Landing on the snow-blanketed runway at Logan Airport’s private jet terminal was less of a challenge than David imagined. His newly acquired Gulfstream eased down and rolled to a comfortable stop.
“It handles beautifully, even in this weather,” David told John, his pilot. “Thanks for letting me bring it in.”
David Biddle, a 32-year-old self-made billionaire, loved the opportunity to fly his new jet whenever he got the chance.
Coming to Boston from California on the eve of “The Game” to meet his fellow teammates was the perfect opportunity.
Every year since graduation, David and several former Yale football players met for dinner on the night before the Harvard-Yale Game to reminisce and catch up. The next day they hosted a huge tailgate for all their friends and families.
Happy memories flooded back as David put on his coat. For David, this was a homecoming. The players were his family, especially his friend’s Case and Rich. During their college years, Case and Rich’s parents treated David like one of their own, knowing he had no family. They invited him for every holiday and summer vacation.
It was a happy time for David, far different from his early life growing up in foster homes outside St. Louis. Shifted from one family to another, he never felt safe, and the idea of someone caring for him never entered his mind
Despite a lack of family, David’s genius drove him. He worked and studied hard in high school. In his junior and senior year, David loved playing football. It made him part of a team plus provided the opportunity to stay longer at school and avoid his unstable foster home.
Academically David soared and coupled with his football expertise drew the interest of the Ivy League. When Yale invited him for an official visit, he saw a new beginning.
It was the best decision of his life. With financial aid, which he paid back within two years of graduation, David never looked back.
David smiled as he remembered playing in his first Harvard-Yale game. It was the best time of his life. Afterward, Case’s parents put out the most incredible display of food David had ever seen. They grilled steaks and seafood, plus served all type of salads and desserts. It was the greatest tailgate.
“I can’t wait for tomorrow,” David said out loud.
With a quick check in the mirror, he anxiously grabbed the door about to leave the aircraft.
“Stop!” yelled Meredith, David’s Chief Financial Officer. “Before you leave, and I don’t see you for hours, please sign these documents.”
“OK, OK give me the papers, but make it fast. I am running late,” David said with a smile.
“Hey, Meredith, why don’t you and John go out and have some fun, here in Boston, then I’ll see you both at the tailgate tomorrow?”
“I just might take that sorry excuse for a pilot with me to Legal Seafood tonight,” Meredith said with a wink to David.
“What?” Go to dinner with you,” John replied with a huge grin, “I don’t think so.”
“Oh Yeah! Just because I am twenty, okay maybe thirty years older than you doesn’t mean we can’t have a meal. Besides everyone hates to eat alone,” Meredith scolded.
“Settle down; I am just kidding,” John said fearing he hurt her feelings.
“Don’t worry sonny boy, you didn’t hurt my feelings, you are not my type anyway,” she said laughingly. “I like the strong and silent type. You talk way too much which is why you are a good dinner companion.”
“Can I leave you two alone without killing each other,” David asked jokingly?
“Sure, but stay in touch, I am waiting for a call from Geneva,” said Meredith. “If all goes well, we will fly to Switzerland for the new prototype presentation on Tuesday. I am just waiting for the confirmation.
“By the way, what time does Case get in tonight? He is carrying the plans and new component with him, and for the life of me I still don’t understand why he didn’t come with us.”
“Meredith, I’m sorry I forgot to tell you that Case had to finish up some last-minute work, but he is taking the next flight. He should be in around eight, just in time for dinner,” David said while checking his watch.
David and Case, two biomedical engineers, worked closely on several projects during their college years. They intended to find a way to expedite the healing process for debilitating injuries. On weekends and every spare moment, David worked on his ideas. He consistently brainstormed with Case. By the end of senior year, David created a device that dramatically decreased the recuperative time of patients with severe leg injuries. He patented his invention, then sold it to one of the biggest medical equipment companies in the world.
With adequate funding, David and Case went into business after graduation. In their first year, they secured a grant for research and quickly developed another product that rocketed to the top of the market. Within the first six months, David acquired over a million dollars which he reinvested to fund additional research and enable Case’s designs
Case wanted to focus strictly on design and analysis without any involvement in running the business. He felt the initial startup was David’s idea. Although David wanted Case to be his full partner, Case declined. He always told David that he only wanted 40 percent ownership. Once Case made up his mind there was no convincing him despite repeated attempts by David.
Over the last nine years, David took his initial product success and turned it into a billion-dollar business making both Case and himself wealthy beyond their imagination.
“I have to get going, or I’ll be late,” David told Meredith handing her the signed papers. “See you tomorrow.”
David waved goodbye then opened the plane door. Suddenly he felt the sting of New England weather. The snow fell silently whipped into circles by a brisk wind. David made his way down the steps and into the terminal where his driver waited.
During the ride to the hotel, he sent Case a text but got no response.
David then called his office in California which was still open. He spoke to Michele, Case’s assistant who told him that Case left for the airport in time to meet flight 642 which was due to arrive in Boston at 7:45 p.m.
His next call was to Meredith requesting she follow up on Case’s whereabouts. David didn’t have to ask Meredith; she was already on it. ‘
“The airline confirmed Case boarded the plane due to arrive in 30 minutes. I’ll go and meet that flight,” Meredith told David. “It is a bit unnerving that we haven’t heard anything from Case, not even a text.”’
“Please tell him to get in touch with me as soon as he can,” David asked.
Meredith moved quickly through the terminals feeling a sense of unexplained urgency.
Passengers began to exit the doorway from Flight 642 just as she arrived at the gate. She sent a quick text to Case letting him know she was waiting.
After 30 minutes, there was no returned text, and all the passengers exited, Meridith realized that Case was not on the plane. Just to be sure, she showed the flight attendant Case’s picture which she had on her phone.
“Was this man on the flight? You can’t miss him; he is about 6”4” with wavy brown hair,” she asked.
“No, and I would remember him,” she told Meredith.
Meredith ran over to the counter and verified that Case had boarded the plan or at least someone with his ticket. She immediately called David.
“Case was not on the plane, and the airline said he boarded,” Meredith said.
Seconds later David got a text from Case. “Delayed in California, will arrive tomorrow before the game.”
David responded, then texted Meredith informing her of Case’s message. He must have given his ticket to someone to avoid wasting it, David thought.
“Go and have a nice dinner. I see you at the tailgate,” David told Meredith.
Meredith felt uneasy. It was not like Case to indulge in this much mystery. He never left things to chance, and much like her was methodical to a fault. It was the first time in the seven and a half years working for the company that she did not know his exact whereabouts.
Concern gave way to a smile when she thought back to the first time she met the two young, handsome millionaires looking for someone to organize their business. At the time she was 55 years old and out of a job with two weeks severance due to a company reorganization. She was grateful she still had her military pension to fall back on if she couldn’t find another job.
At 55, she did not think many exciting opportunities would come her way. She answered David’s ad on a whim. When she saw the two very young men about to interview her, Meredith dismissed any chances for employment. “I am way too old,” she laughed to herself.
David proved Meredith wrong. The interview lasted more than three hours and concluded with a lucrative offer. David and Case appreciated her honesty, organizational skills, experience, and independence. The fact that she was former military and an expert in defense training and tactical weaponry was an added plus.They instantly knew Meredith would be a tremendous asset to their business. She gladly accepted their offer and never looked back.
Despite her uneasiness about Case, Meredith took Davids advice and hurried to join John at Legal Seafood. She loved Boston especially at this time of year. After dinner, she would try and get in touch with Case again then report back to David.
Most of David’s teammates arrived at the hotel earlier in the day. David rushed to check in and saw a few former players heading to the private room for the evening’s festivities. Instead of going to his suite, David asked the concierge to handle his bags while he joined his friends.
Catching up was great. Rich and his brother Al, Matt, John, Evan and several other former Yale players shared a night of good food, countless stories, and great friendship. The only thing missing was Case. Everyone asked about him. They all knew he would never miss their yearly dinner without a good reason.
Toward the end of the night, David began to wonder why Case hadn’t called during the dinner. It was odd.
Around 2:30 am, the group dispersed and went to their rooms after a thoroughly enjoyable night. David decided to give Case another call before going to sleep. It was only 11:30 in California. Case should be up.
Case’s phone rang until voicemail said the mailbox was full. David instantly felt something was wrong. Case always answered his messages. For the next few hours, David tried all Case’s contact numbers without success. He couldn’t get an answer anywhere.
At 5:30 a.m., David got a text from Case telling him that his phone was out all night and he would see him later in the day. Great relief swept over David who then drifted off to sleep.
By 10 a.m. David joined his teammates on route to Harvard Stadium for the tailgate and game. Meredith and John were there when David arrived.
“Have you talked to Case?” asked Meredith “I tried to get in touch with him for hours last night.”
“That explains why his mailbox was full around 2:30,” David said. “He sent me a message earlier saying he would see us before the game.”
“Yes, that’s what he wrote to me,” Meredith added. “Why all this mystery David? “This is very unusual for Case.”
“I know, but he will tell us when he gets here,” replied David as he surveyed the beautiful tailgate display.
David’s group had one of the biggest tailgates. They welcomed back players and their families ranging over ten years of Yale Football. Everyone was welcome.
“This is one of the best tailgates ever,” Rich yelled over to David who agreed. For the next few hours, the tailgaters enjoyed scrumptious food along with the camaraderie of their teammates.
Just before they were about to head into the stadium for “The Game” Rich, his wife Emily, and her former college roommate, whom David had never met came over to join David who was talking to some other former players.
Emily’s roommate was a tall, gorgeous girl with the most beautiful blond hair David had ever seen. He couldn’t wait to meet the striking beauty, but just as David started talking to them, his phone rang.
“David, have you heard from Case yet? I can’t reach him,” Michelle, Case’s assistant asked David.
“He sent me a text early this morning letting me know he would see me later today,” David told her.
“If he can text why can’t he get calls,” Michelle asked.
“That’s a good question, but Case said his phone was out, Texting may be the only working function,” David said.
“Well, when he gets there can you tell him to call me,” asked a concerned Michelle.
“Sure,” replied David who didn’t want to admit that he was worried himself.
After the game, I will get to the bottom of this, David thought as he took his seat ready for Yale to beat Harvard hoping Case would arrive any minute.
“We have a terrific team this year. I expect a huge win.” David told his friends.
Yale’s offense played with exceptional skill and speed, while the defense kept Harvard to one touchdown. Play after play brought cheers from the former players whose voices grew horse from the roars of victory.
Yale defeated Harvard in one of the best games David had ever seen. Everyone gathered back at the tailgate location to celebrate the fantastic victory.
David was looking around for Case, but once again David noticed Emily’s beautiful friend. He had to meet her. She was standing next to Rich who raised his glass with a long-winded salute to the victorious team. David inched his way over to Emily’s friend and introduced himself.
“Hello, I’m David, Rich’s former teammate, and friend,” he said somewhat shyly.
‘It’s great to meet you, David; my name is Sarah. This tailgate is wonderful. Thank you for inviting me,” she said breaking into a huge smile.
David couldn’t take his eyes off her beautiful smile as she told him a little about herself. Sarah was visiting Emily from Miami where she lived and worked as a scientist. David listened intently then told her that Miami was one of his favorite cities.
Before he could ask Sarah for her phone number, David’s phone rang. He looked down, and it was Case.
“I have to take this,” he said apologetically to Sarah and excused himself.
“Case, where have you been, everyone is worried?” exclaimed David.
“Shut up and listen!” a strange voice shouted over the phone.
“Check into the Hotel de Paris tomorrow night. Wait for instructions if you ever want to see your friend again.” The caller hung up.
Prelude to Chapter II
Stunned and upset, David gathered his wits. He immediately called Meredith. “Tell John to have the plane ready within the hour. We are going to Monte Carlo. Make reservations at the Hotel de Paris. Someone has Case, and if we want to see him alive, we better do what they say. I will fill you in when I get to the airport. I’m on my way,” David told Meridith as he hopped in a taxi.
On the way to Logan, David called Michelle in California asking her to send him everything Case was working on plus his correspondences over the last couple weeks. He wanted telephone records, everything, including credit card data.
Meredith handled all the other details. She informed John who got the necessary airport clearances, then she settled all the financial accounts from their Boston visit, plus had the plane stocked with food and beverages should they need to stay on the plane for an extended time.
Knowing that trouble loomed in France, Meredith double checked their arsenal just to make sure they had adequate defense.
With the plane ready, Meredith and John anxiously waited for David to arrive. It took David more than an hour to get from Harvard Stadium to Logan Airport due to the game traffic. Meredith was thankful that she and John left right after the game ended.
Frustration and rage consumed David while waiting in the taxi. Finally, he couldn’t take it any longer. He paid his fare, jumped out of the cab and sprinted the last couple miles to the private jet terminal.
Breathless but determined, David hurriedly ran up the plane steps and into the plane shouting, “Let’s go! We have to help Case!”