Cold Case, Hot Bodies(3)

By: Jule McBride


Nathaniel reached past her for the door handle. “Somebody’s tampered with the carriage. Jump!”

Had their carriage been sabotaged? If so, who had done it? And why? His words were in her ears as she realized the carriage was rushing down the riverbank. She tried to jump, as he’d commanded, but her dress caught, holding her back. Just as they plunged, she heard the fabric ripping, and as her dress gave away, Nathaniel pulled her through the open door, into the dark currents.

He was her hero. Her only love. He was trying to save her, but the water was too cold, and she was sure they were going to die. Not on our son’s wedding day, her mind shrieked in protest as her fingers laced with Nathaniel’s. Stay with me, my love, she thought, but then she felt his fingers slip away.





1



Five Points, 2007

“CAN YOU BELIEVE somebody called and complained about me and Sheila Carella?” Dario Donato asked as he strode through Police Plaza toward the courthouse, his long, jeans’-clad legs eating up the pavement. Realizing he was a half hour late for court, he uttered a soft curse. It was the wrong day to have to help his landlord dad straighten out legal matters about a rental property. Clapping a hand on his chest, over his heart, as if wounded, he said, “I mean, who would do something like this to me, Pat?”

“A taxpayer?” his partner suggested as he ran a hand over his buzz-cut red hair. “Or maybe you just pissed off the Fates. Anyway, the chief wants you to lay low until the complaint blows over. Pick up a couple cold cases.”“Budweiser or Rolling Rock?”

“You know those aren’t the kind of cold cases he means.”

No, Dario was supposed to rot behind a desk while an arsonist got away, and all because he hadn’t kept his pants zipped. “You know we’re going to wind up arresting a land developer on the arson case,” he mused. Ever since plans had been underway to develop Manhattan’s riverfront, properties near the water had started going up in smoke, then the land was sold for a relative pittance. Relative for Manhattan, anyway.

“I’m thinking Ralph Stone or Chuckie Haswell,” said Pat.

They were the biggest players. Trump was too smart to get his hands dirty with arson. Dario nodded. “Seriously, are we on for a cold case later? Now I’m talking brewskies again.”

“Tomorrow’s good, but tonight I’ve got a date with Karen.”

“Ah. The girl next door.”

“Not every woman can live up to Sheila Carella.”

“She does set a high bar.”

Dario had met Sheila a month ago, when he’d busted her for unpaid parking tickets. She had big hair, bigger breasts, and always wore fishnet stockings with miniskirts and spike heels. She was kinky as hell, too, and liked to play all kinds of sex games, which meant things had been going extremely well. At least until Dario had taken her home to meet his folks. Not that he’d expected Sheila to blend seamlessly, but his mother, Bianca, had kept crossing herself and whispering, “When’s my only boy going to grow up and meet a nice girl he can marry?” It didn’t help that Dario knew she lit candles each morning at mass, in front of whatever saint presided over philandering sons. On the night of Sheila’s visit, Dario’s sister, Eliana, had kept rolling her eyes and mouthing, “It’s her brains you like, right?” Fortunately, Sheila’s main concern had been her lipstick, so she hadn’t noticed. Or else Dario’s dad’s meatballs and red sauce had distracted her. Beppe Donato was one of the best cooks in Little Italy.

“I like Sheila,” Dario defended as he and Pat started up the courthouse steps. When they reached the top, they flashed their badges at a security guard.

“The only kind of man who wouldn’t like Sheila,” said Pat as they headed inside, “is in the morgue.”

“True,” Dario agreed, now walking down a hallway. “But I don’t like Sheila enough to have to lay low for a couple weeks. Another ten buildings could burn. I just don’t get it. Who could have complained about me dating somebody I arrested? Who cares?”

“Maybe Sheila called the boss. Did you two have a fight?”

“You have a devious mind.”

“Of course. I’m a cop.”

Dario thought back to his and Sheila’s last date, when they’d skipped dinner and headed straight to bed, then he shook his head. “Last time I saw her, I put a smile on her face. She could have done a toothpaste commercial. She claimed multiples.”

“Personalities?” Pat joked.

Dario shook his head. “Orgasms.”