(Three days later)
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) New York
Without giving a damn about his rude manners, Dave pushed past people as he made his way to one of the check-in desks. In fact, he wasn’t just pushing the other passengers aside but more like shoving them out of his way, earning glares and curses that he made a great effort to ignore. Dave wasn’t holding back out of courtesy towards the others passengers or because he didn’t want to get in a fight, but because all his anger was directed towards one single person, Oliver, and the only thought within Dave’s head was the many ways he would make Vin’s PA bleed.
To say that Dave was mad or pissed off with Oliver would have been the understatement of the century. Dave was furious and, after the roughest flight of his life, his anger had built up to a point of almost clouding his reasoning.
Not only had Oliver made sure that Dave wasn’t flying direct, but the airline had been one of these low-cost airlines. They had not only lost Dave’s luggage over the stop at Fiumicino airport in Italy, but upon his arrival at London, Dave had shockingly found that his ticket had been changed to a non-smoking one, which had caused that the angry bodyguard had to go to the smoking section within the plane every few minutes to enjoy a cigarette. The seats had been so uncomfortable that Dave’s back had ended up sore and stiff, and the space between seats had been so small that the painful cramps in his long legs hadn’t allowed him to get any sleep at all. The only positive consequence was that, now, Dave didn’t have to wait to get his luggage back, which would save him time. The sooner he could put his hands on Oliver the better.
“May I have your passport, please?” The customs officer asked in a flat tone of voice.
Dave gritted his teeth and slammed the document onto the desk, snarling. At least the embassy had had his passport ready in 48 hours.
The customs officer glared up at Dave but said nothing; he had dealt with worse and it wasn’t as if most passengers acted in a similar way after a transoceanic flight. So, picking up the official document, the customs officer started checking Dave’s personal details while typing on the keyboard of his computer. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry though and Dave swallowed a nasty comment; the bodyguard knew that if he pushed the customs officer, in return, the man would only slow down even more just because he could.
Dave glared around, watching how, slowly but leisurely, the check-in area started to fill with the other passengers, all of them carrying their luggage. Grunting under his breath, Dave returned his attention to the customs officer.
What is taking you so goddamnit long, fucker? “Would you mind hurrying up?” Dave’s voice sounded clipped with restrained anger as he glared down at the man. “I’ve been on board of a plane since yesterday and I’d like to get some sleep sometime this century.”
In response, the customs officer just shrugged his shoulders. “The line is overloaded,” he offered as an explanation without averting his gaze from the monitor. “Patience is a virtue, Mr. Breaux,” he added, smirking a little.
Dave’s hands closed in fists as he bit his tongue hard enough to taste blood. His vision was starting to get blurry with the restraint he was using to keep himself from retorting something nasty.
“Whatever,” he muttered under his breath. Even in his furious state, Dave knew that if he lost his cool with a customs officer at the airport, his actions might lead him to get arrested.
The customs officer blinked once when two alerts popped on the screen of his terminal and he glanced up, at Dave and then down at the screen. Narrowing his eyes, the man read the first one silently.
The security personnel at Rome airport had detected a gun within Dave’s luggage after scanning its content, and in spite of the fact that he had had a licence to carry a gun, it seemed that someone had forgotten to declare at the US embassy, while requesting for a duplicate of his passport, that Mr. Breaux would get his gun with him during his trip back to the US.
It could have been just an administrative slip; it had happened before. According to Dave’s records, his gun licence was in force, and he had been allowed to travel packing because he was a bodyguard. However, the second alert was what caught the customs officer’s full attention.
“Please, Mr. Breaux, wait a moment, I’ll be back in a minute,” the man’s voice sounded as flat as ever but Dave’s brows furrowed.
“Is everything okay?” He narrowed his eyes, getting a bit anxious.
“That’s what I think,” the man replied, his face expressionless. “I’ll be back in a minute.” And with that, the customs officer picked up Dave’s passport and headed towards the office at his back, entering and closing the door.
Dave let out a string of profanities under his breath but did as told and, using the occasion, he pulled out his cell phone, calling Vin’s. He couldn’t even leave a message, since Vin’s voicemail had been disabled.
Muttering a new string of curses, Dave slammed shut his cell phone, swearing upon everything that was holy that Oliver would pay with his blood for the shit he had pulled, and so would Vin, for allowing his greaseball of a PA to fuck with him.
Dave spun around and saw four cops standing in front of him.
“Are you Mr. Dave Breaux?” One of the cops asked.
“Yeah,” Dave looked back and forth between the cops. “Why?” He narrowed his eyes.
In seconds, one of the cops pulled out his handcuffs. “You’re under arrest.” The man said in a flat tone of voice as his partners moved a step forward.
“Whoa! What the fuck is going on here?” Dave took a step backwards, looking around as though he was searching for a way out, which caused two of the cops to move their hands to their guns.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
“What?!” Dave couldn’t give credit. Was he being arrested for real?
The cop all but ignored Dave and went on. “You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning.” The man continued reciting Dave’s rights as though Dave hadn’t said anything as his partners move forward, grabbing Dave by his arms. “If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Dave struggled, trying to release himself. “Get off me, you fucker!” He yelled, struggling harder and losing his cool in seconds. “Why the fuck am I being arrested? I’ve done nothing!”
Dave’s complaints fell on deaf ears as the cops all but dragged him out of the check-in area and towards the entrance where a patrol car was already waiting for him. He kept yelling at the top of his lungs that they were going to regret it, that they didn’t know who they were fucking with. It was of no use and, finally, they got him inside the patrol car that was lost from view in seconds.
Allison’s apartment. NY.
Allison snuggled closer to the warm body. She couldn’t remember the last time she had woken up with someone else at her side. In fact Allison couldn’t remember when she had gone to bed with someone else. Period.
Her eyes fluttered open and she looked up. Steve was on his side, his head propped up on his hand. He was staring down at her with a wide goofy grin on his face.
“You’re not one of those freaks that likes to watch women while they’re sleeping, are you?” Her voice sounded sleepy yet playful.
“Only if the woman is as breathtakingly beautiful as you are,” Steve’s grin grew even wider when Allison’s blushed bright red.
She laughed quietly and snuggled even closer to him. “Why did it take us so long to take this step?”
It was a rhetorical question, Allison wasn’t expecting an answer and so Steve just held her tightly against him and sighed happily, recalling the events that had taken place over the last three days.
Steve had shown up at Allison’s door and had poured his heart out to her, revealing his deepest feelings, but also his hopes and fears. He had felt as though a heavy burden had been lifted from his shoulders and had not-so-patiently waited for Allison to say something, anything.
At first, she had been so shocked that she hadn’t known what to say, but her shocked state had lasted just a moment and Allison had thrown herself into Steve’s arms, kissing him so passionately that his knees had been about to buckle and his toes had curled within his boots.
They had made love and it had been so very different than any other time they had ever experienced with other people. The passion had consumed them both and had made Steve and Allison completely lost track of time. They almost hadn’t left the bed except to take care of other bodily functions. Everything had been forgotten or pushed aside and it had felt good to let go in each other arms. It had felt more than good, actually. It had felt right, as though they belonged where they were. There were so many things they had yet to experience together; so many feelings they had to explore hand in hand.
Steve looked down at her. Allison’s eyes were a bright brown and her cheeks were slightly flushed. She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. The intensity of his feelings scared him because Steve had never let anyone so close, and then it struck him that Allison surely felt the same way.
“If I had known what I was missing, I would have asked you to make love to me long ago.”
Steve watched her blush harder and dropped a kiss on her nose, and then, without thinking, he rolled away from her and got out of bed.
“Up. We’re going out today.”
Allison sat up, looking at him, confused. “Where are we going?”
“I’d like to meet Tyron,” Steve lifted his head, locking his eyes with her. “If you’re okay with that, of course,” he smiled shyly.
Allison couldn’t believe her ears; she loved to, but hadn’t had the courage to ask him, afraid of Tyron’s reaction and Steve’s rejection after knowing what he was getting into for real.
“I’d love that, Steve.”
Steve watched how Allison’s face lit up with her smile and he realized what he had been missing all these months, holding himself back from her. He was such a fool. Knowing Allison was the most wonderful thing to ever happen in his life and yet, convincing himself that he was doing the right thing by keeping himself away.
“Cool,” he grinned widely.
Of course, they needed to learn each other on a whole new level, but they were more than ready to give a chance to their relationship.
Simons’ Farm. The Litchfield Hills. Salisbury. Connecticut.
Simon Weismann, Vin’s lawyer, had suggested his client disconnect his cell phone as well as to disable the voicemail for a couple of days. Simon had also suggested Vin find a place out of New York city to stay, preferably a quiet place where paparazzi couldn’t find him. So Vin and Luna had driven to Salisbury, where Violet Simons had invited them to stay while waiting for the events to unfold.
“I’d say he’s doing okay,” Violet placed the tray with iced tea on the coffee table and took a seat across from Luna, gesturing at Vin. From the spacious terrace that viewed the vast grassland, both women could see him talking with a small group of kids and, judging by the expressions on the kids’ faces, Vin was telling them some exciting tale.
“Yeah, he’s having a blast,” Luna smiled warmly, watching her husband surrounded by kids.
It was a wonderful vision that stirred mixed feelings, such as tenderness and sadness, within Luna’s core. If she wouldn’t have lost their baby boy, by now, Vin would surely be telling a tale to their son, even if he would be just months old.
Violet noticed how, slowly, Luna’s smile faded and, in seconds, her eyes filled with tears that, unnoticed, fell down her cheeks. “How about you?”
At the concern on the older woman’s words, Luna blinked, only now realizing that she had started crying. “I’ll be okay…” she once more smiled, looking down at her lap. However, Violet noticed that the smile didn’t reach Luna’s eyes. “I’m more concerned about him.”
Reaching out, Violet took Luna’s hand in hers and squeezed it tenderly, offering her support. “Why?”
Luna sighed softly. “It worries me that Vin won’t be the same once all this shit is done.”
Violet nodded in understanding; she herself knew first hand what Luna’s fear were about. “It can’t be worse than what you both already faced,” she paused and tipping Luna’s chin up, she forced the younger woman to meet her eyes. “Besides, he’s strong and so are you. I’m sure that you both will find a way to make things work.” Violet paused anew and moved forward. “Luna, promise me that you won’t let a few bumps in the road stop you from making a reality of your dreams.”
Luna blinked, overwhelmed by the pain in Violet’s eyes. It caused her to recall what this woman had lost for real, and how she had managed to get going. Violet’s determination seemed to not have limits and her strength felt somehow contagious.
“I’ll do so,” Luna smiled once more, and this time, it did reach her eyes.
Her cell phone rang but Violet didn’t release Luna’s hand. Something told her that this phone call was the one they had been waiting for.
Flipping her cell phone open, Luna cleared her throat, locking eyes with Violet. “Hello?”
“Luna, this is Simon. It’s done.”
Luna let out the air she had been holding and nodded, even though she knew Vin’s lawyer couldn’t see her. “Do you need us to do anything?”
At the other side of the line, Simon grinned. “No, not at all, I’ll see to everything, personally. Just wanted to let you both know that I got a phone call from the NY district attorney; he seems to be more than interested in Dave’s involvement in drug trafficking.”
Simon paused for a moment and Luna heard the sound of papers being rustled around, as though Simon was looking for something on his desk. After a moment, Vin’s lawyer kept talking.
“You’ll also like to know that it happens that one of the district attorney’s daughters was raped when she was sixteen. Needless to say that as soon as I sent to his office the results of the DNA test done on Angelina Marie Miller and he knew what happened to Jennifer and Elisabeth Miller, the man flew off the handle. I wouldn’t be surprised if the district attorney makes sure that Mr. Breaux’s dance card is full once he lands in prison, if you know what I mean.”
Luna’s gaze hardened in seconds; it was the least Dave deserved. Everybody knew that felons had their own code of ethics. Rapists were considered scum of the worse kind, more so if the victims happened to be minors.
“Dave contacted us; he wanted for me to represent him, but the thing is that one of my partners was hired by Jennifer and Elisabeth Miller. So, we declined to become his lawyers, since it would mean a conflict of interests…he didn’t take the news too well though, but I reminded him about his direct implication in that little mess at ‘Privilege’. Truth is that the last thing Dave needs at this very moment is for Vin or Mauricio Cerutti to sue him, so I’m hoping everything will work fine.”
Luna heaved a hard sigh. “I know that Dave won’t go down without fighting, Simon. That fucker will do anything to drag Vin with him.”
Violet noticed the deep concern in Luna’s voice and features and squeezed her hand reassuringly.
“I wouldn’t worry too much about Dave striking back, Luna. Besides, what could he possibly do? Say that Vin knew about it all along? It would always be his word against Vin’s, and when the news hit the media Marcela would be ready to weather the storm. Everything will work fine, you’ll see.”
Once more Luna nodded, even though she wasn’t so sure. That the damn video would end up posted somewhere Luna was sure about that. It would be just a matter of time. Still, she hoped that Marcela was able to do something, anything to stop whatever nasty consequences when the time came. More than anything she wanted this matter to end once and for all.
“Don’t thank me yet, Luna, wait until you both receive my bill,” Simon joked and Luna chuckled.
“It’ll be worth the last penny, I swear to you.”
“Yeah, I know,” Simon agreed. “Tell Vin to call me when he has two minutes. We still have to take care of some loose ends.”
“I’ll do so,” Luna looked at Vin; he was done with his tale but now was playing hide-and-seek with the kids. Luna couldn’t help it and she grinned widely. Vin would be all sore after spending half the day with these kids; he wasn’t that young anymore.
They said their goodbyes and Luna flipped the phone closed, sighing hard.
“Is everything okay?” Violet asked slowly, she didn’t want to pry but was worried about Luna.
Violet suspected that as soon as things returned to somewhat normal, all the tension and stress that Luna had gone through over the last months would finally take its toll on her heart.
Luna nodded. “Yeah, almost done.”
Her words, far from calming Violet, only got her more concerned, but wisely, the older woman kept her thoughts to herself. She would keep a close eye on Luna though and would be ready when the right time came.
Chapter 84 Part II
Contrary to the popular belief, it rained in Los Angeles too, and when it did, it poured. Thunder could be heard miles away and frightening lightning was seen, stabbing the ground with vicious force. On those occasions, the power went down. Ironically, the hills of LA, where most celebrities had their mansions, was one of the first areas that, shortly after a storm started, ended up plunged in a ghostly darkness.
Tonight was one of those stormy nights in which everything seemed to foretell that a blackout would end up taking place and it wouldn’t last a few minutes, not even a couple of hours.
Of course, most of those mansions had been equipped with powerful stand-by generators the same way hospitals were, to ensure the electricity supply, if for a limited amount of time, even if a general blackout took place. Nevertheless, these stand-by generators needed to be kept undamaged and in a perfect state of maintenance to carry out the function they had been manufactured for, otherwise they would be of no use at all.
Sheila Harley’s mansion. LA
Earlier that day, Sheila had received a phone call from Moira Feldman, the ‘LA Confidential’ editor, asking her if she would take part in the documentary that a TV production company was going to shoot about Carla’s life.
It seemed, according to Moira, that several celebrities that had worked with Carla on any occasion would appear in the aforesaid documentary, talking about the young actress, sharing with everyone their experiences linked with Carla.
Apparently, the production company had gotten not only Violet Simons’ heads up, but that Carla’s mother herself had agreed to appear in the documentary as well. The only condition that Violet had imposed on the production company in return for her permission had been that all the benefits should be sent to different charity organizations. Violet would even allow the shooting crew to shoot in the house where Carla had died.
Upon receiving the shocking news, Sheila had rubbed her hands in glee, already envisioning the many profitable chances she might be able to get in return for making a stellar appearance on such a documentary. However, she also cursed the shitty timing of the whole project, since she didn’t feel at her best, at least physically.
Sheila hadn’t slept too well lately, something she attributed to the stress she was going through because her many future projects had yet to be confirmed. Everything seemed to be in the air and not even one contract had been signed so far.
Her brand new TV show was facing some minor budget problems and, for whatever reason, the succulent offer Sheila had received, to become the image of a well known cosmetics line across the world, was taking forever to turn into a reality. Something about unexpected issues canceling the contract that the cosmetics line had signed with the previous actress they had hired to be the image of the firm.
And to top it off, out of nowhere the bizarre idea that she was being watched had turned Sheila sickly paranoid and she had insisted on filling the house with security cameras and expensive devices. She even had insisted on having two trained Rottweilers to guard the property.
All in all, Sheila was far more bad-tempered than ever. Frustrated and angered, everybody seemed to be in her way and she didn’t hesitate to jump all over everyone for no reason, including her mother who Sheila blamed for every single thing that didn’t go her way.
So when the mean storm hit the hills and the power went down, Sheila once more cursed her luck and, grabbing a flashlight, she marched in search of her mother.
Earlier that day, and after Moira’s phone call, Sheila had thrown a tantrum, and if it wasn’t because one of the technicians that had been there at the time, carrying out a routine checking of the security system, she would have hit her mother, unleashing all her rage and frustration on the woman. Still, Sheila had managed to slap her mother so hard that she had left a bruise on Rose’s cheek.
Rose had been so ashamed and upset that she had locked herself in her bedroom and hadn’t left the room at all. So, Sheila headed towards that side of the house, calling for her mother at the top of her lungs as she went.
Across the hallway, Rose heard her daughter yelling and, sobbing silently, she closed her eyes.
Not getting any answer, Sheila’s anger grew even more. “Rose Marie Sanford!!”
Sheila’s mother covered her mouth to prevent herself from answering as she looked at Marcela with frightened eyes. When Sheila called her mother by her full name it only meant that she was about to explode with unrestrained fury.
The door knob rattled suddenly and Rose jumped, startled, panic grabbing a hold of her. Her eyes darted to the right and she met Marcela’s eyes. In seconds, Vin’s agent got to her feet and moved to take a seat next to Rose.
“Rose! Let me in!”
Repeatedly knocking on the door, Sheila kept yelling and a new wave of fresh tears rolled down the woman’s face. Marcela gritted her teeth, she wanted nothing more than to slap Sheila around, but instead, she opted for offering her support to the sobbing woman, sitting at her side. The vision of Rose’s bruised face made Marcela sick and she had to swallow the sudden nausea.
“Open the door, bitch! Let me in. Goddamnit!”
Rose’s eyes widened in fear when what sounded like an angry kick followed Sheila’s voice.
“Open the fucking door! Now!”
Covering her face with her hands, Rose sobbed silently, yet didn’t move at all.
“Mother! I’m not joking!”
Marcela cursed silently and, pulling Rose to her, she hugged the woman tightly, rocking her.
“You bitch! Let me in or else…”
Rose’s eyes snapped open and she gasped at hearing Carla’s voice. In a flash, Marcela covered Rose’s mouth, so she didn’t say anything.
Outside the room, Sheila spun around and froze.
A deadly silence descended upon the place and Rose’s eyes widened completely. It took her a second to recognize the fear in her daughter’s voice when Sheila called for her once more.
…Sheila…let’s play hide and seek…
Sheila shuddered, feeling a chilling shiver running up her spine. It couldn’t be; she had to be going crazy. There was no way that Carla was the one calling for her, but it was her voice; she would be able to recognize it among millions.
“It can’t be…you’re dead…”
Sheila’s voice sounded small, as though she was a terrified little girl. Her eyes were fixed on the hallway that was washed in ghostly shadows. And when the next bolt of lightning bathed the hallway with a white blinding light, Sheila let out a scream that almost cut Marcela’s breath away.
Carla was laughing, dressed in the very same outfit she was wearing the day she died. Her hair was wet and so were her clothes.
At hearing Sheila screaming, Rose tried to release herself from Marcela’s embrace, but Vin’s agent just held the woman even tighter. She already suspected that Rose wouldn’t be able to stand hearing her daughter begging her to let her in, not without doing something and, definitely, not when both women could feel the panic rising in Sheila’s voice.
“No! You’re dead!!”
They heard Sheila yelling hysterically. Not even the thunder could muffle the girl’s screams. The doorframe rattled and the next bolt of lighnting caused both women to jump, startled.
…And I’m dead, you silly girl…you made sure of that…
The sound of childish giggles following Carla’s voice floated around the place sending shivers up Marcela’s spine. It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. Carla’s voice had been distorted, so it sounded vicious, yet it held the sweet, angelic background and hadn’t lost the tiniest bit of innocence. It was both terrifying and disturbing.
Even though Marcela had been the one entrusting this ‘special’ job to one of the best special effects professionals across LA, and knew how the man had made it possible to create the illusion of watching and hearing Carla, when there was nothing for real, it didn’t lesser the impact that it was causing on her.
“No! I did nothing!”
…Help me, Sheila…I can’t swim…
“Shut up!!” Sheila screamed, shaking when she saw Carla extending her arms. The sound of someone drowning echoed all over and Sheila covered her ears. It was of no use, since the sound was inside her head.
“Sheila… Don’t let me die…help me…” Carla begged; she was drowning and her wet clothes were quickly dragging her down.
“Sheila…this is not funny,” Suzanne looked frantically back and forth between Sheila, standing at the side of the pool, and Carla, fighting for her life.
“Oh, shut up,” Sheila scolded, rolling her eyes and moved forward. “Stop whining and move your arms, Carla,” she sneered as a cruel smile spread on her lips.
“I can’t…Suzanne…Please help me…”
“Sure you can, girl. Come on, do it,” Sheila taunted her, knowing Carla was getting tired really fast.
“That’s enough,” Suzanne turned around, getting ready to call for the adults when Sheila grabbed her by her hair and spun her around.
Suzanne yelped, shocked and scared and Sheila covered the girl’s mouth, stepping forward until both of them were face to face.
“If you don’t stop bitching, you’ll be next,” Sheila seethed menacingly causing Suzanne’s eyes to widen in fear.
All of a sudden, Carla’s voice didn’t sound anymore and Suzanne turned her face and gasped aloud. Carla was floating face down in the middle of the pool, and when she looked back at Sheila, horrified, Suzanne saw the girl grinning evilly. To her shock, Sheila stepped backwards, took a deep breath and started yelling for help, calling for the adults.
End Flash Back
Rose covered her ears, crying disconsolately. Hearing her daughter desperately crying and Carla’s voice begging Sheila to save her. Marcela closed her eyes and kept rocking the woman, knowing in her heart that they had done the right thing.
Santo Domingo. Dominican Republic.
“Well, what do you think?” Rafael Escudero entered the huge warehouse and moved to one side, allowing Irving and Delora to enter too.
Astonished, Irving looked around, his lips spreading in a huge smile. “I have no words…”
“This is amazing, Rafael…” Delora smiled as her eyes sparkled with joy. It was the perfect place to set a studio to shoot movies. She couldn’t wait for her son to have a look.
“I knew you’d like it,” Rafael grinned and gestured for the many boxes that were piled up at one side. “Once we get all this out of here, there will be plenty of room to shoot practically any movie. Now we’ll be able to make a reality of this project.”
Irving nodded in agreement. “I can’t wait for Mark to see this place; he’s going to love it.”
“That’s what I’m hoping,” Rafael laughed. “My brother Santiago has been using this warehouse for storage, but I’m sure we’ll find another place for him to place the stock of books.”
Delora and Irving looked at each other, grinning. It was a dream coming true.
Rafael’s cell phone rang and, excusing himself, he exited the warehouse, leaving Vin’s parents alone to have a look around.
“It’s fabulous, don’t you think?” Delora whispered, smiling widely.
“Irving!” She scolded him, rolling her eyes and Irving laughed wickedly. Then moved to the boxes and started rummaging. “Hey, what are you doing?” Delora frowned.
“Snooping around, what does it look like?” Irving teased her and proceeded to open one of the boxes.
“You’re impossible, you know that?” Delora shook her head.
“Yup, that’s me,” Irving chuckled and then grew serious in a heartbeat. “Lora, come here, you gotta see this.”
“What is it?” Curious, Delora peered over her husband’s shoulder. Her eyes almost jumped out of their sockets when she read the title of the book Irving had in his hand. “It can’t be…it’s”
“A copy of Luna’s book,” Irving finished his wife’s line. “And not just any copy, Lora, but one of the copies that were supposed to be sold out weeks ago.”
“Are you sure?” Delora picked up another one and opened it, reading inside that it indeed was the first edition. “Oh, God…” she sighed softly, shaking her head.
“What did you find?” Rafael entered the warehouse and headed towards them.
In one second, Irving turned around, Luna’s book in his hands. “Did you know that this book here was written by my daughter Luna and that she was told that it had been sold out?”
Rafael blinked in puzzlement. “I didn’t even know what these boxes contained. My brother Santiago doesn’t tell me about his business at the publishing house.”
Delora heaved a hard sigh. “Santiago told Luna that the first edition was sold out and that was the reason why they had ordered another 100,000 copies.”
Rafael shook his head. “I had no idea, but why would Santiago say that to Luna? I don’t understand. These boxes have been here for months.”
“Neither do we,” Delora answered, “but Luna deserves to know what’s going on.”
Rafael nodded in agreement. “Of course, but let me talk with Santiago first, I’m sure that it has to be one good reason for him to act in such a way.”
Irving narrowed his eyes but nodded, although he was planning to contact his son as soon as possible. Vin’s dad never liked secrets, not one damn bit.
Simons’ Farm. The Litchfield Hills. Salisbury. Connecticut.
By the time Vin was done talking with his dad on the phone he wanted to break something. To find that Santiago Escudero, a man that Luna had trusted without reservations, had tricked her pissed Vin off big time. However, his anger had given way to deep concern because he knew that Luna wouldn’t take the news well. Vin had even thought about keeping the secret so Luna didn’t get upset, but then thought better. Secrets had only brought unhappiness and misfortune to his life; he was more than done with them.
Upon finding out about Santiago’s ‘odd’ behavior, Luna had wanted to phone him, demanding answers, but wisely, Vin had suggested to show up at his office without warning, so that way the owner of the publishing house wouldn’t be able to come up with some ‘plausible’ reason to explain his acts.
Luna had agreed, if reluctantly; she wasn’t just mad, but deeply disappointed. Still, she was able to see where Vin was heading and understood that rushing things or revealing too much in advance wouldn’t help them to find what was going on for real. Not to mention that Luna still had a contract with the publishing house and Santiago had already paid her in advance for a book that she had yet to write.
“Do you want me to go with you?”
Luna looked up, meeting Vin’s concerned eyes. She wanted him there, offering his support but at the same time she wanted to fight this battle, alone. “I’d like that, but you let me do the talking, okay?”
Vin nodded, taking a seat on the bed and, getting comfortable at his wife’s side, he grinned. “Oh, man, I wouldn’t like to be in Santiago’s shoes, baby.”
Luna chuckled, leaning her head on his shoulder. “He better have a good reason to lie to me.”
Vin kissed her head and pulled Luna to him. He suspected that there wouldn’t be any good reason to justify Santiago’s behavior but kept his thoughts to himself. Right now he was far more concerned about Luna’s health.
“How many copies do you think I sold for real?” Luna whispered more to herself than to Vin.
In response, Vin’s eyebrows drew down, crumpling his forehead. He had read each chapter so many times that by now he was able to quote half the printed words. Luna’s book had become his bedside book and Vin loved it. Still, he had no idea how things worked with books, exactly. They guessed that it would be something like with records, but how many copies would be a lot of copies?
“I’m not sure, but what I do know is that you should be proud of yourself, Luna, no matter how many people got your book for real.” Vin tipped her chin up, so he could see her eyes. “And if we find that you didn’t sell a hell of a lot copies…that doesn’t mean that you’re not a talented writer, you know that, don’t you?”
Luna nodded; she thought the same but it hurt to find how she had been tricked. “I’m thinking that maybe this is how publishing houses work. I mean, they make everybody believe that a book sold such and such amount of copies and that way people would feel curious and would want to get the book. Don’t you think?”
Vin thought for a minute about that. “It’d make sense, but it still doesn’t explain why Santiago didn’t tell you. I mean, if it’s common procedure, he didn’t have any reason to keep the truth from you.”
Luna heaved a hard sigh and snuggled closer to her husband. “I’m glad you’re here with me…I’ve missed the hell out of you.”
Vin cursed himself inwardly, remembering Val’s words. “I’m sorry I hurt you, baby. I’ll do my best to make it up to you.”
“I know,” Luna smiled, closing her eyes.
“Not tonight though,” Vin groaned and Luna giggled.
“Those kids have worn you out, eh, city boy?”
Vin laughed at that. “Yeah, the little buggers don’t get tired. Don’t know what their moms fed them.”
Luna smiled warmly. “I saw you with them, you looked damn cute.”
Vin groaned and then smiled goofily. “My back hurts like a bitch, but I had a blast playing with them.” He looked down at Luna and found her looking up at him.
Her eyes were sparkling with a weird mix of sadness and happiness. His chest tightened and Vin thought about how relaxed Luna had been looking since they had arrived at Violet’s farm, even though there were like half a dozen of things going on at once. It occurred to him that probably her apparent calm was because Luna felt at home surrounded by grasslands, trees and mountains. And it struck him that she had to be missing the countryside and the peace that came with it.
“I was thinking…how about we find something for us in the area?”
“What?” Luna blinked, a bit disconcerted by the sudden change in topic.
Nervously, Vin bit his lower lip. “You don’t have to give up the condo, if you don’t want to, but I was thinking that it would be cool to have a place where we could relax with a lot of room for our kids to run and stuff,” he said slowly gauging Luna’s reaction at his words and waited.
Luna felt the familiar sting of tears and blinked them back. “You would move in here?”
Vin let out the air he had been holding and nodded. “Yeah. Why not?” He shrugged one shoulder. “I can’t see me farming and shit, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the country lifestyle,” he grinned, “and our family would be a stone’s throw away. Maybe Violet could help us to find the perfect place.”
Slowly, Luna sat up, looking at her husband. “You really mean that?”
Vin nodded. “Yeah. What do you think? Would you like that?”
“I-I don’t know what to say,” Luna admitted.
Reaching out, Vin cupped her face, stroking her cheek with his thumb. “Well, you don’t have to say anything, not right now anyway. You can think about it. Picture yourself walking around in bare feet, taking care of your own vegetable garden without having to worry about paparazzi taking pictures of you at every chance.”
Luna grinned. “That sounds like a dream coming true.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“It would be a huge change in our lives, Vin,” Luna added, frowning.
“Changes are good. Things don’t have to stay the same way forever, you know?” He leaned forward, kissing her lips softly. “And I really could get used to this quiet, as long as you don’t expect for me to walk around chewing tobacco,” Vin winked and Luna laughed, picturing Vin doing just that.
“That’s one hell of a vision,” she teased him.
Vin grinned. “Knew you’d like that part.”
Luna smiled. “This morning I was worried about you not being the same once all this shit is over and now, I’m thinking that I really like this new Vin.”
“And that’s a good thing, right?” Vin asked a bit anxiously.
“Oh, yeah, it’s a very good thing,” Luna straddled his hips, encircling Vin’s neck. “How is your back, city boy?”
Vin let out a soft growl and Luna shuddered in anticipation and excitement. “It still hurts, a little bit…but you could ride me, farm girl,” he purred seductively.
“I think we’ve never played this fantasy before,” Luna rocked her hips slowly and Vin groaned. “Gotta get me a cowboy hat though.”
Luna giggled and reached down to remove her top when her cell phone rang, signaling that a message had arrived. “¡Coño!”
“Ignore it,” Vin buried his face in Luna’s neck, kissing her.
“I can’t,” she whined. “What if it’s Marcela?”
Vin grunted. “Fuck Marcela,” he nipped her earlobe and Luna shuddered, but reached out to pick up the phone. Checking the message she saw that Marcela was the sender.
“It’s her,” Luna flipped her cell phone open and, silently, read the text. Then looked up at Vin. “It’s over,” she sighed softly, closing her eyes.
“You okay?” Vin frowned, staring at Luna’s face as, instinctively, he took her wrist, checking her pulse. Her heart was beating steadily, still… “Luna, you okay, baby?”
Slowly, Luna opened her eyes, meeting Vin’s concerned ones. “Yeah, it’s just that I’m thinking about that poor woman, Rose…and what she had to do…”
Vin pulled Luna to him, holding her tightly. “She did the right thing, Luna.”
“I know…but it hurts me the pain I caused her to get my revenge.”
“It wasn’t revenge, Luna, but justice,” Vin tilted his head back so he could see Luna’s eyes. “Sheila is a monster and a murderer. She killed Carla in cold blood. Now she got what she deserved. That little girl’s soul can finally rest in peace, Luna.”
Luna closed her eyes. “I know that, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.”
Vin heaved a hard sigh; Luna might act like a cold bitch, if she had to, but she sure as hell didn’t like it one damn bit.
“Listen, what you say if I get you a bath ready. How does that sound?”
Luna opened her eyes; they were sparkling with unshed tears. “That would be wonderful.”
“Great,” Vin kissed her softly. “Stay here and I’ll come get you when it’s ready, okay?”
Luna nodded, sniffling. “Okay,” she smiled sadly and Vin got out of bed, heading towards the bathroom.
In seconds he got busy, opening the faucets and lighting aromatic candles. Vin had done some thinking about the best way to compensate Luna for his selfish behavior and recalled their conversation the day Val and Renee got married. Luna hadn’t mentioned again, but Vin still felt like a piece of shit for not allowing his wife to have that special day that all women deserved.
Once the shooting of ‘Babylon AD’ was over, he didn’t have any plans and it would be a perfect occasion for them to marry the right way. Vin still thought that the best place would be that little chapel in San Jose, the one Luna loved so much.
Vin grinned and, with that thought in mind, he made his way back to their bedroom within the guest house that Violet had lodged them in.
“Luna, I’ve been thinking…that-” Vin went stock still for a second and then rushed to the bed. “Oh, my god…Luna!”