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“I’m scared, Beck,” Caroline says in a quavering voice, and I immediately feel crushing guilt that she’s been dragged into this.

“It’ll be okay,” I reassure her, pulling her into me for a tight hug. She clings to me desperately and I press my lips to the top of her head. “I promise it will be okay.”

But right now, I feel an impending doom over us all.

The letter opener and bloody clothes can wait. Potential prints and DNA cannot.

I went down to Sela’s car, using the extra key fob I kept secured with my Audi’s key to gain entrance. She wasn’t stupid…having apparently grabbed paper towels from JT’s house to wrap the murder weapon in. This told me she had presence of mind after it was all said and done. It also told me she ventured into other parts of the house that would have to be cleaned up.

But it was late Monday afternoon, heading into early evening, and to my knowledge, JT wouldn’t have any visitors. I should be able to slip in, wipe everything down as best I could, and leave without anyone being the wiser.

I briefly thought of disposing of the body, and while I haven’t completely ruled it out, I’m not sure that’s a good use of my time. More important, getting rid of bloody clothes and a small letter opener won’t be hard. Disposing of a full-grown male body is another matter, and it only increases my chances of getting caught. I need a quick in and out, and hope to God I’m able to leave nothing but a cold body with no evidence that will point Sela’s way.

I drive to Sausalito, my brain on overdrive trying to mentally walk through everything I’ll need to do to clean his place up. Before I left, I had Sela go over everything in a bit more detail with me as she was drying off from the shower. Caroline was in the laundry room, in search of Clorox that I was pretty sure I had.

According to Sela, who seemed more in control of her emotions but spoke in a detached sort of way, everything happened in the den. I was sure I had her exact path and every potential item she could have touched. She confirmed she also went into the kitchen and grabbed paper towels to wrap the letter opener in so she wouldn’t get any blood in her car, as well as snagged a gray hoodie sweatshirt of JT’s from the coatrack in the foyer. It wouldn’t take me long to wipe shit down, but I was not looking forward to the bloody scene.

Sela said there was a lot of blood.

I can’t imagine how much is left behind, because it seemed she had all of it on her body.

The thought makes me shudder, but I’m resolved.

I can do this to protect Sela, and that’s all that matters.

In fact, maybe wiping down the place isn’t going to be good enough. Maybe I do need to suck it up and package JT’s body in one of his expensive silk woven rugs, lug it to my trunk, drive him deep into Mount Tamalpais State Park, and leave him for the animals to pick apart.

I could do that.

For Sela.

The miles melt away under my heavy thoughts and before I know it, I’m crawling down JT’s street. It’s fairly dark and only illuminated by high-end landscape lighting of the houses that sit secluded by privacy plantings. The lots aren’t big, but the neighborhood is well established and the bushes and other plants give each home a protected, enclosed feeling.

This bodes well for me.

It should help me get in and out without being seen.

The road takes a meandering turn east, where it starts running parallel to Richardson Bay, and as I come out of the curve, I immediately see the pulsing flare of blue lights. Before I can even see JT’s house in the distance, I know those are the lights of police cars.

I know they’re at his house because they’ve been alerted to a murder that’s occurred.

It means I’m too late.

I slow down as I observe three police cruisers sitting in front of JT’s house about three hundred yards in the distance. A few neighbors stand out in the street, their bodies nothing more than black shadows against the lights of the Sausalito Police Department.

“Fuck,” I mutter as I turn right into the nearest driveway, my heart thundering madly in my chest with newfound anxiety.

JT’s been found and now the shit’s going to hit the fan. I’ve officially lost all control over the situation.

I glance down to the console clock and I figure I’ll be getting a phone call before too long. Perhaps even a visit from the police.

Of course, they’ll contact his parents first, but I’ll be next as a close family friend and business partner. It will probably be a visit. They’re going to come see me because I’m one of the people who knows him the best, and I’m also going to be an automatic person of interest because I stand to get an entire multimillion-dollar company free and clear with his death.

I slam the Audi in reverse, and with my pulse pounding so hard I’m afraid I’ll stroke out, I force myself to calmly ease off the brakes and coast slowly out of the driveway. I turn back and head the same way I came in, my eyes flicking constantly to my rearview mirror to see if anyone notices me turning away.

Will they recognize my car?

I’m too far away for anyone to see my license plate, but probably not too far to identify the car’s color, make, and model. If just one cop happens to see me, notes my maneuver, and thinks it’s suspicious in any way, they’ll match the car up to me.

Then I’m fucked…because there’s no sane reason I should be out for a drive on my partner’s street, see police cars, and turn around. An innocent partner would speed up to the scene of the crime and demand to know what’s going on.

But I don’t do that. I continue to drive away, terrified a cruiser will start after me, but ultimately making it away safe and hopefully without notice.

I head back to The Millennium, my mind now racing with all the things I need to do to get ready to face the shitstorm that’s coming.

“I made you some tea,” Caroline says from the doorway of my bedroom. I sit up in the bed, brace my back against the pillows and headboard. I’d been lying here staring at the ceiling as the sky darkened, waiting for Beck to get back. Caroline hasn’t said much to me since he left, and I watched her with a weird detachment as she cleaned out the shower and poured almost a full bottle of bleach down the drain. I think neither of us said anything because it seemed just terribly poor form to discuss disposing of murder evidence.

Caroline was washing a part of my sins away.

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