David loosens his tie. “The nature of law enforcement is ‘us, them, and everyone else.’ You never know what they are really doing or thinking. The objective of the interview is to get you to say something you don’t want to say.” He rests an elbow on the table. “I’m of the opinion that the journals, and anyone mentioned in the passages, have become their primary focus.”

“That would be Mark, Ryan, and Ava,” I supply, “but Rebecca never gave names.”


“Mark did say that Grant was all over him,” Chris says. “He’s even pulled away from the club to try to protect the membership.”

“You’d think that would mean Mark and Ryan would be communicating,” I observe, “but Ryan stopped by the gallery this afternoon and said Mark won’t return his calls.”

“Ryan had better not hold his breath for a returned call,” Chris suggests. “Mark’s attorney seems to be of the opinion that Ryan is going to do whatever is necessary to make sure he’s in the clear, including throwing Mark under the bus.”

“I met Tiger at the police station today,” I remind them. “So forgive me if I don’t put a lot of merit in his opinions. He acted like Mark needed a bodyguard to protect him from me.”

“Tiger didn’t get his name for nothing,” David assures us. “He’ll rip your throat out to keep his client on top, but in this case he was probably worried you’d make it look like Mark was asking you to prep him for his interview.” He takes a swig of his beer. “And that wouldn’t be good. Which brings me to your working at the gallery. I don’t recommend it, and I seriously doubt Mark’s attorney will, either.”

“I have to help out,” I insist, straightening. “It’s falling apart. The staff is scared. And I saw Mark tonight and he said nothing about it being a problem.” I turn to Chris. “He stopped into the gallery right before I left, and he wasn’t doing well.”

“I already had this argument with Chris,” David interjects before Chris can answer. “Mark isn’t my concern. You two are. He needs to hire someone else.”

I turn to Chris to state my case, but he says, “Relax, baby. I already told David we’re helping Mark out until his mother stabilizes. No one deserves to fear for a parent’s life while fighting for their own.”

“How is she?”

“She’s barely started her battle to beat cancer. The blood infection she got after surgery almost killed her.”

“When I talked to Crystal she said she was improving, so I assume that means stable?”

“From what I gathered.”

“My position on Mark is this,” David says, sounding like he’s starting a lecture that’s going to grate on every nerve I own.

“Save it,” Chris tells him. “Move on to another subject. Didn’t you want to talk about the bail hearing?”

The curtains are opened just then, and a waiter appears with a piping hot pizza and my diet soda. When we’re alone again, I ask, “What about the bail hearing?”

David picks up a slice of pizza. “Before I answer, just know this. I don’t approve of either of you spending time with Mark, let alone at the gallery.” He sets his pizza on his plate.

“The bail hearing, David,” Chris urges.

“Right,” he says. “The bail hearing. There will be no witness testimony, so you can both rest easy there.”

I blink in confusion. “I didn’t know it was even an option.”

“Bail adjustment hearings allow limited testimony in the interest of public safety,” David explains. “But the DA doesn’t seem to want to complicate the situation, which I think is smart. He has four witnesses including you, Sara, who say the defendant tried to kill you. We don’t need the defense to start character assassinations now. They’ll get to that later.”

Chris fills my plate, but food is the last thing on my mind right now. “What character assassinations?”

David swipes a napkin over his mouth. “Your honesty and character will be tested. It’s expected, but I think it’s going to get nasty in this case. I have an insider at the DA’s office who tells me the defense threatened the DA.”

Chris abandons a bite of pizza halfway to his mouth. “Threatened?”

David nods and swallows nearly half a slice in one bite. “Apparently the defense said in a not-so-subtle way that the press would”—he makes quotations marks with his fingers—“‘accidentally’ get a story about a seedy sex club, murder, and some kind of other bullshit mayhem. My insider’s choice of words, not mine.”

I’m reeling at the prospect that Ava could be set free. “You think they’re so worried about the press that they’d let her walk?”

David shoves aside his pizza, which tells me we’re now in serious territory. “Easing up on Ava at the hearing won’t stop her defense from going public after the bond is in place. That’s what I came here to talk about tonight. Even if they don’t like it, the DA is prepared for Friday to become a press frenzy. My guess is Ava’s folks will throw every name and diversion into the hat they can find.”

“Meaning me and you, baby,” Chris adds. “And being at the gallery is only going to put us more in the spotlight.” He turns to me, and there’s no missing the grim set to his jaw. “We’re witnesses against Ava, and because we aren’t involved in the four-way that group had going on, we’re the most credible. They could very well attack us. You have to be ready for this to be all about headlines. The club. BDSM. Me. You.”

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