Sugar Free Page 24

“Mr. Townsend was your half brother, correct?”

Fuck. Detective Denning has been very busy, it appears.

“That’s correct.”

“Wasn’t common knowledge, was it?” she asks with an almost lecherous smile.

I shake my head. “Just me, my father, and JT’s mother.”

“Well, Mr. Townsend knew, didn’t he?”

I hope my look of surprise seems genuine. “Now that I did not know.”

Well, didn’t know that until yesterday when my girlfriend told me that JT told her that, but whatever. Denning absolutely doesn’t know that.

“Really?” she asks skeptically.

“Really,” I say firmly. “I only knew because I overheard a conversation between my dad and JT’s mom when I was young. I talked to my dad about it maybe twice since, but it was a very hush-hush secret. My dad even told me specifically that JT didn’t know.”

Suck it, Dad. You’re going to have to fend for yourself on this one when they come knocking on your door to ask you about this.

“That’s not what your father told us,” she says with an almost feral grin at me.

Goddamn that motherfucker.

“Then he lied to me,” I grit out.

“In fact, he told us that his will left half to you and half to JT if your mother predeceased you both,” she seems to relish in telling me.

Again, I try to look surprised, because I sort of figured that was true, based on JT’s offer to rescind rights to my dad’s fortune just before he tried to kill Sela and she, in turn, killed him. “I’m sure your investigation into that has been thorough, Detective Denning, but again…I had no knowledge of that, and frankly, I don’t give a shit. I have no need of my father’s money.”

Her eyebrows raise slightly and that might even be a pinch of respect I see, but then she cuts my legs out from under me again. “Did you know that your sister was explicitly cut out of your father’s will?”

“I didn’t,” I say guardedly.

“Why do you suppose that is?” she asks with her head tilted to the side.

“I suppose it’s none of your goddamned business,” I say as I lean forward in my chair, Detective Denning finally having succeeded in getting under my skin. “Caroline doesn’t have a damn thing to do with anything.”

“All right,” Doug says with a hand to my shoulder. “I think Mr. North has been more than patient and forthcoming with you, Detective. Wrap it up.”

“Mr. North…where were you on January fourth between the hours of noon and five P.M.?”

Knew this was coming too.

“I had lunch at Michael Mina with a colleague, ran to the market after, and then went back to my condo,” I tell her.

“And who did you have lunch with?” she asks.

“Dennis Flaherty. He runs a security and investigations firm.”

“And what was the purpose of that meeting?” she pushes.

“I’m afraid that’s confidential because of patent issues,” I tell her smoothly. “But it had to do with security work for The Sugar Bowl.”

She nods in acceptance of that, but I know she’ll check it out. She’s too thorough not to, and I’m glad Dennis is out of the country for a while, and equally glad I did not call him, because I’m sure my phone records had been checked too.

“Anyone that can vouch for your time while at the condo?” I ask.

And I tell her my second bald-faced lie. “My girlfriend, Sela.”

“Anyone not as…biased?” she asks with a smirk.

“Oh, I don’t know…she’s my girlfriend. She can be pissed off at me for any reason, especially when she’s PMS’ing.”

Hello snarky, smartass Beck North.

Denning stares at me a moment and the smirk never slides off. Finally, she turns her eyes to Doug and stands. “That’s all I have. For now. I’ll be in touch if I need anything further.”

Doug and I don’t say a word but watch her round the conference room table and head for the door. When she places her hand on the knob, she pauses and turns to look at me. “Did you know that just this past November, an appeals court struck down a prior ruling that the death penalty was unconstitutional in California?”

“I remember seeing that in the news,” I manage to say, even though my stomach is threatening to rebel against me the minute she said death penalty. “What’s the point?”

“It’s just that capital murder charges are called for if the murder happened for financial gain,” she says lightly.

Fucking bitch.

“Then I expect when you find the bookie that killed JT, you’ll be filing those charges, right?” I can’t help but ask.

She doesn’t respond to me but nods her head slightly. “Have a good day, gentlemen.”

I flip through the textbook I had picked up this morning at the university bookstore for my class entitled Perception and Sensation, which is scheduled to start day after tomorrow.

I’ve got nothing but time to kill while I wait for Beck while he gets interviewed at the police station and I sip on my second cup of tea. Beck and I have been busy today. We left this morning for his office, where he gathered everyone in the largest conference room they had. People were standing shoulder to shoulder, three to four deep in the area around the table, as they all listened to Beck talk with heartfelt grief over the passing of JT. A few cried, most had stoic looks on their faces. Karla wasn’t there and I assume she was too consumed with grief to come in today.

In fact, Beck had told everyone that he was closing the offices down except for nominal tech support until next Monday, and then I waited around while many of the employees came up to Beck to express their condolences. Within an hour of arriving, we were out the door and headed to the bookstore so I could get my materials for spring semester. We then had a quick lunch and headed to Sausalito, where we met with Beck’s attorney about an hour prior to his scheduled “interview.”

But let’s be honest…it’s an interrogation.

And the minute they both walked out of the coffeehouse and left me behind at approximately 1:50 P.M., I became a mess worrying about what was happening.

By two P.M., I didn’t wonder anymore. The coffeehouse door opened, which caused a jingling from the bells attached to the door, and I saw Detective DeLatemer walk in. His eyes came directly to me and I knew without a doubt that this was a planned visit on his part. The detectives were splitting Beck and me up, and hitting me by surprise while Beck was sequestered in a planned meeting.

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