Quarterback Daddy

Quarterback Daddy

A Flying Solo Novel - Book 3
Flying Solo – single parents, second chances and the power of love...

NFL Quarterback Dan Delito had it all – talent, money, fans, and love. Until his wife died. Nothing matters to him afterward except the game, until he meets attorney Alexis Brown and her infant niece. Suddenly, his world is turned upside down again. Is it because Alexis strongly resembles Kim, his late wife? Is it because he admires the intrepid lawyer who’ll do whatever’s necessary to retain custody of her niece -- including standing up to him, the baby’s dad?

Attorney Alexis Brown isn’t in a positon to raise her infant niece alone. She needs Dan’s help--unsuitable and party-loving as he might be. Dan is, after all, the only parent the baby has. Perhaps acting as the baby’s nanny during the football season will give her time to know Dan better and trust him with her precious niece. As their uneasy friendship begins to change, romance beckons—despite Kim’s shadow.

Football is Dan’s game of choice, but with Alexis living in his home, he’s back in the game of life. All he has to do is figure out his goal.

Will Alexis and Dan’s unlikely romance blossom into a wholehearted love? Can they provide the baby with a brand new and loving family?

**Winner, Write Touch Readers’ Award, Colorado Romance Writers of America

"Anytime I pick up a Linda Barrett romance, I know I’m going to be in for a late night. Once you turn the first page, you better be committed to losing some sleep reading because you can’t put down the book until you know what happens at the end. Quarterback Daddy is no exception to this rule."

Reviewed by Sherri Myers, Romance Junkies

"Linda Barrett’s Quarterback Daddy is a contemporary romance with heart. So many issues, all relevant and many of which wills strike chords with readers, are touched upon. Such as the question of what truly makes a parent. Wonderfully well-written and emotionally gripping, Quarterback Daddy was a delight to read—and I don’t even like football! Well done!"

Reviewed by Kay James, Romance Reader at Heart

"Emotionally charged, Quarterback Daddy is a book that will be hard to put down. Dynamic characters Alexis and Dan each have their own demons, but their love for baby Michelle brings them together and allows deep affection to grow. Award winning Linda Barrett relates this tender love story with warmth and perceptiveness that will captivate her readers."

Reviewed by Donna Zapf, Cataromance Reviews

Chapter One

THE BOSTON GLOBE

Friday, July 6

MURDER-SUICIDE ENDS WITH BABY BORN IN AMBULANCE

Sherri Brown, 25, and nine months pregnant, was shot and left for dead last evening in front of her sister’s apartment building in the Leather District. The assailant then turned the gun on himself and died at the scene. Ms. Brown succumbed in the ambulance, where her child was delivered by emergency caesarian section. Her sister, Alexis Brown, was with her. Preliminary investigation reveals the gunman to be a former boyfriend of the victim.

Three months after the tragedy, Alexis Brown deliberately removed the news clipping from her kitchen message board and placed it in an envelope for safekeeping. Reading wasn’t necessary; she’d memorized the article. The headline, however, still had the power to suck the air out of her. Even now, as she handled the clipping, her pulse fluttered when memories of that night tortured her like scenes from a well-made horror movie.

She remembered running downstairs after Sherri to return a child-care book her sister had forgotten to take. Arriving just in time to watch a man shoot himself, and to see Sherri lying on the sidewalk. Calling 9-1-1 on her cell phone. Watching the doctor and the EMT deliver the baby. Holding Sherri’s hand, straining to hear her last words, whispered directly into Alexis’s ear.

She shivered head to toe, her stomach cramping as she thought about the police report, the result of a first-rate investigation. She’d learned more than she’d really wanted to know.

Clasping a pen, she wrote Michelle’s name on the envelope, sealed it and filed the newspaper article with the baby’s other legal papers in the bottom drawer of her desk. When her niece grew up, she’d be entitled to read it.

When her niece grew up…  Alexis tiptoed to the crib in the bedroom where Michelle napped peacefully, her little forehead unlined, her breathing strong and even. Beautiful, sweet and innocent. Exactly the way a baby should be, and the way Alexis had vowed this baby’s life would be. She wouldn’t fail Michelle the way she’d failed Michelle’s mom.

Leaving the bedroom quietly, Alexis returned to her desk in the main area of her apartment, a condo conversion. She loved the place, but she’d have to sell it, and the market was awful. Prices were falling in the depressed economy, and she’d be lucky to break even.

Money. Everything always came down to money.

She reached for the phone, hoping Roz would be available to brainstorm. Only a few years older than Alexis, the baby’s social worker had been supportive from Day One, and Alexis trusted her as much as she could trust anybody.

With Roz’s cheery hello, Alexis sighed in relief. “How are you feeling about problem solving today?”

“Diaper rash or teething?”

“If only. I need a miracle, Roz, like hitting the daycare lottery.”

“Ouch. That’s a tough one.”

“You said it. Every place I visited downtown is way out of my reach. I can’t afford any of them, and I don’t qualify for reduced fees despite earning peanuts.” She felt panic start to build inside her. “I’ve got to return to work on the twenty-ninth. That’s only two weeks away!”

“Easy, Alexis,” Roz soothed. “Easy. I’m listening.”

“I know, but I’m stuck, Roz. Between the student loans and the mortgage, I don’t have a lot of savings. I’ve only been working for two years. My credit card is maxed out with all the baby stuff and…and… my normal expenses.”

“I’m listening to your every word, Alexis, but I didn’t hear you mention the biggest culprit of all, and certainly not a ‘normal’ expense. As usual, you’re being too hard on yourself.”

Alexis remained silent, fighting tears.

“Funeral costs are high,” Roz continued, “and you’ve shouldered that alone.”

“Did I have a choice?” Alexis whispered, her throat hurting in an effort not to cry. “Sherri would still be lying in the morgue if I’d depended on Cal and Peggy. You know how ‘parental’ they are.” She swallowed her sarcasm with a deep breath and regained her balance.

“I know all about them, and sadly, what you say is true,” said Roz. She sighed deeply, so deeply that Alexis heard the woman’s exhalations through the phone.

“Ironically, your sister would have qualified for financial aid, but you don’t. You’re off work right now, however, so I can give you vouchers for neighborhood food pantries…”

“Food pantries? Roz, I’m not homeless.” She heard the horror in her voice. Even her family had never resorted to food pantries.  

“Right,” said Roz. “And we’re trying to prevent that.”

Stay calm. But her palms began to sweat. “I can earn a living for Michelle and me. I worked hard to get through college, then law school…”

“I know that. You’ve impressed me from the first time we met, but I’ve got to speak honestly here,” said Roz. “You’ve got temporary custody of Michelle until it’s finalized in the courts. You are the baby’s closest and, in my opinion, most capable relative. But if you think you can’t handle the responsibility right now, we could go the foster route just until—”

“No! Please, no foster care. I’ll handle it. I’ll even use the food vouchers. And-and I’ll put the condo on the market. Today. The hell with the financial loss.”

Damn! She shouldn’t have called Roz after all. Give Michelle up? Never!

The baby already recognized her. She knew Alexis’s step, her touch. Since Michelle had started smiling a week ago, they’d laughed and played silly games all day long. They were a team. They loved each other. Michelle’s home was with Alexis. Period. In a few more months, Alexis would become Michelle’s legal mom. End of story.

Roz was still talking and Alexis tuned in again.

“There’s one other possibility,” said the woman. “I wonder… Alexis, when you packed up your sister’s apartment, did you go through her clothes, look in her pockets? Maybe letters, notes, phone messages?”

Alexis had returned to Sherri’s place two days after Michelle’s birth. The police had already been there. Yellow tape indicated the crime scene, her sister’s belongings were scattered about in her usual haphazard style.  

“I bagged her clothes for donations, emptied drawers. Took whatever baby clothes and items she’d bought. What are you getting at?”

“It takes two people to make a baby, kiddo. Michelle’s father—”

“Did you find out who he is?” Alexis interrupted, her throat tight once more, her heart beating in double-time.

“No, I didn’t,” replied Roz slowly. “I was hoping you might have discovered a clue, something in Sherri’s apartment maybe. DNA ruled out the guy who killed her. We know that much.”

The negative DNA results left the path open for someone else, someone Alexis had been able to target. She was not ready, however, to share that information. So, she took a deep breath and lied to her closest ally.

“I didn’t find anything, Roz. Nothing. Nada. I don’t know any more than you do.”

Protecting the baby was and would always be her highest priority. She would initiate a thorough investigation of the baby’s possible father on her own before she made her next move. She had two weeks to figure it all out before she had to start  considering bankruptcy to eliminate some of her debt. Just like her own dysfunctional parents had done recently. The irony didn’t escape her.

#

Dan Delito, starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, slouched in his favorite club chair, staring at the wallet-sized picture of Kim that he carried with him at all times. Tonight would have been their ninth anniversary but for the breast cancer that had consumed her almost two years ago. He stroked a shaking finger across her beautiful face and down her long dark hair, wavy and soft. Oh, baby, baby…I miss you so much. It was so unfair. To her. To him. His gentle, loving wife had deserved better than virulent cancer cells and toxic chemo. She’d deserved a long life, with children and family and good times. He would have given her twelve kids if she’d said the word. Whatever she’d wanted, she could have had.

He eyed the bottle of single-malt Scotch on the table next to him. It was half-gone, and his empty glass stood waiting for a refill. No one could say he was a cheap drunk, that’s for sure. He grabbed the bottle and poured. The smooth amber liquid would make the pain go away.

“Danny? You didn’t hear the bell, so we let ourselves… Danny! What are you doing? Dear God, not again!”

He turned his head, glass to his lips. His folks. He took a swallow. “Come on in. Grab a couple of glasses and join me. It’s my anniversary, and we have to toast Kim. My Kimmy.”

He took another sip, watched his parents put down aluminum foil-wrapped packages. The aroma from them was delicious, home-made from his parents’ Italian deli, but his stomach suddenly rebelled. “Be right back.”

Ten minutes later, he found his folks in the kitchen, warming up some braciola. The marinated steak was one of his favorites. His mom served it in spaghetti sauce with a salad and warm bread on the side. He wanted it, but his insides threatened another revolt.

“I need some air.” He opened the back door and stepped onto the patio of his four-story townhouse. Kim had loved this place, and she’d turned it into a real home for them. Her presence lingered in every room, and that made him feel good.

He inhaled the crisp autumn air. Football weather. The best time of the year. Goose bumps popped out all over his body as he thought of this weekend’s home game. Another deep breath cleared his head, settled his stomach. 

He sensed a big shadow behind him. His dad.

“You can’t go on like this, son.”

“I’m fine, Dad. Don’t worry. It’s because of the anniversary, that’s all.”

“And what was the excuse last week?” Nicky Delito wasn’t letting go.

“Last week, I knew it was coming,” said Dan. “Come on, Dad, we’re tied for the best record in the league. What more do you want?”

His dad equaled him in size, but suddenly loomed larger than ten linebackers, like he had when Dan was a kid.

“What more do I want?” Nicky bellowed. “I want a sober son again. I want your mother to stop crying over you. Praying on her knees every single night. Your brother…your sister…the kids. You’re always the topic of conversation and it’s enough. You hear me, Danny-boy? I want a son I can count on. That’s what I want!”

“Nicky, stop yelling.” His mom stood in the doorway to the patio. Danny waved to her, but then addressed his father.

“You can count on me, Dad. On the weekends, on the field. I haven’t let the team down yet, and I don’t intend to. My coaches, the management—everyone’s happy with our performance so far, and we have a home game this Sunday.”

Nicky raised both arms up in the air and let them fall to his sides. He looked at his wife. “He doesn’t get it. Who gives a damn about a football game when his life’s a mess.”

“If I didn’t care about the game, Dad, I’d drink all the time. Now, I only drink in the middle of the week.” He clapped his dad on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. I can handle being a part-time drinker.”

“Maybe you should join a twelve-step program,” said Rita Delito.

“Are you kidding, Ma? Those programs are for real alcoholics.”

His parents stared at him.

“What?”

Their silence continued.

“Oh, come on. I can stop whenever I want to.”

“Prove it.” His dad wasted no time. “No more drinking at all. Not even midweek.”

His mom looked so hopeful, her brown eyes wide and shining up at him. God, he loved these two people.

“Okay. I won’t have another drink for the next seven days.”

“It’s a start,” said Rita.

“I’m going to empty the liquor cabinet when we leave tonight,” Nicky said. “Just to make sure.”

Dan’s mind raced, picturing the rest of the house. Yeah, he’d brought a bottle to his bedroom last week.

“Okay.”

“And I’ll check out the rest of the place,” Nicky added.

“No,” Dan replied quickly.

His dad was like that. Always knew what was going on in his kids’ heads, in their lives. Dan, Joe, Theresa—none of them ever got away with anything when they were small, and it seemed, not as adults either. Not even the quarterback for the New England Patriots.

“No?” repeated Nick softly. “I’ve done some research, Danny. That’s what a twelve-step sponsor would do with you. Together, you’d clean out the house. Your brother and I, we’re going to act like your sponsors.”

“No. You’re not.” He gulped for air. A face-off with his dad was an extraordinary event, but now he looked Nicky straight in the eye. “I’m over twenty-one, Dad. I can handle it.”

Stalemate. Until his mom’s soft timbre interrupted. “What would Kim say, Danny, if she saw you like this?”

Mothers. He grabbed the back of a chair with two hands. “If I could have her with me again,” he replied, his Adam’s apple bobbing, “I’d give up everything. The bottles. The touchdowns. The career. The house. The money. Nothing I’ve got is worth a damn thing without her.”

Fighting the tears behind his eyes, he turned around, walked past his mother and into the house, opened the fridge and took out a longneck. “Anyone else?”

“There’s no talking to him,” said Nicky.

Rita sighed and banged a plate onto the table. “At least eat first. Today is only Tuesday. Do we have to come back tomorrow?”

#

Ordinarily, Alexis wouldn’t have connected the crisp cool days and blazing autumn colors of New England with perfect football weather. In fact, she wouldn’t have noted the football season at all. Alexis was not a fan of the game, a game where grown men tried to kill opponents and themselves. During the three months since Michelle’s birth, however, she’d made it her business to read the sports pages every day and track the progress of the New England Patriots. She’d focused mainly on one particular player: Dan Delito, starting QB and captain of the team. From what she read, the man obviously knew his business, worked hard, and was leading his team in a winning season.

On Wednesday, two mornings after her phone conversation with Roz, Alexis noted the NFL schedule for the following Sunday and then headed toward her bedroom where it sounded as though Michelle had awakened from her nap. As soon as the baby saw her, she flashed her magical baby grin, and Alexis’s heart melted one more time. Her love for this child constantly astounded and surprised her. In the beginning, after Michelle was born, Alexis had had no idea how awesome motherhood would be.

She changed Michelle’s diaper and returned to the living room that had morphed into an infant’s playground. “I bet you’re hungry, petunia, aren’t you? You’re always hungry.”

Michelle’s brown eyes opened wide and she waved her arms with excitement. Alexis was just as excited. She would swear the baby was trying to talk to her. She kept up a stream of patter while she warmed the bottle of formula, all the while thinking about the excursion she’d planned for them that afternoon.

A visit to Michelle’s father. She could no longer ignore Dan Delito’s existence.

After wracking her brain for other solutions, she was back to where she’d started. Quitting her job was not an option; she needed an income. But on her salary, she couldn’t afford proper day care. Her parents certainly weren’t an option, not with her father still hitting the bottle. So, she’d either lose Michelle to the foster care system, or she could split custody of the baby with Dan Delito. Money was certainly not a problem for him! She now had twelve days to work it out so she could return to her job.

Alexis was almost a hundred percent sure Delito was the dad. Although her sister had never spoken about the father of her child, she had no reason to lie in the ambulance. Could she have realized, even as she lay dying, that Alexis would need the financial and emotional support of a partner, just as Alexis would have been a support for Sherri? Was that the reason her sister had whispered Dan’s name at the very end? Sherri had made foolish choices in her life, but there was nothing wrong with her IQ.

And then there was the file of year-old newspaper clippings she’d found in Sherri’s apartment. Articles from the sports pages, mostly football, mostly Patriots, always Dan Delito’s name circled every time it appeared.

She missed her sister, her pretty sister with the dazzling smile. Sometimes Alexis’s guilt choked her to the point of nausea. Alexis was older, she should have looked out for Sherri better. But Sherri could disappear like a wisp of smoke. She’d go off with girlfriends, with men, or follow her favorite teams. First with Alexis’s heavy schedule at school, her many part-time jobs, and then with her busy days at the D.A.s office, she’d easily lost track of her sister’s activities.

Excuses, excuses. Remorse pierced her again, and her lips trembled. “I’m going to take such good care of you, sweetheart,” she whispered to the baby. “And I’ll make sure that daddy of yours is super-terrific before I leave you with him for even an hour.”

#

That same Wednesday afternoon, Dan Delito was watching Colts footage at home in his Beacon Hill neighborhood. The seventh game of the season would be played this Sunday at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots’ turf outside the city. They had a sold-out crowd of loyal fans, and now Dan sat forward in his leather club chair, studying the opposition’s habits, their strengths, their weaknesses. Where the possibilities lay. He thought about the guys on his own team, and how they stacked up against their counterparts.

He drained his bottle of beer and threw the empty in the trash can with its brothers. Beer wasn’t like real alcohol; Kim had never minded him downing a beer. Of course, she’d never seen him drink a whole six-pack in an afternoon.

He studied the screen again. Football. The one thing he could count on. If it weren’t for the game, he’d have nothing to make him get up in the morning. But now, the video looked blurry. Geez! How fast was the Colt’s QB running? And why was he carrying the ball this time instead of handing it off? Maybe…maybe the guy wasn’t the QB? He wasn’t. The Colts’ receiver was heading for the end zone with no one blocking him. Dan made a mental note for his linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties. New England couldn’t allow that.

His head began to pound, but he picked up the remote, and started watching from the beginning. Now he was so focused, he chose to ignore the ringing doorbell. It chimed a second time, and he made an annoyed gesture with his hand as though brushing off an insect. It couldn’t be anyone important. Both his immediate and extended families led busy lives in the middle of the day. They all worked hard. Weekends, of course, were different when Danny played. Then, the entire clan showed up at the stadium or watched the away-games on television, usually at his parents’ house. The sport was definitely a family activity.

When the doorbell rang a third time, Danny cursed out loud, hoisted himself from the chair, and clambered down the mahogany staircase to the front door. He pulled it hard.

“What?” he barked from the threshold.

His visitor had already left, however, and was ten feet from his townhouse, her long hair bouncing against her back just below her shoulders. Thick dark hair. Wavy hair.

Time stopped, and he froze. He stared until she started to disappear. Then Dan stepped farther outside, where the bright sun blinded him and ratcheted up his headache to new levels of pain. He clutched the wrought-iron railing with one hand, while the other shaded his eyes enough so he could squint after the woman.

Kim’s dark hair, her beautiful hair bounced just like that once… The same straight posture, the slender body, and those long shapely legs below the skirt…

He couldn’t breathe. Was God giving them another chance? Or was he hallucinating? Was this the d.t.’s?

“Hello,” he called.

She turned her head, her smile grew, and she held her index finger up. “Hang on a sec.”

Hell, yes! He’d hang on for hours if she asked. That smile. Pure sunshine. From a distance, he could only guess her eyes were dark as Kimmy’s were. He continued to watch her, then understood the delay. She was pushing a baby stroller, leaning over it, and talking at the same time.

He walked toward her, every step reverberating through his body, his head ready to explode. Pain didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to miss this chance.

“You need some help?” he asked as he came abreast of her, memorizing every nuance. Not Kim. These eyes were hazel. This woman was a bit taller…but he found these small differences easy to ignore.

She looked up then and stepped back. Whatever friendliness he’d thought he’d seen, evaporated. Her eyes accused as if she had the right.

“Ugh! Your breath. It stinks…stinks from… beer. Well, I see this visit was a mistake. Just get away from me, and get far away from the baby.”

He didn’t need a public scene. Besides, she didn’t sound like Kim. His Kim would never have made such a disgusted face at him. Of course, she’d have had no reason. He never drank in the old days. But it felt damn good now.

He opened his arms wide. “Keep your cool. I’m leaving. No harm, no foul.” He turned to go, and heard her voice again.

“You are Dan Delito, aren’t you?”

Another groupie. He didn’t need this. Or… maybe he did. The girls came in handy after a game, when the guys were high off a win, or needed consolation after a loss. For a little while, anyway, Dan could forget about cancer and Kim’s ordeal. He could forget about feeling lost himself.

Keeping his distance, he said, “And what if I am?”

“Is that a yes or a no?” she asked, stepping in front of the baby carriage, her head tilted back to meet his gaze.

He studied her at length, all heavenly ideas forgotten. No hallucinations. No miracles. No second chances. The woman was not like Kim at all. “What are you, some kind of lawyer?”

“Touchdown. So, answer the question.”

This barracuda could have chewed Kim up and spit her out. However, he wasn’t Kim.

“Who’s asking?” he demanded, standing his ground.

For the first time, she hesitated, her gaze traveling from the top of his head down to his running shoes. Finally, she pulled a card from her purse—as well as a stick of gum—and handed both to him. “My name is Alexis Brown.”

“I see” he said, studying the card. “The District Attorney’s office?” The black print seemed to dance on the white background, but he thought he’d read the words correctly. “What’s this all about?” He considered his activities during the last few days and remembered nothing unusual. Of course, he might not be remembering everything…

The woman seemed to have come to a decision. “I’m sorry,  Mr. Delito. I see I’ve made a mistake. Why don’t we both forget about this visit? You can go back inside and…and do whatever it is a player does in the afternoon, and I’ll get out of your way.”

She put her hand out to retrieve her business card, but his reflexes were still quick, and he whipped it behind his back. “Not so fast.”

Her eyebrows hit her hairline. “Yes, fast. I’m outta here, right now.” But her gaze lingered on him for a moment, then she shrugged. “I bet you’ll never remember this conversation anyway…you’ll think it was a vague dream after you sleep it off.” She sighed audibly. “That’s the way it works when Jack Daniel’s takes over.”

 She started walking toward the corner, but he caught a glimpse of her expressive face, so poignant and soft when she looked at the baby. He heard her mumbling to herself, saw her shaking her head.

He unwrapped the stick of gum and chewed hard. He’d remember the conversation all right, because he wouldn’t forget her resemblance to Kim. Returning to his house, he tucked her card in his wallet.

#

Disappointment hit her with the ferocity of a thunderstorm. Alexis took several deep breaths as she walked the long way home with the baby, realizing for the first time how much she’d been counting on Dan Delito to be the answer to her dilemma. But there was no way she’d relinquish Michelle to a drunk, no matter how handsome or famous or powerful. What a waste.

Had she not done her research, she would have kicked herself. But she had. She’d scoured for information about Dan Delito everywhere—the newspapers, the Internet, Sports Illustrated and other magazines for comments about him from his teammates. She’d learned he’d been born in the north end of the city, came from a big Italian family, graduated from Ohio State, got married shortly afterwards. Seven years later, his wife died. He’d been seen at a couple of clubs with different women in the past year, but nothing more remarkable than that. No drunken scenes, no scandals. No nothing.

Since August, a month after Michelle’s birth, Alexis had followed the team’s progress at training camp and through four preseason games and now through the regular season. She thought she’d done her due diligence.

None of the newspaper articles mentioned a drinking problem. So, somehow, his drinking didn’t interfere with his performance on the field.

“Not yet, anyway,” she murmured to herself. But it would at some point, just as it had with her father. Among other things, Calvin Brown was a functioning alcoholic who’d lost his business after almost a lifetime of drinking. Dan would lose his career, too. It was a question of when, not if.

She looked into the carriage. “In the end, Michelle, the liquor always wins. It can turn some people into monsters. So no drunken daddy for you. We’ll have to think of something else.”

In the hour it took her to walk home and go upstairs, she came up with several work-from-home ideas, but nothing practical. Nothing that paid well from the start. But at least she’d taken some definitive action. A real estate agent was visiting her tomorrow. They’d discuss listing her condo.

A few minutes after she changed Michelle’s diaper, her cell phone rang.

“Alexis speaking.”

“I’m not an alcoholic. You just caught me at a bad time.”

She recognized Delito’s voice instantly. “At two in the afternoon? Give me a break. Besides, you don’t owe me an explanation. We’re done.”

“Does law school teach you to make snap decisions?”

“I had evidence and plenty of it.”

“And I had extenuating circumstances. My ninth wedding anniversary. It’s been a tough week. You might want to consider that before you rush to judgment.”

She let out a slow breath, remembering he was a widower. “Point to you, Mr. Delito. I’ll reserve judgmentfor now.” She was surprised he sounded coherent.

“So, what does the D.A.’s office want with me?”

He called because he was worried, but it was an easy question. “Absolutely nothing, Mr. Delito. I came on a personal matter. My business card was all I had on me.”

“A personal matter? Want to explain that?”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t. I’m also sorry about your wife, but you were in a bad way today, and I’m not ready to chat. I don’t know whether to trust you yet.”

He disconnected the call.

She stared at the silent mobile, satisfied at having learned something about him. The man had pride. She hoped there was substance behind it. 

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