He winced inwardly as he met the dull, blue eyes of the elderly woman sitting across from him. She was tiny and frail. Her full head of silvery hair was clipped short and neatly coiffured. The sweeping skirt of her floral print dress fell over her knees in graceful folds. The woman searched the man’s face, as if trying to discern his reliability and trustworthiness. Vulnerability issued from her every glance, every action, indicating she was an easy target.
As he tugged at the collar of his dress shirt, he felt the color rising up his neck. This was somebody’s grandmother. She reminded him of his own grandmother, momentarily producing a slight pang of guilt for what he was about to do.
Mrs. Haloran’s hand quivered as she wrote out the check, her handwriting shaky. He imagined that was a thing to be expected with old age.
“This is an awful lot of money,” Mrs. Haloran remarked.
She looked worried. She should be.
He cleared his throat. “No need for concern, Mrs. Haloran. I’ll take good care of it for you,” he soothed. During the course of his career, he had developed a silky, comforting tone to his voice that compelled people to trust him. It worked well. Especially on lonely, elderly women.
“Are you sure it won’t get lost?”
“It won’t get into the wrong hands, will it?”
He sighed, frustrated, his fingers itching to close around that check. “Trust me, Mrs. Haloran. That money will be in good hands.”
Slowly setting the pen down on the massive, glossy oak desk, she gazed at him apprehensively.
He tapped his foot beneath the desk. This was getting old—fast. Leaning forward, he looked her straight in the eye to emphasize the point of what he said next: “If you can’t trust me, who can you trust?”
Ejecting a sigh, she relented. “Very well.” Tearing off the check, she handed it to him.
The moment his eyes locked on to all those zeroes, any spark of guilt he may have felt was completely extinguished.