Park Avenue (Book Six in the Fifth Avenue Series) (4 page)

BOOK: Park Avenue (Book Six in the Fifth Avenue Series)
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“Whose party?”

“Anastassios Fondaras is in town with that big yacht of
his.
 
He’s having a large turnout
tonight.
 
It’s a benefit for some
disease that no one will ever cure, but people will turn out anyway because of
the drinks, the dancing, the good meal and obviously for a chance to be seen in
the society pages.
 
It should be a
swell time, something that will warm us up for the rest of your stay.
 
You’ll be seeing a lot of people while
you’re in town.”

“So I hear.”

“So, it’s settled.
 
We go to the party.
 
We mix,
we mingle and we start your trip off with a bang.”

 
 

*
 
*
 
*

 
 

In their rented Tribeca townhouse, Carmen walked through the
foyer, left her bag by the staircase and went into the kitchen.
 
She took a bottle of water from the
fridge and leaned against the counter.

“This is actually bordering on nice,” she said.
 
“While you make coffee, tell me about
Fondaras, then tell me what you have in mind for tonight.”

Spocatti knew plenty about Fondaras and obliged.

Anastassios Fondaras was the Greek shipping magnate and aging
playboy who knew everyone there was to know in New York and who prided himself
on calling them his friends and his business partners.
 
Often both.
 

He knew the new money and he knew the old money, but he paid
no attention to the in-between money.
 
Despite his meager beginnings as a boy in Greece, where he grew up on a
farm with parents who thought raising goats was the key to eternal happiness,
he also didn’t do poor.
 
To him,
poor meant a lack of intelligence and creativity to work your way toward what
mattered to him—power and wealth.
 

Spocatti knew this was true because once, Fondaras himself
had been poor.
 
But now, armed with
a clever mind, years of hard work and a measure of luck along the way, he had a
fleet of ships that transported oil all over the world and was worth several
billion dollars because of it and his countless other endeavors.

For most in his circle, his world was unobtainable and
unfathomable, which is exactly as he wanted it.
 
He was like a bright, shiny lure for
those who felt that if they somehow were attached to him, they could learn from
him and become as successful as he.

Greed was at the root of it.
 
Anastassios Fondaras had long ago
learned how to make money with no financial investment or risk of his own.
 
It took tens of millions to get into bed
with Fondaras, but once the money was on the table and the deal was made, he
could turn their money over five fold for them and at least ten fold for
himself.

Events such as tonight’s party weren’t designed for his own
entertainment, though given the crowd in question, he’d likely find pockets of
it as he worked his way around the yacht.
 
Instead, they were designed to invite those people who had reached a
certain critical financial tableau and would offer their money to him in
exchange for a piece of the Fondaras pie.

“So,” Spocatti said, handing her a cup of coffee.
 
“That’s Fondaras.”

“What does this party have to do with us?
 
I assume one of the ten names is on his
guest list?”

“Actually, two will be there.
 
I saw the party as an opportunity that
could lessen our load as we go forward with the other eight over the next
month.
 
We already know who the
people are that Ryan wanted dead.
 
Why wait a week to figure out how we’re going to knock them off when we
simply can seek them out on that ship and take them out tonight?
 
These will be simple hits.
 
I already have a plan.”

“Of course, you do,” Carmen said.
 
“But I’m assuming there will be hundreds
of people on that yacht, if not more.
 
And we’ll be in a confined space, which offers its own share of problems
when it comes to little things like escape.
 
So, what’s the plan?”

“Drink your coffee.
 
Have something to eat.
 
When
you’re finished, I’ll brief you.
 
Then we’ll go shopping, because you’ll need something appropriate for
tonight.
 
Something that will allow
you to blend in.”

“And something I can move in.”

“I have my tux with me,” he said.
 
“I also have enough weapons here to kill
half of New York.
 
Are you game?”

“I didn’t come here to sit on my ass, Vincent.
 
And I certainly didn’t come here to spend
time with you.
 
Naturally, I’m
game.”
 

“I’m sorry about Alex.
 
And I’m sorry about how things went down last year.”

“I appreciate that, but do me a favor.
 
Don’t ever mention Alex again.
 
What’s done is done.”
 

She paused and what he saw on her face is something others
likely would have missed because she was an expert when it came to concealing
her emotions.
 
Still, in the instant
he mentioned Alex’s name, her eyes betrayed a profound sense of loss before she
could check herself.
 
She must have
loved him deeply.
 

“I’ll eat later,” she said.
 
“What are your plans and who are we
targeting?”

He told
her.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

CHAPTER
FOUR

 

Leana Redman burst through the door held open by the doorman
at Barney’s and, with her hands heavy with bags, she went to the street corner,
tossed her long dark hair over one shoulder and held up one of her hands to
snag a cab.
 

“Come on,” she said.
 
“Come on, come on, come on.
 
It’s more than a few bags.
 
It’s a hand.”
 

To her surprise, she scored a taxi on her second try.
 
Nothing like holding up bags from
Barney’s
, she thought.
 
She
slipped into the back and put the bags next to her.
 

“Where to?” the driver asked.

“Fifty-Ninth and Park.”

Time was tight.
 
For the first time since she could remember, her father, the billionaire
George Redman, had called her yesterday while she was en route to her hotel to
ask her to dinner.
 

At first, her impulse was to say that she was busy, which
hardly was a lie given the next four weeks that were upon her.
 
But she was intrigued by the offer, so
she accepted it.
 
She hadn’t spoken
to him in nearly three years and had to wonder why he was reaching out to her
now.
 

“Can it be somewhere out of the way?” she asked.
 
“Like Alaska?
 
My face has been on every newspaper and
magazine this week.
 
You know
they’re talking about me and comparing me to you and Celina.
 
You’ve read the headlines and the
stories.
 
So has everyone else.
 
If we are going to have dinner together,
I’d rather be left alone.”

“Then we’ll eat here,” George said.
 
“I’ll have the cook prepare whatever you
want.”

She decided to test him.
 
“Just have him make my favorite and I’ll be happy.”

There was a silence.

“But you don’t know what that is, do you?”

“I don’t.”

Why would you?
 
It’s only been my favorite since I was
twelve.
 
“Filet,” she said.
 
“Rare.
 
And I mean really rare—just have
the chef walk the cow by the oven.
 
Add some greens and I’m happy.
 
No dessert.”

“I’ll take care of the wine.”

You do that.
 
“What time?”

“Seven?”

“Why so early?”

“We’ve got a lot to talk about.”

“I know you’re getting older, but seven might as well be
lunch in my world.”
 
And then a
thought occurred to her.
 
“This
isn’t about Mom, is it?
 
Is she all
right?”

“This has nothing to do with your mother.
 
We need to talk about us and someone
I’ve hired to work at Redman International.”

“Who’s that?”

“Pepper.”

“Pippa?”

“I said, ‘Pepper.’”

She was in a limousine and couldn’t hear him well—he
was fading in and out.
 
She rolled
down the window in an effort to improve the connection.
 
“How in the hell did you manage to hire
Pippa Middleton?”

“I didn’t.”

“You just said you did.”

“Are you unable to hear me?”

“I can hear you now.”

“I hired Pepper Redman.”

“What’s a Pepper Redman?”

“It’s your cousin, Penelope.
 
They nicknamed her Pepper at Wharton.”

“Who nicknamed her Pepper?”

“Everyone.”

“Are they blind?
 
The last time I saw Penelope, she barely spoke.
 
She didn’t look you in the eye.
 
She was a mouse.”

“Now, she’s more like a hurricane.
 
You won’t recognize her when you see
her.
 
She’s a force.”

Leana rolled up the window and couldn’t help feeling
slighted.
 
Instead of offering her
work, he went to another family member, which meant he made the conscious
decision to overlook her just as he always did.
 
If he used the excuse that it was
because she was opening a hotel of her own, she’d remind him that Celina ran
several of Redman International’s properties when she was alive.
 
So, why couldn’t she?
 
Once her hotel was open, her general
manager would take care of the day-to-day operations and oversee the staff,
which would leave her free to explore other ventures.
 
He’d know that.
 
The idea that he’d look elsewhere
stung.
 

“What did you hire her to do?”

“That’s what I want to discuss.”

“All right,” she said.
 
“I can be there.
 
But
Anastassios Fondaras is having a party tomorrow night.
 
He invited Mario and me.
 
Mario’s not going, but I committed.
 
I’ll need to leave by ten.”

“You need to be careful with Fondaras, Leana.”

And you need to save your concerns for Pepper.
 
“The party’s an event.
 
I’m going because the press will be
there, and I want to drive attention to the hotel.
 
Surely, you of all people can understand
that.
 
I’ll see you at seven.”

But what to wear to each?
 

Her sister, Celina, would have known.
 
But Celina was gone and as tumultuous as
their relationship had been when her older sister was alive, Leana wished she
could call her up now and ask her what to wear for a dinner date with their
father that would transcend to a party thrown by Fondaras.
 
She thought of her mother and wished she
also could call her.
 
But she
couldn’t.
 
Her mother was in prison,
and calling wasn’t easy.

As usual, she’d need to rely on herself.
 

Fortunately, Leana was no stranger to that.
 
What she had in front of her were two
vastly different events in one evening.
 
She wished she could be herself and go casually to each, but the moment
she considered it, she knew it would be a mistake.
 
Her father expected Celina to look
professional at all times, which she had, and he’d expect the same from
her.
 
As for the Fondaras party, if
she showed up in anything that was even remotely casual, the press would slay
her.

She
looked over at the bags.
 
Hopefully,
the answer to her problems was in one of them.

 
 
 
BOOK: Park Avenue (Book Six in the Fifth Avenue Series)
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