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Authors: LS Sygnet

Tags: #murder, #mystery, #deception, #human trafficking, #corrupt cops

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BOOK: Always Watching
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I understood why without a single word
spoken.  “You’re right Zack.  I’d suggest getting a 
pair of officers guarding Celeste Datello as soon as possible.”


You believe this bullshit
is for real?” Devlin couldn’t hide his shock.


I believe that Danny
Datello would kill his pregnant wife if it created reasonable doubt
in this trial,” I said.  “Remember, family doesn’t mean the
same thing to these guys as it does to normal people.  If
Celeste dies, he’s got a shitload of built-in sympathy.  The
cops didn’t protect her.  We didn’t believe them when they
pled to the court to intervene and protect his family.  You
get the picture.”


Shit,” Devlin said. 
“I guess I do.”

My cell phone rang.


You’re not supposed to
have those on in here,” Zack grinned.

I smirked and answered the phone. 
“Hello?”


Hi.”


Well that was fast. 
Miss me already?”  I turned away from two men trying hard not
to eavesdrop. 


Are you at the
courthouse?”


Yes.  Datello’s
lawyer got another continuance – a week reprieve, or so it would
appear.  He convinced Judge Gates that Datello’s wife is
receiving death threats.  Then she went into labor or
something,” I said.  “Don’t you wish you were here for the
fun?”


Doc, I’m not so sure
there isn’t some kind of credible threat here.”


Seriously?”


Chris Darnell called me
about two minutes ago.  Stefano had the evidence messengered
to OSI while they were still in court.”

I squeezed through the crowd and found a
quiet corridor, the one used to usher defendants into and out of
court.  “Talk to me.”


I guess I have a huge
favor to ask.  You know I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think
it was a last resort.  The last thing I want is for you to
feel like we’re trying to drag you back into the fray, but honey
–”


I know this family and
how they operate better than anyone.  Tell me what you
need.”


Could you go with Devlin
over to the office and take a look at the evidence?  If Sully
is reaching out right now, we need to know it.  I would
imagine that your former brethren back east would want to know that
information as well.”


Of course I’ll do it,
Johnny.  I think Zack is taking the threat seriously
too.  We talked about a protective detail for Celeste while
the police get to the bottom of this mess.”


Well, Datello’s lawyer
doesn’t want the locals looking into it,” he said.  “He wants
the state police on the job.  I’m pretty sure that’s an
indictment against Darkwater Bay PD, but considering that I run
that particular branch, and Devlin is one of my detectives now, I’m
not so sure that’s the driving force behind Stefano’s decision to
keep Darkwater Bay out of the loop.”


I’ll go find Devlin and
we’ll head over to your office right away.”


I’m not gonna ask you to
sign some sort of employment arrangement, Helen.  I know
that’s not what you want.  But …”


If you need me helping,
I’ll do more than review whatever these threats are, Johnny. 
I’ll be your eyes and ears until you can come home.”


You understand
then.”


That Joe Collangelo
better have a damn good reason to drag you away from such an
important case right now?  Yeah, I understand.  Don’t
worry.  I’ll tell you what we’re doing every step of the
way.”


Any gut instincts after
hearing what Stefano had to say in court this morning?”


Not really, Johnny. 
It’s always hard to gauge what’s real with men like Datello and
what’s a ploy to gain sympathy.  We were just talking about
how it wouldn’t be unlike him to be the threat to his wife, a
threat he would full well act on if he thought it might help him in
some way.”


I’m not so sure about
that.  You weren’t around when he fell for his wife. 
She’s very young, you know.  And Datello… well, let’s just say
that the way he behaves where Celeste is concerned is pretty
antithetical to what we’ve come to expect from him over the
years.  Also, this pregnancy, don’t underestimate the impact
it had on his motivation to cover up the original crime in the
first place.”


Hmm,” I wasn’t
convinced.  Men like Johnny Orion might be tempted to read
something chivalrous into the behavior of men claiming love. 
I knew better.  I was once the new bride that one of them
pretended to adore.  In the end, it was a steaming heap of
bullshit.


Keep an open mind,
please.”


I’ll try,” I said. 
“But I won’t be so open that my brain falls out.  I don’t
trust Datello, and I will never forget that these men will throw
wives under the bus in a heartbeat if it means saving their own
asses.”


Call me later,” Johnny
said.  “I don’t want to pester you while you’re reviewing
information.”


Since when?” I
chuckled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

I rubbed my eyes and listened carefully to
the audio recording submitted by Carlos Stefano for the dozenth
time.  “I can’t hear it.”


Right there,” Dev
said.  “Hear it?”

Crevan tapped the eraser head of his pencil
on the table in the conference room.  “I’m with Helen on this
one, Devlin.  I don’t hear a thing.”


Then let’s take it down
to tech and have them pull the background noise up so you two deaf
–”


I’m deaf?” Crevan
chuckled.  “You’re the dude that listens to heavy metal. 
For all we know, your ears are ringing.”


I’m telling you. 
You can hear the sound of a ship’s horn blowing in the distance in
the background.”


And I’m telling you, even
if the sound is there, it’s virtually meaningless, Devlin. 
Celeste Datello lives on Hennessey Island, in the penthouse suite
of her husband’s hotel, spa and casino resort.  One of his
employees could’ve made the call from the hotel lobby for all we
know.  On top of that, how is this invitation to register for
baby gifts deemed a death threat?”

Crevan chuckled, “Because Celeste Datello
would probably rather die than register at some local mom and pop
store for anything her child would use.”


And I’m the one who can’t
hear?” Devlin scoffed.  “Jesus Christ, Crevan.  Could it
be anymore blatant?  Listen to what this woman is
saying.”  He rewound the tape and pressed play.


Mrs. Datello, this is
Estelle from Sullivan’s Boutique in Darkwater.  We’re calling
to confirm that you’ve registered for your daughter’s baby
shower.  We have a number of items already gifted to your
daughter.  Please call at your earliest convenience so we can
make sure we’ve got the correct address for delivery.”


And I don’t hear a damned
thing in that message that sounds remotely threatening,” Crevan
said.


Hold on,” I stared hard
at Devlin.  “How much have you been studying the case file
against Datello, Devlin?”


Enough to know that there
are three distinct things that jump out of this
message.”


Go on,” I
said.


Estelle
was Datello’s mother’s name.  Her brother
is
Sullivan
Marcos.  And she doesn’t leave a phone number for
Celeste to call back.  She just wants to confirm that they’ve
got the right address.”


Hmm,” I frowned. 
“Good points.  Has anybody bothered to call this boutique and
find out if one of their employees is named Estelle?”


We’ve been going over
this tape for an hour, Helen.  Have you seen either one of us
make any phone calls?”


Don’t be a smart ass,
Devlin,” I said. 

He slid the phone on the table toward
me.  “Be my guest, wise one.”

I dialed directory information. 
“Darkwater Bay.  Sullivan’s Boutique.” 

The near robotic voice responded.  Her
words drifted through the speaker on the phone and left silence in
her wake.  “I’m sorry ma’am.  There is no such listing
for Darkwater Bay.”


Thank you,” I
said.


Are you sure that’s the
name of the store?”


Positive.”  I
disconnected.  “Well it certainly would’ve saved a load of
time and debate if we’d checked to see if there was even such a
store in Darkwater Bay an hour ago.”


Then you see this as a
credible threat now?” Devlin asked.


I don’t hear this alleged
death threat,” I said.  “Then again, Sully wouldn’t want to be
obvious.  Asking her to call to confirm an address and not
leaving a number to call, yeah,” I mused.  “I can see now why
she might’ve felt threatened by that.  Sort of a subtle
message that they already knew where she was.”


See?” Devlin shot a
defiant glare at Crevan.


Why are you so up in arms
over this?  His wife had to know what a scumbag she married,”
Crevan said.

Devlin glanced at me, at my burning
cheeks.


Did she really,
Crevan?  You’ve never met anyone married to a criminal that
was completely in the dark about who he really was and what he was
doing on the side of his legitimate business?”


Ah hell,” Crevan
muttered.  ”I’m sorry, Helen.  That came out completely
wrong.”


No,” I said.  “It
came out exactly the way people think.  Devlin’s right, and
don’t mistake my silence for feeling lumped into the same category
as Celeste Datello.  I feel guilty because I was thinking the
exact same thing from the moment Datello’s lawyer alleged these
threats in court this morning.  Shame on me for assuming that
she knew she married a corrupt man.  Believe me, I should’ve
known better than anybody else how adept they are at hiding the
truth when it suits their purposes.”


Hey, don’t beat yourself
up too hard,” Crevan said.  “It’s not too late for her. 
She’s in protective custody.  It’s merely a formality now,
getting this information before the judge that the threat appears
to be credible.  We can get a team on it right away. 
We’ll get to the bottom of this and find out who it is exactly
that’s reaching out to Datello and intimidating him.”

My stomach felt like it was about to turn
inside out.  “Well, if it’s all right with you two, I think
I’m gonna head home.  I’ve been feeling a little under the
weather this week.”


Helen, I promised Johnny
that I’d make sure you were looking after yourself,” Devlin
said.  “We haven’t even had lunch yet.”


And I’m still reeling
over the fact that my hands were covered in someone else’s blood
this morning.  If I promise to eat after I have a little nap,
will that suffice?”


Do you
promise?”

I made an X over my heart.  “Maybe it’s
the end of the flu.  Maybe it’s the notion that the Marcos
family is still lurking around watching everything that happens in
Darkwater Bay.  I just feel sick.”


You can’t possibly think
he cares what you’re doing, Helen,” Crevan said.  “You
basically did Marcos a favor when Datello was arrested.  He
learned who the leak in his organization was after all these
years.”


Yeah, but I’m pretty sure
that my hands are far from clean in Marcos’ eyes.  There is
the matter of the embezzled money that he blames my ex-husband for
taking that they never recovered.  God only knows where he
thinks it’s hidden.  Maybe even in my bank
account.”

Devlin began to fidget.  “Does Johnny
remember all of this stuff, Helen?”

I nodded.  Johnny’s memory was fully
intact as far as I could tell.  It took a few more weeks of
spontaneous recollections, but he knew the worst that I shared
before Datello’s hit man Mitch Southerby tortured him with a
homemade variety of electroconvulsive therapy.  “He agrees
with the FBI.  That money is in the wind, and Marcos knows
it.  This is the problem when your best money launderer
decides to get greedy.”


And they’re sure he
doesn’t think Rick funneled the money to you?”

I knew where Devlin’s thoughts were
going.  I was a 38 year old woman, retired without the need of
a pension.  “Dev, my father was wealthy, which I suppose is
why nobody believed he should’ve been robbing armored cars. 
He didn’t need the money.  People don’t understand that
sometimes it’s the thrill that people seek.”

His hand covered mine.  “I’m sorry,
Helen.  I didn’t mean to be insensitive.”

I forced a bright smile.  “You’re not
the first person to ask the question.  However, the FBI knew
about Dad and my inheritance when they hired me.  Don’t worry
about it, Devlin.  I’d have the same questions if our
positions were reversed.”  I slid back from the chair and
slipped my purse strap over one shoulder.


Can I check on you
later?” Dev asked.


You’ve got the remote to
the gate and garage,” I grinned.  “I doubt I could stop you
even if I said it’s not necessary.  We do want to keep the
chief happy, after all.”

BOOK: Always Watching
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ads

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