Authors: Christopher Smith
But the men working for Fondaras wouldn’t think twice about
it and that’s why, for the most part, she felt it could work.
She turned to the mirror and twisted her hair so it fell over
her right shoulder.
She removed the
diamonds from Florence Holts neck and ears, rinsed the blood off them in the
sink and dried them with a towel.
She put them on and then reached for Holt’s purse, where she found a
tube of lipstick.
Two quick swipes
across her lips and now they were the color of Holt’s bleeding face.
There were two things left to do.
She dipped into her purse and removed a pair of
She used them to pluck
out a note she and Spocatti wrote earlier.
It was a list of ten people who were on the ship tonight.
The idea was Carmen’s.
There was an obvious link between Holt
and Stout—they had each sat on the board of Louis Ryan’s Manhattan
So Carmen came up
with a list of people who had no link to Holt or Stout, or especially to Louis
She dropped the note next to
The police would find
it, and if they bought it, they’d be thrown off by it.
Next, she removed a small camera from her purse, which had
been allowed on the ship because if anyone loves to be photographed, it’s
society at social events.
looked down at Holt, who was lying on her side naked save for her bra and
With her foot, Carmen pushed her over so her hamburger face
She took several
photos for Coleman, dropped the camera back into her purse and then opened the
door and peered into the hall.
one was there, but she could hear the elevator working.
She took a final look at herself in the
mirror, decided it would have to do and then, after turning off the lights, she
locked the door and closed it behind her.
She looked up and around.
Where were the cameras?
She couldn’t see them, but she knew they
were here somewhere.
And so she
walked as naturally as she could to the bank of elevators, listening as one of
It was the center elevator.
Carmen pressed the button for the elevator to the far right
and heard it lurch into motion.
stomach tensed as the center elevator drew closer.
She reached into her purse and removed
her gun, concealing it between her thigh and her purse.
part of her focused on the possibilities and how she would respond to
The center elevator started
It was stopping here.
How many would be inside?
She looked around for a place to hide,
but there was no time to do so.
The elevator stopped and the doors slid open.
Carmen pressed her back against the far
right elevator, which was nearing her, and held her breath while waiting for
whoever was inside to emerge.
When they did, it was two drunk men who tripped out and moved
into the room.
Carmen remained absolutely still.
One of the men pulled the other over to a group of chairs in
the middle of the room.
him into one and got on his knees while the other man fumbled with his belt and
“We’re going to get
caught,” said the man in the chair.
The other man stifled his own laughter and tugged at the
“Addy, would you shut
Please just shut up.
Take out that cock Phippie Sturgison
told me about and give it to me.”
“You want my cock, slut?”
a fucking baron.
I don’t talk
dirty, so don’t expect it.
reminds me of The Townhouse in the mid-nineties and the memory of those days
All those daddies
Give it to me.
I want to see if it’s true.”
“Then reach in and haul it out for yourself, baroness,” the
man named Addy said.
truth and see if you can handle it.”
You can’t handle the truth!”
Let me suck it.
When you’re close, I want you to shoot
into my mouth.
Don’t fuck it up because you’re
I want to swallow it.”
Carmen was so engrossed by what she was seeing that she was
surprised when the elevator doors she was pressed against opened.
She stumbled back into the compartment and came face-to-face
with a member of security.
looked up at him as he scrutinized her face.
Quickly, she reached out her hand and stopped the doors from
“I came down here looking
for a free restroom and found them!” she said, pointing at the two men, who
were aghast and now attempting to stand.
“What they’re doing is disgusting!
Why would Anastassios allow anything like this to happen on his ship?
At his party?
Why isn’t anyone policing the area for
this sort of behavior?
I don’t want
to be part of this event.
giving anything to his cause.
want out of here.
She pressed the button and the doors started to close.
She pretended to catch her breath.
She touched her chest with her hand as
if to steady herself, and then she looked him squarely in the eye.
“I want to be escorted off this ship,”
“I feel vile.
I can’t believe I came upon that.
I’m requesting that you take me through
that crowd and safely onto the pier or I will report you to Fondaras, who is a
You can look for
those two later.
One of them is
named Addy, which I assume will help.
The other one presumably is a baron.
Check your guest list and hold them
The man nodded and apologized.
Carmen, swept up in the drama of her own faux tantrum, pressed her gun even
more firmly against her thigh in an effort to make certain it was concealed.
Spocatti had no weapon, so he needed to find a suitable
The logical place was the ship’s dining room, where the
guests soon would be seated for dinner.
He slipped inside as if to admire the space and found glowing
candles on dozens of round tables covered with white linen, beautiful china and
silver, and flowers sitting low in vases.
Larger flower arrangements towered in strategic places to
offer an element of surprise when the guests filed in.
Across the room, a white Steinway grand
Spocatti stepped farther
inside, reached for a steak knife on one of the tables when none of the staff
was looking and dropped it into his pants pocket.
Now for the more challenging part—getting Stout alone
before Florence Holt’s body was found and this place turned into a horror show.
He wandered around the ship with his bald head slightly
lowered and his eyes hidden behind his lightly tinted sunglasses.
He went to the bar and asked for a fresh
glass of sparkling water so he could seamlessly blend in with the crowd.
Then, across from him, he saw Epifania
Zapopa, the young new wife Stout married after being caught having sex with her
on his first wife’s priceless Aubusson rug.
As beautiful and as chic as she was, she nevertheless looked
out of place in this crowd because she was, in fact, out of place.
While society couldn’t fully shun
Charles Stout because of his name, family and money, they absolutely could shun
Epifania, who had no education and who had been little more than a common maid,
in their eyes, when the truth about their affair, first conceived doggy-style
after she served him two heaping scoops of vanilla ice cream, was revealed.
At the bar, she appeared at once stunning, lonely and
He could only imagine
that after they shared their one dance in which Epifania somehow shimmied to
“Fly Me to the Moon,” Stout had left her here so he could mingle alone without
the awkwardness Epifania brought with her due to her sorry pedigree.
Spocatti watched her take her phone out
of her purse and check it for messages.
She did it so quickly, it was obvious there weren’t any.
He walked over to her.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“Aren’t you Epifania Zapopa?”
She turned to look at him and, up close, he saw that she was
more beautiful than he had realized.
Her long, wavy brown hair framed an oval face that only had a trace of
makeup because anything more wasn’t necessary.
She looked to be somewhere in her late
twenties, but that could just be a trick of nature or the ship’s soft
She wore a black cocktail
dress that accentuated her curvaceous figure, tall shoes that showed off her legs
and a diamond choker around her neck that boasted an unusually large sapphire
at its center.
“I’m Epifania,” she
Spocatti held out his hand.
She shook it.
“Have we met?”
rarely in the States and I’m just about to leave again in a matter of
But before I do, I was
wondering if your husband was around?”
“I wonder same thing.”
you need my husband?”
“I understand he’s now a consultant.
I hear he’s the best and I’d like to
speak to him about potentially using his services on a business venture I’m
“How you know who I am?”
“You’re in all the papers, including the international
Everyone knows who you
Her face brightened.
“Oh,” she said.
“I had no
idea, at least about the international papers.
Are they kind to me there?
Because here, they mean.
They hate me.
They say I’m cheap, and not because I
don’t tip well, because Epifania tip very well.
What they really saying is that they
think I’m a whore.”
“That’s not the case in Europe.
They say lovely things about you
Women want to look like
They admire you.”
“I don’ think I’ve ever been recognized or admired,” she
She reached into her purse to
remove her phone.
“Charles has left
me here ninety minutes so he can schmooze it up with his snotty friends.
Let me call him over for you.
It’ll piss him off.
Give me two secs.”
She tapped out a few numbers on her iPhone and waited for
Stout to answer.
“It’s your second wife,
The one who helped you ruin that pretty
Yeah, I thought you
Look, princess, there a
man here who wants to see you.
don’t care if you’re with Countess Castellani and Lady Ionesco.
I cleaned their fucking toilets before I
was hire to clean yours.
couple of mean bitches and you can tell them I used to wipe my ass on their
Oh, there a man who wants to see you,
like I do.
You’ve left me here
forever, which is mean.
Yes, I’m still at the
So is he.
I don’ know what he want—something
And Chuckie, listen
to my dirty mouth.
Epifania one drink away from
gettin’ sloppy, so you better hurry.
You know how Epifania get.”