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Caroline leans back, crosses her arms over her stomach, and examines me in a shrewd manner. “You love my brother?”

“More than anything,” I breathe out in affirmation.

“Then you should trust in him,” she says simply, and then winks at me.

Before I can respond, Caroline’s attention is caught by the waiter walking up to us. “Are you ladies ready to order?”

“I’m going to have the lobster roll with a side of fruit,” she says, and hands her menu over.

“I’ll have the same,” I say, also giving up my menu, not having bothered to even open it. Food isn’t high on my priority list.

Once the waiter turns to leave us, Caroline continues. “He’s a smart guy, Sela. He’s doing what’s best, and yeah…while my initial gut instinct was to go to the cops, in hindsight I think this is right. You went to your rapist’s house with a gun.”

“Because he invited me there,” I point out.

“And JT’s going to confirm that to the police how?” she asks sarcastically, and then ignores my narrowed gaze because she’s not playing along with me. While I wanted to come here and solidify the bond Caroline and I have as rape victims, my number-one priority is getting her on board with me to convince Beck I need to go to the police and put an end to all of this.

But she’s not playing nicely.

“This is your brother we are talking about, Caroline,” I tell her harshly. “He could get in serious trouble. He as much as told me that they’ll be looking closely at him because they always look to those closest to the victim.”

“But he didn’t do it,” she points out. “There’s no evidence tying him to the murder.”


“Just let it go, Sela,” Caroline says softly. “I get why you feel the way you do. Trust me…Beck does too. But this is stressful enough without you constantly worrying about the correct course of action to take or second-guessing Beck. I’m telling you…let it ride. Give Beck this one and stand by his side now that the decision has been made.”

I want to argue. I want to argue until I’m blue in the face, until she agrees with me. Hell, just last night she thought we should go to the police. But now she’s firmly in support of what’s going down, and that was clearly evidenced by the way she jumped into action to help conceal the crime because her brother—her savior—asked her to. She’s not going to change now.

Taking a deep breath, I let it out and try to pour out all of my anxiety about the situation with it. It totally doesn’t work, as I still feel the telltale cramp of worry deep in my chest. But I smile for Caroline’s benefit and nod my head. “Okay. I’ll let it ride.”

“Good,” she says with a curt smile, then turns serious. “Now…how is Beck doing?”

How is Beck doing?

You mean after I told him that JT raped you? After he realized that JT was Ally’s father? After it became painfully clear he could do nothing about it and has turned his rage and bitterness inward and now I’m really concerned about his mental state of mind?

“He’s fine,” I assure her, because I don’t want her to worry about her brother. There’s nothing she could do anyway because she’d never understand his pain right now. So I take that burden solely on my shoulders, and I go on to tell her lies that Beck seems completely in control right now.

I break out of the forest densely populated with Monterey cypress and coast redwoods and into a small meadow where my car sits about three hundred yards on the other side. I’m holding my sweatshirt, marked with grime and sweat, loosely in my hand. I’d long ago taken it off because the weather was unseasonably mild, in the high fifties, and I’ve been using it repeatedly over the last few hours to wipe my face.

I had no solid game plan for where to dispose of the letter opener and bloody clothes when I left the condo, as I was absolutely driven to get out of there as fast as I could so I didn’t have to look at the pity on Sela’s face for me. True…these incriminating items had to be ditched somewhere far away, but I ran from Sela and her brutal truths because I couldn’t fucking handle thinking about it.

I looked at Sela, eyes filled with regret for needing to deliver such hurtful words, and all I could imagine was JT leering over her…relishing in telling her that he raped my little sister.

Too much.


Had to get out.

And I drove to Uvas Canyon in the Santa Cruz Mountains, stopping once to fill up my car and grab a can of lighter fluid and a pack of matches from the convenience store, all of which I paid cash for. I’d been out to Uvas Canyon Park a few times during my Stanford days. I chose it because it’s lushly and densely wooded and there’s only six miles of marked hiking trails on almost twelve hundred acres of forest. That means there’s a lot of isolated areas where people won’t venture and where I could safely hide the murder evidence. My only other implement, other than the backpack that carried the weapon and clothes wrapped in a garbage bag, was my Garmin running watch, which was equipped with GPS. I made sure to put that on versus my Breitling, and I was set to protect Sela as best I could.

I hiked deep into the woods, off the main trail and pushing my way past thick underbrush and fallen, rotted trees. I had intended to bury the letter opener, but immediately realized that wasn’t going to work without a shovel or axe to chop my way through roots, so I kept my eyes lifted upward to the trees until I spotted exactly what I wanted: a tree that was half dead, easily climbable, and with a rotted crevice about fifteen feet up in the trunk. It was almost too easy to scale my way up, using a cracked branch hanging at a downward angle, and I was stuffing the letter opener deep into the rotted section that was blackened with shadow because the indentation was so deep. When I got back to the ground, I couldn’t see the letter opener from any angle.

I then turned east, went deeper into the woods, and consulting the map periodically, knew I was in an area that would almost guarantee total privacy. Couldn’t guarantee there wasn’t some other whack job out here trying to hide a body or something, but I knew I had to take a calculated risk to get rid of the last remnants of evidence I possessed. I put Sela’s T-shirt and bra soaked with JT’s blood and his gray hoodie that had some transferred spots of blood on it in a small clearing I made free of leaves and sticks. I then used my hands to scrape as much damp earth and wet leaves into a small pile to help me extinguish the fire after it had done its job.

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