Fatal Impact (Prologue, page 1 of 4)

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Reflection of the barrel-vaulted ceiling graced the polished wooden floor of the former ballroom. The voluminous chamber was converted into an office when Matthew Fox bought the mansion four years ago. The room now held a rather enormous oak desk as the centerpiece supporting twin Dell computers with flat screen monitors. Redwood books shelves lined the back wall and filing cabinets scattered haphazardly. The most unlikely item in the room was a huge jukebox that held a substantial library of songs. A major music buff, Matthew painstakingly handpicked every song the machine held. It was a task that took days finding just the right selections. The left side wall was a mess with National Weather Service topography maps, various climate charts and graphs of all sorts. Beside the desk corkboard balanced on an artist's easel and overflowed with business cards and quickly jotted yellow sticky-notes. All in all, the place looked like a job-site trailer office for some construction foreman running two weeks behind on an interstate project. In reality it was just an idle rich man's playground.

Matthew sat before the computer screen peering through his fashionably small eyeglasses perched on the end of a narrow nose. His face was naturally unkind looking. He squinted and tapped the plastic keys, totally oblivious to the silent approach of his long-time assistant, Spencer Grimm. Finally, Grimm softly cleared his throat.

"Just a sec," Matthew said and held up his finger. The diamonds on his wristwatch glinted in the window sunlight.

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