Page 23

Harper rested a hip against the conference table. No one had bothered to sit down. “You were there that day. You saw her reaction to finding her friend’s dead body. I’d heard some of the rumors flying around the Lakefield PD that she’d been the one. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been in the paper. The reporter covering the story has exposed every other fact.”


“Yeah, that’s the one.”

“He’s been pestering us. Nosy bastard. Only interested in making the front page.”

“Tell me about it. My entire life has been front-page news for the past few days. I’m starting to take it personally. The guy seems to have a personal grudge against me just because I refuse to answer his questions.”

“You don’t think he’s curious because you dated a Co-Ed Slayer vic, owned the building where a Co-Ed Slayer body was found, and partnered with a murdered cop whose badge was found at the Mills scene.” Catching his breath, Mason waited for the man’s reaction.

Harper’s jaw locked. “I think I’d like my lawyer present next time you want to talk to me.” He pushed off from the table and strode to the door. “We’re done here.”

He left the two men in the room and marched into the hall.

“Show the detectives out,” Harper angrily tossed the words over his shoulder to the wide-eyed receptionist as he stormed by her desk. The thin woman slowly stood and hesitantly stepped toward the conference room like she expected to find two corpses.

Jack barely caught himself before he slammed the door to his office. He shut it gently and leaned his forehead against the wood. Shit, shit, shit. When would it end? Who in the hell was doing this to him? And why? First he was dissected in the papers. Now with the police. He hadn’t handled the interview well. But he had to get out of that room before he grabbed Callahan’s cowboy hat and shoved it down the cop’s throat.

He straightened his spine, determined to find something to distract him. Get back to work. He had a company to run. Get back in control. Jack picked up the stack of phone messages from his desk and shuffled through them.

Christ. Maybe he didn’t have a company to run.

Three clients had cancelled crucial meetings.

Steaming, he thrust the messages into his shredder. His office door swung open without a knock and his sister, Melody, blew in. “Bryce said you were talking with police detectives. What did they want? They don’t believe that crap in the paper, do they?”

Her gray eyes were hard. She stood in front of Jack’s desk and ground her heel into his floor. His older sister was tall, perfectly made-up with expensive power suits, and was as tense as a threatened mother tiger. But Jack knew she was just unnerved by the police visit.

“What’s been printed in the paper is true, Mel. They haven’t made anything up.” Now he was defending Brody? “It’s just the presentation that’s bullshit.”

“Then why were they here?”

“’Cause they found a dead body on our property. And I used to work with Cal Trenton. They’re just doing their job.”

“But you’re the president of this company! How can they come in here and…”

“That doesn’t give me some special immunity. They’re trying to find a murderer, for God’s sake. Of course they’re gonna talk to me.”

Now he was defending Callahan?

Jack ran a hand through his hair. “I know the publicity sucks. Believe me, I hate it as much as you do, but until it blows over you should be working on spinning it our way. Not bitching at me.”

“If you hadn’t…”

“If I hadn’t what? Had a girlfriend in college? Partnered with Cal? You’re out of line, Mel.” He turned his back on her and stared, unseeing, out the window.

“So what do we do?” Her voice dropped ten decibels.

Jack knew it pained her to utter those five words. They might argue a lot of the time, but deep down their cores were solidly built of love for each other and their father’s company.

“You do your job, I do mine. We show everyone nothing has changed at Harper Developing, and this police investigation has nothing to do with how we run our business.”

He thought of the phone messages he’d just shredded. No way was he going to mention them. She’d hit the ceiling.

Melody was silent a minute. In the reflection of the glass, he could see she was scared, but didn’t want to admit it. She spun on a heel and left his office. Jack blew out a breath. Together, the two of them would get through this.

He balanced the golf club across his palm, smiling, liking the feel of the weight. He knew little about golf, but knew these clubs were top-of-the-line. It was a heady rush to hold a toy worth so much money. A wealthy man’s status symbol. Wrapping his hands around the grip, he took a practice swing and swore. The damn things were too long for him. He hurled the club onto the bed.

What did he expect? The lawyer was a tall man. And he wasn’t.

It’d been a monstrous obstacle all his life. Society preferred height on a man. He hated not being tall. He never used the word short. Or shrimp. He’d heard them too often throughout his life. And not in kind tones.

But he’d show everyone. Soon they would look on him with awe, his height insignificant.

He crossed to the window, peeked through the blinds, and checked the dark street. No cars. He’d honestly thought the man would be home before now. It was nearly 1:00 a.m. How long did a retirement party take? Hopefully, he hadn’t hooked up with some slut and was romping the night away in her bed.