Darkest Fear Page 22

“He has,” Esperanza interrupted, “a lie.”

They sat there and stared at each other. The phone, usually so active, was silent, as it had been for too long now. Myron wondered how he could explain it so that she would understand. She stayed still, waiting.

“We were both lucky when it came to parents,” Myron said.

“Mine are dead, Myron.”

“That’s not what I mean,” he said. He took a deep breath. “How many days pass that you don’t still miss them?”

“None,” she said without hesitation.

He nodded. “We were both loved unconditionally and we both loved our parents the same way.”

Esperanza’s eyes started misting. “So?”

“So—and this was what Win said—isn’t that what makes a mother or father? Isn’t it about who raised us and loved us and not simply an accident of biology?”

Esperanza leaned back. “Win said that?”

Myron smiled. “He has his moments.”

“That he does,” she said.

“And think about your father—the one who raised and loved you. What happens to him?”

Her eyes were still misty. “My love for him is strong enough to survive the truth. Isn’t yours?”

He tilted back as though the words were jabs at his chin. “Sure,” he said. “But it would still hurt him.”

“Your father would be hurt?”

“Of course.”

“I see,” Esperanza said. “So now you’re worried about poor Greg Downing?”

“Hardly. You want to hear something awful?”

“Love to.”

“When Greg constantly refers to Jeremy as ‘my son,’ I want to yell out the truth. Right in his smug face. Just to see his reaction. Just to watch his world crumble.”

“So much for your Batman complex,” Esperanza said.

Myron held out his hands. “I have my moments too,” he said.

Esperanza stood and headed for the door.

“Where you going?”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” she said.

He sat back.

“You’re blocking,” she said. “You know that?”

He nodded slowly.

“When you move past it—and you will—we’ll talk about it again. Otherwise, we’re wasting our time here, okay?”


“Just don’t be stupid.”

“ ‘Don’t be stupid,’ ” he repeated. “Check.”

Her departing smile was brief.


Myron spent the rest of the day working the phones. He strapped on his Ultra Slim headset and paced the office. He talked up college coaches, mining for potential free agents. He touched base with his clients and listened to their problems, both real and imagined, therapist-style, which was a large part of his job. He sifted through his Rolodex of companies, trying to conjure up a few endorsement deals.

One serious lead came a-knocking on its own: “Mr. Bolitar? I’m Ronny Angle from Rack Enterprises. Are you familiar with us?”

“You run a bunch of topless bars, right?”

“We prefer they be called upscale exotic nightclubs.”

“And I prefer to be called a well-endowed stallion,” Myron said. “What can I do for you, Mr. Angle?”

“Ronny please. Can I call you Myron?”

“Myron please.”

“Great, Myron. Rack Enterprises is entering a new venture.”


“You’ve probably read about it. A chain of coffeehouses called La, La, Latte.”

“For real?”


“Well, I think I did see something about this, but I figured it was a joke.”

“It’s no joke, Mr. Bolitar.”

“So you guys are really going to open up topless coffee bars?”

“We prefer they be called upscale erotic coffee experiences.”

“I see. But your, uh, baristas will be topless, correct?”


Myron thought about it. “Makes asking for milk something of a double entendre, don’t you think?”

“That’s very funny, Myron.”

“Thanks, Ronny.”

“We’re going to open with a big splash.”

“That another milk joke, Ronny?”

“No, Myron, but you’re a pretty funny guy.”

“Thanks, Ronny.”

“Let me cut right to it, okay? We like Suzze T.” Suzze T was Suzze Tamirino, a journeyman (or is it journey-woman?) on the pro tennis circuit. “We saw her picture in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, and, well, we were very impressed. We’d like her to do a cameo for our grand opening.”

Myron rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “When you say cameo—”

“A brief performance.”

“How brief?”

“No more than five minutes.”

“I don’t mean brief in terms of time. I mean in terms of clothing.”

“We’d require full frontal nudity.”

“Well, thanks for thinking of us, Ronny, but I don’t think Suzze will be interested.”

“We’re offering two hundred thousand dollars.”

Myron sat up. Easy to hang up, but with this kind of dough, he had a responsibility to follow up. “How about if she wears a small top?”


“A bikini?”


“An itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikini?”

“Like in the song?”

“Exactly,” Myron said. “Like in the song.”

“I’m going to state this as plainly as I can,” Ronny said. “There must be nipple visibility.”

“Nipple visibility?”

“This point is nonnegotiable.”

“So to speak.”

Myron promised to call him back later in the week. The two men hung up. Negotiating nipple visibility. What a business.

Esperanza came in without knocking. Her eyes were wide and bright.

“Lamar Richardson is on line one,” she said.

“Lamar himself?”

She nodded.

“No relative or personal manager or favorite astrologer?”

“Lamar himself,” Esperanza repeated.

They both nodded. This was a good thing.

Myron picked up the phone. “Hello.”

“Let’s meet,” Lamar said.

“Sure,” Myron said.


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