It is 2009; the auto industry is imploding. Charlotte Kirby and car manufacturer customer Bill Arnold's romance gets hopelessly caught up in the intrigue and in-fighting over her new urethane foam. Can it save her company and his career? Who is bent on ruining the project, violently if necessary? Charlotte loses an important player to a suspicious accident, and another defects to a rock band. Bill’s bosses and co-workers at his struggling employer launch selfish agendas. A friend dumps one key co-worker for another. The lovers are challenged by thefts, assaults, kidnapping, and a laboratory disaster. Time is running out, can they unmask the villain and learn the true secret of the foam?
Charlotte settled into her comfy leather recliner with the great natural light from the west window and began her homework. Within minutes, though, she heard a noise carried through the hot air duct, a noise from the basement of the townhouse. Was it Dad? Did he drink too much at the golf course and decide to spend the night here? She called cheerfully, “Is that you, Dad?”
There was no response. They had communicated successfully through the ductwork or the thin walls of this place many times before. She rose and headed to the little upstairs hall to look down and see the back of a figure in a baseball cap reaching for the front door knob. It wasn’t her father. Without thinking she called, “Hey, who the hell are you?”
The figure turned and the Jack Sparrow pirate mask under the baseball cap made it clear this was no one Dad had invited to drop by. The person stared up at her for a moment but did not speak. You’re a damn loudmouth, Charlotte, he was going to leave. She opened the little linen closet Dad used for his odd personal effects and sought some weapon, finding Dad’s only legitimate golf trophy.
The shadowy figure took a tentative step toward the stairs and put a finger to his lips. Charlotte shouted, “Do not ‘shush’ me in my house.” She hurled the trophy, and it skidded along the wall and fell to the floor. The intruder, to her amazement, stooped and picked it up to read the inscription. A male voice snorted in derision, and the man started for the stairs again but still did not speak. Wasn’t this where he was supposed to snarl, “Now you will die, my lady,” or “Hand over your jewels,” or something like that?
She had her hands on Dad’s bowling ball bag now, and with strength that surprised her, hurled the bag, ball, and shoes at the intruder. It got him in a kneecap and he howled, but did not go down. She was almost out of ammunition. She grasped a large die cast model fire truck by the extension ladder and prepared to sling it at the man’s head. He was on the fourth or fifth stair when he saw the toy truck.
“No, not that,” he cried. He stopped dead, rotated, retreated to the front door, tore it open, and fled into the night. She walked unsteadily down the stairs, locked the door behind him, and called the cops to play question and answer. After hanging up she mentally replayed a condensed version of the conversation.
“Are you injured?”
“Do you know how he got in?”
“Probably through the kitchen door. My father isn’t good about locking up. We mainly live in the country.”
“What is missing?”
“Probably nothing, I think he fled empty-handed.”
“What were you doing when you discovered the intruder?”
“Reading lab reports.” And sucking down a three-dollar merlot.