Fade Away Page 44

“I already promised you the tickets, Fred.”


“I’ll do my best.”

Jessica came back into the room. When she saw Myron’s face, she stopped and looked a question at him. Myron hung up and told her. She listened. Remembering Esperanza’s crack, Myron realized that he had now spent four nights in a row here—a post-breakup world and Olympic record. He worried about that. It wasn’t that he didn’t like staying here. He did. It wasn’t that he feared commitment or any of that other drivel; to the contrary, he craved it. But part of him was still afraid—old wounds that wouldn’t heal and all that.

Myron had a habit of exposing too much of himself. He knew that. With Win or Esperanza it was okay. He trusted them absolutely. He loved Jessica with all his heart, but she had hurt him. He wanted to be tentative. He wanted to hold back, to not leave himself so open, but the heart don’t know from stop. At least, Myron’s didn’t. Two primal internal forces were at odds here: his natural instinct to give all he had when it came to love vs. the survival instinct of pain avoidance.

“This whole thing,” Jessica said when he had finished, “is just too weird.”

“Yep,” he said. They had barely talked last night. He had assured her that he was all right and they had both gone to sleep. “I guess I should thank you.”

“For what?”

“You were the one who called Win.”

She nodded. “After those goons jumped you.”

“I thought you said you weren’t going to interfere.”

“Wrong. I said I wasn’t going to try to stop you. There’s a difference.”

“True enough.”

Jessica started chewing on her bottom lip. She was wearing jeans and a Duke sweatshirt several sizes too large on her. Her hair was still wet from a recent shower. “I think you should move in,” she said.

Her words hit him square in the jaw. “What?”

“I didn’t mean to just blurt it out like that,” she said. “I’m not very good at beating around the bush.”

“That’s my job anyway,” he said.

She shook her head. “You pick the strangest times to be crude.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry.”

“Look, I’m not good at this stuff, Myron. You know that.”

He nodded. He knew.

She tilted her head to the side, shrugged, smiled nervously. “It’s just that I like having you here. It feels right.”

His heart soared and sung and quivered in fear. “It’s a big step.”

“Not really,” she said. “You’re here most of the time anyway. And I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

The pause lingered a bit longer than it should. Jessica jumped into it before it could do irreparable harm. “Don’t say anything now,” she said, rushing the words out in a gush. “I want you to think about it. It was a dumb time to bring it up, with all this stuff going on. Or maybe that’s why I chose now, I don’t know. But don’t say anything. Just think about it. Don’t call me today. Or tonight. I’m going to your game, but then I’m taking Audrey out for a few drinks. It’s her birthday. Sleep at your house tonight. Maybe we’ll talk tomorrow, okay? Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow,” Myron agreed.

Chapter 20

Big Cyndi sat at the reception desk. “Sat” was probably the wrong word. Talk about the proverbial camel trying to squeeze through the eye of the needle. The desk’s four legs were off the floor, the top teetering on Big Cyndi’s knees like a seesaw. Her coffee mug disappeared into fleshy hands that resembled couch cushions. Her short spikes of hair had more of a pinkish hue today. Her makeup reminded him of a childhood incident involving melted Crayola crayons. She wore white lipstick, like something out of an Elvis documentary. Her size-3XL T-shirt read CLUB SODA NOT SEALS. It took Myron a few seconds to get it. Politically correct but cute.

Usually she growled when she saw Myron. Today she smiled sweetly and batted her eyes at him. The sight was far more frightening, like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, only on steroids. Big Cyndi pointed up her middle finger and bounced it up and down.

“Line one?” he tried.

She shook her head. The up and down gesture became more hurried. She looked up at the ceiling. Myron followed her gaze but he saw nothing. Cyndi rolled her eyes. The smile was frozen on her face, like a clown’s.

“I don’t get it,” he said.

“Win wants to see you,” she said.

It was the first time Myron had heard her voice, and it startled him. She sounded like one of those perky hostesses on a cable shopping network, the one where people call up and describe in far too much detail how much their lives were improved by purchasing a green vase shaped like Mount Rushmore.

“Where’s Esperanza?” he asked.

“Win’s cute.”

“Is she here?”

“Win seemed to think it was important.”

“I’m just—”

“You’re going to see Win,” Cyndi interrupted. “You’re certainly not checking up on your most valued associate.” The sweet smile.

“I’m not checking up. I just want to know—”

“Where Win’s office is. It’s two stories up.” She made a sound with her coffee that some might loosely label “slurping.” Moose in the tri-state area scattered in search of mates.

“Tell her I’ll be back,” Myron said.

“But of course.” She batted her eyelashes. They looked like two tarantulas in death throes. “Have a nice day.”

Win’s corner office faced Fifty-second Street and Park Avenue. Major league view for Lock-Horne Securities’ golden boy. Myron sank into one of the lush burgundy leather chairs. There were several paintings of fox hunts on the richly paneled walls. Dozens of manly men on horseback, dressed in black hats, red blazers, white pants, black boots, rode out armed with only rifles and dogs to chase down a small furry creature until they caught and killed it. Ah, gamesmanship. A tad overkill maybe. Like using a flamethrower to light a cigarette.

Win typed on a laptop computer that looked lonely on the mono-expanse he called a desk. “I found something of interest on the computer disks we made at Greg’s house.”


“It appears our friend Mr. Downing had an e-mail address with America Online,” Win said. “He downloaded this particular piece of mail on Saturday.” Win spun the laptop around so Myron could read the screen:

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