Grace Kingsley looked up from the elegantly set table to the large prints of rustic scenes of southern France hanging between the white columns separating the dining area from the elegant bar. She turned back to Michael Cassidy, "This was a good place to meet."
Cassidy said, "You seemed to like it last time. I thought it would be simplest to just come here again. You didn't give me a lot of warning about your visit."
"Things are changing and I wanted to bring you up to date," Grace said. "I've brought Brian Taylor in to manage the University of Washington student group. That means I'm no longer involved with Kyle and Jessi on a day to day basis."
"You said that you were concerned about them getting information from you if you stayed longer," Cassidy nodded. "Has something happened?"
"Well things progressed faster than I expected them to," Grace said. "The two of them showed up at the Latnok board meeting having read all of the material, we are talking about thousands of pages here, and a lot more material out of the public domain. They are on the track of some operations that some of us wish would stay hidden."
"They are finding some of your more 'interesting' activities?" Cassidy asked.
"Not yet, but they will. It's some of the activities of other members that are likely to generate more problems." Grace leaned forward, "They are talking about making Jessi 'disappear'. They figure that would occupy Kyle's attention looking for her. Two birds with one stone."
"That would probably work. I have to tell you I certainly wouldn't mind having her out of the picture," Cassidy nodded. "You should encourage them."
Grace frowned, "You are too bloodthirsty, it's better to be more subtle."
"Let's see how subtle you are when she's tearing you inside out with her mind," Cassidy challenged.
"I don't intend to give her an incentive," Grace assured him. "I'm slowly starting to sell off or close some of my operations just in case. When I pulled Brian Taylor into the picture I warned him that Jessi was at risk and suggested that he try to keep them from pursuing their investigations."
"I didn't know you trusted Brian Taylor. Is that wise?" Cassidy asked.
Grace shrugged, "I don't have to trust him to do what I want. I just have to trust him to do what he wants. He is going to want to protect Jessi. Either he will succeed or he won't. At the very least he may provide some distraction, and distractions give us time."
"What about our project," Cassidy frowned. "You don't want to close that down too, do you?"
"Of course not. We are going forward. You haven't used any funds from the Latnok office for it?" Grace gave him a sharp look.
"Not a penny," Cassidy assured her. "You were clear on that. I've just used the funds you gave me. It does limit our initial volume severely. It's essentially a pilot program."
"I want to keep it small," Grace confirmed. "That will make it easier to keep hidden. I deliberately got the money from 'clean' sources. I don't want any trails to lead to this. So, where are we?"
"The samples that you gave me had plenty of good cells to work with," Cassidy reported. "We have made several successful clones and are tracking the zygotes as they develop. We expect to have blastocysts in a couple more days. After that we will separate the embroyblasts from the trophoblasts. We are going to grow them in small samples of the solution for a couple of weeks and then select the best candidates for insertion into the pods. It will probably take no more than a month in all. Then we wait."
"You were able to successfully reconstitute the growth solution?"
"It took some work, but yes," Cassidy said. "I had help from a guy I have back at UDub. He was able to retrieve most of the formula from computer records. This is the digital age, once something gets into the system, you can never make it go away completely. There are email caches, temporary files, dozens of places. He was able to pull it together."
"Do you trust him?" Grace frowned.
"Not really," Cassidy said. "He's a loose cannon, but I have leverage on him. He's feeding me information."
"That could be a weak point," Grace pointed out. "You have to keep him under control. If necessary, he can disappear."
"Now who's being bloodthirsty?" Cassidy asked.
"Whether you like it or not, Jessi is a valuable asset," Grace said. "If she can be diverted from ruining us, she'll make us all a lot of money."
"Well, I still have nightmares," Cassidy said. "I don't want her showing up here. I spent a lot of time on the project back at UDub and they destroyed it. I will not allow them to do it again without a fight."