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Authors: Richard Hawke

House of Secrets - v4

BOOK: House of Secrets - v4
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Synopsis:

Senator Andrew Foster has it all: charm to spare, a loving wife, a beautiful daughter, and a fast-track career that will surely land him one day in the White House. And with the sudden resignation of the vice president, that track may have gotten a lot faster.

But there’s a problem.

There are people who know that Andy Foster’s charm can get the better of him, and they have bugged the Shelter Island bungalow where he is enjoying a midnight tryst with a beautiful campaign adviser. But all hell breaks loose when a man carrying an iron pipe comes crashing through the bedroom’s sliding glass door. Within seconds, the young woman lies bloodied, dead on the sheets, and Foster has fled in panic.

And it’s all on tape.

As momentum builds for Foster’s likely selection as the next vice president, the senator’s only hope of keeping his involvement with the murdered woman secret is to locate his blackmailers. But even they don’t have their hands on the devastating images. The man they used for the job has turned the tables and is blackmailing them.

All the while, Foster’s personal life is collapsing. His wife, Christine, senses that something is terribly wrong. Unhappy about their daughter living in a political fishbowl, Christine is also worried that she and her husband have drifted away from each other. Little does she know that power-hungry politicians and brutal gangsters are ready to rip her family utterly apart.

From the rarefied halls of Washington to the briny boardwalks of Brighton Beach, Richard Hawke pulls back the curtain to reveal what is taking place inside the hearts and minds of the powerful people we read about every day in the news. With
House of Secrets
, Hawke has delivered a pulse-pounding thriller that ignites the fatal mixture of politics, arrogance, and lust.

 

 

House of Secrets
By
Richard Hawke

 

Copyright © 2010 by Richard Hawke

 

 

For Jules
…throughout the three times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C
hristine Foster sat with her stepfather at the bar in Denver International Airport, her eyes trained on the hideous swirls of snow having their way with the terminal’s large slanted windows. Her stepfather was watching them as well. For the better part of the past hour, Ben Turner had been digging his thumbnail into the label of his beer bottle, rendering it a shredded mess. Anyone watching the two would have thought that
he
was the one waiting to hear the status of
his
night flight from Denver to New York.

Ben looked up from his mutilation project. “Are you getting a signal?”

Christine’s cell was pressed to her ear. The strap of her camera had ridden up on her neck, catching some of her hair. She twisted her body slightly on the barstool in a vain attempt to escape the music — Steely Dan’s “Reeling in the Years” — pumping relentlessly from the low ceiling speakers. She ignored Ben’s question as her husband’s outgoing message gave over to the beep.

“Hi, honey,” Christine said loudly. She bent further into her phone. “Mrs. Miniver here. I’m at the airport. It’s my guess we’re about to be officially socked in, but I haven’t heard for sure yet. This snow is intense. If I come home with frostbite and you’re all tanned and yummy, I’m going to kill you, I swear. You have been warned.”

She aimed a smile over at her mother’s husband. “Ben’s here with me. We’re getting plastered at the bar. You’d be so ashamed of me. Listen, I’ll call you later when I know something. I hope your talk went well. I can’t wait to see you. Mother sends her worst, ha ha.”

As Christine tucked the phone back into her purse, Ben asked, “He wasn’t there?”

Christine took a beat. The question was classic Ben. For reasons that Christine was certain she would never fully fathom, her mother had decided to take as Spouse Number Two the type of person who would watch a person leaving a message for someone over the phone and then ask, “He wasn’t there?” Sweet man, but only nominally more vibrant than a paper clip. He and Lillian had now been married for just over six years. For someone like Lillian, Ben had been an astonishing plunge into meekness, about as far from Christine’s father — who was still very much alive — as she could have gone. But then, Lillian lived to astonish.

Christine confirmed Ben’s deduction. “No. He wasn’t there.”

“What’s ‘Mrs. Miniver’?”

Christine was readjusting the strap of her camera. “That? It’s just silliness. Andy’s in eternal love with Greer Garson, the movie actress from the forties. The very first time we met, he went through his whole Greer Garson song and dance. She’s so beautiful, she’s so warm, she’s so spunky. And of course he said
I
reminded him of
her
, thank you muchly. Though I guess that’s not such a bad pickup line. ‘You remind me of someone I absolutely adore.’” She laughed. “I was certainly not immune.”

Outside the window, furious gusts were whipping the snow about, as if the night was determined to beat down the glass and roar right into the terminal. From the blackness, a large bloblike shape appeared and smacked hard against the window. Christine and Ben started. It was a tarp of some sort, possibly torn loose from one of the luggage wagons. The tarp rotated slowly on the glass — it too looked as if it wanted in — then peeled back along one corner and was flung back into the night.

Christine’s milky skin had gone a shade sour. She turned to Ben.

“News flash. Mrs. Miniver is
not
climbing into any goddamned airplane tonight, no matter what anybody says. Just how dumb do I look?”

 

 

D
imitri Bulakov twisted the cap from the wet bottle and tossed it in a high arc toward the black plastic trash can. It hit the television set atop the dresser, bounced off Barbra Streisand as she was charming the great Louis Armstrong with her invisible trombone, and fell to the carpet.

Dimitri could not understand what it was about this woman on the television that had made her such a big American star in her day.
She is pushy. Her eyes are too small and too close together. And the nose, it is more like a joke than a nose. It is the nose of a camel
. Dimitri supposed that if he and this pushy woman were stranded together on a deserted island, okay, that was one thing. But otherwise…

In just under an hour — according to the cardboard triangle on top of the television — the next movie would be starting. It starred the actress Angelina Jolie.
This
, Dimitri thought,
makes sense
. He could imagine spending many many
many
months on the island with someone like this. Dimitri glanced around the wood-paneled confines of his motel room and imagined Angelina Jolie coming in from the tiny bathroom wrapped in a small towel, her big hair falling down past her shoulders like wet snakes, and looking at him with those mean sexy eyes of hers. Dimitri slid his free hand down the front of his boxers. As he did, his gaze drifted to the mirror that sat behind the television set. Reflected in the glass was a puffy-faced, forty-one-year-old man sporting an impressive beer gut and a nest of wiry black hair all over his torso, holding a beer bottle in one hand, and with his other hand shoved down the front of his faded plaid boxers. On the TV, Camel Nose and Louis Armstrong were making goo-goo eyes at each other and laughing uproariously.

Dimitri withdrew his hand from his boxers.

His cell phone rang.

Dimitri hit the mute button on the television and scooped the phone off the pillow next to him. The accent on the other end of the line was the same as Dimitri’s.

“They’re on their way.”

Dimitri scooted up in the bed. “Yes.”

“Everything is set?”

Dimitri answered. “Good to go.” Dimitri liked this expression, though he wasn’t happy with the way it had sounded just now. Two or three times recently in front of the bathroom mirror, he had gotten it pretty good. Good. To. Go.

There was a pause on the other end of the phone. Then, “You’ll call me once it’s done.”

It was not a question.

“Yes.”

“The sound quality is good? We will be able to hear everything?”

Dimitri scowled. “I told you. It’s all good. It’s ready. I know what I am doing.”

On the silent television screen the actress whose popularity Dimitri could not fathom was sauntering away from the camera spinning a parasol over her shoulder. Her dress came all the way to her feet and was nice and tight across her body. Nice rump, Dimitri thought.
This
he could fathom.

“Call me,” the man said again, and the phone went dead.

Dimitri hit the remote and the hourglass figure vanished. He rolled off the bed and carried his beer bottle to the window, where he tweezered open the curtains to peer out into the night. Across the narrow road in front of the motel was the small beach, a crescent of sand bordering the inlet. The beach was empty: a lifeguard chair, a tangle of braided white cord pocked with red oval floats, an overturned rowboat. It was only April. In another few months, the renters and second-home owners from the city would be flooding the small island. But right now it was Deadtown.

At the far end of the beach — to Dimitri’s right — a steep wooded hill rose up from the inlet. Dimitri turned from the window and knuckled the
ENTER
key on the laptop that was lying open on the second bed. He leaned past the computer to fetch his cigarettes and matches from the bedside table, shook one loose, and lit it. As a ghostlike rectangle burned into view on the computer’s screen, Dimitri set down his beer bottle and took up a pair of binoculars from the bed. Scratching his belly, he returned to the window.

On the nearby hill Dimitri sighted the staccato illumination from a pair of headlights as a car passed among the trees. He trained the binoculars on an area near the highest part of the hill, where the front portion of a modest-sized house was somewhat visible. Several seconds passed, then a light-colored sports car came into view and pulled to a stop in front of the house.

Smoke from Dimitri’s cigarette was stinging his eyes, but he ignored it as he toggled the binoculars’ focus wheel. The driver’s side door opened, and a woman stepped out of the car. She paused, raking both her hands through her hair. The passenger’s side door opened, and a man emerged. Dimitri lowered the binoculars.

“Hello, Dolly,” he intoned thickly. “Good to go.”

And he turned to his computer.

 

 

R
obert Smallwood sat hunched in the wooden lifeguard chair, hugging his long, slightly chubby legs against his chest and gazing intently up at the stars.

Rather, he was staring
back
at them.

It was Smallwood’s contention that every single puckered star dotting the vast black bowl overhead was an eye — an actual, glimmering, data-collecting eye — and that from the moment he had clambered up into the wooden chair those countless eyes peering down from the dark had all turned their attention to
him
. They were watching
him
. They were mesmerized by
him
.

BOOK: House of Secrets - v4
10.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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