Hearts on Fire 5: Loving Frankie

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer

Prologue



Francesca “Frankie” Sonoma stared at Kevin as he spoke into his cell phone. He was tall and handsome, a street cop, a detective with the attitude and charisma of a gangster. She felt that tightness in her chest at her own description of her boyfriend, her lover, the man she thought she was destined to be with. A street cop gone bad guy, Kevin was corrupt every which way from Sunday. She should have seen it coming.

How had she been so stupid? Why was there such a deep need to keep a connection to a first responder, a cop? So what if her father was a cop, as were her brother, Mickey, and her uncle, who had all died in the line of duty. She was alone. Her aunt had lost her mind after her husband passed away, and she had been no help to Francesca, a woman finishing up college and trying to get a job. That had been a few years ago. Now here she was, twenty-three, successful in the advertising firm, and thinking that she needed to leave town. She had to disappear, but how could she with Kevin knowing her every move and keeping his hold on her tight?

At first she’d found his possessiveness arousing. But as the months passed, and she finally slept with him, he’d become obsessed. She realized that a very fine line existed between possessiveness and obsession. But now it was too late. Now she was stuck, with no one around to help her.

Francesca knew that a psychiatrist would have a field day with her. She was weak and all alone. Now Kevin was in deep with some other dirty cops and a group of drug dealers. She sat at clubs and bars where Kevin would meet up with these men in private rooms and discuss certain transactions. At first they used code words, so as to not only keep things secretive but also to protect themselves from incriminating evidence. It wasn’t as though they really believed that the Feds were listening in. It was more a macho attitude that they were so good, so successful in their crimes of illegal money laundering, drug and gun dealing, and God knew what else, that they were unstoppable. That arrogance apparently had led to Kevin’s frantic state of mind today. He picked her up for lunch, and she had been prepared to try and break things off with him. She recited her speech. The one about needing some time apart to breathe and to work on her career. She was moving up the corporate ladder in the advertising firm of Franklin and Hursch. She could be a CEO, but she feared Kevin’s reaction.

It was time. She’d had enough. Enough of the lies, the manipulation, and the constant promises that Kevin was getting out, was going to take her away from Chicago to live a normal life. She was done wasting her youth on him. The older, gorgeous, strong cop she’d fallen in love with had turned out to be the complete opposite of her father and Mickey. She started thinking more like a cop than his lover and girlfriend. In fact, she’d recently taken notes, writing down names he mentioned, locations of events, shipments, and even the code words and what she thought they meant. She figured she never knew if she might need those. It was information that she could probably be killed for, but it was also a little extra security. This new way of thinking made her realize it was definitely time to get out and get away from Kevin.

Frankie watched him pace. The holster and gun, the detective’s shield, and his well-maintained body were no longer enough to make her stay with him. Her heart pounded. Her mouth felt dry. She anticipated his reaction to her breaking things off. He would be angry. Kevin angry wasn’t a good thing, especially how he lashed out at her. In the last several months, he would yank her hair or squeeze her wrist to get her attention. When they had sex, it went from slow and passionate to rough, him hurting her as he took from her body. She had bruises on her ribs and her hips from his manhandling. The kisses he applied afterward, and the profession of passion and lust he felt for her body and how he lost himself because of her, was no longer acceptable and erotic. It was abusive. She knew it in her gut that this wasn’t right. That she didn’t want to feel like an object but as an equal, a precious gift to love and cherish.

She had fallen for his charms and his sexual experience as an older man in his thirties, but it wasn’t enough. He would only bring her down. She was a good girl, a college graduate, a woman who came from a law enforcement family that had all died in the line of duty. It was too late, and she was in deep with him when she realized the truth. Kevin wasn’t the man she’d made him out to be.

She was alone with no family, and she thought Kevin had represented everything she wanted and everything that reminded her of her own family. She had been wrong. Hearing his conversation now, as well as the names he was throwing out there, she knew things were worse than she had suspected.

They were names she read about in the newspapers. Gangsters, corrupt businessmen, politicians, and criminals. Well-known ones. Ones she knew the Feds or, at the minimum, local special crime units should be investigating. It made her feel sick, used, and stupid. Now how the hell was she going to end this and start over? Would Kevin give her the space she needed so she could slowly distance herself until he got the message? Or would he freak out, perhaps strike her or threaten her? She looked at him. He was more than capable of that. He was capable of worse.

“Details. I need details,” he yelled into the cell phone.

Kevin glanced at her as she jumped from his intense tone and gave her a wink. He reached out and stroked his finger along her jaw then gently brushed his thumb along her lower lip. That sexy expression used to set her body on fire and make her putty in his hands. Not now. Not anymore. She also couldn’t minimize the fact that he cheated on her. It was time to draw the line and end it all.

He pulled back and yelled into the cell phone. Something about a deal and the wrong guy delivering drugs to some place Carlotto owned. Louie Carlotto, the notorious entrepreneur. Carlotto seemed to maintain the attention of the FBI yet remain free instead of behind bars for all the criminal activity associated with him and his various companies. She knew a lot of crap on him. She’d heard a lot of the discussions between him and Kevin, but more importantly, and what she feared the most, was the way Louie Carlotto looked at her. He called her by her first name, Francesca, with authority, with power, and what sounded possessive to her own ears. She never told Kevin about Carlotto’s advances or how he had the nerve to send one of his henchmen to her office with a rose and an envelope containing a phone number. The guy had told her that Mr. Carlotto said to call him. She didn’t.

A week later she received an envelope at work. No return address, no verification of whom it had come from. Most important were the contents of the package and the words indicating a schedule of Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Hyatt hotel and lounge downtown. It also contained eight-by-ten photographs of Kevin with his tongue down some redhead’s throat and then other pictures. Intimate ones with the whore’s mouth wrapped around Kevin’s cock and others with him screwing her every possible way. Her heart had broken that day, and her entire world shattered. But, still, she couldn’t let go. She didn’t want to believe that the pictures were real or recent. She looked at the address and noted the date as Tuesday.

She grabbed her purse, her keys, and the address, and headed out of her office. She got downtown in record time and took the elevator to the eighth floor. After pulling out the key card that came with the envelope, she slowly swiped it and watched the red light turn green. Time seemed to stand still as she quietly pushed the door open.

She heard the sounds. The moans, the banging of furniture. Her legs nearly gave out on her, and her heart sat in her throat ready to choke her.

She’d rounded the corner and gasped. Never had anything hurt so badly. Never had she wanted to die, to end the heartache, the insult, and the disgust she felt. She would never trust another man again. She would never trust a cop, and she certainly would find it difficult to ever let her guard down and trust anyone.

Today she’d come here to tell Kevin goodbye and to make him realize that nothing he could say or do would make up for what he’d done to her. Nothing.

She couldn’t help but be scared. After all, besides sleeping with whores, he was in bed with gangsters.

“Goddamn it! They fucked this shit up. I don’t believe this. This is the biggest deal of my fucking life and some dick rookie fucks it all up. Fuck!” Kevin roared as he closed up his phone and paced the room.

She didn’t want to hear about the crimes he was committing. She didn’t want to know anything more. She needed to sever the ties between them. She needed to forget that he was her brother’s friend and the only person she’d had to lean on when Mickey died.

She stood up, straightened out her skirt, and reached for her bag.

“I need to go,” she whispered, unable to look at him. If she stared into those dark eyes and that handsome face and saw his controlling expression, she would falter.

She didn’t want him to restrain her. To put her in one of his bear hugs and make her listen to him. Then she heard him say Oscar Finery. She knew him well. He was the son of a good friend of her father’s. Like her, Oscar came from a family of law enforcement officers. In fact, she’d seen Oscar the day before she received the pictures. She’d told Oscar that Kevin wasn’t the man she thought he was and that things were getting complicated. Oscar had touched her cheek then squeezed her shoulder and offered his support. She smiled at him and had gotten an odd sensation.

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