Torrid - Book Two(9)

By: Jayne Blue

I had to laugh. Reed was always good for a colorful way of driving a point home. “Again, thanks. And there’s something else I wanted to talk to you about in any event.”

Reed leaned back and fingered his pack of cigarettes but then threw them to the coffee table with a grunt. I smiled.

I reached into my own breast pocket and pulled out my wallet. I took two fifty-dollar bills and set them on the coffee table next the cigarettes. “What’s your hourly rate these days? That enough to buy me twenty minutes?”

Reed narrowed his eyes at me but nodded. “You’re like family. Let’s call it a half hour.”

“Good,” I said. “Then I’ll get right to it. What can you find out about an old RICO case they tried to pin on George Pagano? Early 2000s. Heroin dealing. He was one of Miranda’s clients at the time.”

Reed whistled low. “I’m thinking I should have held out for a couple more of those fifties you probably have in your wallet. I gotta ask why you’re interested.”

“It’s for a friend,” I said.

“Jack,” he said. “I do trusts and estates and business law. And I’m mostly retired. I’m not a criminal lawyer.”

“I don’t need a criminal lawyer. I need somebody who knows how to make a few phone calls without tipping the wrong people off.”

Reed slapped his knee. “That’s gonna be a pretty wide circle without hitting anything. Tell me what you know.”

“Not much,” I said. “I don’t even know what the exact charges were or if Pagano was even officially charged. There was an investigation though. You gotta know somebody or play golf with somebody in the federal prosecutor’s office down here that’s just as old as you are and just as disinclined to give a shit what people think about him.”

This got a laugh out of Reed which devolved into a coughing fit. I gave him a solid smack on the back. He held up his finger and nodded as he got a hold of himself.

“What else?” he said.

“Your starting point might be this guy.” I reached back into my suit pocket and pulled out a newspaper article I’d printed off about Declan McLain’s conviction. I handed it to Reed. He squinted and shoved his reading glasses on to his face.

“Friend of yours?” he asked, peering over the top of his frames.

“Friend of a friend,” I said. “I don’t know how he and Pagano are connected. Maybe they aren’t directly. But I’d like to know what the case was against McClain. And if anybody knows how the Pagano investigation went poof.”

Reed whistled again.

“And Reed,” I said. “The tricky part is this can’t be a direct ask.”

He nodded. “I get it. There might be nothing there ... but you don’t want anyone thinking you think there’s anything there.”

“That’s about it,” I said.

Reed put the paper on the table and slid off his reading glasses. “Ok. So now I have to ask you a few questions.”

I ran a hand across my jaw. “And I thought I was just about to make a clean getaway.”

Reed waved me off. “Does this have anything to do with what you and my son were talking about at Seth’s rehearsal dinner the other night? You two disappeared long enough to be noticeable and you both looked pretty sour when you came back.”

I sighed. That was the night R.J. shared the results of his private investigation into Tora with me. The night I found out she wasn’t really Tora Blake.

“I’d really rather not get into that,” I said.

“Tough shit,” Reed said. “This is my son we’re talking about. I love you almost as much as I love him but when it comes to it, I’m going to protect him. You understand that, right? And you’re asking for information about one of the most dangerous, untouchable sons of bitches around. George Pagano’s the kind of guy they make those Goodfellas movies about, Jack. And this other one ... this McLain ... he’s some kind of biker outlaw, right?”

I shrugged. “Something like that.”

Reed nodded and flipped the newspaper article back on the table. “What kind of friends are you keeping these days, Jack?”

“Look,” I said, losing the battle with my temper. “You said it yourself, you’re like family. That’s something I have in not even short supply – non-existent supply. I just want to know if there’s any kind of stink on Pagano relating to what I just said. That’s all. If you can’t find anything out without shaking the wrong tree, then I’ll drop it. I get it.”

Reed nodded. “Good. Just so we’re clear. I’m looking out for you just as much as I’m looking out for R.J. You know that, right?”

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