It’s a long way from the gutter to the back seat of a limo, Chuck Mallory thought as he sat in the back of the stretch Lincoln. Recessed lights cast a discreet glow and a hint of sandalwood lurked in the climate-controlled air. It’s not my limo, but still, it’s a long way from the gutter.
Mallory looked at the two men sitting across from him. They were dressed in dark suits and wore serious faces. He didn’t know why he’d been asked -- summoned, really -- to meet Seth Davies, Chairman of the Board of the Port Authority, and Bill Donovan, a fellow board member. Or why he’d been instructed to make sure he wasn’t followed to the rendezvous point.
“This conversation is to be kept in the strictest confidence, Mr. Mallory,” Davies said. “We must have your word on that.”
“Mr. Davies, anything you choose to tell me will be treated with the utmost discretion,” Mallory said. “But you already knew that, or you wouldn’t have contacted me.”
The man stiffened. "How did you know my name?"
"Everyone knows who you are, sir." Mallory leaned back, making himself comfortable. "Your name's all over the papers, what with the . . . unfortunate allegations."
"Yes, well," Donovan huffed, cutting to the point with an admirable lack of bull. "That's why we're all here. This is a photograph of the detective in charge of the investigation. We need it to look like an accident."
And here it came, the familiar manila envelope that everybody seemed to use for these things. Mallory upended it, tactfully setting aside the cash to count later in favor of studying the photograph. An unpleasant frisson went down his back when he saw the familiar face staring up at him. The woman next to him must be the fabled wife.
"Is there a problem, Mr. Mallory?" snapped Davies.
But as Chuck snapped the folder shut he knew two things: one, this was going to be the hardest hit of his career and two, ace homicide detective Zack Martinez's wife was actually pretty cute.
Opening: Wonderwood.....Continuation: Sarah from Hawthorne