Hardpressed

Author: P Hana

Page 63

   

“Sid. The police are downstairs. They want to talk to me.”

He sat up quickly. “Do you want me to come with you?”

“No.”

“Erica, this is one of those things that maybe I should be there for.”

“No, Blake. The answer is no. I will deal with this. I do not want you there. Please tell me that you’re hearing me on this.”

He hesitated. “What do you think they’re here for? They’re going to ask you about Daniel. What will you tell them?”

“I’ll figure it out, okay?”

*

I tried in vain to calm my nerves before I walked into the apartment. I looked a little worse for wear from the previous night, but surely they didn’t care about that. I prayed Blake would honor his promise to stay upstairs because I didn’t trust him not to say something he shouldn’t in front of the police.

I walked in, and two men greeted me. One was tall and thin, his hair a mousy brown, and the other was shorter and thicker around the middle, his hair almost completely gray. They both seemed friendly enough, which I was thankful for because I was petrified by the prospect of speaking with them.

The tall one spoke up first. “Sorry to stop in on you so early here. I’m Detective Carmody and this is Detective Washington. We were hoping to speak with you about your involvement with Mark MacLeod.”

My involvement? “What do you mean?”

Washington reached into his jacket and pulled out a handful of large photographs that appeared to have been taken at the gala. In them, Mark and I were dancing, his arm wrapped firmly around me. My back was to the camera. In another, his mouth was an inch from my ear, a smug smile on his face. That was the face I was glad to have missed when he was telling me how he wanted me again. I suppressed a grimace as I remembered his voice, his breath on my skin that night. Instead I looked up calmly, waiting for them to continue.

“These were taken by a journalist shortly before he died. Guests identified you with him here. Did you know him well?”

I shook my head. “No, I didn’t know him well at all. I’d met him a couple times through a business deal I was doing that involved his firm.”

“He looks like more than an acquaintance here,” Washington said.

“I can see that. He was flirting with me a lot. I humored him with a dance, but I didn’t see him after this. He seemed nice enough, but I wasn’t interested.”

“How was he acting that night?”

“He was coming on to me, like I said. He did seem drunk. I don’t know. We only talked for a few minutes before the dance, and then I left the gala early. I wasn’t feeling well.”

The pair glanced at each other. Carmody stuffed the photos back into the envelope and Washington sized me up again. I tried not to fidget or look nervous.

“I guess I’m confused. He killed himself, right? Are you trying to figure out why he did it?” The words left me in a rush, and my heart raced.

Carmody spoke. “When the son of a prominent figure dies suddenly, we have to do our due diligence. We’re trying to rule out all other possible causes of death.”

“Oh. I didn’t realize that. I thought I heard the investigation was closed.”

“Not yet, unfortunately.” Carmody shrugged.

“Is there anything else you might be able to tell us?”

“I don’t think so. I wish I could. Honestly, I was really shocked by the news.” That was the truth.

“You’re not the first person who’s said that, which is why we’re talking to anyone who might have known him well.”

I nodded. “I feel so bad for his parents. They must be devastated.” I tried to appear as sympathetic as I could. I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of my mouth, or how easily I’d slipped into the role of an appropriately ignorant innocent bystander in this situation. Perhaps the weeks of trying to talk myself into being someone I wasn’t had done this to me.

“They are. It’s too bad. Sometimes there aren’t any answers for why people do this though. Anyway, thanks for your time and sorry for the bother.”

Washington reached into his pocket and retrieved a business card. “Here’s my card. Call us if you think of anything, all right?”

“I definitely will.”

They left, and I collapsed into a seat at the counter, grateful I’d survived their interrogation without a breakdown. I honestly didn’t think they suspected anything, and why would they? I had no ties to Mark that anyone outside of a few people close to me could ever find.

No sooner had they left, Blake appeared.

“What happened?”

“Nothing. They had photos of Mark and me dancing at the gala. They wanted to know how we knew each other. I explained that we were only acquaintances and he’d been flirting with me. They seemed satisfied and left.”

“So they don’t believe Mark’s death was a suicide?”

“I couldn’t say for sure. They didn’t seem too concerned that it wasn’t. Seemed like they were hitting a bunch of dead ends and about to pack it in. But I have no idea.”

“All right, come back up.”

“I’m here now. Let me get cleaned up, and I’ll come up there when I’m done.” As much as I wanted to be in my warm and safe Blake bubble after weeks of separation, I needed a minute with my thoughts.

He paused a second. “Okay, don’t be long.” He kissed me and left.

I stepped into the shower and washed. I thought about going back upstairs, where we’d be hiding. Sure, hanging out in bed with Blake all day wasn’t exactly an inconvenience, but I also knew why we were lying low. So far, the only solutions on the table were coming out as Daniel’s daughter, a saga I couldn’t begin to anticipate the complications of, or Blake could bring attention to the shady dealings that would undoubtedly ruin Daniel’s campaign, possibly his entire career. I had a hard time accepting either as a viable option.

I toweled off and glanced out the window. Connor was parked down the street, almost out of my view. A rush of emotion surged through me, and I knew what I needed to do.

I pulled on my blue jeans and a T-shirt and slipped on my sneakers. I scribbled a quick note and left it on the counter before I rushed downstairs. I stepped outside. Clay was standing guard against the Escalade.

“Ms. Hathaway.”

“Clay. Long time no see. Back on the clock, I see.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

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