Promise Me Page 5

“I’m not getting into that with you. But for one thing, Ali has the kind of looks that grow on you. At first you think she’s attractive enough, and then, as you get to know her—”




“Well, here’s another news flash for you. It’s not all about looks.”


“Again with the bah?”

Win re-steepled his fingers. “Let’s play a game. I’m going to say a word. You tell me the first thing that pops in your head.”

Myron closed his eyes. “I don’t know why I discuss matters of the heart with you. It’s like talking about Mozart with a deaf man.”

“Yes, that’s very funny. Here comes the first word. Actually it’s two words. Just tell me what pops in your head: Ali Wilder.”

“Warmth,” Myron said.


“Okay, I think we’ve discussed this enough.”



“When was the last time you tried to save someone?”

The usual faces flashed strobelike through Myron’s head. He tried to block them out.


“Don’t start,” Myron said softly. “I’ve learned my lesson.”

“Have you?”

He thought now about Ali, about that wonderful smile and the openness of her face. He thought about Aimee and Erin in his old bedroom down in the basement, about the promise he had forced them to make.

“Ali doesn’t need rescuing, Myron.”

“You think that’s what this is about?”

“When I say her name, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?”

“Warmth,” Myron said again.

But this time, even he knew he was lying.

Six years.

That was how long it had been since Myron had played superhero. In six years he hadn’t thrown a punch. He hadn’t held, much less fired, a gun. He hadn’t threatened or been threatened. He hadn’t cracked wise with steroid-inflated pituitary glands. He hadn’t called Win, still the scariest man he knew, to back him up or get him out of trouble. In the past six years, none of his clients had been murdered—a real positive in his business. None had been shot or arrested—well, except for that prostitution beef out in Las Vegas, but Myron still claimed that was entrapment. None of his clients or friends or loved ones had gone missing.

He had learned his lesson.

Don’t stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong. You’re not Batman, and Win is not a psychotic version of Robin. Yes, Myron had saved some innocents during his quasi-heroic days, including the life of his own son. Jeremy, his boy, was nineteen now—Myron couldn’t believe that either—and was serving in the military in some undisclosed spot in the Middle East.

But Myron had caused damage too. Look what had happened to Duane and Christian and Greg and Linda and Jack. . . . But mostly, Myron could not stop thinking about Brenda. He still visited her grave too frequently. Maybe she would have died anyway, he didn’t know. Maybe it wasn’t his fault.

The victories have a tendency to wash off you. The destruction—the dead—stay by your side, tap you on the shoulder, slow your step, haunt your sleep.

Either way, Myron had buried his hero complex. For the past six years, his life had been quiet, normal, average—boring, even.

Myron rinsed off the dishes. He semi-lived in Livingston, New Jersey, in the same town—nay, the same house—where he was raised. His parents, the beloved Ellen and Alan Bolitar, performed aliya, returning to their people’s homeland (south Florida) five years ago. Myron bought the house as both an investment, a good one, in fact, and so that his folks would have a place to return to when they migrated back during the warmer months. Myron spent about a third of his time living in this house in the burbs and two-thirds rooming with Win at the famed Dakota apartment building on Central Park West in New York City.

He thought about tomorrow night and his date with Ali. Win was an idiot, no question about that, but as usual his questions had scored a hit, if not a bull’s-eye. Forget that looks stuff. That was utter nonsense. And forget the hero complex stuff too. That wasn’t what this was about. But something was holding him back and yes, it had to do with Ali’s tragedy. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake it.

As for the hero stuff, making Aimee and Erin promise to call him—that was different. It doesn’t matter who you are—the teenage years are hard. High school is a war zone. Myron had been a popular kid. He was a Parade All-American basketball player, one of the top recruits in the country, and, to trot out a favorite cliché, a true scholar-athlete. If anyone should have had it easy in high school, it would be someone like Myron Bolitar. But he hadn’t. In the end, no one gets out of those years unscathed.

You just need to survive adolescence. That’s all. Just get through it.

Maybe that was what he should have said to the girls.


The next morning Myron headed into work.

His office was on the twelfth floor of the Lock-Horne Building—as in Win’s name—on Park Avenue and Fifty-second Street in midtown Manhattan. When the elevator opened, Myron was greeted with a big sign—a new addition to the place—that read


in some funky font. Esperanza had come up with the new logo. The M stood for Myron. The B for Bolitar. The Reps came from the fact that they were in the business of representation. Myron had come up with the name by himself. He would often pause after telling people that and wait for the applause to die down.

Originally, when they just worked in the sports field, the firm was called MB SportsReps instead of MB Reps. Over the past five years the company had diversified, representing actors, authors, and celebrities of various stripes. Ergo the clever shortening of the name. Getting rid of the excess, cutting away the fat. Yep, that was MB Reps right down to the name.

Myron heard the baby cry. Esperanza must be in already. He poked his head into her office.

Esperanza was breast-feeding. He immediately looked down.

“Uh, I’ll come back later.”

“Stop being an ass,” Esperanza said. “You’d think you’ve never seen a breast before.”

“Well, it’s been a while.”

“And certainly not one this spectacular,” she added. “Sit.”

At first, MB SportsReps had just been just Myron the super-agent and Esperanza the receptionist/secretary/Girl Friday. You may remember Esperanza during her years as the sexy, lithe professional wrestler named Little Pocahontas. Every Sunday morning on Channel 11 here in the New York area, Esperanza would take to the ring, donning a feathered headband and drool-inducing bikini of pseudosuede. Along with her partner, Big Chief Mama, known in real life as Big Cyndi, they held the intercontinental tag-team championship belt for FLOW, the Fabulous Ladies Of Wrestling. The wrestling organization had originally wanted to call itself the Beautiful Ladies Of Wrestling, but the network had trouble with the ensuing acronym.

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