“Me,” Dean says. “They know me and my reputation. I’ll sue the stink out of their shit if they so much as blow the wrong air your direction. One of the first things I’m going to do is make sure the club records are safe. Get them off site, if you have them there, and bring them to me. They’ll go after the gallery and your home first. And anyone else they can connect to you and Rebecca.
“Like Ryan,” Tiger indicates. “And I’d guess Chris, if they find out he’s a member of the club, and they’ll get to Sara through Chris since she lives with him. Fortunately for Ryan, Ava seems to be pointing her anger elsewhere.”
I scrub my jaw. “I haven’t even warned him about all of this.”
“I’ll call him,” Dean offers.
“Back to the club,” Tiger interjects. “If things heat up, it’s a good idea to have someone in mind to sign the club over to. I don’t anticipate it being necessary, but it’s better to have a plan. We can do some paperwork to protect your rights. It will give me an argument, if we need it, that the only records of relevance are yours, Ava’s, and Rebecca’s.”
“What about Riptide?” I ask. “Can they touch it?”
Tiger straightens, resting his hands on the table, and I hope he’s as good as Dean claims. “That would be a very difficult stretch for them to make,” he replies.
“But they could try to make it,” I say, and it’s not a question.
“They can and will try about anything. That’s why I’ll be street-brawl ready if need be.”
“I don’t want you to need to be. I want this over quietly and quickly, and it seems the only way to do that is for me to talk to Ava and get her to tell the truth.”
“No.” Tiger’s voice is absolute steel. “Even if you get her to give up the body and it’s covered in her DNA evidence, you run the risk of her claiming you were involved or even the one who plotted it all out. They’ll use the Master-and-submissive relationship you favor against you.”
“Ava wasn’t my submissive.”
“Did she want to be?” Tiger asks.
Tension crawls up my spine. “Yes.”
“How did she pay for her membership at the club?”
“On her own. I didn’t sponsor her.”
Tiger glances at the paper in front of him and arches a brow. “How did a coffee bar manager get that kind of money?”
“She owns the coffee bar, but according to her she also had a family inheritance.”
“That explains a lot,” Dean comments dryly.
“Meaning?” I prod.
“She’s got a couple of hotshot, very expensive attorneys.”
Tiger taps the table. “Back to her wanting to be your sub. I’m guessing she’ll say she was trying to earn that role by doing as you wish.”
“He’s right,” Dean agrees. “It’s too risky for you to confront Ava.”
“Talk, not confront,” I correct.
“And if you convince her to change her story, they could say it’s the way you manipulate her and mess with her head,” Dean counters. “This is one of those calls attorneys make—like not putting someone on the stand.”
I am not pleased with this answer or the way it ties my hands. “Ava claimed Sara was involved in Rebecca’s murder. None of us had even met Sara in the timeframe in question. Surely that demonstrates she’s lying and hurts her credibility.”
“Eventually the truth will win out,” Tiger assures me. “But it’s going to be a hell of a ride.”
My cell phone rings and I pull it from my pocket. It’s Kurt, the manager of the club. I answer. “The police were just here,” Kurt tells me without preamble. “I sent them away, but I’m guessing they’ll be back.”
“Did any members see them?”
“We kept them behind the gate. How do they even know we exist?”
Ava, I think, regretting the day I ever approved her membership. “I’ll be there in half an hour.” I hang up and glance from Dean to Tiger. “The police showed up at the club.”
“Predictably,” Dean replies, “Ava told them where to find it, and her people are doing everything in their power to turn this on you.”
Tiger shifts in his seat and pulls his cell from his pocket. “I’ll call the detective in charge of the case and give him a good verbal beating. In the meantime, we need to get the records out of the club to protect the membership—preferably tonight.”
“I’ll go get them now,” I confirm.
“And stay away after you’re out,” he says. “I wouldn’t put it past the police to decide to bring you in for questioning while you’re there, to get past the doors. In fact, can someone else get the records?”
I give a shake of my head. “Not with the security system I have in place. I need to open the safe.”
“Then get in and get out,” he replies.
“One final heads-up,” Dean cautions, as they both stand. “Ava’s team could decide to anonymously tip off a reporter. Who knows what creative story they might tell, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was along the lines of ‘a dead woman and a BDSM Master.’ It’s the kind of story that will get major attention, and apply pressure on the cops and the suits.”
“I’d sure take that route if she were my client,” Tiger confirms. “But they might not be that smart or that brave.”