The Panic Pure


Title: The Panic Pure
Author: Harper Kingsley
Character: Daniel Worth/Marshal Newman, Joanna Starkweather, Arthur Conway, Sophia Hawthorne
Genre: mm suspense thriller
Rating: Adult
A/N: Mentions of past non-con and emotional abuse.

Summary: Daniel Worth, billionaire and CEO of Worth Enterprises is questioned by FBI agent Marshal Newman about the disappearance of one of his employees. They strike up a conversation and soon are regularly meeting and begin dating. However neither realizes just how close danger is lurking.

From Marshal’s POV:

There was a guilty feeling percolating through him, though he didn’t let that stop him from what he was doing. Which was definitely not finding Janeane Brooks.

“What are you doing?” Joanna asked from her desk facing his. She was going through a bunch of papers with a yellow highlighter.

“Nothing,” he said.

“The look on your face doesn’t look like it’s nothing.” She glanced around the office, making sure no one was watching them. “Seriously, what are you doing?”

“All right, I admit it, I dug up some info on Worth,” he said. “Do you realize that most of his personal staff is female? His assistants, his maids, his cook, anyone that personally deals with him is female, even his doctors. The only person he has on staff that is male is his chauffeur, Arthur Conway.”

“Why are you looking up info on him?” Joanna asked, not even pretending to highlight anything anymore. She put down her pen and came over next to him. “We know that he had nothing to do with Janeane’s disappearance.”

“I know, I was just interested,” Marshal excused. “And to find out that he’s only got one male staff member, it’s a little weird, don’t you think?”

She leaned over his shoulder to riffle through the file. “Well, it says right here that the chauffeur before Arthur Conway was Thomas Conway, Arthur’s father. Arthur spent his childhood living in the same house as Worth, and it says here that Arthur would spend summers from college with his father. So basically, Arthur is someone that Worth grew up with.”

“Someone that he trusts,” Marshal said musingly.

“Looks like.” Joanne stepped back around the desk to settle into her own chair. “Now, tell me honestly why you’re so interested in this guy.”

Marshal could feel her eyes trying to burn their way through his forehead, but he didn’t look up. “I told you, I was just interested. When you told me about what happened when he was a kid I got curious, so I’ve just been looking up the old case files. And he’s such a character right now that I just had to find out how he ticked. That’s all. Once my curiosity’s satisfied, I’ll forget all about him.”

“Uh huh,” she said doubtfully.

He grabbed a paper clip out of the little cup and flung it at her. “That’s right. I’m just curious because he’s so weird, that’s all.”

She caught the paper clip and twisted it around in her fingers. “Just keep your curiosity in check. The guy’s already completely messed up. He doesn’t need to find out about you digging up info on him and completely freak out. He’s spent years putting himself back together as much as he is, and he’s still a wreck. He doesn’t deserve any major setbacks.”

“Don’t worry,” Marshal said. “I just thought he was a little odd, that’s all.”

“Well, there’s a very thin line between thinking someone’s odd and finding them completely fascinating,” she said.

“Come now, Clarice,” he said creepily, “the screaming of the lambs was a long time ago.”

“Oh Dr. Lecter, you are such a brilliant man,” she gushed.

“It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again,” he said.

She flung the paper clip back at him. “Shut up, that wasn’t even Lecter’s line. That was Buffalo Bill.”

He shrugged. “Whatever.”

As they went on talking about different movies while they handled their case files, he hoped he had changed the conversation from Daniel Worth.

Because even though he didn’t really want to admit it, he thought that he might have been fascinated by the man. Just a little bit.

From Danny’s POV:

Glancing around his game room, it was a model of obsessive compulsive disorder. Clear plastic drawers lined the walls, each with a label describing what pieces were inside–3-bricks, 4-bricks, flat pieces, designer trees, wheels, and people. He had every kind of Lego available, thousands and thousands of dollars worth of plastic toy pieces.

He knew it was ridiculous how much money he poured into his hobby, but it was the only thing that really kept him from flying off the handle. Being able to build his towers and cities, controlling every aspect of what went into his worlds, made him feel less as though his life was going to crumble around him at any moment.

And maybe that was why he had agreed to dinner with Marshal Newman.

In some way, being able to let someone else into his life was a sign of his self-control. Being able to choose to let someone in meant that his life was his own because no one else had made him interact with the man. If he had wanted, he could have told Marshal to leave and never come back, but instead he had chosen to share a meal with him. Had chosen to maybe have a new friend in his life.

Danny reached into the tray at his side and pulled out a corner piece. It made it so much easier for him to assemble his buildings when he had all the pieces in one place. Without it, he thought that maybe one city would take years to construct instead of months.

Sometimes being OCD worked out well for him. It also helped him get his paperwork done, since he was constantly checking and rechecking his work until there were absolutely no mistakes. Though there was a reason why Sophia had the authority to clear things off his computer after a certain amount of time; otherwise he would become so caught up in the idea of perfection that he wouldn’t be able to finish anything.

Snapping pieces together with mechanical precision, he was able to allow the bulk of his mind to wander on to other ideas. The Legos soothed the manic edge off his thoughts so he was able to think of things calmly and clearly.

Focusing on his diagrams kept him from drowning in the anxiety that always swished and whirled inside of him, threatening to pull him down and never let him free.

He remembered when his therapist, Dr. Landry, had suggested that he find some creative hobby to help him focus his mind. He had scoffed at the idea of sculpting or painting, his body cringing at the thought of the mess it would involve. Buying that first small Lego kit had been just a token for his doctor, a way to show her just how ridiculous her idea was.

Only it hadn’t been ridiculous. And since that first spaceship had been assembled he had devoted thousands of hours into his various Lego projects.

Looking at his game room–with the models of New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo–a stranger would be able to tell that he had spent a lot of time on his hobby. What they wouldn’t have known was that this was the sixth game room and that the others were all filled up with worlds made out of Lego.

He had to admit, even if just to himself, that he was becoming a concern. And that was part of the reason why he had said “Yes” to Marshal.