Sugar Free Page 22

“Exactly.” I pop the tomato into my mouth and chew through my grin at him.

Beck’s phone starts ringing from the kitchen and he stands up to retrieve it. As he’s walking away from me, he looks over his shoulder and adds, “But I don’t think we tell Caroline until we know for sure about the DNA. Agreed?”

“Sure,” I say with a nod of acceptance. It wasn’t going to matter if we told her tomorrow or a few weeks from now.

Beck disappears into the kitchen, and before it can ring a third time, he answers, “Beck North.”

He’s silent for several moments, then I hear him say with resignation, “Sure. I’ll be there at two.”

He disconnects without even saying goodbye and I know this because he suddenly appears in the dining room before me.

“That was my attorney,” Beck says in a low voice filled with tension. “The police want me to come in and give a formal statement tomorrow. He’s arranged us to meet there at two P.M.”

The food in my stomach seems to turn to lead as a heavy feeling of unease settles in. All thoughts of whipped cream and relaxation are now gone.

Tomorrow the police will talk to Beck, and while they certainly may want to just pick his brain about the potential of a bookie killing JT, my gut instinct says they’re putting a narrowed eye on Beck because of his close relationship with his partner.

A kernel of fear forms in the center of my chest and I imagine the worst.

Beck going down for my sins.

I don’t know this attorney, but he seems more than capable. My buddy Robert Colling, who is a domestic attorney, recommended this guy, Doug Shriver, to represent me in dealing with the police. I’d called Robert not long after the cops showed up at my condo on the night JT died and essentially told him the basics that he needed to know.

That being JT was dead under suspicious circumstances and the cops wanted to talk to me further.

Robert called Doug, and Doug called me.

We spoke for fifteen minutes and he advised me it would be best if we not only cooperated in the investigation but were proactive in setting up the meeting with the detectives as they requested. And so this is where I am now, waiting in a large conference room at the Sausalito PD that isn’t what I expected from watching a few episodes of Law & Order. The room’s brightly lit with large windows letting in sunshine. The opposite interior wall is solid, clear glass with vertical blinds that are open so we can see the hallway that’s lined with individual offices with detectives’ names on brass plates beside each door. The room almost has a boardroom feel to it, as the conference table is oval shaped and done in cherry wood with eight chairs around it covered in burgundy leather.

Doug and I had met an hour before this meeting at a nearby coffeehouse, along with Sela, who’s back there waiting for us. He’s an interesting-looking fellow, not one I would immediately associate with a big-time criminal defense attorney. He’s probably about sixty with curly hair worn short and completely grayed. He can’t be any taller than five five and wears a nondescript navy suit with a smart yellow bow tie. Horn-rims complete the look, which is more retired professor than courtroom shark.

Even though Robert recommended Doug, I’d done research, and the guy had some seriously big cases under his belt and was known for representing high-profile celebrities who got into trouble. He assured me that he wasn’t going to let me answer anything that could be construed as incriminating, but that we wanted to be as open as we could so they would be assured we had nothing to hide.

I struggled not to laugh when he said that. I guess poor Doug looks at all potential clients as innocent.

The conference room door opens and Detective Denning walks in, carrying a cardboard tray with three large lidded cups. She kicks the door closed behind her and gives a quick nod to me and Doug as she rounds the opposite side of the table from us and sits down. Pushing the tray toward us, she says, “Coffee if you want some.”

Doug grabs a cup but I don’t. It might be paranoid, but I’m not about to leave evidence behind. “Thanks but no,” I say politely. “I’ve already had my one allotted cup for the day.”

“Would you like some water?” she asks.

“I’m good.”

“All right then,” she says leaning back in her chair, also ignoring the coffee. “My partner is handling some other things in the investigation so it’s just us today. And this is just sort of an informal get-together so we can get more information about this theory that Mr. Townsend was killed for a gambling debt.”

I nod with an understanding smile but she’s not fooling me. Informal get-together my ass. I didn’t miss the mounted camera in the corner with the red light that popped on as soon as Detective Denning sat down at the table. She doesn’t have a notepad or computer with her, and I’m sure she wants this to appear as a friendly little meeting so I’ll open up.

“I’m sure you’ve noticed the camera,” she says, jerking a thumb over her shoulder at it.

Yup. Noticed that.

“We’re recording this, and for the record, can you state your name?”

“Beckett North,” I reply.

“And you’re represented by attorney Doug Shriver, who is in attendance with us today, correct?”


“Mr. North, I’d like to know more about this gambling debt you say that Mr. Townsend owed to someone,” she says almost lazily, and I get the distinct impression she really doesn’t care about it.

So I tell her everything I know, leaving out, of course, the way in which I orchestrated VanZant to take the fall. I tell her about JT calling me to pick him up at the hospital, and how he told me he was in deep with a Vegas bookie. That he’d lost two million and doubled down on the VanZant fight, who we know as a matter of public record got his ass handed to him. I told her JT seemed panicked and how he begged me for the money, and yes, I even admitted to her that I didn’t agree to give it to him at first. I didn’t particularly like admitting this, but I knew I had to.

“Did there come a point when you agreed to bail him out?” she asks.

I nod. “I told him I’d give him the money plus an extra million, and he wouldn’t have to repay me, and in return I wanted him to sign over ownership of our business.”

She doesn’t seem surprised by this at all, and that makes me nervous.

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