Mandy Prenderville went over to her high-backed chair behind the desk and sat down carefully. She had motioned me to one opposite her, and I took the middle seat.
Harry thought he’d better open the conversation. “How did you know I was coming?”
“It wouldn’t take you very long to discover the connection between your father and me via his golf. I take it you are looking for him?”
“How could you possibly know that?” OK, so curiosity got the better of him.
“He is missing, isn’t he?”
“The question still stands.”
“I happen to be looking for him too. An outstanding matter he was working on. I’m not used to people up and disappearing on me.”
As much as Harry hated to think it, according to some of the reports on the Prenderville’s, that’s exactly what happened to rivals and those who got in their way.
He didn’t bring that topic up for obvious reasons.
“My mother seems to think he had left her for another woman, which I might add, seems to be the thinking of a number of others. I have a hard time believing that might be the case, this time.”
It was difficult to say what sort of expression she had, but it changed suddenly, to very dark, like Harry had just trodden on her toes.
“You have a different theory?” Her tone had lost some of its geniality.
“I have no real theory at the moment other than going around and visiting his business and golfing associates and asked them a few questions about him and their relationship with him. Yours, you say, is golf. From what I’ve read about you, golf is hardly a sport I would associate you with.”
“Playing, yes. It’s a bit tedious walking around hitting a little white ball. But it seems it is a great medium for charitable outings, and, as you are no doubt away, I do run a Foundation, and we are always looking for new ways to raise money. Your father, though you may not believe it to be the case, was very good at organising golf weekends for the foundation.”
“And now he’s gone will that fall to Emil Florenz.”
Expression changes again, hard to incredulous maybe. Harry was not very good at analysing people’s expressions.
She took a moment to assess, in her mind, what she was going to tell Harry. Then, after what could be called a shrug, she said, “Well, you have been a busy boy. Your father once told me you were a failure at everything you tried, but I put that down to the fact you had just walked away from a promising legal career, the career he wanted for you. I don’t think he ever appreciated your more interesting talents in the private investigatory area. I assure you I will not make the same mistake. Florenz is a golfer, and a friend of your fathers, and therefore by proxy, known to me yes. And yes, he might have to organise the golf events while your father is away. And before you ask me if I know where he is, I will reiterate, he was doing a job for me, and my people are trying to find him too.”
There was no doubting their connection was golf, she said it enough times. But in watching her closely, and those facial expressions, Harry thought he had worked out when she was lying and when she was telling the truth. And for the last few minutes, Harry believed he hadn’t heard one word of truth.
His father was more likely to be doing a legal consultation of some sort for her. It might even have something to do with that portside block if she was the mysterious owner.
He could ask her, but Harry was willing to bet hr would not get further than her door before the security guards dragged him off.
But Harry still couldn’t tell if she had anything to do with his disappearance.
Change of tack. “Do you know my mother?”
A half smile perhaps. “In a manner of speaking. She had attended a number of Foundation functions and been a contributor to our cause for a number of years. Ever since I’ve known her I really couldn’t understand why she married your father. You do know she is very wealthy in her own right, and she doesn’t need anything from either your father or his business. And no, she had never put a penny of her family money into his practice, a sore point with him I can tell you.”
The fact Harry's mother had money was something she had told Corinne and him, but not necessarily his brothers, but not to the extent that it would make a difference. He had checked it out when he had some idle time, and the sums involved in her parent’s businesses, and that of her fellow siblings made the Rockefellers look cheap.
She had lied and he’d never understood why. She could also have invested in Harry's private investigator venture, but she refused that too, telling him that like his father he had to find his own way in the world. It was a variation on the, ‘if I give you the money you won’t go out to work for it’ speech.
He could ask more about that, but it would only be from a third-party perspective, if at all. Better to move on. “What was my father doing for you?”
“A legal matter.”
“Perhaps if you were one of his lawyers I might, after signing a non-disclosure agreement, but as you are not, I can’t tell you?”
“A hint then, criminal or civil?”
“Your father doesn’t do criminal unless you think he was defending me. I read the papers, and they do not like me. I don’t know why, I’m out there every day looking after the homeless, and those who can’t afford proper medical help.”
“Perhaps it’s the reputation your brothers brought to the name Prenderville. Perhaps if you changed the name of both yourself and the foundation…”
Advice, by the look on her face, was not sought.
“It might, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I do that. Now, that’s all I can tell you, except for one observation, your father spent a lot of his time at the golf club, and I suspect it became his proxy office. Dig a little, and see if he has left anything there. You never know. Now, I don’t expect to see you again.”
There was no doubt in Harry's opinion, the meeting was over.
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