From USA Today Bestselling Author, P.D. Workman!
One gene told the tale
Zachary has done his very best to let go of ex-wife Bridget and relegate their relationship to the past. So when her current partner comes to him for help, he is understandably hesitant to help.
But Gordon has always been a stand-up guy and done right by Zachary, so he reluctantly lets himself be talked once more into helping Bridget and Gordon. Zachary struggles with obsessions and self-doubt at the best of times, and this is a case that could break him.
His investigations lead him from one dark revelation to another until Zachary has no idea how he’s going to find his way back into the light.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ P.D. Workman delivers a powerhouse of a novel! Zachary’s new client wants to find his childhood home. Once they start digging, they find more than expected. This work is brilliantly crafted, with a tight plot and very well developed characters. I wish she could write as fast as I can read! I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next one.
Zachary Goldman, Private Investigator, is flawed with a capital F. Shattered by the tragedies of his own life, he will somehow still manage to pick himself up and dig just a little bit deeper than anyone else to find the vital clues.
Maybe being broken makes it easier for others who have faced tragedy to trust him. Walk with Zachary as he solves cases that will stretch his abilities to the limit.
Even with his own life in shambles, Zachary Goldman is still the one you want on the case.
Investigate this P.I. mystery now!
Release date: February 19, 2021
Publisher: pd workman
Print pages: 272
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She Was at Risk
Zachary gazed out Kenzie’s living room window at the pleasant, suburban view. He hadn’t realized how much he was missing by living in apartment buildings instead of a nice little house like Kenzie had. When he stared out the window at his apartment, he saw nothing but sky, or looked down at the dirty parking lot, complete with homeless people going through the trash for bottles. He didn’t know his neighbors within the apartment building well. They were familiar enough to nod to in the elevator, but that was about it.
What he was missing was the green lawns, the children walking to school, the flower borders and gardens. People smiling pleasantly at each other when they passed on the street or even stopping to talk to each other. It was a postcard picture day and, unlike when he looked at the Vermont trees and hills covered with snow as Christmas approached, Zachary could enjoy the scene.
Maybe he should have moved into a house like Kenzie’s. Maybe sometime in the future, he would. Maybe with the way that his relationship was progressing with Kenzie…
He pulled his thoughts away from the possibility. He didn’t want to be dependent on anyone’s kindness. He had lived with Mario after his previous apartment had burned down, and it was better to be on his own two feet. He got lazy relying on someone else to do the work and keep him on track.
The thought stirred Zachary, and he got up and went into the kitchen. He put in a pod and made himself a cup of coffee and poked his head out of the kitchen for a moment to listen and try to decide whether Kenzie was up yet. He couldn’t hear her stirring. No point in making her coffee before she was up; it would just be cold by the time she got to it.
But while he was in the kitchen, he rinsed the dishes that were sitting in the sink, put them into the dishwasher, and wiped the counter, eliminating the rings from his previous cups of coffee. He put the washcloth back in its place and gave himself a mental pat on the back for at least doing something to help keep Kenzie’s place tidy.
Fresh coffee in hand, Zachary returned to his place in Kenzie’s living room. Since he was there most weeknights now, he had asked Kenzie whether she minded his getting a mobile laptop table that he could use while he was sitting on the couch or in the easy chair, if he kept his space tidy and it didn’t detract from the decor of the room.
Kenzie shook her head, bemused. “Sure, of course. You should have some kind of desk instead of sitting hunched over that thing all the time. It’s not good for your body.”
He was often sore after a couple of hours sitting with it, so he knew she was right. “I just… didn’t want to presume.”
Kenzie shrugged. “Of course. You’re here. I like having you around, having… a few touches that remind me of you when you’re out. I don’t mind at all.”
So he had browsed online until he found one that he liked, and it had been a good purchase. He could sit and type, read documents, or browse databases with better posture, which helped to keep him going for as long as he needed to.
Zachary’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He slid it out to look at it, and felt frown lines crease his forehead.
Gordon didn’t have any reason to be calling Zachary. Zachary had stayed away from Bridget, his ex-wife. He hadn’t been following her or spying on her. They hadn’t accidentally run into each other anywhere.
Zachary had cleared everything up at Drake, Chase, Gould after Ashley’s death. There was no reason for Gordon to call Zachary back. With the killer behind bars, there shouldn’t have been anything else for Gordon to call Zachary about.
Unless there had been another death.
Unless something else untoward had happened.
But even if it had, Zachary would have expected Gordon to go somewhere else to get help. Bridget had not been happy with Zachary looking into Ashley’s death, and Zachary didn’t think that Gordon would do anything he knew would antagonize her.
Especially not since she was pregnant.
Zachary slid his finger across the phone screen to answer the call.
“Gordon? Is everything okay?”
“Zachary, it’s been a while since I saw you last. How are things with you?”
Zachary chewed the inside of his cheek. “I’m fine,” he said cautiously. “What’s going on with you? Everything okay at Chase Gold?”
Gordon chuckled. The nickname for the investment banking firm left out his name, which was a bit of a slap in the face considering he was the principal partner and owner. But he appreciated the appropriateness of the name.
“Yes, everything is fine at Chase Gold,” he agreed. “Better than ever. And I have… put some extra controls in place as far as the interns are concerned. We don’t want any more… hospitalizations.”
“Yeah, that’s good.” Zachary waited for Gordon to explain why he had called. It wasn’t just for a casual chat and to catch up on each other’s lives. They didn’t have that kind of relationship. Although Gordon had always been very cordial toward Zachary, he knew how much animosity Bridget had toward him. He usually respected her desire to have nothing to do with him anymore.
Unless he needed something.
“I guess you’re wondering why I called. I was hoping that the two of us could get together.”
“I suppose,” Zachary said slowly, feeling his way along. “What did you want to meet about?”
“I would… prefer to leave that for our meeting. It’s a rather delicate matter. I prefer to discuss it face to face, somewhere quiet and discreet.”
“Okay. If you’re sure. Where would you like to meet? Your office?”
“Heavens, no.” Gordon was silent for a moment as if considering, though surely he must have known before he called Zachary that they would need an appropriate place to meet. “I can book a private meeting room at my club. Do you know the Ostrich?”
Zachary knew of it. He wasn’t a member and had never been there. He wasn’t aware of anyone in his circles who was a member. Other than Gordon, clearly.
“I know where it is. What’s the dress code?”
“They are fairly relaxed now. No blue jeans or track pants. Clean, neat, and pressed. Collared shirt. No tie required.”
Zachary didn’t think he even owned a tie. When was the last time he had attended an event where he had needed one? Probably not since he and Bridget had broken up. He had gone to fancy dress parties with her. Lots of places that had required a tie or even a tux with a bow tie. Not the clip-on ones. They had to be proper tie-up bow ties, Bridget had informed him. No shortcuts. People could tell when they looked at you whether you had taken the time or not. They could see right through you.
If that were the case, then he didn’t know what point there was in wearing a bow tie of any kind. If people could see through his clothing to what kind of a person he really was, then why try to masquerade as a society man by wearing clothes that didn’t suit him?
But he didn’t say that to Bridget. He had shaved and dressed up and stood still while Bridget tied his bow tie and made sure that it was straight and everything else was in its proper place.
But he could manage business pants and a polo shirt. He didn’t have to go out and rent or buy anything for that. Gordon would be in a three-piece suit if he were coming from work, but he had not told Zachary that he had to be formally dressed. He would probably just stand out more if he tried to look like an upper-class businessman anyway. People paid no attention if he looked like he was working-class or a bum.
“Okay. What time do you want to get together?”
“I have a rather full schedule,” Gordon said, a note of apology in his voice. “But I would like to see you as soon as possible. Could you do lunch today? I just had someone cancel on me.”
Lunch at Gordon’s fancy club.
“Sure. Lunch at the Ostrich Club. Do I… check in with the maitre d’ when I get there? I haven’t been anywhere like that before.”
“There is a reception desk. You can tell Danielle that you are meeting me. She will direct you to which room I have booked or someone will escort you up.”
Zachary nodded to himself. He looked at the system clock on his computer. He’d better start getting cleaned up if he were going to look presentable by lunch.
The Ostrich was pretty much as Zachary expected it to be. Dark woods, plush carpets, polished waitstaff right there whenever you looked for them. He was escorted to the Roosevelt room by a pleasant young man who didn’t try to make conversation or ask him what he was doing there.
Gordon was already seated at the table, his laptop out, working on some document or project. His expression was serious and focused. He didn’t look up for a few seconds, but then he closed the lid of the computer and looked into Zachary’s eyes, giving him a warm smile of welcome.
“Good to see you, Zachary. Have a seat. What do you want to drink?”
Zachary looked at the young man who stood attentively. “Uh… just a Coke, please.”
The man nodded, acting as if that were a perfectly normal drink order. Apparently not everyone at the club was ordering hi-balls or tea. Or if they were, the waiter would never give it away. Gordon ordered some kind of French wine and the waiter nodded and wrote it down, expression not changing. Zachary couldn’t tell if it was an expensive vintage or something out of a box. Given the setting, he assumed the former.
“And what would you like to eat?” Gordon asked.
“Uh…” Zachary looked around for a menu. “I don’t know…”
“They’re equipped to make any popular dish. What do you feel like?”
Zachary cast around for a suitable dish. “I’m not that hungry yet. Maybe just… a sandwich?”
Gordon nodded. “Sure. What do you like? Roast beef? Chicken?”
“Maybe cheese? Grilled cheese?” He felt a little silly ordering something juvenile at such a fancy place. But he didn’t have much of an appetite. His meds made him nauseated for a few hours after taking them.
“How about a Monte Cristo?” Gordon suggested. “Grilled cheese and ham?”
“Sure,” Zachary agreed. “That sounds good.”
“Would you like salad or fries on the side?” the waiter asked.
Zachary shook his head. “Just the sandwich.”
He nodded. Gordon ordered some kind of skillet. After the waiter was gone, he turned his attention to Zachary.
“So, things are going well for you?” he asked. “How is business?”
“Going pretty well.” A few big cases had padded out his bank account and gotten his name out in the media, so he was doing all right.
“Anything interesting? Haven’t captured any serial killers recently?”
“No. I think I’m going to put in all of my listings that I don’t do serial killers. Too much time and effort,” Zachary deadpanned.
Gordon looked at him uncertainly, then smiled. “Well, you might as well advertise the kind of cases that you actually want to get,” he agreed. “I haven’t seen much in the news lately. Has there been anything big?”
“I just finished with a man who was looking for his childhood home. Which ended up being where his brother was buried. So that was pretty intense. And the main one before that was a missing girl. Human trafficking. Prostitution.”
Gordon shook his head slowly. “You do get around, don’t you? Nasty business.”
Zachary shrugged. “Yeah. Most people don’t come to me because they won the lottery.”
“I imagine not. People are coming to you at the worst, most vulnerable times of their lives.”
Gordon stared off into space. He looked like a man with something heavy on his mind. Zachary waited for him to spit it out. Since he wanted to meet, Zachary had to assume that there was something he wanted to be investigated. He wouldn’t be going to Zachary with personal problems. Some people were much better qualified than Zachary to sort out relationship problems.
Gordon looked at his watch. A big, highly-polished gold number. “This is rude, but do you mind…” Gordon gestured to his laptop. “There are a couple of things I’d like to put through while I still have the time.”
Zachary shrugged. “Sure,” he agreed. Gordon wasn’t yet ready to present what it was that he wanted. Maybe he was waiting for the food to arrive so they wouldn’t be interrupted partway through. Or maybe he would wait until after they were finished eating to turn to the business he’d asked Zachary there for. He hoped it would not take that long for Gordon to get to the point.
While Gordon opened his laptop again, Zachary pulled out his phone. He checked his email, even though there wasn’t likely to be anything important that had come in since he’d left Kenzie’s house. And he browsed through his social networks. He wasn’t big on social networks, but sometimes he did find interesting news stories or something that impacted his work. It was a good way to connect with family or friends, but Zachary wasn’t quite ready to put that much of himself on public display. As a private investigator, he didn’t want people to be able to track him down too easily. And he knew from experience that people shared way too much on social media. He’d been on the investigating end of a lot of those.
He and Gordon worked independently until the waiter arrived with their dishes. Then they both put the electronics aside and thanked the waiter. Zachary took his first bite of the Monte Cristo sandwich. It was crisp but not greasy, with just the right amount of cheese and ham pocketed inside.
“Mmm. This is very good.”
Gordon nodded. “Good kitchen staff. We have world-class chefs. They don’t disappoint.”
Zachary nodded to Gordon’s meal of grilled vegetables and seafood. “That looks good too.”
“Yes.” Gordon took a few bites, then he pushed the dish a few inches away from him as though he were full. “Zachary, I know I can rely on your discretion. You’ve proven yourself eminently capable in the past.”
Zachary nodded. “Yes. I won’t share any company secrets.”
“This one isn’t for the firm.” Gordon was staring off into middle space again, considering. Making his final decision as to whether to proceed or to jettison the whole thing. He swallowed and put his hands palms-down on the table to physically brace himself. “It’s Bridget.”
Zachary had been half-expecting this. He had tried to convince himself that it was about Gordon’s firm, but Gordon was perfectly capable of handling his business without bringing Zachary in. He was the one who knew about investments and financial stuff and all of the ins and outs, not Zachary. Zachary would be hard-pressed to help Gordon with a case of fraud or some other business-related area. Maybe if he wanted to find out if one of his partners were out fooling around where he shouldn’t be, but nothing about the business itself.
Zachary swallowed. He was going to have to tell Gordon no. He couldn’t work on a case that had anything to do with Bridget. He was trying to put Bridget out of his life, out of his thoughts. He didn’t want to be thinking about her when he was with Kenzie. He didn’t want her creeping into his dreams or keeping him up at night. He just wanted to be able to leave that part of his life behind and to move forward.
“What about Bridget?”
Gordon traced a circle on the polished tabletop. He had a quick sip from his glass and poked around at the seafood on his platter. But he wasn’t interested in the food. They weren’t there to eat lunch. He was a man with something far more pressing on his hands than his next meal.
“You know that she’s pregnant.”
“Of course you do,” Gordon said quickly. “Of course. I told you that when she was in the hospital. She’s been quite sick with this pregnancy. It hasn’t been easy on her.”
“Right.” Zachary had, in fact, thought that her cancer had returned. He was relieved that wasn’t the case, but he wished he didn’t have to think about Bridget pregnant either. He had wanted children when they had been married. She had not. She’d had a pregnancy scare before her cancer was diagnosed, and she had no interest in carrying it to term. But she had not been pregnant, so that disaster had been averted.
“What I don’t think I told you is that she is expecting twins,” Gordon said slowly, enunciating his words as carefully as if he were being graded on his diction. “Two girls.”
Zachary nodded again. He swallowed. His mouth and throat were very dry. He irrigated them with a good amount of Coke. “I guessed as much,” he agreed.
Gordon looked at him for a moment, then nodded. He didn’t ask how Zachary had guessed. That was not the point.
“In the beginning, Bridget agreed to try to get pregnant.” Gordon couldn’t have any idea the kind of pain that this disclosure caused Zachary. He had failed on so many levels with Bridget. “She was a little reluctant at first, but she agreed to give it a try, see how things worked out. Neither of us knew whether she would even be able to get pregnant and be able to carry the baby to term.”
The doctors hadn’t expected her to have viable eggs after the cancer treatment. Instead, she had banked them before she started treatment. She had been very sick, and it had taken a lot of coaxing on the part of the doctors. They didn’t like leaving a woman with no options. She might change her mind in the future. She might decide, after the crisis was past, that she did want to expand her family or at least to have those choices open to her.
And apparently, she had done just that. They had fertilized a couple of frozen eggs and she had become pregnant with twins.
Gordon fiddled some more, not able to come to the point yet.
“The further along she has gone with the pregnancy, the more difficult things have become. She has had a lot of second thoughts.”
But what was she going to do? Terminate the pregnancy? That was what she had threatened Zachary with after she had a positive pregnancy test. She didn’t want her body ruined by pregnancy. Didn’t want to be burdened by children who depended on her. She didn’t think that Zachary would be able to man up and be a good father to them. He could barely take care of himself; how was he going to help with children?
“Has she decided… that she doesn’t want to continue?” he prompted.
“She is getting older and we don’t know how many chances she will have to get pregnant. How hard it will be to terminate and try again.”
“Try again? If she wants to terminate, why would she try again?”
“It changes from day to day,” Gordon sighed. “Maybe she’s not ready. She could try again in a year or two when she feels more ready, though that will be pushing against her biological clock. Or sometimes she decides that twins will be too much and she should only carry one to term. They can do selective reduction… And other days, she is convinced that there is something wrong with the babies.”
It wasn’t that surprising that Bridget would be worried about her pregnancy. Many women had anxiety over such a significant change in their lives. It was something so utterly different from anything they had done before. For Bridget, it would mean a big change in the way she lived her life. Being a mother, tied down to two children, instead of being able to go wherever she wanted whenever she wanted to. Things were different for parents, even if she did get a nanny to help.
“What does she think is wrong?”
“Well, up until now, it has just been ‘something’—‘What if there is something wrong with the babies?’ ‘Something doesn’t feel right.’ ‘I think something is wrong.’—But I’m not willing to operate on ‘somethings.’ I need answers. Concrete evidence.”
And he had found something. But what? Why did Gordon need a private investigator?
“And… you found something?” Zachary ventured.
Gordon tapped his computer. He took a couple more bites of his grill.
“She decided to have prenatal DNA testing done. Just to make sure that everything was okay. It’s not just Down Syndrome anymore. They are very sophisticated now. They can do all sorts of testing for genetic problems and predict a lot of developmental issues.”
“I went along with it,” Gordon said. “I thought this would help her to move on. She would know that everything was okay, so she would feel better about continuing the pregnancy. I thought it was a good solution. Rule out all of those things that she was afraid of.”
“But, something came up on the test.” Zachary still didn’t have a clue why Gordon would want him involved. He couldn’t fix genetic issues with his magnifying glass.
Gordon sighed. “Both babies are at high risk for developing Huntington’s Disease.”
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