Hud wondered just how many other children his father had fathered. Jay wondered whether the girl was lying. And Kit wondered how they all could possibly be descended from the man in front of them. They were nothing like him.
“I don’t want anything from you,” Casey said. “Any of you. Well, not money or anything like that. I have enough money.”
She had so much less than any one of the Riva kids had at that very moment. She had such a small fraction of what Mick had that you couldn’t calculate it in whole percentages.
“I’m here because …” Casey found it difficult to keep going. She knew the words she wanted to say, she just didn’t know if she could withstand the ache of saying them. I don’t have anyone else. Mick looked up from studying the photo and saw that Casey had her mother’s eyes.
“She’s looking for family,” Nina said. “Sound familiar?”
Mick gave a shy and bittersweet smile, his eyes downcast. He looked at Nina and then Casey. And then back down at the photo.
He tried to place the face in the picture. Had he slept with this woman—Monica Ridgemore—in 1964 or ’65? Those were big years for him. He’d toured all over the world. He’d slept with a lot of women. Some of them were groupies. And, yes, some of them had been young.
Mick looked up from the photo and at Casey, at her eyes and her cheekbones and her lips. There was something familiar about her—but that was a feeling Mick had all the time. He had met so many people in his lifetime that, years ago, it had begun to feel like there were no strangers anymore. Just different versions of the same person over and over.
It was just as likely that Mick had slept with Monica and forgotten about it as it was that Monica had made it up.
“I don’t know,” he said, finally. He watched Casey’s eyes close and her chest fall as she understood she would find no answer tonight. “I’m sorry, Casey. I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear. But the truth is that I just don’t know.”
It broke them all a tiny little bit—Nina, Jay, Hud, Kit, and Casey. There was no end to the ways he could disappoint.
Six police officers arrived in three squad cars.
They drove through the quiet streets of Point Dume, their sirens off, their lights silently cascading over the high fences and hedges.
When they got to Nina’s door, they knocked. If they’d been at an out-of-control party in Compton, they would not have knocked. Leimert Park, Inglewood, Downtown, Koreatown, East L.A., Van Nuys, they would have walked right in. But this was Malibu, where the rich white people live. And rich white people get the benefit of the doubt and all of its many benefits.
The door opened just as Sergeant Eddie Purdy’s knuckles grazed it. Sergeant Purdy was stocky and stout with a face covered in stubble unless he shaved twice a day. He gazed up to see the gorgeous woman in front of him.
“Oh, thank God you are here,” Tarine said. “You need to do something. Now they are on the roof, trying to ride surfboards like sleds into the pool.”
There was broken glass and vomit and passed-out half-naked bodies and two people doing lines off a silver platter. The female Channel 4 news anchor was crying into a bowl of dip.
“Ma’am, is this your home?” Sergeant Purdy asked.
“No, it is not.”
“Is the owner of the home here?”
“We are still looking for her,” Tarine said. Vanessa was outside, on the hunt.
“Well, can you help us to find out where she might be?” he said. “I need to speak with whoever is the owner first.”
Tarine stood up, trying to explain herself more clearly. “I just told you, I do not know where Nina is, but I think the more urgent issue is to get things under control.”
“Could she be upstairs?” Sergeant Purdy asked. He directed some of the men to look around the party.
“Sir, there’s an asshole around here shooting up mirrors,” Tarine said. “Can we focus on that?”
“Ma’am, please watch your language.”
“Are you even listening?” Tarine asked. “I do not know who has the gun now. Bridger Miller shot out the sliding glass doors. So please do something.”
“Ma’am,” Sergeant Purdy said. “I’m going to need you to calm down. Now, where did you last see the owner of the house?”
“Sir, I have told you already. I do not know where Nina is. She is probably with her father. Mick Riva showed up here a little while ago.”
“Mick Riva owns this home?” Sergeant Purdy looked back to his men and raised his eyebrows, as if to say this was an important detail he’d uncovered. “Ma’am, that would have been good to mention earlier.”
“He does not own the home. His daughter owns the home.”
Sergeant Purdy’s voice was growing more impatient. “Tell us where Mr. Riva is.”
“Why?” Tarine asked. “Do you want an autograph?”
Vanessa came around the corner. “I was thinking maybe they are—” She spotted the cops. “Oh, good. You can help us. Someone peed on a Lichtenstein. A Lichtenstein.”
“I understand, ma’am,” Sergeant Purdy said, though by the way he said it, it was clear to everyone, including his men, that he did not know what a Lichtenstein was.
There was a crash from upstairs and then a loud splash. It sounded like someone had thrown or ridden a surfboard off the roof.
“Are you going to do something now or what, Officer?” Tarine asked.
“Ma’am, adjust your tone. I could have you arrested for speaking to me like that.”
“Oh, I do not think so,” Tarine said.
Purdy’s men now started chattering around him, laughing without looking him in eye. Vanessa understood things were about to take a turn.
“Ma’am, I admit you’re awfully pretty. And I’m sure you’re in charge wherever you go. I bet it’s a sight to watch. But you’re not in charge here, all right?” He smiled at Tarine, and what grated at her most was that it was such a genuine smile. “So you will speak to me with respect, hun, or we are going to have a very big problem.”
“Officer … if you could just—” Vanessa started but Tarine interrupted her.
“Maybe if you actually did your job, instead of standing around like this,” she said, “I would not need to speak to you at all.”
“I’m not messing around anymore. You’re making me angry,” Purdy said as he moved toward her. “So you better watch that mouth.”
Tarine could feel the space between them narrowing; she could feel Purdy’s eyes on her. “Excuse me?” she said. “I was the one who called you here. I have done nothing wrong.”
She leaned away from him as she spoke, trying to maintain her personal space.
Purdy moved in closer. “You sure are a ballbuster, aren’t you?” And then he took his left hand and brought it up to her face and looked her in the eye as he smoothed her hair behind her ear. “There. That’s better.”
Tarine pulled her hand back and slapped Sergeant Eddie Purdy across the face.
Jay looked at his father and felt the anger begin to pour out of him. “Do you even know how many children you have?” he snapped.