“I’m gonna kill you!” is a common response, said as often in jest as in anger. Humans have a lot of reasons to dispose of one another so most of them could well mean it. Political games haven’t changed much since Mankind learned to walk upright. The same tools popular in Greek and Roman cultures are active today, including monetary schemes and sexual ploys used to enhance the power plays. Anything is acceptable, even murder (but don’t get caught) to advance one’s ambition.
Did a psychopath kill Andrea Nelson? In 1984 at the time of the murders a stage was set and the law might have accepted this if it wasn’t for the diaries she left behind. At first, Andrea’s scribbling appears worthless, even her mother claimed she was a habitual liar; so who bothered to send the books to a police captain’s home and for what reason?
Shelia Connors Beechen’s death has been judged an accident. Without a body can the truth be found out? Unbeknownst to them, Andrea Nelson and Shelia Connors have the same biological daddy—a nasty problem as Andrea is having an affair with Shelia’s brother.
We leave 1984 and the murders of the half-sisters; the story drops back to 1976 when Thomas Devlin first met Andrea Neilson. His future was looking grand, he was moving into a position in the powerful Connors’ political group. Already involved with the married Shelia, he finds himself in an uncomfortable situation when Andrea decides to pursue him. Although the women have been close friends since childhood, at this time neither is aware they share the same biological parent.
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New York, March 1984
Andrea Nelson's private elevator opened directly into the entrance hall of her condo. She hit the light switch; the area flooded with subdued color from beneath pale Tiffany lamps. Her feet sunk into the plush burgundy carpet, and her quick glance swept by the tapestry settee, to take in the crimson and bronze floor length drapes that shut out the world. She tried to lift the barely conscious boy but found she had exhausted herself. She took his arms and dragged him across the carpeted floor to her guestroom.
Grasping the waistband of his jeans, and using the bed for leverage, Andrea tugged him part way to his feet, and then dropped the top half of him on the bed. She grabbed his ankles and swung the rest of him atop the mattress. It crinkled from the plastic sheeting she'd learned to keep on it for protection from vomit and urine. She studied the pathetic childish features. His slack lips allowed saliva to dribble from the corners of his mouth. The bruises on his face and arms advertised someone used their fists on him recently. She'd tackled worse cases so she knew the kid wasn't on the verge of expiring — still, she was taking a chance. She could be buying herself trouble by bringing this kid home instead of juvenile hall. It was just some of these kids got to her more than others.
Tony Cassavet had only been on the streets a few weeks when Andrea first encountered him less than three months ago. A late bloomer, he was fourteen but his emaciated condition added to a short stature made him appear younger. Experience taught her, he'd draw pedophiles like candy did kids. She couldn't bring herself to immediately abandon him to the system. That time, Andrea had paid off an angry storekeeper for the few dollars in cookies the starving child had pilfered, took him home and put him into rehab the next day. Tonight made the fourth time she'd brought him home. This is it kid, she decided, you take off from rehab again it's the lockup.
Andrea's familiarity with young addicts told her Tony was likely down for at least ten to twelve hours. She locked the door on the guestroom from the outside so the druggie couldn't get into the rest of the apartment unless she let him. A fire exit from the window in the room, kept her from feeling guilty. If he came to, and needed out, he could climb or fall the nine stories to the pavement.
She checked her watch. Two hours. She had time for a shower and a few tricks to enhance her looks. The bathroom mirror advertised a tiredness in her face. A good night's sleep was what she needed. Cracking the starter in a chemical pack she held it across her eyes and forehead. The sudden cold felt marvelous. She found it difficult to capture sleep lately, and had to force herself awake each morning. She couldn't remember a time in her life until now, when she'd been bothered by restless nights. Maybe it's the age thing. She moaned as she shed her clothing.
The shower revived her and relaxed the muscles that throbbed from lugging the boy. A final rinse of cold water sparked the color in her flesh. Choosing an ivory silk gown so its smooth lines emphasized her slenderness, she slipped it on. Her hands ran over the fabric pleased by the affect she could still attain without underwear. She vigorously brushed her shoulder length hair to cause fullness. Forty. Lord. She didn't look it. She didn't feel it. A smile. How did one feel forty?
Already humming, We've only just begun, Andrea shoved in the tape. Tom liked The Carpenters — she did not. Tonight, she promised herself, she would please him. Over a month since their last spat without so much as a phone call. Then this morning ...not a 'hello' or 'how in hell are you?' just, "Andy, you have anything going for tonight? No? I'll be over about nine."
Making her way through the rooms to the foyer she checked the elevator. Once before she had forgotten to release the night security latch and Tom had simply gone away. She picked up the New York Times from the end table where she'd tossed it unread that morning. 'Another royal birth', proclaimed the headlines. Scanning only the front page she set it back down. It never ceased to amaze her, this love affair America had with English royalty. Charles wasn't bad. But pale sweet-faced Di reminded Andrea of a younger Catherine Connors, Catherine Anderson then, and the memories were never pleasant. Andrea grimaced.
Had she and Catherine always hated each other? She couldn't fathom a time when they hadn't known each other. Like the three musketeers, the idea brought a smile; the three girls had marched through their school years together and into life. Shelia Connors had emerged as the tall bright princess of morning, while Andrea Nelson, claimed the role of the tall dark princess of night. And then there was the pale little evening princess — Catherine Anderson. Not that Catherine was much shorter or smaller than the other two; it was her ability to portray sweetness and frailty that made Andrea despise her. But as a child, she hadn't really hated Catherine. That had begun when they were teenagers, with them both wanting the same boy. She'd had John Connors long before Catherine did — wiggling and panting in his own bed. Then squealing like a frightened child that they must never tell anyone ever.
Looking down, she noticed the polish was chipped on several toenails and headed for her dressing room to repair them. What an ass, she thought as she concentrated on applying the deep rose shade that went so perfectly with her dark-beige skin tone. It had never been Andrea Nelson, John Connors wanted. All Johnny needed was any warm and willing body. Forty — it was time to stop lying to herself. No one had ever loved this girl. She was the whore you used when you needed one.
The summer she'd turned eighteen, Michael O'Neill had told her what she was. They'd been going together for almost a year when he discovered she'd been secretly making out with John Connors. Michael hadn't been jealous; he hadn't the decency to even be angry. "What the hell, lass, screw any guy you're of a mind too; ain't no concern of mine. Wasn't like I was planning to marry yah."
One thing about Mike — with him you always knew where you stood.
John Connors. Memories of that off and on relationship of theirs made her tremble with disgust. She missed her nail and swore as she grabbed a cotton swab to clean her toe. At least he'd been polite the first time he dumped her. "Andy, you know I have to marry Catherine," he had said, like Andrea should understand. Like they were simply part of this game and each had their position to cover. Individual plays were allowed but the team effort went onto the final goal — to win. She was only twenty-three then and fighting tears as he assured her, "It's not that I don't care about you, I honestly do, I always have and we mustn't just end our relationship."
Humming along with the music, Andrea moved into the parlor. She lowered her body into the plush velvet cushions of the sofa. She picked up a small accent pillow and hugged it. Poor John. She supposed in a cynical way she loved him. God, she enjoyed pulling his chain. A sad smile creased her lips. It hadn't always been like that. Once, when circumstances forced their public encounters, she'd felt sorry for him. She took extra care that no one should mistake their friendship for anything deeper. Now, she longed to spit in his face right in view of all those hungry reporters that hounded John Fitzgerald Connors like he was the second coming of Christ.
Laughter swelled in Andrea's throat but only trickled passed her compressed lips in a weak chuckle. Discounting so many others, Tom would personally skin her alive if she interfered with John's future. Several years ago, Thomas Devlin had set a goal for himself when he cast his lot with that personable young soon-to-be senator. Tom hadn't been shy about admitting, "This bloke wants a stint in the oval office at the side of the Connors lad with those 'leading man' looks."
Thomas Devlin would get what he wanted she didn't doubt that. He could do most anything. Tear her apart with words; knock her silly, still she kept crawling back for more. But never a commitment so was written the story of her love life.
It was odd how their last quarrel hadn't ended in the usual violence. Instead he'd found her idea of marriage and child rearing comical.
He had laughed as if she'd made the funniest joke in history when she'd said, "Tom, my real father was white."
"You're bragging. So was mine. He was a fine character, who used to whip my ass once a day to keep in practice." Tom's cheeks had flushed and his gray eyes turned charcoal advertising his mounting anger but it had left him quickly. "Old, mean, drunken bastard that he was, now that I think about it, never remember Pa walloping my sisters."
"You never told me about your sisters?"
He'd shrugged off Andrea's question with a simple, "They're dead," and quickly changed the subject. Thomas Devlin was an expert at changing subjects. "Not into the family thing," he'd said. "Sorry, Andy, look me up in another ten years."
Ten Years! Oh sure, a man of thirty-two, he had ten years to play with — she didn't.
You let that white bastard use you like a whore! Andrea's father's warning flashed in her mind. Only the judge wasn't her father. A chilly smile formed on moist lips as she licked them. If ever she hated a man, that man was Alvin Nelson — His Honor. Thinking about him brought on the urge for a stiff drink and she stood up.
Stepping around the curve of the padded bar she selected Jameson from a multitude of similarly colored bottles. She didn't particularly care for Irish whiskey. It wasn't her taste but Tom's that counted tonight. She poured a shot straight up, gulped it, and poured another to take back to the couch. Again her thoughts shifted to the judge. Nelson gave her plenty, his name, money, position, and a feel when no one was watching.
For years Andrea's mother brushed off her complaints as childish nonsense. She constantly reminded the little girl. "Al loves you. He's your daddy. He'd never hurt you. Look at the things he buys you. He spends more money ..." On that score Andrea couldn't argue. If money could furnish a desire, Andrea received it. Always she acquired the first of everything in her wealthy crowd — right down to rape. It had happened on a rainy night in September when prim Mrs. Alvin Nelson was being initiated as president of the exclusive PTA at the private school Andrea attended, when Andrea was thirteen.
Her mother hadn't believed her. She'd slapped her face and called Andrea a scheming little bitch. Threatened to have her locked away if she ever repeated the ghastly accusation.
"Al's better than your own father, who couldn't care this much about you." The angry woman snapped her fingers to impress Andrea with her limited value as she finally admitted the truth. "Your daddy, ha, you want to know about your real father — why? He never even cared to see what you looked like."
That was a lie! Her father knew what she looked like; the son of a bitch probably knew when she got her first period.
The title 'father' filled Andrea with loathing. She swirled the liquor in her mouth to kill a bitter taste. The self-righteous bastard, he hadn't even tried to deny it when she confronted him. He had said, "Andrea, what was necessary was done and in the best interest of everyone. You were well taken care of and had everything my own daughter had."
His own daughter, ya, sure, his blue-eyed daughter with the cream colored skin. That was his daughter not wretched cinnamon skinned Andrea.
The tape switched sides. The click startled her and caused her to jerk upright. Scattering her glance over the room she grinned at her foolishness. She curled her legs under her buttocks and leaned back closing her eyes. The music was too loud, she thought. Could wake the kid.Na, the little fool had been riding a terrific high for days. She shouldn't have let him crash in her guest room. But if she'd taken him to juvenile hall, she would have been tied up for at least another few hours. Why did the kid have to call her tonight? Her own fault, she gave him the phone number. She was always giving them her private number only to regret it. Time to give up on this one, she decided again, one day he would overdose and she couldn't afford to have him dying in her pad. Wouldn't that make news headlines: 'Superior Court Judge's daughter found with dead fourteen-year-old boy in her bed'.
She thought again about her bogus father and relished in her ability to make him squirm. God, how she hated that man, his sweaty face, his infuriating whine as he attempted to explain the unexplainable. "One time, Andrea, one time. I drank too much — you were a little tease. I didn't force you. You should have left the room."
Deep in thought, Andrea didn't actually hear the gently pushed open foyer door. She sensed a presence, lifted her head, and choked on a single scream that died against a firmly slapped palm. Her painted nails dug helplessly into a hand shielded by latex. Taken completely off guard, shock quickly turned to fear. Her squirming body couldn't throw off the pressure of the knee digging into her chest. Her fists came up in self-defense, but a blade slashed at them, slicing the flesh on her hands and spraying warm blood on her face. Raw agony caused her struggles to intensify. She attempted to roll her head as her terror mounted and she couldn't scream. She fought for air. Tried desperately, with bloodied fingers, to dislodge the hand pressed against her nostrils and lips. This wasn't right. None of it was her fault. The hand wielding the knife found an opening. Terrible pain caused tears to pour down her cheeks as the blade ripped across her throat. She struggled for oxygen as the pressure from the body leaning into hers now forced the blade into her chest. Why?CHAPTER 2
New York, March 1984
Damien Walters, captain of detectives, felt a headache starting to throb behind his weary eyes that aspirin wouldn't calm. Several days of the mayor riding his tail, demanding a quick solution to the Nelson murder, the damn reporters playing it up like a circus, had also given Captain Walters a continuous acid burn in his stomach.
The Nelson broad had too many connections to important people. At first it appeared to be a fairly clear-cut case of a psycho butchering a victim. Not only had the perpetrator cut Andrea's throat with a knife, he'd slashed her body repeatedly with a box cutter after she was dead; then he'd called it in. The crazy bastard had called it in himself. Of course he hadn't pinpointed the exact location and they'd been forced to search the entire complex. It had taken them hours to find the body and discover his bloody marks were all over the phone. Naturally they weren't prints that could be matched up — just squiggles and smears that had come from the latex gloves that lay beside it. What looked like bloody lip marks were on the mouthpiece as if he kissed her before he called.
Had it all been staged? It was starting to look that way and he didn't like the idea one damn bit.
Now these books had surfaced. Captain Walters wasn't thrilled by this complication. His first impression of the diaries was they were some kind of sick joke. But it was quickly established Andrea had written them. Who had sent the books was another puzzle. They'd been mailed to him at his home in a carton from a popular boutique. The shop sent out an average of twenty orders a day in such cartons. With the original labeling steamed off it was impossible to trace. His wife had opened the carton and read the first few pages of the top book. She called him shrieking like a lunatic and his head had been pounding since.
Walters didn't bother to rise as Hal Dexter entered his office. He had several of these young prizes wished on him in the last few years and was certain it had nothing to do with their abilities. It was the quota nonsense and Dexter's toothy smile irritated Walters, who'd put in long hard years to get to his position. His face maintained its grim mask of authority. "You wonder boys are going to earn your pay on this one. It's going to be a dirty business." He shoved the stack of small matching black books across his desk to join several other piles of the same.
Dexter whistled. "How many are there?"
"Thirty-two. Started keeping a record when she was thirteen. Andrea never mentions a last name; anyway I haven't found one. Most of it appears worthless. We'll never tag a name on the majority. She used pet names. There's Virgin Harry, Rubber Ducky, and this fellow she gave a lot of attention to is King Prick. Another poor sucker she dubbed 'stubby' and spelled it with a small 's'."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Reason to Kill"
Copyright © 2018 Geraldine Fitzsimmons.
Excerpted by permission of IFWG Publishing International.
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