“That’s why I hired you,” Chris assures him.
Detective Miller grimaces. “Please, David. Tell us why you’re gloating. We can’t wait to hear.”
“Don’t mind if I do,” David says, looking as pleased as he sounds. “I knew you were going to bluff on the attempted murder charges. It’s all part of your head game to get information they’ll willingly give you anyway. And it’s really as low as it gets, considering the defendant tried to kill Sara.”
“Innocent until proven guilty,” Detective Miller comments.
My anger returns like a swish of a now-sharpened blade. “She tried to run me down with a car. It was smashed into the tree when the police got there. How much more proof do you need?”
“And what about the four witnesses?” David asks. “Should I count them out?” He raises a finger. “One.” Then another finger. “Two. Should I continue the demonstration?”
“We can count,” Detective Miller snaps.
David scoffs. “Apparently not, because you keeping ‘forgetting.’ Let me be clear. Ms. Perez is a danger to my clients and to society. If you and your people aren’t good enough to convince a judge she needs to stay behind bars, protection orders for Chris and Sara must be in place before that woman leaves custody. And she’d better have a leg monitor that’s watched nonstop. You don’t want to know how deep I’ll cut if anything happens to one of my clients.”
“It’s not as simple as you make it, Counselor,” Detective Grant says tightly. “There are complicated relationships involved in this case and the ever-changing stories have given me whiplash.”
“We haven’t changed our stories,” David points out. “If Ms. Perez has, that makes her look even more unstable, and unstable is dangerous.”
“We aren’t at liberty to say more at this point,” Detective Miller informs him. “We’d like to continue our questioning and go from there.”
David leans back in his chair and taps his pen on the table a few times before he agrees. “Five minutes. Make the time count.”
Detective Miller immediately turns to me. “Who’s Ella Ferguson?”
“My neighbor and friend, who bought Rebecca’s storage unit. She eloped and left me with the unit.”
“And she’s where now?”
“You know she filed a missing person’s report,” David answers irritably. “Get to the point or we’re done here.”
“Her point,” Detective Grant says tightly, “is clear. We want to know where Ella is.”
They’ve hit a raw nerve, and I say heatedly, “So do I. Where is she? I’ve filed a report here, and in France, but no one seems to be looking for her. Just like no one seemed to care about Rebecca, even after I started looking for her.”
“And when exactly did you start looking for Ella?” Detective Miller asks, ignoring my inquiries.
“It’s all in the reports,” David says irritably.
“I want to hear it again,” Detective Miller counters.
I jump in, ready to get out of this tiny cage of a room. “Ella handed me the key to the unit the night she eloped, along with the journals. I started reading them and got concerned for Rebecca’s safety. I decided to try to find her. When I was told she was on extended vacation it heightened my concern, so I went to the gallery.”
Detective Grant tilts his head. “And then ended up taking her job.”
“Temporarily. I was off for the summer, and since I have an art degree I thought I’d look for Rebecca and earn extra income.”
“You basically started living her life.” His tone is pure accusation.
I make a disgusted sound, fed up with their lack of action, which they blame on everyone else. “That job, and the connection reading those journals gave me to Rebecca, is what drove me to look for her. I’m the only reason anyone was looking for her.” Chris squeezes my hand in silent support. “I couldn’t save her, but I can at least see justice done for her. Ava has to be stopped before she hurts someone else.”
Detective Grant dismisses me, turning his attention on Chris. “Are you a member of Mark Compton’s club, Mr. Merit?”
“Yes,” Chris replies without hesitation, appearing unfazed by the abrupt change of topic.
The detective cuts a look back to me. “Are you, Ms. McMillan?”
“No,” I say, following Chris’s lead of less is more.
“Have you ever been to the club?” he presses me.
“She’s been twice,” Chris replies on my behalf. “Both times with me.”
That earns Chris another of Grant’s accusing questions. “Were you ever at the club when Rebecca was there?”
Chris doesn’t give him so much as a blink of hesitation. “Not that I’m aware of, but I stuck to my private room. I had no interest in the rest of the club.”
Grant studies him for long seconds, then cuts sharply to me. “Did you ever see Rebecca at the club, Ms. McMillan?”
My pulse leaps with the accusation, but David never gives me a chance to defend myself. He gives the table an angry pound and declares, “No games. She never met Rebecca. Refer to the date the storage unit was purchased. She’d already left town.”
“What about after Rebecca returned to San Francisco?” Grant argues and then turns his wrath on me again. “Did you meet her then?”