Park Avenue (Book Six in the Fifth Avenue Series) (9 page)

BOOK: Park Avenue (Book Six in the Fifth Avenue Series)
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He gave a curt nod in the orchestra’s direction, a swell of
music rose up and suddenly, he was leading Leana.
 

For his age, he was surprisingly light on his feet and he
moved with a kind of grace that suggested that if forty years had passed since
he last danced, it must have been one hell of a dance because he was precise,
deliberate and exacting in his moves.
 

He used the entire floor, sweeping her around it with ease
and twirling her twice.
 
She made a
few mistakes, but few would notice because of the way he handled her.
 
When the waltz ended, he extended his
arm and let go of her while standing back to applaud her.
 

He addressed the crowd.
 
“For the two of you who haven’t been talking about her since her arrival
tonight, my dancing partner, Leana Redman, has a new hotel opening soon on Park
Avenue.
 
It’s called The Park and
she has painstakingly restored the building and its rooms to their Art Deco
heyday.
 
You’ll be reading a lot
about it and her over the coming weeks and months.
 
She’s going to be a force, this
one.
 
I, for one, am looking forward
to the opening night party.”
 
His
eyes swept the room.
 
“Pray you get
an invitation because from what I hear, it’s going to be the social event of
the year.”

Anastassios’ generosity left Leana speechless.
 
As the media closed in, bathing her in
staccato rhythms of light, Anastassios took her by the hand and led her back
into the chittering crowd, most of whom now were looking upon Leana as if she
was their new star.

“I can’t thank you enough for that,” she said to him.
 
“First the
Times
, now this.
 
It’s too much.”

His brow furrowed.
 
“You spoke to the
Times
?
 
I didn’t know they were here.
 
In fact, they pointedly said they weren’t coming tonight.
 
Or did this happen earlier today?”

“No,” she said, looking first at the bar and then around the
room for Mario.
 
“It was just before
I saw you.”

“The
Times
is here?”

By his tone, it was obvious that he was unaware of it.
 
“I think there’s some confusion,” she
said.
 
“They rented one of your
boardrooms downstairs to conduct interviews.
 
I spoke to a reporter named Maria
Leonard.
 
They’re going to do a
feature on me and the hotel.”

“Come with me for a moment,” he said.

They cut through the crowd and Fondaras took her into a
private room.
 
The concern on his
face was unmistakable when he turned to her.
 
“I want you to listen to me,” he
said.
 
“Nobody rented a private
boardroom this evening.
 
I’m not in
the business of renting out boardrooms to the press or to anyone else.
 
Where were you taken?”

She thought back.
 
“She took me to a bank of elevators.
 
We went to level 2B.
 
No, 3B.
 
It was 3B.
 
There was a boardroom just to the right
of the elevator.
 
We went in there.”

“And she interviewed you?”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

“What does that mean?”

“She said she didn’t want to take too much of my time.
 
She kept apologizing.
 
She told me it was a pre-interview.
 
She said we’d have a much longer
interview before The Park opened.”

“What did she ask you?”

“She wanted to know the specifics of The Park’s opening night
party.”
 
And the moment Leana said
it, she saw all of it.
 
First, the
tarp.
 
Now, this interviewer asking
her where she was going to stand to address the crowd that night and how much
security she’d have on hand given what happened three years ago when she opened
Louis Ryan’s hotel, The Hotel Fifth.
 

She told Anastassios what she shared with the reporter.

“That’s all she wanted to know?”

“For now.
 
She
said it was so they could be better prepared to cover the event.”

“I’ll bet.
 
What
does she look like?
 
What is she
wearing?”

Leana told him.

Anastassios crossed the room to a desk, reached for one of
the telephones on it and called his chief of security.
 
He gave the man the information Leana
had given him.
 
“Find her,” he
said.
 
“And when you do, bring her
to my second-floor office and then find me.
 
Do it as quietly as possible.”
 
He hung up the phone and went to his
computer.
 
He brought up the
Times

site.
 
“What did you say her name
was?”

“Maria Leonard.”

He typed her name into a search field, which yielded no
results.
 
“If she works at the
Times
,
the
Times
certainly doesn’t know about it.
 
Where is Mario?”

“We were supposed to meet at the bar, but he wasn’t there
when we passed it.
 
I’ve been gone
for a while.
 
He knows
everyone.
 
He could be anywhere.”

“I’m going to help find him,” he said.
 
“But I need you to stay here where it’s
safe.
 
You and I both know what
happened to your family.
 
We also know
what happened a year ago at the Four Seasons.
 
Nobody knows for sure if you were part
of what happened to Jean-Georges Laurent, but you might have been.
 
Worse, tonight someone left a
threatening message on the tarp covering your hotel.
 
The
Times
did not rent a
boardroom to conduct interviews on this ship.
 
Unless you are that woman’s first story
for the paper, which I doubt, she doesn’t work there or she would have shown up
in the search results.
 
The
questions she asked you are worrisome, to say the least.
 
We ignore none of this.”
 

“Why would someone target me?”

“Because you’re a Redman.”

“I’m the basement Redman.”

“You’re whoever you want to be, Leana.
 
That’s your choice.”

It could have been Harold speaking to her.
 
Or Mario.
 
“But none of this makes sense,” she
said.
 
“Louis Ryan is dead.”

“Your father has more enemies than just Louis Ryan.
 
Look at me, for instance.
 
I took WestTex from him.
 
I’m certain he’d include me in that list
even though I have nothing significant against your father, with the exception
of how he’s treated you.
 
Business
is business.
 
We’re both in it to
win and he lost.
 
Deep down, a part
of us admires each other because we both know what it takes to stay on
top.”
 

He waved a hand.
 
“But this isn’t business.
 
It’s personal.
 
You were
targeted on my ship by a liar whose questions suggest an ulterior motive.
 
I’m not about to let your father lose
another daughter when I can help.”

He pointed to the door they entered a moment ago.
 
“Like every door on this ship, that one
is reinforced with three inches of steel.
 
I don’t take my life or my enemies lightly.
 
Neither should you.
 
It will be locked.
 
No one will be able to get in but my
crew and me.
 
If someone knocks,
don’t answer because none of us knock.
 
We slide our cards and just enter.
 
You can leave at any point, but I’m recommending that you stay here.”

“Who is doing this?” she said.

“I don’t know.
 
But like your father and your fiancé, I have the means to find out.
 
Let me find Mario and bring him back
here.
 
We’ll get each of you out
safely and discreetly.
 
Then, as
quickly as possible, we’ll get to the root of this.
 
Mario knows people.
 
I know people.
 
Your father knows people.
 
We can stop this.”

But as
Leana watched him leave, she knew better.
 
No one stopped it before and she had no reason to believe that anyone
could stop it now.

 
 
 
 

CHAPTER ELEVEN

 

Vincent Spocatti stood beneath a security camera tucked high
within the wall.
 
He faced the
crowded bar and watched the door through which Anastassios Fondaras and Leana
Redman had walked ten minutes before.
 

When Fondaras emerged without Leana and was met by one of his
men outside, Spocatti saw them exchange words before they parted ways and
started to move separately and with purpose into the crowd.
 

Spocatti kept his eyes on the guard because he was the one
speaking into his wrist while moving toward the hallway that led to the
elevator Carmen took Leana to earlier.
 
When the man disappeared from sight, Spocatti looked around the room and
watched the other guards, most of whom now had a finger pressed against their
earpieces and appeared to be listening.

Somehow, they were onto Carmen.

He turned his back to the room and spoke quietly into the
microphone at his own wrist.
 
“Where
are you?”

“In a fucking powder room.”

She sounded out of breath.
 
“Where?”

“Below you on the second level.”

He heard the sound of something slamming against a wall.
 
“What are you doing?
 
I need you to get out of there.”

“Can’t.”

He could hear struggling, then the sound of a woman screaming
and a muffled gunshot that cut the scream short.
 
Though each person was screened before
entering the ship, no one thought twice about Carmen’s digital recorder, which
actually was a gun when unfolded and configured differently.

“Florence Holt is dead,” she said.
 
“And not without a fight.
 
For a tiny little bitch, that
motherfucker was strong.
 
I’m locking
this bathroom and leaving it.
 
Do
you want Stout or should I take him?”

“Listen to me,” he said, looking around the room at the
guards, who were sifting through the crowds.
 
“Fondaras is sweeping the ship.
 
It has something to do with Leana
Redman.
 
One of the guards just
moved toward the bank of elevators.
 
Be expecting him.”

“How—?”

“It doesn’t matter how.
 
Expect him.
 
Get off the
ship.
 
I’m going to take out
Stout.
 
I’ll meet you back at the
apartment.
 
Don’t screw this up.”

 
 

*
 
*
 
*

 
 

Carmen looked down at Florence Holt’s ruined meat face and
moved quickly.
 
She turned the woman
over, unzipped her silver-sequined dress and pulled it off her.
 
There was blood and brain matter on the
upper part of the dress.
 
Before the
stains could fully set, Carmen turned to the sink, thrust parts of the material
under cold water and washed them free.
 
If someone was coming down here to find her because of Leana Redman,
they’d know what Carmen was wearing and how her hair was worn.

She held up the dress and inspected it.
 
It wasn’t perfect, but the lights
throughout the ship were so dim any lingering stains would go unnoticed.
 
She slipped out of her black dress,
ripped it into quarters and flushed them down the toilet.
 

She put on Holt’s dress.
 
Like Carmen, Holt was small, which was good.
 
What wasn’t so good was that the dress
had been tailored to Holt’s body and it looked awkward on Carmen.
 
It was loose in the front, tight in the
rear.
 
Those who knew fashion—and
there were plenty on this ship who feasted on it—might take notice.

BOOK: Park Avenue (Book Six in the Fifth Avenue Series)
2.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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