CHAPTER 3 | friction burn

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A/N. Hope your weekend is going well.  In this chapter we learn a little about Ethan.

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Ethan rubbed the bridge of his nose as he checked the opening trades of the Tokyo stock exchange. The impact on the economy in China was having a knock-on effect in many of the countries across the globe and was a possible indicator of things to come.

In his business, there was no downtime. Somewhere, the finance markets were always open and trading; and, with the advent of mobile technology, he was only a swipe or button push from all the data he needed.

Seeing that there were no significant movements so far, he quickly flicked to his email to see if there was anything he needed to concern himself with. After responding to a couple, he sat back and closed his eyes, listening to the chaotic sounds of the arena as it began to fill up with people.

He was tired. He loved his job, but sometimes the nagging thought that there must be more to life got to him. He hadn't had a night off in the past four weeks. The lead up to summer always got to him. Why everyone scheduled their galas, fundraisers, and balls at the same time was beyond him.

At first, he had taken a date along so he could at least salvage something out of the evening. But, after a while, that too became tiring. They always expected more, despite being given the ground rules from the start. He had found the more affluent and wealthy they were, the clingier they became.

He was thankful that, with summer approaching, the social commitments would diminish considerably as everyone would escape the city heat in droves.

Although, he had to admit, the Van der Brink's yearly schmooze with their principal business partners was always one he enjoyed. It wasn't the schmoozing that he looked forward to, it was the fact that they always had it on the night of the first NBA finals game at the Garden.

Ethan, a basketball fan since childhood, was only too happy to attend — even if it wasn't his team playing. He had to admit that Mason hosting the event this year was an added bonus.

His friend's recent move to New York had been both unexpected and welcome. Although, he would miss his yearly trek to London, it was nice to have one of his closest friends in the same city. Something that stopped the moment he had graduated from Oxford and returned home to the states.

Ethan was pulled from his intraspection when he noticed the attendant straighten and look down the stairs expectantly. He leaned forward and peered at the opening to see who might have left the quiet suite for the loud and raucous arena. From his vantage point, hidden at the back of the bank of chairs, he could see the back of a woman's head as her ponytail came into view.

The moment she turned and headed to one of the front seats, he froze.

What the hell is she up to? his mind shouted.

He couldn't believe that he had run into her twice in as many nights. What's more — he couldn't believe he had not recognized her when he had first laid eyes on her.

To be fair, he reasoned, I hadn't really paid attention to the Private Investigator's photos.

He had been more concerned with the content of their reports, rather than the supporting images.

While the SEC and FBI had stopped their active search for Hutton, he hadn't. He was convinced Hutton's wife and kids knew exactly where he was. How else could they explain how their lifestyle was being funded? There was no way the Weymouth trust fund could possibly support one of their spending habits, let alone all of them.

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