Even before she began this assignment, Veronica Mars regretted taking it.
"Damn it Mac, I get my first big assignment and it's interviewing stuffy financial-types. I thought when I joined the FBI that my work would involve more excitement. Danger - - you know, flashing my badge and roughing up some bad guys. I probably had more excitement in high school, staking out the Camelot Motel. Now, I'm off to investigate some shady money laundering scheme and meeting with accountants. Bor-ring."
"Well, knowing you, you'll find a way to spice it up. Nothing is every boring around you. If I've learned nothing else from our friendship, I've learned that, V."
"I suppose you may have a point there. I guess I'll just have to see how this goes."
"Yup. And, I know you have all those fancy FBI contacts now, but you know I'm always here for you if you need me."
Veronica glanced at her Blackberry and noticed she only had a few minutes until her first meeting.
"Thanks, Mac. Gotta' go meet …." She looked again at the name of her interview subject, "Josef Konstan. He's supposed to be some big financial guru. I bet he's like, a hundred years old and a slow-talker. This is going to be a long day."
"Go kick some accountant butt, girlfriend. Talk to you later."
Veronica noticed a lack of staff as she walked into the expansive offices of Josef Konstan. All this space and no employees? She wondered how she was going to know which way go, when she heard a nearby "click".
Then a door slowly opened to reveal a man working at his desk. He hadn't even bothered to look up at her yet. She wondered how he had even known of her presence on the floor without a receptionist of any kind to alert him.
He motioned to Veronica, although he still appeared glued to his work. "Please have a seat. I'm always willing to be of service to the FBI. Just let me tidy up a few things first and then you can have my complete attention."
As Veronica sat in the lavishly appointed office, her first impression was that he was younger than she expected. She was judging from his haircut and fashion sense, since she hadn't gotten a good look at his face yet. His head was still buried in a financial statement. But his voice … his voice seemed very familiar. She just couldn't place it.
"No problem, Mr. Konstan. I appreciate you giving me your time on such short notice." She settled in with her notebook, ready to ask all her official FBI questions.
"Please, call me Josef," he said as he set down his reading material, leaned back in his large leather chair and finally gave Veronica his full attention.
She couldn't believe her eyes when she finally caught a glimpse of his face. Her emotions completely got the better of her as she stood up and almost yelled, "You've got to be kidding me, Logan! Pretending to be a financial tycoon, just to talk to me again. That's got to be a new low, even for you." Exasperated, she threw her notebook on the chair she had just been sitting in.
Josef looked surprised, but amused, as Veronica paced around his office. "I promise you Ms. Mars - it is Ms. Mars, isn't it - that I never pretend to be anything except exactly what I am." And just what I am would surprise you greatly, he thought.
Voice raised, Veronica continued her tirade, "Seriously, Logan I'm sort of impressed by this elaborate set up, not that I'm not used to them by now, but I need to speak to the real Mr. Konstan - on important and very real FBI business. So please get him and his employees back from wherever you've paid them to hide, and just go away. Anything we had was over years ago, no matter how creative your attempts to maintain it."
Josef could not believe the events unfolding in his office. He was being brow beaten by this little blond … human, or rather, this Logan fellow was. And instead of being upset by it, he was merely amused and maybe even a little aroused, if he was honest. No one had spoken to him like this in over 300 years. Certainly not one of his freshies, of whom made up the majority of his human contact these days. This girl had spunk. Usually, he hated spunk. Josef was actually enjoying this little show, maybe because he knew it wasn't really directed at him. But as much as he was enjoying her little rant, he still needed to put a stop to it. He did have a reputation to uphold after all.
He leaned forward and put his clasped hands on his desk in an effort to emphasize his words, "I can tell that you are unnerved by my apparent resemblance to this Logan person. He must be quite the character. And while I am amused at the path you've taken to begin our … discussion, I am beginning to get annoyed with your insistence that I am not, in fact, who I say I am. I assure you I have been Josef Konstan for …. oh, so many years now. My references are impeccable, if I do say so myself." Standing up and walking over to Veronica he flourishes a card in front of her. "See I even have these very professional looking business cards." He drops the card on her lap as he heads back to his desk.
Fortunately, Josef's back was to Veronica since his eyes flickered a silvery white for a fraction of a second as he interrupted her. "Ms. Mars, if you are not going to be able to get past this little misunderstanding, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave. I'm a very busy man." And I prefer my pretty blondes more docile … and willing to offer up their veins.
As Veronica picked up the dropped card, she sensed the seriousness of 's remarks, and decided not to push further. Despite her impression that this man was indeed a twin of one Logan Echolls, former love of her life, she knew that she had to put these misgivings aside to conduct her business today. She settled herself back into her chair and tried to regain her composure. "Mr. Konstan, my sincerest apologies for my unprofessional behavior. It really isn't like me at all."
"Please, I insist, call me Josef. And your apology is accepted. It has always been my sincerest belief that appearances can be deceiving."
"Thank you, Mr. … Josef, that is very gracious of you considering my behavior. Let's see if I can't get us back on track." And by us, I mean me.
"I'll start. Your boss mentioned to me that one of the hedge funds that I'm associated with might be tainted by some illegal activity. That does not set well with me at all. I cannot have the integrity of my financial investments questioned, and that it why I agreed to participate in this investigation. I scheduled this meeting during a time when few of my staff would be present - the New York Stock Exchange is closed for the day and the Nikkei has yet to open - so that we could keep this discussion as private as possible. Now, how can I be of service?"
Veronica wondered how this guy could be so calm, cool and collected - especially after she spent the last five minutes railing at him. She now realized that the guy in front of her couldn't possibly be Logan. Logan could never have pulled that off. He would have reacted to her, risen to the bait; he always did. And there would have been at least one sexual innuendo tossed in the conversation for good measure. But, stop thinking about Logan! And get down to business before you get fired.
"We believe that a criminal is laundering money through your Morningstar Fund. Disguising their illegal gains by moving it into the fund for a period of time until it is less likely to attract attention. You know how secretive the names of investors within a hedge fund are. So, I need your help to figure out who the investor is and then the FBI will put a stop to it."
Behind his cool façade, Josef was livid. If it were possible, he would have been red-faced. The only investors in the Morningstar Fund were vamps. He had a better idea. He would figure out who the crooked investor was and then have him taken care of - permanently. Nobody messes with my money. "I'm in."
As Veronica saw the intensity of his reaction, a chill ran up her spine. No, this definitely isn't Logan.