Tit for Tat

Tit for Tat,” an excerpt from my current yet-to-be-named work in progress, otherwise known as Book 3, From the Savino Sisters Mystery Series. Mike Something from Book 2 has returned—older, wiser, and seeking redemption from Ellen Savino who erased him from her life years ago.

I saw Mike before he saw me, more like before I let him see me, having stationed myself behind a convenient shrub located near the Saint Louis Zoo’s Living World. Dressed in skin-tight faded jeans and a navy blue sweatshirt, he sat warming a park bench, one ankle crossed to the opposite knee. Instead of the man bun he’d worn at The Ritz-Carlton, a grey headband now crossed his forehead, keeping his face unobstructed but allowing the long hair to hang loose around his shoulders. Cherokee style, as if making a cultural statement. Not that I found anything wrong with that. We should all celebrate our heritage, however vague, as was the case with the recent revelations of my Italian heritage. Nor was anything at that zoo moment stopping me from walking away, except Mike’s admission to having known both Val and Horace Corrigan. And my top priority of clearing my mother of any wrongdoing in Val’s death.

My turn to bite the bullet could not be put off any longer. One deep inhale followed by a satisfying exhale propelled me forward into the morning sun. As I approached Mike, I noticed his ankle-length leather boots, similar to a pricey pair displayed in the men’s department at Nordstrom. He looked up, uncrossed his leg, and stood. Ignoring the open arms he’d curled into a potential hug, I offered my hand instead. Two polite shakes and we sat down, Mike at one end of the bench and me at the other, my purse between us, creating a physical as well as a mental barrier.

“I wasn’t sure you’d come,” he said.

“Forget about me. As you already know from eavesdropping on my conversation—”

“It wasn’t intentional, Ellie. I didn’t even recognize you at first. But then you mentioned your mom and the Corrigans.”

“Okay, I’ll buy that. What do you know that I should know?”

He showed me his palm. “Whoa, slow down, will you. Before we get into the Corrigan stuff, can we just talk for a while?”

My heart told me no way and yet I gave him an opening. “You mean play catch-up for the past fifteen years?”

“More like seventeen but who’s counting.” He leaned forward, elbows to knees, head lowered so as not to look at me. “About that day at the St. Louis Fair, I want to apologize.”

I wrinkled my brow, a lame effort to look confused. “Whatever for?”

“The shitty thing I did, dumping you with Yancy, an asshole way of letting you know it was over between us.”

“Oh that. Let’s see … I was almost fifteen. Your stinking cousin … seriously, he had an extreme case of halitosis … was nineteen, already married and a father according to the photo he showed me. You tried passing me off to him, as if … as if …”

“Jesus, Ellie, how could I have been such a jerk.” He tilted his head in my direction, showing me those blue the eyes I’d all but forgotten. “When I called to apologize, your sister read me the riot act. And told me never to call again. Then I went to your house and rang the bell. When your grandma opened the door, she seemed nice enough, even smiled. She told me to hold out one hand and show her my palm. Hell, I thought she was going to tell my fortune, her being a foreigner and all. Instead, she grabbed my hand and …he snapped two fingers … quick as that, she sliced my palm with what looked like an ordinary paring knife. Turned out, the damn thing was so sharp I didn’t feel any pain, leastways not right away. Then, bam! Holy shit. While I was trying to stop the bleeding, she threatened to cut off my dick if I ever came back.”

“Nonnie Clarita? You’ve got to be kidding.”

“Like hell, still got the scar to prove it.” He leaned back, held up his hand, and showed me a thin white line that went from the base of his thumb to above the wrist.

“I guess she figured you had it coming,” I said with a shrug.

“You got that right.”

###

End of excerpt

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About Loretta Giacoletto

Loretta Giacoletto is an American writer of family sagas, mysteries, and contemporary fiction, all of which contain elements of crime. She divides her time between the St. Louis Metropolitan area and Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks where she writes fiction, essays, and her bi-monthly blog, Loretta on Life, while her husband Dominic cruises the waters for bass and crappie. Their five children have left the once chaotic nest but occasionally return for her to-die-for ravioli and roasted peppers topped with garlic-laden bagna càuda. An avid traveler, she has visited numerous countries in Europe and Asia but Italy remains her favorite, especially the area from where her family originates: the Piedmont region near the Italian Alps. - See more at: http://www.loretta-giacoletto.com
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