The chime of the doorbell woke Dani from an uneasy slumber. Her vision was blurry, her eyes puffy and her body ached. She was suffering from the after effects of a night spent crying over everything and anything, interrupted by some of the best kisses of her life from a man who confused, scared and thrilled her all at the same time. Those things alone would have left Dani strung out. However just as she and Nico had quelled their unexpected passions long enough to pull back and question what in the world they were doing, Nico's phone rang. With everything happening in this week, Nico's phone ringing wasn't unexpected but having Nassau County central booking calling about Ray J was. Apparently Nico had supplied the name of all Hawks assets as well as their families to the NYPD and surrounding police departments with standing instructions to call him prior to any arraignment hearings.
Five hours and a nasty fight with Ray later, Ray J was out on a $100,000 bond guaranteed by the Hawks organization. Nico had driven them home and stayed sitting with Dani on the couch, refilling her wine glass when she needed it while she sobbed into his shoulder. At some point she had fallen asleep and Nico had stayed with her until almost dawn, Dani knew that much. She'd woken briefly to the first rays of dawn breaking through the living room windows only to find herself wrapped securely in Nico's arms as his fingers glided over the line of her cheek bone. Nico had whispered he should go before Ray J and Lindsey woke up and carefully laid a tender kisses on her lips and nose. Dani had fallen back into a fitful sleep after hearing the front door close behind him.
Stumbling to the door expecting Nico only to find a uniformed Western Union delivery man was a shock. Being asked to sign for two envelopes but only after she had produced a picture ID was absolutely unprecedented. Dani had to have coffee before she even attempted to absorb any of what might be in the smaller thinner letter sized envelope, let alone the thicker heavy legal sized one. Finding the coffee Nico must have made before he left still warm had to have been one of the top five best things to happen to Dani this week. He really did know how to take care of her.
Coffee in hand, Dani allowed herself to focus on the typeset letters in the upper left hand corner of the smaller envelope. The words "Marshall Pittman" made her stomach roll. Will his man continue to complicate her life even after his death? Dani's heart still bled for Nico. In darkest recesses of last night, Nico had quietly whispered to Dani his growing fears that Marshall had crashed the plane on purpose. Dani had done her best to soothe her stalwart man as he broke apart in her arms and grieved for his best friend.
Her hands shook as Dani tore open the thin envelope. Inside she found a hand written letter on high quality paper with "From the desk of Marshall Pittman" typeset across the top.
My Dear Dr. Santino,
Today, I take pen in hand to undertake a task I dislike in the extreme and therefore rarely do – attempt to justify my actions.
As a man with what, by some might be called extreme wealth, many of those around me (friends and employees both) allow me to bully, manipulate and threaten my way through their lives. You, Dr. Santino, never gave me an inch on any of those fronts. Your ethics and protectiveness are impressive. Never compromise them for anyone. Of course you don't need me to tell you that, you have moxie.
Here in the lovely south Pacific during my time away, I have had an opportunity to review my actions of late. I find myself disgusted with what I have become. Years ago, I was once a man who earned the respect of those around him, who acted where others couldn't or wouldn't and who did the ugly things to keep others from harm. I barely remember that man some days. There is probably only person who remembers the man I was then…Nico.
Nico, who regardless of what I did to him or asked him to do, always stood by me. I blame him for nothing. There has been no negative action that he has taken against me in the last twenty years that wasn't spawned out of my own abhorrent behavior towards him. We have forgiven each other as brothers in arms will do, but that doesn't make it right. And I need to make it right.
Which brings me to you, Dani. Tony has tipped his hand about the bugs as I suspected he would. I am sure Nico has dealt with Tony's betrayal in a manner appropriate to the offense. Unfortunately, I have no excuse for my repugnant violation of your ethics and your privacy but have faith that there are no other copies and that the sanctuary of your practice is once again secure. Nico will make sure of it.
Your IRS debt retirement is my feeble attempt at an apology. No, not for what I have done to you, (I don't know that you will ever forgive me for that) but I wanted to apologize for what is to come. And if I could relieve one stressor in your life before raining down what I am sure will be several new stressors, I choose to do so.
You see, Dani, I need to be in your good graces. Because I, who possesses more hubris than is clinically healthy, am going to ask you to do me a favor. It is a simple one really. One that I hope you will take on with at least a modicum of joy.
All I ask is that you protect my oldest friend, most especially from himself. Nico always has let his guilt and sense of loyalty drive him, often into dark places. Guard what he has feely given you. Hold dear what he cares for.
Now, don't give me that look, Dani. I have seen it on you before. It says you think the eccentric billionaire has once and for all finally dropped what's left of his marbles. And while that may be true, I know you have tremendous sway over my friend. You bring him peace.
What proof do I have of such an outrageous claim, you ask? While I could offer numerous examples of cautious glances and carefully stated defections, I offer up the juiciest and most persuasive tidbit for your consumption.
Never in the 20 plus years that Nico and I have known each other has he ever threated to do me harm. Not when I bought Gabrielle out from under him, not when I leveraged his guilt over our past deeds to harangue him into moving to Singapore with me knowing full well it would be the end of his marriage, not even when I cut off Juliet and forbid him from seeing the fragile girl he believed to be his only child. No, Dani, never in all that time did Nico ever threaten to do me any type of harm.
But the moment he thought I went too far with you, he did and he didn't hesitate to do it. I would have never imagined my comment to you about green M&Ms would drive my best friend to warn me of the hell storm of physical violence and financial retribution he would rain down on me should I ever come near you again.
It's you, Dani. You are the person who Nico cares about most - maybe even more than Juliette. It's you, whom he trusts. When all is said and done, it will be you he comes to for solace, comfort, and protection from his demons.
(Yes, those demons do include my viper bitch wife.)
So, Dani, all I ask of you is that you handle Nico with care. I am trusting you with the strongest and deepest man I have ever known.
One last note, my good doctor, I gave my daughter Juliette your number. I would expect she will be calling you shortly. Even a cursory glance of the legal documents accompanying this missive will explain why. If anyone can help her stay sober, it will be you.
Overwhelmed but knowing there were more shocks awaiting her, Dani scrambled to open the thick legal sized envelope. Inside were two hefty legal documents. The first, dated a little over a month ago, was a copy of Juliette Pittman's trust, naming Dani the sole trustee. Dani's eyes just about fell out of her head when she noticed the estimated nine figure value of the trust. The title of second document almost knocked her to the floor. In her hands was a copy of Marshall Pittman's will executed just a week ago. It left all Marshall Pittman's assets – properties, company holdings and cash to Juliette on the condition she stay clean and sober for three consecutive years and undergo counseling with Dr. Danielle Santino. Until Juliette's three years were up, the will named Nico the executor and manager of the estate.
Dani had no idea what to do. Her hands shook as she called Nico.
"We have a situation. I need you." Was all she had to say.
"I am on my way."
Was it possible for things to get any more complicated? But just as that thought hit her, Dani knew that as long as the man en route to her was with her they would figure it out and fix what needed to be fixed. That's what fixers did after all.