Thursday, July 26, 2012

Excerpt - The Secret Brokers

Dallas rubbed his hand over the
back of his neck and silently cursed. If Carl Bordonaro had ventured outside
the safety of his New Orleans lair, then something big had to be up. His
thoughts quickly turned to Nicci. Perhaps something had happened to her. He
then shook off his apprehension. He knew she was safe with her husband, David
Alexander. David would have contacted him before now if there had been a
problem. He and David had been in touch constantly ever since he had returned
to New York to take over Simon La Roy’s network of specialists. Burying himself
in Simon’s business of buying and selling secrets had kept Dallas going over
the last several months. It was only at night, alone in Simon’s king-sized bed,
when the past caught up with him. His thoughts would always stray back to Nicci
in the darkness. He missed reaching for her, touching her skin, and holding her
slender body against his. That was the hardest part of loving someone—letting
go. He sighed once more into the silence of his office, then squared his
shoulders and headed for the door. Time to get back to work.
When Dallas walked into the drawing room, he saw a short, round man in
his early sixties, with a bald head and a pasty face, admiring Simon’s
collection of ancient Greek vases. He was dressed in a tailored gray suit, wore
thick, black-rimmed glasses, and seemed to sport a five o’clock shadow despite
the early morning hour.
      Loutrophoroi?” the man queried in a
deep voice as he turned from the mahogony
display cabinet.
Dallas eyed the black and red vase the man had been admiring. “They
belonged to Simon. I have no idea what it’s called.”
“Used for weddin’s and funerals in ancient Greece, I believe,
” he
said in his thick New Orleans accent. The man lifted his big brown eyes to
Dallas. “Quite a collection the little guy had,” he added, seemingly amused.
“He was an avid collector of art and antiques.” Dallas placed his hands
behind his back and stepped into the room. “Lance gave me the impression that
you never left New Orleans, Mr. Bordonaro.”
“Oh, I leave all the time,” Carl Bordonaro acknowledged as he surveyed
the room. “The feds try to keep an eye on me, but there are ways to get around
their tails. Lots of ways.”  He held his
hand out to Dallas. “And you can call me Carl.”
Born and raised in the tough Irish Channel of New Orleans, Carl
Bordonaro had learned from an early age to embrace a life of crime in order to
get ahead in the world. His underworld dealings had landed him on every FBI
Most Wanted List for the past fifteen years. But like many Louisiana
politicians, Carl Bordonaro seemed immune to federal indictment, having
survived five arrests with no criminal convictions.   

                 Dallas took Carl’s hand. “How is Lance?”
Carl Bordonaro gave Dallas a firm handshake. “Waitin’ anxiously to
become a great uncle.”
Dallas let go of the man’s hand. “From what David tells me, she doesn’t
have long to go.”
“Yeah, Lance told me Nicci is due in another few weeks.” Carl dipped his
head. “I mean Jenny, of course. Still haven’t quite gotten used to her new
identity yet. I guess she’ll always be Nicci to me.” He paused and stared into
Dallas’s eyes for a moment. “And to you too, I think,” he suggested with a
“So what have I done to garner this unexpected visit?” Dallas asked,
desperate to change the topic of conversation.
“It’s not what you have done, my friend. It’s what you’re about to
Dallas raised one eyebrow. “About to do? I’m not sure if I like the
sound of that.”
Carl moved toward a mahogany chair not far from the display case. The
chair was upholstered in the same blue and cream fabric that covered the walls.
He looked from the chair to the walls and shook his head.
“Simon La Roy always was a flamboyant little guy.”
Dallas eased his way across the room to a chair close to Carl’s. “He
tried not to let his sexuality influence his business, but his restraint did
not seem to undermine his decorating skills. All in all, he was a very private
“Yeah, well.” Carl sighed as he took his chair. “Now he’s a very dead
private man. Lucky for you the world wasn’t too upset to hear of his passin’.”
He looked about the room once more. “Seems you have worked yourself right in
here. Lance told me you have had very little opposition to your takin’ over his

            “Once it was finally leaked
to the press that Simon was dead, there was little to no resistance
encountered. Many of Simon’s past associates were more than pleased to hear of
his death. Seems the man had only enemies—myself included.”  
Carl Bordonaro sat back in his chair and folded his hands over his
protruding belly. “Glad to hear that I was of some help to you and David last
“Which is, I am sure, why you are here, Carl,” Dallas replied with a
slight grin.
“I figured cleanin’ up that mess at David’s place entitled me to ask for
a favor.”
      Dallas leaned back in his chair,
scowling. “A favor?”
Carl ran his hand over his bald head. “I want you to do a job for me, a
job you and your organization are well suited for. Now, I’m a man of
considerable influence, and could entrust this job to any one of my associates,
but none of them are as skilled as you in gatherin’ exactly the kind of information
I need.”
“What kind of information are we talking about?”

            “Secrets,” Carl answered.
“Simon La Roy was known around the world as the man to go to when one needed
secrets uncovered. As his successor, you’re the man to see. And with our past
dealin’s together, I figured you were a man to be trusted.”
“Who’s the target?”
“Target? Odd chose of words.” Carl raised his dark eyebrows worriedly.
“I don’t want her killed, Dallas.”

            “Target is the person who we
are sent to investigate. My people don’t eliminate.”
Carl smiled. “Of course.” He nodded his head as he looked down at his
stubby hands. “There was a former associate who knew a great deal about my
business ventures. His name was Earl Yeager. Three years ago, Earl was
diagnosed with cancer and spent his last days in a hospital bed. He was given
the best of care, and I paid to have private nurses see to his comfort. One
nurse became very close to Earl—so close, in fact, that I think he may have
told her a few secrets about me. If these secrets were released to certain
federal agencies, it could cause problems for me and several other men
throughout the country.” He looked up at Dallas. “Some of these other business
men want this young woman killed, just to make sure she doesn’t talk, but I
can’t do that.”
“Because you want to find out what she knows first?” Dallas inquired.
Carl shook his head and sighed. “Her father and I are…old friends. He
was a liquor distributor in New Orleans. For forty years he supplied my house
and businesses with liquor. Ed Pioth was good to me, and I’ve known his
daughter, Gwen, since she was born. I attended her christenin’ and her first
communion, so you can understand my dilemma.”
“You want me to send out a specialist to find out what she knows. See if
this Earl Yeager said anything that the feds could use against you and
Carl stared into Dallas’s eyes. “I can’t afford for anyone else to be
involved at this point.” He pointed at Dallas. “I want you to go and find out
what the girl knows.”
“Me?” Dallas balked. “I’m right in the middle of taking things over
here. Simon’s death was only leaked to the press a few weeks ago. I can’t just
hop on a plane and—“
“I would consider it a personal favor,” Carl interrupted.
      Dallas warily eyed the man and then shook
his head. “And being a personal favor to you would mean what for me exactly?”
“That whatever you need from now on, I will do everythin’ in my power to
Dallas took a deep breath and mulled over the man’s words. Carl
Bordonaro was a powerful friend to have, and considering the instability of the
business he was trying to operate, a man with such connections could only prove
to be an asset in the long run. Dallas leaned forward in his chair and rubbed
his face in his hands.
“Tell me about the girl,” he finally said.
“Do you like animals?”
Dallas sat back in his chair, shaking his head. “Animals? What is she, a
vet? I thought you said she was a nurse?”
 “Yes, Gwen is a nurse, but she is
also an animal lover. She lives on a farm outside of New Orleans where she
keeps her rescued race horses.”
Dallas fidgeted slightly in his chair. “I live in New York City, Carl. I
don’t know anything about horses.” He gave the man an impatient glance. “Tell
me more.”
Carl nodded his bald head. “All right. Gwen is thirty-four, divorced,
with no children. Her husband was a physician from a very wealthy family in
Houston. Needless to say, her divorce settlement left her more than well off.
She bought a fifteen-acre farm in a place called Folsom, on the north shore of
Lake Pontchartrain. She retired from nursin’ after the divorce, but she took
the private duty job as a favor to me.”
“Which would explain why you are here,” Dallas clarified. “But if you’re
such an old family friend, why don’t you just talk to the girl yourself?”
“I already have. But that ain’t enough…you and I both know that. The
people I’m lookin’ to appease wouldn’t take my word that the girl knows
nothin’, but they will take yours. And there is another reason I want you with
her.” Carl paused and turned his eyes down to the cream-colored Oriental rug
beneath his feet. “Until other interested parties can be—let us say,
distracted—away from the girl, I need to know she’s safe. And with you she will
be,” he asserted in his deep voice.
“Then let’s pull her out of there and put her somewhere I can keep an
eye on her.”
Carl’s brown eyes returned to Dallas. “Then she would look guilty and I
would be caught in a finger pointin’ game with those other interested parties.
No, the girl must stay put on her farm for now and not be seen as changin’ her
routine in any way. Let’s just say there is someone already watchin’ her and if
she were to be moved, a lot of problems would suddenly develop for me.”
“Who’s watching her?” Dallas questioned.
      “Some former associates of yours at the
FBI. Seems they’re also pretty interested in what the girl knows.”
“And another reason why you can’t just sweep in there and take her
away,” Dallas pointed out.
“So you see my dilemma. I need someone on the inside close to the girl,
makin’ sure she doesn’t talk to the feds, and also makin’ sure she stays alive
until I can learn what she knows. I have assurances from the individuals who
want the girl eliminated that a certain amount of time will be allotted for you
to learn her secrets, but I will need you to move as quickly as possible.”
“How long do I have?”
“Two weeks,” Carl declared.
“Damn it.” Dallas jumped up from his chair. “Do you know how hard it is
to set up a target and then gain their confidence? What you are asking takes
months, not weeks. How can I get this woman to confide in me in two weeks
Carl stood from his chair. “In my experience, there are only two methods
that can get a woman to talk quickly; torture and sex. I leave the choice up to
“I don’t torture people, Carl.”
     He gave Dallas a
mischievous grin. “I know.”

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