“Oh no.” I stand up. “What should I do?”
“Prepare the staff and lead them to the front door,” he replies. “Law enforcement has it blocked off, so there are no media concerns. You won’t be allowed to take more than your coat and purse, and they’ll search it before you leave.”
“Did you call Chris?”
“Yes. He’s about thirty minutes away. The police can’t enter the building until certain precautions to protect the art have been taken, which won’t take long. I’m going to coordinate with Mark.”
As he rushes away, Ralph appears in my doorway. “What’s happening?”
“There’s a search warrant for the gallery.”
Amanda shoves under his arm. “What? They’re searching the gallery? Are you serious?”
“I’m afraid so,” I confirm. The conversation I’d planned to have with them later clearly needs to happen now. “Tomorrow Ava has a bail adjustment hearing. Her counsel has threatened a media-created scandal if she doesn’t get a lower bond, and that will involve the gallery. Grab what you want to take home and then head to the front door, but I can’t promise they’ll let you leave with anything but a coat and purse.”
They just blink at me as if I’ve grown horns.
I wave them onward. “Go! Get your things.”
They disappear and I gather my coat and purse, then remember the journal. If I take it, I’ll bring attention to it. If I don’t, they might read it. Regretting my detailed notes now, I decide to leave it behind.
Exiting my office, I find Ralph and Amanda waiting by her desk. She casts me an apprehensive look. “Do we just walk out?”
I glance down the hallway to the right at Mark’s closed door, wondering if we should wait for him and Jacob, when the door to my left opens. Jerking around, I suck in a breath to find myself face-to-face with Detective Miller again.
“Ms. McMillan,” she greets. Her pink-stained lips purse.
“Detective Miller.” I motion to Ralph and Amanda. “Can the staff leave?”
She stares at them with such intensity, it would shake far more confident, experienced people than Ralph and Amanda. I’ve lived all my life around people who glory in intimidating others, so her intent rings loud and clear to me.
“Can they leave?” I press again.
She finally tells them, “The men at the door will instruct you from here. You may leave.”
I want to tell her they aren’t under arrest, so they “may leave” no matter what, but I think better of it and zip my lips. She steps away from the exit and Amanda and Ralph waste no time departing. I’m now alone with a woman who would hang me out to dry in a heartbeat.
She steps toward me in her sleekly cut black pantsuit; like her makeup and hair, it’s a disguise for the predator I see in her eyes. Really, is she all that different from Ava?
She stops a few steps from me, crossing her arms. “I have to say, I didn’t expect you to be back here.”
“You ran to Paris. I figured you’d stay underground.”
My defenses prickle, but my voice is thankfully steady. “I didn’t run anywhere. And I’m glad I took that week. Shaken by the attack, I wouldn’t have handled you attacking me nearly as well as I am now.”
“We’re just doing our jobs.”
“No. I did your jobs. I convinced people to start looking for Rebecca, but even with all the attention now, you haven’t found her or my friend Ella.”
“Ah, yes. Ella.”
“Yes. And I still want answers.” I broach a concern niggling at my mind. “Ella bought Rebecca’s storage unit. What if that put her in danger? What if that’s why she can’t be found? Two women are missing, and they have a connection.”
“You could be that connection.”
Her fast accusation hits me like a punch. “Are you serious? You’re turning this on me? No wonder you can’t find Rebecca or Ella.”
Our eyes lock and hold, the air around us turning downright icy, when I feel a hand between my shoulder blades. “Go outside, Ms. McMillan,” Mark commands.
“Yes,” Detective Miller agrees, her attention remaining on me. “I need some time alone with the ‘Master.’”
“Ms. McMillan,” Mark interrupts, “conversations with Detective Miller are better left to your attorney. My understanding is Detective Miller prefers him to you anyway.”
The shock I feel at the surprising comment rolls over the detective’s face, too, and the remark and her reaction confirm what I’d suspected during my interview. There’s something between her and my attorney, and it’s working against me. How Mark knows this, I’m unsure, but I’m betting Tiger has something to do with it.
As I step around her and exit the office, I hear Mark say, “Let’s cut to the chase, Detective Miller. You don’t want the lawsuit that damaging any of the art here will bring. There will be—” Then the door shuts, cutting off the rest of his sentence.
Alone in the gallery, I shove a hand through my hair and lean on the wall. Ava’s attack, Dylan, Michael . . . all of it happened in just a two-week period, and I had needed the time away to be ready for this nightmare. To be ready to fight—and that is exactly what this is. The fact that we’re being treated as guilty until we prove we’re innocent totally shakes my belief in our legal system.