“I meant it,” I say. “If you need someone to talk to—”
“Keep me updated about this blackmailer, Phi,” he interrupts. “Under no circumstances are you to meet up with him—or track down any other criminals.”
His parting words as the door swings shut.
Suddenly alone in the stillness of my apartment, I face my fate. I call Medjine to be lectured and told off about what an irresponsible candidate I am, and how I’ve possibly damaged the campaign.
“It’s not a good look,” Medjine repeats for the fourth time. “Reliability is a huge factor in donations, Delphine. Flaky at best just doesn’t work well for optics.”
“I’ll make up for it some other way. What other event can I do?”
“We need to start prepping you for the annual Summer Nights Masquerade. It’s less than two weeks away. We’ll need to start putting together your look for the night as soon as possible—”
Medjine goes on and on for twenty minutes straight. In the time she rambles on about the upcoming masquerade, I clean out Salt and Pepa’s litterbox, put in a load of laundry, and email Salvatore the info he requested.
My email icon on my laptop pings with a new notification. Medjine’s chatting away in my ear, my phone at rest in the crook of my neck, when I notice who it’s from. The subject line reads:
U Broke My One Rule
“Medjine,” I say slowly, “I’ll call you later. Something’s come up.”
Medjine’s still talking as I hang up. I open the email and quickly read the message.
it seems u don’t think im serious when i told u this stays between us. ive tried hard to prove myself, showing u i can be trusted. but u refuse to be won over. unfortunately, the clock has finished ticking and time has run out. so has my patience.
it’s time we meet. what better occasion than when northam’s elite comes out for a night of excess in fancy gowns to mingle and ogle hideous over priced art? all from behind the safety of their masks, of course. ;)
u can always take a chance and not show up. though i wouldn’t if i were u. i just may expose u instead of ur camera loving pal who has starred in a very explicit movie never to be seen.
tell no one. do not break this rule again.
see u at the masquerade.
My brows knit and my eyes scan the expanse of my apartment. How would he know I’ve involved another person—Salvatore—unless he’s watching me?
I’ve pissed him off enough that he’s forcing my hand. He’s threatening me if I don’t show up to the Neptune Society’s Masquerade.
Suddenly, the stakes feel so much higher.
“Psycho,you’re practically a stranger these days,” Rhino says. My former boss and nightclub manager reclines out by the pool of his twenty-acre estate. At a glance he’s been living his best retirement life, a drink in hand and tropical shirt on his double-wide back as he watches the pool guy clean out the water. “What brings you to my neck of the woods?”
“Must be nice spending every day lying by the pool. Figured I’d find out what it’s like. That’s what.”
“Load of bull. I’d expect no less from a shit-stirrer like you. Heard all about how you fucked up Belini and sent him to the burn unit. Had a real laugh about that one.”
“I sent him a get-well card and some flowers.”
Rhino grunts out a laugh. “You still on that crusade against your father?”
“Same crusade. Still determined to ruin his life.”