When i found you, p.10
When I Found You, p.10Kate James
“Most of his time here I didn’t work with him directly. Only since you promoted me to senior manager. I don’t recall hearing George express any concerns about Dave. It’s true he’s had it in for you since the day you started here, though.” He shook his head slowly. “For all his faults, I can’t see him doing something like this.”
“If he was already angry and unbalanced, maybe struggling with marital issues, couldn’t firing him have pushed him over the edge?”
Max nodded. “I suppose so.”
“I wonder where he was going. We know he was in Terminal 1.” She replayed a section of the clip. “He’s heading toward the administrative offices.”
She glanced at Max for confirmation.
“That would be my guess.”
“Try to find out if anyone saw him while he was here. Check with HR. He might have had a meeting with them.”
As soon as they left the EOC and Max headed to Human Resources, Ariana called Logan’s cell number. “We’ve found Dave Langdon on camera. He’s been back at the airport. A couple of days before the explosions.” She gave Logan the date and time. “I have Max checking to see if there was a legitimate reason for him to have been back here.”
“Good. See if you can track him on other cameras. Determine where he was going. Also, check to see if he was back at any other time.”
“We’re already on it.”
It didn’t take Max long to get back to Ariana. Dave had come in for a meeting with HR to discuss his pension benefits. He’d gone straight to the Human Resources Department and had a twenty-minute meeting, but there was a time gap from when he’d finished his meeting and when he was picked up on the camera exiting the administration area. Fifteen minutes of the time he’d spent at the airport were unaccounted for.
Facial recognition didn’t pick him up again. That didn’t mean he hadn’t been back. Ariana asked her team to keep searching to see if they could find him on a video camera again that day or any other up to the day of the explosions.
Midmorning the next day, she was advised that Langdon didn’t appear in any more footage. But they had no explanation for the fifteen-minute gap after he’d left Human Resources and before he was walking out of the terminal building.
What had Langdon been doing in those fifteen minutes, and was it relevant to their investigation?
Ariana had an odd mixture of feelings. First and foremost, she wanted the airport safe and secure, and the perpetrator apprehended, but she had to think ahead. Once the dust settled, would she still have a job? Was there something she’d missed? Did she make a mistake in the prioritization of her improvement initiatives? In letting Langdon stay on as long as she had?
She lifted the phone to call Logan.
When she heard a knock, she turned in time to see the door open. Max entered, looking morose. He was followed by Logan, minus his dog, and Calvin Murdoch.
Ariana felt Max was trying to send her a message. Before she could determine what it might be, Calvin pushed past him. He was furious.
“Where’s your restricted area identity card?” Calvin asked without preamble. She slid her eyes back to Max, trying to get an indication of what this was all about, while at the same time pulling out her security card. It was attached to an extendable cord, the other end of which was clipped to her belt. She showed it to Calvin and flicked a glance at Logan.
Logan stepped forward and tugged on the cord, testing how secure it was.
“What’s going on?” she asked. Calvin was making her nervous.
“Did you misplace your card at any time?” Calvin demanded, ignoring her question.
“Of course not.” She shoved the card back in her pocket forcefully. “Why?”
“Your card was used to access the secure areas by the bomber,” Max informed her.
Ariana shot out of her chair. “That’s impossible! I wouldn’t let my card out of my control. I never leave my card anywhere it can be accessed by someone else, and I don’t lend it. It’s basic security protocol.”
“Well, someone got a hold of it,” Calvin interjected. “If you didn’t leave it or lend it, how is that possible?”
Ariana’s gaze collided with Logan’s.
“Could the permitting office have issued a duplicate?” he asked.
“I don’t see how. We have safeguards against that. Even if a card is lost or damaged, the card is canceled and a new card is issued. The technology in our permit control office prevents duplication of a card.”
“Could it have been copied elsewhere?”
“For that, the person would need a card to copy from.” Ariana fingered the security card in her pocket and tried to figure out how that could have been possible, if her card hadn’t left her possession. “I’d imagine they’d have to have a very sophisticated system to do it.”
“Get to the bottom of what’s going on,” Calvin interrupted. “Any developments, I want to know about it right away.” He spun around and marched out of the office.
Ariana met Logan’s eyes boldly. She wished she wasn’t attracted to him. It would’ve been easier not to like him. She didn’t want to like him, but her traitorous heart had its own ideas. “Did you really have to confront me with that in front of my boss?”
His eyes clouded. Regret? Sympathy? She could accept the former but abhorred the later. Then his eyes turned cool and distant. “Just doing my job. People were injured. Could’ve been killed. The person responsible is out there and could try again anytime. Will try again, based on his note. My priority is to stop him.”
Before Ariana could say that it was her priority, too, Logan said a curt goodbye and left.
“Terrific,” Ariana exclaimed, as she dropped into her chair. “What does Logan have against me?” She knew she sounded petulant. She’d obviously taken Max by surprise, based on the look on his face.
She wasn’t an emotional person. She was a logical person, but her question had been filled with heat.
Max sat down in the chair across from her and leaned forward. “Ariana,” he said gently, “you can’t blame O’Connor for this. As he said, he’s just doing his job. Don’t take it personally.”
“Then why did he go to Calvin?”
Her head shot up. “Then who did?”
Max shook his head. “I don’t know if anyone did. Calvin didn’t say. All I know is he barged into my office. Logan was with me at the time. We were going over the logs. I didn’t have a chance to warn you. Calvin didn’t leave me alone for a moment.”
“And you’re certain it was my card?”
“I checked the logs myself, Ariana. There’s no mistake. We finished tracing the bomber’s entire path. Over the time frame in question, your card is the only one registered to have been used along the path—the entire and exact path, I might add—that the bomber took to get to the departure lounge.”
Ariana pulled out her access card again, stared at it, wanting to satisfy herself that it really was in her possession.
She turned it over. Her ID photo stared back at her. She raised it toward Max. “I’ve had it all the time. It couldn’t have been physically copied. Could someone have hacked into our system?” She understood cyberattacks were a reality. The possibility that someone hacked into their security system terrified her. If the person could accomplish that and was able to replicate her card as a consequence, what else could that person do?
Max tilted his head. “You know as well as I do that cybersecurity is a vulnerability for any organization. Our systems are sophisticated. You ensured that, but no system is immune to cyber hacking. Consider how many hacking attempts we block every single day and how many major corporations have been hacked. Remember that security guy who tweeted while on board a 787 en route to JFK, claiming he could hack into the engine monitoring system of the air
“The airline blocked him from his connecting flight and the FBI detained him for questioning,” Max continued. “He alleged that he’d once hacked an airplane’s systems and caused it to fly sideways.
“That might’ve been farfetched, but it was never disproved. There are lots of potential hackers out there who can break into just about any application—airlines and airports alike. If we were hacked, it wouldn’t be the first time that has happened in the aviation industry.”
“I realize that. However, I continue to lean toward an insider. Or at least a person who’s using someone inside.”
“I agree there’s a high probability of that, but then we’re back to someone getting a hold of your card and copying it. Are you positive no one had access to—”
Ariana’s dismay must have shown on her face, as Max stopped midsentence. He straightened and held up a hand. “I’m on your side here, but we’ll have to convince Calvin of that...probably some others, too. We need to get to the bottom of this.”
Ariana sighed. “Yeah, we do.”
“Ariana...” Max hesitated. “There’s something else. Something Calvin doesn’t know yet. I wanted to tell you first.”
A cold dread filled Ariana. “What is it?”
“When we traced the bomber’s path, we discovered that he got through the TSA employee checkpoint no problem and then accessed the secure areas from the airfield using his access card.”
Ariana understood the implications of that. It meant that the failure was not entirely TSA’s. The airport’s internal security measures did nothing to prevent him from accessing any number of secure areas once he passed the initial checkpoint. He might or might not have had the bomb or any of its components with him, and he might not have brought them in through a TSA checkpoint. Once inside, he simply went where he wanted to with his access card. Things were getting progressively worse for her. “Does Logan know?” she asked softly.
Max nodded. “He did the tracing.”
She felt some relief knowing that Logan hadn’t initiated the confrontation she’d just had with Calvin, and that he could have made matters even more dire for her by sharing this latest bit of information with her boss. But he hadn’t.
Regardless, she had to tell Calvin. She could imagine how much more disturbed her CEO and the board would be over this latest information. “Okay. Let’s figure out how my access card got copied. You still don’t think Dave Langdon is involved in this?”
Max seemed to mull it over for a few moments. “No, I don’t. I don’t think he’s smart enough, and he’s too hotheaded. Our guy had to be cool to waltz in the way he did and not cause any suspicion. Remember his gait in the video when you watched it? My read is that this guy didn’t appear nervous in the least. He seemed to be enjoying himself. What do you think?”
“I agree with you about Dave, but then who? We have thousands of people employed at the airport. And why was Dave’s visit and the explosions only days apart? It seems too coincidental.”
“Is it possible Dave’s working with someone? He has the insider knowledge, and he’s feeding it to whoever is behind it?”
“It’s possible, but that doesn’t explain the timing of his visit to HR. If your theory is correct, he wouldn’t need to be here to do that.”
“The police will be interviewing him. Let’s see if we can find anyone else who might have seen him or talked to him while he was here and determine what he did during the extra fifteen minutes.”
Ariana rose. “I’m going to the permit control office to have my card canceled and a new one issued. Then I’m going to IT to see if they have any ideas about how it could have happened.”
“Ask for Wayne Gallagher in IT,” Max suggested. “He’s the best tech they have, and we need the best for this.”
* * *
LOGAN STALKED OUT of Ariana’s office and toward the parking garage. That woman was going to drive him crazy. He wished he could deal with her like any other contact on an active investigation—detached and indifferent. What was it about her that tugged at the core of him? Heck, tugged wasn’t the right word. It grabbed hold and nearly strangled him. As much as it would probably irritate her, he wanted to protect her. To stand up for her. He’d done just that with the CEO of the airport, Calvin Murdoch, when the guy had cornered him in Max’s office, wanting to know what the latest was with the investigation. No matter how many times Logan tried to redirect him to Ariana, he wouldn’t listen.
When Murdoch started questioning what they were doing, Logan had no choice but to tell him what they’d just discovered about Ariana’s security card. That had prompted the guy to storm off to Ariana’s office.
Logan couldn’t ignore it...he cared about Ariana.
How was that possible after such a short time? It was more than professional respect and a natural attraction to an obviously beautiful woman.
Logan scrubbed his hands over his face. Wow, he was tired, and he’d promised Becca dinner. He felt guilty that he hadn’t been available all day. He’d called her when he could, and was reasonably satisfied that she was doing better. He longed for her to be back to her normal, happy, energetic self. He was getting over his anger at Winslow, too. Now it was a mild irritation that the guy had hurt his sister so badly, and a reminder that Logan was wise to have avoided personal entanglements.
But the way he was drawn to Ariana was unlike anything he’d experienced before. His feelings for her were too unique—too disturbing—for even casual dating.
It would be safer to avoid getting any closer to her, he decided as he unlocked his vehicle and let Boomer hop in the back.
* * *
ARIANA UNLOCKED HER apartment door. Once inside, she bent down to scratch Sabrina. The cat wound her way between Ariana’s legs with a self-satisfied purr.
“You had a good day, then?” Ariana murmured. “Sometimes I wish I could live your life. Spend a lazy day at home, with nothing more to do than eat and sleep.”
She gave the cat another leisurely rub. Straightening, she pressed the palm of her uninjured hand to the small of her back and stretched, trying to ease the kinks that had formed.
Placing her briefcase on the dining room table, she went into the kitchen to rummage through her refrigerator. Inspecting the sparse contents, she grabbed a Coke Zero and tried to remember when she’d last bought groceries. Shopping wasn’t a favorite activity at the best of times, but she needed to make an effort or she’d have to start ordering in. Faced with the meager contents of her fridge, she decided she wasn’t that hungry. She settled on canned soup and crackers.
Leaving Sabrina in the kitchen to feast on her own meal, Ariana took her soup, crackers and soda into the dining room.
She set up her laptop and ate while she worked. She had three burning questions. Assuming the person responsible was in possession of a restricted area identity card, how did he get the explosives into the secure area of the international departure lounge or the airfield, if Logan was correct about how he’d entered? Even with an access card, everyone was screened. Second, how was the person able to duplicate her security pass? And why hers?
She might be overthinking it. Perhaps it was as simple as knowing that she’d have the highest level of access possible because of her job. If the system was hacked, one card was no more difficult to duplicate than any other. She kept circling back to an insider. Could someone working for their permit control office be involved? She’d mention it to Logan, but she doubted that was the case. Cards could not be duplicated within their system. But outside of it? As Max had suggested, she’d asked the airport’s chief information officer for his best tech, Wayne Gallagher, to be assigned. Wayne hadn’t had any immediate answers for her, but he said he’d look into it right away.
Of course not. Stress and lack of sleep were getting to her. There was no gain for Logan in doing so. It had been bad luck that he’d been with Max when Calvin had visited Max’s office. It wasn’t Logan’s fault. Max should have given her a heads-up. There were ways he could have alerted her. He could’ve sent her a quick text or email even if Calvin was with him. Why hadn’t he?
She groaned. Now she was being paranoid.
Sabrina sauntered over and meowed mournfully. Ariana picked up the cat and gave her the attention she craved. When she placed the cat back down on the carpet, she shot her hind leg up in the air and went about grooming herself.
After finishing her soup, Ariana fiddled with the soda can. She understood there would be questions about how her security pass had been obtained and used to breach the secure area. If she had questions and doubts about it, what must Logan be thinking? Or Calvin?
She finished off the last of the Coke.
She thought of Logan, his height and broad shoulders. His easy, athletic stride. Those bright blue eyes that seemed to see everything. And when he smiled? Clichéd as it sounded, something just melted inside her.
And why did she keep thinking of Logan? Being aware of his reputation and having seen him with his friends at The Runway, she would have thought she’d be over him. Evidently, she wasn’t.
She was attracted to Logan, whether she wanted to be or not. As for seeing him at The Runway, she’d probably overacted. If he had a relationship with either of the women he was sitting with, he surely wouldn’t have left them and come after her. There were many plausible explanations for what she’d witnessed, if she thought about it logically. And there was the problem. With Logan, her emotions overrode logic. She longed to pick up the phone and call him. Just to hear his voice.
When I Found You by Kate James / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes