Authors: Barbara Parker
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Legal
By: Barbara Parker
When a seventeen year-old model claims she was raped in the VIP room of a south beach nightclub by three high-profile men, it’s up to Sam Hagen, head of major crimes for Dade County, to decide if they should be put on trial. Hagen’s ambition to become the next state attorney outweighs his reluctance to be drawn back into the moral twilight of south beach, where his own teenage son died the year before. Hagen’s investigation of the case only exacerbates his wife’s ongoing grief over their son’s death, broadening the gulf between them and driving him into the arms of a woman from his past. When a key witness is found brutally murdered, Hagen is swept into a storm of suspicion that leads, in a shocking twist, back into his own shattered family.
A SIGNET BOOK Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Books USA Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 5TZ, England Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcom Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V
Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road, Auckland 10, New Zealand Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England Published by Signet, an imprint of Dutton Signet, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc. Previously published in a Dutton edition.
First Signet Printing, January, 1997
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Copyright (D Barbara Parker, All rights reserved With admiration and gratitude to Lynn Chandler, a brave and beautiful lady and a model for us all
REGISTERED TRADEMARK -MARCA REGISTRADA Printed in the United States of America Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
A writer never knows if it is a complaint or a compliment when a reader says, “Good heavens, there are so many characters in this book!” The only excuse I can offer is this: So many people told me such good stories that I wanted to include them all.
The best storyteller at the Dade County State Attorney’s Office has to be David Waksman of the Major Crimes Division. (Before law school he walked a beat in the Bronx; he’ll tell you all about it.) Again, thanks to Detective Gary Schiaffo of the Miami Beach Police Department (Gary, what will I do for cop stories when you retire?) and to Sergeant Tim O’Regan, who let me ride midnights. I learned more than I wanted to know from Dr. Robert C. Sykes and Dr. Lee Hearn of the Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office. Jess Galan, ballistics expert with the MetroDade Police Department, filled me in on firearms. Dr. Karen J. Simmons of the Rape Treatment Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital generously shared her time and knowledge.
Modeling agents Allee Newhoff and Deborah Fischer of the Irene Marie Agency took me into the world of fashion, where I met models Klaus Baer and Jeff Gawley, agents Cory Bautista and Judy Lane, and hair/makeup designers Danny Morrow, Scott Barnes, and Rhea White.
For Lynn Chandler, her own page.
Photography credit goes to Bobi Dimond, Gonzalo Miranda, and Scott Foust, who showed me how a fashion photographer sees it.
Angela Lopez was my tour guide to South Beach nightlife, and Louis Canales explained why it’s such a terrific place, day or night. Reid Vogelhut is the best storyteller on the Beach. And thank you, as always, Warren Lee.
Merci beaucoup to my panel on foreign languages and culture: Christine Raffini, for the French and Italian; Dolly Yanishevky, who took me from Ukraine to Israel; Sophia Economos, for some lovely words in Greek; Siegfried Grammel, for the bits of German; Trudy Malin, for stories of Jewish life; and Peter Lavery, who made my British character British. The Spanish and any mistakes are mine.
Rolland M. Miller, former infantry first sergeant, U.S. Army, told me what it was like in Vietnam; and Odessa Tevis, Tarpon Springs Historical Society, made that town’s past come alive.
Many thanks to my legal experts, attorneys Kelly Luther (wrongful death) and Michael A. Matters (criminal defense). Ray King showed me how to load a Colt .45; Richard C. David shared his knowledge of family psychology; and Elizabeth S. Pittenger supplied horticultural details: For inspiration and guidance in the early stages, I owe much to Cliff Yudell. For brainstorming me through the tough parts, love to my sister Laura. For insights on the not-quite-final manuscript, who else but writer Judy Cuevas. Thank you, Anne Williams, Headline Publishing, England, for correcting some of my oversights. Credit for final polishing goes, as ever, to all the great folks at Dutton, especially Audrey LaFehr, my champion and editor, and copy editor Juli Barbato.
Just after dawn on Saturday morning, as the clouds over the Atlantic brightened from pale blue to white, Ali D., who should have been at a modeling shoot on Miami Beach, was instead in the Rape Treatment Center at the public hospital downtown.
Ali D. was her professional name. Her real name, she told the doctor, was Alice Doris Duncan. Ali made a face, tried to laugh about it. Alice Doris. You can’t be a model with a name like that. The doctor smiled. She was young, and her clean red hair was held back with a gold barrette. She told Ali to sit up now, please, and she scraped under Ali’s fingernails and put the scrapings on slides. Still dizzy from too much champagne, Ali closed her eyes to shut out the fluorescent lights and the horrible pink wallpaper. She wanted to go home. Just go home.
She shared an apartment on Lenox Avenue with two other girls, all of them models at the same agency. Her roommates had the bedrooms, but they let her use the sofa bed for practically nothing because Ali wasn’t making much money yet. But someday she would. She planned to establish herself on South Beach, put her book together, then go to New York. But she would have to do it fast, because there wasn’t much time. She was almost eighteen.
If you don’t make it before you’re twenty, forget it. Some girls would keep trying, but really, you had to feel sorry for them.
Ali had been thinking about this as she left her apartment just before midnight to walk to the Apocalypse, a nightclub over on Washington Avenue. Her current exboyfriend, George, had invited her. Some kind of special party. That’s what he did-plan parties for the clubs, or sometimes for people with money, like if it was their birthday.
Red hair bouncing on her shoulders, arms swinging, she made her way through the crowds on the sidewalks. Men followed her with their eyes.
The agency had called this afternoon with a booking for a German catalog company. Here it was, May already, and the models would be wearing boots and wool coats.
Everybody had to show up at the Clevelander Hotel at 6:00 A.m. The production van would take them to the site.
No problem. Ali had slept most of the day. She would party at the club till maybe three, go home, shower and change, have some breakfast, then go to work. Make about $500.
At the door to the Apocalypse, people were jammed up waiting to get in. Ali pushed her way to the front and told the bouncer that George had invited her. The bouncer sat there on his stool, with his huge arms and fat neck, and told her to get in line. A couple of girls said something to their dates, like, Who does this bitch think she is? Just then George came to check on things. Ali held out her arms. “Georgieee!” George was wearing tight jeans and a leather vest, looking totally buff. He had a two-way radio on his belt and a headset looped around his neck. He told the bouncer to unclip the rope, this girl was one of the models, for God’s sake.
“Thought you weren’t coming.” George kissed her cheek and took her through the foyer, which was an aluminum tube with rows of lights leading into the darkness.
Music was blasting from the main room. Ali went to clubs three or four nights a week. The owners wanted models to come; then the good people would show up, not just the college kids or the tourists or the causeway crowd from the mainland. It was getting late in the season, but this party looked okay, Ali thought. The heavy bass beat from the speakers pounded on her cheeks and shook the bones in her chest.
George pulled three tickets out of his vest pocket.
“Drinks,” he yelled.
She put the tickets in her little shoulder purse, then turned around, showing him her dress. “You like it?”
Ali yelled, “I heard Madonna was going to be here.”
“Madonna. Is she coming?”
“Yeah. I think so. But maybe not, you know?”
Ali had been to one of Madonna’s parties. She had a mansion on the water, up the street from Sylvester Stallone’s place. Madonna herself had run her fingers through Ali’s long red hair, asked if it was natural. Yes, it was. Ali had noticed that Madonna had dark roots.
“I hope she shows up,” Ali shouted. “She’s really cool.”
Moving with the music now, Ali looked around to see if she recognized anybody in the crowd. The Apocalypse had a bar along one side of the long, high-ceilinged room and another on the second floor, with railings and catwalks. The metallic walls were lit by tiny spotlights. A bank of TV screens flashed with MTV videos.
George shouted, “Don’t get lost. There are some people coming over. Could be good for you. They’re having dinner at Amnesia; then they’ll come over. Klaus Ruffini.”
He laughed into her ear. “Moda Ruffini, baby.”
“Brilliant!” Moda Ruffini was a boutique on Lincoln Road, a few blocks north. Ali had seen Klaus Ruffini around the Beach. Megarich, always with a bunch of models and artists and celebrities. Ali grabbed George’s arm. “Dance with me! I love this song!”
George looked down at the beeper on his belt. His mouth moved, something like Can’t. Later. Frowning, Ali watched him go, then pushed her way to the dance floor.
Bodies flashed blue-white in the strobes, stop-action: a girl’s hair flying out around her head; a man in a muscle tee and jogging shorts, his body gleaming with sweat.
Vents opened in the ceiling and clouds billowed out, settling like blue fog. Ali noticed a funny old leather queen in a biker hat, his round belly showing under an X of studded leather.
She danced with a booker from her agency for a while, then with some frat boys. They had on Tshirts from Boston College. They wanted her to smoke some weed with them in their hotel room. She laughed and said no way, what did they think she was?
An hour or so later, things were cranking. Ali looked around for George, hoping he hadn’t forgotten she was there. On the main bar a girl in red thigh boots and a corset laced with chains was zapping everybody with a toy laser gun. Ali had a drink, then danced with an agent who booked TV commercials. They went to the men’s room, which looked like the inside of a computer. The floor was tiled with green circuit boards. He closed the door to one of the stalls and laid out a couple of lines on the toilet tank, which was made of shiny metal. There were long smudges where people had run a finger to pick up residue. Ali said she didn’t want any. She wanted to know if he needed any girls with red hair, blue eyes, fivenine. He said to come by with a reel or her book and talk to him. Then he French-kissed her. And she’d thought he was gay. She had some coke after all to be polite. When they came out, somebody was barfing into the sink, somebody else wetting a paper towel for his face. The guy who wasn’t barfing asked where he could get some downers.
Ali said she didn’t know. He said she did, that everybody on the Beach knew. He followed her out the door, cursing in German when she gave him the finger.
Ali danced for a while with a couple of guys from Brazil. They bought her a beer, then went off to dance together. A while later she found herself beside a blond girl she’d met at a shoot. The girl was wearing low-cut jeans.
There was a ring through her navel. She had just done an assignment in Europe, Ali thought. Or maybe England.
“I heard Madonna might show up,” Ali shouted.
“B.F.D. She’s over.” The girl yelled, “Keanu Reeves is in town shooting. I heard he was going to come, but I doubt it. It’s fucking two o’clock already. There’s nobody here.”
“Klaus Ruffini is coming. He might want to put me in an ad.”
“Cool.” They danced beside each other for a while.
Then the girl went off to the bathroom with the drummer for a Spanish rock band.
Ali saw someone waving at her, a woman with a camera. Caitlin, who used to model in New York. Ali hugged her. Caidin said she was taking pictures freelance tonight for the society pages in Latin American Vogue. Ali told her that she might be doing some work for Moda Ruffini pretty soon. Then a shriek came from behind them. It was Pussy Katz, wearing a red wig and polka-dot dress with crinolines. She put her arm around Ali.