Authors: Warren Adler
Tags: #Fiction, Mystery and Detective, Women Sleuths, General, Police Procedural, Political
BOOKS BY WARREN ADLER
Banquet Before Dawn
Death of a Washington Madame
The Casanova Embrace
The Children of the Roses
The David Embrace
The Henderson Equation
The Housewife Blues
The War of the Roses
We Are Holding the President
Jackson Hole, Uneasy Eden
Never Too Late For Love
New York Echoes
New York Echoes 2
The Sunset Gang
The Ties That Bind
The Witch of Watergate
by Warren Adler.
All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced
in any form without permission. This novel is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, incidents are either the product
of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Fiona awoke, her senses alert to instant reality. She did
not grope for recognition of sounds, shapes and texture. She knew at once what
had awakened her. Oak leaves from the twin oaks in the garden, showing their
first spring growth, rustling, making sounds like beans shifting in a bean bag.
Then she felt the light breeze through the opened window
caressing her left cheek and smelled the gamey odor of the sheep manure the
gardener had spread over the rose beds. Opening her eyes, she could see the
pale grey slate of presunrise framed by the window.
The texture of early spring always jogged her memories of
place. This house and its voices. Daddy calling a cheery goodbye. Mommy's
footsteps crunching along the pebbled path of her beloved garden on the way to
the shed. Death had not stilled the voices. Death never did. It was the axiom
of homicide. People left tracks, left an aura, left flaked pieces of themselves
like the invisible residue of dead skin cells.
She stretched under the comforter, toes touching Greg
Taylor's hard calf muscles. Her position was partially diagonal. Their
strenuous couplings had caused them to shift crosswise in her king-sized bed.
Turning, she observed him in the pale light, then lifted
the comforter for a full view of his now fetally positioned body. Hard muscles
from calves to shoulders, tight buns, smooth sun-burnished skin, healthy, sexy,
beautifully made, a magnificent specimen. Greg would be the first to agree.
Resting her head on her elbow, she studied him with her
detective's clinical eye. A good genetic match, she decided, at least
physically. The odds were that they could make good babies, maybe a bit
egocentric, a trifle compulsive, suspicious, distrusting ... suddenly she was
cataloging a long list of their mutual eccentricities and foibles.
Yet lately she had secretly entertained the idea of single
parenthood. At thirty-six such ideas were understandable. Her mother, dead
seventeen years, would have been appalled at the idea. Not that she wasn't
listening to her thoughts at this very moment. Only speculating, Mother, Fiona
admonished the periodic apparition, just in case it might be planning to put in
an appearance. It would be just like her mother's apparition to catch her in
In fact, her mother, in whatever incarnation, would be
appalled by her daughter's present life. At the time of her death, Fiona was
still every inch the senator's daughter, groomed like a thoroughbred for life
among the elite and powerful. Sweetly scrubbed and scented and being turned out
for the good life at Mount Vernon Junior College, she was the very model of a
good Catholic girlhood, providing boring confessions to old Father Thomas and,
swear to Jesus and hope to die, still a true unblemished virgin as her mother's
casket was lowered into her grave.
"Respect and dignity is everything," her mother
had counseled. It was at the heart of her litany and her life. "No
stranger must invade the temple of your body which has been fashioned to
accommodate God's image." It was quite a convoluted explanation but she
had gotten the message. Only marriage could obviate the status of man as
Loud and clear, the voice still rose in her mind. She had
certainly cohabitated with a fair share of strangers. But she had long outgrown
the secret sense of postcoital guilt that used to afflict her.
But the fact was that her mother would approve of her
relationship with Gregory Taylor. Not entwined like this, of course. But fully
dressed and posed for scrutiny. Greg was tall, handsome and, at least by
heritage, Catholic, his mother of good Irish stock. His father had been a
renegade Catholic all his life, but he had taken extreme unction to hedge his
bet, which would have warmed her mother's heart. Greg, on the surface, would
appear to be the perfect prospective mate in every respect.
But then, her mother always trusted the books' cover. Greg
was right out of Central Casting for any mother's dreams. Except that he was
still married, although separated, pathologically ambitious, devious in the
extreme, covetous, greedy, egotistical, self-centered and narcissistic. In
short, he had picked up all the native diseases of the nation's capital. And,
oh God, she could barely expel the idea, forgive me Mommy, proud as punch of
his beautiful specimen. She offered her palm as presentation of a deliciously
ivory hard erection, his special pride. And her joy.
Husband and father material? Nada. No more than Daddy. But,
at least, Daddy could bleed when pricked. And Daddy, in the end, had proved his
bedrock morality and manhood and had died a real hero. He was the first, the
very first Senator, to raise his fist against the stupid Vietnam war. For his
troubles he was drummed out of the club. How glorious for him? Too bad, Mommy,
you weren't there to see the parade. It was wonderful. Wonderful.
Yet, daydreaming aside, Greg could, indeed, provide the
spermatic libation that could change the course of Fiona's personal history.
Some latent maternal instinct seemed to be growing within her in direct
proportion to her now galloping chronology. Perhaps there was some ego in it as
well, certainly sentimentality and nostalgia. She was healthy, intelligent and
reasonably independent financially. Her house, her parents' legacy, was, aside
from being valuable, a place that cried out for a child's sound to fill its
Such contemplation was taking up serious time in her
thoughts, becoming less and less an impractical dream. She had read about
others having done it quite successfully and single parenting was a commonplace
situation for many. Technologically speaking, she was ready for impregnation.
These days she was relying on the old-fashioned diaphragm. Not like the pill.
No waiting period required for fertilization.
True, in her own mind, a female single parent alone might
not be in the ideal state for child rearing. But surely she had the capacity to
provide enough love and caring to satisfy and nurture a child. Was it pure
selfishness on her part? She had grown to understand the motives of many of her
black single female colleagues who had deliberately had their children. Few had
regrets. Their reasons were arguably somewhat simple, shortsighted and naÃ¯ve.
Now we have someone to love and to love us, they told her. It was their
universal cry and it had touched her finally. Selfishness aside, a woman's
natural role was to bear children, to give life. Wasn't it?
Emotionally, she had not found a suitable mate. Nor would
she compromise on that issue. Perhaps, she admitted, she was hung up on her
father, was searching for replication. Or maybe she simply had lousy luck in
the matter of long term relationships. Of course, it was partially her own
fault. Perhaps she was too selective, too overly analytical, too independent.
She had determined that the distribution system involved in
mating was definitely faulty, especially in the role she played professionally.
It wasn't likely that you could meet the man of your dreams in the Washington
Metropolitan Police Department.
Perhaps she was too much of a threat, too strong-willed and
painfully frank and honest to be a good wife, but that didn't disqualify her
from being a good mother. What she wanted also was a good child, good
genetically, physically and mentally. No guarantees on that, but she could not,
after all, have just anyone's child. Besides, an attractive specimen had a leg
up under any circumstances. The rest, like loving and sharing and decency and
kindness, all qualities that she wanted her child to have, were environmental.
Up to her. Was she ready?
She contemplated a strategy that might leave the decision
partially in the hands of fate. They were going off to Harper's Ferry tomorrow,
had booked a quaint room with a canopied bed in a charming little inn. If the
deed was to be done, she had decided that it must be done away from her
parents' house, away from the constriction of a place that still echoed with
her mother's prohibitions. She had gotten over the screwing part, but
conception was really heavy duty, another matter entirely.
Despite the fact that she had rationalized the guilt part
in terms of her mother, she had not quite jumped the hurdle of the principal
deceit. Not telling Greg.
One thing was certain. He would never consent to it. He had
children to whom he was devoted and he had often hinted, despite his love for
them, that their existence greatly complicated any easy exit from his
disastrous marriage. Nor would he react kindly to any confession of conception.
That situation was just too painful to contemplate.
And telling him after the fact of birth would greatly
compromise her independence and disturb the child's life. It wouldn't do
wonders for Greg either. He would be appalled, probably think it was all a ploy
to entrap him. She was certain, based on his own testimony in other contexts, that
he could be very, very nasty if he thought of himself as attacked, beleaguered
or double crossed. He admitted possession of a singular killer instinct.
As for loving him in the truly traditional romantic sense,
she doubted that this involvement with him was the so-called real thing. Or,
perhaps, she deliberately resisted such vulnerability. One or the other. It was
quite possible that he loved her, at least to the limits of his capability, but
his agenda did not include another marriage, or was he planning any imminent
divorce from his present spouse. The fact was that she could not imagine him as
her husband. He was too shrewd, his mind, although bright, too devious, his
value system, to put it kindly, too flawed.
Perhaps she was deliberately painting his moral life in
darker colors than they deserved. Most power driven Washington lawyers
represented dubious causes and clients if the price was right. Moral
compunctions rarely interfered with fees. As registered foreign agents and
lobbyists, propriety, patriotism, loyalty and honor were hardly obstacles to
yeoman service. They were simply hired guns on sale to the highest bidders.
And Greg served some beauts, killer countries like Libya and Iraq, cults like the Moonies and Hare Krishna, the tobacco lobby, certain well-publicized
industrial polluters. He didn't lose a mini-second of sleep about it. Not Greg
Taylor, master of justification, rationalization, obfuscation and persuasion.
No argument was immune to his convoluted little homilies of logic. A lawyer is
a conduit. He merely advocates. Money is neutral. Nothing was hidden. Agents
are regulated and policed. Representing the devil incarnate was perfectly
acceptable Washington conduct for a lawyer. Somebody had to represent the bad
guys. The Constitution says so.
But despite all his obvious character flaws, she was
enormously attracted to him physically. In that department they were
explosively compatible. All right, she admitted, sometimes his smug
contentiousness was trying, but there were glorious compensations. To keep the
peace, they had both learned the value of surrender on issues that separated
Not that she was any Joan of Arc. But in her musings, maybe
she had to accept him as unthinkable husband material to further explain the
impending deed of using him to impregnate herself.
She had even worked out a tentative compromise for her
conscience. One day she would tell him. Perhaps when the child was ready for
college. Or later. She would work that out. As for the child's own inquiries as
to the identity of his or her daddy, she would come up with a plausible
explanation, one that, she hoped, would not backfire emotionally. But all that
was getting ahead of oneself. Wasn't it?
Greg stirred beside her, stretched in his sleep and turned
on his back, showing his handsome face, years younger in repose. Yes, we would
make a helluva pretty baby, Mommy, that I could guarantee. She lifted the
comforter again. Take a gander at that, Mommy. Does God's look like that? If he
does, then I promise you I will run, not walk, back to the bosom of the Church.
She could not restrain a giggle.
Lightly, she touched his chest, put her palm flat between
his pectoral muscles, then lightly traced a single finger downward, lingering
briefly at his navel, then following the hair trail south. Is that something,
Mommy? See how it obeys nature's commands, rises to glory. Dear God, a thousand
hosannas for the joy of this life. She felt suddenly an enormous sense of power
and it felt, well, delicious.
The telephone's ring put a quick damper on her mood and she
dropped the comforter. Pity, she thought. Curtain going down on joy. Quickly
she transformed herself, stepped over the line into her other life.
"Yo," she said.
"Got one with your name on it, FitzGerald," the
Eggplant said, his voice still hoarse with sleep. Luther Greene, Big Bad Black
Rabbi of Homicide, head of the division. He had the knack, like those who can
divine water in the ground, for absolute accuracy in finding the perfect
inappropriate moment. "Eggplant" was a sobriquet with obscure
origins, but somehow it had stuck, implying pigheadedness, which was accurate,
and brainlessness, which was not. But it worked for her and her colleagues at
MPD as a vent for frustration as well as something that signified on occasion,
"You can't, chief," she whined. He had promised
her three unassailable days off. It would have given her a five day weekend.
And Greg had rearranged his busy schedule to oblige. Was this to be God's sign,
her mother's message to cease and desist? She tucked such a thought back in the
guilt box of her psyche and closed the lid. My life, Mommy, she berated the
specter. Such interdiction was hardly fate intervening. It was a common malady
in the cop business.
"I feel bad about it FitzGerald. I really do,"
the Eggplant said, not without sarcasm as he cleared his throat.
"Bullshit," she said, the accent very heavy on
the last syllable. It was, she knew, to be taken as a comment of deep
disapproval, not a lack of respect. Actually, Luther Greene, was a man
beleaguered and bedeviled. But he had developed a strategy to cope with
harassment. As a captain of homicide, he wore a mask portraying him as a
ruthless, bureaucratic, by-the-book son of a bitch. But when he took it off,
which was rarely, he showed a subtle and singular view of human behavior,
revealing the cynicism and optimism at war inside of him. Also the qualities
that gave him the uncanny sixth sense of a persuasive leader. He knew what
buttons to press to motivate his people, and collaterally get the best out of