Nolan stuffed half a cinnamon bun into his mouth. "So are you going to ask Little Miss Redhead to the Policemen's Ball?"
O'Rourke frowned. "That's six months away."
"I have a feeling you'll still be seeing each other."
His partner didn't respond, so Nolan got down to business. He pulled a folder out of his desk and handed it to O'Rourke.
O'Rourke glanced at the folder. "What's this?"
"Come to find out DeWarner's wife craved a divorce. Got tired of all the rumors about starlets in the pool house. And get this. Mrs. DeWarner's father happens to be the head of the Carmini crime family in Chicago. Supposedly, she ran to daddy and spilled the beans about hubby's unfaithfulness. Daddy takes care of problem. Instant divorce."
O’Rourke’s eyes narrowed. "Where did you hear that?"
"You think you're the only one with connections in the movie business?"
"Are we talking a professional hit?"
Nolan shrugged. "Maybe."
O'Rourke shook his head. "But if it's one of Carmini's guys, he's back in Chicago safe and sound in the midst of the family."
"I have another theory."
"I thought as much." O'Rourke sighed with weariness. He hadn't slept well on Felicia's sofa. Not only was it lumpy and saggy, but he couldn't stop thinking about the lovely girl in the next room.
"Seems another studio was trying to buy him out. DeWarner Junior was keen on the idea but Senior nixed it. Now, Senior is on his way to Hollywood Park Cemetery to join Valentino and the rest of the dearly departed. Junior is the new head honcho. Ready, willing, and able to sell off his daddy's studio so he can have more money for gambling and starlets. I heard the old man kept Junior on a tight leash and now the boy has gone hog wild.
"What is it with this DeWarner? Did he go out of his way to make enemies?"
Nolan shook his head. "He didn't have to go far. Most of them seem to be members of his own family."
"So what do we do now?"
"I suggest we pay our respects to Junior."
C.B. DeWarner Junior didn't reside in a mansion like the one owned by his father. Instead, he lived in one of the new downtown apartments which had sprung up since the war. Of course, being the son of a wealthy movie producer had its perks. Junior's bachelor apartment was palatial enough to house a large family. It took up the entire sixth floor of the Sunset Garden Apartments. The apartment boasted a three hundred and sixty degree view of Los Angeles. Floor to ceiling windows encircled the apartment and opened onto a wrap-around balcony. O'Rourke couldn't help but compare this place to the tiny shoebox Felicia called home.
O'Rourke turned his back on the view and studied the man he had come to question. DeWarner Junior had the slicked back hair of a punk and the wardrobe of a millionaire. His suit probably cost more than most people earned in a month. O'Rourke itched to knock the condescending smirk off his oily face.
Display cases lining one side of the large living area caught O'Rourke's attention. Butcher knives, Bowie knives, switchblades, knives of every description filled the cases. What caught O'Rourke's attention was the collection of knives with ornately carved handles.
"Quite a collection you have." O'Rourke opened one of the cases and picked up a large knife with a beautifully made handle.
"That one looks familiar." Nolan gave O’Rourke a meaningful look.
"I like knives. Nothing wrong with that." Junior's voice was challenging but O'Rourke detected a hint of nervousness, possibly fear.
"A friend of mine was threatened with a knife similar to this one." O'Rourke held the knife by the blade and then tossed it downward. The blade pierced the wood of Junior's coffee table.
"Hey, what's your problem?" Junior ran to the table and pulled the knife from the wood. "You know how much this table cost me? It's genuine teak from half-way around the world. It probably cost more than you make in a year."
Junior returned the knife to the collection. O'Rourke leaned against the display case. "Your father paid for it so why are you complaining?"
"Look, will you just tell me why you're here? I got things to do. I'm a busy man."
"Uh-huh." O'Rourke gave him a hard stare.
Junior was the first to drop his gaze. "Like I said officers, I'm in mourning. Can we make this quick?"
"Detectives." O'Rourke corrected him.
"Oh excuse me, detectives." Junior made the word sound obscene.
"Where do you find knives like those? The handle is exquisite workmanship. Must have cost plenty."
Sweat appeared on Junior's upper lip. "You can buy them by the dozen in Chinatown."
"I don't think so." O'Rourke picked up the knife again. "You see, this knife is handmade and signed by the person who sculpted the handle. I have a feeling this signature will match the knife my friend found in her living room."
"I don't know what you're talking about." Junior fidgeted with his tie.
O'Rourke smelled the tension coming from his body in oily waves. "Where were you when your father was killed?"
"What is this?" Anger painted Junior's face an ugly, mottled red. "I was getting my hair cut."
O’Rourke frowned. "Do you have any idea who might want to put your dad out of business?"
"According to the paper, you should ask the little slut who was with him."
A red, haze blurred O'Rourke's vision and everything took on the color of blood. Nolan grabbed his arm but O'Rourke shook him off. "Excuse me?"
"I said you should question the slut that was with him. The paper hinted she might have seen the shooter. Who knows? Maybe she did it herself. These gold digging actresses will do anything to…"
Junior never saw the rock hard fist, which slammed into his face and knocked him flat on the carpet.
"Let's get out of this dump." O'Rourke stepped over Junior's unconscious body.
"Please accept our condolences." Nolan took out a business card from his suit pocket and placed it on Junior's chest.
Property of Vintage Romance Publishing. ©2004
"This is a well-written story that you’ll enjoy in one sitting."
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