“Flight two-thirty-seven to South Beach is now boarding at gate twelve. Departure time is in fifteen minutes.”
Anthony glanced at Savannah and reached out to take her hand. “Thank you,” he said gruffly, once her hand was in his.
“You really think it’s a good idea for me to return home right now?” Savannah asked him, as he led her to their gate in brisk strides.
Tony didn’t reply, favouring the silence he often used to abruptly shut her out. Savannah felt a familiar spurt of anger but tried to quell it immediately. This was Tony Dekker after all.
Out of nowhere, a man appeared before them, matching Tony’s height, and blocking their way. Savannah felt Tony stiffen; he released her hand.
“What are you doing here?” Anthony boomed.
“We need to talk.”
Savannah gazed at the man, experiencing a jolt of recognition. “Mr. Dekker?” she said hesitantly.
He glanced down at her, as if noticing her for the first time. “Savannah Ardeur?” His eyes returned to his son. “She was your hit?” he spluttered.
“Out of my way, old man.” Tony’s face was granite.
“Listen, boy – this is important!” Berry Dekker hissed. “This is something your mother should have told you a long time ago. I thought you already –”
“Savannah, let’s go,” Tony interjected, moving past his father. Pure, unadulterated hate emanated from son to father. Savannah felt it; it was that palpable.
“Tony.” Berry put a hand on his son’s shoulder.
“Goodbye,” Tony said darkly, pulling away and neatly landing a punch in his father’s face. Someone squealed, and Savannah realised that it was her. Berry stumbled back, cupping his nose in his hand. Savannah shuddered at the sight of the sudden fountain of blood trickling through his fingers.
Tony grabbed her and pulled her away by the wrist, his fingers threatening to cut off her blood circulation.
“Have you gone mad?” she exclaimed, trying to free herself. “I know your father’s an ass, but he didn’t deserve that!”
Tony halted and pushed his face into hers. “You don’t know anything, Savannah Ardeur! But you think you do. You think you’ve got the whole world figured out, but you don’t. Don’t analyse me, or my family, because you will always come out wrong.”
“Is there some deep, dark secret your family’s hiding, huh? Were you neglected as a child? Abused?” Savannah retorted, shoving him in the chest.
“Worse,” Tony replied, and he stepped away from her, heading for their terminal, head bowed.
Harriet Frost looked delicious in black.
There was no other word for it.
Clad in a svelte, black dress and classic hat with veil, she was a black rose in the cemetery. The tears in her eyes did little to diminish her beauty, and only seemed to enhance it. Flanked by her closest friend, Diana Carter, the lofty woman’s eyes never left her daughter’s casket as it was lowered into the ground. Her heart clenched at the thought of her beautiful girl being tortured; now the girl would find rest. Even after death, her body was analysed and pushed and prodded by the police. The torture continued.
“Harry?” Diana said into her friend’s ear, while the gravediggers spooned the mounds of dirt back into the hole.
Harriet’s head jerked in Diana’s direction. “What?”
“Harry… is that… Pauly?”
Harriet followed Diana’s gaze – the man with the distinct paunch, who was standing a little way from the rest of the mourners (that consisted solely of Joanne’s college friends), definitely resembled the sonofabitch who’d ditched her all those years ago.
But it couldn’t be.
“No; it isn’t him,” Harriet replied, eyes wandering back to the freshly-dug grave. “Do you think she’s at peace now?” she said softly, asking the wind a question she knew it could not possibly answer.
Diana’s mind flashed back to the image of Joanne Frost lying in the morgue, her face gruesomely mutilated. It was unthinkable to think that such an evil thing could have been done to such a lovely human being.
“Yes, Harry,” she said convincingly, gripping her friend’s hand in hers. “Joanne is happy where she is.”
Harriet turned to look at the other woman, tears openly streaming down her face. “Was I a decent mother? I tried, Diana; I tried!” she sobbed, falling to the grass in a heap. “Maybe if I hadn’t gone on that date…”