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Eleanor Rawlings, a 34-year-old Chicago physician, is abandoned by her husband just as she conceives. Her husband is indicted by a federal grand jury for a massive financial fraud and disappears with sixty million dollars. "Only Daughters" is the story of Eleanor's struggle against an aggressive and self-serving media and the escalating violence surrounding her fugitive husband. A story of intrigue, "Only Daughters" deals with Dr. Eleanor Rawlings' battle to reshape her life. Her drama passes through infertility, conception, abortion, miscarriage, birth, death, and love. She must finally confront the force which threatens to forever destroy her dreams.
At the beginning of the day that would rip her life apart, Dr. Eleanor Rawlings glanced out her dressing room window. She saw a Chicago dawn weaving its way through a thick forest of maples and oaks stripped barren by the fading winter. A mist diffused the early light and hid Horton Creek from the second floor window of the Georgian mansion. She stood in front of a full-length gilded mirror flanked by walls of orange-yellow marble. After she placed her lipstick on the porcelain counter-top, she adjusted her lab coat over her green scrubs. She brushed her blond bangs to the side and swept her short-cropped hair back over her ears.
Then she squinted into the mirror and searched her eyes. She found fatigue and exhaustion. Tuesday had been a call night, and she had slept only an hour and a half that night in three thirty-minute increments. She had sectioned twins in the middle of the night and then had evaluated and treated a patient who was miscarrying. With her biorhythms damaged, she had slept only fitfully the following two nights in spite of sleep deprivation.
As Eleanor looked into the mirror, she could see her husband dress. She watched him balance his hounds tooth sport coat on his broad shoulders and smooth out the front of his black tee shirt. The window’s indirect light highlighted his full mustache and large, dark brown eyes. He looks great, she thought with a sigh. She realized that his thick graying head of hair and the extra twenty pounds on his torso were steadily moving Peter Rawlings away from youth toward a distinguished and mature middle age.
Two FBI agents strode into the austere ninth floor conference room in the Dirksen Federal Office Building in Chicago. Terrance Cannon, trim, taut, and lean with a rigid, yet elegant posture, placed a red folder and Styrofoam cup of coffee on the large oak table. He reached out and firmly shook hands with the other agent. Special Agent Terrance Cannon looked like the marine he was and is, with his immaculate dark suit and precise red tie substituting for dress United States Marine blues. His very black skin highlighted large, exquisitely white teeth, although smiling was not a part of Terrance Cannon’s stern, professional demeanor.
“Good morning, Walter,” said Terrance Cannon as he released his strong grip and glared into his associate’s eyes.
“Have a seat, Terrance,” said the balding, disheveled agent. Walter Isaacson took off his suit jacket, revealing a white dress shirt surprisingly wrinkled for so early in the day. Special Agent Walter Isaacson, an accountant, was in his fourth year serving in the Chicago FBI office’s Financial Crimes Section. “It looks like the indictments finally get unsealed today,” said the bald accountant as he opened the red folder. He reviewed the first four sheets of paper. “Our federal prosecutors finally have the grand jury approval.”
“How sure are you about the indictments?”
Isaacson paused and squinted as he looked at Agent Cannon. “I’m concerned about flight risk with Peter Rawlings. I told the prosecutors that I absolutely have to receive these indictments by mid-morning today at the very latest.”
As the train came into view, she reached into her purse to retrieve her ringing cell phone. “Hello. This is Adrienne Richards.”
The long pause was conspicuous. “Hello, Ms. Richards,” said the male voice with a quiet chuckle.
“Yes, can I help you?” she asked with a slow sigh.
“As a matter of fact, you can. And I can help you. I’m a fan of your work, you know. Particularly your work with the congressman.”
“Who is this?” she asked impatiently.
“That’s not really important. Not now anyway. I presume you wouldn’t mind a little, what should we call it? A tip?”
“What?” She sounded strong and unimpressed.
“How about a scandal?” asked the man slowly, drawing out the words. “You like those scandals, don’t you? Your station seems to like them. And I know how your viewers like scandals. Sort of brings out the voyeur in us.”
“Tell me what you’ve got.”
“Don’t get testy on me, Ms. Richards. I’m feeling absolutely no gratitude here. I like gratitude; it’s such a virtue. I know lots of reporters who’d like a shot at this story. Reporters who can show me a lot more gratitude.”
“Tell me what you’ve got,” she repeated coldly and impatiently.
“I’m going to tell you what I’ve got. But what I’m most interested in is just what you can make out of this. Think of this as a test. I’ve already contacted three other reporters who think I can help them. Maybe you could show me just a little gratitude and respect. Is that too much to expect?”
“You show me what you’ve got that deserves respect,” she responded. “Then you’ll get respect. What have you got?”
“Okay. Here’s how I can help you. I can’t believe what I’m doing for you, by the way. You don’t deserve this. But here’s the deal. There’s going to be a high profile arrest today. Lot’s of rich victims. Famous victims. Millions of dollars. That’s nice, don’t you think? How would you like to see a raid by the FBI? That would make nice TV, wouldn’t it?”
“Okay, tell me. I’m interested.”
Adrienne Richards was unaware of another person watching the cameraman. A solitary man in dark green clothing looked through binoculars as he rested on his abdomen. He lay motionless under a mature stand of cedars on a ridge on the opposite side of Brush Creek. Between the observer and Adrienne Richards ran Main Street, the railroad tracks, and the swirling creek that would be but an empty gully by summer. Behind the man stood three hundred feet of woods, a winding gravel road, and acre upon acre of soybeans.
The man placed his binoculars to his side and picked up his rifle. He adjusted the ten-power Leupold Tactical Scope and set the rifle gently in the cradle of the bipod. He rested the stock softly against his right cheek and began to pan the parking lot. There was little elevation change and no wind. Ideal conditions, he thought. He placed the cross hairs on the man who was adjusting the video camera on the tripod. He watched the man walk away from the video camera and disappear behind the white van. He moved the cross hairs to the black-haired woman. He whispered, “Why, Adrienne Richards. You look the same as you do on TV. I believe I’d recognize you anywhere.”
The man knew that all that remained was timing. Be very patient, he told himself. Slowly squeeze the trigger and don’t breathe. Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. He would remain patient until the .308 caliber bullet would do its half-second’s work.