Neon Blue (suspense) and This Shoal of Space (SF) by John Argo were the first two e-books ever published online for download, in the history of the world, 1996-7 in innovative weekly serial chapters. More info at the museum pages. If you enjoy this free read, which is offered in the spirit of the Golden Age of the World Wide Web, please consider buying a print or e-book edition as a way of thanking the author. A fine E-book is typically priced at the cost of a latte, yet offers many more hours of enjoyment than a cup of coffee. Thank you (John Argo).
Chapter 21. Hamilton, Conn
The atmosphere in the rectory had grown still. "A half million dollars?" Father Pollack echoed. "Travignan's soul?"
"I wanted to settle this without police help," Binder said.
"I am appalled," Chief Murphy said.
Binder said: "There is someone else in with Joe Travignan."
"Who?" they all asked at once.
"I have a suspicion and I am checking it out."
"You'd better tell me," Chief Murphy said.
"I can't. A beautiful woman came to me under the Confessional Seal, told about a shocking series of scams. I am still checking things out. I'll need a few more days. I can't say anything until I'm certain. But there may be hell to pay with older parishioners who give their life's earnings."
Blue took Binder out of earshot. "Is it Monsignor Gordon?"
"Lady, you could pull out my fingernails by the roots and I would not venture any more information until I am absolutely sure who, what, and how much." He waggled a finger. "And you keep your lip zipped for now, young lady!"
Eddie Stosik made his move that evening, and caught Blue off guard. If the slight flirtation could be called a move. They were sitting in the living room of Blue's apartment having hot chocolate. A light rain had fallen, leaving the snow covered with a thin sheet of ice. Temperatures were dropping again.
"This place is really starting to feel like You," Eddie commented, looking around at the apartment.
"Stop it," she protested feeling embarrassed. Her father's old Army duffel bag lay half-emptied on the carpet, a cornucopia spilling forth black and red panties, heavy wool socks, a stuffed bear, paperbacks, a carton of Chesterfields, and more. Cardboard boxes sat scattered. Paper bags stood half-folded in the corner by the fridge waiting one by one to be garbage bags. "I'm working on it in my spare time," Blue said.
Eddie sat on the floor and fiddled with her portable stereo. They chattered for a while. Then he said: "My wife is jealous no matter what I do. She thinks you and I are having a fling." He reached for her leg as she passed. She ignored his hand and went to the couch. Eddie followed, sitting at the other end of the couch. "I might as well have a hot fling."
"You don't have a mistress?"
"No. It occurs to me once in a while, but I keep saying naw, not worth the trouble."
"I don't think you're the type, Eddie. You have character." She thought of Vito. "You don't have the balls." She said this kindly, in a complimentary tone.
"Blue, you might be the exception."
She touched his arm. "Eddie, I like you as a friend. Don't you dare ever make a pass at me or I'll never speak with you again as long as I live."
He swallowed. "Blue
She rose. "You're a red-blooded American male. You're normal. The answer is NO." She locked herself into the bathroom with Vanity Fair. When she opened the door, he was gone. Wanting to say goodnight, she followed a chastened Eddie, leaving, in the car with motor running and windows defrosted. "Mmm," she said sticking her head in, "it's nice and toasty."
"Yes, it was kind of frosty there a little while ago."
It was cold and she got in. "You're a nice guy, Eddie. We'll be friends. You'll find yourself a mistress one of these days and find out how much trouble it will cause and then you'll have it out of your system." They talked for a few more minutes. Then he walked her to the outer hall. There, in the dusky chill, suddenly they embraced. With their heavy jackets, it was difficult to take hold of one another. Her hands slipped along his jacket, barely feeling the lean strength of his long back. Eddie's powerful arms pressed her toward him, but she could feel his fingers slipping in the nylon surface of her parka. His lips hungrily sought her lips, and she light-headedly leaned her head back as his tongue found hers. Her cap fell off and her hair stuck out. She welcomed the powerful thrust of his body against hers, but desperately pushed him away. She turned her head away, feeling flushed and breathless. The feel of his body was intoxicating. She longed to take him inside and share her bed with him. But she remembered his Innocenta's vicious little red mouth and felt afraid for him. "Eddie, no."
"Dammit," he said softly.
"Eddie, this is a mistake." She was angry at herself as she pushed him away. She opened the outer door. "Go on, get out. Go home to your wife."
He had a stunned, darkened complexion. His eyes were very big and his breathing was massive. "Dammit."
"Eddie, I don't want you to feel hurt but I'm single and I need to be with a single man. Go on. Don't wreck your home over me. Beat it, Eddie. Go on."
He looked genuinely distressed. Surprised at himself. "I don't know what came over me."
"Hormones." She took his hands. "Before I throw you out of here," she said kissing his fingers, "I want you to know you're a nice guy. You may not be a hundred per cent happy with Innie, but think of all the good things you have. Kids, a house, a decent life, a halfway regular sort of job." She touched his nose. "You're a cute guy. Good night, Eddie."
She slammed the door in his face.
Then she stood behind the stale lace curtain, shivering, and watched him stumble in shock across the piled snow to his car. After he had driven away with a radiant look on his face, she wandered upstairs. She drew a hot bubble bath to soak, aroused, with a sensual red candle by the tub.
Copyright © 1996 by John Argo, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.