MUSCLE FOR HIRE
Chapter One: Job Interview
"So you're what a mob killer looks like." Elizabeth O'Hara leaned back in her expensive swivel chair, and gave Marco Maselli the kind of look you give the prize gorilla in a zoo. "Not the usual fat, bald, Tony Soprano type at any rate. Do you drink or use drugs?"
"I'm clean, Miss O'Hara. No parole violations, no drugs. I'm an orderly at the city hospital." Marco hated being an ex-con. He hated standing at attention in his puke-green scrubs in front of Red Lake's richest woman. Elizabeth O'Hara was nothing, he reminded himself. A piece of tail in a tailored suit.
The elegant red-head raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow. "Your mob friends couldn't find you a better job? But you're happy where you are, I suppose. Emptying bedpans."
"They stink," Marco grunted. "So do you."
"I didn't murder a man for standing on a street corner."
"So you're feeling sorry for the other guy? Write his mother a check. Put her kids through college. Build another Boys' Club. It's easy to be generous with your kind of money."
"My kind of money?"
The dark, hard-muscled mobster leaned forward, resting his massive hands on Elizabeth's polished desk. "Your grandfather was boss around here back when Red Lake was still a wide-open town. Everyone knows how Redmond O'Hara built that fifty-room mansion you live in."
"My grandfather was a pig," Elizabeth sniffed. "He hated women and minorities."
"But you're different, huh? You went to college. You sit behind a desk. You're better than your grandfather. Only you can't really hate him, because that would mean giving back all that dirty money. So you hate guys like me instead."
"You know nothing about my life, Mr. Maselli." The red-head gave him an icy smile. "As a matter of fact, I don't hate you. I've followed your case, and I admire the way you worked to turn your life around in prison. All that weight lifting, those college courses. Your certificate as a massage therapist. Now I'm giving you an opportunity to better yourself."
"I've heard that before," Marco growled, sinking into a chair. "Who do I have to kill this time?"
Elizabeth O'Hara handed him a manila folder. Inside were a collection of newspaper clippings and some photographs.
"Not bad," Marco rumbled. He wasn't about to admit that the sexy blonde with the goofy smile was exactly his type. She was playing tennis in one picture, riding a horse in another. Obviously loaded. Her eyes were soft green, not arctic blue.
"That is my cousin, Mary McCloud. She's just won a major corporate lawsuit to take over half my financial holdings, including the Red Lake Spa. Starting now, you are working at the spa as a massage therapist. When Mary takes over, you'll have ample opportunity to get close to her."
"You want me to make it look like an accident?"
"I want you to make it look like love."