“Are you okay?” Clay turned to me.
“I’m fine . . . I’m fine.” But other than the violent tremors coursing through me, somehow I was frozen in place, unable to take the next steps toward the car that would take me home.
Worry filled Clay’s eyes. My own brimmed with a rush of tears that spilled down my cheeks. Without thinking, I reached for him. I felt like a child hugging an oversize stuffed animal. Clay’s enormous arms enveloped me with an embrace that seemed too gentle for his strength. I buried my face in his T-shirt and sobbed. He hushed me, and after several moments, I caught my breath.
“I’m sorry.” I wiped at my tears feebly.
“It’s okay. You’re upset.”
“I . . . I guess I wasn’t expecting to come home to all of this.”
I released an uneven breath. If anyone understood, maybe Clay did. He was paid to be on alert, to protect us from all those who would try to hurt us. Maybe he could fathom a fraction of what I now felt. “Thank you, Clay. For everything.”
“You never need to thank me for doing my job.”
“I know, but I want to.”
He rested his palm on my shoulder. “Let’s take you home.”
“I want to wait for Blake.” Oh, how I wished they would let him go. I hated knowing that he was in that building, and that I had to walk away from him right now.
“He’ll be home soon. And I’ll stay there as long as either of you need me.”
I stood firm, unwilling to leave. His countenance was pinched. “You should rest, Erica.”
Hearing him say my name almost threatened to unleash another wave of tears. Another minute passed and my shoulders sagged.
“Okay,” I finally said, and let him take me home.
The interrogation room was cold, lit by harsh fluorescents. Nothing about it was designed to make a person feel comfortable, yet I was decidedly far from seeking comfort, unless it was in the form of physically removing the smug look from Evans’s face. I hadn’t liked him the moment I saw him. Instinct immediately warned that he was going to cause me nothing but trouble. Rarely were my instincts far off, and now we were several hours into him giving me trouble.
Dean Gove—my attorney and, for all intents and purposes, my longtime friend—sat beside me, looking both bored and unsettled. We hadn’t had a chance to speak freely yet, but nothing substantial had materialized in the time I’d been here. At Evans’s request, I’d detailed the timeline of the honeymoon and travel schedule. I had nothing to hide there. We discussed business, mine and Erica’s. That was straightforward enough. We discussed my history with Fitzgerald, which was carefully edited to omit the laundry list of felonies I knew he’d committed, not the least of which was homicide. For all Evans knew, Daniel was simply the biological father of my wife, though no doubt Evans suspected more. I was hoping he would steer the conversation toward the actual election soon, the details of which would explain why we were having this conversation at all.
After a brief break, Evans returned with two Styrofoam cups of coffee and a manila envelope tucked under his arm. He set one cup in front of me. Out of sheer boredom, I accepted it. The dark liquid was scalding hot and tasted like it had been on the burner for hours. I set it back down with a grimace.
“This isn’t your first brush with computer fraud, is it, Blake?”
Dean leaned in. “Don’t answer that.”
No shit. I glared into Evans’s small eyes. He already knew about my past, I had little doubt.
I’d been nabbed for hacking as a teenager. Back then when the feds brought me in, I’d cooperated. The charges were dropped, and the records were sealed because I was a minor. Rumors lingered, though, especially when a year later I produced the most sophisticated banking software on the market, thanks to my extensive experience in compromising what was already out there at the time.
Whatever Evans knew had to be the result of the FBI’s desire to come back and get their pound of flesh. I’d gotten away with my freedom, while others had lost so much more. Still, he wasn’t supposed to know about any of it, and I certainly wasn’t going to offer it up.
“Fuck you,” I said.
He laughed, shaking his head. He spun the folder on the table in front of him. My curiosity piqued, but the folder couldn’t contain any actual evidence against me. He was taunting me.
“Let’s try this again. You wrote the earliest software created for Banksoft, right?”
I paused. “Yes.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but you had what one would call ‘specialized knowledge’ of banking software at that point, isn’t that right?”