Twisted Roses

Page 58

I callin a couple of my clean up guys to dispose of Skip Little and scrub his place spotless. Skip’s a sullen hermit who tarnished his reputation when he decided to abuse his ex-wife and stepson. He murdered the boy in one of his abusive rages and then escaped justice in the eyes of many. Few, if anyone at all, will even question where he’s gone.
If a time comes when they do, they’ll find his place empty.
Nobody knows how to make somebody disappear like the mafia. We won’t even need to spin a story—Skip Little’s story is that he’s so dead and gone he might as well have never existed in the first place.
Vanished into thin air.
My guys bring extra sets of clothes considering mine are bloody and I shredded Delphine’s.
I take her home. Just the two of us.
She doesn’t utter a word. She drifts at my side, a dazed vibe about her. In the elevator she leans against the wall, her gaze unfocused and her mouth slack. I have to take the keys from her to unlock her door.
Salt and Pepa are purring at her heels the second we walk through. Delphine’s so out of it, she barely registers them. She wanders into the living room like she’s in a stranger’s home and not her own.
So much has happened in the last few hours, it’s overwhelmed her.
I follow into the living room deciding how I want to approach the situation. I was rough and angry with her in Little’s home. An automatic reaction catching her in the middle of a dangerous life-or-death fight.
But she’s been punished enough… at least for the moment.
Tonight’s been full of enough jarring twists and turns. She needs to breathe again. She’s been wearing her mask for so long, she’s been suffocating herself.
I should’ve seen it before. Her cold indifference was a cover. So was the prosecutor-like, matter-of-fact manner in which she’s been behaving. Her attempt at putting up a front to be the Delphine Adams the world expects out of her.
Deep down, Delphine’s still traumatized.
She drops onto the sofa, her posture broken down. Pepa hops up into her lap and curls into a tight ball for some quick shuteye. Salt hangs around my ankles, sitting perched with his focus on Delphine—his bright, observant eyes watch her closely, as if he gets she’s upset about something.
I stick my hands in my pockets and stroll over to the window. The street below is quiet and peaceful at this hour despite its big city backdrop. On the hour a cop car drifts lazily by for its nightly patrol. A nice, clean neighborhood like Centennial Village doesn’t have to worry about the crime and chaos that’s a given in other parts of Northam.
There’s no avoiding it—we have to talk. For real this time.
“Explain yourself, Phi.”
She blinks, her tone distant and dreamlike. “What do you want to know?”
“Everything about why you were at Little’s tonight.”
“You’re aware if you’ve been following me.”
I cut her a dubious stare from the window. “When I gave you my word about no longer surveilling you, I meant it. Nobody has been following you—except tonight. I happened to see you pass by Lucius’ house. Why were you going after Little?”
Another dazed blink. She chews on her bottom lip and absently strokes Pepa on the spine. “Because… because he deserved it. He abused and murdered his stepson and got away with it because he bribed his housekeeper. He needed to be held accountable.”
“The trial was supposed to hold him accountable. He was let off.”
“That doesn’t change what he did. He deserved to suffer.”
“What you think he deserves doesn’t matter—in the eyes of the law, he was found not guilty.”
Her gaze snaps to mine, suddenly sharp. “Since when do you believe in law and order? You’re a fucking mafiacapofor heaven’s sake!”
“I don’t believe in law and order. You do—or have you forgotten?” I abandon the window, taking a step toward where she sits on the sofa. “What’s the matter with you? Do you understand the risks you’ve been taking? I’m a fucking mafiacapo, butyou’reabout to be the fucking district attorney! You can’t go around offing criminals in your spare time!”
My raised voice bounces off the walls of the otherwise silent apartment. I swallow down my next outburst, breathing through my nose and urging myself to calm down. If I yell at her, she’ll only shut me out. Especially as she attempts to explain herself.