Twisted Roses

Page 104

I stroke my jaw and peer out the window of the club office. “It’s possible. But Lena Volchok is her real name. Ivan Volchok is a real man. Or was at some point.”
“Pawns,” he answers. “They could be pawns in the scheme of things. We’ve looked into Lena—she has no more than 10k in the bank and drives a beat up Ford Focus.”
I don’t bother contradicting anything Stitches has said. It’s true that, as far as we can tell, Lena has spent her time in America either painfully poor or lower middle class at best. Her father was a different story. He spent years among Northam’s elite, including a membership in the Neptune Society Club, as well as conducting deals with organized crime families.
Then he vanished altogether.
No trace of him has existed since.Exceptfor the payments we discovered made out to Mirra and Azeria.
Has Volchok merely been laying low this whole time? Operating from within the Society’s bounds?
Ernestneverdenied knowing him. He simply stated it was too complex for us to understand—all as he continues associating with the guy’s daughter, his mistress.
It’s such a tangled fucking mess it’s enough to give me a headache, but I won’t let it go until I’ve held every person who played a role in hurting Delphine responsible.
“How’s she doing?” I ask, moving away from the window.
Stitches takes off his wire-framed glasses to wipe them on his shirt. “Not well. She hasn’t gotten out of bed today. Her and the cats sleeping it away.”
“You’re a sensitive guy, Francis. You cried at the end ofField of Dreams, didn’t you? What do I do? How can I fix this?”
“First of all,Field of Dreamsis a cinematic masterpiece about a man’s relationship with his deceased father. It pulls at the heartstrings,” he says in defense. “Second of all, don’t overthink it. You’re all she has right now. Just spend time with her. Try not to be such an asshole, asshole.” He grins in jest.
The left side of my mouth ticks up, almost a grin in return. “That’s the only time I’m going to let you call me an asshole and leave the room with two working legs. Savor the moment.”
“Believe me, I’m surprised I’m not bleeding yet, knocked on my ass.”
I clap a hand to his shoulder as I walk to the door. “It’s appreciated, you looking out for her.”
“Not a problem, Psycho. But also, maybe consider a raise sometime in the near future.”
“Don’t push your luck.”
I head home to the loft. On the way, I stop at the grocery store and pick up Delphine’s favorite wine and a couple other things I know she likes—dark chocolate, some more of her favorite chamomile tea, and a soy candle that’s described as therapeutic and calming.
I enter the loft like a clueless fuck, hoping the items I’ve brought her will magically make her feel better.
Shadows creep into the open space as the sun sets outside the tall windows. I flick on a light in the living room and crouch down to greet the cats. They’ve trotted out from down the hall for some attention, which tells me Delphine’s still in bed.
“Hungry? I’ve got a surprise for you too.”
I tear open a bag of salmon-flavored cat treats I also picked up and toss them a couple each.
Delphine’s a ball beneath the sheets. I sit on the edge of the bed and touch her shoulder, testing if she’ll stir. She does, her eyelids lifting in drowsy fashion.
“Hey,” I say. “Dinner?”
She shakes her head. “I’m sorry I’ve stayed in your bed all day. I should get up.”
“Don’t worry about it, Phi. Rest as long as you need to. I stopped at the store and got you some more tea and chocolate… and some wine too.”
“Wine helps.” Her lips quirk into a small smile. A quick flicker that goes out in the next second. Her eyes tell the real story. Sad and worn.
My hand slides up and down her spine in slow, gentle strokes. I might not have the right words to say, but she needs to know she’s not alone. I’m here, available in whatever way she needs me.
Just like I’ve insisted she stays in my loft, I’ve insisted she stay in my bed. Anything of mine is hers. I like when Delphine is around. When she’s in my home. And when she’s unwell, it’s my duty to make sure she’s taken care of.
We stay still for a while in the darkening bedroom. The sun finishes setting and the sky purples ’til the only light comes from the city streets.