Twisted Roses

Page 36

“Mariette says she saw you at a tapas bar a couple weeks ago. You went out with Cade from Cyber Crimes?”
“Oh. Yeah… we did go out. It was just dinner. A one-time sort of thing.”
“The Summer Nights Masquerade is in a few weeks. He should be your date!”
“What part of one-time sort of thing don’t you understand?”
But Brenda won’t let it go the rest of the subway ride into Northam Park.
The entire time I’m still flushed with thoughts of Salvatore lingering in the corner of my mind. I haven’t spoken to him since the night of Dad’s birthday dinner. He’s tried calling and texting, but I meant every word I said.
I want… Ineedhim out of my life.
He’s not good for me. I’m not who I’m supposed to be when I let myself come undone around him. The perfect act I put up melts away and who I become scares me. The many cracks and fractures appear, ugly and real.
He sees all the fucked up pieces of me. I can’t live my life if I can’t keep it together.
The sports event kicks off with the children playing a game of tug-of-war. Medjine and Brenda help me work the event, covering ground, interacting with the different guardians and their children.
Engaging with the community is one of my favorite parts of the campaign.
I don’t care for most of the frivolous events themselves, but getting to know people around the city is worth it, especially those from less than privileged backgrounds.
“You are working the crowd today,” Medjine murmurs. “Sooo much better than Polk’s Tiktoks.”
We separate. Medjine goes to double check the event schedule with the charity coordinator. Brenda and I chat with a guardian whose foster child is in the program.
The mood changes come noon. The volunteers serving as referees blow their whistles and the park grounds are covered with a frenzy of movement. Kids run in different directions in search of their guardians. Volunteers opening up the food service stations for the free lunch being offered.
Brenda elbows me when I almost begin chatting with another parent. “Something’s going on.”
I follow her gaze across the lawn.
The shift in mood at the event seems to be less about lunch and more about whatever people are looking at on their mobile devices. The children don’t seem to notice, but the adults in the vicinity are engrossed in whatever topic has come up.
My iPhone buzzes with a news alert. I gasp.
G&G Media Executive Brett Gannon Dead in Apparent Murder Suicide
I click on the alert only to bring up a clip from Channel Nine News reporting the latest on the situation.
“I’m outside the Gannon estate where just moments ago, a grisly scene unfolded,” says the field reporter, holding his microphone up. In the background is a large gated mansion with spectators and cop cars gathered outside. “Brett Gannon, his wife McKenna, and their twin boys were discovered in what authorities state appears to be a murder suicide. In recent times, Gannon has been embroiled in complicated financial trouble. It is reported that he allegedly owed the IRS thirteen million in income taxes and was potentially facing up to twenty years in federal prison. It is also speculated that in recent times Mr. Gannon was associated with illegal gambling rings. One thing is for certain, what happened here today is a tragedy.”
I exit out of the clip with a wave of shock pouring over me.
I knew Brett Gannon as a bully jock with an army of followers at Westoria Prep. He’d twice tried to throw me into a pool and had refused to leave me alone until Salvatore got involved.
In more recent years, he’d risen to follow in his father’s footsteps, becoming an executive at his family’s media company, G&G. He married McKenna Fuller, the most popular girl from our high school, and last I heard, they had twin boys.
Nine at noon.
It clicks thinking about the news clip. I gasp all over again.
NorthamNeptune123 had been telling me to check Channel Nine News. He knew Brett Gannon was going to kill himself and his family.
The revelation chills my bones. I stand still in a state of confused shock. A thousand more questions run through my mind, like the possibility there are many more like me.
First, Harding Senior. Now, Gannon. Who else is NorthamNeptune blackmailing?