Page 49

“You’re saying you know who the real killer is—whoever actually carried out the murders?”

“No. I don’t know who else is involved. Obviously, with Helena dead, we won’t be able to question her at the station and throw her off. But we’ve found it—the tunnel,” Sean said grimly. “I haven’t taken it all the way through yet. I will once the tech people are finished down there. I’m sure that tunnel goes to the studio. And I’m sure that’s how the killer escaped.”

“Why did he leave Helena down there?” Madison asked.

“I’m assuming it’s because he didn’t want Helena found right away—in case we didn’t believe it was a suicide. But now that Helena has been found, Alistair could be released soon.” He was thoughtful for a minute. “I also assume the killer didn’t think we’d ever find the tunnels. He probably figured we’d go crazy trying to trace the tunnels through the studio, that it wouldn’t occur to us to backtrack.”

“Can you or Logan speak to the D.A. or the A.D.A. on the case? Alistair should be released now. I don’t really understand the legal chain, but all they have to do is drop the charges against him, right?”

“It has to be done before the judge,” Sean said. “If they were to release Alistair—or even announce that they were releasing him—it could force the killer’s hand.”

Logan walked over to join them. “Knox just told me they opened her car. She left a suicide note on the driver’s seat.”

Sean’s eyebrows shot up. “There’s a suicide note?” he asked incredulously.

“So I’ve been told. They’ll test it forensically.”

“I’m willing to bet it was typed,” Sean said.

“Oh, yeah.” Logan nodded. “Forensics can try to match it to a printer—and we’ll start with the computers at the studio and Eddie’s house.”

“I need to see that note,” Sean insisted. “I need to know exactly what it said.”

“I’ll have Knox get it.”

Sean turned back to Madison, as Logan hurried off. “The police will have to close the studio again, but the work can go on until the last minute. The whole place has to be closed until they really get a grip on what’s going on underground.”

“How will they do that?”

“They’ll bring in a score of engineers. We’ve just got to find out how the killer’s been using the labyrinth, get every bit of evidence from the tunnels before the engineers go down there.”

“What’s going to happen with the studio?” Madison asked anxiously. She was worried sick about Eddie—first Alistair and now his wife. But the studio meant a livelihood for so many people.

“We’ll have to see,” Sean told her. “I don’t know.”

Logan came back, bearing the letter Helena had supposedly written in a clear plastic evidence bag. Sean read it aloud.

“‘I can no longer bear the guilt and the shame. I killed Jenny. I wanted more than you could give. Eddie, forgive me. May my death bring an end to what you are suffering, and may Alistair and God forgive me, too. Helena.’”

“Well?” Logan asked.

“Bull,” Sean said. “Helena LaRoux did not write this.”

“It is dramatic,” Logan murmured. “And kind of sad. She asks Eddie, Alistair and God to forgive her—but not Jenny, whom she killed.”

“That’s because she didn’t write the letter.”

Knox approached the ambulance. “Agent Cameron, Eddie Archer has heard what’s happened. We really don’t think he should come here. Mike Greenwood is with him at his house, and Eddie wants you there, too.”

“When the medical examiner’s taken the body and the forensics team’s done, I want to get back in those tunnels. But I’ll go over to Eddie’s first.”

“What should I do?” Madison asked.

Knox looked at her. “You should stay out of the way right now, Ms. Darvil. The teams will be busy for a while.”

“Did Eddie want me, too?”

“Just Agent Cameron. You might want to go home and get some rest. Or, if you’re up to it after crashing through the floor you could go to the studio,” he said, “Mr. Simons has gone in. I still have men posted there. The employees know what happened.” He gave her a white-lipped smile. “From what I hear, it’s a gossip fest. But the work’s going on.”

“What do you want to do?” Sean asked her.

“Clean up and go to work.”

“Okay. I’ll get Kelsey to take you back to the hotel.”

* * *

Eddie wasn’t usually much of a drinker.

That day, he was. He didn’t need to fight to save Alistair anymore; he couldn’t save Helena.

When Pierce let Sean in, he found Eddie sitting on the sofa at the back of his beautiful house. The L.A. sun was shining brightly, casting a benign light on the pool behind the glass and the perfectly manicured lawn that surrounded it. Mike Greenwood was sitting in the chair across from the sofa, trying to lend what support he could.

Pierce, shaking his head sorrowfully at Sean, seemed anxious, worried—and not at all triumphant that Helena had proven to be venomous.

Eddie looked at Sean with dazed, red-rimmed eyes. “It was Helena? You saw her? There was no mistake? It was really Helena?”

Sean patted his friend’s knee and sat next to Eddie. “Yes. I saw her. I’m sorry, Eddie.”

“She killed herself?”

Sean hesitated. “Eddie, she was dangling from a rope. It was attached to the hook set into the crypt for flowers. She’d also slashed her wrists, and she left a note.”

Eddie nodded. “The police read me the note. I didn’t buy it. Did you buy it, Sean?”

“Eddie,” Mike interjected.

“Sean, did you believe it?” Eddie demanded.

Sean inhaled on a deep breath. “No,” he admitted. “Except…”

“What? What the hell are you trying to say?”

“Eddie, it really looks like she drove herself to that cemetery. I think she was meeting someone.”

Eddie gulped down his glass of whiskey. “You’re trying to say that my wife is a murderer, that she killed a girl—killed her!—just to hurt me…to hurt Alistair. She’s dead, Sean! Helena is dead.”

He wasn’t sure how to respond. Anything he could come up with sounded lame. “I’m sorry, Eddie. I’m so sorry.”

Eddie rose, heading for the Scotch bottle again. “Be careful what you wish for! That’s what they always say. I wished desperately that my son would be freed. I did everything I could to bring in the FBI—to find the truth and prove Alistair innocent. So now, supposedly, Helena wrote a suicide note claiming to have committed the crime. She cut her wrists, and when she didn’t do that properly, she hanged herself. That’s what the police say. And they think it’s all over, that what she wrote is the truth…but it can’t be. It just can’t be.”

Sean was silent.

“There’s more, isn’t there?” Eddie spun on him, whiskey sloshing precariously near the rim of his glass. “You’re thinking a lot more than you’re saying.”

Sean lifted his hands. He wasn’t going to lie to Eddie. “I don’t believe Helena killed herself. But I do believe she was partners with whoever killed her—and Jenny,” he said bluntly. “That’s no comfort to you, I know.”

Eddie let out a long shaky breath.

Sean’s phone rang and he answered quickly. Logan was calling from the police station.

“Here’s something that might help Eddie,” Logan said. “They’re releasing Alistair. The D.A. was able to get before the judge and they’re dropping the charges. The police will remove Alistair’s ankle bracelet and he’ll be free to go home.”

He hung up. “The charges against Alistair are being dropped. You can bring him home, Eddie.”

Eddie stiffened his shoulders, staring out at the yard but obviously not seeing anything. He shook his head slowly. “Alistair is staying where he is. Someone’s after my family. I’m not letting them get to Alistair. They destroyed Helena, and they’re trying to destroy me and the studio. I’m not going to let them.”

Mike stood. “No, Eddie, we won’t let them ruin the studio,” he vowed.

Eddie took a sip of his whiskey. “So, go back to work, Mike. You, too, Sean. Go get the bastard for me. Don’t let the cops put it all on Helena, like they were trying to do with Alistair.”

Sean glanced at Mike, and Mike looked back at him unhappily. “Eddie,” Sean said. “We’re all worried about you.”

Eddie lowered his head. “Don’t be. Pierce is with me. I’m going to go and stay with Alistair for a while. Don’t worry—I’m not driving. Pierce will take me, and we’ll stay together. We may be an odd family, but we are family. And I’m all right. I’ve got it under control. Mike, save the studio. Sean, get the bastard. Go—do it, please. We’re going to be fine, aren’t we, Pierce?”

“Yes, Eddie,” Pierce said. “We’re going to be fine.”

There were still tears in Eddie’s eyes. Because Helena was dead or because she had so bitterly betrayed him? Or both?

Sean rose to leave. Mike Greenwood followed suit. “It’s all right, really,” Pierce said. “I’ll take him to be with Alistair.”

As Sean and Mike departed together, Mike whispered, “Poor Eddie. Nicest damn guy in the world. And he fell for a manipulative bitch like Helena.” He paused, raising his voice as they left the house. “Do you think she really killed Jenny Henderson—and then herself? You can be forced to write a suicide note, but no one forced her out of the house. There’s an alarm. Pierce would’ve protected her, not that he liked her himself, but she was Eddie’s wife. Maybe she was going to the store and she was kidnapped—yeah, that’s possible!”