Read Don't Blink Online

Authors: James Patterson,Howard Roughan

Tags: #Retail

Don't Blink (27 page)

BOOK: Don't Blink
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Of course, I’m a single guy, too, but that was hard to tell, given the way Courtney and I practically ran into each other’s arms and kissed like crazy by those same train tracks. It was movie-of-the-week mushy but I loved every second of it
. As for Elizabeth, time will tell how she deals with everything that happened. She didn’t have a scratch on her, but the mental scars could be another story. Then again, if there’s anyone who can handle it, she’s the one. The fact that she wanted to give interviews afterward was a pretty encouraging sign.

I was shooting the breeze with Marie a little more when I heard another voice at the door. “Knock, knock,” said David Sorren.

Marie turned to him as he strolled in. “You must be somebody important because that cop posted outside the door isn’t supposed to let anyone by him.”

“Yeah, he’s somebody important,” I assured Marie. “In fact, you might be looking at the next mayor of this city.”

David introduced himself and was as pleasant as a good politician could be with her. Still, I could tell he wanted to speak to me privately. Marie picked up on it, too. She left us alone.

David removed his jacket, placing it on the chair in the corner. Then he turned to me with what he knew was some very good news.

“Bruno Torenzi is dead,” he announced. “I wanted to tell you myself, Nick. Hope that gets your vote come the next election.”

I shook my head, but I was grinning. “Sorry. I’m a Democrat, David.”

Sorren explained how Torenzi had been found during a sweep of the surrounding area near the blown-up train. He said there had been another dead body with him, a Russian crime boss. Go figure.

“So, wait… who did Torenzi work for? Was it D’zorio — or this guy Belova?” I asked.

“Good question. It was probably D’zorio, but for all I know right now they could’ve been working together. Setting up Eddie Pinero was in both their interests. Anyway, we’ll sort it all out soon enough, especially when we bring in that manager from Lombardo’s who mixed it up with you. He was on

Sorren glanced back at my door. “In the meantime, with Torenzi, D’zorio, and Belova out of the picture, the need for that cop outside your door just went down dramatically. Same goes for at your apartment, Nick.”

“Hallelujah,” I said. “Oh, and don’t forget to put Carmine Zambratta on that list. He’s gone, too.”

“You’re right,” said Sorren. “In fact, that reminds me — there’s one other thing.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s about Dwayne Robinson. As you probably suspected, he didn’t commit suicide. As soon as the news about D’zorio’s death hit the airwaves, a guy who lived in the building across the street from Robinson came forward to say he saw Zambratta throw him over the railing.”

“Why didn’t the neighbor say anything before? Not very neighborly.”

“He was too scared. He knew who Zambratta was and what he was capable of. Hell, he witnessed it, didn’t he?”

“I guess you’re right,” I said.

Sorren folded his arms, hesitating for a moment. “Listen, Nick, I owe you an apology. I really do. You were way out in front on this whole thing and I should’ve seen that better. Instead of helping you at first I gave you a hard time, didn’t I?”

I smiled. “Yeah, you did,” I said. “What’s important now, though, is that it’s over.”

We shook hands. Then we both shook our heads, chuckling in disbelief. It was an amazing end to an amazing day, and to an amazing story.

But I should’ve known better, I guess. The day wasn’t actually over. It was still a little before midnight. Plenty of time for more fun and games.

Chapter 104

THE VICODIN WERE doing their thing, easing the pain while making me drowsy. Minutes after David Sorren left, I started to doze off. I barely heard the creak of the door opening again.

It was Marie, I assumed. I didn’t bother to look over right away — or even open my eyes. But as she walked toward me my ears perked up. This wasn’t the sound of soft rubber soles. I was hearing heels — heavy ones. These shoes belonged to a man. What man was that?

My eyes shot open.

“Hello, Nick,” said Ian LaGrange. Quick as could be, he grabbed the cord of my call button and sliced through it with a knife.

Then he jammed the tip of the knife underneath my chin. I could feel the blade pierce my flesh enough to send blood trickling down over my Adam’s apple.

“What do you want?”

“You know what I want, Nick. Because you have it.
Where’s the flash drive?

Jesus Christ. In the chaos, the confusion, and the Vicodin, I’d forgotten about that. Clearly, LaGrange hadn’t. But how did he even know it existed? And what was with the knife at my throat?

“What are you talking about?” I asked him. “What flash drive?”

“You stupid bastard, don’t even try,” he snapped. “I know you had it.”

LaGrange twisted the tip of the blade slightly. More blood started running down my neck. Vicodin or no Vicodin, it hurt to get stuck in the throat.

“You’re right, I did have the flash drive,” I said. “D’zorio took it away from me before I got a chance to see what was on it. I don’t have it anymore.”

LaGrange squinted, sizing me up. He was trying to decide if I was telling the truth. And I guess he decided that I was.

“In that case, what good are you?” he asked, snatching the pillow from behind my head.
The pillow? You’re kidding me …

He wasn’t — not one bit. He slammed it over my face, forcing the enormous weight of his upper body against my nose and mouth. I couldn’t breathe. That was the idea, of course.

The more I struggled, the harder LaGrange pressed, all three hundred pounds of the bastard. No air was coming in. Whatever was left in my lungs was spilling out of me like life itself. I was losing consciousness in a hurry.

There was nothing I could do this time; I was definitely suffocating to death.

I didn’t see what happened next, but I sure heard it. Someone came bursting through the door of my room. Not a word was spoken, but a gunshot was fired.

Ian LaGrange fell to the ground with a horrendous thud. He even took the pillow with him, and as I blinked my eyes into focus and breathed the sweetest batch of air I’d ever known, I got to see who had pulled the trigger.

Not the cop who had been stationed outside the door.

Not Doug Keller of the FBI, either.

Chapter 105

“THIS GUY SHOULD be fitted for a cape!”
raved the
New York Post
. David Sorren’s timing remained just about perfect two days later as he walked up to a podium on the top step of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse and, with the sunlight of a beautiful day beaming down on him, looked out at a huge, enthusiastic crowd and announced his candidacy for mayor of New York.

By then, anyone with a pulse had either read or heard the story of how he had come back to my hospital room because he’d forgotten his jacket. That’s when he’d seen the cop on duty slumped in the hallway. Sorren had grabbed the gun from the cop’s holster, bursting into my room.

Needless to say, he had my vote come November, Republican or not.

Courtney’s, too, although she remained a tad suspect of Sorren’s judgment given his involvement with Brenda Evans.

“I mean, she can’t be
good in bed,” she quipped, standing next to me as we watched Sorren wrap up his announcement to a chorus of cheers. Courtney glanced to see if I’d take the bait and comment on my firsthand knowledge of the subject.

Instead, I just laughed. Hey, I was feeling pretty terrific. Why not — Courtney and I were holding hands again. Corny? Maybe. But who cares when you’re in love?

“So what’s the big news you weren’t ready to tell me?” I asked, changing the subject.

“I knew you’d ask, Nick,” she said, reaching into her handbag. She handed me a press release. “Courtney Sheppard named editor in chief of
New York
magazine,” read the headline.

“Wow,” I said. “Congratulations. That is great.”

“Right back atcha,” she said. “Have you met my new executive editor? Cute guy, very talented. Great kisser.”

“Really? Do I know him?”

She playfully punched my arm and I grabbed hers in return, pulling her close. “Great kisser, huh?” I said before planting one on her. And right there in the middle of the roaring crowd we made out like a couple of teenagers.

“Does that mean you’ll take the job?” she asked as we came up for air.

“Absolutely not,” I said.

Courtney rolled those beautiful blue eyes of hers. “Why not, Nick? Because you don’t think we can work
sleep together?”

“No, that’s not it at all. I’m just not the executive editor
type. I write stories, that’s what I do — and the kind I write you can’t find sitting in a corner office.”

Courtney smiled and I knew she understood, which warmed the cockles of my heart. “All right. I guess I’ll just have to lower my standards and sleep with a regular staff writer instead.”

“Correction, missy. Your highest-paid staff writer.”

“We’ll see about that, Nick. Just remember, I didn’t get to be editor in chief for nothing.”

We were about to kiss again when we both realized that someone was suddenly standing next to us. Speak of the devil — it was none other than Brenda.

“Sorry to interrupt,” she said, coming very close to blushing. I didn’t know she had it in her. “I saw you both here. I wanted to give Nick something.”

She handed me a slender rectangular box — gift wrapped, with a red bow on top.

“What’s this?” I asked, genuinely surprised.

“A make-good,” she said. “Something I’ve owed you.”

I was about to open it when she stopped me. “No, not here,” she said. “Open it later, Nick. And Courtney — good luck with this one. He’s actually a pretty decent guy.”

With that, she turned and walked away. No good-bye or anything. I didn’t even have a chance to say thank you.

“Decent guy”? All right, I could live with that. I think she even meant it.

Chapter 106

A LITTLE MORE than a week passed. I was on my first assignment for
New York
magazine, and it was definitely cover material.

“Thanks for doing this, David,” I said. “This will be a great story — I promise you.”

Sorren leaned back in the chair behind his desk. We were in his office downtown at One Hogan Place and David was a man clearly at peace with himself.

“Are you kidding? Thank
,” he said. “I know being pushy is the first rule of politics, but given everything you’ve been through, the last thing you needed was my hitting you up for an article so fast. I didn’t want to exploit our friendship that way.”

“No problem at all. It’s the least I could do. After all, you did save my life.”

“Just dumb luck,” he said with an aw-shucks wave. “Of
course, that’s the second rule of politics, isn’t it? Dumb luck.”

“It’s pretty high up there for journalism, too.”

“That’s you and me, a couple of lucky guys. If we’re not careful, we may wind up getting everything we want in life,” he said with a wink.

I reached for my beat-up leather bag on the floor, pulling it up to my lap. “Let’s get started, then, okay?”

“Sure thing,” Sorren said. “By the way, what did Courtney say when you proposed this article? I mean, it’s her first issue at
New York
. She have any doubts?”

“Doubts? Are you kidding me? I haven’t written a word yet and she’s already guaranteed us the cover.”

Sorren smiled widely as I pulled out a notepad. It was followed by my tape recorder. Immediately, his smile soured.

“Shit, Nick, I’m sorry. I should’ve said something on the phone when you called. I’ve got no problem with your taking notes but I can’t let you record me. It’s policy here in the DA’s office,” he explained. “Of course, the mayor’s office has no such policy.”

“That’s okay,” I said, placing the recorder on his desk. “Actually, this isn’t to record you. I wanted to
you something. If I may? That okay?”

“Sure,” said Sorren. “What is it?”

I hit the play button and turned up the volume. I didn’t want Sorren to miss a single word of Ian LaGrange’s voice.

Or his own.

Chapter 107

WHAT WOULD YOU do if you found a flash drive, with blood on it, in your boyfriend’s favorite hiding spot in his apartment? In his secret, secret place?

I now knew what Brenda Evans would do. She was a reporter, after all, with a sensitive — some would say suspicious — nose for stories. She couldn’t help it — the blood had bothered her.

Not nearly as much, though, as what she had discovered on that flash drive.

Derrick Phalen had uncovered it all, and he’d put it on the drive for me to see. Or, rather, for me to
. There were no pictures, no pilfered secret documents — only an MP3 voice file. And while I may be a purist with my vinyl LP collection, this little digital recording trumped everything I’d ever listened to.

Why had Derrick decided to bug his boss’s office? Sadly,
I’ll never have the chance to ask him. But I’ll never forget how he had looked that day he saw Ian LaGrange come walking toward us by the elevator at the OCTF.

“Holy shit,” I thought I had heard Derrick say. Like he couldn’t believe something.

Soon after that, he had his smoking gun — a conversation between LaGrange and none other than David Sorren.

Blinded by his own political ambition, Sorren was willing to forsake the law he had sworn to uphold. He’d built his reputation battling organized crime, but in a world of hotshot defense attorneys and legal loopholes, guilty verdicts against the mob were tough to come by. There had to be a better way, right?

At least that’s what Sorren’s twisted mind had been thinking. What he needed were
. He didn’t care how he got them, or for that matter who paid the price. Because results equaled votes. Today, city hall. Tomorrow, the governor’s office. Then one day, maybe, the White House.

A modern-day Machiavelli of the worst order.

So Sorren had recruited LaGrange and made the ultimate backroom deal. They chose sides in the organized crime underworld. They backed Joseph D’zorio and set up Eddie Pinero after his criminal usury conviction.

BOOK: Don't Blink
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Why You Were Taken by JT Lawrence
Discipline Down Under by Patricia Green
Loonglow by Helen Eisenbach
Lone Wolf by Tessa Clarke
The Session by Greg Curtis
Lover's Bite by Maggie Shayne
No Alarms by Beckett, Bernard
American Buffalo by Steven Rinella