Emily lifted her hands from the arms of her chair and her damp palms left twin imprints on the leather. She had to clear her throat twice before she could speak, and the words she said had nothing to do with the raging furor in her mind. "Dick knows what happened to me all those years ago. A few weeks ago, I even told him it was Tony. I kept it a secret from you all those years ago because I didn't want to hurt you or make you ashamed of me."

"Somebody knows what I've done," he said, putting his head in his hands, his shoulders shaking with sobs. "I'll kill him when I find out who it is—" he said, lifting his head, then his eyes riveted on the doorway and his hand slid to his desk drawer.

"Then you'd better start with me," her husband said from the doorway, walking into the room and pulling a quaking Emily out of her chair, "because I know, too."

Instead of reacting with terror, George McDaniels looked at his daughter and said in a conspiratorial whisper, "He's right, Emily. I'm afraid we're going to have to kill your husband." He stood up and Emily saw the lamplight gleaming on the gun in his hand.

"No!" she screamed, trying to shield her husband with her body while he tried to move her aside.

"Move away, honey," her father ordered. "This won't hurt him. He won't feel a thing. He'll be dead before he hits the floor."

"Daddy!" she cried, shoving Dick backward toward the door, her arms outstretched, "you'll have to shoot through me to hit him. You—you don't want to do that, do you?"

Dick's voice was strangely calm, even though his fingers were biting into her arms, forcing her to safety. "Put the gun down, George. If you kill me, you'll have to kill Emily to stop her from telling the police, and I know you could never harm her. You've only been trying to protect her."

The man with the gun faltered, and Dick continued gently. "Put the gun down. We'll help you explain to people that you were only trying to protect her."

"I'm tired of being scared," he whined as Emily slipped out the doorway and raced into his bedroom, grabbing the phone and dialing 911. "I can't sleep."

Walking slowly forward, his hand outstretched, Dick said, "You won't have to be scared anymore. Doctors will give you pills to help you sleep."

"You're trying to trick me, you bastard!" McDaniels shouted, and Dick lunged for the gun just as McDaniels leveled it at his chest.

In the bedroom, Emily heard the muted explosion of a gunshot, the heavy thud of something hitting the floor, and she dropped the phone, whirled, and collided with her husband's chest as she ran from the room. "Don't go in there!" he warned, dragging her into his arms and back into the bedroom, reaching for the phone.

"Daddy!" she screamed.

"He'll be all right!" Dick said, trying to control her and order an ambulance at the same time. "He hit his head on the desk when he fell and he's bleeding like a stuck pig!"

Chapter 66

Three lawyers stood up from the conference table. The one closest to Emily reached out, taking her clammy hand in his own, squeezing it. "I know how hard this has been for you, Miss McDaniels, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the trouble you went to this morning in order to find out that we're representing Zack Benedict and to come to us without delay.

"It was no trouble," she said, her voice taut with stress and anguish. "I remembered what law firm used to represent him, and when I called them this morning, they referred me to you."

"When Mr. Benedict was charged with murdering Tony Austin, a close friend of Mr. Benedict's decided he would be better represented this time around by us."

Pulling her hand free of his grasp, Emily squeezed her palms together. "Can you get him out of prison today?"

"I'm afraid not. However, if you're willing to accompany me to the police department this morning and give them the same statement you just gave us, that will go a long way toward hastening his release."

Emily nodded, but her tormented mind was on the old films she'd seen of Zack being taken away from his trial in handcuffs and the new one she'd seen repeatedly during the last few weeks of him being beaten in Mexico … all for a crime he'd never committed … a crime she was indirectly responsible for. "I don't see why they can't let him out of jail today," she said, fighting to keep herself from crying out with guilt and shame. "We'll wait in the reception room." When she left with her husband, John Seiling looked around at his grinning law partners and reached for the telephone. "Susan," he said to his secretary, "Get Captain Jorgen on the phone, then put a call in to Matthew Farrell in Chicago and tell his secretary it's an emergency. After that, get ahold of William Wesley in the prosecuting attorney's office in Amarillo, Texas. Next, get all three of us reservations on a flight to Amarillo in the morning."

Five minutes later, his secretary buzzed the conference room. "Captain Jorgen is on line one."

"Thank you," he said, then he pressed the button for line one. "Captain Jorgen," he said jovially, "how would you like to clinch your chances to become our next police commissioner and at the same time become a hero in the media?" He listened, his smile widening. "All I need is someone there who can take a statement regarding the death of Tony Austin and Rachel Evans and keep their mouth shut about what they hear until I give you the word in a day or two." He listened again and said, "I thought you'd be able to handle that. We'll be there in forty-five minutes."

Two more lights were already lit on the telephone when he hung up, and his secretary's voice came over the intercom. "Mr. Farrell is on line two, and William Wesley, the prosecutor in Amarillo, is on line three."

Seiling took the call on line two, and when he spoke, his voice lost its impersonal note. "Mr. Farrell," he said in a respectful voice, "you asked us to keep you informed of any progress, and I'm calling you to report we've had an unexpected breakthrough in Zack Benedict's case this morning."

In his Chicago office, Matt turned his back on the meeting of Intercorp's executive committee taking place around his desk and said, "What sort of breakthrough?"

"Emily McDaniels. Last night, her father admitted killing Rachel Evans and Tony Austin. He's in a local hospital right now, undergoing a mental evaluation, but he's confessing to everything. Emily herself has given us a statement as well as the murder weapon used on Austin."

"You can give me the details later. How soon can you get Zack released?"


Tags: Judith McNaught Second Opportunities Billionaire Romance
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