Twisted Roses

Page 17

Ernest hasn’t released his donors list yet. There’s been some controversy in the media about the number of elites contributing to his campaign. He claims the bulk of his donors are everyday people, donating what they can. Mayor Bernstein is running ads accusing him of lying.
I don’t give a fuck about the number of loaded donors he has. You can take one look at him and his history and guess he has friends in high places.
I’m more concerned with finding the donor he wouldn’t want anybody knowing about. The backing he has from somebody he’d prefer to keep hidden. Many political candidates have them, but he likes to pretend he’s different.
“Here it is,” Stitches says, clicking on the document. “Password protected. Think it’s as easy as logging into the computer?”
“Give it a try.”
Stitches’ fingers tap against the keyboard and then the screen buzzes. “Wrong guess.”
“Try the name of the campaign.”
I unfold my arms and stare around the shadowy office space.
“You’ll have to get creative. Use one of the tricks up your sleeve.”
Stitches cracks his knuckles and then sets to typing indecipherable codes into the keyboard. Every so often he mutters to himself.
I leave him in the main office and wander toward the back. The rest of the floor is more of the same—small rooms with desks and chairs, others with campaign memorabilia. There’s a meeting room with more charts hung up. A break room and a bathroom. I wander to largest room of them all.
Ernest Adams even keeps his private campaign office unlocked. The overpowering scent of flowery potpourri blows in my face as I enter and the central AC sends a cool blast my way. His private office reminds me of Delphine’s.
So neat and orderly it’s almost like the office that would be a display set for show.
I walk around the back, shining the flashlight from my cellphone along every dark corner. A bookshelf is tucked into the corner behind his desk. Law books occupy the shelves along with books on socioeconomic issues and city governance. His desk itself is cleared except for the laptop that rests in the center and a framed photograph of Mrs. Adams and Delphine.
I pick it up to admire it.
Delphine was already out of my life when it was taken, but I remember the day vividly anyway. One of her most special days—the day she graduated Dupoint Law.
She’d posed for the photo alongside her mother, glowing smiles on their faces. Mrs. Adams with pride gleaming in her dark eyes. Delphine beautiful in heavy, majestic robes and a cap perched atop her head of curls.
It’s a great photo. I’ve stared at it many times before. Delphine had no idea I was watching from afar. That I was just as proud of her for achieving her dream. That I had dozens of photos from her special day.
Mementos that sated my infatuation with her.
Daddy Adams has probably stared at this photo often too, if it’s on his desk.
We share that in common—a sense of territorialism over Delphine.
I open a few of the drawers in his desk to find nothing of interest. I log onto his computer and discover he doesn’t save much on it. No documents or other files that could be incriminating. So, Ernest isn’t so careless after all. At least as far as leaving pesky files lying around.
His email is another story. I bring up his inbox and scroll through the messages. It seems to be another dead end until I check his sent folder. Every last email he’s ever sent has been deleted except for the most recent one. He must’ve forgotten to delete it before logging off. I open it, recognizing the name of the woman it’s addressed to.
Lena Burtka
The icon photo next to her address confirms it—a forty-something woman with muted white-blonde hair and even paler skin.
It’s been thirteen years since Daddy Adams’ affair.Whyis he still in touch with his mistress?
When Delphine told me about his affair, I had done what I always do. I conducted my own background check on Lena. From what I could find on her at the time, she was a recently naturalized citizen, born in Russia and immigrated to the United States for educational purposes. I couldn’t find the exact year she had arrived, just that she attended university and was a graduate student who Daddy Adams had fucked a few times in different hotels around Westoria.
Once news of the affair broke, he cut ties with her—or so everyone believed.
Even I thought he had nothing to do with her anymore.