I hired his team for a specific list of reasons. That list does not include ensuring that I don’t carry out my vow of vengeance, spoken in a moment of torment in front of his boss. But the news that Rebecca was most likely dead and in the Bay, knowing that she’d struggled for years with nightmares of drowning in the Bay, had been torture.
We enter the elevator, riding to his floor in silence. “My room at eight in the morning,” I say when the elevator halts. “That should give us plenty of time to get to my parents’ apartment and then the hospital for my mother’s treatment at ten.”
Jacob punches the button to hold open the door. “I’ve been thinking about tomorrow. You mentioned the press had tracked you to your parents’ apartment during your last stay, even though the apartment had a private garage that should have prevented you from being detected. I can’t help but think someone on the building staff is being paid to tip them off.”
“What are you saying?”
“Your mother wasn’t aware of her surroundings the last time you were here, but she is now. Since you haven’t warned her yet about what’s being said in the news, and you were pleased with the hospital’s protocols for high-profile visitors, I think you need to surprise your mother there.”
My lips thin. “I don’t like it, but I’ll do it. Change the meet-up time to nine.”
“Check. My gut feeling, and they’re never wrong, is to talk to your mother sooner rather than later.”
“I don’t like how that sounds.”
“My gut feelings saved my life many times in the service.”
I inhale and let it out, wishing like hell I had time to let my mother recover from her treatments before she has to deal with any of this. “I’ll expedite the talk, but I need to pick the right moment. In the meantime, I need you to get me past the leak in my parents’ building.”
“Already on it. I have backup coming to the hospital tomorrow, to cover you while I meet with the apartment security head.” The elevator buzzes in protest of Jacob holding the button. “My time is up.” His lips curve on one side.
As the steel doors close a cluster of thoughts rushes at me almost instantly, and I force it away, leaving my mind blank. It’s all about control.
The ding signaling the twenty-first floor sounds and I go to my regular suite, turning on the living room/office fireplace before three rapid knocks sound on the door—my regular bellman. Before placing my bags in the closets, he offers me a large yellow special-delivery envelope with my name typed on the front.
Adrenaline rushes through me. It’s the information that I’ve been waiting for for a full week. Feeling like I finally have ammunition for the vengeance I fully intend to enact, I double his tip and send him on his way.
Once I’m alone again I slip out of my jacket, loosen my tie, and settle onto the living room couch. Opening the envelope, I find a stack of papers and, conforming to my request of complete invisibility, a disposable phone with a number taped to the back. From this point forward, there are no names. He is “Doc,” a nickname he uses for his precision at delivering whatever his clients need. As far as he’s concerned I’m nobody, which suits me well.
Setting the phone aside, I begin going through the comprehensive documents. Everything I could ever want to know about Ryan Kilmer, from birth until present, including a complete list of all business transactions his thriving real estate business has ever made. Squeezing my eyes shut, memories jab at my mind of the many times that I’d invited him and Ava into Rebecca’s and my most intimate moments. She’d hated them both, which was why I’d chosen them. To make her hate me. To make sure she didn’t want them. And I did it all under the guise of Master. I was such a bloody fucking asshole.
Cursing, I push to my feet, walking to the glass door and stepping into the blast of snow and wind, intentionally tormenting myself. My hand closes on the freezing railing, a punishment for my actions, though I can never punish myself enough. Before me there is only white and gray, a flicker of lights muted in the core of the murkiness.
Ms. Smith asked who I thought had helped Ava, and the answer is Ryan. Fucking Ryan. I don’t give a damn about his alibi for the night Rebecca died.
And considering our many profitable business transactions, I can think of only one motivation for Ryan’s actions. The same as Ava’s for killing Rebecca, and trying to kill Sara. Pure envy. Maybe of me and Rebecca, or perhaps of the power the club had become for me. I, of all people, know how easily jealousy forms and the poison it inevitably becomes. I curse again and turn my face to the blurred sky.
I shouldn’t have done a lot of things I did where Rebecca was concerned. And I should have done a lot that I didn’t. Ultimately, everything that has happened is my fault—but I’m not the only one who is going to pay.
I silently vow that by morning, I’ll have a plan to unravel Ryan’s life and his money train. And then I’ll dial that phone, and let the real games begin.
* * *
It’s three in the morning when I finally lie down, having left a message for Doc to call me. In my hand is Rebecca’s journal. And as many times as I’ve promised myself that I won’t read more, I can’t help myself. It makes me feel like she’s still alive. It makes me feel guilty and hate myself. It makes me focus on doing right by her in death, if not in life.
I flip open a page, to an entry I’ve read before and I know will shred me, and start reading: