Twisted Roses

Page 11

I’m at the end of that tunnel.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing here?” he snarls. Not loud. At a volume that only I can hear.
“I’m an undecided voter. I wanted to educate myself, DA. Is that allowed?”
“I’m not the fucking DA anymore, Mancino, and you know it. How did you get in here? Your name wasn’t on the list.”
That’s because I used my middle name and Stefania’s maiden name...
“I bought my ticket fair and square, DA. I wanted to learn more about your campaign.”
“You think you can show up here and throw me off. You overestimate your importance.”
“The same can be said about you. You’ve paid me a visit a time or two, have you not? I don’t think it’s against any laws for a citizen to attend political events. That’s all I’m doing,” I explain calmly. “By chance, your campaign has caught my eye.”
“By chance.” Ernest snorts, his almost-black eyes narrowing. “Nothing is by chance as far as you’re concerned. Part of the reason why you and your father are such abhorrent criminal lowlives.”
“I’m not the one running for office, DA. That’s you.”
“Meaning, I’m not the one being graded by society. You are. We’ve established I’m a monster—but something tells me I’m not the only one.”
He grits his teeth. “Whatever subtle-but-not-so-subtle threat you’re making, Mancino, it doesn’t matter. I have a flawless history. An impeccable reputation. Unlike you and your criminal family, I am a good man. Better than you’ll ever be.”
“We’ll see,” I say coolly. A grin tempts my lips. “But something tells me if I go digging deep enough, I’ll find some blemishes. That affair of yours isn’t the only skeleton in your closet, is it?”
“Get the fuck out of here, Mancino.”
“Make me.”
This time, Idolet my grin form. A wide one that’s taunting and amused. I take a step closer, daring him to act. Hit me. Grab me. Lose his cool and scream at the top of his lungs. Any of those wouldn’t be a good look. His legion of supporters would clutch their chests in alarm that Ernest Adams isn’t so perfect after all.
For one impulsive second, Daddy Adams looks like he really wants to. He’s not the type for physical altercations—like Delphine, his natural inclination is for a verbal cutdown. He resists by the skin of his teeth, his nostrils flaring. Rage clenches onto his face before he squashes it out. He forces out a canned laugh and folds his arms behind his back. I suspect to keep from throwing a punch.
“I don’t have to, Mancino,” he says. “That’s what security’s for. Taryn!”
His fairy-sized event coordinator scurries over within a second of being summoned. She’s beaming ear-to-ear, clueless to the tension between the two of us. “Yes, Mr. Adams? Were you ready to address the donors?”
“Taryn, alert my security. Have Mr. Mancino here, escorted out. Ensure he doesn’t return.”
Her bright eyes swing over to me, wide and surprised. “Oh! Okay, that can be arranged.”
“No need,” I say as she unhooks the handheld radio attached to the waistband of her pants. I stare down Daddy Adams while walking around them. “I’ll show myself out. Good luck with your campaign, DA.”
I walk out of the Neptune Society Club on a victorious note, with Daddy Adams glaring after me.
* * *
I’m riding a high after crashing Ernest’s campaign event. There’s nothing like pissing off somebody you hate. It’s enough to put me in a decent mood the rest of the day. Our conversation has only solidified my suspicion that he’s hiding something. He’s not the man the public believes he is.
Delphine loves him and he’s her hero, but it’s a big lie. I just need to prove it.
As I work to destroy Lucius, it’ll be my side project. I’m going to get my revenge on Daddy Adams by investigating him the way he investigated me so many years ago. If he wins the election for city mayor, he’ll be coming after me on a level like never before.
It’s up to me to strike first.
I ride my sports bike across the city to Club Nirvana. I’m getting off my bike and slipping off my helmet when a car pulls up behind me. I recognize who it is at barely a glance. My reaction is indifference.