Rising Action - Part 3
| grabbed a pen and jotted down the address on the screen as she waited for one of her IT people to arrive. Riverlake Road wasn't more than fifteen miles from her residence. She knew the people who's homes were ajacent to her property, but she didn't know anyone who lived on Riverlake Road. One thing was certain, she was going to get to the bottom of the computer breach, and what it had to do with the address plastered on her monitor screen.
Ross Myerson dashed into Calexia's office. A breach in their company's network did happen upon a rare occasion, but nothing serious, and certainly nothing that made it past the IT department's notice. This situation embarrassed Ron. Calexia could see his face turn red as he addressed her.
"How can I help you today, Ms. Valleris? I understand you have had some sort of intrusion on your system?"
With one push of her hand, she spun the swivel monitor toward Ross. "You can explain to me how this happened, and who the sender is."
"I'm very sorry about this. I'll get to work on it right away."
She watched as Ross began to work his digital magic on the keyboard. It seemed to take forever, but at least she would have something to go on when he finished. Ross Myerson was one of the best computer techs in the business. She remembered that his salary and perks were almost equal to her VP's, but it was worth it. He kept the network safe, and protected from the most serious breaches. Whoever got in to her computer knew what they were doing. She began wondering if this was a case of corporate espionage. If it was, this wasn't going to be a simple case of computer hacking.
Calexia picked up her cell phone and dialed the number for Seaboard Global. "Yes, this is Calexia Valleris. I'd like to speak with Chase Morgan please."
"I'm sorry Ms. Valleris, Mr. Morgan is not in the office at this time. May I give him a message, or would you prefer his voicemail?"
Disappointed, Calexia sighed. "Neither, thank you. I will return the call again later." Just as she ended the call, Ross Myer turned around from her computer and faced her with a surprised expression.
"There is more to this message. It's been encrypted. Only the address was left for you to see."
"Have you read it?"
"No, I haven't."
"Good. Send the message to my printer."
"Tell me something. Why would someone send a message encrypted, but leave the address clearly able for me to see?"
"Maybe so that if you weren't able to unencrypt the message, or didn't realize it was encrypted, you'd still have the address of where the message came from."
Calexia put her hand under her chin and walked back and forth in front of her printer. "You mean the message was sent from this address?"
"Yes it was."
"Can you find out the name of the person who owns the computer?"
Ross nodded. "It'll take a few more minutes, but I'll get that for you."
It didn't take as long as she thought for Ross to acquire the name. After handing it to her, she stared at it for a moment before thanking Ross for his expertise. "Make sure you save the information for any investigation that might come from this. And be sure to mark the file confidential."
"Of course." As soon as Ross picked up his logbook he left the room.
Calexia waited until Ross left the room before reading the message.
Urgent that I speak with you regarding matter of great importance. Contact me as soon as possible.
What the hell is this all about? It didn't sound like a joke, but it could easily be a prank or just hackers having fun at her expense. Either way, she was determined to find out. Calexia sat down at her computer and typed in pipl.com. After getting to the search website, she spoke the name out loud as she typed it into the search window, The webpage changed, and information on Hazel scrolled down the screen. Calexia hit the print option on the screen. "What the hell?" The page had Hazel's name, address, phone, age, birthday, schools, and other basic information listed. Nothing surprising, until Calexia looked at the age field once again. "Fifteen?" She stood up, grabbed the printed copy from her printer, her purse, and walked out of her office.
I'll be out of the office for a little while. I should be back about four o'clock, if anyone tries to reach me. Would you please let the rest of the staff know. And if Chase Morgan calls, forward it to my cell phone."
Mr. Penaldo was always happy to assist Calexia whenever he could. As her father's former secretary, he was invaluable to her in many ways. One of his specialties was keeping her informed of any office issues, loyaties, disloyalties, and rumors from the mill that made their way through the channels, as well as keeping her on schedule.
"Consider it done."
"Thank you." Calexia smiled back at him and stepped back into the elevator.
The drive to Riverlake Road took less time than Calexia thought it would. Traffic was light, and it was midday, so there were fewer cars on the road. A few minutes later, she found herself at the address on her notepad. The home was a lovely two-floor, Georgian Colonial, with a matching building to the east side of the house, probably as an office, as well as a two-car garage. The property had iron fencing around it, and an electronic gate with a combination lock pad and an intercom system. It had all earmarks of people with high salaried jobs, or wealth.
Just as she opened her window to push the intercom, a school bus pulled up to the driveway and stopped. When the doors opened, a teenage girl, with rainbow colored hair, wearing a bright, sporty jumpsuit hopped out. Calexia wondered if this was the mysterious Hazel Brock she was looking for, but before she could consider any further, Hazel came up to her window.
"Hi! Can I help you?"
Calexia smiled. "Yes, you can. I'm looking for the Brock residence. Is this it?"
Hazel laughed. "You found us. Are you here to see my parents?"
"Well, not exactly. I'm here to see Hazel Brock. Is she your sister?"
Shaking her head, Hazel replied, "No. I don't have a sister, just a brother. I'm Hazel."
"Oh. Then you're the young lady I'm here to see."
Hazel's face turned from jovial and spunky, to a serious scowl. "What about?"
"About a message I received on my computer that came from yours," Calexia said flatly.
"From my computer?"
"Yes. I had my IT department check it out thoroughly. Can we go up to your house and talk?"
Hazel nodded blankly. "Sure. Let me tell my mom." Hazel pressed the intercom. "Mom, it's me. We have a visitor. I'm at the gate."
Her mother answered promptly. "All right, dear. Who is the visitor?"
She hesitated, waiting for Calexia to respond. "Calexia Valleris. I'm the CEO of Valleris Shipping Lines."
A moment later, the gate opened. The two women got into Calexia's car and drove up to the house. When they got to the top step, the door to the Georgian Colonial opened, and Hazel's mother appeared.
"Hello. I'm Veronica Brock. How can I help you?"
Chuckling, Calexia put her hand out. "Very nice to meet you. But as I told your daughter, I'm actually here to talk to her."
"This morning, I received a partially encrypted message from Hazel's computer. It had your address on it. Calexia showed them the message. As soon as they read it, her mother handed it back to Calexia, and looked at Hazel.
"I never sent that message, mother. I have no idea what it's about. And I can prove it."
"How?" Her mother folded her hands across her chest, and waited for Hazel's answer.
"Look at the timestamp on the message. I wasn't home then. I was at school."
Calexia thought about it for a moment, then turned back to Hazel's mother. "If Hazel was in school, then who else could have sent it? Was anyone else here at that time?"
"No. No one." Ms. Valleris, would you like to sit down? I can make us some coffee and see if we can figure this out."
It was hours since she had a cup of coffee or anything to eat, so Calexia graciously accepted. "That would be very nice. Thank you."
As they walked through the living room, she noticed a photo of a man in several of the photos on the fireplace mantle.
Veronica noticed Calexia staring at the photos and spoke up. "My husband Bill."
"Is he in law enforcement?" She asked as she followed Veronica Brock into the dining room, and sat down.
"He was. He's the head of Security for a large private security and detective firm. He handles high profile clients."
"Is that right? Could your husband have sent the message?" She asked, still thinking about the possibility as she asked the question.
Veronica stood still for a moment, considering Calexia's question. "I have no idea, but I suppose it's possible. Although Bill wasn't here at that time either. But he called just before you arrived. He will be home in a few minutes, if you'd like to wait and speak with him yourself."
Calexia took a sip of coffee and let out a deep breath. "Thank you. I believe I will."
Word Count: 1,619