Twisted Roses

Page 49

“I was pissing Ernest Adams off. I was about to call now.”
“No, Psycho… you can’t.” He blows out a breath of regret and scratches his head. “Stefania… she, uh, she died.”
15. delphine
Summer meanshotter days and nights. We enter June with a record high heat wave. It causes a strain on the city’s power grid. At one point, half the city blacks out. Coincidentally, the poorer neighborhoods are most affected—neighborhoods like Old Northam and Heinsberg Park. In my eight-hundred-thousand-dollar high rise apartment in Centennial Village, my AC blasts uninterrupted.
With no lights comes more crime. As the heatwave continues, so does a crime wave. We see sharp increases in the number of crimes committed after dark. Campaign ads are made about it—an attack ad run by Dad’s team pointing the finger at Mayor Bernstein, claiming he’s doing little to nothing to curb the rise in robberies and violent crime.
I’m forced to address it during my campaign events. Reporters catch me twice on my walk into city hall and ask for my comment.
“You did well. Better than Polk, that’s for sure,” Medjine says. She presses the remote to replay the clip from the afternoon news yet again. “But you used too much unfamiliar terminology. Remember what we said? No lawyer speak with the public.”
At first I do my best to stay clean. Behave.
I double my sessions with Keeney.
She’s convinced a therapy group for sexual assault victims might help me. I promise I’m going to think about it and then toss the pamphlet in the trash the moment I leave her office.
Instead, I dedicate my off-time to two things: NorthamNeptune123 and Skip Little. For a few weeks straight, on random nights at random times, I travel into Westoria. I’m in disguise, as discreet as possible observing his home.
I’ve officially decided he’s my next takedown.
Not yet… but soon.
NorthamNeptune123 continues his blackmailing games. I haven’t taken him up on his offer to meet, something that’s displeased him. He’s started dropping clues to his next big exposé—someone I know that he claims isn’t camera shy. I rack my brain over who he could be speaking of.
dear delphine,
i see u still don’t trust me. what’s it going to take? how many more times am i going to have to prove myself? keep ur eye on ur feed. someone u know isn’t camera shy and wants the world to know. any guesses who?
ur friend,
I visit Cade and ask for his help tracing the emails, stressing it’s another project I’d prefer to handle with discretion. He seems reluctant, no longer the friendly cyber guru I can count on; he’s aloof and distant. He agrees, but adds a disclaimer that he’s swamped with work and will get to it when he gets to it.
I leave Cyber Crimes with the sinking feeling I’ve reached a dead end.
I’ll have to figure out another way to trace NorthamNeptune123. I’m mulling over different options in the middle of after work drinks with Brenda and Medjine at Luxe. Brenda waves her hand in front of my face.
“You’re not tumbling down a rabbit hole of case notes, are you?” she giggles, sipping from her cocktail. “Whenever you get that glazed over look in your eye, you’re thinking about your latest case.”
I aim a smirk at her. “Was I that obvious?”
“We need you to zone out like that about your campaign,” Medjine says. This evening she’s put together another chic ensemble—a finely tailored mint-green blazer and white skinny pants that pair nicely with her stilettos. She withdraws her phone and shows me a polling graphic. “You’ve gained half a percent in the competence category—voters really believe you can handle the job. But you see this point-two drop in relatability? We need to fix that.”
I tune out the rest of Medjine’s lecture. My mind wanders to thoughts of Skip Little and what he typically does on a Wednesday night. He’s sitting at home watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune like he does almost every night; I even double check on the tracking app I use. In my surveillance over the past couple weeks, I’ve managed to link his device with mine.
Skip Little is a blinking red dot, stationary in his home, parked in his La-Z-Boy recliner.
It would be ridiculously easy to pay him a visit and ensure he meets a karmic ending. I’ve already mapped out the smaller details.
I couldn’t care less about voter surveys, or most of the other things Medjine rambles about. Summer is the last stretch before the fall election. Voter opinions should mean more to me. I’m on the cusp of making a lifelong dream—becoming Northam’s first female district attorney—come true.
I shouldn’t be mentally checking out of my own campaign, yet I couldn’t be less interested.
Medjine’s phone rings and she announces she must go; she’s running late meeting up with her next client. Mayor Bernstein himself.