Monday, March 27, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 6

* * *
Now Elaine was the parent and Kathy was the child—her mother sat down obediently on the edge of the exercise bench, looking cowed, but then jumped up and grabbed Elaine by the upper arms.
“You have to help me, you have to help me!” she cried. “He said he’ll have me killed!”
Elaine tore herself from her mother’s grip. “Who said he would have you killed? What are you talking about?”
“My husband!”
“But why would he do that?”
“Because he’s a terrible man, and a hardened criminal, that’s why! And I can prove it!”
With shaking hands, Kathy opened her purse and pulled out an envelope. As she did this, Elaine noticed several bundles of five hundred euro notes.
“It’s all in there,” she said.
Elaine opened the envelope and withdrew a thick sheaf of papers. It was a bunch of spreadsheets and bank statements with different company names at the top. “What is all this?”
“It’s information on his so-called businesses, but they’re all just fronts to cover up whatever nasty crimes he’s really involved in. He’s a murderer, Elaine! He’s a horrible, despicable, awful human being. He’s sick!”
Now Elaine was scared, but her fear morphed into rage. “How dare you come here and put my family in danger!”
“No, no, there’s no danger—he thinks I went to visit one of my girlfriends in Paris. I made sure I wasn’t followed here. He probably doesn’t even know I took anything from the safe. He only opens it on Fridays, when he pays the help.”
“If that’s true, then why were you so terrified when the courier showed up?”
Her mother had no answer for this.
“You didn’t think twice about putting your two little grandchildren in danger!” Elaine shouted. “And all that crap about wanting to be their grandmother?”
“But I do want to be their grandmother, honey!”
“Stop calling me honey!” Elaine turned and glanced at the door to the hallway, her heart pounding, wondering if the maniac who was after her mother was already parked across the street somewhere, watching the farmhouse, waiting to make his move.
At that moment, Luna appeared in the doorway. She glanced at Elaine, then at Kathy. “Is everything okay? I heard some yelling and...”
Elaine only grunted. She tried to think of how to explain, barely managing to keep a grip on her emotions. She told herself not to panic or to jump to conclusions until she figured out what was actually going on here. “Did the courier leave?”
“Yeah, he’s gone...”
“Would you mind making sure the front gate is shut and the alarm system is enabled?”
“And please get your gun and make a complete check of the wall perimeter, inside and out.” Elaine glared at Kathy. “Somebody might try to force their way onto the property.”
Luna looked taken aback, and she gave Kathy a suspicious glance. “Roger that, I’m on it.”
As soon as they were alone again, Elaine looked sternly at her mother. “You better explain exactly what’s going on right now! I knew you didn’t just drop by to play grandma.”
Kathy was shaking. “Do you...” she glanced around the room and then looked back at Elaine. “I’m so thirsty—can I have something to drink, please?”
Elaine had the feeling her mother wasn’t talking about water. She hesitated, and then thought maybe it would loosen those collagen-enhanced Texas lips.
“Stay right there,” she warned, pointing at the exercise bench, and went down the hallway and into the kitchen.
“Can I have a big glass of wine, please?” she asked Tony.
He turned to her from the sink, surprised—Elaine rarely drank wine during the daytime, and never in the morning.
“It’s for my mother.”
“What kind, Signora? Red, white—”
“Doesn’t matter, as long as it has alcohol in it.”
Tony gave her a look, then opened the cupboard, pulled down one of their large, elegant crystal wine glasses, uncorked an open bottle of French red, and filled the glass about a third of the way.
“More,” Elaine said.
He filled it about halfway.
“To the top!” Elaine said impatiently.

* * *
The wine glass was nearly spilling over when Elaine brought it to Kathy, and the nervous woman looked as if she would have downed the whole thing at once if she hadn’t thought it would look bad.
Kathy Brogan then plunged into a long, meandering story that might have been the plot of a bad soap opera, taking a sip of the wine every few sentences. Apparently, she had remarried a couple of years after Patrick died in prison, about the time Elaine had gone off to college at RISD. After the relationship with the toy-boy supermarket cashier had run its course, Kathy had returned to Pittsburgh and met a wealthy Greek man. Spyro something or other—Elaine paid little attention to the last name. The two of them had fallen in love and after a few years moved to a villa in Greece. Then, Spyro had gotten the maid pregnant, a “brainless nineteen year old Romanian bimbo. Réka, with an accent sign over the E. As if that gave her any class.”
 Spyro moved Réka to a nearby villa and she had the child, a boy. Now the boy was eight years old and it seemed that Spyro spent all his time with his “illegitimate family” and only lived with Kathy for the sake of appearances—all his relatives in Greece were very conservative.
Kathy started crying halfway through this sordid story, and as she did so, the big crystal glass almost slipped out of her hand. Most of what was left in it splashed all over the front of her sundress.
“Fuck,” Kathy said, looking down at the violet stain.
Elaine recoiled at this. The word sounded so ugly and low-class coming out of her mother, in that Texas accent, with the U so drawn out. More like, “Fuuuck.” That one obscene word spoke volumes to Elaine—for some reason, in her mind’s eye, she saw Kathy Brogan falling down drunk at some dingy Texas honky-tonk, with country music blaring in the background, her stockings torn, that young grocery-store toy-boy trying to hold her upright.
“Sorry,” Kathy said, when she saw the look on Elaine’s face. “I’m just so upset right now.” She set the nearly empty glass on the bench, pulled a handkerchief out of her purse, and blew her nose, gazing at Elaine with puffy eyes. “You have no idea how humiliating it’s been for me, honey, being married all these years to a man whose ‘real’ family is living right down the street! He spends so much time with Réka and that child I feel like I’m the mistress and she’s the wife!”
Once again, Elaine could not find any sympathy for her mother. “If that’s the way things are, then why didn’t you divorce him a long time ago? If he’s unfaithful and you can prove it—”
“I wish it were so easy. You have no idea what kind of maniac I’m dealin’ with, Elaine. Spyro is—”
“What’s Spyro last name again?” Elaine interrupted.
Spyro Leandrou, Elaine thought. The name sounded vaguely familiar, but she could not place it.
“You probably have him in your criminal databases or whatever you call it,” Kathy said disdainfully. She wiped her eyes again and continued in a choked voice, “I’ve stood by him for the past fifteen long years, supportin’ him and turning a blind eye to his whore and bastard son and his criminal ways, while he became filthy rich and powerful. Fifteen hellish years! And this is how he repays my support, tellin’ me he’ll have me killed!”
“I still don’t understand that—why did he threaten you? Because you want a divorce?”
“Yes, but not only that,” Kathy said darkly.
“What do you mean?”
Kathy looked uncertainly into her daughter’s eyes. “Because he...he...I’m not sure I can tell you this, Elaine.”
Now Elaine felt a frisson of anxiety, but she wasn’t sure why. “You can’t tell me what, Kathy?”
       Her mother’s face went completely pale, with the expression of someone who just stepped inside a morgue to identify a body.

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