Author's Note: This is the dark world of Vinnie Costello, a lawyer, lover, and entrepreneur. There are three story lines in the Vinnie Costello stories. There is Vinnie at 36-years-old, called "Vinnie's World." There is Vinnie from 27 to 36, called "Young Vinnie." And there are other stories about the people in Vinnie's life. They began "Vinnie At Large." Each story is standalone, but the first two are part of a series, and the three together the story of Vinnie and his world. E. Z.
Many men and women in Vinnie's World are from your world - the world of white picket fences. Some come into my world seeking protection or assistance. Some stumble into my world by accident. Some fall into it from curiosity, like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Some don't know they're in it until the truths of my world crush their realities, like the jaws of a great white shark crush the realities of a swimmer.
So it was with Marie Dinsmore.
I watched from the van as Marie Dinsmore locked her Mercedes and walked toward the railing along the jogging path's edge.
She wore a nylon top and shorts, both in navy blue, and new white Nike running shoes over white ankle socks. Her long blonde hair was pulled back in a pony tail. She sat on the ground to begin her stretching exercises.
She reminded me of a thoroughbred with those perfectly formed, incredibly long legs leading to a high, hard rump. Her short, narrow waist accented her smallish breasts. But it was her face - it's always their face - that made the picture perfect. She was a beautiful animal.
She stood and twisted side to side. Her beauty broke the concentration of a male jogger running by and he stumbled. She didn't seem to notice. She took her first step down the path. In a moment, she was running like a deer, free and easy through the woods.
"She's on her way," I said into the walkie-talkie.
"Roger," came the reply.
Mica started the van. We eased down the road to the next site.
As she cantered into view, I admired her physical conditioning. She'd covered two miles in less than twelve minutes and she wasn't breathing hard.
"Here she comes," I said into the walkie-talkie.
"We see her."
She disappeared from sight as the jogging trail turned back into the woods. The seconds crept by.
"Target hit. She's down," the walkie-talkie blared.
The van lurched forward to the pickup site. I slid open the door as Bigun stepped from the woods with her in his arms. He dumped her in the back of the van. I retrieved her car keys from her fanny pack and gave them to him. He'd drive her Mercedes, leaving no trace of her disappearance.
She lay inert on the van floor with her legs parted and her arms benignly by her side. I turned her head to look at me. I squeezed her Achilles tendon and saw the pain register in her eyes.
"Hello, Mrs. Dinsmore," I said calmly. "The sharp pain you felt in your hip was a hypodermic dart fired by a gas-propelled gun, the kind used to capture animals in the jungle. You were given a paralyzing sedative. As you noticed, you're unable to move or speak. That'll give us a chance to talk."
I smiled as I leaned over her.
"You can feel pain and you can think, but you can't move or communicate. Listen carefully to what I have to say. Your life depends on it."
When I stopped for effect, I admired her face. Michelle Pfeiffer was as beautiful, but there weren't many more in her class. Her face was soft and relaxed, which was the effect of the drug.
"Your husband's aware of your affair with David Barton."
Her arms trembled. One of the problems with a Curare based sedative is determining the appropriate dosage for the specific subject. While she wasn't big, she had a strong constitution.
"I'm a specialist in difficult problems, Mrs. Dinsmore. Your husband hired me to assist him in dealing with the problems you created for him. We discussed several options. The first was killing you."
She trembled all over and I thought about giving her another dose, but decided against it.
"Another option was maiming or disfiguring you so no other man would want you. A third was arranging your disappearance. In that case, you'd be sold to a wealthy man who'd keep you hidden away in a far off country where no one would ever find you."
I opened a long bladed pocket knife. She was struggling to move, but without result, as I cut away her top and sports bra. Her breasts were perfectly shaped, as if made by a master sculptor. I lay the blade against her nipple.
"Do you understand how helpless you are, Mrs. Dinsmore? Do you understand you're completely in my control? This isn't a game. Make sure you listen."
I closed the knife and returned it to my pocket.
"A fourth option, Mrs. Dinsmore, is that you'll leave the marriage as you came into it, with nothing. The last option's the one your husband wants. You see, he doesn't want you killed or disfigured or sold. He wants you all to himself. That option is that you return to him and be faithful."
I pinched a nipple and twisted it hard. Her body surged in pain.
"Let me explain one other thing. My services come with a guarantee. If you, Mr. Dinsmore, and I reach an agreement and you break it, or if he thinks you've broken it, I'll dispatch you without further ado. I guaranteed that to him and my word's gold, Mrs. Dinsmore."
I rolled her face down, pulled her wrists behind her, and handcuffed her. I handcuffed her ankles, slipped a rope around those cuffs and attached it to her wrists, drawing her legs up so she couldn't kick. I propped her up against the pillows in the back of the van.
"I'm going to administer an antidote now. It'll take a few minutes to work. When you can speak again, I want to talk to you, but no screaming or fighting. It's counterproductive."
I injected the dose into her thigh and sat back to wait. She watched me as I watched her.
"I know you're free of the drug's effect," I said, but she showed no signs she could move or talk. I had to admire her. She was in control of herself and her emotions. But she needed to understand the situation. I reached for her tendon again.
"Please don't hurt me," she said softly.
It was the first time I'd heard her voice. Even in the situation it was incredibly sexy, a one in a million voice that would cause hardons if she was quoting hog prices.
"How do you feel?"
"Terrified," she replied.
"You should be terrified. I'm deadly serious about what I've said. I'd kill you, Mrs. Dinsmore."
"I believe you."
We didn't speak for about ten minutes as the van bumped along the roads to my warehouse. She studied me the whole time.
"You're a cool customer," I said.
"My life's at stake and I didn't think you'd be swayed by hysterical sobbing." Her face became intent. "Which option did Roger want for me?"
"The first one was his suggestion, but he didn't mean it. Anyway, I would've talked him out of it. You're too beautiful to kill... unless it's absolutely necessary."
"I thought he loved me," she whispered.
"He thought you loved him."
"I do love him, but... who are you?"
"My name's Vincent Costello. Call me Vinnie."
"Vinnie, I'm thirty-three. My husband's sixty-three. There's a great deal of difference in our ages and our libidos."
"You knew that eleven years ago when you married him. Nothing's changed."
"Yes, it has. My libido has grown and his has shrunk."
"That's no excuse for adultery. Your husband loves you and treats you like a queen."
"I've had one affair. That doesn't make me a slut. My God, don't you have a desire for sex sometimes?"
I sighed audibly.
"Mrs. Dinsmore, you're lying to me."
"I didn't lie."
"Yes, you did, and the next time you lie, I'm going to hurt you. Why are you cheating?"
Her eyes flashed angrily as she leaned toward me and hissed, "The bastard's got a mistress. He can't get it up enough to keep me happy, but he's fucking her."
I clapped my hands in sardonic applause.
"Bravo, Mrs. Dinsmore. That was a wonderful performance. You've earned a reward."
There are pressure points on the human body where the nerves are particularly sensitive. I wrapped my hand around her mouth to silence the screams I knew would come and lay against her to impede her anticipated thrashing. We were eye to eye as my fingers found a pressure point.
She couldn't stop her silenced screams or her vain twisting to end the pain. I administered her reward until her skin was sickly pale and covered with sweat, and her eyes held only pain and fear.
When I sat back, she sobbed and gasped for air as tears poured down her perfect cheeks. Those magnificent blue eyes were full of terror and never looked away from me.
"On a pain scale from one to ten, that was a five. Next time will be worse. Why don't you try telling me the truth?"
Her eyes narrowed and resistance flashed. I reached for her again and resistance fled as she tried to squirm away.
"Tell me about your cheating."
"Roger's rich and powerful, but he's unsatisfying in bed."
"Then you married him strictly for the money."
"I told you I loved..." Her voice trailed off. "Yes, I married him for the money. I'm from a poor family. Money means a lot to me."
"When did your cheating start?"
"About a year ago."
"How many men have there been?"
She hesitated. "Five."
"Anyone in particular?"
She hesitated again before saying, "No."
.... There is more of this story ...