“I’m going to go easy on you because it’s obvious you are having a less than perfect week.” She reached over, turning up the radio, and I sat back, happy to avoid conversation, preparing myself for the interrogation that would meet me once they were both in front of me.

I came, I ate cheese pizza, I conquered and I left. Olivia dropped me off at my house, drunk on carbs and gossip, and I stumbled across the yard and through the front door, collapsing on the couch.

The girls had wrung every juicy detail out of me, save the juiciest of all—my walk down eavesdrop lane. They had different theories for Broward’s murderer, ranging from his secret g*y lover to Sheila, in the study, with a revolver. I hadn’t uttered the Magiano name, visions of severed horse heads and smashed kneecaps floating above the Parmesan cheese in front of me. My brooding was noticed, and the girls did their jobs, turning the conversation toward men and shopping, and the second half of the lunch passed by in a sea of lighthearted chatter.

I stared up at the ceiling, feeling the weight in my stomach settle. Maybe the mob wasn’t involved. Maybe the detective was right, and I had imagined the conversation. But just to be safe, I was going to keep the information close to my chest and see what Detective Parks discovered.

Speaking of which...I sat up, my full stomach protesting, and reached down, grabbing my phone and flipping through my wallet, till I found the detective’s business card. I dialed his number and waited, stretching out on the couch and staring at the ceiling.

He didn’t answer, and I left a polite but firm message, giving my cell number and asking him to call me. I stewed, my eyes roaming the spiderwebbed corners of the ceiling, going back over the words I had heard that day, the tension in Broward’s voice. There was part of the conversation I couldn’t recall, some name that had slipped in before the Magiano bomb had been dropped. I pulled deep within, trying to grab the words that had passed through that door. A takeover that had gone well, a name—something that sounded like lasagna. I thought, scrunching up my forehead, and no doubt creating three new future wrinkles in the process. Ugh. It probably didn’t sound anything like lasagna. It was probably Smith, or Jenkins, or something that had no correlation to the crusty TV dinner box that sat in our kitchen trash.

I dragged myself to my feet, the weight of my current situation too great to handle without endorphins. Carbs certainly hadn’t helped; maybe running would clear my head.

The name came to me halfway through lacing up my tennis shoes, as clear and perfect as if it had been stamped on my Nikes. Genovese. Or Ginovase. Italian names always proved difficult, but Google straightened me out, and I stood in my room, spandex-clad, and scrolled through search results, trying to find anything on the turnover that would give credence to my Magiano hypothesis.

Bingo. Eighth result down, a news article dated nine months ago, TAKEOVER, all caps, in the title.

MAFIA FAMILY TAKEOVER, BLOODY FUED ERUPTS

Associated Press, March 16, USA TODAY

In one of the major Mafia restructures of this decade, longtime mob patriarch Vincent Genovese is dead, murdered in his home. Genovese, who has been the subject of a three-year multi-bureau investigation for money laundering and extortion, was found Tuesday morning by his wife, Maria Genovese. The victim was stabbed repeatedly in the chest and died from loss of blood. One anonymous source stated Lino Genovese, a cousin of Vincent, had been questioned by police. Lino, who has been slowly moving up in Genovese power circles, has reportedly taken over several family businesses in the last few months. The anonymous source confirmed that family strife due to Lino’s increased interest in their business ventures had grown to a breaking point. Police refused to comment on Genovese’s death or Lino’s involvement, stating that it was an ongoing investigation. As of press time, no suspect has been arrested.

* * *

HOT FUCK. BROWARD had stated that the Genovese takeover had gone well, and that he hadn’t heard any complaints from the Magianos so far. I wasn’t really up on legal negotiations, but I was pretty sure that two bullets to the head might classify as a complaint. My head spun with the new information, and I straightened, shutting the laptop and thinking. I placed another call to Detective Parks, left another voice mail, then grabbed my house key and left, hitting the pavement outside at a strong pace.

Twenty-Six

The detective entered the East Wing, heading for De Luca’s main secretary. He flashed his badge to the elegant, mature woman behind the middle desk. “I need to speak to Mr. De Luca.”

The woman didn’t blink but fixed the detective with a pointed glance. “Your name?”

“Detective Wilkes. Homicide.”

She nodded pleasantly but didn’t make a move to her phone. “I don’t believe that Mr. De Luca is in, Detective Wilkes, but if you take a seat I will try and contact him.”

“You do that.”

Her brows raised, she looked pointedly at the nearest seating cluster. He shook his head and sauntered over to the seat, collapsing into it with a loud sigh.

She picked up her phone and dialed an extension.

“Brad De Luca.”

“Detective Wilkes just came in, unannounced. He is asking to speak to you.”

“Fine. Send him in, then interrupt us after ten minutes.”

“Yes, sir.”

* * *

I RAN, QUICKER than my normal speed, but I needed justification for my pounding heart. Broward assisted in the Genovese family turnover. Broward was working for the Magiano family. His words, strained and hateful, not the man I knew. “Some of the biggest names in town are coming to me for services...Genovese turnover was handled perfectly...I haven’t heard any complaints from the Magianos...” No wonder he was dead. I jumped curbs, climbed up and pounded down Stadium Hill, my breath coming fast, a cramp in my side, my legs screaming in protest, until I finally wound down, coming to a sudden, gut-wrenching stop. I bent over, feeling slightly nauseated.

What was I doing? Why was I digging into this crap, trying to find proof of the Magianos’ involvement in Broward’s death? Why was I power-calling Detective Parks to make sure that he explored that angle? Broward, my mentor, a man I had respected, had apparently run a full-page ad in the mobster Yellow Pages. He had wanted the business, bragged about it. And then he was killed. I needed to get the f**k out of this situation and start minding my own business. I had to stop thinking of Broward as an innocent bystander and recognize his part in his own demise. I needed to stop thinking about the entire situation.

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