In this stunning book, New York Times bestselling author Aprodite Jones traces the intricate web of this fiendishly calculating sexual con artist. From Della Faye Hall's strange childhood to her violent marriages, from the police investigation to the murder trial, this is the shocking story of a suburban femme fatale, a gold-digger driven by jealousy and greed to torture her husband to death.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)|
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From Chapter One
He was giant, certainly overweight, and he sat ordering lunch like it was his last supper. Darryl was like that; he had to make a big deal about the menu. It was important to have the right wine, to be familiar with the house specialties, to know the waiters by name. He frequented Primavista, an Italian bistro crowning Price Hill but this afternoon he wasn't really enjoying the view, nor was he paying much attention to Dick Brunsman, his friend of twenty-five years who sat across the table talking about a new private golf club community in Hilton Head.
Darryl and Dick shared a passion for the game. The two of them had just come back from a trip to Dick's oceanfront condominium, and Dick already missed it so much he was talking about buying a larger time-share. Darryl loved it down there, it was where he spent his happiest days with his first wife and kids. Yet at lunch he seemed to be indifferent. By the time the food arrived, Darryl was sullen. He was avoiding conversation. His eyes became fixed on the floor-to-ceiling windows. It was unlike him to let his food sit, getting cold, and he brooded with an uncanny faraway look on his face. He stared at the slopes of Cincinnati as though they were the Seven Hills of Rome. He was only fifty-five, but in that moment he looked absolutely ancient.
When he finished studying the city skyline, finished examining the shadows cast by the Carew Tower, where his new wife was having her hair done, Dr. Darryl Sutorius became so preoccupied with carving his veal chopDick couldn't help making the parallelthe guy could have been dissecting an artery. Being an insurance salesman, Dick had no notion of what might really be running through a surgeon's mind, but Darryl seemed so acutely focused on his entree, it was as if the artichoke hearts and mushrooms were part of a delicate bypass operation.
"You sure don't make it easy to be your friend," Dick finally muttered.
"I've got problems with Deborah," Darryl confessed. "She just announced she's getting married."
"Well, that's great!"
"I don't know. I'm not so sure about this wedding she's planning."
"Where's she getting married?"
"Hasn't decided yet, but she and Bill came to the house last night and it looks like she's planning the wedding of the century. For starters, she wants the service beamed up on satellite to Columbus."
"Hey, better open up the old wallet, buddy boy!"
"And Dante's having a fit."
"Well, she's your wife, Darryl, but I don't think she should have any say about what you spend on your kid."
"I know that, Dick."
"I mean, you're a heart surgeon, for God's sake. It's not like you don't have the dough."
"Well, I'm not so sure."
"Oh, come on, Darryl. Cut the poor-mouth routine."
As their conversation faded, Darryl became totally engrossed with slicing his thick portion of veal. Then, after a few bites, he suddenly laid the utensils down. For some reason, the big guy wasn't eating, he was just pouring down the cabernet.
Sure, Darryl was sometimes moody. But he was being particularly gloomy and quiet. It just didn't make sense. It was near Christmas, it was the holiday season, yet Darryl was finding every reason to be unhappy. Dick noticed it the minute the two of them metthey had just gone to buy the wives their presents, a regular ritual for which they both ended the workday early. It was supposed to be celebration time, but Darryl was acting weird.
Dick kidded Darryl about his golf game, reminding him that after lunch they were headed to the country club. It was an unusually warm day for December in Ohio, and Dick planned to whip Darryl in a quick round of golf at Beckett Ridge.
Dick had wondered about Darryl's behavior earlier at the jeweler's. For a while his friend had been all smiles, elated about the Mediterranean cruise he had just booked on Renaissance, which he bragged was one of the top cruise lines in the world. Darryl said Dante was half expecting the cruise as a giftshe had hinted about it so many timesbut she would never be expecting another fur jacket. He thought it was a knockout mink, and he bought it for herjust on a whim.
But then Darryl showed little happiness when he picked out a diamond tennis bracelet for Dante. It was more money than he had anticipated. Of course, Dick had approved. The bracelet was elegant, not flashy; it matched Dante's personality to the letter. Darryl wanted his wife to wear diamonds of the finest quality; he could just picture it dripping off her exquisite porcelain wrist. He hoped it would please her, yet he didn't seem sure.
When the two men ordered coffee, the surgeon passed on dessert, his attention fixed on the multiple downtown structures, the high-rises that preside over the Ohio River. Dick cracked some father-of-the-bride jokes but Darryl seemed not to care. The surgeon's eyes were droopy. One would think Darryl had some serious form of depression, but Dick didn't really suspect that. Still, he was bothered by his friend's flip-flop demeanor, especially when Darryl's pager went off and he used it as an excuse to cancel their golf plans.
As usual, Dante had changed her hair appointment at the Paragon, driving her stylist crazy with her new demands for additional services and specialized color. Now she was paging Darryl to shift their dinner plans. She wanted to eat downtown at La Normandie and intended to coax him into buying tickets to see The Nutcracker.
When she hung up with her husband, Dante got on the phone again with the Paragon Salon receptionist, saying she was aware she had originally been set up for partial foil highlights, but now she wanted just a retouched tinting. A few minutes later she called back, requesting glossing with full foil highlights, switching the appointment time by an hour. The receptionist at the Paragon became slightly annoyed, but Dante was good at getting people to do things her way. If her usual girl Cindy wasn't available, that was fine. She didn't care who worked on her. Within the past few months, Dante's head had been coiffed by just about every stylist in the place. Dante had such an erratic schedule, it was no wonder that Paragon workers speculated about her keeping a room at the Omni Netherland Plaza, the ritzy hotel nestled in the Tower up above.
As the beauticians stood in their uniform smocks huddled around the reception desk, laughing about her having a secret afternoon rendezvous, Dante Sutorius moved through the foyer of the hotel lobby, floating down the impressive stairway carved of Italian marble, then taking a separate elevator to the street floor. When she emerged in her beige Armani suit, long mink coat, and Ferragamo shoes, everyone turned their heads. The angular shape of her face seemed diffused under the salon lights and the girls at the Paragon kept their chuckles to themselves, greeting the soft-spoken fortysomething woman like she was royalty. One thing about Danteshe commanded attention.
Copyright © 1998 by Aphrodite Jones