Crime After Crime
Alexander Kane Files: Book One
TARA W. KENT
Copyright © 2014
All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Chapter Twenty Two
Chapter Twenty Three
Frank Sinatra crooned from every corner of the darkened room as Virginia stumbled frantically in search of an exit. Somewhere beneath the music, she could feel the soft, warm breath of the approaching stranger in the night.
Virginia saw a thin stream of light, dust particles dancing across its rays and landing on a nearby poker table. She recognized from the placement of the thin, barred window that she must be below street level. But at least she had found a way out.
She screamed as the stranger’s sword plunged through the open slit in the back of her dress and twisted inside of her. She clutched the table as she tried to break her fall to the ground. Her hand grazed by several neat piles of poker chips, scattering them on the parquet floor beneath her. They slid in the quickly thickening pool of her blood as she tried to push herself to her feet, bringing her back to the ground with a thud. This was not her winning hand.
She felt his presence as he placed one foot on either side of her and loosened his knees, kneeling closer to his prey.
“Please, please no. I have money. I’ll give you money. I’ll give you anything you want. Just…please.” Her voice grew weak as she bled out.
He stroked the blonde curls of her blood-stained hair. She heard his voice, barely a whisper. “I know you will.”
Virginia breathed hard and tried to push herself up to crawl away. His gloved hand came down on her, holding her by the top of her head as he forced his other hand through the wound in her back. She let out a horrifying scream, nearly inhuman, muffled by the deafening music.
Her lifeless body fell to the floor. The stranger removed the attaché case from his shoulder and placed it on the poker table, calmly unclasping it before adding to its contents one broken heart. He replaced the bag on his shoulder, slid his sword into its cane handle, and adjusted his gloves.
With the flick of one wrist, a ruddy playing card, lightly foxed around the edges, shot from his sleeve and floated through the rays of dust to land square on the back of Virginia’s neck. From his resting place, the unenthused King of Spades gazed down at the heartless gape in Virginia’s back. He had won the hand, but he knew there would be several more to play before he took the pot.
Kane found himself in the same familiar situation he’d encountered numerous times before, trying to maintain a façade of steely resolve, struggling not to squint as the bright light left him blind to all but that which was right in front of him. He knew there must be countless others in the room, watching, studying his every move to see what made him tick. Still, his focus remained on the torturous man seated across from him.
Brice Belmont adjusted his silk bowtie, the corners of his mouth turned up in a grin as he readied himself to interrogate his favorite plaything.
“Are you ready to begin, Mr. Kane?”
Kane tried to smile playfully, though it came off as more of a grimace. “You should know me better by now, Belmont. I’m always ready.”
He truthfully wasn’t, but he didn’t have much time. Belmont was set to begin in three, two….
Camera One rolled closer for a better view as applause deafened the room. Brice turned to meet its lens as the audience settled into an attentive hush. Kane sat up in his seat, his plastic smile fixed on his host.
“Good evening! I’m Brice B. Belmont, welcoming you back to New York’s Newest Scoops with tonight’s guest, three-time Emmy winner Alexander Kane!”
Alex waved to the applauding audience, pretending to be flattered by their dull routine. “Thank you, thank you all. It’s a sincere pleasure to be here tonight.”
“So, Alex, tell us what’s next for you! You’ve recently announced your departure from Time After Time after six award-winning seasons. I think the question on everyone’s mind is: ‘What now?’”
Alex wondered the same thing, but he couldn’t hesitate on the air. Especially not with Belmont hamming it up, bubbling over as if he’d never landed a better story than the series retirement of an over-the-hill soap actor. The thirty-something gritted his teeth, searching for what to say. I honestly don’t know, Brice, he mused. The thought of working another season with my ex-wife was making me sick to my stomach, so knowing my luck, I’ll probably get remarried.
“Well, for starters, I’m going to take some time off to really think about what the future might hold for me. Take a sabbatical, if you will.” He smiled for the cameras. Played the part.
“Does the fact that your ex-wife remains on Time After Time have anything to do with your decision to leave the show?”
Oh, he is pressing now. Alex stole a slight glance at his agent, Chuck Fields, who stood off-stage and gave a casual shrug. Chuck didn’t know what to say, either. He was supposed to keep Alex’s ex-wife from coming up in the interview, and he knew he’d be in the doghouse. After six months of separation, Charlene was still a sore subject for Alex. Every time he heard her name, her voice echoed in his mind: “I slept with David.”
David, your best friend for eight years. David, our producer. David, whose marriage I’m willing to throw down the drain along with our own.
Tied up in his interview, Alex had to wave it all off for the time being.
“No no, Brice, nothing of the sort. Charlene and I may have parted ways on a personal level, but I will always respect her career.”
Alex smiled, though this time he was less disingenuous. Nailed it. That’s exactly what you’re supposed to say. Not that she’s a vapid, career-sucking leech. They’ll figure that out on their own.
Alex poised his way through the rest of the interview without a hitch, crowd-pleaser that he was. When it was all said and done, Chuck ran up and wrapped his arms around Alex’s tightening shoulders. He knew Alex wasn’t exactly the hugging type, but he couldn’t resist. Like Alex, the balding, chubby, middle-aged man thought he had a clear enough sense of who he was that he wasn’t about to change his ways for anyone.
“Alex, baby! That was perfect! I dunno what happened, that creep askin’ you about Charlene and all, but you schmoozed him like a pro!” Chuck had moved into a loft on Central Park West the first week he landed Alex as a client, yet the rough accent of southeast Brooklyn remained glued to his voice.