Vanity, Vengeance And A Weekend In Vegas (A Sophie Katz Novel)

BOOK: Vanity, Vengeance And A Weekend In Vegas (A Sophie Katz Novel)
13.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
 

VANITY,

VENGEANCE

&

A WEEKEND

IN

VEGAS

 

 

A Sophie
Katz Mystery

KYRA
DAVIS

 
 

I dedicate this book to my son
whose curiosity about the world has fueled my own. Isaac you are a constant
source of inspiration, motivation and pride. Thank you.

 
 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

I
want to thank my son, Isaac, who helped me come up with the title of this book
and my mother, Gail Davis, whose input is always invaluable. I especially need
to thank all my readers on Facebook and Twitter who have done so much to
promote this book, particularly Christina Makar who founded and runs both the
Kyra Davis Fans and Group page on Facebook and Zee Monodee who designed this
wonderful cover

 
 

Table of Contents

Prologue
                                                                                                                                                                      
0

Chapter 1
                                                                                                                                                                     
0

CHAPTER 2
                                                                                                                                                                     
0

Chapter 3
                                                                                                                                                                     
0

Chapter 4
                                                                                                                                                                     
0

Chapter 5
                                                                                                                                                                     
0

CHAPTER 6
                                                                                                                                                                     
0

CHAPTER 7
                                                                                                                                                                     
0

Chapter 8
                                                                                                                                                                     
0

CHAPTER 9
                                                                                                                                                                     
0

CHAPTER 10
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 11
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 12
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 13
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 14
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 15
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 16
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 17
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 18
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 19
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 20
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 21
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 22
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 23
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

CHAPTER 24
                                                                                                                                                                  
0

Author Page
                                                                                                                                                             
0

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Prologue
 
 
 
 

People who really
hate you don’t usually call you up for a chat, particularly if they know their
animosity is mutual.
 
Sure, an enemy
might gossip about you behind your back or, if you’re an author like me,
they’ll probably give you a one star review on Amazon (if you’re a business
owner with enemies it might not hurt to check your Yelp page).
 
But it’s rare that someone will pull out
their smartphone and waste precious calling-minutes and dwindling battery power
just so they can rattle off a few tightly phrased insults.
 
Not if they have a Twitter account.

So when Fawn
called I knew something big was up.
 
There are few people who I hate more than Fawn.
 
For one thing she slept with my friend
Mary Ann’s boyfriend, Rick.
 
Of
course Rick is what the British would call a wanker and Mary Ann has now moved
on to Monty, a better and slightly less annoying guy who has offered her love,
fidelity, an engagement ring and a very generous pre-nup. So under different
circumstances I would have considered Fawn’s affair with Rick something to be
grateful for.

But sadly it’s not
that simple. Fawn is one of those people who goes out of their way to make
others miserable.
 
She’s vengeful,
catty, jealous, and to use Mary Ann’s words, “just ewwy..”

She is also in
prison. She and Rick got into a lovers’ spat which ended in an attempted murder
conviction.
 
Karma’s a bitch, but
apparently not as big of a bitch as Fawn.

Which means that
this woman wasn’t just using up minutes on her cell phone plan to talk to me.
She was using up the week’s worth of phone time allotted to her by the
California State penitentiary system.
  
You didn’t do that just to be a pest.

“Hello Sophie, did
you miss me?” That’s how the conversation started, with her caressing my name
with a soft and zealous malice.

As it turns out,
Fawn had learned of a secret my live-in boyfriend, Anatoly, had been keeping
from me.

Anatoly is the
first man I have ever truly loved. I love his hands, I love his little half
smile, I love the way his Russian accent gets a little heavier after I’ve
kissed him a few times.

I love the way he
argues with me when I’m feeling quarrelsome and the way he comforts me when I’m
feeling lost.
  
I love that
after six years together the passion and tenderness has only grown.

Fawn called to
tell me Anatoly had a secret or, to be more specific, she called to tell me
Anatoly had a wife.

I knew when I heard
those words that she wasn’t lying. It would be too easy to disprove. Of course
the marriage had to have ended before we met, that much seemed obvious but why
hadn’t he ever told me about this?
 
After all, I had been divorced too so I wouldn’t have judged him. What
kind of person keeps a failed marriage secret from the woman he shares a home
and a bed with? A man who can’t be trusted, that’s who.
 
A man who is incapable of letting
anyone in. Ever.
 

It didn’t feel
like Fawn was torturing me with her horrid little phone call. It felt like she
was destroying me.
 

This information
was going to cost me both my relationship and the happiness I had spent so many
years trying to cultivate.

What I didn’t
understand at the time was that the information also had the potential to cost
me my life.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter 1

“I believe in corporal punishment
for disobedient children. And by that I mean I feel I have the right to whack
my boyfriend with a ruler when he’s pissing me off.”

--Death Of The Party

 
 

My anger was blurring my
vision.
 
I could feel its vibrating
pulse as it filled me up and then oozed out, consuming the room. I know my
boyfriend, Anatoly, felt it too. Or perhaps I should say my soon to be ex-boyfriend.
 
It was all a bit surreal. This was me,
Sophie Katz, breaking up with the man who I had whispered words of love to only
hours ago.
 
Well at least I planned
to break up with him. There was a small chance that I might actually kill him
before I got around to making the break-up official.
   

“I was going to talk to you about
this,” he said. His dark brown hair was a tiny bit longer than he normally wore
it and was slightly ruffled giving him a roughish appearance. He leaned back
against the leather cushions of our couch…my couch, not ours anymore.
 
I couldn’t share anything with him
now.
 
Not my furniture, not my
beautiful San Franciscan Victorian…not my life.

 
“You were going to talk to me about this?” I repeated my
voice was so low it sounded like a purr.
 
Mr. Katz, my feline pet, stirred from his position on the window
seat.
 
“Did I not give you enough
time?”

“Sophie—“

“After all, we’ve only known each
other…how long has it been now, six years?
 
Was that not enough TIME Anatoly?”

“I know this sounds like an
excuse,” he said slowly, his dark eyes trained on my own, “but this wasn’t a
typical situation. Your safety was an issue.”

“Ah, so you had to lie to protect
me.
 
You’re right, that’s not
typical at all.” I walked away from the edge of the couch and over to the built
in mahogany bookcases.
 
They were
so solid and steady…unlike anything else in my life, really.
 
In front of me the titles of my own
published novels were lined up like oversized dominos.
Words To Die By
,
C’est La Mort
,
Fatally Yours
and my most recent release
Death Of
The Party,
and
so many more.
 
Proof that all my
professional accomplishments had done nothing to make my personal life any
easier.

“I never loved her, Sophie.”

I exhaled loudly, observing how my
breath unsettled thousands of dust particles from the bookshelves in front of
me. “So you were married to a woman you didn’t love.
 
And I found out about it from a sociopath.”
 
I turned around.
 
“A convicted felon who happens to be a
hell of a lot more honest than the man who I’ve been fucking for the last six
years!”

“We may have known each other for
six years but to be fair, we didn’t actually start sleeping together
until—”

“Shut up!”
An invisible hammer beating against the
inside of my head
.
 
It was making
me dizzy.
 
“When did you get
divorced?”

There was a long pause.
 
His eyes stayed on mine but I saw
something in them that I had never seen before…was he afraid?
 
Anatoly, the man who had served first
in the Russian army, then the Israeli army, only to then come to the States to
become a private detective…HE was afraid?
 

 
“Oh my God,” I whispered.

“Sophie,” he said again, now
rising to his feet.
 
“It’s not as
bad as it appears.”

“No!” I raised my hands as if to
ward him off.
 
“You’re still
married?”

“I married for citizenship.
 
I wanted to come to America.
 
That was all.
 
And the woman I married knew that.”

“So you got married in order to
break our immigration laws?”

Anatoly’s mouth curved into a
humorless smile.
 
“You’re not upset
about my breaking the immigration laws.”

“No, I’m upset because you’re a
liar!
 
How many times have you
accused me of holding back on you?
 
How many times have you berated me for not telling you about every detail
of my life?
 
And all this
time—”

“I’ve never asked for all the
details of your past.” His voice was steady and patient…I wanted to reach down
his throat and tear his vocal cords out.
 
“I’ve only asked you to share the present and I’ve done that for you,”
he went on.
 
“You know who I am
now
.
 
Who I was and what I did before I met
you…it’s not relevant.”

“Yeah?
 
Well I hate to point out the obvious but you are
presently
married!”
I broke eye contact and stared angrily at the wall behind him.
 
There were pictures of my friends and
family…my Eastern European, Jewish mother kissing my African American father on
their tenth anniversary.
 
Anatoly
and I weren’t married but still, I had expected to eventually have a ten-year
anniversary with him with or without a wedding ring.
 
I had expected a twentieth and thirtieth too. But now?
 
What on earth was I allowed to expect
now?

 
“So that also means that I am
presently
your mistress,” I pressed
on,
 
“and in case you haven’t
heard, mistresses are not en vogue on this side of the Atlantic!
 
So in the PRESENT you suck!”

Anatoly sighed and turned toward
the window giving me a perfect view of his profile. The illumination of the
floor lamp cast a glow against his fair skin.
 
He was beautiful and suddenly I hated him for it.
 
Hated him for all the times I had told
him I loved him, all the times I had touched his face, ran my fingers through
his dark hair and asked him to make love to me.
 

This morning when I had woken up
everything had been different.
 
I
had been tucked into the crook of his arm, my hand, light brown and in perfect
contrast to his lighter complexion, had been resting on his chest.
 
This morning the world had been exactly
how I wanted it to be and now everything was a mess, destroyed by one little
revelation that was now snowballing into an avalanche of revealed betrayals.
 

“Have you heard of the
Bratva?
 
Otherwise known as just
the Russian mafia?”

“I can’t even begin to imagine
how that’s pertinent and I’m not at all sure I want to find out,” I said.
 
“You’re married to somebody else.
 
Perhaps we should just leave it at that
and call it a day.”

“Sophie, the woman I
married—”

“Your wife,” I snapped. “That’s
her proper title so you might as well use it.”
 
Mr. Katz shifted his position so as to better observe the
fireworks.

“The woman I married,” Anatoly
repeated stubbornly, “is the daughter of someone who is very high up in that
particular crime organization.”

“Your wife’s a mafia princess,” I
said flatly. I had never known Anatoly to make up elaborate stories but then
again he had never had to.
 
This
was clearly new territory for him.
 
My ex-husband, Scott, used to make up elaborate lies all the time. He
was much better at it.
 
He really
knew when to rein it in. For instance the first time I caught Scott in the
hands of another woman he told me she was his chiropractor and was simply
giving him an adjustment. Even then I knew it was bullshit but I appreciated
his creativity. But the daughter of a mob boss?
 
Please. The man could at least respect my intelligence
enough to come up with a story better than
that
.
   

“I told you before that I had
gotten involved in some criminal activity while living in Russia.
 
Nothing big.
 
I didn’t threaten merchants or kill the family members of
people who were being uncooperative.”

“Oh, so you’re not a homicidal
extortionist?
 
Well that’s reassuring.
 
I guess there’s not a problem then,
huh?”

“Sophie, just listen to me.
 
The things I did…arranging for the sale
of certain things on the black market, surveillance, gathering information on
rival criminal organizations, acting as a body guard…I was good at it.
 
And so once they found out that I
wanted to go further than Israel, that I wanted to come to the States, they
made me a deal.
 
I had to do one
job.
 
That’s all.
 
In exchange I would be allowed to marry
Natasha.”

“You married Natasha, the Russian
criminal mastermind?” I sneered. “But whatever happened to poor Boris? And did
you try to blow up moose and squirrel?”

“In addition to getting
citizenship,” he went on, ignoring my sarcastic interruption, “there was also
the promise that upon my completion of this job she would be allowed to be free
of the criminal world of her family.
 
I wanted to do that for her almost as much as I wanted citizenship
here.”

“Why?” I snapped.
 
“You just told me you never loved her.”

“I don’t have to love someone to want
to help them.
 
My motives weren’t
entirely selfish.”

“Just mostly selfish.”

“Exactly,’ he said with wry
smile.
 
“I was young and I had been
through a lot and…and America is the land of opportunity,” he said
quietly.
 
“I’ve always been opportunistic.
 
And although I honestly didn’t love
Natasha, I did like her. Our relationship wasn’t entirely platonic. But our
sexual chemistry aside--”

“Oh for God’s sake you really
stink at this, you know that?” I slammed my hand against the bookshelf for
emphasis. “When you make up a lie to cover up a betrayal you’re supposed to do
two things, make the person you’re lying to feel better about everything and
give them a story believable enough to latch onto!”

“Sophie—”

“No one can do denial like me,
Anatoly,” I said, cutting him off. “I’m the girl who chooses to believe that I
need ice cream for calcium and nightly cocktails to channel the creative genius
of Hemingway. But even
I
can‘t buy this bullshit. And just so you know, imagining you
having sexual chemistry with a woman you’ve been hiding from me DOES NOT MAKE
ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT THINGS!”

In the silence that followed I
could feel the tears threatening to come but I managed to push them back. I
wouldn’t cry in front of a stranger.

And that’s what this man
was.
 
This man who I thought I was
going to spend my entire life with.
 
When I had married Scott I had been so young, only nineteen.
 
In the two brief years we had been
married Scott had screwed me over big time but it hadn’t really come as a
shock. Scott had been fun and he distracted me from what had been a truly
difficult period in my life.
 
He
showed me a good time and our impromptu Vegas wedding had seemed wild,
impulsive and romantic.
 
But did I
ever think he was an upright, loyal and dependable guy?
 
Even at nineteen I hadn’t been
that
naive.

But Anatoly…he was a different
story.
 
It’s true that I hadn’t
trusted him when we first met.
 
In
fact I had thought that he was a serial killer and he had suspected the same of
me.
 
Not an auspicious
beginning.
 
But eventually it
became clear that neither of us were the Jeffrey Dahmer type and Anatoly and I
had started to get to know each other…intimately.
 
It took a while for us to move from casual-fling to life
partners.
 
There had been break-ups
and arguments aplenty but in the end we had found each other irresistible.
 
I learned to trust him.
 
I didn’t think he would ever hurt
me…not like this.
 
Not by lying
about who he
was
.
 

But that’s exactly what he had
done.
 
The man before me wasn’t
just a Russian-immigrant bachelor who made his living as a PI.
 
According to him he was a married mafia
thug who had more secrets than I could ever guess at.
 
It didn’t matter so much what part of the story was a lie
and what was the truth. What mattered was that the man I thought I knew would
never have needed to say any of this.
 
The man I
thought
I knew wouldn’t have had anything to lie about! This morning I had kissed a
stranger.
 
Hell, last night I had
gone down on a stranger.
 
That made
him a liar and me a slut and now I wanted the stranger out of my home so I
could stand in the shower until this dirty feeling was washed away.

BOOK: Vanity, Vengeance And A Weekend In Vegas (A Sophie Katz Novel)
13.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

MENDING FENCES by Williams, Brooke
Gamers' Rebellion by George Ivanoff
The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry
Already Gone by John Rector