Friday, May 19, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 45

* * *
Sitting in her rental car and doing more online research, it did not take Luna long to verify that Lonnie Hendrix was just the kind of criminal Tutter said he was, a gigolo who seduced rich, older males in high social standing and then blackmailed them for all they were worth. Hendrix had been arrested on blackmail charges five times in various American cities along the East Coast...yet never convicted. Luna guessed that with the help of expensive attorneys—hired with previous blackmail funds—he had always wiggled out of it.
Luna considered the bigger picture. If Spyro Leandrou had contracted Lonnie Hendrix to murder Elaine’s father, what was the connection between the two? How had Leandrou known Hendrix? Could Leandrou have been one of Hendrix’s sexual blackmail victims?
She looked back through the car window at Thomas Tutter’s house. If Tutter was actually an accomplice to the murder, he might be lying about knowing where Hendrix was at this moment. Which meant he could contact Hendrix and warn him about what was going on, and tell him to go into hiding.
But there was little Luna could do about that besides having him arrested and stirring up a mess at the local level. Before she had left Tutter sitting there at his kitchen table, she had warned him not to contact Hendrix, even though he adamantly denied knowing the man’s whereabouts. But if she were in Tutter’s shoes, and she had to weigh the possibility of being charged as an accomplice to murder against being charged with obstruction of justice, she would choose the latter and warn Hendrix.
Luna started her car and headed back to Pittsburgh.
She had to track down Lonnie Hendrix.

Chapter 54

Elaine did not realize how much stress she’d been under all week until she dragged herself out of bed Saturday morning. When she stepped into the bathroom and washed her face, her hands shook. Part of the tension she felt was simply from taking on the new governess position, hoping she did well. Another part was terrified with every passing minute that Spyro Leandrou would somehow find out she wasn’t who she said she was and do god only knew what to her. On top of that, the total communication blackout with Luna added another layer of anxiety.
Today was her day off. Somehow, by hook or crook, she had to get her hands on a disposable phone so she could talk to Luna. As far as she knew, neither Spyro nor Alex were home this morning—they had both spent the night at RĂ©ka’s house and would not be back until later, around noon. She knew that after lunch, Spyro was taking Alex to his swimming lesson at a local pool. Kathy was supposed to be leaving sometime early this morning to conduct one of her volcano tours.
Elaine was tempted to try to drive to the airport and buy the burner phone, but she did not dare try to leave the villa before Spyro and Alex came back. She didn’t even know where the key to the “guest car” was, and she didn’t want to ask Fenia or Costa because she was afraid they might not know she was allowed to use it and call Spyro. When she left the villa, she didn’t want so much attention drawn to it—it was risky enough to try to buy the phone at all. She wanted to ask Spyro for the keys herself, directly and out in the open.
To try and relax while she waited out the morning, Elaine decided to take a long, luxurious bubble bath, but it didn’t help. She found herself staring at the bathroom ceiling, her body tense, her thoughts going in circles, feeling frustrated with how little progress she had made trying to convince Spyro to give her extra duties beyond the governess role.
 Yesterday, she had made another attempt to nudge him into letting her do more, and had only succeeded in irritating him. She had overheard him angrily talking on the phone to someone who apparently had still not finished the December financial statements for one of his businesses. When he hung up, Elaine said, “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help overhearing a little of your conversation. Like I said in the interview, I’m good with spreadsheets and I know basic accounting. If I can help with anything—”
“You don’t have enough to do as it is?” Spyro snapped. They’d been in the den at the time—he’d come to check on her and Alex.
Elaine hadn’t answered, and Spyro had simply turned away and walked out, typing a text or email message to someone else.
How the hell could she start collecting evidence on his illegal activities if she was confined to the governess job? She was even more annoyed with herself now for not clarifying the extra duties issue with Spyro before she agreed to take the position, but she was so anxious for him to hire her that she had let it slide.
What a stupid mistake that had been!

* * *
Elaine finally gave up on the bubble bath, got dressed, and went downstairs to eat breakfast. She was delighted to find herself eating alone in the dining room for the first time all week without having to face the people she was deceiving and listen to the monotonous soft whirr of Spyro’s creepy prosthetic hand as he switched between utensils.
She had been with Alex and Spyro morning, noon, and night the entire week. Their homeschooling lessons ended at three every day, and then it was another hour of basketball, tennis, soccer, or rock climbing on the outdoor wall that she had to further participate in. Thursday, after dinner, the whole family, including Kathy, had played a long game of Monopoly, with Alex eventually beating everyone, with glee. Last night, Spyro spent an hour quizzing his son on the supplemental reading assignment, the booklet called How Do Airplanes Fly? Elaine was proud of the boy’s comprehension of the subject matter, and Spyro seemed impressed, too. At least her boss was pleased with her work—that much was going well. But she wasn’t even completely sure about that—he hadn’t actually come out and said anything since the first day.
She already missed Nick and her own children terribly, yet she couldn’t communicate with them at all. She had hoped that by now she would have made more progress on this undercover assignment.
As soon as her breakfast digested a little, Elaine went to the home gym, worked out with some free weights and ran three miles on the treadmill. She then tried to relax in the Turkish sauna and the mineral water pool.
It did no good.
Elaine had to demonstrate her skills to Spyro Leandrou, somehow, to make him see what she was capable of, and make him want to give her more to do.

* * *
At 11:15, when Elaine went back up to her room to change out of her exercise clothes, she heard the unmistakable clatter of a skateboard. The sound seemed to be coming from the pool area behind the house.
She opened her sliding glass door and looked out her balcony window. It was a cool day, the temperature somewhere in the low sixties, with scattered clouds and gusty wind. She glimpsed Alex rolling on a skateboard towards a whitewashed wall that ran along the far side of the pool. He had on a helmet, elbow pads, kneepads, and protective gloves.
Spyro was sitting in a lounge chair, reading a newspaper.
They were back.
And now is the time, she thought.
In a few short minutes she was dressed and walking out into the pool area.
“Hi, Patricia!” Alex called, and then Spyro looked up and saw her.
Kalimera,” he said. “Did you miss us at breakfast?”
Elaine smiled, knowing he was being sarcastic and walked out to them, skirting the edge of the huge, palm tree-lined pool.
“Hey, watch this!” Alex yelled. He shoved the skateboard towards the back wall, took a running leap onto it, but faltered and jumped back off. “Wait, wait!” He tried it again. This time, he successfully flipped it up and leaped up onto the wall, rode it until the end, and then jumped back down without falling.
“Bravo!” Elaine called, clapping.
“I hope he doesn’t kill himself on that damn thing,” Spyro muttered.
At that moment, Kathy surfaced in the far end of the pool. Elaine hadn’t even noticed that she was in the water. Elaine was surprised she was already back from the volcano tour—she wondered if it had been canceled.
Kathy climbed up the ladder with her long legs. Alex stopped on his skateboard and watched with great interest. Kathy grabbed a towel from a lounge chair and started drying off.
Seeing her mother in a bathing suit left Elaine a little stunned. As Nick had noted, her mom was in great shape, but the woman truly had the body of a twenty-five year old. Elaine knew that Kathy worked out in the gym every day, and apparently she spared no expense on pampering her body. And why not? She could certainly afford it.
“Why don’t you put on your bathing suit, have a swim?” Spyro said to Elaine.
“Yeah!” Alex said, looking over at her.
“Alex, that’s rude,” Spyro said, although Elaine could hear pride in his voice. Like father, like son, she thought.
As Kathy dried herself off, she gave Elaine the appropriate dirty look. But Elaine had no intention of letting Spyro see her in the bathing suit, today or any other day. What shocked Elaine most about her mother’s figure was that it looked exactly like Elaine’s, save the enhanced breasts. She had the same long, slender legs, the same gentle curve of hip, the same high-arched feet. Elaine felt like she was looking into a mirror, and Spyro certainly might notice the similarities.
“It’s too cold for me today,” Elaine said. Some ancient Greek spirit must have felt her panic and come to her aid, because at that instant, a strong gust of wind came along and rattled Spyro’s newspaper and blew ripples across the pool water. It raised goose bumps on Elaine’s arms, too.
“It is a little chilly,” Spyro admitted. “But the pool’s heated.” He looked like he wanted to see her in a swimsuit, too.
Kathy walked over in their direction, the towel around her shoulders, shivering a little herself in the wind. As she approached, Elaine noticed the faint scar from the C-section that her mother had gotten the day she was born. Elaine’s umbilical cord had been wrapped around her neck and the doctor decided to do the emergency surgery.
As Kathy sat down next to Spyro, Elaine wondered what Spyro would do if he ever found out that his new governess had come into this world through the hole that had left that scar.
Elaine cleared her throat. “If you don’t need me this afternoon, I thought I would take you up on your offer to use the guest car and see some of the island.”
“Oh, good idea,” Spyro said, and he glanced up at the sky. “It may rain tomorrow.”
“What do you recommend I see?” Elaine looked at Kathy, too, when she said this, but at that moment Kathy’s cell phone started ringing.
She took the call, and when she started talking, it sounded like it had something to do with her tours.
Spyro said, “Well, Patricia, the town of Fira is one of the main attractions, and the Old Port, which is at the bottom of the hill. You can park in Fira and then take the cable car down. Or, you can walk up and down the five hundred and eighty-eight steps on foot. Or, if you’re adventurous, you can take a donkey up and down, for five euros.” He paused. “But I would only recommend taking the donkey up, and not down.”
“Because they feed the donkeys at the bottom, and the ride down can be pretty wild.”
“Sounds great,” Elaine said, chuckling. All those possibilities would give her plenty of time to go to the airport to buy the disposable phone. She was sure that was the only place on the tiny island where she could get one. She once again berated herself for not letting Luna send Dmitry here—he could have brought a burner phone for her, along with all the other electronic equipment she’d had to leave behind in London.
Spyro said, “The car is parked out in the garages, the last one to the right. The keys are hanging on the wall in the hall outside the kitchen. The car has a navigator that might be set to Greek but you can switch to English. There are paper maps of the island in the library, if you prefer those.” He smiled. “But it’s pretty hard to get lost on this island.”
“Okay, thanks.”
While they’d been talking, Kathy stepped inside a little changing room by the pool and took off her wet bathing suit and came out wearing a fluffy blue designer robe and some matching slippers. To Spyro, she said, “I have another tour at three,” and walked back towards the house, towel-drying her hair.
Spyro glanced at his watch and then called to his son, “Go get ready for your lesson, Superman, we have to go.”
Elaine waved to him. “Bye! Have fun at your swimming lesson!”

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