By Robin Dykema
Diana stepped out of the adjoining hotel room, her red lips tightly pursed together.
“Who is this? How did she find you two?” She pointed at the woman on her knees, towels flung around her.
Violet lifted her hands up, her palms facing Diana in what she hoped looked like a gesture of innocence.
“We’ve never seen her before, I promise.”
Technically not a lie.
“We really have no idea why she was here,” Charlie added without skipping a beat.
Ok, that one is a bit of a stretch. Luckily, Charlie’s always been a more convincing liar than I am.
Diana looked at the two siblings and paused, as if trying to decide if they were telling the truth.
“We watched the room the entire night, miss.” The first guard, whom Violet nicknamed Tweedledee, said in their defense.
“No one’s been in or out. We tapped the phones too; they haven’t made any suspicious calls,” Tweedledum added.
Diana glared at Tweedledum for admitting in front of Charlie and Violet that the phones were tapped.
It’s not as if we couldn’t have figured that out ourselves.
Diana began scolding the guards in a low, indistinguishable voice for letting slip the information about the tapped phone and for letting the towel woman into the hotel room.
Violet let her shoulders drop down her spine.
She doesn’t suspect us.
Charlie grabbed her hand and gave it a light squeeze.
We’re okay. For now.
One piece of the puzzle was still unclear to Violet. Did the guards not see the woman press the button on her belt?
Violet looked at each of the guards, trying to search for any clue of them having witnessed the action. They were deep in discussion with Diana, but neither mentioned anything about the button. After a few minutes, Diana turned her fury toward the woman who had tried to give Violet the wire.
“Take care of her.” Diana snapped her fingers and Tweedledee pulled the woman into Diana’s room.
Tweedledum ushered Violet and Charlie back into their hotel room. They slumped onto the couch, arms touching. The guard sat erect in the chair adjacent to the couch and stared blankly at the siblings. The room remained silent for what could have been five, ten, or thirty minutes. Violet tried with all her might not to imagine what Diana meant by “taking care of” someone. She heard no sounds escape from Diana’s room; no gun shots, no screams.
The silence finally broke. Charlie and Violet both jumped when the door swung open and Diana walked in looking poised at collected.
“You’re not going to get away with this.” Charlie spat out before Diana could address them.
Diana rolled her eyes. “Look. I’ve told you before. I need your cooperation in something, that’s it. I don’t want to hurt you, either of you. But I will if I have to. And I’ll kill her first, just so you can watch her suffer and know that it was all your fault for not helping me.”
The cold, cruel look in her eyes made Violet believe the threat. She gulped and nodded. “We’ll help you do whatever you need, we just want to go home. But we don’t understand how we’re supposed to help you.”
Diana’s blood red heels click-clacked as she walked toward Charlie and Violet. She opened her briefcase and slid a newspaper across the table to them.
“This was the first step. Front page headlines, just like I expected.” She let a cocky smile spread across her face.
Violet’s curiosity peaked and she cocked her head to the side to read what made this diabolical woman so pleased with herself.
NY Senator’s Son Found Dead After Botched Political Deal
The two pictures that accompanied the article made Violet shiver. A casual picture of Victor smiling with his father Jacob after a company picnic. Another picture of Victor looking serious in his business suit. The pictures of Victor looking lively haunted Violet. Luckily, the newspaper didn’t include a picture of Victor’s bloody, dead corpse – an image she desperately tried to rid her mind of.
Violet tried to read the article, but her thoughts jumbled together and she simply couldn’t concentrate enough. She caught a few phrases and sentences to get the gist of the article, such as “rampant drug use,” “questionable family values,” and “history of violence”. Violet forced her gaze away from the article. She knew whatever the article reported about Victor, starting with his death being caused by a drug deal gone wrong, had to be false or exaggerated by Diana and her people.
Some of Victor’s last words flashed in Charlie’s head, “No matter what happens, no matter what, Charlie, I need you to know that you always knew the real me. Okay?”
Charlie silently promised Victor his dying wish. I’ll remember you the way you really were. You deserve better than that.
“Brilliant, isn’t it? Yeah, I had to kill him a bit earlier than planned, but it all worked out. Daddy’s perfect son isn’t quite so perfect anymore, is he?” Diana let out a forced laugh.
“Nope, his reputation is ruined now.” Violet used all her strength to pull her lips upward in what she hoped Diana would take as a look of approval. She knew that her best bet was to play along with Diana until Charlie had satisfied her demands, or whomever the woman with the belt communicated with discovered them, whichever came first. “What’s the next step?” Violet asked.
“That depends on you, Charlie.”
Violet looked over at Charlie, hoping he’d follow her in submitting to Diana’s plan, whatever it may entail. She could feel Charlie clenching and unclenching his fist next to her. He held a piercing gaze focused on Diana’s left hip, where she guessed a weapon was concealed. Violet grinded her elbow into Charlie’s side, and his gaze dropped.
“Whatever you need me to do,” he said through gritted teeth.
“I need an interview. That’s all, then you’re free to leave.”
After all that, she only needs an interview?
“Here’s the deal. I’ve set up an appointment for you at 4 o’clock today with a reporter. You’ll have to tell the reporters exactly what I tell you to say. Meanwhile, your sister will be in my room, being watched by my guards. If you don’t do exactly what I say, or if another towel lady happens to come by, well then…”
Diana pulled the gun out from her jacket.
“Let’s just say, Violet will suffer a similar fate your Victor did.”
The way she pronounced Victor’s name, as if he were some vile rodent who deserved his death, made Violet’s stomach turn.
“Why me?” Charlie asked. “There’s got to be hundreds of people in New York you could bribe to give your brother and father a bad name.”
“Half-brother. And you can’t really call someone who shipped you off during your teens a real father.” For a brief moment, Violet saw pain flash in Diana’s eyes. She almost felt sorry for her. Almost.
Diana slipped back into her calm, cold demeanor. “And you don’t think I’ve tried that? The stories just ended up in the tabloids and no one paid any attention. I need something from a credible source if I want to start taking Jacob down. Victor’s dishonorable death was the first step, but now we’ve got to directly spoil Jacob’s name before I start the next stage of my plan. You’re Charlie Gandry, beloved artist, friend of the family. Thousands of people went to your art exhibit last month, your website is filled with adoring fans, why wouldn’t they believe you? With your past relationship with Jacob and Victor, your fame in the art world, and your likeable personality, you’re the perfect candidate. And I know you. I knew if I found something of yours you really loved, I’d have you in the palm of my hand,” Diana motioned at Violet.
She has him there. After what she did so relentlessly to Victor, I know how much Charlie must hate Diana, but he’ll do anything to protect me, even if it means helping her.
“So what’s it going to be?” Diana asked calmly, taking a few steps toward Violet. She grasped both her hands firmly around her gun and pointed it at Violet’s right temple.
Violet sucked in her breath and closed her eyes.
“YES, YES! I’ll do your damned interview! Just put that away!”
Diana smiled and said, “You’ve made the right decision. I’ll just take my collateral now to make sure you hold up your end of the deal.” With just a look from Diana, Tweedledum grabbed Violet roughly by the shoulders and began pushing her out of the room.
Violet didn’t resist the guard, but turned her head to give what could be her last look at her brother. Charlie and Violet locked eyes. They couldn’t exactly exchange any dialogue without Diana or the guard overhearing.
“Marbles” Violet mouthed, as Tweedledum pulled her away.
Next week, stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of Shades of Violet!!