This was supposed to be us.
The thought snuck up on me, stabbing me in the sensitive place in my stomach where money worries and insecurities liked to lurk. I closed the photo preview before I caught a glimpse of the jet skis on the roof of the yacht, or the uniformed butler, hovering in the wings.
We’d had that lifestyle in our grasp. Famous friends. Invites to yacht parties and private jets. Weekends spent without a care in the world, our meals prepared by a private chef, our afternoons punctuated with massages and wine tours.
We’d had it and—in the split second it takes for a baseball to connect with a temple—lost it.
I scrolled through the website search results, spotting De Luca office locations in the Bahamas and Miami, as well as a few dozen press mentions pairing him with famous names. He seemed to specialize in divorce, and I remembered Tim’s mention that he’d handled Fred’s.
I opened a second tab and searched for Julia De Luca, coming up with a short list of results. I frowned, surprised. There were no photo results, and other than the state verification page of her law license and a few charity donation lists, there were no other results. Intrigued, I checked social media. Nothing. I did a marriage license search and pulled her maiden name from the results, then tried again. Huh. I leaned back in my chair and picked at the remaining chunk of my chocolate bar. Julia De Luca had to be the only wife in Miami with no social media footprint whatsoever. I picked up the phone and tried the next best thing to Google—a text to Chelsea.
I have a big listing lead for a Brad and Julia De Luca — local attorneys. Do you know anything about them?
While she had ignored my texts wanting details on the funeral invite, she responded to this one immediately. No but let me dig.
I dropped the wrapper in the trash can underneath my desk and returned my attention to my computer, closing out the windows before I wasted more time on the search. If there was any helpful information, Chelsea would dig it up. She had the nose of an investigative journalist, which was one of the reasons Easton and I couldn’t risk anything else with Aaron. We were lucky to have gotten away with it once, though the jury was still out on whether we had. If we all managed to keep the secret for a month, I’d breathe a hell of a lot easier.
Twenty minutes later I was crouched in front of the copy machine, cursing it to hell, when my phone buzzed against the floor. Scooping it up, I swept my hair out of my face. “Hey Chelsea.”
“Okay, I have good news and I have bad news.”
I wrenched open the top drawer and verified, for the third time, that there was no paper jam in the tray.
“Which do you want first?”
“I don’t care.”
“Oh-kay.” She huffed in annoyance. “The good news is that Kendra’s brother Jake knows a guy at Verizon who has four tickets to Burning Man.”
“And that’s good news?”
“Elle, don’t be like that. It’s great news.”
“We can’t afford—”
“It’s BURNING MAN. There is literally nothing to pay for. They don’t allow money. Remember? We talked about this. It’s a gift thing. Like, you’re supposed to happily give people stuff.”
“So, I’m accepting food from strangers? That sounds like everything my mother always taught me not to do.”
“I’m not going to try to explain the dichotomy of the Burning Man economy. It works, Elle. And we’d bring something to offer. I’m not talking about freeloading off strangers for a week.”
“Yeah, not interested.”
“I’ll talk to E about it. Anyway, the bad news is about your listing people. How much do you want this lead?”
I straightened, the jammed copy issue forgotten. “Badly. Why?”
“Well… it’s the guy. Brad De Luca.”
I thought of Tim’s reference of the attorney. What had he said? That Tim’s looks were wasted on him but that mine would work? Something like that. “Tim said he likes women.”
Chelsea didn’t settle on that comment. “It’s not exactly him, but his family. Apparently, he’s the heir apparent of the Magiano family. We’re talking oldest son. Birth name Brad Magiano, Junior—but he changed it to his mother’s maiden name.”
The hair on the back of my arms stood up. I didn’t need to research that name. I knew the Magiano family. Everyone in Miami did. They were the most powerful crime syndicate in South Florida. Mobsters, the sort that drove Rolls Royces and had abandoned drug dealing and prostitution for white-collar crime but still had a forceful finger in every successful industry south of Orlando. A forceful and deadly finger.
Suddenly, the yacht didn’t seem so tempting.
Suddenly, Julia De Luca’s lack of Internet footprint made perfect sense.
Suddenly, I understood why Tim had been so generous with the lead. Dick.