“Leia…” Ted said. “You need to put the gun down. We can talk about this.”
“Sure, you were ready to talk two seconds ago when you threatened to kill me and came at me, right?”
Ted scowled angrily. It made him so mad that his negotiation skills were lacking.
“Leia, what do you want from me?”
“I want you to at least admit to me that you planned my murder right from the start. That you lied to me from the very beginning and you married me only for my money. And then you decided to get rid of me so you could have it all to yourself. You at least owe me that. You owe me an explanation.”
Ted smiled. “Is that what this is about? Some sort of closure? You want me to admit what I did? Why would I want to give you that satisfaction?”
I paused a moment. I needed to get to him without tipping him off. Ted was crafty and naturally paranoid. No wonder he was suspicious. He knew there were people out there in the world like him who were just waiting on the right opportunity to prey on someone they thought was weak. Well, I was not weak, especially now. I’d been through too much and I was still standing.
“Because it gives you freedom to gloat,” I said. “I’m sure that’s been the most infuriating thing about all this over the past few years. You did this heinous thing and you never got to tell anyone about it. Isn’t that frustrating?”
Ted smiled. “I know you aren’t going to kill me Leia. You don’t have it in you.”
“Then why aren’t you trying to take the gun away?”
Ted glared at me. “Fine. You want me to admit it? Ok. I was down on my luck and you were an easy target. I set up the meeting between us. I wanted your money from day one.”
“You were willing to risk your own life to meet me that way?”
Ted laughed. “Well, it didn’t go quite as I had planned, but it got the job done. And then you turned out to be even more sympathetic than I ever could have imagined. I never dreamed you would be so easy to manipulate and that you would fall head over heels for me in a matter of weeks.”
I grimaced. Hearing him remind me about how I’d fallen under his spell—all of which was actually true—left me feeling very ashamed. And he knew it would. He still had some power and control over me and he was not at all shy about reminding me. He reveled in it.
“Congratulations on your victory,” I said mockingly. “Did you decide to kill me right away or was it after I got pregnant? That must have really thrown a wrench in your plans.”
Ted shrugged. “It did. I did not anticipate that happening, but I hadn’t actually thought seriously about killing you until a while after that. That sort of thing is very messy and it’s inconvenient.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to be an inconvenience,” I teased.
“It was fine. I got so angry at you in that moment. I just decided it was time. You pushed me a bit far. If you’d left me alone then it might have never happened.”
“So, you set the fire,” I said. “That was a brutal way to go.”
“And it should have worked,” Ted said. “I guess I underestimated you.”
“Well, you tried the fire because it was familiar. After all, it worked on your parents.”
Ted looked stunned. I’d definitely surprised him with that one. He looked to the side and then back at me.
“What did you say?” Ted asked. His voice sounded small, almost afraid. I wasn’t sure I’d ever heard him like that before.
“I know you killed your parents,” I said. “Yeah, I’ve been doing some research. The lighter fluid—that was your calling card.”
Ted laughed. “I have no idea what you are talking about. My parents died in a tragic accident. I wasn’t even there.”
“If that helps you sleep at night,” I said. “But I was able to uncover a few eye witnesses who can place you there.”
“You can’t prove anything,” Ted said. “Hell, you can’t prove anything about any of this. It’s your word against mine.”
I laughed. “Did it ever occur to you that I could be wearing a wire? Do you know nothing of criminal investigation techniques?”
Ted laughed. “Well, I guess you never knew me as well as you thought you did. I’m always wary of someone trying to get the drop on me. There is an RF signal detector in every room of the house. Nice try.”
I smiled. “Oh, yeah… about those… I’m afraid I threw them all out when I was dusting.”
Ted’s eyes were wide and filled with rage. I knew he was going to lunge at me again.
I was ready for whatever he had coming.