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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31





Chapter Twenty - Three

            Madison had lived with the news for a week, one long nightmare week. She'd holed up in her apartment, not speaking to anyone, becoming a recluse, even turning the sound down on her answering-machine so she wouldn't have to listen to anyone's pleas to return their calls.

            Kimm's information had shaken her to the very core. If she'd thought she was upset before, it was nothing to how she felt now.

            Kimm had left behind a briefcase of documentation -old newspaper clippings, magazine articles, some video-tape of the trial. For several days Madison refused to go near it, but finally she'd given in and opened it, devouring everything it contained.

            She'd soon found out that Kimm had been right. Michael had been arrested, tried and acquitted for her mother's murder. The facts were there in black and white, copies of numerous newspaper clippings full of allegations about Michael's past and the people he was rumored to be involved with - including his lawyer, reportedly one of the best, hired for him by the man he allegedly worked for, the infamous Don Carlo Giovanni of the notorious Giovanni family.

            She red the reports of the trial carefully. Michael and Beth had lived together in a house in Queens. While Michael was out one night, someone had broken in, shot Beth in the back of her head and fled. Madison -nice months old at the time - was asleep in her crib.

            On the day of Michael's acquittal the newspapers were filled once more with the news, and his photograph standing on the courtroom steps making a victory sign with his right hand.

            She studied the photos for a long time. Her daddy. Michael. He was so young, and he looked so different with his long, slicked-back hair, seventies-style suit and dark shades. He was still unbelievably handsome.

            The first time she saw her mother's face was a photograph in the New York post. Beth's innocent beauty took her breath away.

            Later that night she'd stared at her reflection in the mirror and realized she was a combination of both her parents: it was uncanny - she was truly their child.

            Kimm had asked her what Michael's profession was and she'd told her investments. Sure. That was vague enough. And she'd never questioned what he did. How naive she was to have always believed him.

            Kimm was right. How come she always found out everything she needed to know about her interview subjects and yet it had never occurred to her to investigate her own family? Why would she?

            She was hurt, angry and confused.

            Was it possible that she could ever face Michael now that she knew the truth?

            Did she care?

            No. he was lying scum and she hated him.

            And yet..he was still her father.

            As far back as she could remember Michael had always told her that neither he nor Stella had any immediate family. According to him, his parents had perished in a fire when he was a teenager, and he'd been raised by different sets of foster-parents, some of whom had abused him. Stella's story was that she'd run away from home when she was sixteen and had not contacted her family since that time.

            So Madison had grown up accepting that she had no grandparents, to cousins no relatives at all. Just Michael and Stella. Her loving parents. Or so she'd thought. What a sham!

            She'd been raised in a New York apartment with either a maid or a nanny for company. At a very young age she'd been sent away to boarding school, while vacations were usually spent at summer camp. But there were times she was home, and she remembered them well. Sometimes Michael would go on business trips that lasted anywhere from a few days to a week. That's when Stella would lock herself in her bedroom and play classical music, telling Madison that she wasn't allowed to disturb her.

            When Michael came home, he'd always bring her presents, teddy bears or dolls. As she grew older the presents were books, jewellery, gold pens - anything she wanted. She looked forward to him leaving because every time he came back it was like Christmas.

            It was a lonely childhood, but since she didn't know any other kind, she'd assumed it was normal. Growing up that way, she'd learned to be satisfied with her own company. An avid reader, she'd always done well in composition at school and genuinely enjoyed learning. It wasn't until she'd gone away to college that she'd finally made friends. There she'd met Jamie and Natalie, and they'd become like the sisters she'd never had.

            'I'm sorry to be the bearer of such bad news,' Kimm had said, before she'd left. 'Think about everything. I know you'll have more questions, so I'll come back when you're ready.'

            She'd thought about it all right. She'd done nothing but think about it

            Your father was a hit man for the Mob.

            Your father was accused of murdering your mother.

            Your mother's name wasn't Gloria, it was Beth.

            Kimm's words kept coming back to haunt her, she couldn't shake them.

            She knew why Michael had said her mother's name was Glora - he didn't want her digging and trying to learn more. Of course, he'd never expected that she would, but he'd done it just in case. Michael was a man who covered his tracks.

            She needed to talk to Kimm again, meet with her to discuss everything, because Kimm was the only person who could possibly understand. They both had unspoken questions. Who was responsible for Stella's death? Was it Michael? Had he gone to Stella's apartment and shot her and her lover?

            It was too horrifying to consider.

            Another thought: should they inform the detectives investing the double homicide of who Michael really was? Or would they figure it out for themselves?

            Probably not. Why would they? He had invented a new identity for himself. His trial was almost thirty years behind him.

            Sensing her distress, Slammer stayed nearby, on her bed, gazing up at her with sympathetic doggy eyes, only slouching from the apartment when Calvin came to fetch him.

            'I've got flu,' she explained to the concerned doorman. 'You'll have to walk slammer for me until I feel better.'

            'Sure, Miss Castelli,' Calvin said, only too happy to oblige.

            The first thing she did when she started to emerge from the fog was call Kimm. 'I have to know more,' she said.

            'I understand,' Kimm answered quietly.

            'Can you come over?'

            'I'll be there in an hour.'

            Kimm, as usual, arrived on time. Striding into the apartment she took in Madison's appearance, which was disheveled to say the least, and immediately asked, 'Have you been eating? You're about ten pounds thinner than the last time I saw you.'

            'Would you be eating if you were me?' Madison said listlessly. 'For God's sake, everything I ever knew about my parents was a lie. I'm totally alone in the world, and that's the way it's been for the last week.'

            'You're not alone,' Kimm said calmly.

            'Maybe I'm having a nervous breakdown,' Madison worried, pushing a hand through her uncombed hair.

            'You need help,' Kimm said briskly. 'Not to mention a shower.'

            'What kind of help?'

            'Do you see a shrink?'

            'Don't believe in them.'

            'I'm with you on that, but you should talk to someone.'

            'I'm talking to you, aren't I?' she said testily.' At least you understand what I'm going through. I can't explain it to anyone else. And I don't intend to.'

            Kimm nodded. 'Where's my water?' she asked. 'Room temperature, remember?'

            'You're awfully bossy,' Madison said, managing a wan smile as she fetched Kimm a bottle of water.

            'I know,' Kimm said, glancing around the apartment, zeroing in on the answering -machine. 'Are you aware you have sixteen messages waiting to be heard?'

            'Would you be one of them?'

            'No,' Kimm said, 'I expected you to phone me when you were ready.'

            'Then don't worry about it,' Madison said, not interested in knowing who'd called her. 'I'm not in the mood to speak to anyone.' She stared at Kimm defiantly. 'That's my prerogative - right?'

            'Hey,' Kimm said, holding out her hand to ward off bad vibes, 'do not take your nasty mood out on me. I'm merely here to try and help.'

            'How can you help?' Madison demanded. 'How can you change what's happened to me?'

            'Let's analyze the situation,' Kimm said, forever calm. 'What has happened to you? You were unaware of what your father did for a living, your mother wasn't your mother, your real mom was murdered, and your father was accused of the crime.'

            'Great!' Madison interjected. ' I belong on Jerry Springer.'

            'You're an adult,' Kimm continued. 'You can handle it. I always say that we can handle anything God hands us.'

            'Here you go with your philosophy again.' Madison sighed. 'Where do you get these sayings?'

            'You don't like my philosophy?' Kimm said. 'Maybe you'd prefer to hear about my background.'

            'Why?' Madison challenged. 'Is it worse than mine/'

            'It's pretty out there,' Kimm said. 'You're a beautiful, successful woman with a great job, good health , everything going for you. I'm a six-foot-tall American Indian lesbian female, who could lose a pound or two. I was raped by my uncle when I was seven, knocked down by a car when I was ten and told I would never walk again. And when I was twelve I was raped by my brother, who then freaked out and murdered my entire family. He's now in a mental institution.' She paused before continuing. 'But I think you'll agree that I've done pretty well for myself. I have a successful business of my own- I don't have to answer to a soul. And although I'm not in a relationship at the moment, I've had some pretty good ones in my time. So here I am, a living, walking testament that you cannot spend e very moment worrying about what's happened in your past, you have to get on with the future.'

            'Jesus!' Madison said. 'Talk about a depressing story.'

            'And I survived,' Kimm said.

            'You certainly did.'

            'Moving on,' Kimm said, matter-of-factly. 'it's the only way.' She took a long swig of Evian from the bottle. 'Have you talked to your dad?

            'No. and I don't intend to.'

            'Okay,' Kimm said carefully. 'If that's the way you want it.'

            'I do. He deserves to be punished for lying to me all these years.'

            'If that's how you feel.'

            'It's exactly how I feel.'

            'Then you must follow your instincts.'

            'You know,' Madison said hesitantly, 'we haven't discussed it, but about Stella and her boyfriend.' She paused, it was difficult voicing her fears, saying the words aloud made her feel weak and vulnerable - emotions she was not used to and didn't like. 'You, uh, don't think Michael could've had anything to do with their deaths, do you?'

            Kimm was silent for a moment. 'It's possible,' she said. 'I have a friend who was able to check out the police report. There was a break-in. they were both shot execution-style in exactly the same way your real mom was murdered.'

            'Oh, God!' Madison groaned. 'This is insane.'

            Kimm put a comforting hand on her arm. 'Distance yourself,' she said. 'let it go. That's what I had to do.' A long beat. 'I'm warning you, if you can't do that, you'll be pulled under and drowned.'

            'What do you have on your office door?' Madison asked wryly. 'Private eye slash shrink?'

            'I have no office door,' Kimm replied, with a faint smile. 'I work out of my apartment. It's more discreet that way.'

            'Of course,' Madison said. 'You do everything your way.'

            'And why not?' Kimm responded. 'It works for me.' 'Here's the thing,' Madison said. 'Do we tell the detective what we know?'

            'No point in rushing to do anything you might regret,' Kimm said thoughtfully. 'After all, what do you know? Nothing concrete.'

            Madison nodded her agreement. 'So,' she said. 'What do you have for me today? More good news?'

            'Maybe,' Kimm said, taking another long swig of water. 'I've found out that your mom had a twin sister. I've got her phone number. She lives in Miami. I thought you might want to speak with her.'

            'God, yes!' Madison said, and found that she could barely breathe.

   


Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62