Twisted Roses

Page 12

I turn to walk into the club.
Hector Belini and one of his crews follow me inside.
“What brings you to my neck of the woods, Hector?” I ask from over my shoulder. I motion for my bartender on shift to fix drinks.
During the daylight hours, Nirvana is more or less a ghost town. Without the blinding strobe lights and dance music blasting from stereos, it’s a dark and moody place. The walls are black and the furniture is leather. No windows. No natural light. Shadowy corners everywhere you look.
This is my turf. Though I’ve always suspected Hector would be turning up on my doorstep, he knows better than to do so unannounced.
He must really be pissed. I can’t say I blame him. Ididmurder his younger brother in cold blood.
“Any special requests?” I ask, finally turning around to face him and his men.
Hector glowers. “I’m not here for drinks.”
“Are you sure? My bartenders are the best in the city.”
Hector starts toward me. He’s a large man—tall and solid like a rock. He’s got a wide, sloped forehead and a long face that only a mother could genuinely love. Good looks do not run in the Belini gene pool. His younger brother Giorgio was no looker either.
As he steps to me, I don’t move a muscle. I stand my ground. I’m waiting to see what Hector will do.
I’m not afraid of him… or anyone. We can handle this however he wants. In a civilized manner or, preferably, in a violent one. His choice.
“I’ve never stepped on your toes,” he says, closing in on me. “Have I not always shown you the utmost respect?”
“You have. Is there a reason you’ve turned up to my club in such a sour mood?” I accept the drink my bartender walks over. A whiskey highball made the right way, unlike earlier at the Neptune Society.
“My brother, Giorgio, he’s been missing for months now,” Hector says. “Nobody has seen him. He and a whole crew disappeared without a trace.”
“Sounds tragic. Right after his conviction was overturned, right?”
The angry expression on his ugly face deepens. “I’m not an impulsive man. But I become one when somebody fucks with my family. My own flesh and blood.”
“As would most.”
“I would hope most would know not to do so. Not to fuck with me.”
I sip from my drink, my eyes on his. “I’m sure nobody would fuck with you unprovoked. Anybody fucking with you probably had a reason.”
He regards me with an even heavier glare. His men copy him, eying me like I’m scum. None of it matters to me—we’re on my turf, but even if we weren’t, I can stand on my own. Hector Belini’s wrath means nothing.
“That reason isn’t good enough,” he says. “Nobody fucks with my brother. That somebody should know I’m not the type of problem they would want right now.”
“I’m sure that somebody doesn’t care.”
Hector turns to go. “He will.”
5. delphine
The emailfrom the mysterious NorthamNeptune123 was supposed to be threatening. It claimed I have a dark secret that won’t stay hidden forever. Sooner rather than later it will be exposed. If I hope to salvage my reputation, I should accept his help.
He never specified what this “help” entails, simply issuing a warning our messages were to stay between us. The email ended with him claiming he’s my friend.
Either it was sent by some overconfident criminal, or it was some poor attempt at a practical joke.
By the time I’m heading into work on Monday morning, it’s no longer on my mind. I stop by the Cyber Crimes division at the Northam Police Department.
Ever since Cade risked his life to help me, I’ve been repaying him with the occasional latte from Java King. When my star witness in my case against Michael Frausto, underboss in the Belini crime family, was murdered, he stepped up to help me uncover security footage. In doing so, he’d incurred the wrath of Detective Christian Galecki, a dirty cop working on the inside for the Belinis.