Home > Say You're Sorry (Romantic Suspense #22)(11)

Say You're Sorry (Romantic Suspense #22)(11)
Karen Rose

Gideon stowed his question about the veterans’ group for another time. “I’m running that 5K.”

She arched a brow. “So am I. I bet I beat your time.”

He chuckled. “You’re on.” Then he sobered. “Someone at all of these places has your cell phone number?”

“Probably several someones, most of whom wouldn’t think twice about passing it on, especially if the person asking for it claimed to need me to do something for the community.”

That wasn’t going to help at all. He looked at Rafe with a frown. “Detective Sokolov, will you be able to trace the e-mails and phone messages?”

Rafe nodded. “We’ll certainly try.”

Daisy pushed her phone across the table to Rafe. “Can I get it back later? Just to copy my contacts list and calendar?”

“You don’t use the cloud?” Erin asked.

Daisy snorted, but it was a soft sound. “No. There’s enough of my father’s paranoia left in me to nix that idea. Never store your information anywhere you don’t have total control of. I have no idea who controls the cloud.”

“Nobody does,” Erin murmured, but her lips twitched a little, making Daisy’s do the same. “What about Tad? Mr. TNT himself?”

Daisy blinked. “Well, Tad isn’t . . . mean. Exactly. He never lets me forget that I got my job because I know the boss. Which isn’t one hundred percent true, because I do have a degree in journalism. He never does it on the air, but . . . yeah. I’d say he’s just determined I know my place. Which is behind him, wherever he happens to be.”

A degree in journalism? That explained the gleam of curiosity. Gideon suspected she’d sunk her teeth into finding out more about the locket and was biding her time.

“Has he ever expressed an interest in you that you considered sexually harassing?” Erin asked.

Daisy’s cheeks flushed once more. “Not really. It’s usually just a compliment on my clothes or my hair. He makes it sound friendly, so I didn’t think anything about it. A few times he’s asked if I was free for lunch. I keep telling him no. I don’t particularly like him, to be honest. But he’s never been blatantly inappropriate or even hinted at the kind of violence I saw tonight.”

Erin nodded like this satisfied her, but Gideon wasn’t happy with that at all. Tad sounded like a condescending jackass who needed to be taken down a few notches.

“What about your neighborhood?” Erin asked. “Any trouble?”

Daisy looked amused at the question. “Only when Sasha drinks too much and comes home singing at the top of her lungs. I rent from Rafe,” she explained.

Gideon knew that. Rafe had bought out his siblings’ share in the Midtown Victorian they’d all inherited from one of their grandparents. He’d gone on to completely renovate it, creating three apartments. Rafe lived on the third floor and rented the second to his sister Sasha. Daisy would be renting the first-floor studio.

Gideon knew her studio apartment well. He’d lived there when he’d first come back to Sacramento after years of assignments in other cities, just until he could get himself settled. He’d recently bought his own home near the Bureau’s field office. It needed renovation, so he’d been taking his time about moving, but then Rafe told him that his father’s old friend’s daughter needed the space.

“What about your neighbors?” Gideon pressed. “Has Brutus made any enemies?”

Her brows lifted. “Brutus? No. She’s sweet and hardly ever barks, unless I’m being attacked by a masked man in an alley.”

Sarcasm then. He was oddly impressed. “Who knew you’d be at AA tonight?”

The smile on her face abruptly disappeared. “My friend Trish. My sponsor, Rosemary Purcell. Everyone in my AA group, I guess. I don’t usually leave from the station, but I did tonight because I had to work late. He could have followed me, I suppose.”

“Why were you working late tonight?” Erin asked.

“I needed to finalize all the other sponsors of the 5K. I can give you a list of the calls I made. I didn’t use my cell phone. I made all the calls from the landline at the station manager’s office. Anyone I called would have known I was there. The station’s caller ID would have flashed on their phones. I made thirteen calls. I remember thinking it was either very lucky or unlucky. I guess it was the second one.”

“I’d like to listen to the voice mails you mentioned,” Erin said. “And I’d like to know why you kept them.”

Daisy made a face. “I was handling Tad, but if that changed, I guess I wanted to show what he was asking me to ignore.”

Rafe slid her phone back to her. “Unlock it, please.”

She tapped in her passcode. “It’s 071490. If you need to unlock it again. Don’t tell my father I gave you the code. He’d have a fit.”

“Why?” Gideon asked.

“Because he’d invoke my constitutional right against search and seizure and yada yada.” She waved her hand. “He’s also a defense attorney.”

A paranoid, paramilitary defense attorney. That was interesting. But not what Gideon was after. “No. Why is that number your passcode? It seems like a date.”

She turned to look at him, her extreme weariness suddenly evident. “That was my sister Carrie’s birthday,” she said very quietly.

Was. He could only nod. “Thank you.”

Her throat worked as she swallowed. She handed her phone to Rafe. “What are you going to do with it?”

“Right now, I’m going to play the voice mails,” Rafe told her. “I want to know if any of the callers’ voices are the same as the one you heard tonight.”

She closed her eyes for the briefest of moments and Gideon had the feeling that the messages would be much more serious than she’d led them to believe. “Okay,” she whispered, then opened her phone app to messages and hit PLAY.

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 11:30 P.M.

“Copacabana” had segued into “Somewhere in the Night” when his phone buzzed in his pocket once again. Like Pavlov’s dog he responded, checking the text. He’d known it would be Sydney, but seeing her name on his screen had him swallowing hard.

You were quite rude tonight, Sonny. I expect an apology or I might not use my influence to allow you to keep your job.

He swallowed hard again. Did she have the influence? Could she keep him employed? He couldn’t lose his job. He’d lose his home.

He’d lose his basement.

Her next text hit him far harder. I’d hate for you to lose your home, Sonny. Of course, you’re always welcome to move home with me.

No. No, no, no. His gut turned to ice. I can’t go back. I won’t go back.

His fingers trembled as they typed on the screen’s tiny keyboard. I’m sorry, Sydney.

That’s better. My sweet boy. You’ll always be my sweet boy. Sweet dreams.

He lurched to his feet, pacing the length of his bedroom. That he could actually get fired after years of kowtowing to that prick’s every demand, after being told that the company would be his? Selling it out from under him was a huge blow, professionally and personally. He’d been betrayed, plain and simple.

Not by Sydney this time. She was merely using the situation to her own benefit. This was all on the old man.

And on me.

Because I trusted him. Again. I believed him. Again.

My mistake. Again.

Because he lied to me. Again.

He would not lose his job. He would not lose his house. He would not lose his basement. He especially would not move home with Sydney. Not ever again.

New rage thundered through him, because he didn’t have anyone in his basement.

And he would have had someone in his basement if the blonde hadn’t surprised him. If her fucking dog hadn’t distracted him.

Sitting on the edge of his bed, he hung his head, his hands fisted on his thighs. His brain was pingponging. He hated this. Hated not being able to think.

He tried deep breathing, but that didn’t help at all. He was never going to get any sleep and he absolutely needed to sleep.

He had to be sharp for work. His partner would notice and turn him in to the boss. Which was all he needed. He was on thin enough ice as it was. He would not give that prick a reason to fire him any sooner than it would happen anyway. It would be just like the old man to look for reasons to refuse his employees any severance.

Unless Sydney was serious and she really could influence the new owner to allow him to keep his job. But am I willing to pay her price? Hell, who was he kidding? He’d pay Sydney’s price regardless. He always did. Always asked How high? when she demanded he jump.

Because I’m a coward. Which made him so damn angry. Sydney would take advantage of his situation, even though it was unlikely she could do anything to help him, despite her claims. His hands twitched, a sudden craving rising within him like a rogue wave. He could feel his hands around her skinny throat. A skinny throat, he corrected himself. Never Sydney’s, but by the time his guests were dead, at least he wasn’t as angry anymore. I should have had a guest in my basement. I should have had a way to feel better.

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