Chapter Forty-Two

Antonio Granelli died and Michael took over full control of his empire. The funeral was lavish, as befitted a man of the Godfather's stature. The heads and members of Families from all over the country came to pay their respects to their departed friend, and to assure the new capo of their loyalty and support. The FBI was there, taking photographs, as well as half a dozen other government agencies.

Rosa was heartbroken, because she had loved her father very much, but she took consolation and pride in the fact that her husband was taking her father's place as head of the Family.

Jennifer was proving more valuable to Michael every day. When there was a problem, it was Jennifer whom Michael consulted. Thomas Colfax was becoming an increasingly bothersome appendage.

"Don't worry about him," Michael told Jennifer. "He's going to retire soon."

The soft chimes of the telephone awakened Jennifer. She lay in bed, listening a moment, then sat up and looked at the digital clock on the nightstand. It was three o'clock in the morning.

She lifted the receiver. "Hello."

It was Michael. "Can you get dressed right away?"

Jennifer sat up straighter and tried to blink the sleep from her eyes. "What's happened?"

"Eddie Santini was just picked up on an armed robbery charge. He's a two-time loser. If they convict him, they'll throw the key away."

"Were there any witnesses?"

"Three, and they all got a good look at him."

"Where is he now?"

"The Seventeenth Precinct."

"I'm on my way, Michael."

Jennifer put on a robe and went down to the kitchen and made herself a steaming pot of coffee. She sat drinking it in the breakfast room, staring out at the night, thinking. Three witnesses. And they all got a good look at him.

She picked up the telephone and dialed. "Give me the City Desk."

Jennifer spoke rapidly. "I got some information for you. A guy named Eddie Santini's just been picked up on an armed robbery charge. His attorney's Jennifer Parker. She's gonna try to spring him."

She hung up and repeated the call to two other newspapers and a television station. When Jennifer was through telephoning, she looked at her watch and had another leisurely cup of coffee. She wanted to make certain the photographers had time to get to the precinct on 51st Street. She went upstairs and got dressed.

Before Jennifer left, she went into Joshua's bedroom. His night-light was on. He was sound asleep, the blankets twisted around his restless body. Jennifer gently straightened the blankets, kissed him on the forehead and started to tiptoe out of the room.

"Where you goin'?"

She turned and said, "I'm going to work. Go back to sleep."

"What time is it?"

"It's four o'clock in the morning."

Joshua giggled. "You sure work funny hours for a lady."

She came back to his bedside. "And you sure sleep funny hours for a man."

"Are we going to watch the Mets game tonight?"

"You bet we are. Back to Dreamland."

"Okay, Mom. Have a good case."

"Thanks, pal."

A few minutes later, Jennifer was in her car, on her way into Manhattan.

When Jennifer arrived, a lone photographer from the Daily News was waiting. He stared at Jennifer and said, "It's true! You really handling the Santini case?"

"How did you know that?" Jennifer demanded.

"A little birdie, counselor."

"You're wasting your time. No pictures."

She went inside and arranged for Eddie Santini's bail, stalling the proceedings until she was sure the television cameraman and a reporter and photographer had arrived from The New York Times. She decided she could not wait for the Post.

The police captain on duty said, "There're some reporters and television people out front, Miss Parker. You can go out the back way if you want."

"It's all right," Jennifer said. "I'll handle them."

She led Eddie Santini to the front corridor where the photographers and reporters were waiting.

She said, "Look, gentlemen, no pictures, please."

And Jennifer stepped aside while the photographer and television cameraman took pictures.

A reporter asked, "What makes this case big enough for you to handle?"

"You'll find out tomorrow. Meanwhile, I would advise you not to use those pictures."

One of the reporters called out, "Come on, Jennifer! Haven't you heard of freedom of the press?"

At noon Jennifer got a call from Michael Moretti. His voice was angry. "Have you seen the newspapers?"

"No."

"Well, Eddie Santini's picture is all over the front pages and on the television news. I didn't tell you to turn this goddamned thing into a circus!"

"I know you didn't. It was my own idea."

"Jesus! What's the point?"

"The point, Michael, is those three witnesses."

"What about them?"

"You said they got a good look at Eddie Santini. Well, when they get up in court to identify him, they're going to have to prove they didn't identify him because they saw his picture all over the newspapers and television."

There was a long silence, and then Michael's voice said admiringly, "I'm a son of a bitch!"

Jennifer had to laugh.

Ken Bailey was waiting in her office that afternoon when Jennifer walked in, and she knew instantly from the look on his face that something was wrong.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Ken demanded.

"Tell you what?"

"About you and Mike Moretti."

Jennifer checked the retort that rose to her lips. Saying It's none of your business was too easy. Ken was her friend; he cared. In a way, it was his business. Jennifer remembered it all, the tiny office they had shared, how he had helped her. I've got a lawyer friend who's been bugging me to serve some subpoenas for him. I haven't got time. He pays twelve-fifty for each subpoena plus mileage. Would you help me out?

"Ken, let's not discuss this."

His tone was filled with cold fury. "Why not? Everybody else is discussing it. The word is that you're Moretti's girl." His face was pale. "Jesus!"

"My personal life - "

"He lives in a sewer and you brought that sewer into the office! You've got us all working for Moretti and his hoodlums."

"Stop it!"

"I am. That's what I came to tell you. I'm leaving."

His words were a shock. "You can't leave. You're wrong about what you think of Michael. If you'll just meet him, you'll see - "

The moment the words were out, Jennifer knew she had made a mistake.

He looked at her sadly and said, "He's really wrapped you up, hasn't he? I remember you when you knew who you were. That's the girl I want to remember. Say good-bye to Joshua for me."

And Ken Bailey was gone.

Jennifer felt the tears begin to come, and her throat constricted so tightly that she could hardly breathe. She put her head down on the desk and closed her eyes, trying to shut out the hurt.

When she opened her eyes, night had fallen. The office was in darkness except for the eerie red glow cast by the city lights. She walked over to the window and stared out at the city below. It looked like a jungle at night, with only a dying campfire to keep away the encroaching terrors.

It was Michael's jungle. There was no way out of it.

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