|Автор произведения||Penny Jordan|
|Жанр||Короткие любовные романы|
|Серия||Mills & Boon Modern|
|Издательство||Короткие любовные романы|
Had Carey confided what he knew to someone else before he died: passed on the secret? It stated that the business was now being run by his son-in-law. Had he handed on to him more than just control of the business?
Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps it was all merely coincidence. Every instinct he possessed howled in derision at the thought.
He knew, he thought, knew in his bones, in his soul that what he had in front of him was evidence of the man his father had actually been; that he was now closer to the essence of him, the true nature of him, than he had ever been during his lifetime.
No need now to question the animosity that had always existed between them, nor his own awareness of and aversion to that darkness he had always sensed within his father.
As a child he had feared that darkness; as an adult he had been shudderingly grateful that it was a genetic inheritance which had passed him by, just as his father had always despised him for his lack of it.
And yet his father had left him control of the corporation.
‘My son … My son …’
Those had been his last words to him and they had been full of bitterness and hatred.
Surely he could not deliberately have left this grim evidence for him to find; a final act of cruelty, a final reminder of the blood he carried in his veins?
No … Because how could he have known that Leo would be the one to find him? No, he had been trying to destroy the evidence, Leo was sure of it.
The evidence …
He looked down at the papers on the desk. Odd to think that they had the power, the potential to damage the mightiness of Hessler Chemie; that they could potentially be more powerful than ever his father had been.
Was he right? Were his father, working as a translator, and Carey, the medical orderly, linked by mutual greed in a tangled skein of murder, theft and blackmail—and worse?
The man who had died, the man who had confided to Carey the names of those men secretly working for the SS … had one of those names been his father’s? Had Carey recognised it … approached his father, threatening to expose him? Had his father bought him off with that second formula?
The links were tenuous; frail and perhaps unprovable, but they were still strong enough to rock Hessler’s, and still strong enough to fill Leo with such revulsion, such anguished pain and reflected guilt that he knew somehow he had to at least try to discover the truth.
Had things been different … had Wilhelm been different, this was a burden he could have shared with him.
Another thought struck him. Had his mother known the truth? Was that why she had stayed with his father, despite his physical and emotional abuse of her—because she had been too afraid to leave? Because she knew she could never reveal the truth knowing what it would do to her sons … to him?
Wilhelm had never been as close to her as he had. Like their father, Wilhelm had treated her with contempt and cruelty.
Slowly Leo picked up the newspaper cuttings. He glanced towards the fire and then looked at the papers in his hand.
His mouth grim, he replaced them in the envelope along with the notebook. Perhaps he should destroy them, but he knew that he would not do so, could not do so until he had discovered the truth. Or as much of it as there was left to discover. And somehow he must find a way of discovering it without implicating Hessler’s, not for his own sake and certainly not for his father’s, but for the sake of all those who worked for the corporation, all those who depended on it for their livelihood.
No, this was a problem he must deal with himself. Quietly … discreetly … secretly. He grimaced over that last word. It reminded him too much of his father.
It left an acrid, sour taste in his mouth and shadowed his soul with bleakness.
‘I MUST say I’m a little surprised by your attitude, Saul.’
The voice, the smile were benign, almost avuncular. They were also, as Saul knew quite well, a complete deceit.
He said nothing, simply waiting.
‘Of course I realise that Dan Harper is a friend of yours,’ Sir Alex Davidson commented kindly, and then when Saul remained silent he added less kindly and very smoothly, ‘After all, weren’t you sleeping with his wife at one time?’
Saul hadn’t been, but he let the comment pass. He knew enough of his boss’s tactics by now to know how much Sir Alex enjoyed the feeling that he had touched a raw nerve; that he had succeeded in slipping his knife into an unprotected and vulnerable organ.
‘However, business is business, and it was your responsibility to me to see that the take-over of Harper and Sons went through smoothly and discreetly, and not instead to warn Harper that we intended to buy him out and then to strip his company of its assets, and to close it down after dismissing its entire staff. Which, unless I am mistaken, is exactly what you did do.’
Now Saul did speak, simply saying calmly, ‘A rather dramatic interpretation of events.’
His eyes were cold. He was a very formidable-looking man despite the fact that he was twenty-five years his boss’s junior, despite the fact that he was merely an employee in the company Sir Alex headed and owned. An employee whom Sir Alex had been grooming to take his place.
‘But you did warn Harper what was in the wind.’
‘I didn’t warn him about anything,’ Saul responded in a clipped voice. ‘I simply pointed out to him what might possibly happen if he sold out.’
‘Semantics,’ Sir Alex accused. He wasn’t smiling now and his voice most certainly wasn’t kind. ‘Absolute loyalty, that’s what I demand from my employees, Saul, and most especially from you. You are my most trusted employee … I pay you extremely well.’
Under his breath Saul murmured cynically to himself, ‘Caveat emptor,’ but there was self-contempt in the words as well as cynicism.
Sir Alex was still talking and hadn’t heard him.
‘As I said, I was very disappointed. However, something more important has cropped up now. I want you to go to Cheshire. There’s a company there called Carey Chemicals. I want it.’
‘Mm.’ Sir Alex picked some papers off his desk. ‘A small one-man-band company … or at least it was. The man in charge died fairly recently. The company is in trouble, sinking fast, and all too likely to go under. We are going to perform a rescue operation.’
‘Really? Why?’ Saul asked him sardonically.
Sir Alex looked at him and then asked acidly, ‘Before I tell you, can I take it that you don’t have a close friend or a mistress working for them?’
Saul gave him a cold close-mouthed stare, which for some reason made Sir Alex’s own gaze waver slightly.
‘All right,’ he said testily, even though Saul hadn’t said anything. ‘Carey’s is a drug-producing company; not that they have produced anything remotely profitable for the last few decades. The widow who has inherited the business is bound to want to sell out.’
‘And you want to buy.’
‘At the right price.’
‘Why?’ Saul asked him.
‘Because a little bird has told me that the government is making plans to offer very generous, and I mean very generous incentives to British-owned drug companies that are prepared to invest in drug research. In turn, if those companies succeed in producing a marketable drug they will repay the government’s