Exposed (Rosato & DiNunzio #5)

Exposed (Rosato & DiNunzio #5)

Lisa Scottoline

“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here!”

—William Shakespeare, The Tempest


Mary DiNunzio stepped off the elevator, worried. Her father and his friends looked over from the reception area, their lined faces stricken. They’d called her to say they needed a lawyer but until now, she hadn’t been overly concerned. Their last lawsuit was against the Frank Sinatra Social Society of South Philly on behalf of the Dean Martin Fan Club of South Philly. Luckily Mary had been able to settle the matter without involving Tony Bennett.

“Hi, Pop.” Mary crossed the lobby, which was otherwise empty. Marshall, their receptionist, wasn’t at her desk, though she must’ve already gotten in. The aroma of fresh coffee filled the air, since Marshall knew that Mary’s father and his fellow octogenarians ran on caffeine and Coumadin.

“HIYA, HONEY!” her father shouted, despite his hearing aids. Everyone was used to Mariano “Matty” DiNunzio talking loudly, which came off as enthusiastic rather than angry. On the table next to him sat a white box of pastries, as the DiNunzios didn’t go anywhere empty-handed, even to a law firm. The box hadn’t been opened, so whatever was bothering him was something even saturated fats couldn’t cure.

“Hey, Mare!” “Hi, Mary!” “Buongiorno, Maria!” said his friends The Three Tonys, like a Greek—or more accurately Roman—chorus. They got up to greet her, rising slowly on replacement knees, like hammers on a piano with sticky keys. Her father had grown up with The Tonys; Tony “From-Down-The-Block” LoMonaco, “Pigeon” Tony Lucia, and Tony “Two Feet” Pensiera, which got shortened to “Feet,” so even his nickname had a nickname. It went without saying that naming traditions in South Philly were sui generis, which was Latin for completely insane. The Tonys went everywhere with her father and sometimes helped her on her cases, which was like having a secret weapon or a traveling nightmare.

“Good morning, Pop.” Mary reached her father and gave him a big hug. He smelled the way he always did, of hard soap from a morning shave and the mothballs that clung to his clothes. He and The Tonys were dressed in basically the same outfit—a white short-sleeved shirt, baggy Bermuda shorts, and black-socks-with-sandals—like a barbershop quartet gone horribly wrong.

“THANKS FOR SEEIN’ US, HONEY.” Her father hugged her back, and Mary loved the solidity of his chubby belly. She would move mountains for him, but it still wouldn’t be enough to thank him for being such a wonderful father. Both of her parents loved her to the marrow, though her mother could be as protective as a mother bear, if not a mother Tyrannosaurus rex.

“No problem.” Mary released him, but he looked away, which was unlike him. “You okay, Pop?”

“SURE, SURE.” Her father waved her off with an arthritic hand, but Mary was concerned. His eyes were a milky brown behind his bifocals, but troubled.

“What is it?”


Just then Feet raised his slack arms, pulled Mary close to his chest, and hugged her so hard that he jostled his Mr. Potato head glasses. He, too, seemed agitated, if affectionate. “Mare, thank you for making the time for us.”

“Of course, I’m happy to see you.”

“I appreciate it. You’re such a good kid.” Feet righted his thick trifocals, repaired with Scotch tape at one corner. His round eyes were hooded, his nose was bulbous, and he was completely bald, with worry lines that began at his eyebrows and looked more worried than usual.

“Mary!” Tony-From-Down-The-Block reached for her with typical vigor, the youngest of the group, at eighty-three. He worked out, doing a chair-exercise class at the senior center, and was dating again, as evidenced by his hair’s suspicious shade of reddish-brown, like oxblood shoe polish. He gave her a hug, and Mary breathed in his Paco Rabanne and BenGay, a surprisingly fragrant combination.

“Good to see you.” Mary let him go and moved on to hug Pigeon Tony, an Italian immigrant with a stringy neck, who not only raised homing pigeons but looked like one. Pigeon Tony was barely five feet tall and bird-thin, with a smooth bald head and round brown-black eyes divided by a nose shaped like a beak. In other words, adorable.

“Come stai, Maria?” Pigeon Tony released her with a sad smile, and Mary tried to remember her Italian.

“Va bene, grazie. E tu?”

“Cosi, cosi,” Pigeon Tony answered, though he’d never before said anything but bene. You didn’t have to speak Italian to know there was a problem, and Mary turned to address the foursome.

“So what’s going on, guys? How can I help you?”

“IT’S NOT ABOUT US,” her father answered gravely.

Feet nodded, downcast. “It’s about Simon.”

“Oh no, what’s up?” Mary loved Feet’s son Simon, who was her unofficial cousin, since The Tonys were her unofficial uncles.

“He’s not so good.”

“What’s the matter? Is it Rachel?” Mary felt a pang of fear. Simon’s wife, Ellen, died four years ago of an aneurysm, and Simon had become a single father of an infant, Rachel. When Rachel turned three, she was diagnosed with leukemia but was in remission.

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