Home > Her Forever Hero (Unexpected Heroes #3)(4)

Her Forever Hero (Unexpected Heroes #3)(4)
Author: Melody Anne

“I would love to know who put it there. That’s still a big mystery. Somehow I don’t think either of her parents cares enough to want to help her. But I certainly do want to. The problem is that every time I approach her about this, we end up in a fight. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.”

“Well, then, you’ll just have to make her listen,” Martin said, as if there was nothing easier than getting Grace to pay attention to anything Camden had to say.

“Ugh! It’s not that simple. We have history together. It’s just . . . I don’t know, it’s complicated. When she came back to town last year, I could see she was bitter, but as time has passed, nothing I do seems to change those feelings. I can only help her if she allows it.”

Camden moved to the window and looked out over the small town square. Two kids played chase in the park while their mother sat on the bench watching them. Sterling was a great place to live, to work, and to raise a family. It’s why he’d come back. At one time he’d wanted to settle down with Grace, have children, and live a happy, normal life. But the world had a way of intercepting the ball even in the best of plays.

Grace and Cam had been friends from the time he moved to Sterling. She was four years younger than he was, but tougher than any boy, and their relationship began out of respect. They stayed in contact while he was away at college.

The summer he came home with his degree in hand before going on to law school, he saw Grace in a whole new way. She was eighteen, beautiful, and going into her senior year of high school.

Their love blossomed over the summer, and when he left for grad school, he was sure their relationship could last—but he was wrong. By the end of his first year of law school, there was nothing left of them to come home to.

Now the odds seemed to be forever in their disfavor, and it appeared there was nothing Cam could do about it, nothing but annoy a woman who just might wind up in prison.

“The file landed on your desk because whoever put it there knew you wouldn’t stop until you solved this case,” Martin told him.

“I don’t think it really matters who has the case. It looks pretty airtight—seems like she did it.” Cam cringed as he said that out loud.

“Ah, but you know not everything is as it seems, son.”

“I’ve been fighting with her for a year on this,” Camden said. “It’s not long before the feds get involved, as you well know.”

“Okay, boy. Let’s take another look at the file together and see if there’s anything we can come up with.”

“Might as well.” Cam grabbed the file off his desk and sat down at the large conference table in his office.

His father joined him and they pulled out the three-inch-thick pile of papers.

Martin flipped through the stack and stopped. “Right here is where it all began.”

“Yeah, Dad, that’s the first incident I can see of the embezzling.”

“Wait. We’re already off to a poor start,” Martin said. “Why don’t you describe to me what you’ve figured out, start to finish?”

“C’mon, Dad. You know everything I know.”

“Sometimes putting things into story form helps clarify it,” Martin said. “Let me start our little fairy tale off. Five years ago, one Grace Sinclair, the accused, opened a nonprofit by the name of Youthspiration. You pick it up from there.”

“This is so lame . . . okay, okay,” Cam said when his father gave him a warning look. “To an outsider, an auditor—hell, to the average person—it looks like all is well in paradise. If you look closely, the donation amounts coming in and then going back out all match up perfectly.”

Martin broke in. “There’s nothing wrong with starting up a nonprofit.”

“What are you doing here, Dad?”

“I’m playing devil’s advocate, pretending I know nothing.”

“This isn’t a game. It’s serious. What can you possibly be smiling about?”

“I’m not enjoying the fact that Grace is in trouble. It’s just a pleasure to see you so focused about work, to see you on a mission,” Martin told him. “Besides, I like playing dumb,” he added with a laugh.

“I don’t think you can pass as dumb, not with all the years you sat as the county judge, or the fact that you have successfully run three businesses worth billions of dollars,” Cam reminded him.

“Right now I’m just Joe Schmo, juror, at your service.”

“All right, I’ll play along. About a year ago, somebody made an anonymous tip to the IRS, telling them that they might want to dig a little deeper into this nonprofit. They dug and found nothing. So then this file pops up on my desk and, me being me, I can’t help but do some of my own digging. The nonprofit looks aboveboard. But when you peel away the layers of the onion and get to the heart of it, something’s rotten. All the outgoing checks are written and seem to be going to real organizations, but there are duplicates, and those are heading straight into offshore accounts. Whoever’s doing this is smart, though, because the money is siphoned off in such a way as to not raise red flags and to keep the culprit highly protected.”

“How so? If you found offshore accounts, can’t the feds?”

“Yes, they can, and I don’t see how they haven’t yet,” Cam said. “Anyway, all signs point directly to Grace.”

“And what does Grace have to say about it?” Martin asked.

“She said I was out of my mind. That she never opened up this or any other nonprofit and she certainly didn’t take any money.”

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