Twisted Roses

Page 92

After the blackmailing scheme with Chester, I can never trust her, which means she has to go.
“Brenda,” I say when she doesn’t move. “Leave. Tonight. I never want to see or hear from you again.”
“I don’t have anyone in my life. Chet was the first one in a long time who sort of cared.”
“He used you for his own agenda. But you can start over. You just have to go. Find another city and pretend tonight never happened.”
Her voice trembles when she speaks. “I really do admire you. Everything that you’ve done and fought for.”
“Go, Brenda.”
“Goodbye, Delphine.”
A simple farewell that doubles as a mutual understanding as she turns and walks away.
I do the same. I leave the deserted shopping center with my mind made up where I’m headed. If I were thinking straight, I’d go home, clean myself up, and dispose of my clothes and the murder weapon.
But instead, I turn up at Nirvana’s front entrance. There’s a long line outside the club. Several people gape at me, approaching the door where two muscly bouncers are stationed. I can feel the shockwave ripple through them—what the hell is ADA Delphine Adams doing showing up at Nirvana, in blood-stained clothes no less?
I ignore them all.
I stop in front of the bouncers. “I need to see Salvatore.”
They must recognize me, because they rake their gazes over me from head to toe and share baffled looks. Then they step aside and let me through.
Stitches spots me as I approach the staircase leading up to the club office.
“Whoa! Whoa!” he calls out. “Miss ADA, what are you—is that blood? Miss ADA!”
He tries to stop me, but slips on a puddle of someone’s spilled alcoholic drink. I drift past him, navigating the crowds of dancing and partying club-goers, still in a trance-like state. I head up the spiraling staircase and down the dimly lit hall.
Without knocking, I open the door to Salvatore’s office and walk in. He’s seated at his desk. His eyes land on me, and like the others, he’s shocked at the sight of me.
Let him be shocked. Let him see what I’ve done. I refuse to let him shut me out another second.
24. salvatore
Slowly,I rise from my office chair. My grip loosens on the desk phone in my grasp until I hang it up entirely. I try to think of what to say, but there’s no easy way to address the situation. The last twenty-four hours have been interesting to put it lightly.
Delphine plods deeper into the room, her gait like she’s the undead risen back to life. Dragging footsteps and lurching movements.
“Phi…” I trail off. My gaze flicks over her head to toe—the wild curls, the vacant expression, the blood smeared on her cheek, the gun limp at her side. “What the fuck happened?”
I finally snap into motion, coming out from behind my desk. I snatch the gun away from her and slip it into the back of my jeans. It’ll be properly disposed of later (there’s no telling what crime she’s committed with it). My hands clamping onto her shoulders, I steer her to the leather sofa and thrust her down into a seat. At a crouch in front of her, I look her in the eye and tell her to explain what’s happened.
She doesn’t—she stares blankly ahead, at some indiscriminate point past my shoulder. The good news is, most of the blood’s not her own. Then again, that could mean real trouble if she’s been reckless and killed someone without covering her tracks.
Stitches wheezes, jogging into the room. He holds out a finger, signaling he needs another second to catch his breath and explain.
“She… she…” he puffs. “She walked into the club like that, Psycho. I tried to stop her from coming up here, but some asshole spilled his drink. I tripped in the puddle—”
“It’s alright. She can stay. I owe her an explanation anyway.”
And she owes me one about this bloody day of hers.
“Get me some water and fresh towels. She needs to be cleaned up.”