“What do you know about Mace Gilmore?” Lillian McCord asked her.
“An obscenely well-off proponent and practitioner of Adam Smith’s dictums.” Cynthia Kang crossed one leg over the other, lulled by the sound of the ocean waves. She sat in McCord’s Pacific Palisades hilltop abode. The semi-retired lobbyist also knew something about the good life.
The older woman had a sip of her wine. “He met with Grish a week before his death.”
“About this Fallenbee mess?” Gilmore was president of the entity’s board and a major investor in it as well.
“Among other things, apparently.”
“After that meeting Grish sought your advice?”
“In his way, he did.” She stopped herself, looking off through a picture window into the blackness of night.
Kang waited, enjoying some more of her wine. She had her feet up on an ottoman. Good thing no photographer was hounding her. But what self-respecting paparazzo would follow a politician around in LA, what with the latest bubble-brained starlet having a meltdown on her way to jail for DUI or caught exiting her low-slung sports car sans thong? She sat forward, looking at her friend.
McCord breathed in audibly. “He was shaken, Cynthia.”
“He did it, took the kickbacks?”
McCord managed a thin smile. “He was worried for Connie.”
“I’m not following.”
“Connie did some consulting work for a Fallenbee subsidiary.” Conrad Waller, Grish’s grown son, had been a bright student at Cal Tech. He was adept at math and mechanical engineering. But like some for whom these abilities were second nature, he was bored with formal education and did not envision a life of building robots or teaching in the university. He’d dropped out of school and thereafter had done a variety of jobs, from running an inner city rec center to being an agent for life coaches. All very interesting, but vexing to his patient father.
“What kind of work?And what kind of subsidiary?” She made a gesture with her hand as if warding off a fly. “A damn restaurant chain, Cynthia. Albeit a tony one, the Pasta Grotto line.”
“I like their pizzas too, but what was Connie doing for them? Coming up with a Star Trek type of lasagna maker?” Kang did love her some original Trek. Even went to a Halloween Party once in one of those crazy mini-skirts the women wore in the ’60s show. Sexism not withstanding, she rocked that outfit.
Lillian McCord refilled their glasses. “He was listed as advising on product acquisition.”
“Huh. Right. A man who studied how to soup up the Mars Rover would rather recommend the best cloves of garlic to buy. So he had a do-nothing, no-show job as a way to put some money in his pocket.”
“So I gathered.”
“And this money is directly linked to Gilmore? That the billionaire gave the son this scratch as a way to gain favor with Grish? Or that father and son were splitting the take?”