Her Last Word

Page 30


“So why are you telling me now?”
She shrugged. “I found out he’s fucking his secretary. Loyalty is a two-way street.”
Cold-case experts will admit spurned lovers are an excellent source for fresh case details. I don’t speak, letting the silence prod her to say more.
“Want to know a secret?” Erika says.
“I love secrets.”
She leaned in. “Brad gave me the Ecstasy the night Gina was taken. He told me it would loosen us all up.”
Hearing her speak so easily about the drugs is jarring, but I stay focused. “You ever talk about Gina’s case with Brad after she went missing?”
“I tried. He never wanted to talk about Gina.”
“Why not?” I ask.
“I don’t know.”
She’d said Brad hadn’t been involved in Gina’s case, but something in me tells me to press again. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I think. “I get the feeling that Brad had something to do with Gina’s disappearance?”
She is silent, as if she realizes she might have said too much. “No, no, of course not,” she adds quickly.
“You sound very sure.”
“I am.”
“When’s the last time he saw Randy Hayward?”
She sits straighter. “He called from prison. Said he was about to get out and needed money. Brad, of course, obliged. They’ve been friends since kindergarten.”
“The cops questioned Randy soon after Gina went missing. Do you think he knew something?”
“The cops dropped the charges because they couldn’t prove anything.”
“That’s not what I asked. Do you think he knew more than he was saying?”
“I really don’t know.”
“Did Derek and Brad help him cover up something?”
Instead of answering she checks her watch. “God, look at the time. I have to go.”
Saturday, March 17, 2018; 1:40 p.m.
Adler and Quinn showed their badges at the front desk of the Richmond city jail and made their way to a set of opening double doors as the guard on the other side saw them approach. They surrendered their phones and weapons into one of the secured lockers and waited for the next set of doors to open. Minutes later both were sitting in an interview room.
Hayward was brought in, and the instant he saw them he smiled. Cuffs rattled as he straddled the chair and sat. Adler introduced Quinn and himself.
“I’ve communicated with Trey Ricker in the Commonwealth Attorney’s office. Your attorney has contacted him, and they’re working on a deal as we speak. If you need confirmation, call Derek Blackstone,” Adler said. “He’ll give you the details. Once the deal is done we go directly to Gina.”
Hayward’s grin was sly. “I know where she is,” Hayward said. “Sometimes I get my lefts and rights mixed up. But once I see where I’m going, I’ll figure it out. It’s only been a few months since I saw her.”
Both said nothing.
“I visit whenever I can,” Hayward said.
“Can you give me a general idea of the location?” Quinn asked.
“You mean like a teaser in a movie trailer?” Hayward asked.
“Yeah, a teaser,” she said softly.
Hayward didn’t speak right away, then said, “She’s at least twenty miles from where she was taken.”
A twenty-mile radius left a lot of territory.
“What do you remember about the night she was abducted?”
“Gina was wearing a green dress, and Kaitlin was wearing a tight, sexy white top.”
Adler had been a cop long enough not to react to guys like Hayward, but there were some times when it took everything in him not to show his hand. “What else do you remember?”
“Kaitlin was scared, but she fought like a wildcat. Tried to save her precious cousin, but she didn’t.”
For a moment neither Adler nor Quinn spoke.
“Is Gina dead?” Adler asked.
Hayward wagged his finger. “I can’t be telling you any more. Not until my buddy, Mr. Blackstone, seals the deal.”
“We’ll be back,” Adler said.
“I’m counting on it. And bring Kaitlin, too,” Hayward said.
“She’s not a part of this,” Adler snapped.
“She is now. If not for her, I’d never have gotten the idea to play my Gina card. No Kaitlin, no talk.”
Adler now wanted Gina Mason found almost as much as Kaitlin. “I’ll talk to Ricker and Kaitlin. It’s not up to me.”
“Give it the old college try, Detective. Hate for Gina to spend eternity lost to the world.”
Outside, Adler removed his phone. He wasn’t sure how Ricker would react to Hayward’s newest condition.
“This sucks,” Quinn said.
“I know.”
“You think Ricker will allow Kaitlin to attend? He’s a hard-ass.”
“He will, if I press it.”
Twenty minutes later, while Quinn followed up on a warrant, Adler pushed through the front doors of police headquarters and made his way to the captain’s office. He knocked.
Adler found his new captain, Tobias Novak, standing behind his desk. He sported a clean-cut, Joe Friday kind of look, though the suit and strands of white hair didn’t jibe with a much younger face. Standing beside the desk was Trey Ricker.
Ricker’s dark tailored suit accentuated his tall, muscled frame kept trim by running. Light-blond hair was brushed off an angled face. “Adler. You’re looking better than the last time I saw you.”
“Thanks, Trey.”
Adler and Ricker had grown up in the shadow of the Country Club of Virginia. They both came from old money, and both had attended Saint Mathew’s from K through twelve as well as the University of Virginia undergrad and law schools. Adler’s plan had always been to go into the law. And he had. He just took a different route.
Ricker’s grip was strong, and his gaze didn’t skirt away. “Hayward’s attorney called me a few minutes ago and informed me he wants Kaitlin Roe there.”
“What do you think?”
Ricker cracked the knuckle of his thumb. “I hate dealing with this piece of shit, but if it will seal the deal, fine.”
Novak’s eyes narrowed. “Why’s an attorney like Blackstone bothering with Hayward?”
“They grew up together,” Adler said.
Ricker nodded. “Both went to Saint Mathew’s a few years behind Adler and me.” Looking at Adler, he asked, “You know the school is having their big fund-raiser this afternoon?”
“I already sent my check in,” Adler said.
“A little bird told me Blackstone is going to be there,” Ricker said.
“Interesting. Sounds like an opportunity for me to get better acquainted.”
“Small, small world,” Ricker said.
Novak cleared his throat as he glanced at a file on his desk. “Adler, do you really think there is a connection between the Ralston murder and the Mason missing person’s case?”
He still had no evidence other than the two victims ran in the same circles. Soon, he’d have to come up with more than a gut feeling. “I do.”
“What do we know about Kaitlin Roe?” Novak asked.
“Cops interviewed her multiple times. She was no Girl Scout in high school, a fact she readily admits. She moved back to Dallas, finished school, and took a job in the corporate world.”