Sugar Free Page 29

At least we hope that doesn’t occur.

“Did you read the paper today?” Caroline asks me.

I nod glumly. News of JT’s death has been all over, even hitting national news, given the controversial nature of The Sugar Bowl. So not only were the entertainment media all over this, but mainstream news was watching it carefully. With the murder of a high-profile businessman, reporters everywhere were waiting to pounce once a break in the investigation occurred.

“I can’t stand to see the speculation about Beck,” I tell her. While it hasn’t been prolific, attention has been called to the fact that Beck was asked to give a formal statement to the police. In the news world, they practically translate that into a conviction, and I’m seeing more and more stuff about Beck popping up. While we tried really hard to ignore it yesterday, I couldn’t help but surf the Net, devouring any news I could find to see what the public opinion was, but equally hating myself for doing it.

Beck kept a lackadaisical attitude about it, but still…I know it has to be weighing on him a bit.

“Listen,” Caroline says in a tone that indicates she’s getting ready to lay some serious wisdom on me. “Beck’s been in the public eye his entire professional life. He’s got the backbone for it. A little mention or speculation isn’t going to hurt him, and if anything, it’s probably good for The Sugar Bowl. Sort of like free marketing.”

I snort. “Way to make lemonade out of lemons.”

“I’m just saying, you’ve got to stop worrying about him so much.”

“I can’t help it,” I say softly, my fingers idly playing with the hem of my black skirt. I paired it with a gray sweater and finished off my funeral attire with a black scarf around my neck to hide the bruises. “I love him too much not to.”

Caroline sighs and her hand reaches over to take mine. “I’m so glad Beck found you.”

“Even after the shit I brought into his life?”

“Shit and all,” she affirms.

Caroline circles the block the Millennium sits on, intent to drop me off at the front door. But as we arrive, we see several reporters camped outside, as well as two marked police cars and an unmarked one.

“Fuck,” she hisses.

“You don’t think they’re here for—”

“Let’s go park in the garage,” she says. “I’m going up with you.”

Moments later, Caroline pulls into one of Beck’s reserved spaces and we’re riding the elevator up to the condo. The minute we step out, my heart drops with a resounding thud. The door to the condo is wide open and I can hear sounds from inside. Voices…a camera snapping…the sound of drawers being opened.

Not once do I believe we’ve been broken into.

I hurry to the door, Caroline hot on my heels, and as soon as I enter, I rear backward at the amount of people inside my home. Uniformed cops, plainclothes cops, and technicians wearing blue windbreakers with the words Bureau of Forensic Sciences on the back. They’re everywhere…taking pictures, searching cupboards, flipping couch cushions, placing labeled bags of evidence into large plastic tubs with lids.

“Jesus Christ,” Caroline whispers fearfully.

“Ahhhh…Miss Halstead I presume,” I hear from my left, and see a tall, blond woman in her early forties walking down my hallway toward me. I peg her as an attorney right away, given the charcoal-gray skirt with matching jacket, sedate white silk blouse, and sensibly heeled shoes. She has a badge clipped to her jacket pocket.

She strides up to me, those long legs eating the distance quickly, and I want to walk backward away from her because she has bearer of bad news written all over her smug face.

“I’m Assistant District Attorney Suzette Hammond,” she says briskly, and doesn’t offer a handshake, but nor do I expect one. We are not friends or even business acquaintances. We’re hunter and hunted. “We’re here executing a search warrant. Detective Denning is in your room and she has a copy for you.”

“You can just come in here without invitation?” Caroline asks with irritation.

“That is the purpose of a search warrant,” the ADA answers dryly. “You see, criminals don’t just go around inviting the police into their homes to search for evidence.”

“We’re not criminals,” I tell her. “You won’t find anything.”

“Disposed of all the evidence, have you?” she asks, leaning toward me with a smile.

I have no idea if she’s joking with me or not, but I’m saved from the expectation of answering that question when she adds, “Doesn’t matter if you did or didn’t. I’ve got enough regardless of what we find here.”

“Enough what?” I ask.

The bitch holds her index finger up and wags it at me with a stern look. “Uh-uh, Miss Halstead. Not about to give away all my secrets.”

The room spins a bit on me at the implication of that statement and Caroline’s hand comes to my elbow for support.

“And you are?” Hammond asks Caroline.

“Caroline North,” she answers with her chin up. “Beck’s sister.”

“Pleasure,” the attorney responds, and then turns back to me. “Now, since this is your home, you can be in here while we conduct our investigation, but I’ll need you to stay out of our way. Park yourself at the dining room table and we should be done in a few hours.”

“A few hours?” I whisper with stunned disbelief. It already looks like they’ve been here for hours with a wrecking ball.

“We want to be thorough,” she says with a playful grin, and it pisses me off this woman is enjoying tearing people’s lives up this much. I believe I might actually hate her.

“What the fuck is going on?” I hear from behind me and spin around to see Beck standing in the doorway. His gaze sweeps the open interior of the condo, finally landing on me with carefully veiled agitation.

The assistant district attorney says, “Ahhh…Beck North. I recognize you from the news coverage.”

“And you are?” he asks.

She doesn’t respond but instead says, “I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.”

We watch as she spins on her sensible shoe and heads back down the hallway to our bedroom. Beck steps in immediately and whispers, “What’s going on?”

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