Access to the e-book edition is included with the paperback purchase.
ART and BEAUTY
Dak stares, putting on his fascinated face.
“Well,” she goes on, smiling, “I just worship beauty. At Sarah Lawrence, I actually used to say things like that. No more. Now, well, I find that if I really hate something, at a visceral level, it’s probably important art.” Dak can see the tension vanish from her face. “Perhaps late in life I’ll start a very different gallery. Only beautiful work I deeply love. How quaint. Of course, it’d be lonely there.” She laughs, a first. “I mean, the critics wouldn’t come. Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Dak. You made it plain that art is not a major priority.”
“I work for you,” Dak laughs, “I get interested in everything about you.”
“I work for you,” Dak says, “there are some requirements.”
“Money’s got to be there. And you have to tell the truth.”
“When do you make up your mind?”
“Ah, Mr. Dak. That’s the tough part.”
Dak goes to work on the beer, so he can’t say, “Swell.”
“Jesus,” he sighs. “That was so close.” He’s staring outside now, watching the men walk toward the ship. “Whoa, baby. That’s something.”
Katie looks at the men then back at Dak. “You could put that thing away.”
Dak realizes the gun’s still pointed at her. “Sorry.”
“What exactly did you have in mind?” Katie’s voice a little cross. “Shoot through me?”
“Don’t be silly.”
“It was aimed at me.”
“I’ve seen those two before, Kate. My guess is they’re dangerous. If they’d moved suddenly, I intended to shoot them both.”
She stares at him.
“There’s no other way I could be sure of protecting you.”
Katie begins to shiver. “Oh, God, Jon, I don’t think…” She shuts up, drops her arms and leans against the glass.
“You want to call back?”
“Is this serious?”
“You’re scaring the hell out of me again… Go ahead.”
“He’s silent partner in some modeling and escort services. For the fringe benefits. Write down the names. FACES, Gala, Perfect. He calls himself Turner when he’s on the town. Likes S and M. Sometimes goes too far. Lisa. Maybe others. He’s extremely powerful.”
“You don’t say.”
“I’m in the middle of it. Pretty bad. He’s got a cop working for him, name of Gene Ramsey. You’re my witness. Do some gossip, no names, that will rattle the sonofabitch. Tomorrow’s paper.”
“On your say-so?”
“It’s solid, Douglas. You’ll get a Pulitzer.”
“I’ll get a three inch obit.”
“I need all the help I can get. Only hope here is the press and the clean cops. You’re not telling me this fuck controls your paper? What’s the problem?”
“He’s worth sixty million. He has a table at the Four Seasons. He’s very popular. Start there.”
“Yeah, well, he’s got a secret life, and it’s shit. Listen to me, Douglas. Feminists hear you covered for this guy, they’ll spit on you in the street.”
Mr. Burnes stares at Dak. “I remember when New York was really something.”
“I’ve heard,” Dak says. “Okay, let’s get serious. If there is any kind of cover-up, in the police or at some other level, that means we’re dealing with powerful people. Dangerous people. So what you two do, when we’re finished here, is you forget you ever saw me. Only safe way.” He slowly looks them over. “For all of us.” He lets that settle. “So who’s the big mouth in the group?”
“You can depend on me.” Mr. Burnes drops a big hand on his wife’s thin arm. “Honey?”
“Somebody killed my baby? Are you kidding?” Her face is so hard. “I’d crawl to New York on my knees if it helps catch them. You can draw up the contract with my blood.”
Even her husband is taken aback.