He takes my hand and draws my knuckles to his lips. “I know. Believe me, baby. I know.”
“I know you said the DA is keeping most of this under wraps, but I worry that means there’s a problem we don’t know about. Did you find anything in Mark’s office?”
“He cleaned out his files, so either he’s not planning on coming back anytime soon or he’s protecting his records in case anyone digs around.” He glances at his watch. “We need to go if you’re able?”
“Yes, I’m okay now. I don’t know why reading that affected me like it did.”
Pushing to his feet, he helps me to mine. “Jet lag and stress can be a wicked combination.”
“I talked to Crystal. Mark’s on his way here tonight. She says he’s been by his mother’s side constantly. She asked me to come back to the gallery for a few weeks, and I need to do it. It feels like the right thing to do.”
Chris studies me for a long moment, before he reaches up, gently sliding hair behind my ear. “Then we’ll come back.”
“I’m not leaving you here alone with Mark.”
“If this is about what I told you in Paris—”
“It absolutely has everything to do with it. I want to help him, and we will. But I won’t forget that when I was at my weakest, he tried to convince you that he could fuck me out of your system. I don’t trust him.”
I give a choppy nod. “I know. He’s broken.”
“I am, too, but at least I admit it. And I know how powerful pain is. It can drive you insane and it can make you do things you never thought you were capable of doing. Never, ever, underestimate it. Never, Sara.” He molds me close. “Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”
He’s not talking about Mark anymore. He’s talking about him, and us, and where he’s been and fears he will take me. “Yes. I understand.”
Our attorney looks like Vin Diesel in a suit. As he sits down at our table at the coffee shop by the police station he says into his phone, “Hell no, we aren’t coming at two fifteen.” He glances at his Rolex. “It’s one forty-five now and our meeting is set for three. This is a power play meant to make my clients feel unsettled, and I’m not in the mood for this shit. And don’t ask them the bullshit questions we talked about.” He pauses a second and then snorts. “Yeah right. Whatever, Detective.”
“Assholes. All of them,” he grumbles, tucking his phone into his pocket and glancing at Chris. “I’d shake your hand, but I wouldn’t want to break your magic maker.”
“You mean your moneymaker,” Chris jokes back.
“Exactly,” he agrees with a grin before turning to me and shoving his very large hand in my direction. “I’m David, but I guess you figured that out. Hope my crankiness didn’t scare you.”
“No,” I say, shaking his hand. “You didn’t scare me, but this whole process does.”
“Leave it to me, sweetheart, and you’ll be fine. I’ll go Rocky on them if I have to.” He waves down a waitress and orders some triple-venti concoction. Then he says, “Let’s get right to it. Ava has a bail adjustment hearing Friday morning. She hasn’t made her bond, and she wants it reduced so she can be free until the trial. Of course, no one wants that to happen.”
“But it could?” I ask.
“The police have a quandary,” he explains. “They never want to let a murderer out of jail, but they can’t charge a case they aren’t sure will stick in court. And without a body, the odds of that are pretty low. So I predict they’ll drop those charges and focus on the attack on you, Sara.”
“She admitted she killed her,” I argue. “How can that not be enough?”
“Crazy as it sounds,” David replies, “a lot of people confess to crimes they didn’t do. My insider at the station tells me that the police believe Ava is guilty, and they fully intend to hold her. They’ll just need to prove she tried to kill you, and is therefore a danger to you and to society in general.”
He pauses to chug a big gulp of the beverage the waitress set in front of him. “Bail hearings aren’t overly complex, but at a hearing like this one, more details are allowed than usual. If the murder charges are dropped, Ava’s people will say the attempted murder case has no more merit than the murder case did.” He opens his briefcase and removes some sheets of paper, handing one to each of us. “This is my hot topic list that I think you might be asked about today, or in future interviews. Expect to be recorded.”
I scan the list and feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach.
1. What is your BDSM involvement?
2. How intimate was Sara with Mark?
3. What about with Mark and Ava?
4. Was Chris intimate with Ava or Rebecca at any point?
This is going to feel like a public flogging.
• • •
At ten minutes to three, I’m sitting between Chris and David at a rectangular metal table inside a police interrogation room. Remembering David’s warning that we’ll be recorded, I say nothing as he and Chris talk sports. All the while, David sips from his third triple-caffeinated concoction from the coffee shop, and his foot and knee never stop moving up and down. He’s making me a little nervous. Or maybe it’s the unseen eyes I can feel staring at us from behind the one-way glass in front of us.