Sempre redemption, p.41
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       Sempre: Redemption, p.41

         Part #2 of Forever series by J. M. Darhower
Page 41


  “She won’t,” he replied, putting his gun away before motioning for the other two men to dispose of Remy’s body. They quickly wrapped it up in a blanket and carried the bundle up the stairs. Corrado supervised it, turning back to Carmine once the body was gone. “Clean up this mess. ”

  Carmine ran his hand through his hair in a panic. “Me?”

  “Yes, and make it fast,” Corrado said, starting up the stairs. “You know, in case I’m wrong and she opens her mouth. ”


  The long mahogany table filled the conference room, leaving hardly enough space for people to push out their chairs. It was cramped, the atmosphere stifling as Corrado breathed the same stale air as half a dozen other men.

  He sat at the far end of the table with Mr. Borza to his right, the lone court reporter seated beside the lawyer. The federal prosecutor by the name of Markson sat on the left side with his two assistants, while a U. S. Marshal slumped half-asleep in a chair by the exit. Corrado wasn’t surprised they had enlisted security, given the nature of the case, but he was a bit offended they thought one pesky man would be enough to keep everyone safe.

  The clock on the wall read 8:23 in the morning, nearly half an hour past the time the proceedings were scheduled to start. Tension choked the silent room as everyone stared at the closed door, waiting for it to open, for something to finally happen. No one seemed to know what to say, neither side wanting to be the first to verbalize what was becoming evident:

  Vincent DeMarco was a no-show for his deposition.

  The clock steadily ticked away, another ten minutes passing before Mr. Borza cleared his throat. “I think we can all agree this isn’t happening today. ”

  “Just give it a little longer,” the prosecutor said. “He’ll be here. ”

  “We’ve already given him thirty minutes,” Mr. Borza argued. “He’s clearly decided not to testify, after all. ”

  The prosecutor scoffed. “If he doesn’t show, it’s because something’s keeping him from being here. ”

  “Like what?” Mr. Borza asked. “Traffic? A flat tire? Those are hardly good excuses. ”

  “No, I mean something like your client. ”

  “Oh, give me a break,” Mr. Borza said, waving him off. “Mr. Moretti has been here with us all morning. You know that. He was here before even you. ”

  “Maybe so, but what about last night or the day before? What about last week?” The prosecutor turned his attention to Corrado, his eyes ablaze with anger and suspicion. “When was the last time you saw Vincent DeMarco?”

  Corrado didn’t have a chance to consider responding. Mr. Borza shoved his chair back, slamming it against the wall as he stood. “You know very well my client is under no obligation to be here for this nonsense, much less entertain your absurd, paranoia-fueled questions! Contact me if your witness surfaces and we’ll reschedule this sideshow. Otherwise, we’re done. ”

  The lawyer stormed out of the room, all spitfire and rage, while Corrado stood, as calm as could be. “Gentlemen. ”

  “This has your name written all over it, Moretti,” the prosecutor muttered, slamming a notebook closed as he gathered his things. “You won’t get away with this. Mark my words. I’ll have you off the streets by the end of the day. ”

  * * *

  Corrado wasn’t home for more than two hours before his phone started incessantly ringing. He ignored it, not in the mood to humor anyone with conversation, but realized they weren’t going to give up after the third consecutive call.

  He answered with a sigh, hitting the speakerphone button. “Moretti speaking. ”

  “We have a problem. ”

  Corrado closed his eyes at the sound of his lawyer’s voice. He was tired of hearing Mr. Borza say those words. “What now?”

  “The prosecution filed for an emergency hearing on a motion to revoke bond based on evidence that you’re a flight risk and a danger to society. ”

  Leaning back in his office chair, Corrado ran his hands down his face with frustration. “What evidence?”

  “Well, they’re citing the fact that Vincent’s missing. They’ve issued a warrant for failing to appear, but so far there’s no sign of him here or at his home. ”

  There wouldn’t be, Corrado thought. They weren’t going to find Vincent.

  “It seems he found a way to remove his monitoring device,” Mr. Borza continued. “They tracked it to a location here in Chicago, but it turned out to be a Dumpster. They searched it, just in case, but there’s no sign of a, uh . . . you know. ”

  “A body,” Corrado said, finishing the man’s thought.

  “Yes. ”

  Nervousness seeped through the phone, clinging desperately to every word. It made Corrado tense. Even his lawyer doubted things.

  “That’s hardly what I’d call evidence of wrongdoing on my part,” Corrado said. “They’re just looking for an excuse. Punishing me for my brother-in-law’s sins. ”

  “While that may be true, it doesn’t mean it won’t work,” Mr. Borza said. “You’re on trial for a statute they invented to be able to nail you for crimes you’re only somewhat linked to. The government isn’t above stretching things to suit them. ”

  “So you’re saying they’ll be successful. ”

  Mr. Borza hesitated. Corrado knew the answer before the man even said, “More than likely, yes. ”

  While he wasn’t surprised, given Mr. Markson’s words from that morning, Corrado’s stomach churned from the turn in events. “How long does that give me?”

  “The hearing is scheduled for tomorrow morning. They wanted to do it tonight, but I stalled a bit. It’s better if you aren’t present, I think, or they may detain you on site. Otherwise, they’ll give you about forty-eight hours to surrender. ”

  “So the weekend,” Corrado said.

  “Something like that. ”

  Corrado was silent for a moment, mulling over the situation. Forty-eight hours wasn’t enough time for him to do everything he needed to do. If they detained him, he could be gone months, or even years. Too much relied on his ability to remain out on the streets.

  “Just do what you can,” Corrado said finally. “I trust your abilities. ”

  “I’ll give it my all, but I can’t work miracles. ”

  Corrado let out a sharp laugh. “Are you insinuating only God can help me now?”

  “Not at all. I’m just saying we may have to give them this battle and keep our eyes focused on winning the war. ”

  Corrado pressed the button again, ending the call without giving a response. He sat there for a moment, rubbing the tips of his fingers together deep in thought, before standing up and grabbing his cell phone. He slipped it in his pocket and headed out of his office, passing his wife on the way to the front door.

  “You’re leaving?” she asked.

  He kissed her cheek. “I have things to take care of. Don’t wait up for me. ”

  * * *

  I think some people are born with tragedy in their blood. Mixed with the cells, the plasma, and the platelets are deeply hidden secrets they just can’t escape. It’s a part of them, passed down between generations, but it doesn’t define them. It doesn’t mean they’re doomed. Like a smart man once told me, the nastiest fertilizer makes the most beautiful flowers grow.

  Haven ran her fingers along the yellowing paper, tracing the handwritten words as she read the paragraph for the second time. She sat in the middle of her couch, legs crossed, with the leather-bound journal on her lap. Kelsey lounged in a chair across the room, her legs kicked over the side, as she flipped through channels, seemingly uninterested in anything on television.

  After a moment, the familiar voice of Alex Trebek resounded through the room. “The author of the twentieth-century work The Secret Garden. ”

  “Frances Hodgson Burnett,” Haven muttered, looking up from the journal at Jeopardy on the screen.

  Kelsey glanced at her when she answered, shaking her head
as she changed the channel. “You’re such a nerd. ”

  Haven shrugged. If she meant that as an insult, she didn’t take it as one.

  Kelsey flipped through a few more before giving up, turning off the television and tossing the remote down. She grabbed a blue registration folder from the coffee table, eyeing Haven peculiarly as she sat back in the chair. “What are you reading, anyway?”

  “Nothing. ” Haven closed Maura’s journal. “It’s just a book. ”

  Kelsey stared at her for a moment, her eyebrow arched. “I gathered that much, Sherlock. ”

  Haven stood and returned the journal to the bookshelf before grabbing the second registration folder from the table. “Don’t worry about it. ”

  Rolling her eyes, Kelsey opened her folder and started sorting through the papers. Haven followed her lead, taking out her schedule for the spring semester. School started back up in the morning, giving Haven another fresh start. She hadn’t done too horribly in the fall, failing none of her classes, but some she had just passed by the skin of her teeth.

  “So I’ll drop Drawing II and pick up Writing and Literature with you,” Kelsey said, reading over her schedule.

  Haven glanced through hers. “I have that at eight in the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays. ”

  Kelsey grimaced. “Ugh, forget about it. How about Survey of World Art?”

  “Nine-thirty, same days. ”

  “Still too early. ”


  “Gross. ”

  Haven laughed. “Well, all I have left is Painting II. ”

  “When’s that?”

  “Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon. ”

  A smile curved Kelsey’s lips. “Bingo!”

  Kelsey scribbled it down on a piece of paper as Haven put her schedule away, placing the registration folder back on the table. She settled back into the couch, crossing her legs once more, when a loud ringing ricocheted through the apartment.

  “Phone’s ringing,” Kelsey said, picking a pillow up off the chair and tossing it at Haven. She caught it, tensing as her blood ran cold. Her eyes darted over to the bookcase where the small black cell phone lay, glowing and vibrating as it rang.

  Besides Kelsey, there was only one person who had that number.

  “Aren’t you going to answer it?” Kelsey asked.

  “Uh, yeah. ” Haven walked over to the phone, glancing at the caller ID even though it was senseless. Corrado’s name shone brightly on the screen. Her hand shook as she picked it up, but before she could answer it, the ringing stopped.

  Thirty seconds, then forty-five, then a minute passed until her phone chimed again, this time with a text message. Haven opened it, reading the simple message:

  Call me.

  * * *

  The club on Ninth Street was packed, the sound of an old Frank Sinatra song booming from the massive speakers situated in the corners. Cigar smoke permeated the air, making Carmine’s eyes water the moment he stepped inside.

  Corrado had called him and told him to come down right away. He wouldn’t elaborate as to why on the phone and that put Carmine on edge. Was it his father? Haven? Had something happened to her?

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