“We were set up by our own guys. I couldn’t trust anyone anymore, so I left.”
Rick and Neil exchanged glances.
“It isn’t fun when one of your own turns on you,” Rick said.
“All I ever wanted to be was a cop. Private investigation seemed the next logical step.”
“Which you’re licensed to do,” Neil said.
“I’m a pillar of honesty.”
Neil pointedly looked at him.
“With a few chinks in my armor.”
“Okay, someone needs to start trusting someone here or we’re never going to be able to protect Lori,” Rick said to Neil.
“Is she all right?” Reed asked.
Rick held up his hand, reached for his phone. “Hey. You’re with them?”
He paused. “No, he’s here. We’re chatting.” Rick laughed. “Maybe he’d like to hear that, hold on.”
Rick handed over his phone.
Reed held it to his ear. Cooper spoke in a low voice. “Remind me to punch you when I see you.”
“Get in line.” Reed was certain one was forming.
“Yeah, there is one. Lori is pissed. And you know what they say about a woman scorned.”
Reed heard voices in the background. Female voices.
“Is she okay?”
“You tell me.”
The voices in the room became louder, as if he’d been put on speaker.
Lori was drunk. “I fell hard, I mean, I wasn’t looking at wedding dresses, but I started to draft a prenup.”
“That sounds like love for a lawyer.” Reed didn’t recognize the voice.
“How could I be so stupid? So many coincidences. So many things that just didn’t measure up.”
Every time Lori spoke, he cringed.
“Love is blind.”
“Screw love. I’ll just switch teams.”
He closed his eyes and kept listening, even though he knew she deserved her privacy.
“Don’t look at me, I like guys,” he heard Avery say.
“He screwed me just to get information.”
“No, I didn’t.”
Rick took the phone from him.
It took several minutes for Reed to move his lips. “I won’t tell you who hired me. They’re not the ones you should worry about, anyway.”
“We’re listening,” Rick said.
For the next hour, Reed revealed everything he could without using the senator’s name. He told them about Sasha and how she was on the flight to Texas, how she was the one to watch.
“That’s not her name, I’m sure. I’ve attempted to get into the passenger list on the cruise, but I doubt it would be of much help.”
“What did Rogelio and Miguel have to do with any of this?”
Reed shrugged. “Coincidental . . . thieves. I spent an extra day in Barcelona searching for them. Their names weren’t on any list, good or bad.”
“Right. Crime rings frequent ships like the one we were on, preying upon those first-class passengers who didn’t bother bringing fake jewelry on board. The scam works well because of how few crimes on the open sea can be prosecuted. My guess is Miguel and Rogelio knew the names of the single, rich women when they boarded and targeted them.”
“Just like you did,” Rick said.
“My target was Shannon, and not to rip her off. I told you that.”
“Which means Paul was the target.”
“None of the women said a thing about the governor. I concluded that he hired a bride,” Reed announced. “Lori didn’t tell me that, Shannon didn’t either.”
“Did you tell your client?”
“Because it would incriminate Lori.”
Rick and Neil did that silent look thing they’d been doing all afternoon.
“How so?” Rick asked.
“She represents both parties in these marriages. And although that isn’t illegal, there is a question of ethics. I didn’t look into individual cases, mainly because the only ones I can say are part of this deal were those of Avery and her husband, Trina and the dead guy, and Shannon and Paul. I don’t have to tell you both how tight your security is. I’m not ashamed to say I tried a few hacks to get into her files, but it wasn’t possible. And before you damn me for that, I didn’t care about the information I’d find, I wasn’t going to use it anyway. I wanted to know how safe Lori was being.”
“I found that out. But what I would have looked for was loopholes. Reasons for the bar to go after her.”
They did that silent look thing again.
“And you found . . . ?”
“I’m not a paralegal, but one thing that stuck out was timing. If these contracts are signed back-to-back, where either party hasn’t had time to look it over, or seek other counsel, they could be voided. In cases like Avery, chances are neither party would consider turning back on their contract, but in cases like Trina . . . who knows what Petrov would do with the information.”
“And since all of the marriages and divorces are public record, as well as their settlement agreements, Lori’s case files would blow up.”
“And those cases would be brought into question,” Rick said to Neil.
“I’m guessing anyone willing to part with several million dollars for a facade doesn’t want that information public.”
“I need to call Blake,” was the only thing Neil said all afternoon.
“And I need to find Sasha,” Reed said. “If she’s working with Petrov and she’s managed to put any of this together, she’s going to try and gather evidence.”
Rick stood, turned the chair back around, and pushed it under the table. “I’ll go with you.”
“I work alone.”
Rick pointed to his chest. “Oh, I’m not your partner. I’m flattered, but thank you.”
Rick lost his smile for all of two seconds. “Me too. You see, you haven’t earned our trust yet. And until you do, you and I just became besties.”
“I told you everything I know.”
Neil had already left the kitchen with the phone to his ear.
Rick crossed to a kitchen drawer, opened it, and removed a pistol and a magazine. He checked the chamber, seemed happy with what he saw, and holstered it at his side.
“Wait, you’re not armed?”
Rick winked. “Why would I be armed?”
Reed peeked around the corner toward Neil’s back. “Neither of you were armed.”
Rick tossed Reed one of his guns, he caught it.
“That would be felony kidnapping.”
Rick returned Reed’s ammo and his other weapons. “How did you know where I lived?”
Neil stepped around the corner. “Where did you place the bugs in Lori’s home?”
He wanted to lie.
She was going to find out, and that hate she’d been spitting with fire in her eyes when she’d walked away was going to burn holes in him from miles away.
He gritted his teeth as he spoke. “There’s a wire basket on her kitchen counter full of wine corks.”
“A tracking device in the trunk of her car. Looks like a pen.”
Neil turned to talk into the phone.
“Dude, she is going to hate you.”
Reed started toward the garage. “Are we going, or are you going to just stand there and remind me what a douche I am?”
“What are we watching?”
Reed had his unwelcome partner park up the street from a mail center. “I managed to acquire a credit card number from Sasha. It was sent here.”
Rick peered out the window. “What makes you think she’s ever coming back?”
“She might not, but until she uses the card, it’s all I have to go on.”
“How often have you been sitting here?”
“Whenever I wasn’t with Lori. And when I was, I had a colleague helping out.”
“I thought you said you didn’t like partners.”
“Colleague, not a partner.”
“How sure are you that she works for Petrov?”
The question made his head itch. “She knew of Petrov . . . and she knew of the person who hired me.”
“So she’s good at what she does.”
“How soon will we hear from your contacts with the fingerprints?” Reed told them about the wineglass and cell phone.
“Takes a day to run through the database. The fact she had the card sent here points in the direction that she might be local.”
“That was my guess, too.”
Rick looked at the military-style watch on his arm, the kind that screamed waterproof, had a compass, and due to the size of the thing could probably be eaten as an MRE.
“I take it you’re not the patient sort.”
“I don’t like sitting when I could be doing.” He reached for the handle on the door.
“What are you doing?”
Rick popped the trunk, put something in his pocket, and winked as he walked past the car and into the storefront mail spot.
Twenty minutes later, he waltzed out of the building, tucked behind the steering wheel, and turned the engine over.
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