Different hands, same ring.
He’d said it was his membership ring to the Neptune Society. Does this mean my attacker is also a member, or was he wearing a ring that didn’t belong to him? Hehadstolen my rose necklace...
I’m lost in thought as I make the walk from the police department to city hall. I enter my office to fellow ADA Brenda Liang and my campaign manager, Medjine Toussaint, waiting on me.
“There she is, our future district attorney,” Medjine says, her smile as bright as the tangerine pantsuit she wears. It beautifully complements her dark brown skin and strikes a balance between professional and fashionista. One of the things I like about her—she knows how to run a traditional campaign while keeping her finger on the pulse of what’s modern and trendy. She stands up from the sofa and walks over to my K-cup machine. “I wanted to wait on you before treating myself to a second cup.”
“Help yourself.” I sound dazed. When I glance in the mirror inside my desk drawer, I look dazed too. “Sorry I’m a few minutes late. I made a pitstop by Cyber Crimes. I ran into Commissioner Flynn. He said he needs to reschedule Thursday.”
Brenda shifts in her seat, staring into the iPad on her lap. “I figured he would, so I already sent an invite for next Tuesday.”
Medjine loads her pod into the K-cup machine with a shake of her head. “I’ve heard the commissioner is stressed. He’s reached out to an associate of mine for some PR work. But enough about other people’s reputations. Let’s talk about yours. Shall we get started? I’ve put together a list of ideas for a few community events we can do.”
* * *
Over the course of the next few hours, we map out future events for my campaign. At some point, Brenda announces she has to leave early. Medjine and I carry on with planning and brainstorming until half the afternoon is gone and it’s time to wrap up.
“That went longer than I expected, but this was good. We’re going to really amp up your community involvement. Your competition isn’t doing much. He thinks throwing money at his campaign is enough,” she says, collecting the food containers scattered on my coffee table. We ended up ordering delivery for lunch to avoid interrupting our meeting.
I help her by holding out the plastic bag our food came in, turning it into a makeshift trash bag. “Tell me about it. Polk is running commercials nonstop on all the local channels.”
“It’s okay. Because voter research shows they’ve been unhappy with Polk’s performance. Your record over the last two years speaks for itself.Whenwe win, it’s cocktails on you.”
A small smile tugs at my lips. “Definitely doable.”
Once Medjine is gone, I settle at my desk and check my emails. At any given moment during the workday my inbox tends to be full. Twice as bad if I take time away from work. After a three-hour long meeting, the number of emails are almost enough to induce a headache.
I scroll through and focus on the important ones. An address I assumed I’d never see in my work inbox makes its way to the top—NorthamNeptune123.
His first email was addressed to my personal email only. This one has been sent directly to my official ADA address. The email is entitled, “What Would They Think?”
Several seconds go by before I work up enough nerve to click on the email. Like with his first, it’s short and to the point:
haven’t heard back and im concerned. im only looking out for u. ur secret can only stay hidden for so long.
mr. terrence harding thought his skeletons would stay buried too… until the whole city found out he’s just as much of a pathetic cokehead and drunk as his deceased son.
u don’t want what happened to him to happen to u, do u? the truth coming out?
I read it twice and then click out of the window. Whereas I stopped breathing a moment before opening the email, my heart is pounding away now. I feel guilty and paranoid without understanding what he’s even talking about.
He alluded to Terrence Harding Senior having serious addiction issues like his son, who suffered a fatal overdose twelve years ago, but I’ve never heard any rumors circulating about him.
Even more puzzling, he’s being so vague about the alleged secret of mine he knows. It could be anything.
My rape. My secret relationship with Salvatore. The night we took out Azeria. Dirty cop Galecki attacking me and Stitches disposing of him. Possibly even my newest, darkest late-night hobby…
For a while I sit in shock and silence, thinking over how to play this. I can continue to ignore these strange messages. There’s a real chance they are pranks, or even some attempt by my rival, Polk, to make me sweat. I’ve never believed in bending to the will of blackmailers. If this person thinks I’ve done wrong, then they need to go through the proper channels to prove I have.
There’s little to no demonstrable evidence of any of my secrets. My tracks have always been covered well.
I refuse to live in fear of some anonymous jerk trying to make me do his bidding. He’s made no request so far, but what else could he want with me? Blackmailers don’t typically blackmail for noble reasons—they want their silence bought and paid for or exchanged for something they deem valuable.