Sugar Free Page 15

I poured a small amount of lighter fluid on the clothes and said a small prayer that I not be caught and that I could get the fire out before anyone smelled the smoke and became curious. I lit a match and tossed it on the pile, and to my dismay, it took a fuck of a long time for the clothes to burn. I had to use more lighter fluid, adding it carefully when the fire would die, until I was confident nothing could be identified. I didn’t burn the clothing to pure ash, but I burned most of it away, and what was left was disfigured enough that I knew there’d be no amount of DNA they could ever pull off of it.

At least that’s what I hoped.

I easily put out any remaining embers with the dirt and wet leaves and a general stomping of my tennis shoes around, then I gathered the mess that was left and hiked south for several hundred yards where I was able to stuff them beneath a rotted tree that had fallen to the ground. I pulled dead brush to help camouflage the blackened remnants of burned clothing, not much of which was left, but I wasn’t too worried about it. Chances of a hiker coming by this area and seeing the clothing was virtually nonexistent to my way of thinking. Even if they did, chances of them even alerting police was even smaller. And if that did happen, I didn’t believe there was any way they’d connect that to JT’s murder.

I felt I had done all I could.

So with hands completely filthy with dirt and my shirt soaked with sweat, I trudged back through the small meadow, my eyes pinned on my car the entire time. Just waiting perhaps for someone to drive by and see me; placing me in a very strange place at a very strange time in my life. I knew if I could just make it back to the condo unaccosted and get into the shower to wash away the evidence of my crime of concealment, Sela and I could rest easier.

When I get to my car, I take a moment to vigorously scrub my hands on my jean-clad thighs, removing most of the leftover dirt I accumulated to extinguish the fire. I wipe my sweaty face one more time with my sweatshirt before tossing it onto the passenger seat along with the empty backpack. After expelling a deep breath of completion, I get into my car and turn it on, cranking the A/C up so I can cool down.

I take a moment to check my messages and see I have two voice mails.

The first is from my mother and it’s short, to the point, and completely offensive to me.

Beck…this is your mother.

No shit.

Just wanted to let you know the Townsends have arranged for JT’s funeral to be held on Friday at two P.M. They’d like you to give the eulogy and I accepted on your behalf. Oh, and will you talk Caroline into coming? If there’s one function she should attend, this is it.

Yeah, Mom…that sure as fuck isn’t going to happen. No way is Caroline going to give you even a moment’s consideration, and I’m sure as shit not going to let her attend the funeral of her rapist.

But joy…looks like I’ll be giving a eulogy for the man who defiled her and Sela. Oh, the things I’d really love to say…

I delete my mom’s voice mail and listen to the second, which is from Sela, very brief and just letting me know she decided to drive to Healdsburg to have lunch with Caroline. I’m not surprised. I imagine she’s trying to talk through every angle of how we made a poor decision by not coming forward, but I also know Caroline will stay firmly on my side. It’s just the way things are between us.

But I also expect it’s because she and Caroline now understand they have a deeper bond with each other, forged by circumstances that I cannot truly comprehend. For this, I’m glad that they each now have a true confidante if they need to discuss what happened to them.

Except they now have one difference. Sela has identified her attacker. Caroline never will.

Laying my head back against the cushioned rest, I take a moment to analyze what JT said to Sela. He was clearly telling the truth that he knew about our relation to each other. So he wasn’t lying in an effort to get ahead.

I have to assume that fucker wasn’t lying when he told Sela about raping Caroline. I suppose there’s a small chance he did that just to torture her, but mostly I think he did it because he was a sadistic fuck.

Regardless, I’m pretty sure he was telling the truth.

But the thing I can’t get past is the DNA evidence. DNA was collected from Caroline and we were told that there was no match. If JT really raped both women, it should have matched up to the evidence collected from Sela’s rape. I suppose the most logical explanation for it not matching up is that perhaps Sela was confused about whose semen was in her hair. She thought it was JT’s, but she had two other attackers. Perhaps it was their semen.

But another explanation bothers me and I hadn’t thought much about it before, but I do now. When Dennis had gotten a copy of Sela’s criminal investigation file, he said the paperwork for the Combined DNA Index System—CODIS—wasn’t in the file. He was sure it was an oversight, but it could have slipped through the cracks.

I consider calling Dennis. He flew out to Vegas last night to deliver the money to VanZant for taking the dive, then he’s heading to Ireland. After that Panama. The man is on a much-needed vacation and he more than earned some peace from my crazy shit for a few days, even though I’m quite sure he wouldn’t be put out to check on that for me.

Still, I hesitate to make the call partly because it truly shouldn’t make a difference to me. While the matching DNA would be unequivocal proof that JT raped both the loves of my life, I also have Sela’s word, and that’s as good as DNA in my opinion.

But mostly I don’t call him because if I did, he’d naturally want to know why I’m asking, and I sure as fuck am not going to let one other single soul in on what went down with JT. If I call Dennis, I’ll have to tell him JT’s dead. If I ask about the DNA matching, he’ll connect the dots, and then he’ll probably push at me for details. It’s too risky, and hence my decision is made not to involve Dennis.

At least not yet.

But if things get dicey later, and I need a man with his particular skill set to help Sela and me out, I’ll make the call with no hesitation.

Lifting my head from the cushion, I put the car in drive and pull onto the gravel roadway that will lead back out to the main park road. I need to get home and get cleaned up. I’ve got some calls to make on behalf of the business. I’d sent an email out late last night to the entire company about JT’s death, as I knew it would hit the news and I didn’t want anyone to be caught unaware. I also called Linda and asked her to personally call Karla to let her know. I told the staff I’d be in on Wednesday, but that I would need the day off to help make arrangements for JT’s funeral.

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