Weismann, Roberts & Eisner (Vin’s lawyers office) LA
“Two millions dollars.” Simon Weismann said as he got comfortable on his leather chair. “That’s the compensation we consider appropriate that Mr. Diesel should receive regarding payment for the blatant violation of his privacy.”
Vin glanced down at the picture showing him and Lorraine inside the purple cabin at ‘Privilege’ and then up at his lawyer but said nothing. What could have he said, anyway?
It was clear that someone had installed a hidden camera, recording everything that had happened that night at ‘Privilege’ which meant that somewhere, someone had a copy of a Vin Diesel bad quality porno movie. The only thing left was to find who had done such a thing, proving the authorship with enough evidence.
Fuck…Vin shut his eyes, cursing. He was sure that if Luna found about it she would think he was a retard, even if he didn’t have a clue that he was being recorded while having sex, and two seconds later she would be hurt so badly who knew what might happen to her.
Vin hadn’t dared to think about the consequences of that movie hitting the media. He was not concerned about himself or the damage that those screen caps would cause to his public image and to his career, but because of the heartbreaking pain it would cause to Luna if she got to see them, or to his family.
“The aforesaid amount will be credited by Mr. Cerutti as jointly responsible for not offering enough zeal to safeguard Mr. Diesel’s intimacy while being at his nightclub.”
Simon’s voice pulled Vin out of his thoughts and he focused his attention on his lawyer, straightening a bit in his seat.
“Of course, without disregarding the subsequent responsibilities that may exist once the unofficial investigation carried out in concert by the management of ‘Privilege’ and our expert is closed.”
Simon paused anew as he handed a copy of the agreement to Mauricio’s lawyer and then continued.
“Under normal circumstances two million would be considered a derisory amount, but, since Mr. Diesel contributed with his—let’s say ‘careless behavior’ to create this unfortunate situation, we consider such compensation acceptable.”
Mauricio thought himself lucky; it could have been much worse and he knew it. Still, the owner of ‘Privilege’ bit his tongue hard, barely restraining the urge to telling Vin about Dave.
Marcela had begged Mauricio not to mention anything about the existence of another set of screen caps or their suspicions regarding Dave being the brains behind that disgusting matter. Of course, she had anticipated Vin and his lawyers to figure it out on their own, but without evidence all there was were unfounded suspicions.
Mentioning Dave as mainly responsible would only cause Vin to end up doing something stupid. A luxury Marcela didn’t have anymore. She needed to gain time, get ahead, anticipating Dave’s next move.
Mauricio’s lawyer nodded in agreement and gave the head ups to his client to sign. Mauricio did it, wanting nothing more than this meeting to end.
“Under what name should I draw up the check?” Mauricio asked evenly, pulling his checkbook out of his jacket. There was no hard feeling against Vin, this was just the way things were done and Mauricio knew that too.
“To the bearer.” Vin answered causing Simon frowned.
In the past Vin always demanded that the checks he had received as compensation for whatever reason be draw up under One Race Films.
Mauricio finished and handed the check to Simon. “I guess that’s all.”
In response Vin’s lawyer nodded ‘yes’ and, after saying their goodbyes, everybody left the meeting room with the exception of Vin and Simon. Once both men were alone, Simon stood and filled two glasses with cognac, offering one to Vin.
“So, who is this Lorraine?” Simon picked up the picture, staring at it as he sipped from his drink.
Vin shook his head, letting out a heavy sigh. “She’s just a victim of circumstance.”
Simon nodded. It had happened on more occasions than he could keep track of. To be in the wrong place at the worst time was something Simon as a lawyer was familiar with. Most of his clients had seen themselves involved in a similar situation.
“Is this the way things are going to be from now on?” Simon left the picture on the table and looked straight at Vin’s eyes. There wasn’t reproach in his voice, just a slight trace of concern. “I’m asking you because if the answer is ‘yes’ then I’m going to have to entrust your business exclusively to an entire department within the firm.”
In response Vin shrugged his shoulders. “I didn’t know I was being recorded.”
“I told you before and I’ll tell you again. That’s not an excuse, Vin.” Again there was not reproach in Simon’s voice; the lawyer was just stating a fact.
Vin didn’t reply; he knew Simon was right. The fact that he didn’t know didn’t release him from his responsibility. Vin knew he should have been more careful and level-headed.
“You know these pictures are going to make the headlines, right?” Simon leaned backwards on his chair, sipping from his cognac. “Luna might end up watching them, Vin.”
Vin tensed but once more said nothing in return; actually he had been counting on it though, at least so far. Now, Vin wasn’t sure he wanted Luna watching pictures of him with other women anymore.
Simon sighed softly; he couldn’t really understand why Vin was acting in such a cowardly way, pushing away his wife, disrespecting her, humiliating her instead of fighting for her. The lawyer could comprehend Vin’s reasons but he was doing it the wrong way.
“I always thought you were far braver than this.”
“You too, Brutus, my son?” Vin’s sarcastic reply caused Simon blinked, feeling more sad than shocked.
Those words had allegedly been Caesar’s last uttered words, if the Roman emperor had said anything at all before he had died, as soon as he saw that Brutus, his very close and loyal friend was among his assassins. It was commonly known and interpreted as an expression of betrayal and shock. Still, Simon always thought they were more the result of Caesar’s disappointment and sadness at finding Brutus had participated in the conspiracy to kill him.
“Vin, we both know that your private life is none of my business, unless it gets you in legal trouble, but gratuitously hurting a woman, and your wife of all people?” Simon sighed concerned. “That’s unacceptable, Vin, and you know it as well as I do.”
“Thought you were my lawyer and not my marriage counselor.” Vin went on guard. He didn’t need to be reminded about such a reality.
Simon rolled his eyes. “Don’t go on the defensive on me, Vin. I am your lawyer, but I’m also your friend and I worry about what’s going on, especially if your fuck ups get you in serious trouble, legal trouble.”
“The more trouble I get myself involved in, the better for you, right?” Vin grinned even though his eyes reflected a deep sadness. “As far as I know, you bill per hour, Simon.”
“That’s why I said I’m your lawyer in the first place,” Simon grinned, “but I’m your friend too.”
Vin chuckled. “$500 per hour? That definitely makes you a high maintenance friend, Simon.”
Simon laughed hard at that. It was true. ‘Weisman, Roberts and Eisner’ was one of the most expensive law firms across the country but they also had the highest percentage of won cases in a court.
“A man has to live and it’s not like you can’t pay our rates.” Simon pointed, out, still chuckling. He really liked Vin’s sense of humor. “Now, that reminds me, why a bearer check? Are you planning to cash it yourself?”
“Actually, you will cash it and will make sure Lorraine receives one per cent. You make it appear as if she was awarded with a scholarship or something.” Vin grew serious in a heartbeat. “I know Lorraine is like Luna; she won’t want the money if she suspects I’m the one giving it to her.”
Simon’s brows arched at the unexpected comparison of both women, but he nodded ‘yes. “I guess you already know that the money won’t compensate the moral harm she’s going to suffer as soon as these pictures are published, right?” The lawyer gestured with his head to the pictures spread on the table.
“Yeah, I know, but at least she’ll have a chance to keep going and in time, she’ll get over it. Lorraine is a lot like Luna, she’s a strong chick.” Vin let out a heavy sigh and rubbed his forehead. “Lorraine told me she was in a workshop theater. If those are anything like they used to be when I was her age, then she’ll be fired before the weekend.”
Simon narrowed his eyes. That would be twice that Vin had compared this girl Lorraine with Luna. “So you feel guilty.”
“What a shock, huh?” Vin chuckled sadly. Yeah, he felt guiltier than sin, but that was all he could do to help Lorraine. He wouldn’t allow the girl to get involved with him at all. She was too sweet and innocent for that.
Simon smiled. “Not really, Vin. I always knew you were a decent man at heart.”
At Simon’s words Vin snorted. “Yeah, I’m the epitome of decency.”
“Hm, I wouldn’t say the epitome, but you’re more decent than most people I met over the years, including me.” Simon grinned. “It’s just that you’re a stubborn son of bitch who wants everything done your way even when you’re dead wrong.”
“Must be my huge egocentric self.” Vin replied humorlessly. He knew his ego had cost him a lot.
“Must be that.” Simon stood and headed towards the bar. “I guess as usual the rest will be shared out among charity organizations.” The lawyer changed the topic as he refilled his glass. So far Vin hadn’t touched his own drink.
Vin nodded ‘yes’. “I want at least three quarter of the money being invested in organizations that work for and with kids.”
“See? That’s the evidence that you’re a decent man.” Simon stated firmly. “I know more than one celebrity that would buy a new Italian car or a house.”
“I don’t like Italian cars and I already have a house.” Vin leaned backwards in his chair, closing his eyes. “What I want I can’t buy with money.” He added more to himself than to Simon.
Simon went still for a second and then took a seat at the table once more. “That’s why I don’t understand what the hell you are doing.” Simon’s concern was back in his voice.
Vin sighed heavily, recalling his routine over the last days.
He had been hosting a party almost every night, a wild party actually, in which the drugs and alcohol had run freely. He had also been fucking two and sometimes even three different girls every night, pretending each and every one of them were Luna. His frustration had only increased and Vin felt emptier than never before.
“I don’t understand it myself, Simon. How the fuck are you going to do such a thing?” Vin answered, snapping his eyes open.
Simon shook his head. “Then go get your wife, Vin. Try to work things out with Luna.”
“I can’t do that, Simon.” Vin replied, standing. “Luna deserves far better than me. I’m just a worthless piece of shit without a heart; amoral and egocentric. The farther I keep myself from her, the better off Luna will be.” He added, getting ready to leave.
“I guess you’re right.” Simon dropped the issue.
Judging by the pictures showing Vin and Lorraine and what Vin had told Simon about the night at ‘Privilege’ maybe his client was right after all. This last thought caused Simon to frown even deeper. There was nothing that led him to think that the screen caps of Vin’s orgy wouldn’t end up showing up.
Vin watched the way that Simon’s expression hardened considerably in seconds and how his eyes narrowed in suspicion, his gaze fixed on a spot only Simon could see. “Simon?”
Simon blinked and met Vin’s suddenly concerned gaze. Vin paid Simon to worry in his place but he also knew that when Simon looked the way he did at that very moment, it only meant that the lawyer was really worried about something.
“You know that this matter is not nearly done, right?” Simon’s voice sounded deadly serious.
Vin took a seat again, anticipating and somehow fearing what Simon was going to say next.
Simon locked eyes with Vin. “Sooner or later someone will show up, blackmailing you, Vin. We need to get ready, so when that happens we can strike back.”
Vin nodded, letting out a heavy sigh. “What do you want me to do?”
“Nothing.” Simon answered simply. “You won’t do anything, except tell me. I’ll take care of the rest.”
“What if it turns out that I know who the fucker or fuckers are?” Vin narrowed his eyes as his stomach twisted with a sudden suspicion.
“It won’t make any difference, Vin. I want you telling me right away.” Simon replied firmly. Vin hesitated for a second and Simon’s gaze hardened even more. “I’m not joking, Vin. I want your word that you will not do anything without consulting me first.”
Vin set his jaw hard. “Okay, you have my word.” He reluctantly replied.
Vin didn’t like the way things had started to get out of hand or how all of sudden he couldn’t get rid of the bizarre idea that had popped within his head.
James’ place. LA
“What the fuck…?” James stared at Joe’s picture, flashing at him from the screen of his computer.
A whole week had passed and James wasn’t sure how he had managed to keep his mind focused long enough to make worthwhile progress in his investigation. Memories of Joe had been haunting him mercilessly.
James hadn’t been able to stop thinking about the living God he had met at Privilege nor stopped dreaming or daydreaming about him. James found his behavior a bit disturbing; never before had he felt remotely close to the way he felt now.
Even though James had had a couple of more or less serious relationships, he had never found someone who would have turned his world upside down. Joe had done just that and without even trying. And that was the reason why James felt like a dirt bag, digging into Joe’s past. It didn’t feel right.
It wasn’t that James was doing something he hadn’t done before, more occasions than he could keep track of. It was that he never cared enough. People were just names and addresses; traces to follow, targets to investigate, little pieces of a bigger puzzle. Problem was that James couldn’t see Joe as just that; he was much more for James even if James was having a hard time coping with such an undeniable fact.
Plucking up courage, James leaned forward and kept reading all the information he had managed to put together about Joe.
It was not morbid curiosity that pushed James to keep reading or a secret fascination but more a need to find what had happened to Joe in the past, to understand from where Joe came and why he had locked himself in an invisible shell searching for protection, turning him into some sort of emotionally disabled person.
It hadn’t been so difficult to find most of it, since almost everything had been available on the Internet. Only thing had been to know where to search and James had made a living of using the latest technology to his advantage.
The first thing that caught James’ attention had been that with his head shaved, Joe’s resemblance with Diesel was amazing. Hell! They looked like two drops of water, almost like twin brothers.
According to Joe’s curriculum, he was Vin Diesel’s official stunt double and had worked with the actor in all his movies. From ‘Pitch Black’ right down to ‘SETH’, even though Diesel’s upcoming movie didn’t have action scenes. Joe had also worked with many other actors aside from Diesel and he had built a reputation as a serious professional in business in and out of Hollywood.
James wasn’t sure if he should feel relieved or concerned. The thought of Joe being a male escort had crossed James’ mind and James hadn’t liked the way that suspicion had made him felt. But now, he was worried about Joe’s safety. James knew stunt doubles risked their lives and many of them ended up dying while shooting a scene.
Pushing aside such a painful thought, James did his best to keep focused on his investigation, not losing his objectivity; it wouldn’t do him any good.
There were more than hundreds of pictures showing Vin Diesel going out and about over the last ten years, but after a closer inspection, James realized that in a lot of them it was Joe and not Diesel. In some of them it was hard to tell for sure if it was one or the other. It seemed as if Joe had willingly made himself pass for Diesel, standing in for him, showing up at nightclubs with stunning chicks, distracting the attention of the media from the actor, allowing Diesel a little bit more privacy.
The second fact that had gotten James’ attention was to find that, according to Joe’s profile, he had been living in New York for a couple of years. He had also been working as a go-go dancer in several clubs to get the money to pay for his training classes to become a stunt double.
Such a piece of information wouldn’t have had much relevance if it wasn’t for one of the nightclubs being the Tunnel; the same nightclub where Vin had been working as a bouncer. That hadn’t been all though, both men had been working at the Tunnel at the same time; the dates coincided.
It might be just a happy coincidence; still, serendipity wasn’t something James believed in. So he had searched deeper and had found that the Tunnel had been one of the most emblematic nightclubs that New York had in the nineties. It had also been known because its parties and performances had been aimed to a mostly homosexual clientèle. In fact, all the go-go dancers had been men and not women, some of them well known transvestites.
The more James thought about Joe’s past, the stronger a suspicion grew within his head. Whatever happened to Joe or whoever had hurt him was linked with Diesel, even if it wasn’t directly related with the actor. It seemed that between both men there was some sort of connection that went back many years, before Diesel turned into a celebrity, getting paid millions for shooting a movie.
Mauricio had provided James the phone number to contact the owner of the Tunnel. At first, the man had shown reluctance to talk with James about those days, but after mentioning that Mauricio Cerutti had hired him, James had gotten a few valuable traces to follow.
It seemed that the owner of the Tunnel had been connected with drug trafficking. As a direct consequence the club had been raided on several occasions until finally it had been closed. The owner of the Tunnel had been sentenced to pay an astronomical fine and a bunch of community service hours and, once his sentence had been served, he had moved to Canada.
James had found an interesting bit of gossip about Diesel fucking the go-go dancers that worked in the club every now and then, in the bathrooms or after the club closed its doors.
Upon talking with the owner of the Tunnel, James had found that the source of such gossip had been an ex-employee, actually one of the waiters who had gotten into a huge fight with Diesel after the bouncer found him trying to rape a girl in the bathroom.
According to the waiter’s version of events, he was not trying to rape the girl, who was a minor as well, but he was just warming her up while waiting for Dave to join them. The girl had been so shocked and so scared that she hadn’t been able to say a word confirming or denying the waiter’s version. The result had been that Diesel had sent the waiter to the hospital after beating the crap out of him. Still, no charges were pressed against Diesel who got out with a fine that the management of the club paid.
Making a mental note to find the identity of the girl, James recalled a little piece of information that the owner of the Tunnel had added right before he and James had said their goodbyes.
The man confirmed to James that most of the bouncers acted like a little brotherhood, protecting each other and covering their asses on more than one occasion. They all had nicknames to prevent possible retaliations on the part of unhappy costumers and used to hang around together, as if they were some sort of tight pack.
James narrowed his eyes, deeply considering such a piece of the puzzle. Apparently, not all those guys were as loyal to each other as they had been in the past, at least concerning Dave. James already knew that four of the aforesaid bouncers, Valentino Morales, Mike Bentley, Steve Jackson and Dave Breaux had ended up becoming Diesel’s bodyguards and in some cases much more than just employees.
Loyalty was not plentiful to find these days, much less around Hollywood. James knew there were celebrities that didn’t have any kind of issues forcing, not only their employees but also their family members to sign confidential agreements as well. There was always a cousin or even a brother struggling to pay the mortgage. Easy money was hard to turn down.
Picking up the CD that Mauricio had given to him early that day, James leaned backwards in his chair, staring at it. It contained screen caps of Diesel’s private orgy at ‘Privilege’. If James hadn’t been with Joe at the same time that the hidden cameras had been recording what was happening inside the purple cabin, James would have sworn that the guy showing the screen caps was Joe at his worst or Diesel at his best. Especially after seeing with his own eyes the incredible resemblance both men held.
Mauricio had asked James to find everything about Dave’s past, not skipping efforts or money. The owner of Privilege had also explained to James what Dave had done, adding that Moira Feldman knew about the existence of such a tape. Asking for discretion had been left unsaid, not that James needed anyone telling him what a delicate matter he was dealing with.
Of course, honoring his principles, James hadn’t said anything about Luna hiring him; that would have meant a violation of his code of ethics. His clients came searching for James because ‘discretion’ was his middle name. Still, it might represent a conflict of interest since James had been hired by Luna as well.
It hadn’t been the first time that one line of investigation had ended up fortuitously crossing paths with another. On these few occasions, James solved the ethical dilemma by giving preference to the main one and the person who had hired him in the first place, since almost always the secondary line of investigation ended up being incidental and complementary. This meant that whatever James found about Dave, the detective would inform Luna first.
Playing with the CD in his fingers, James thought about its contents and what use Luna would make of it.
There wasn’t evidence to prove Sheila’s implication in Carla Simon’s death beyond suspicions. But a tape showing the young model having sex with a porno actress would surely destroy her career as an actress before it had even started. James figured that the contract Sheila was rumored to sign with a famous beauty firm would end up in the trash if these images were made public. It would be the definitive blow Luna was searching for.
That last idea made James think about Lorraine.
“…Luna and Vin are way out of your league! And if you keep messing around with them, you’re only gonna find yourself in deep shit…”
Joe’s words to Lorraine echoed within James’ head and he narrowed his eyes. He had already seen the girl’s pictures with Diesel. They had been published by the ‘LA Confidential’ that very morning.
They weren’t exactly pictures and more like screen caps. In a couple of them, Lorraine was half lying on the huge couch while Diesel was all over her. In others they both knelt on the couch and seemed to be about to kiss each other. Unlike the screen caps showing the orgy, these ones didn’t show any signs of the couple having sex; actually Diesel and Lorraine were fully dressed. Still, the intimacy showed by them both couldn’t be denied.
Shaking his head, James inserted the CD on his computer and made a copy.
If Diesel’s wife’s plans for the information about her husband were anything like the plans James suspected that she had for the information about Richard Hopkins and the others, then this CD could be used as leverage as well.
Mauricio had added that the ‘LA Confidential’ wouldn’t publish the screen caps showing the orgy and James had agreed with the owner of Privilege. If Dave was planning to make them public, he would have done it already.
Making up his mind, James wrote a note for Luna, warning her in advance about the content of the file attached to the email and sent it to her. Luna would be the one deciding if she wanted to see it or not.
Meanwhile, James was planning to fly to New York to have an interview with the man who had been the manager of Tunnel back in the days when Diesel, Dave and Joe were working there and he also needed to find the identity of the girl who that waiter had tried to rape. Who knew? Maybe James would be able to find a valuable trace to follow.
Aztec Country Club. New York
With a smug smile plastered on his lips, Roberto gestured for Santiago to enter the bar at the Aztec Country Club first and followed him inside. The cardiologist had won again but Santiago didn’t really care; he played golf to keep himself in shape.
Taking a seat at one of the tables right next to one of the large widows with a view of the green, they ordered their drinks and got comfortable.
“So, you already decided the best way to show up in her life without arousing suspicions?” Santiago asked quietly; he didn’t want anyone overhearing them. “Because certainly approaching her while she’s signing copies of her book doesn’t sound like a wise thing to do, my friend. Not to mention that it would denote an unforgivable lack of imagination.”
Roberto chuckled. “I’m far more original than that, Santiago, besides we both know she’s hated the tour from day one. Showing up at the book store asking her for a personalized dedication might feel like an insult more than praise, at least to her. I’d be acting the same way and that’s exactly what I want to avoid at any cost.”
Santiago nodded in agreement. “And that’s why curiosity is killing me, Robert. I’m dying to find what you’re going to come up with.”
Roberto’s lips spread in a huge wicked grin. “It just so happens that I found out that there’s an available condo in the building where Luna lives.” He paused for a second, swirling his bourbon and then continued. “I talked with the president of the homeowners association and he was delighted at having a prestigious cardiologist living in the building.” Warming up the amber liquid in his hand, Roberto went on. “I offered him a complete checkup, free of charge, of course, if he was able to find a way to change the date of my application, so that it appeared that I applied for the condo before Luna moved in.”
“That’s neat, Robert. I confess I’m impressed.” Santiago praised his cardiologist. “You get to be close to her, without arousing her suspicions, creating numerous opportunities for a fortuitous meeting. Nice.” He lifted his glass of sherry and toasted with Roberto.
“Thank you.” Roberto bowed his head slightly and sipped from his bourbon. “I don’t want her going on the defensive, closed and guarded with me.”
Santiago leaned backwards on his armchair. “The truth is that she’ll go on the defensive either way, Robert. I seriously doubt that Luna would trust a man, any man, any time soon.” He explained.
“I’m not any man.” Roberto pointed out.
“She’s been hurt, my friend, and a lot. Last thing she must be thinking of is about getting herself involved in another relationship.” Santiago reasoned with Roberto.
“Well, you know about the old saying. Un clavo saca otro clavo.” (One nail drives out another.) Roberto sipped from his bourbon.
Santiago sighed softly; he couldn’t really understand why Robert was so interested, almost obsessed over having her.
“Why Luna, Roberto?” Santiago wanted to know.
Roberto smiled. “Luna is intelligent, beautiful, funny and sexy as hell. Do I need any more reasons?”
Santiago chuckled. “There are many women like her that would love to date a man like you, Robert, and none of them are carrying the heavy burden Luna is carrying upon her shoulders.”
“They are not Luna.” Roberto stated simply.
“Did you know she’s still wearing her wedding ring?” Santiago pointed out.
Roberto shifted on his chair, tensing visibly. “That doesn’t mean anything.” He casually replied, even though his blood boiled within his veins.
Santiago rolled his eyes. “Robert, listen to me.” He leaned forward and lowered his tone of voice. “I’ve been married on five different occasions and all my ex-wives couldn’t wait to get rid of their wedding rings. In fact, three of them threw their wedding rings at my face while they called me every name in the book before kicking me out of our houses.”
“She needs more time, that’s all.” Roberto shrugged his shoulders, swirling his bourbon.
“Robert.” Santiago sighed exasperated.
“She just needs more time, Santiago!” Roberto repeated, putting more emphasis on his words. “That’s all. Once we start dating, she will forget that fucker. I make sure she forgets that son of bitch.” Roberto bit out his last line and gulped the rest of his drink in one long pull.
Santiago narrowed his eyes in suspicion when he saw the way Roberto’s jaw muscles twitched. It was then when realization dawned.
“What did Vin Diesel do to you?” Santiago inquired, his eyes narrowing even more.
“We would be married by now if that fucker hadn’t gotten in my way.” As Roberto spoke, his eyes smoldered with restrained anger. “Luna should have been my wife and not his. She should have been mine.” Roberto explained, making a great effort to keep his voice low. “But that fucker got in my way, and now, I’ll get even. Now, I’m gonna get what he took from me.”
Santiago frowned in concern but kept silent. He wasn’t sure he liked Roberto’s reasons to seduce Luna.
Secret Pleasures Tour. The Fairmont Olympic Hotel. Cascade Suite. Seattle.
You told me that you wanted to know about anything I was able to find, no matter how unpleasant the nature of the matter was. Still, and due to the content of the file attached, I feel obliged to warn you in advance.
The aforesaid file contains screen caps of Miss Sheila Harley, a porn actress whose name is Giselle, Mr. Dave Breaux and Mr. Diesel involved in a sexual encounter. As far as I know, Mr. Diesel was not aware of the fact that he was being recorded, nor gave his consent.
You should know that a copy of this CD was sent to Mrs. Moira Feldman by an unknown source and that the ‘unknown source’ might be no other than Mr. Breaux. However and even though there is not enough evidence to prove such a suspicion, I’d say that Mr. Breaux set a trap for Mr. Diesel, probably searching for something to use as leverage against your husband.
I’d like to inform you that I’ll fly to New York tomorrow to follow a trace I think would turn out to be worthwhile.
I’d like to inform you as well that Carla Simon’s mother moved to Connecticut. You’ll find the exact address below.
Luna clenched her teeth so tightly that her neck muscles twitched painfully. Good thing Vin was nowhere close to her at that very moment or she might end up killing her brainless, moron of a husband with her bare hands. How could he be such a retard?
All of sudden Luna wasn’t sure who she was madder with, with Vin or with herself. She hadn’t anticipated such a turn of events and it pissed her off beyond reason to not have been able to see this coming her way.
Had she been so focused on seeking revenge that she had developed a sort of tunnel vision? The trees hadn’t let her see the forest?
That’s exactly what happened, Luna, she seethed, thinking that now there was a new fucker she was going to have to deal with. As if at that point she didn’t have enough shit to deal with already.
Fighting back the urge to break something, Luna stood, lit up a cigarette, and started pacing the room like an animal caged. Furiously puffing from her cigarette, Luna let out a string of profanities in her mother tongue. This was the last straw.
She should have known better than to think that Dave wouldn’t retaliate after Vin had fired him. She had always wondered why Dave didn’t sue Vin. Of course, Luna had had her suspicions. Biting the hand that had fed him for years wouldn’t have been a smart move, but now, she was realizing that Dave had only been waiting the perfect chance to strike back. And Vin had served it to him on a silver tray.
Maldito gilipollas…Luna sighed hard, rubbing her forehead as she restlessly kept pacing, getting more pissed off with every second that passed. Why in the hell did she keep caring? Why couldn’t she just forget everything about that fucker? You’re a masochist, Luna, that’s why, she huffed.
Luna’s mother used to reproach Luna for her natural tendency to act as a victim, blaming others for her own mistakes, but never herself. It caused Luna’s guts to revolt with sickness. Her mother had been right and Luna hated herself for that. It was time to start changing things and she wouldn’t waste one more second licking her wounds. She was going to get in motion and no one would be able to stop her.
Putting out the butt of her cigarette, Luna clapped her hands together, rubbing them lightly as her mind started to go over the different options she had.
Rushing things wouldn’t do any good; she needed to keep focused. The slightest mistake would throw up her plans, a luxury Luna could not afford. Hesitation would end up causing a similar result.
“Come on, Luna, think about what to do, woman.” Luna muttered under her breath.
Talking with Vin was not an option and it was not something that Luna felt like doing. The immediate consequence would be that Vin would fire Dave, which wouldn’t solve anything. Quite the opposite, Vin would still be at Dave’s mercy. It wouldn’t make any difference and as much as Luna wanted to hurt Vin, she wanted to do it herself. No one would deprive her of such a pleasure.
Using the content of the CD, making it public, would destroy Sheila’s career but it would come to bite Luna in the ass, eventually, since she was sure that Sheila would drag Vin down in her fall.
And that’s bad because…Luna grinned maliciously. Once more the answer was clear. She wouldn’t allow anyone to give Vin a coup de grace. That was a legitimate right that Luna considered belonged to her and her alone.
Recalling what James had said, Luna thought about Marcela. It was clear that if Moira Feldman had a copy of the CD, that meant that Marcela knew about its existence too. Would Marcela tell Vin?
No way, Luna shook her head. She didn’t need anyone telling her about it. Luna knew that Vin was likely to ignore Marcela as if the agent was a piece of shit. So surely, Marcela had started already scheming a way to get rid of Dave without telling Vin anything.
Coming to a halt, Luna narrowed her eyes; she needed to gain time, getting ahead.
James hadn’t mentioned it, but Luna knew that if the detective was as professional as so far he had proven to be, he would share everything with Luna that he found about Dave’s skeletons without wasting time. Would she be able to get down and dirty with Dave? Of course, if she had no other choice. Still, there was another person who was far more qualified for that dirty job. Marcela Hopkins.
What a fucking irony, Luna, she scolded herself silently. There she was all ready to help Marcela in her schemes. “Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer.” Luna whispered, narrowing her eyes even more.
Glancing at her watch, Luna stilled, thinking about her next move. Dave could wait and so could the others, but she needed to keep Vin on a short leash before things got out of hand, more than they had gotten already, that was.
Carefully considering her options, Luna recalled what she knew about Vin’s whereabouts over the last weeks and his plans for the nearby future.
On one hand, the premiere of ‘SETH’ would take place in one week. That meant that Vin would be desperate to start seriously working on ‘Hannibal’. Luna hadn’t had the chance to watch ‘SETH’. Not that she needed to. The movie was a huge piece of shit and would crash in the theaters, of that Luna had no doubts.
On the other hand, the rumors about Vin being involved in two different projects, ‘Hitman’ and ‘Babylon AD’ had become more insistent over the last few days. That would palliate the damage caused by ‘SETH’ to Vin’s agonizing career, but only if he finally got to butt into any of them.
However, these two projects weren’t the only ones that Vin appeared to be linked to. Luna, as a member of the administrative council of Tigon, had received a copy of several projects Vin’s company was studying to release new video games.
Without giving it a second thought, Luna spun around and picked up the phone, dialing a number she knew by heart.
“One Race Films, Mr. Diesel’s office.” Alice’s voice sounded at the other side of the line.
“Hi, Alice, this is…”
Alice cut Luna off. “Luna! Oh, my God, how are you, honey?” Vin’s secretary squealed, laughing, causing Luna to laugh with her. “Where are you, woman? I miss you a lot, Mike too, you know? Oh, God, I wish you were here. You’re not here, are you?”
Alice stopped briefly to catch her breath and Luna used the occasion to interrupt her, or she knew Alice wouldn’t stop anytime soon.
“I’m okay, I’m in Seattle.” Luna laughed softly.
“Is it raining? Of course it’s raining. Seattle is infamous ‘cause it’s always raining.” Alice mumbled to herself more than to Luna.
Luna grinned. “Yep, it’s raining.”
“It figures.” Alice laughed.
Both women talked for a bit about the preparations for Alice’s and Mike’s wedding, making jokes about the fact that Mike’s mother and Alice’s mother wanted to supervise every single detail which was only getting on Alice’s and Mike’s nerves.
“So, what can I do for you, honey?” Alice smiled widely.
At the other side of the line, Luna’s smile vanished in one second flat but she managed to make her voice sound even. “I need a favour.”
“Sure, tell me.” Alice answered, not registering the slight change in Luna’s tone of voice. Alice was too excited about talking with Luna.
“I need you to send me a copy of the last two financial reports of the company. I’d like to take a look at them before the meeting. Is that okay?”
“Yeah, no problem.” Alice answered, already searching for both reports. “I’ll send them to you in a minute.”
“Thank you, Alice.” Luna sighed softly. “Did I say lately how much I love you?”
Alice laughed. “I love you too, honey.”
Luna smiled. She really missed her friends. “Alice, do you think Mike and you will be available to come for dinner at Black Star?”
“You kidding? We’ll be there, honey. You cooking?”
Luna thought for a minute. Yeah, why not? “Sure. How does paella sound?” Luna knew that Vin’s secretary was a sucker for rice.
“I just had an orgasm.” Alice giggled, causing Luna to laugh hard at that.
They kept talking for a couple of minutes and after saying their goodbyes, once more Luna took a seat in front of her laptop.
James’ note was still flashing at her on the screen. So busy and mad had Luna been after finding that Dave had tricked Vin that she had almost forgotten about the content of the file itself. Almost.
The horrible reality came crashing down on her and Luna swallowed her nausea back down her throat, feeling her heart skipping a beat just to start pounding wildly within her chest.
The aforesaid file contains screen caps of Miss Sheila Harley, a porn actress whose name is Giselle, Mr. Dave Breaux and Mr. Diesel involved in a sexual encounter.
Did she want to take a look at that? Did she need to do such a thing? What good it would do anyway? It wasn’t as if Luna’s imagination couldn’t conjure such a vision. It pissed her off and it made her felt sick and sad, all at once. It was not the cheating part but the humiliation linked with it.
No, you definitely don’t need to watch that shit, Luna.
Lifting a hand, Luna pressed it at her heart level and inhaled deeply, exhaling slowly. She had been taught breathing techniques so she didn’t cause herself a cardiac arrest. Nevertheless, Dr. Williams had insisted no end that prevention and self-control would help her much more than any treatment would. A heart attack was the last thing Luna could suffer at that very moment.
I don’t need this fucking shit, Vin, Luna breathed in deeply and let the air out slowly, silently counting the number of inhalations and exhalations.
Luna had even been taught how to carry out a cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR, on herself while waiting for professional help to arrive. It was a simple technique that consisted of inhaling deeply and exhaling the air out by coughing hard. It would help if she managed to keep focused 100%.
With a coldness that amused Luna, she recalled what to do, and picking up one of the pills that Dr. Williams had prescribed to Luna, she left it at her hand’s reach. Just in case she lost her concentration.
Feeling her heart beating erratically and the fingers of her right hand getting numb, Luna inhaled as deeply as she could, coughing hard to exhale the air while at the same time she kept a constant pressure against her chest.
Repeating the motion several times, Luna noticed how slowly but leisurely her heart rate returned to an almost ‘normal’ rhythm. The technique had worked and Luna felt herself regaining control over her heartbeats.
With that taken care of, Luna proceeded to save the two file attachments, so that way she could open them, and got ready to watch the first one.
One of the files was much smaller than the other and James had named it ‘Vin at Privilege I (Lorraine)’. The name of the other was ‘Vin at Privilege II (Warning!!)’
What the…? Luna’s brows bunched together in puzzlement when she opened the small file. Was that what it looked like? Certainly it was. De las aguas mansas me libre Dios, que de las bravas ya me libro yo. (Don’t trust things that seem harmless because they could hide an unexpected risk.) Luna blinked, not believing what her eyes were seeing.
“And it seemed like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth…” Luna whispered under her breath as in slow motion, she leaned forward, staring at the screen showing Vin and Lorraine ‘making out’. “Now who would have thought this little bitch would ring the bell, running like hell.” Luna narrowed her eyes, setting her jaw hard.
Definitely, Lorraine was the last woman Luna thought would go after Vin. The girl had been so sweet, nice and caring with Luna that the scene showing on the screen of her laptop upset Luna more than it pissed her off. Apparently, she had misjudged Lorraine and the intimacy showed by Vin and Lorraine hurt Luna more than knowing that Vin was fucking Sheila.
Without averting her gaze from the screen, Luna picked up a cigarette and lit it up. Now there was yet another ambitious little bitch Luna was going to have to take care of. That’ll teach you to never judge a book by its cover no matter how wonderful might look.
Joe’s place. LA (at the same time)
“Oh, God, you gotta help me, Joe.” Lorraine entered Joe’s apartment, her eyes brimming with unshed tears.
“No shit.” Joe scolded her, frowning in concern.
The ‘LA Confidential’ had published two pictures on its cover. One was showing Vin with Sheila and right next to that one a picture of Vin with Lorraine.
Moira had selected the pictures, enlarging the same sections showing Vin’s hand buried between the girl’s legs. The pictures alone spoke volumes, but the text printed below was a time bomb.
“When the cat is gone, out come the sweet, innocent rats to play.”
“What can I do?” Lorraine choked out, wiping her tears. “Oh, my God! Luna will see this!” She panicked, panting.
Joe sighed heavily. He was intent on reminding her about his warnings. It was too late for that now. The damage had been done and nothing he said or did would change that. Lorraine was indeed in deep shit, since as soon as Luna took a look at these pictures she would be not only disappointed and hurt, but pissed off as hell. Who knew what the Spaniard might come up with to get even?
“I-I just wanted to help Luna and now it looks like I’m trying to steal her husband.” Lorraine sobbed, “Luna will get mad with me and she…she will hate me!” She cried louder, covering her face with her hands.
Joe pulled Lorraine to him, holding her tightly. That was probably what would end up happening. Even if Joe tried to contact Luna to explain her that it had been all a terrible mistake, he seriously doubted Luna would believe him at all.
As if Lorraine had heard Joe’s thoughts, she struggled a bit and looked up, meeting Joe’s concerned gaze.
“I gotta talk with her. I gotta explain to her.” Lorraine wiped her tears once more. “Please, Joe, you gotta phone Luna—tell her that I didn’t want to hurt her, that…” She trailed off when Joe’s gaze hardened as he shook his head ‘no’.
“No way, honey. Luna will eat you alive, spitting out the remains.”
Lorraine gasped, astonished. “But, if…”
Joe didn’t let her finish her line. “If you come anywhere close to Luna, to talk with her about anything, she will make sure that’s the last time you do it, Lorraine.” Lorraine blinked, not being able to understand. “Think about it for a minute, okay? How would you feel if you saw a picture of your husband making out with another woman and then that woman comes to talk with you and about your husband of all things, huh?”
“But I wasn’t making out with Vin, Joe.” Lorraine gasped. “We did nothing, I swear to you. You have to believe me.” She pleaded for Joe to believe her.
Joe sighed softly. “And I do, honey. I believe you, but take a look at this, would you?” Joe released Lorraine and picked up the magazine. “What can you see?”
Lorraine threw the magazine to the floor. “I don’t care what they say! I did nothing wrong! I love Luna, I was just trying to help her and Vin knows it. You can ask him. He will bear out to me.”
“Vin won’t say shit, Lorraine, because that’s not the way things work.” Joe tried to reason with her. “Marcela will play the matter down and that would be all. Vin doesn’t give a fuck about anything or anyone, much less about you, Lorraine. He’ll keep going as if nothing happened because for him it’s more of the same shit.”
Joe paused, picking up the magazine from the floor and then continued.
“According to the ‘LA Confidential’, you are paying back Sheila, trying to get into her ‘relationship’ with Vin because she got a role that you were supposed to play.”
Lorraine gasped, shocked beyond belief. “But that’s not true!” She cried out.
“No one gives a damn about what’s true and what’s not, honey. Don’t you see? No one gives a fuck.” Joe left the magazine on the coffee table and looked at Lorraine. “What the ‘LA Confidential’ says is what counts. Moira Feldman is to Hollywood what Jesus Christ is to Catholics and her magazine is almost the Holly Bible itself. Whatever she says, goes. And that’s that.”
Lorraine opened her mouth to reply when her cell phone started ringing. She searched for it within her purse and looked at the little screen. It was the number of the center where the theater workshop had their daily meeting for rehearsals.
Frowning, Lorraine answered. “Hello.”
“Lorraine, this is Lou.” The voice of the director of the theater company sounded at the other side of the line.
“Oh, hi, Lou.” Lorraine wiped away her tears, sniffing a little. “Is everything okay?”
“Well, actually, no, Lorraine.” Lou’s voice sounded dead serious and Lorraine felt her stomach clenching in anticipation. “I’m sorry for bearing bad news for you but you’ve been fired from the company.”
“What?!” Lorraine gasped, pressing a hand against her chest. “B-but why?” She blinked, utterly shocked.
“I think you know the reasons why, Lorraine.” Lou sighed hard. “We are a humble company but we take our work and our plays seriously. The few sponsors that help us to keep going don’t like to see their names linked with any kind of scandals. I’m afraid your continuity in the company might end up causing us troubles. So, I’ll send you your last check to your address. Please, don’t come back.”
Lorraine hung up the phone, meeting Joe’s concerned gaze. She was standing there, petrified, unable to believe what had happened.
“What?” Joe took Lorraine’s free hand in his. “Honey, what’s going on?”
Lorraine blinked and focused her teary eyes on Joe’s. “They fired me.” She whispered, her eyes sparkling with a hurt expression.
“Ow, Lorraine,” Joe pulled Lorraine to him. “I’m so sorry, honey.” He kissed her forehead, holding her tightly.
Joe cursed silently. He didn’t really need the details. That had been the very first consequence after the ‘LA Confidential’ magazine published those damned pictures.
Renee’s and Val’s place (Later that day)
Renee’s eyes fluttered open as she blinked her sleep away. She had dozed off on the couch while watching a movie with Val and now she was alone, no sight of her husband at all.
Slightly disappointed at waking up alone, Renee sat up, stretching her back when she heard weird noises coming from their bedroom. Straining her ear to find what it was, Renee got to her feet and padded in the direction from where the sound came.
It seemed as if Val was searching for something in their closet, muffled curses echoed faintly along with what sounded like a loud thump.
She entered the room and found Val muttering profanities in his mother tongue trying to open a box that Renee recognized in one second flat.
It had been full of cookies, a long time ago, but now contained pictures, old pictures from when Val was a kid and still living in Santo Domingo. It had been months since the last time Val had pulled out that small steel box.
Oblivious to Renee’s presence, sitting on the floor Indian style, Val gritted his teeth still trying to open the damned box, unsuccessfully, and let out a new string of profanities, fighting back the sudden urge to punch the box or sending it flying across the room with a hard kick.
Renee bit her lower lip, doing her best to stop herself from bursting into mad giggles. It was not a matter of strength but a matter of skill. Brain over brawn.
Grinning, Renee closed the distance between them and took a seat at the edge of the bed, right next to Val. “Here, let me try it.” Renee squeezed Val’s shoulder.
Letting out a defeated sigh, Val handed the box to Renee. “If I can’t open it what makes you think that you…”
A soft hiss sounded, cutting Val’s words and he frowned, gazing up at Renee with suspicious eyes when the cover of the box popped open.
“Work smart, not hard.” Renee grinned, handing back the box to Val as he rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, whatever, I had done all the hard work, anyway.” Val deadpanned causing Renee to smirk.
“Sure, baby.” She leaned down, kissing his head.
Val sighed and started pulling out pictures, discarding them without even looking at them for more than two seconds. It seemed as if he was searching for a specific picture among all of them.
“What are you looking for, papi?” Renee frowned.
Val didn’t reply immediately since he had found what he was looking for. It was the only picture Val had of his father and it had his father’s name written on the back. Miguel.
“I was wondering if…” Val sighed hard, without averting his eyes from the old, sepia tone picture, “never mind.” He frowned, looking down at his lap.
“Val…tell me what’s bothering you, baby.” Renee slid down, sitting on the floor and took his hand in her.
Val shook his head, letting out a heavy sigh as he picked up a picture showing him with his siblings and his mother.
“I…I was thinking that all I have of my father is this old picture; I almost don’t remember him at all…and…” Val trailed off, feeling his vision blurring with unshed tears. He then swallowed an invisible knot down his throat and continued. “And I’d like to find if he’s still…alive, somewhere, you know? To talk with him…I guess…”
Renee cupped Val’s face and lifted his head, meeting his eyes. “Why now, Val?”
In response Val shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know…”
And it was true. Val didn’t know for sure from where such a sudden urge to find if his father was alive or not came. Why he wanted to find him or what he wanted to tell him. Val didn’t know; he just needed to do it; he had to do it, even though he himself couldn’t explain the reasons that seemed to be pushing him to do such a thing and after all these years.
Renee watched intensely the play of emotions across Val’s face. She had grown up with both her parents and never felt something missing. She had been loved by them both. Her father had died a few years ago and Renee still missed him. She could understand the hollow Val felt because he hadn’t had the chance to meet his father. He had been deprived of the opportunity to ask the man why he had left his family. Val’s mother never talked about him at all.
Now, Val was about to be father as well and somehow, he needed that missing piece of his life to really understand, to fill that empty hollow even if it didn’t make too much sense.
Renee’s gaze softened as she tenderly stroked his cheek. “Did you talk with your mom?”
Val shook his head ‘no’. “Not yet, I wanted to tell you first.”
Renee smiled. “I’m with you all the way, Val. If it’s important for you then it’s important for me too. We’ll do whatever you want to do.”
Val’s lips curved in a wary smile. “You don’t think I went nuts because I want to find him even though he left us?”
Renee pulled Val to her, pressing their foreheads together. “I do know you didn’t go nuts, Val and I don’t need to know the reasons why you want to do such a thing either. If you want to go find your father, then that’s what we’ll do.”
“I’m not sure what my mom is going to say.” Val whispered, hugging Renee.
“Your mom loves you; she will understand.” Renee kissed Val’s forehead and smiled widely. “I think I should pack a couple of sweaters. New York is not as warm as LA right now.”
Val grinned slightly. “I think you should pack your bikini too.” His grin turned wicked when Renee arched her brows. “We are going to have to go to Santo Domingo.”
“Cool, I love Santo Domingo.” Renee kissed Val’s lips softly. “When are we leaving?”
Val smiled in gratitude. “Right after the administrative council of One Race has its meeting.”