Read The Dark of Day Online

Authors: Barbara Parker

Tags: #Mystery

The Dark of Day

Table of Contents
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Also by Barbara Parker
The Perfect Fake
Suspicion of Rage
Suspicion of Madness
Suspicion of Vengeance
Suspicion of Malice
Suspicion of Betrayal
Suspicion of Deceit
Criminal Justice
Blood Relations
Suspicion of Guilt
Suspicion of Innocence
For Nick and Andrea
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
A writer depends on the generosity of others. I am grateful to Sam Richards, for stories of old Miami; Dana Vitantonio, for a unique perspective on Las Vegas; Reid Vogelhut, for his recollections of the lush life; Milton Hirsch, for legal matters; Mel Taylor for a glimpse inside TV news; and Nicholas Windler, for choosing the right wine. As ever, my sister Laura had 20-20 vision.
Many thanks also to my agent, Richard Curtis, and to all the folks at Vanguard Press, especially my freelance editor, Kevin Smith.
chapter ONE
the third glass of champagne. Or the fourth. If you're alone at a party where you don't know anybody, you need something in your hands. You move around a lot. You look across the room like you see somebody you recognize and you walk in that direction. Or you stay in one of the bathrooms until someone knocks, or you look at the paintings on the walls, or you sit on one of the long sofas and pretend to be listening to the five-piece band and the woman singer. She was supposed to be famous, but Kylie had never heard of her.
The party had been okay—until Alana disappeared.
Kylie could look across a huge living room with polished marble floors and see the owner of the house in his tuxedo shirt with the cuffs rolled up, talking to a bunch of his friends. Probably his friends, but on South Beach, do you ever know who your friends are? Do they bring you to a party and then dump you? She thought about going over and saying hello and it's a nice house, but he might ask who are you? Were you invited?
The images split and drifted apart. Kylie mumbled, “Oh, shit, I'm wasted.”
She walked to the buffet table near the windows, the lights of Miami a mile west, reflecting off the low-hanging clouds. It was all fuzzy without her glasses. The window reflected blurry candles, trays of food, flower arrangements, and a thin girl in a short black dress. Kylie flipped her hair over her shoulder and ate a miniature quiche.
When she turned around, she saw someone familiar. She squinted. Jason. His curly blond hair and red shirt had grabbed Kylie's attention. His friends were obviously flamers, not that she cared.
She walked over and tapped him on the shoulder. “Hi.”
“Hey! How are you?”
“I can't find Alana. She's been gone for like an hour. Have you seen her?”
“Don't worry, Ky, she'll turn up. She always does. Why don't you find a place to sit down and wait for her?”
“I guess I will. Thanks.”
He returned to his friends, and Kylie took another flute of champagne from one of the servers walking around with trays, obviously a model, so gorgeous you had to wonder what planet people like that came from.
Steadying herself on the walls, she went through the house again, in and out of rooms she had already seen. A dining room with a long table; a media room where people were playing Guitar Hero on a flat-screen TV; the kitchen with caterers running back and forth. In one of the bathrooms she saw some girls cutting lines of coke on the vanity. They offered her some. Kylie shook her head and went out.
She found a narrow staircase in the hall behind the kitchen. Sipping her champagne, steadying herself on the handrail, Kylie went up. At the top, a man in a black T-shirt and pants stepped in front of her. She stared at his hair and thought of a red brick. His shoulders were square, too. He said, “Can I help you?”
“I'm trying to find a friend of mine.” She hiccuped. “Her name is Alana Martin. Do you know her?”
“I don't think so.”
“She's a little taller than me? Long brown hair and a black halter dress? I came with her, and it's late, and I have to leave. She's not—” Kylie hiccuped again. “—anywhere else in the house, so logically she
has
to be upstairs.”
“Sorry. The upstairs is Mr. Medina's private area.”
“Please? I have to find her.”
The man shook his head. “Girl, if she was up there, I'd tell you. All right?”
“Thank you.” She held on going down, trying not to catch her stiletto heels on the carpet, Alana's Jimmy Choo knockoffs, which were too big. Why had Alana lent her this dress and helped her with her makeup if she was just going to take off, leaving her friend,
supposedly
her friend, at a party where she didn't know
anyone,
with five dollars in her purse? It was rude.
Making her way again through the crowd in the living room, even more people now, Kylie knew that if she didn't get some air she would faint.
She walked through one of the sliding glass doors, left open so people could go in and out, air-conditioned air pumping through it. Past midnight, still hot and sticky outside, even with the fans and the misting machines hissing out clouds of vapor. The bartender, a tall blonde girl, was wiping down the bar, nothing else to do except look good. Kylie walked over to the pool and leaned on a chair. She counted four people swimming in their underwear. No Alana. A transvestite had passed out on one of the chaises in her polka-dot dress. Her wig was crooked.
None of this surprised Kylie. Six months in Miami, you learn a lot. You see things, somebody hooks you up with a job, you get to know people, and you feel like you're fitting in, if you have a friend like Alana. And then she dumps you.
“Bitch. Where
are
you?”
The music faded as Kylie walked down the steps and around the side of the house. She looked to see if Alana was standing out front. Headlights swept around the portico as a Porsche convertible came to a stop. The parking attendant ran over to take the keys.
With a sigh, Kylie went back the way she had come. She would lie on a chaise next to the trannie until Alana came back and started wondering where
she
was. Kylie took off the shoes and walked barefoot across the thick, cool grass. A breeze came off the water. She could see boats docked at the seawall. A sailboat. Some yachts. Must be nice, being rich. She walked past a trellis of jasmine, and its sweet scent filled her head. Tiny lights shone into the palm trees by the seawall.
Kylie went slower and slower and finally stopped. On the way down, she thought how strange it was that time dragged out long enough for her to set the shoes and the champagne glass carefully on the path and then to lie beside them in the grass and close her eyes.
She woke when she felt something moving on her bare thigh. A hand, going up her leg, under her skirt. She grabbed for it. “No. Don't.”
Two blurred, grinning faces moved into view. “Hey, baby. What you doing out here all by yourself? You need some company?”
She formed the words carefully. “Not . . . particularly. I'm studying the clouds.”
One of them brushed her hair off her face, then a finger went along the low neckline of her dress. “I think the girl needs some company.”
“I prefer to be alone, thank you very much.”
“She definitely needs something. I have it right here for you, baby.” He rubbed his crotch.
“Go away!”
The other guy looked around. “Over there. The boathouse. Help me pick her up.”
“Don't.” Kylie pushed against his chest.
Another voice said, “Hey!”
Their heads swung around.
The voice came again, getting closer. “What's going on?”
“Who the fuck are you?”
“Security, that's who. You guys clear out. Now.”
Laughter. “Security, my ass. I know Billy's security guys.”
The man holding Kylie said, “Turn around and keep walking before I kick you over the seawall.”
Shadows moved. He let go of her, and she fell limply into the grass. She heard a thud, a grunt of pain. Then somebody saying, “Forget it, man. Let's go.” Footsteps faded into the darkness.
A big man crouched beside her, a silhouette.
Kylie struggled to sit up. “Leave me alone!”
“It's okay, they're gone.” He picked up her shoes. “Come on, let's get you back inside.” He put an arm under her and she seemed to float up.

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