Sugar Free Page 42

“So you went to his house and stabbed him instead?” she asks incredulously.

I shake my head. “No, I met Beck North instead, and I eventually told him the truth about JT. He convinced me to give up my murderous plot and to go to the police. We had just decided to do that right before Mr. Townsend was beaten up.”

“You know if it’s true, that Mr. Townsend raped you, that adds additional motive for Mr. North,” she points out.

“It does, but Beck never once considered it. In fact, I actually asked him if he’d help me do it and he unequivocally rejected the idea. He’s the one who talked me out of giving up that quest. He knew it wasn’t the right thing to do.”

“All right,” she says skeptically. “So then why did you kill him?”

“He called me the day it happened. I had just gotten out of school and he left me a voice mail. I called him back and he said he had an idea he wanted to run by me. He asked me to come to his house to go over it.”

“And you want me to believe you were stupid enough to go to the house of a man who raped you?” she asks skeptically.

“You’ve been right about one thing in this investigation…Beck wanted JT out of the company. We were very much relying on him taking Beck’s offer of five million in exchange for ownership of The Sugar Bowl, and JT could get out of his gambling debt. We wanted him out of the business before I went to the police so it made the transition smoother. I went to JT’s house because I was hoping I could help him to see reason that this was a good deal. I wanted him to take that deal, give The Sugar Bowl to Beck, who is a good and decent man, and then I wanted to go to the police and put JT in jail.”

“Tell me what happened when you got to his house,” she prods me, and by the fact she’s not questioning my story up to this point, I have to take that to mean she believes me to some extent.

I take a deep breath, but before I can answer, there’s a knock on the conference room door. The same cop who was at reception pokes his head in. “Detective…Beck North is in the lobby, demanding to see Miss Halstead.”

Detective Denning looks at me and raises her eyebrows. “Do you want to take a break to talk to him?”

I shake my head. “No. He’s here to try to talk me out of it.”

Denning nods and turns back to the cop. “Tell Mr. North that Miss Halstead doesn’t want to see him.”

The officer nods, backs out, and closes the door. Denning refocuses on me. “We were talking about what happened at JT’s house.”

Another deep breath. “He invited me in and we went into the den. He started—”

“Wait a minute,” Denning interrupts. “He hadn’t recognized you the few times you’d been around each other.”

I give a dry laugh. “I hadn’t thought so, but apparently he had. He told me that he knew Beck was his brother and he wanted Beck to let him stay in The Sugar Bowl and he’d in turn renounce his rights to the North estate.”

“What did you say?”

“That it wouldn’t change Beck’s mind,” I tell her.

“Then what?”

“He got angry…called me a cunt…He came at me, so I reached into my purse and pulled out my gun,” I tell her candidly.

She blinks in surprise. “You have a gun?”

“It was my mother’s,” I tell her. “It’s not registered to me. It’s in my car and you can have it.”

She blinks again in surprise, shakes her head as if she can’t believe she’s hearing this. “Then what happened?”

“JT was crazed with anger. Didn’t care that I was pointing a gun at him. Walked right up to me until the gun was pushing against the center of his chest. He actually dared me to shoot him, and I swear to God, Detective Denning, no matter how much I hated him, I couldn’t pull the trigger.”

She nods in acceptance of that because she knows JT was in fact not killed with a gun.

“He knocked the gun out of my hand and then forced me back onto his desk. He was choking me with his cast on his broken arm. That’s when he admitted that he knew who I was.” I pause a moment and take a small breath, swallowing hard against the rotten memories. “Said I was one of the best fucks he’d ever had and would never forget someone like me.”

Denning doesn’t say anything, but she’s now leaning over the table, enthralled with my story.

“Anyway…he was choking me,” I tell her, and pull down the edge of my turtleneck so she can see the bruises that remain on my neck over a week after he choked me, although they’re mostly faded. “I couldn’t breathe…I was dying. I somehow got ahold of the letter opener and I swung at him. It went into his neck and I pulled it out. Then I swung again, I think out of reflex…I’m not sure. I was able to push him off me and he fell to the floor. I watched him die. It didn’t take long.”

“Why didn’t you call the police?” Denning asks. “If what you say is true, it would have been self-defense.”

“Would you have believed me, given the fact I went to my rapist’s house with a gun and then stabbed him in the neck?”

“There’s no telling now, is there?” she counters. “There’s no evidence left. Blood spray on your clothes, the weapon…the positioning of where the gun landed. None of that for us to see now.”

“I know,” I whisper, looking down at my hands.

“What did you do with the letter opener and your clothes?” she asks.

And this is where I determine the interview is over. I am never telling her what happened to those items. “I’m invoking my right to remain silent.”

“What?” she asks in surprise.

“I’ve told you what you need to know. I’ve got my voice mail proving he contacted me and the bruises on my neck. If that won’t amount to self-defense along with my story, I’ll let the chips fall where they may.”

“Did Beck North dispose of that evidence for you?”

I say nothing but stare at her with stony resolve.

“Did Mr. Townsend ever admit to you that he raped Caroline North?”

Not answering that one either.

“Did Mr. North help you cover up your crime?”


“Did you tell Mr. North what you did?”

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