A circle, I repeat in my mind, putting it together. “For sex,” I say, feeling sick at the memory of Rebecca writing about how Mark had pushed her limits by taking her to the club.

“It’s Mark’s place to explain the relationships,” Blake says, avoiding a direct confirmation. “The bottom line is that Mark believes Ryan was involved in Rebecca’s murder, despite his rock solid alibi.” His cell phone rings and he answers it, listening a minute, his eyes finding mine. “Keep your eyes on the gates and make sure Ryan doesn’t enter, too, if he’s not already inside. Stop him if he tries.” He ends the call. “He’s at the club. Call him. Try to get him back here with you.”


I nod. “Yes. Yes, okay.” I press my hand to my forehead. “Yes. Of course.” I cross to the living area and sit on the couch while Blake follows to stand on the opposite side of the coffee table. I dig my cell from my purse and dial the button programmed for Mark. It rings and goes direct to voice mail.

I shake my head. “It’s either turned off or he just dismissed my call.”

He scrubs his jaw and his phone rings again. He answers, listens, then says, “Don’t do that. It’s a mistake.” He pauses. “My man will try, but I won’t let him get arrested. Fuck. Okay. I’m on my way.” He ends the call and tells me, “That was the head of security at the club. I warned him about Mark’s state of mind and he had a change of heart about keeping silent. He says Mark just told them to let Ryan through the gates when he arrives. I’m headed there now.”

I stand up. “I’m coming with you.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.

Mark

I’m sitting behind the desk of my office inside the club, post several strong cups of coffee, watching the live security camera. Ryan pull up in his car. I zoom in the camera, watching Ryan curse under his breath as one of Blake’s men approaches his window.

I buzz Kurt in security. “Get Walker Security off Ryan’s ass and get him inside.”

Ten minutes later, Ryan is inside the club and I’m standing behind my desk waiting for him. Behind the desk, because I’ve had time to think about why I can’t just rip his throat out—namely my mother—and I will if I get too close to him. A knock sounds and I grind my teeth, every muscle in my body tensing. I will not kill the son-of-a-bitch. Instead I’ll ruin him, and make his life such hell that he’ll wish he was dead. I hit the buzzer to let him into the office and he enters, dressed casually in slacks and a pullover, his dark hair neatly combed, and I have the impression he’s not been to bed.

He crosses the room to stand behind a leather visitor’s chair. “Is there news on Rebecca?” he asks, sounding urgent. But his eyes don’t quite meet mine, a sure sign that he’s hiding something.

“Why?” I ask, resenting the way he dares to come in here and act like this is some shared journey. “Are you afraid of what it might be?”

“Afraid? Hell yes.” His eyes finally level with mine. “I’m terrified they’ll find her dead.”

My lips thin. “Of course you are.” Sarcasm tinges my tone.

Cocking his head, he frowns. “What does that mean?”

“I’m not playing the games with you that the police have. I know you helped Ava kill Rebecca.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“You told the police that Ava brought Rebecca to me the night she arrived back into the city. And yet you never spoke to me about it? Never asked about her? I call bullshit. You know Rebecca never made it to me. You were involved in her disappearance. I don’t know how, or at what level, but you were.”

He grabs the back of the chair. “Telling the truth is all I’m guilty of.”

“You never asked me about her return.”

“You were testy about Rebecca leaving. I wasn’t going to throw her leaving again in your face.”

“Why would you assume she’d be gone again?”

“Because you fucked with her mind too much, Mark. She was done with you.”

I don’t move. If I do, I’ll kill the bastard. Seconds tick by and I’m not counting; I’m imagining my hands on his throat. “I ask myself what Rebecca would want me to do right now.”

“Don’t try to make me the bastard here. I tried to warn her away from you. You’d already ruined her.”

I narrow my gaze. “And I suppose that you were to be her saving grace? Her new Master?”

“When she was the Rebecca I first met, I wanted her.” Barely contained hate radiates from his voice. “I didn’t want the bitch you turned her into.”

Adrenaline surges through me, and I plant my hands on the desk. “So you killed her?”

“No.” He leans on the desk to match my stance, and surprises me by meeting my stare. “I didn’t kill her. I didn’t even see her when she returned.”

I search his unblinking stare and I decide he didn’t kill her. He was involved, though. I have no doubt. I open the desk drawer. “I ask again¸ what would Rebecca want?” I set a Glock on the desk. “She’d want you dead.”

He retreats, hands up in the air stop-sign fashion. “Easy, man. You’re taking this too far. I didn’t kill Rebecca.”

“She was a better person than me,” I say as if he hasn’t spoken. “To me, dead is too easy. It’s over too soon, and I want you to suffer.”

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