Something About You Page 28

But Grant kept his mouth shut. And after her next visit with the senator, Mandy asked him to join her for another drink, and then the visit after that, too. It became an arrangement between them, and it wasn’t long before their talk became less casual. Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution on both their parts, it took about five months of circular conversations, the loops of which gradually grew smaller and smaller, before they finally got down to the point.

Blackmail.

What made it work, in essence, was that they were both gamblers. Grant’s game was poker, and some unfortunate losses at high stakes tables had put a real stress on his credit. Mandy’s game was sex, and she’d been waiting for the escort service to throw her the perfect score. When the married senior senator from Illinois showed up on her hotel room doorstep, she knew she’d found him.

The plan they devised had three parts: they would catch Hodges on video performing those acts of service generally considered outside the traditional senator/constituent relationship. Mandy would then present Hodges with a copy of the video and her demand. When Hodges balked at the blackmail and turned to his personal security guard and most trusted confidant for advice, Grant would make a big show of exploring all the options. He would then use his influence to steer the senator away from going to the authorities, and would ultimately and most reluctantly inform him that he had no choice but to pay.

They were careful in their planning, only meeting in person. No exchanges by phone or email. No records that could link them together. They decided it would be a one-time deal, after which they would go their separate ways. Mandy would quit the escort service and get out of town, and Grant would continue on with business as usual, with the senator none the wiser to his involvement in the scheme.

They agreed to ask for five hundred thousand dollars.

Then they agreed it wasn’t enough and bumped it up to a cool million.

Not an exorbitant sum to Hodges, whose family had founded one of the largest grocery store chains in the country and owned an NFL football team, and certainly an amount he could pay without much doing. But it was enough to get Grant back on his feet after the gambling losses and more than enough to get Mandy off her back. The profits would be split fifty-fifty, they agreed.

Or so Grant had thought.

The time to strike came when the senator was invited to a thousand-dollar-per-plate charity fund-raiser for a children’s hospital that would keep him in the city late into the evening. Hodges asked him to make the “necessary arrangements” and Grant set about doing exactly that. They would be staying at the Peninsula, where Hodges was a frequent visitor, and Grant knew the layout of the hotel well. He’d been given a tour by hotel security earlier in the year when the senator’s son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren had stayed there that had pretty much told him everything he needed to know, including that which was most important: where the hotel kept their cameras.

Mandy requested room 1308, a room she’d stayed in before. Given its location, it suited their needs perfectly. It was in a corner and right across the hall from a stairwell, providing Grant a low-visibility means to sneak in and out of the room. And, personally, he got a kick out of the sinister connotations that came with the number thirteen. Another man in his position might have felt guilty, planning to screw his boss out of a million dollars, especially when that boss had been fair and respectful to him. But Grant was not that man.

Senator Hodges was weak. Sure, Grant had vices, everyone did, but the senator had put himself in a position to be preyed upon by others, and that made him a fool. Plus the guy had more money than sin and Grant didn’t see anything wrong with redistributing some of that wealth in his direction. Given what he knew about the senator’s private affairs, he’d earned that money just for keeping his mouth shut.

When the night finally arrived, everything started out smoothly enough. After Hodges headed to the hotel after the fund raiser to—how thoughtful—call his wife to say good night, Grant drove his car into a dark alley a few blocks away and quickly shed the trademark suit and tie he always wore when working with the senator. He threw on a nondescript black blazer, hooded T-shirt, and jeans, an outfit that would make him less identifiable on the off chance anyone spotted him around room 1308. A few minutes later, he parked the car and entered the hotel through its back entrance, located the stairwell that would lead him to Mandy’s room, and hurried up the thirteen flights of stairs. Having timed things nearly to the minute, Mandy had just arrived herself and was waiting in the room. She had a small video camera she had purchased, per his instructions, from a spy shop on Wells Street.

Grant set up the camera, gave Mandy a thirty-second tutorial, and hid it behind the television that was conveniently located in front of the king-sized bed.

“What’s with the gloves?” Mandy asked, taking in his black leather-clad hands while he worked.

In hindsight, Grant probably should’ve given the answer to this question a little more consideration, as it was the first sign of trouble.

“Just being careful,” he’d said matter-of-factly while opening the armoire doors another quarter inch and checking to make sure the camera wasn’t visible.

“Just being careful how?” Mandy asked.

When Grant turned around, he saw she had her arms folded across her chest.

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You mean, just being careful, as in, if Hodges doesn’t go for this, and he turns me in to the cops, there’s no proof you were ever involved? Is that the kind of being careful you’re talking about?”

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