The Copycat Killers(6)

By: Paula Millhouse

Miss Aida ground her teeth together until her jaw ached. They obviously feel at home in the house I built. Entitled. I hope their father is reincarnated as an ass.

Pressure set her bloodstream to boil. She enjoyed the simmering, thrived on it. These weaklings are the least of my worries.

Her grandchildren were stunning examples of the word beauty. Their Italian genes mixed well with their dead mother’s Latino heritage, and the results were breathtaking. Thick, straight ebony hair. Olive complexions. Sharp, defined features. Incredible physiques. Miss Aida had laughed when Jimmy picked up modeling for his career, following in his father’s footprints. While his face was plastered all over New York City, Tia had spent her money on higher education, specializing in computer programming. She was the dangerous one.

“Yes, you’ve suffered a heavy sadness, I know. You loved Paulie, but he brought this on himself, and that will have to suffice,” Miss Aida said.

Jimmy threw his hand up in the air. “That author killed him, didn’t she? She was the last one…”

Miss Aida came unglued, her eyes going flashbulb wide. She’d chosen to believe Jimmy’s innocence when he’d lied to the federal agents. He’d lured Evie Longfellow into a date with Paulie with his million-dollar-smile. “Now you claim knowledge of what transpired on my property? In my house! You fucking knew?”

Miss Aida came up from behind the desk after him, scattering contents everywhere. The look of terror in his eyes confirmed what she suspected.

He reared back on the couch when she closed in on him. “I helped pick dates for him, that’s all! She was the last one before he died. What else you want me to think?”

“You ignorant little bastard,” Miss Aida hissed at him. She turned her rampage on Tia. “Tell me what he knows!”

Tia shook her head. She tilted her chin up at Miss Aida. “He guessed the Long-Stocking woman did it because she came over for a date, then, poof, Poppies’ dead.”

Miss Aida neglected to correct the mispronunciation of Evie Longfellow’s name on purpose. She didn’t want them anywhere near her. She’d planned to lie to them—throw them off the track. Now that they’d resorted to covert operations behind her back, she thought better of it. She sat on the corner of her desk. Crossed her arms. She paused for her anger to die down to a simmer.

Tia mirrored her pose, leaned forward.

“There’s a federal gag-order in place regarding your father’s death. If anyone speaks of it, of the case in any way, if there’s any move toward retaliation, then I go to prison. The FBI and the federal justice system are a living, breathing bitch.”

Miss Aida listened to their collective gasp. A grim smile tugged at her lips. “And you should know, when you come to the conclusion you’d be better off without me around, say, serving time in maximum security where I’m out of your way, the gag-order applies to you as well.”

Jimmy furrowed his brows. “What?”

Tia’s upper lip curled.

“The judge specified if I go to prison, or if anything mysteriously happens to my flesh and bones, you both will be held accountable for explaining the remainder of my businesses, both legitimate and otherwise, to the FBI.”

She paused for effect, gave the idiots time to link it together. “Of course, that’s if you survive explaining your behavior to Tony Aiello.”

The twins sat there wide-eyed. Jimmy grimaced. Miss Aida lowered her voice and leaned in, jutting her index finger in the air at them. “Leave this alone.”

Tia squared her shoulders. “Why are you doing this?”

Miss Aida curled her upper lip into a disdainful snarl. “Your father deserved what he got, just like your wretched grandfather. Some things are best left to the imagination.”

Tia narrowed her eyes, but held her tongue.

“Revenge may have played well back in Capone’s day, but this time you will consider my word final. You have more important responsibilities.”

Tia and Jimmy watched her with curious, saucer-sized eyes.

“Now that there’s been a disturbance in the force, a change of the guard if you will, it’s up to you to lead this company. Your official start date is January One. What you do between now and then does not concern me. I’d suggest you report for business tomorrow morning. We have tons of territory to cover.”

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