Ricky managed—quite valiantly I thought—to refrain from quizzing me about my day until after dinner. But as soon as we settled down in the living room with our coffees he asked, "So is Mr Donati the bad guy in this scenario?"
"Not even close. He took Ben when Ms Engel gave him up to be adopted. Of course she doesn't know this."
"And you're not going to tell her."
"Hell no. Even if I did, and I'm not that much of an ass, I couldn't tell her where he is, or what name he's using, because Carlo wasn't about to give me that information."
I shot him an indignant look. "Meaning I wouldn't keep my mouth shut?"
"Not at all," he replied, leaning over to give me a hug. "I only meant the less people who know, all things considered, the better. Did he have any idea what's behind her looking for Ben?"
"No We did come up with one possibility, although it's sort of far fetched. Carlo's father died six months ago. According to his will, his estate was to be divided between his wife, Carlo, and any children Carlo might have at that point."
"A large estate?"
"Carlo didn't go into specifics, but I suspect it's more than you or I will see in our lifetime."
"There was no mention of Carlo's wife, if he had one, getting part of the inheritance?"
"Apparently not," I replied.
"So if Ms Engel happened to find out about the will, she'd figure the only way to get her slimy hands on some of the money would be through Ben."
"Slimy hands?" I chuckled.
"Yeah. Ms Touchy-Feely, from what you told me about your first meeting with her. Ergo, she's got slimy hands as far as I'm concerned. Speaking of which, what are you going to tell her now?"
"I already talked to her and severed our contract, on the basis that there was no way I would be able to find Ben, given the adoption laws."
"Good. Then she's out of your life."
"Carlo wants to hire me and the only reason I can see for that is, either he wants me to be certain she doesn't find Ben on her own, although that's not possible. If it was, she wouldn't have hired me in the first place. Or he wants to find out something about her. Like what prompted her search in the first place."
"Something you'd like to know too."
"Big time. I don't enjoy being played. And, she's"—I thought about her offer of passes to the gym—"very good at that."
"Meaning?" Ricky gave me his 'tell me or else' look.
I grimaced. "She told me to stop by the gym where she works and she'd give me some free passes."
Ricky huffed. Something he's quite good at when he gets annoyed, but not at me. "I hope you told her no deal."
"Actually, I just thanked her since she was on her way out at that point."
"Never to be seen again."
I shrugged. "Depending on why Carlo's interested in hiring me."
I found that out the next morning.