Home > The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(14)

The Shadow (The Florentine #2)(14)
Author: Sylvain Reynard

Her defender was, at that moment, on his way to an undisclosed location in order to take care of principality business. He’d been angry when she insisted she needed to speak with Cara before pronouncing judgment on their stepfather. But his anger had been dull, not sharp, and quickly gave way to resignation.

He was distracted, Raven thought, or he wouldn’t have yielded so easily. She was fairly confident his distractions were related to her and not to the principality, because he’d intended to be at her side while she spoke with Cara. In fact, he’d refused to leave her and it was only after repeated requests from someone on the other end of Marco’s cell phone that he’d relented.

Raven believed guilt and remorse were emotions William experienced, but in a blunted way. He didn’t understand the burden she carried over failing to protect her younger sister. He couldn’t fathom the depth of her guilt.

It was close to eleven when he’d driven with Raven to Santo Spirito. They could have traveled on foot—or rather, William could have traveled on foot and supported Raven while they ran through the dark streets. But he insisted on taking the Mercedes, as if he wanted to keep her away from prying eyes.

He’d pressed his lips to her forehead before directing Marco to accompany her upstairs. He said he’d see her soon and made her promise to call Ambrogio if she needed anything.

Raven’s insides twisted as she remembered the way William had looked at her before she exited the car, almost as if he were afraid.

Something was wrong.

She was staring at the sketch of Saint Michael and his beautiful face when her computer chirped. Cara’s image filled the screen.

“Happy birthday, Rave. Did you have a good time at your party?” Cara’s large blue eyes surveyed her sister’s face. “What happened? Did you bump into Bruno?”

Raven put her sketch aside so Cara couldn’t see it. “No, I didn’t bump into Bruno. I never see him anymore. And I had a good time at the party.”

Cara frowned. “You don’t look happy.”

Raven fidgeted in her seat. “I have a lot on my mind.”

“Well, I hope this will cheer you up. Dan and I are talking about coming out to see you in August. Would that be all right?”

“That would be great.” Raven smiled and her smile was genuine. “It’s been too long since I’ve seen you.”

“You look different.” Cara leaned closer to her computer’s camera. “Have you lost weight?”

“A little.” Raven shifted uncomfortably.

“I called you yesterday but you didn’t answer. I sent you a present. Did you get it?”

“Not yet. The mail can be slow.”

“When it arrives, let me know. I think you’ll like it.” Cara settled back in her chair. “What’s up?”

Raven struggled to find the right words.

“Seriously, Rave. Tell me what’s wrong.” Cara sounded impatient.

With a sigh, Raven decided to blurt out the problem. “Someone contacted me about David.”

“David who?” Cara carelessly flicked a lock of long blond hair over her shoulder.

“David who was married to Mom.”

Cara’s eyes met her sister’s. “Why would someone contact you about him?”

Raven looked down at her sketch of Saint Michael as she frantically tried to create a credible lie. “Um, a private investigator was looking into David, and he found out about us. He said David was married to someone else before he married Mom.”

Cara shrugged. “We knew that. He was a widower, remember?”

“The investigator said his first wife is still alive. They’re still married.”

Cara inspected her fingernails, which were painted a pale pink. “So he was a bigamist. Who cares? Mom divorced him and married Stephen. Don’t let some jackass get you all bent out of shape. You’re supposed to be celebrating your birthday and having fun. Were there any cute guys at the party?”

Raven studied her sister’s face. “Who cares?”

“Yes, Rave, who cares. Don’t bring up that old shit. It’s time to let it go.” Cara adopted a singsong voice and began repeating the last three words.

Raven interrupted. “David was part of a pedophile ring in California. That’s why he was being investigated.”

Cara examined her fingernails once again. “Is he in jail?”

“Not exactly,” Raven hedged. “The investigator has him.”

Now Cara made eye contact. “What do you mean, the investigator has him? How do you know?”

“The investigator told me. Someone wants David to pay for what he did to those children, and not by going to jail.”

“That’s crazy!” Cara exploded. “Who is that guy?”

“Forget about that. The investigator wants my opinion. What should I tell him?”

“About what?”

“About what should happen to David. About what we want to happen to him.”

“Do you have any idea how crazy this sounds? Some guy contacts you out of the blue, asking what you want done to your stepfather. That is whacked. You need to call the police.”

Raven studied her sister. “Is that what you want?”

“What does it matter what I want? This has nothing to do with me. I’m talking about what you should do.”

“He saw the police records.”

Cara turned away from the camera and began rummaging in her purse. “There’s nothing to see.”

“Cara,” Raven whispered.

Cara’s eyes moved to her sister’s and, for a moment, Raven thought she saw acknowledgment. Her sister retrieved what looked like a tube of lipstick and began painting her mouth with it.

“You need to call the cops. The guy who called you is a nutcase. How did he find you? You go by a different name.”

Raven bristled. “He isn’t crazy. He found me because he’s good at finding things. He wants to hear what we think. He’s offering us justice.”

“Justice?” Cara laughed. “Some lunatic approaches you and says he has our stepfather, and you want advice about what he should do to him? I can’t believe you haven’t called the cops already.”

“We weren’t the only children he hurt.” Raven leaned toward the camera. “But we’re the oldest. The investigator wants to give us closure.”

Cara tossed her lipstick into her purse and moved out of range of the camera.

“There’s no we, Raven. There’s just you. You want some stranger to do God knows what to David. Why? Because you had an accident and fell down the stairs?”

“I didn’t fall down the stairs. He pushed me!”

“Yeah, keep telling yourself that.”

Pain shot through Raven’s middle at her sister’s words. “I don’t care about me.” She clutched her laptop screen with both hands. “Are you listening? It was never about me. It was about you.”

“It wasn’t necessary.”

“Someone had to protect you.”

“Protect me from what?”

“From what he did to you!” Raven shouted.

“He didn’t do anything!” Cara slapped her hands on the desk. “How many times do I have to tell you? Nothing happened! He never touched me. Do you hear? He never touched me!”

“Cara,” Raven managed. Cara turned her face away and began to cry. Raven reached for the screen. “I’m sorry.”

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