Val met Blueblood for ice cream. The parlor was small, shabby, and deserted except for the nervous employee behind the counter. Part of the vacancy could be blamed on the end of summer and onset of cold weather, but not all of it. Val wondered what Blueblood had done to get the place to themselves. It really was just the two of them, as Blueblood had requested they both come alone. Val had brought some men anyway, hiding them in the coin laundry next door nearly eight hours earlier, in range for her to telepathically signal if something went wrong. She hadn’t sensed anyone of Blueblood’s, which probably meant he’d hidden them out of her range with a sniper rifle.
She wished Blueblood had dropped the charade and let them both bring minions openly, mainly because she wanted the chance to see JB again. Without Distortion blocking her powers, Val could get inside the head of his giant keeper and take care of things. She could also buy the kid some ice cream, which was the least she owed him.
Val selected a cup of something chocolate with cherries in it, while Blueblood showed an unshakable dedication to his theme and ordered two scoops of blue moon. At least, Val assumed the color was the reason he ordered it. That flavor tasted like corn syrup and fake fruit flavoring, and most people who enjoyed it were under twelve. They sat across from each other at one of the bright purple, plastic tables and started with small talk. You couldn’t jump right into plotting crimes and betrayals, of course. You had to ease into it.
“But the cameras love you,” he said as they talked about the fickleness of media attention. “You have a style that makes headlines, and you make it look so effortless.”
“Stop it. I’m blushing,” Val deadpanned.
“I mean it. It’s impressive. Shame your father doesn’t think so.”
The line was so off-hand that it took a moment to sink in, and Val stiffened before she could stop herself.
“Sore subject?” Blueblood smiled knowingly, giving Val the urge to dump her ice cream bowl onto his head. “I get it. I was the same way about my father once.”
Val managed a tight smile. “He’s a difficult man to impress, but I’ll pull it off.”
Blueblood hummed and smiled at some private thought. Instead of responding, he took a bite of his cone and chewed crunchily, making her wait for his opinion.
“I used to think like you,” he said, mouth half full. “I thought I could prove myself to him if I just worked hard enough.” He swallowed. “But he doesn’t deserve that. No father does. In fact, most of us are better off without them—fathers, I mean. Save yourself some trouble and figure that out faster than I did.”
Well, well, well. Blueblood wasn’t proposing an alliance against the Fox Woman like Val had thought. He was proposing an alliance against her father.
“And yet,” she said, “you’re doing everything you can to keep my father out of prison.”
“Of course. I’d hate for anyone to think I had something to do with it if, say, a relative of one of his victims took advantage of his public appearance at the trial to shoot him.”
A bit of melted ice cream dripped down the side of his cone. He licked it up, and his tongue was surprisingly red despite his blue skin.
“That would be terrible,” she agreed. “And as the person who’ll inherit his organization when he dies, I’d be the one everybody would think had something to do with it.”
“Would you, though? Inherit the organization? I heard that was contingent on you marrying Joey Giordano, like you’re some nineteenth century debutante who needs a male chaperone.”
Val took another spoonful of chocolate to hide her scowl. He was certainly well-informed.
“Then maybe I’ll marry him,” she said. “And maybe someone will shoot him, too.”
She was tempted—oh so tempted—to try to break down Blueblood’s mental shields and find out exactly what he was thinking. But if he was vulnerable to telepaths, surely someone else would have exploited that by now. He couldn’t sit at the top of a drug empire without incredible defenses in place.
Blueblood smiled wickedly and popped the rest of his cone into him mouth. “I have resources you don’t,” he said after swallowing. “And you have ambition your father doesn’t. Lucio and Evelyn are too old and set in their ways. They’re not willing to take the big risks, the ones we need to take to change everything. I think you have a more open mind.”
So far so obvious. He wanted to replace her father with someone more willing to do things his way. Or else he thought she’d be easier to manipulate than her old man. But it was all a little too obvious. His real goal couldn’t be exactly the same as what he was telling her. No supervillain was that straightforward.
“I want details,” she said. “I have more to lose than you do if someone screws this up. I need to know that those big risks you’re mentioning are going to wait until after my father is out of the picture.”
“And I need to know you’re onboard before I start sharing my secrets with you.”
“Pfft.” A stalemate. Val hated those.
Her ice cream was half-melted at this point, and she stirred it idly with her spoon. Was “I’ll think about it” a viable reply at this point? No, they were talking about a huge, backstabbing plot here. Blueblood would have a backup plan for if she refused, and it would be extremely murderous. But he wouldn’t want ambivalence, either. Too risky. He was looking for enthusiasm. He wanted her to be so eager to assassinate her father that she’d accept his help, because then he’d have her. There’d be no backing out once she’d agreed.
“What the hell,” she said. “I’m in.”
Blueblood grinned like a cat that had just broken into a birdcage.
“You won’t regret it.”
Okay, so no action yet, but I promise people will start punching each other next week. 😉
So if you were a supervillain making evil plans at an ice cream parlor, what flavor ice cream would you order and why? Let me know in the comments.