Liam's Lily:Heroes for Hire, Book 14(5)

By: Dale Mayer

Inside a small room, she motioned at two chairs, then walked around behind the desk. “Please have a seat.” She reached behind her and pulled out a large file. She flipped it over on the desk so they could reach it. “This is what I have. I’ve sent most of it to Levi.”

Liam picked up the folder, and, with North looking on, Liam opened it up and flipped through the various pamphlets. There was a bunch of printed screenshots. “What is it you’re disturbed about here?” He tried not to look as confused as he felt. “I see a lot of screenshots from a website.”

She nodded. “Yes, various pages are showing up when they shouldn’t be,” she said. “I’m confused myself. But a lot of people have said they have tried to make donations, and, when they go through the payment process, a warning sign comes up, saying the place has been known to be a scam and to send the money elsewhere.”

“It directly called you a scam and redirected people to donate elsewhere?” North asked. He shook his head. “That makes no sense.”

“Right? That’s what I told my sister,” Lilianna said. “I think we are being targeted because there’s no other reason to deliberately stop donations from coming in. It doesn’t say it’s a security alert to get people to walk away, but it’s a deliberate this site is a charity scam.”

“Any idea how much money you may have lost?”

She shook her head. “It’s hard to know,” she admitted. “Normally I would have anywhere between $6,000 and $8,000 brought in at this time of the month. We’re at less than $1,000.”

Liam stared at her. “You get that kind of donations?”

She nodded. “And we need them. Keeping the animals, vet bills, feed …” She shook her head again. “It’s very expensive.”

He stared out the window. “I guess my first thought would be, maybe a disgruntled employee?”

She sagged back. “That’s what I thought too, but we don’t really have any.”

He wondered at the truth of that. Whether she knew it or not, very few people were ever 100 percent satisfied with their jobs.

“How many people do you employ?”

“Four permanent employees right now, several more on contract, like the vet, and of course I have secondary workers also on contract—a bookkeeper, tax man, stuff like that. Plus a webmaster and people who do marketing for us.”

“Well, the webmaster would be the first place to start,” North declared. “Do you have contact information for him?”

She nodded, dug through an old-fashioned Rolodex card file on the side of her desk while they watched in astonishment. She glanced up as she pulled out the card. “I know, right? But I haven’t had time to make my system digital yet,” she confessed. “This is my father’s old system. He never trusted technology.”

Liam smiled. “That’s not unusual.” He was relieved to see an email address, phone number and a physical address were all on the card. “Can you copy this for us?” He glanced around. “Do you have a printer?”

“I do. I insisted on one for the business. But my father didn’t like it.” She chuckled, turned around to uncover the copier, copied the card, handed it to him and then refiled the card where it belonged in the Rolodex.

He took the sheet and added it to the file. “We’ll begin with him. What else do we have as options?”

They went through the file folder, and, although it was thick, it seemed to be more like a marketing package.

Just then an alarm rang.

Lilianna bounced to her feet. “I’ve got to run.” She raced out of the building through a back door. Liam was up and after her in a heartbeat. He knew North was following, presumably with the folder in his hand, but Liam didn’t stop to look. He raced behind her, catching up to her with some effort as she could clip along at quite the pace.

“What is that alarm for?”

“We’re having trouble with one of the elephants,” she said, “and that’s the handler calling out a distress signal.”

She bolted into the barn through the large doors, and he stopped. These were no normal stalls. They were made of four-inch pipe aligned into what would have been the equivalent of a horse barn stall. The ceiling was at least twenty feet high above him, if not thirty feet. The barn was more open than usual with walkways through the center, but the pens for the animals were huge, and each one had a rear door leading outside.

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