SEVENTEEN YEARS EARLIER BAINBRIDGE ISLAND
Brandon Thorsted was in his in downtown Seattle high-rise office, sitting behind his massive hand-carved mahogany desk. It had belonged to a great grandfather a few generations back and had been stashed in the attic at the house. He'd unearthed it, painstakingly restored it and hauled it to his office.
He was brown haired, average in looks. A tall, quiet and thoughtful man of keen intellect and ironclad integrity. He had inherited money and had the smarts and skills to make it into a sizable fortune. He was however a bit inept socially, more than a bit actually. He'd had little to do with the social scene due to work interests, demands and just plain awkwardness, until he'd met and married Eden in a whirlwind courtship two years ago.
He swiveled his leather chair around, his back to the book-lined room, looking out the wall of windows toward the ocean that was studded with boats. The view was breath taking. It was another of those gleaming, crystalline Seattle days that rocked the senses. Anyone with half a brain would throw off work and escape outdoors. Something Brandon was seriously considering. He could head home, pull out the Sea Ray and take off onto the water. He wanted the buzz of speed the powerboat would offer and the escape from troubling thoughts.
His intercom gave off a quiet, discreet buzz.
Brandon spun his chair, the leather squeaking as he leaned forward to press the intercom. "Yes Lisa?"
"There's someone here to see you, sir. Someone I think you'd like to see."
"Did I have an appointment I forgot about?"
"No sir, but..." Lisa sounded almost breathless, flustered. Impossible, Brandon thought. Nothing could rattle his imperturbable personal assistant. She'd been with him for years, handled unhappy competitors, difficult clients, pretty much anything he'd thrown at her. She was a rock, invaluable and more importantly, loyal. "Sir, can I send him in?"
Brandon rose to his feet and strode across the gleaming hardwood floor toward the door, thinking he'd handle this in person. Before he reached it, the door swung open. Outlined in the doorway was one of the most imposing men he'd ever seen. No wonder Lisa sounded breathless. The man had to be at least 6'8". with a broad shouldered powerful physique. He was simply put, overwhelming. He was impeccably, expensively dressed. He extended his hand as he entered the room walking toward Brandon.
Recognition took only seconds.
"Mr. Magnusson, what a surprise. Welcome." Brandon quickly covered the remaining distance with his hand outstretched as well and felt his hand engulfed in a massive handshake.
Brandon wasn't a short man by any means. He stood 6'3" in his stocking feet, but with this man he felt positively dwarfed. Speaking of stocking feet, he glanced down and realized that as usual, he'd kicked off his shoes. There was a small hole in his right sock, just where his big toe sat. Plus one sock appeared to be dark blue and the other black. Argh! Oh man! Talk about not making a good impression.
"Please, sir, won't you come in and sit down?"
He indicated one of the large leather chairs placed in front of his desk. Instead of retreating behind his desk to hunt for his shoes, he moved to one of the matching chairs, waiting for Leif Magnusson to take a seat before sitting down, facing one of his most powerful and wealthy clients. He waited in silence.
Leif glanced around the office, taking in the clean lines, the walls of books, the gleaming floor and the wall of windows that looked out at the water before taking a seat. He studied the young man he'd grown to respect and even admire. His money, the very small portion he'd had Brandon handle for him, had been honestly and carefully invested. The returns had been impressive. He knew him to be a man of integrity and intelli