travel…" she choked back a sob. "How could this happen?"
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Rickie stood up, strode around the table, and wrapped his arms around her. She shuddered once and slumped, allowing him to support her for a moment before standing back up and wiping her eyes. Rickie softly kissed her forehead as she sighed.
"Thanks. I'm alright. I'd better get back to work." And with a watery smile, she left his office.
Rickie sat back down and rested his chin on his hands, thinking.