I recognized the two detectives, Gossing and Werbler, who took seats on the other side of the table. They were good men and good detectives. If this woman had shot Bobby Lane, they would wheedle it from her.
Werbler began. “Do you know Bobby Lane?”
The public defender nodded at the woman. Anna Scott cleared her throat. “No.”
“No. You know I’m from New York. I don’t know anyone here.” Her voice was soft, but deep with intent even though the speakers in the wall.
“Ever been to Denver before?”
“Ever been to Scorch?”
“If it’s in Denver, then obviously I haven’t.”
“Come on, Ms. Scott, give us something to work with here, because otherwise I’m willing to believe you killed Bobby Lane.”
Anna Scott looked between the detectives. “You’re the good cop and you’ve drawn the short straw for bad cop. It’s not going to work. You know my name and all the other information about me you’ve been able to pull up on the computer in the past two hours I’ve been sitting here. You no doubt know I’m in town for the weekend with a friend for his sister’s wedding by seeing our hotel rooms were reserved for the wedding party.” She swallowed deeply, licked her lips. Why did I find that really hot?
“Boyfriend?” I asked Peters, keeping my eyes on the other room.
He shook his head. “Two hotel rooms, so I don’t think so.”
“Are you sure you don’t want some soda?” Werbler asked, pointing to the can.
“I’m not touching that can so you can get my fingerprints.”
Werbler’s mouth fell open, but he shut it quickly.
I lifted an eyebrow at her knowledge. She was a surprise. And a delight. I watched as the detectives shifted in their seats.
“Is she a lawyer?” I asked Peters.
“Records say architect. Runs her own business. Works from home.”
An architect that knew about the law.
“I flew in last night at eleven thirty, which I’m sure you know. Passenger records are easy enough to obtain, which I’m sure you’ve done. So being on a plane somewhere over Nebraska at the time of death with over one hundred other people is a pretty solid alibi.”
“Are you saying you know when he was killed?” Gossing asked. “Does that mean that you were involved, but maybe didn’t pull the trigger? Getaway driver, perhaps?”
The detectives were trying to fluster her. They’d made grown men cry before, but their attempts didn’t appear to be working now. Her hands hadn’t moved, her skin wasn’t flushed in anger. Nothing.
“I saw the man, you said Bobby Lane was his name? I saw him in the trunk of the car with the two traffic officers for about ten seconds. Rigor had set in because he was curled up in the fetal position. I don’t have to be an ME to know that means he’d been dead for at least twelve hours.” Anna tucked her hair behind her ear. Her first sign of movement. Her nails were short with a simple manicure. No wedding ring.
“Not a doctor? Parents? Anyone a doctor?” I asked Peters, my eyes focused on Anna.
I saw Peters look at a folder on the desk out of the corner of my eye. “Says her mother died when she was six, father when she was eighteen. No record of how. No siblings. No living relatives.”
I saw a small smile play at the corner of the public defender’s mouth. I could tell she was enjoying this. So was I. Holy hell, it was like watching a teacher scold two recalcitrant school boys. But I never had a teacher who looked like Anna Scott.
“Even if I had somehow shot him,” she continued, “I couldn’t have lifted him up from wherever I’d done it to place him in the trunk. I’m not big, or strong enough, to do it.”
I couldn’t tell with her sitting down, but she wasn’t more than five-five. Bobby Lane was a big man, well over six feet and hadn’t exercised in his life. The extra fifty pounds he’d carried around his middle was proof.
“Maybe you killed him when he was standing in front of the trunk and he collapsed into it after you shot him.”
“No blood. No bullet hole in the trunk. No GSR on my hands.”
“So you’re willing to test for gunshot residue?”
I had to know more. She was like a puzzle I had to solve. “Any information on IQ, medical records, being institutionalized?”
“What, you think she’s a psychopath? Sociopath? Schizo?”
“Doubtful, but she’s very smart, very knowledgeable…familiar with all this.” I waved my hand at the room around us. “How can she look so innocent and wholesome and be so…well versed in police proceedings? In death?”
“Ted Bundy looked pretty wholesome back in his day.” Peters shrugged. Not all answers were available. Some detectives had to dig for it. Sometimes they never learned all the answers. Peters was well aware of this. “All I know is that she acts like she’s got a stick up her butt.”
I cocked my head, watched her closely. “She acts like it. Act being the key word.” I looked at her eyes. Flat. Unfeeling, but focused. “She’s…scared. She’s hiding behind, what’s the word?” I snapped my fingers. “Aloofness. As if this isn’t affecting her. I bet she’s shitting a brick on the inside.”
Anna took a deep breath and I enjoyed watching her breasts rise and fall. Calm as can be, she continued. “As for the car, I put my rental agreement in my carry-on when I left the lot at the airport last night. I assume you checked with the company and know that car isn’t mine. Since I have an alibi, and the car isn’t mine, the only explanation is that my car is still in the lot at the hotel.”
It was the detectives’ turn to take a deep breath. The public defender tapped her pen on the table.
The answer clicked into place for me. She was right. She’d been in the wrong car.
“Valet,” I said.
“What?” Peters asked.
“The valet.” I pointed at her. “No way this woman parks her car in a dark hotel lot after midnight when she got in. She’s too smart to do something as dangerous as that. She flew in with a friend. I’m guessing he has his own rental since he’s part of the wedding party. Probably has wedding stuff she doesn’t have to do. A different schedule. He’s not her boyfriend. You said two rooms.” I paused, considered her through the glass. “She doesn’t trust him enough to drive her—definitely not a boyfriend or anyone close then. If he drove his own rental and they got separated from the airport to the hotel, she wouldn’t chance being alone in the lot. So she valets the car. She’s in complete control of everything. She has to be. She’s handling Gossing and Werbler like it’s their first day at the Academy.” I stood and paced in front of the window. “Fuck, it’s so simple. The valet gave her the wrong car. What kind is it?”
I gave a quick bark of laughter, turned to look at Peters. “There are a million of them out there.
I’m right, aren’t I?”
Before Peters could answer, Werbler spoke up. “Miss Scott, your rental is indeed in the parking lot of your hotel. It seems when you gave your ticket to the valet this morning he brought you the wrong car. They said you had a burgundy Taurus.”
“Excuse me?” Gossing asked, leaning his elbows on the table.
“My rental car is maroon, not burgundy.”
“You couldn't tell the difference when the valet gave it to you?” Werbler wondered.
She arched one elegant eyebrow. “I'm not suggesting the car in question and my rental car are two different colors. What I'm stating is that the valet you questioned is clearly color blind since he doesn't know the difference between the two. Perhaps he isn't the most reliable of sources of information. How many cars did he valet this morning? How many were a Taurus like mine? You're just wasting my time with this line of talk as you're both smart enough to have already validated everything by my rental agreement with the car company ”
Maroon and burgundy were the same to me, but I was no artist, so what did I know? I couldn’t help but grin at her don't-fuck-with-me tone and glanced over at Peters. The way she looked, all fresh and innocent, the way she dressed, all tame and soft, screamed prissy. But she wasn’t, because that type of woman did nothing for me. Annoyed the shit out of me. Anna Scott was…an anomaly. I read people. I was good at it. It was my job to be good at it. Saved my life a time or two. But I couldn’t get a bead on her. Which made her a challenge, and I loved a good challenge. And if said challenge happened to make me wonder what she was wearing beneath her prim little outfit, all the better.
I’d wager her appearance was all for show. Some kind of outward shell she showed to the world. Beneath, she’d wear soft lace and satin. Would her skin be as silky soft as it looked? Would her nipples be as pale pink as I imagined? I shifted against the table. “You’re right, this is interesting.”
“You’re telling me I’m sitting here in a Denver police station being questioned for murder because a valet didn't look at his ticket and gave me a supposed burgundy Taurus instead of maroon,” Anna Scott stated matter-of-factly.
Werbler and Gossing shifted once again, embarrassment keen on their faces. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Then I’m free to go.” It wasn’t a question.
She glanced at her lawyer who gave a quick nod. The woman hadn’t said a word. It seemed Anna Scott didn’t really need legal council, just the protection one afforded her by law. The protection of keeping her mouth shut until she’d gotten her ducks in a row to defend herself.
“Yes, you are,” Gossing told her. “After you submit to a GSR test.”
“All right.” Anna Scott shifted her seat back, the metal scraping against the linoleum floor and stood. I was right, about five-five. Standing, without the table to shield her, she looked…fragile. Even with her shoulders back, her dark hair like a waterfall, her chin tilted in a way to make her look like she had a stick up her ass, she was lovely. Almost innocent of the world, which was the strangest statement since she’d obviously had a run-in with cops before, regardless of what her record said. My mouth went dry just taking in my fill. I took a sip of my now cold coffee. Winced at the miserable taste.
Her thumbs brushed slightly against her skirt, but other than that she was still. No smile, no
sparkle in her eyes at her victory over the police. I’d be dancing a jig after getting myself out of a possible murder charge. That, or I’d need new pair of pants. I moved closer to the glass for a better look. She was damaged. Something had happened to her, but I didn’t know what. Hadn’t we all? Anyone who made it to adulthood had to have something happen to them. It’s how you survived that mattered. And it appeared to me that Anna Scott was surviving. And that was it.
A strange emotion settled in my chest, one I hadn’t felt in a long time. I tamped it down. No way was I going to feel something, anything, for this woman. The fact that she looked so alone—so aloof surrounded by so many—made me want to pull her into my arms and tell her everything was going to be okay. To protect her. I shook my head at my crazy thoughts. Women like her and those protective feelings only brought me trouble I didn’t want.
BLURBA fun weekend at a friends wedding in Denver takes a bizarre twist for Anna Scott when her rental car is pulled over due to an "anonymous tip". In her trunk...one dead body linked to warring crime families in Denver and New York. It should be easy for an innocent woman to be cleared for an innocent mix-up. But was it a mistake? The police aren't so sure, and neither is the crime boss who wants vengeance for his son-in-law's death. You see, Anna Scott didn't exist a couple of years ago, she knows way too much about criminal procedures and about talking to cops. Anna Scott has a secret, and this twist of fate could not only expose her, but place her and anyone close to her in danger.
Jake Griffin is playing a dangerous game. He's spent the last few months undercover in the Moretti crime family. Anna Scott is a big problem. Moretti assigns him to find out who she is, what she wants, and to kill her if she's a threat. Jake needs to keep his nose clean and focus on taking down Moretti, not a sexy woman who is a complete mystery. He can't stop thinking about her; her knowledge, her name, her dangerous associates, her fear, or the bone deep desire every time he sees her. Nick's at war with the whole world over one alluring, yet vulnerable woman, and he can't seem to stop taking dangerous chances where she's concerned. The most dangerous of all might be trusting her with the truth.
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