Twisted Roses

Page 68

“You were married for over twenty years.”
He chokes out a laugh between sips of his whiskey. “Now that’s a fucking throwback. I did the marriage thing, not once but twice. Crazy, if you know what I’m saying. The first one barely counts. It was the 70s and I was blitzed out of my mind on coke among other things. You know how that Studio 54 era was—all sorts of fucked up people doing fucked up things. None of us were sober. But the second marriage? That was the real one.”
“And? How did you…?”
I can’t even articulate what the fuck it is I’m trying to say. Luckily, Rhino picks up on it. His lips twist in amusement and he chugs the last of his whiskey.
“You know I never once cheated on her in all the years we were married? That’s the stereotype. That all us guys in the lifestyle have mistresses. I never did. So much ass was thrown at me, but not once did I step out on Aria. Can you believe that—a pussyhound like me becoming a one-woman man. I actually loved her to pieces.”
“Then why did you divorce?”
He shrugs, staring absently out at the scrawny toothpick cleaning his pool. “She left me. Said I was too devoted to the lifestyle. It’s not easy being with guys like us. Most women can’t handle it. We’re hard to love, ain’t we?”
You have no idea…
“You’ve provided me no help,” I say, switching topics. “You were supposed to give me more info on Lena.”
“Sorry, Psycho. I would if I could. But I’ve got nothing. That was one of many crazy nights at the Neptune Society’s clubhouse.”
I’m half turning away when I stop altogether. “The Five Families gathered at the Neptune Society clubhouse?!”
“Where else would it be? Don’t you recognize the dining room? Different times back then.”
I should’ve sooner. Though the decor’s different and some of the design elements have been remodeled, it’s the same dining room. The Mahogany wood-paneled walls being the biggest tell. The many framed photographs along the wall another.
I absentmindedly utter goodbye to Rhino, passing the gangly pool boy and his skimmer pole, and I stride toward my Mustang.
Forty minutes later, my tires screech as I hook a sharp turn onto the street Nirvana’s located on. Omar sighs in relief the second I bust through the door of the club office.
“Psycho, there you are. You’ve got a call,” he says. “From the office of Ernest Adams.”
Convenient timing.
I snatch the desk phone out of his grasp and say, “Hello, DA. How’s the campaign?”
“You will stop what you’re doing and you will stop it now.”
“Care to explain what that is?”
His voice tightens. “You’ve told me yourself what you’re up to. Some cockamamie ploy to humiliate me on a public stage. I’m done issuing warnings, Mancino. I willnottolerate what you’re doing.”
“And what is that?”
“I have proof you have some of your cronies following her.” He drops a few decibels into a whisper. “Lena called me, hysterical. You’re having her followed. For what reason? Because you’re foolish enough to have some conspiracy theory about an affair that never happened.”
Though he can’t see me, I grin wide. “I’m very close to discovering something. I can always tell, DA.”
“Stay away from that situation. Stay away from my daughter. Stay away from all of it. You think I don’t know you’ve been trying to weasel your way into her life? You think you can go over to her apartment and try to confuse her again?”
“Let me guess. She just so happened to tell you I went over. That’s very convenient for you.”
“Mancino, I’m not playing games with you. This is your last warning.”
“Our conversation is over. Your threats mean shit to me. Goodbye, DA.”
I hang up on him, a dose of adrenaline surging in my veins. I dial Stitches instead and wait for him to answer.
A new thought occurred to me during the tail end of my conversation with Rhino. A possibility I hadn’t considered until now.