Mark is sitting on the black leather couch to my right. His jacket is gone, his tie is loose, and he’s holding a glass of amber liquid, and still he manages to give me a superior stare. “Limits, Ms. McMillan,” he berates me. “Knock on the damn door.”
“I did knock. You didn’t hear.”
“That doesn’t constitute an invitation. I didn’t want to hear.” He refills his glass and I swear there is a slight tremble to his hand.
A swell of emotion fills my chest and I cross the room, stopping in front of the coffee table where his laptop, the source of the music, sits.
He downs another gulp and fixes me in a bloodshot stare that’s void of emotion. He says nothing and I think he might be waiting for me to say something, like the song says, but I could be wrong. Maybe he wants me to say nothing, because it’s not me he truly needs to speak to. It’s Rebecca.
“How are you?” I blurt out when I can take it no more.
“I’m fucking wonderful.” He refills his glass. “I had good news so it’s a good day.”
“What good news?”
“I’m cleared of Rebecca’s murder. So are you and Chris, but I’m sure he told you already.” He holds up the glass. “Celebratory drink?”
I can’t celebrate anything with the word murder attached. “I didn’t know you drank.”
“Only when my joy reaches a point of zero containment.”
The pain in his words is so bitter, I think it might make them crumble into tiny pieces and take his heart with them. I move forward and sit on the other end of the couch, angling toward him. “Did they clear Ryan?”
“Yes. Seems he’s got a rock-solid alibi.”
“Blake’s still trying to find a connection.”
He turns to face me. “You don’t know yet, do you?”
A tremor of unease goes through me. “Know what?”
He motions to the computer, and I turn it toward me and bring the screen to life. A news story fills it and I read, Police search the Muir Woods beachfront. “Oh God,” I whisper, and read the article in more depth. While police stay mum on the reason for the search, an insider says it’s related to missing local woman, Rebecca Mason.
The rest is a recap of the day’s hearing, and when I’m done reading I turn to Mark. “What else do you know?” His eyes collide with mine, and the torment in them is like a blade slicing through my heart.
“I have no idea,” he replies. “They aren’t telling me shit, and Tiger’s vicious reputation isn’t doing shit for me right now. They aren’t talking to him, either.”
“They arrested Corey today. He must have told them something.”
“Obviously. More good news, by the way. That ‘tell-all’ news story that was going to run tonight isn’t running. The police offered the newsperson an exclusive on something big coming soon, to hold it off.”
“Do you . . . do you think they found her?”
“No. I think she’s at the bottom of the fucking ocean, and they don’t have enough evidence yet to prove how she got there. And I don’t believe for a second that Ava pulled that off on her own.”
“You think Corey helped her?”
“He had some involvement. I’m not sure he’s smart enough to do it on his own.”
“Yeah. I think it’s Ryan.”
“Ava will give him up once she feels trapped.”
“That’s to be seen, I guess.” His voice lashes out at me, brutally sharp, angry even. “Why are you in my office?”
“Crystal called and—”
“I told you to let me handle Crystal.”
“Like you handled Ryan and Amanda?” It’s out before I can stop it. “He scared the crap out of her, and she ran home to her parents.”
“That’s probably the best thing that could have happened to her. Look what happened to Rebecca when she stayed. Look what happened to you.”
“Nothing has happened to me.”
“No. I don’t know what you mean.”
“Who owns you, Sara?”
Adrenaline surges through me and I stand up. He follows me, his body too close. “Answer the question.”
“What are you trying to prove, Mark?”
“Friends don’t let friends make mistakes.” Suddenly I’m yanked against him as he adds, “Waking you up is doing you a favor.”
I flatten my hands on his chest to push him back. “Let go, Mark. You’re drunk.”
“I need you,” he murmurs. “You know that. That’s why you’re here.”
I shake my head. “Not in the way you—”
His hand goes to my hair, and now his mouth is near mine. “I’ve wondered how you would taste.” He dips in to kiss me, and my knee instantly lifts and lands hard in his groin.
He grunts, cursing under his breath, and lets go. I stumble backward and put the table between us.
“Really, Sara?” He sinks to the couch. “You had to fucking knee me? It was a kiss, not an act of war.”
“I told you to stop. You weren’t listening, because you’re drunk on more than booze. You’re drunk on pain and guilt.
“And I see what you were doing. If I had let that happen, then Chris and I would have been nothing, and love would mean nothing to you—which is what you want to believe right now. Because then you don’t have to deal with what you lost with Rebecca.