Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Finding Jeena - Excerpt from Chapter 17

Finding Jeena
Kregel Publications (March 8, 2010)


Miralee Ferrell

Chapter 17

Jeena padded around her kitchen in her slippers and pj’s, disgusted that she’d been unable to sleep. Her mind swam with images of the district attorney wading through her finances and finding something incriminating, although her common sense assured her there was nothing to find.

She had one area of joy that had kept her going. Her mutual funds matured tomorrow, and she’d catch up on her bills. It wouldn’t pay all that she owed on the back car payments, but it should satisfy the bank and keep the manager of the townhouse off her back until she found a good job. Her credit rating was already shot, so the department store and credit cards wouldn’t take priority. Food, housing, and transportation were definitely at the top of her list.

The teakettle whistled, and she decided on her favorite tea, orange mango, then settled into the comfort of her couch and picked up her mail. She’d neglected to look at it the past couple of days, as nothing came anymore except bills. The longer she could ignore those, the better.

What in the world? Her hand stilled over the stack of envelopes, then gingerly plucked one out. Why would the IRS be contacting her? She’d filed her taxes on time, and there was nothing that would have flagged her for an audit. At least she hoped not. She thought over the last return. A sense of dread washed over her, making her feel lightheaded. Maybe she needed the wine instead of the tea, after all.

Snap out of it, Jeena. Slitting open the envelope, she pulled out the sheaf of papers, thumbing through them quickly.

What did this mean? All accounts are frozen. What accounts? She felt a sense of panic as she raced through the document.

A few minutes later, she laid the papers on the table, her tea forgotten. She had to call somebody. But who? She reached for her cell but only managed to knock over the cup of tea. “Blast!” She jumped to her feet, anger and fear vying for top place in her mind.

She wished she could call Susanne. No way. She blocked out the kindness she’d seen in her friend’s face. David didn’t approve, and he had Susanne under his thumb—especially now that Susanne was a Christian.

Maybe Tammy would help. But help how? She didn’t have legal expertise, and they were barely getting back on their feet financially. The last thing Jeena needed was to burden her friend with this mess. A lawyer, that’s what. She grabbed her purse, remembering a business card given to her by an attorney who’d been hitting on her, wanting a date. The man was married, and that was a line she never crossed. Maybe he’d be willing to give her some free advice.

She flipped open her cell with fingers that shook and tried to focus on the small print on the card. Good grief, get a grip! The IRS can’t just freeze someone’s bank account.
“What can I help you with, Ms. Gregory?” Daniel asked in his most professional voice. Ha! His wife must be home. She decided to let it go, although on a better day, she would have reamed him for it. “Could I ask your advice on a legal issue?”

“Go ahead, but I need to keep it brief.”

“I got a letter from the IRS. They’ve frozen all my accounts, and I can’t touch any of my funds. Can they do that?”

“Do they give a reason?” The voice on the other end turned brisk as Daniel moved from sneaky husband into smooth attorney.

“The document says it’s because I worked for Browning and Thayer. Mr. Hanover made good his threat and turned them in to the IRS. Everyone in the firm is under investigation.”

“So they’ve named you as a person of interest?”

“Yes. But I only worked there three months and had nothing to do with the bookkeeping or taxes. If I call them and explain, will they release my accounts?”

“They can do pretty much anything they want to. I doubt calling them will help. The freeze won’t be permanent, but they have the right to keep it in effect until they’re satisfied you aren’t liable for the company’s taxes and had no part in the tax evasion.

“If they found you culpable in any way, they would drain your accounts and probably throw you in jail. Be thankful you didn’t have anything to do with the bookkeeping.”

“How long could this drag on? I need my money.” She tried to keep the panic out of her voice.

“No telling. I’ve seen cases like this drag on for months, even years. It all depends on how far it goes back and how deep they need to dig.”

Jeena jumped to her feet. “Years! I can’t go years! I can’t even go months. I need to eat, buy gas, pay my bills. There has to be something I can do.”

“Sorry, I can’t help you. Retain a good tax attorney, but they don’t come cheap. In the long run, he’d probably take your money and tell you what I have. Tough it out till they clear you.”

“This can’t be happening! You’ve got to help me, Daniel.” She stormed across the room and careened around the corner of an end table, narrowly missing the lamp sitting near the edge.

“I have to go. My wife’s coming. Sorry I can’t help more.”

She heard the click of the phone before she was able to say good-bye. Great. But it wasn’t as if he cared. He was so worried about his wife finding out what a jerk he was that he hadn’t even registered her fear.

God, why are You doing this to me? Are You paying me back for hating my dad? Is that it? Jeena sank onto her sofa, all hope draining from her like water draining out of a kettle shot full of holes, and tried to still her shaking hands. It was time for that bottle of wine.

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