45

Angelica pulled the sheer curtains back as she surveyed the hotel parking lot. An hour or two had passed since Jefferson left, leaving her in an upbeat mood. Although Edward had her money tied up in assets that she was unable to get her hands on, Hamilton’s death had left her better off than she had expected.

She turned toward the desk where her brother sat making sure that everything was in order. Legal minds thought that way, and Angelica was glad to have Edward in her corner. There was going to be a fight on her hands, though, when Hamilton’s other surviving relatives received the news that they weren’t going to get a damn thing. There were a couple of aunts and a host of cousins to contend with, and Angelica was sure they weren’t aware of the majority of Hamilton’s assets, which was why he passed them on to her for safekeeping. Hamilton’s mother’s sisters were well aware that she left him practically everything, and they would certainly be standing in the wings with their crusty hands out.

“Jefferson looked good,” Angelica said.

“Aged a little bit and I noticed the limp in his walk,” Edward retorted. “I hope you’re not thinking of playing with fire again, especially since you’re at a good place in your life to move on and get away from the hell that has been your past.”

“No, Edward, I was really thinking about Margo and how gracious she was to me when I first got out of prison. She probably won’t speak to me since I ran out on her generosity. It’s plain to see that Jefferson is still and always will be in love with her. I’m ashamed of all the mistakes I’ve made in my life. But I’m scared, Edward.”

Angelica put her arms around Edward’s neck and laid her head on his. “I’m afraid of Santiago. I’m afraid that he’s going to try and kill me. I haven’t told you this, but I haven’t slept a wink since I’ve left New York.”

Edward pulled Angelica’s arms from around his neck and made her sit down on the edge of the bed. “Sis, I love you. I’m not here to judge you on your past mistakes, but I’m going to help you move on to a new life with new aspirations. The Fayetteville police are informed about Santiago, and hopefully it will be only a matter of time before he is caught. Stop looking back and embrace the future. We need to get to the funeral home to finalize everything.”

“Thanks, sweetie. You’ve been a jewel. When all of this is over, I’d like to see Michael. I know he hates me, but I have to let him know that his sister is trying to start a brand-new life, even though I’ve had a painful start.”

“He’ll come around soon, Sis. Give him some time.”

“I am going back to New York when this is over,” Angelica said, changing the subject.

“Oh, the guy you met. Angelica, you can’t let a man rule your head. What about your brand-new start?”

“This is not ‘some guy’, Edward. He is caring and loving. If I were to be with someone for the rest of my life, it would be with Ari.”

“How do you know? Weren’t you living with Santiago?”

“Donna, Ari, Santiago…I’ve lived with everybody, Edward. I bounced around like I was a carefree balloon with no home to call my own. Wherever I landed at a particular moment, I accepted it and went on with the program, giving little or no thought to tomorrow. My life has so many layers, and most of it, I’m sure, has been because of one bad decision after another.” Angelica looked up at her brother. “I’m going to get it straight one day.”

They both jumped when Angelica’s cell phone began to ring. Her fingers were shaking as she tried to retrieve it from her bag. She glanced at the number and smiled, hurriedly opening it up to retrieve the call.

“Hey, Ari,” Angelica said softly as if she was in a library full of people. “How are you doing?”

“Much better than yesterday. I wanted to hear your voice…to know that you’re all right.”

“My brother Edward is with me. He makes me feel safe. We’re getting ready to go to the funeral home to finalize the arrangements for Hamilton.” Angelica sighed. “All of this makes me numb, and I hate that you have to be in the middle of it.”

“I was lying here thinking about how un-dramatic my life was before I met you. Guess what?”

“What, Ari?”

“You added a little spice to my life. Not that I didn’t have fun hobnobbing with Donna’s bourgeois friends. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that the New York Times had a little article about Donna. It said they have a lead in her murder investigation, but they were not releasing any details yet.”

“My God,” Angelica said thoughtfully. “That’s good. I hope they catch the killer soon. Anything about Santiago?”

“No, but I recognized him as being at Donna’s apartment on the night that she was killed.”

“Are you sure, Ari? When did you realize it?”

“The day he and his goons kidnapped me from in front of the apartments, one of the guys threw me in the back seat with your Santiago. Mean son-of-a-gun. I got a good look at his face when he was questioning me about your whereabouts, and it clicked.”

“You’ve got to tell the police, Ari. They need to know as soon as possible.”

“They know; I’m their lead in the case. If I didn’t tell you, an undercover cop has been monitoring my room in the event Santiago should decide to show up. I doubt that he will because he was obsessed with finding you. He probably thinks I’m dead, especially since I haven’t returned to the house.”

“I’m glad you’re doing better. Be sure to let me know if you hear anything, and I’ll let you know if anything transpires on this end. I love you,” Angelica whispered.

“Why are you whispering? You don’t want big brother to know that you might have a thing for me?”

Angelica laughed. “I told him that I might return to New York when this is all over-and not because I left my things. I’m sure Santiago has thrown them out in the trash.”

“Well, I hope you do. I’ll talk to you later.” And the line was dead.

Angelica flipped the phone down and turned to look into Edward’s inquiring eyes.

“You’ve got it bad, huh?” Edward asked.

“He’s the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. But Edward, he said he recognized Santiago as being at Donna’s house the night she was murdered, and he has told the police.”

“I only hope the cops are out there doing their job.”

“My nerves are shot,” Angelica said, throwing her hands in the air. “I need a drink, if I’m going to get through Hamilton’s funeral and have to deal with a murderous lunatic who’s walking around free when he should have been locked up a long time ago. I can’t believe the feds were never able to find him.”

“We don’t know where Santiago has been. I’m surprised that he showed his face to you.”

“Vengeance. I believe it has always been a part of his plan to get rid of me, Jefferson, and Hamilton when he thought no one was looking or no one cared.” Angelica slumped in the nearest chair and sighed.

Rescuing her from her thoughts, Edward sat next to her on the arm of the chair, took her hand and rubbed it. “It’s going to be over soon. You can bet your bottom dollar on that.”

Angelica smiled at Edward. “I hope you’re right. Now let’s go so we can get this over with. I don’t want to be around Hamilton’s folks longer than I have to.”

“I’m with you, Little Sis.”

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