Lie or Die: A Shelby Nichols Adventure (23 page)

BOOK: Lie or Die: A Shelby Nichols Adventure
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We made it to Thrasher Development without getting pulled over, and I sighed with relief. Was it over? I still had a hard time believing how this had all turned out. Eddie was dead, but the rest of us had made it out alive, thanks to Joey ‘The Knife’ Manetto. That was some throw for an old guy.

I was a little worried about the FBI showing up. Could they trace the killing back to Uncle Joey? I probably shouldn’t have told Dimples anything, but how did I know it was going to turn out like this? I just had to make sure Uncle Joey never found out it was me who’d told them.

I got out, ready to go home, and realized my car was still in Chris’ parking garage. Would Uncle Joey let me leave now? “We’re done here, right?” I asked Uncle Joey. “I mean, no one else is trying to kidnap me, or kill us. So is it okay if I go home?”

Uncle Joey glanced at Kate. He was thinking it had been a close call, and he wasn’t sure he trusted her. “Sure, you can go. But let’s have a little chat with Kate first.” He wanted to know the truth about Kate and Eddie, and knew he’d get it if I were there.

“Okay, sure,” I agreed. Uncle Joey wasn’t taking any chances, and I couldn’t help but admire him. Especially since I didn’t trust her either. Did she have something else up her sleeve? I wouldn’t put it past her.

We rode the elevator in silence. Kate stood as far from me as she could, making sure Uncle Joey and Ricky separated us, as if that would make it harder for me to hear her thoughts. She understood what Uncle Joey meant by having this chat, and part of her was terrified. She didn’t know me all that well, but after the things she’d done to me, she worried that I’d make up something bad about her. Just for spite. And she’d end up getting killed.

I was starting to get angry. Maybe I’d wished she were dead, but not because of anything I did or said. As soon as the three of us entered Uncle Joey’s office, I rounded on her. “I’m not spiteful Kate,” I said. “Besides, I’m sure the truth is probably worse than anything I could make up. Don’t forget I saved your life back there. Eddie was planning on killing you all along. You’re lucky to be alive.”

“Well, so are you,” she shot back. “Uncle Joey’s the reason I survived, not you. You think I didn’t know he was going to kill me? Why do you think I did what I did? I’m just glad you didn’t ruin everything. But saying he was secretly in love with me was a huge mistake. He knew you were making that up. It just reinforced to him that you could read his mind. You were playing him, and his pride wouldn’t let him take it. You might as well have told us what he was really thinking!”

“I said all that because I was buying time for Ramos to take out Eddie’s men. It worked didn’t it? So don’t tell me it was a mistake!” How could she say that to me? I was angrier now than I’d ever been.

“That’s enough,” Uncle Joey said. “Sit down Kate. You too, Shelby.” He waited until we sat before he continued. “You have a lot of explaining to do Kate. But first we need to get our stories straight for the police. I have no doubt they’ll be coming to talk to us.”

A knock sounded at the door, and Ramos poked his head in. “I’m here if you need me.” He’d heard our loud voices and thought he’d better check on us.

“Good. Come in,” Uncle Joey said, wanting reinforcements just in case Kate and I came to blows. “We’re just discussing what to tell the police. I want you to fix the video feed in the office to show us coming back about a half hour earlier than we did. We can tell them that we met Kate at her place, and then came back here.” He turned to Kate. “Will that work? You still have your condo?”

“That will work,” Kate answered. “I’ve been back there a few times this week, so that’s a legitimate scenario.”

“What if they ask what we were doing there?” I asked. “What should I say?”

“If they ask, tell them we were there for business reasons,” Uncle Joey said. “That’s all you need to say.”

Kate smirked, thinking that was a stupid question. I glanced at her, ready to tell her off, but Uncle Joey did it for me. “Kate! Wipe that smirk off your face, and be nice.”

Kate jerked, surprised to have been caught for something she didn’t even say. She lowered her eyes and wondered how anyone could stand being around me, knowing I could hear every little thought. How awful. She felt sorry for...oops. She stopped, catching herself before saying my husband’s name.

That did it. Time to tell Uncle Joey the truth. “Kate got involved with Eddie and did something that made him mad, so he killed Hodges,” I began. “She made a bargain with him, which included getting back at you, and getting rid of me. But it backfired when she found out he was just using her to take control of your organization. Kind of like how she was using him. But his main goal was to find out if I could really read minds.” I glanced at Kate. “How am I doing so far?”

She lowered her head in defeat, upset with me because she would have made it sound like it was all Eddie’s fault. Now Uncle Joey knew the truth, and it made her look even worse than she wanted.

“That’s when she realized she had to make up the part about the files so you’d know she was in trouble. She sent threats to Chris about the trial to catch me reading her mind, thus proving to Eddie that I was for real. I think that about covers it.” I glanced at Uncle Joey. “Just so you know. If she stays, I’m gone.”

Uncle Joey raised his brows in surprise. I really wanted him to kill her?

“No,” I said quickly. “Not that. I just can’t work here if she’s here.” I didn’t add that he’d be a fool to let her stay, mostly because I figured he already knew that.

“Thank you, Shelby,” Uncle Joey said. “She won’t be staying. If you don’t mind, I’d like to discuss this with her in private.”

“Sure.” I jumped up, more than ready to leave.

Ramos opened the door for me and followed me out. As we walked down the hall he said, “I’d hate to be in her shoes right now.”

“Yeah, but I don’t feel sorry for her. She deserves whatever he dishes out.”

Ramos wasn’t surprised I felt that way. He didn’t like Kate much either. “Manetto will figure it out. He’s good at that. I’m just glad everyone got out of there alive.”

“Me too,” I agreed.

“When you started talking about how much Eddie loved Kate, I nearly lost it,” he chuckled. “Lucky for us, Eddie’s men were so riveted by your story that it was easy to take them out. But it was a close call for you. If Manetto hadn’t thrown his knife…let’s just say, I didn’t have a clean shot at Eddie.”

Chills ran up my back. “Good to know…I think.”

“Well…I’d better take care of that video feed,” Ramos said. He was thinking he probably shouldn’t have told me that, but it just slipped out.

“It’s okay,” I said. “I’ve been shot at before, right?”

“True,” he agreed. “But maybe you should try not to get shot at so much.” He was thinking it was okay to care about me just a little, as long as it didn’t interfere with his job.

“Yeah,” I smiled. “I’ll work on that.”

Ricky was sitting at Jackie’s desk, and hung up the phone. “You leaving?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “But I need a favor. My car is parked at my husband’s office. Can you give me a lift?”

“Sure,” he agreed.

As we neared Chris’ office, I realized that he was probably still in court, so I had Ricky drop me off at the courthouse. It seemed like days had gone by since I’d last stepped inside, rather than a few hours.

I entered the courtroom, surprised to find it crowded, and sat in the back. The judge asked the jury if they’d reached a verdict, and I realized I’d missed the deliberations and everything. Wow, they must not have deliberated long. That was a good sign.

The jury foreman handed the verdict to the judge who opened it and read, “Not guilty.” Adam Webb lowered his head, and closed his eyes as if praying. After a moment, he smiled and shook Chris’ and then David’s hands. The rest of the proceedings went quickly, and soon I was standing beside Chris, a big smile on my face.

“You’re all right.” He hugged me tight, letting his worries and fears for my safety melt away. “I was so worried.”

“Everything’s good,” I said.

“You sure you’re all right?” he asked.

“Yes. I’m fine,” I reassured him. He was wondering if Kate had survived, or if she was lying dead somewhere. “She’s fine too,” I said, not quite so happy he was thinking about her. “I’ll tell you all about it at home.” I turned to leave.

“Wait, don’t go yet,” he said. “Let me gather my things. Since you’re parked at my office, we can walk back together.”

“Okay,” I agreed.

 

 

Chapter 14

David walked with us to Chris’ office, still in protection mode until Uncle Joey told him otherwise. It was kind of annoying, as well as a relief, since I could put off telling Chris everything that happened until we got home. I knew he would not like hearing how I’d almost been killed, and the anticipation of telling him about it tied my stomach in knots. He walked me straight to my car.

“Are you going to be long?” I asked Chris.

“Just about half an hour more, I think.”

“Good.” I nodded toward David who was talking on the phone. “It looks like he’s letting Uncle Joey know the good news.”

“So what happened?” Chris asked, unable to stand the suspense. “Did anyone die?”

“Yeah, one of them was Eddie.” I answered. Chris took a sharp breath. “But it was him or me, so be glad it was him.”

Chris closed his eyes. “I was afraid you’d say that.” He let out a big sigh and pulled me into his arms. “I’m probably not going to like this story am I?”

“I think you’ll like it just fine,” I said, wanting to be positive. “As long as you keep an open mind. Besides, it all turned out right in the end. What’s not to like about that?” 

He chuckled and kissed my forehead. “That’s true. So, how many lies did you have to tell to get out of this one?”

I laughed. “A big one. In fact, it was a doozy.”

“Can’t wait to hear it.” He pulled away. “I better go, but I’ll see you soon.”

He watched me drive out of the parking lot, and I smiled, knowing he would always be there for me. Even when crazy things happened. I realized something had changed between us in the last few days.

Then it hit me. Lately, he hadn’t been annoyed or angry with me for reading his mind. It was like he’d finally accepted my ability. My smile widened. This was huge. If I didn’t have to worry about that, it wouldn’t be so hard to tell him things.

He also seemed more accepting of my work. Like he finally realized this is what I do and who I am now. For the first time since it happened, it was okay that I could read minds. A huge weight lifted from my shoulders. Having Chris on my side made all the difference, and I actually looked forward to telling him what happened.

I pulled into the driveway and hurried inside, ready to have a normal evening. I’d neglected my kids for the last couple of days and felt a pang of remorse. Maybe we could all go out to dinner to celebrate Chris’ win.

Tomorrow was Saturday, and I could catch up on all the housework I’d missed. That reminded me of the police auction and the crates of underwear. This might be the last piece of the puzzle in solving the case, and I needed to be sure I was there.

I called Novelty Creations and let Emily know about it. “Could you tell your Uncle too?” I asked. “I never did get to talk to him, and this would be a good time to meet.”

“Sure,” Emily agreed. “He’s off his regular job on Saturdays, so he should be able to come.”

“Great.” I gave her the address and time of the auction and disconnected. Tomorrow I’d know if the money was hidden in the crates and if Betty was Keith’s unknown partner like I suspected.

Chris got home, and we finally had a chance to talk. I took him out to the deck and we sat together on the cushioned swing. “It all started this morning at the courthouse,” I began. “I wasn’t there long when I heard Kate thinking about you.”

“Me? What was she thinking?” He had an idea I didn’t like it, so he really wanted to know.

I frowned. “You’re right. I didn’t like it, and I’m sure you can figure out why.” He was thinking it was probably because Kate thought he looked hot and admired his courtroom persona.

“Courtroom persona?” I raised my brows.

“Yeah. I’ll bet you were thinking the same thing, right?”

I pursed my lips. “Do you want to hear the story or not?”

He grinned, enjoying teasing me. “Of course. Go on.”

“I think she did it to catch my attention, which she did. That’s when I saw Eddie Sullivan sitting next to her. Talk about creepy.” I shivered. “Right after that, I got a text from Ramos to leave, so I did. But it was really weird, because Kate was telling me the same thing in her mind.”

Chris wrinkled his brow. “Then what made you go?”

“I trusted Ramos. So I left. I got outside, and Doug grabbed me. He had a gun and pulled me into the parking garage. Luckily, Ramos stopped him, and I ended up at Thrasher Development with him and Uncle Joey. That’s where I was when you called with Kate’s threat.”

“So where’s Doug now?” Chris asked.

“Probably at the morgue. Ramos had to shoot him.”

“Oh.” Chris took a deep breath. “Go on.” He didn’t like that I could have been killed again. Plus, now he owed Ramos for saving me, which he liked even less.

I explained about Kate’s bargain with Eddie, and how she set up the meeting with Uncle Joey.

“What? You went there? To the club?” Chris asked, surprised. “Wasn’t it a trap?”

“It all worked out, if you’d just let me finish.” I was losing my patience.

“Yeah, okay.” He tried to relax and sat back in his seat. “Go ahead.”

“It turned out that it was a trap,” I said, and Chris smirked. “We went mostly because Uncle Joey knew Kate was in trouble, and he wanted to help her.”

“What? That’s kind of hard to believe after everything she’s done.” Chris said.

“I know. But you have to remember, she’s like a daughter to him. I guess he still has a soft spot for her. Anyway, he knew the files she was threatening him with didn’t exist. I listened to Kate and found out it was true. She was desperate for Uncle Joey to save her from Eddie, and kept thinking I shouldn’t say what Eddie was thinking, because it was a trap. Eddie wanted me to tell Uncle Joey what he was thinking. Only what Eddie was thinking wasn’t exactly true, but he didn’t think I’d pick up on that. ”

“So what did you say?” Chris asked, slightly confused.

“I made up a story. I went on and on, telling them that Eddie was doing it all for Kate because he was in love with her.”

Chris let out a surprised laugh. “I bet that made him mad.”

“Yeah, that’s for sure,” I agreed. “But it gave Ramos enough time to find Eddie’s men that were hiding in the arena and take them out before they could shoot us. With them out of the picture, Eddie’s threats were empty. I let Uncle Joey know that Ramos was successful, and Uncle Joey told Eddie off. You should have seen him! He said ‘take your drugs, your guns, your men, and get the hell out of my town.’ It was awesome.”

Chris frowned, and our gazes met. “But how did you know Ramos was…wait…he knows?”

Oops. “Yeah,” I confessed, but quickly continued before he got upset. “But I didn’t tell him. He kind of figured it out. He was there a lot when Uncle Joey asked me questions, and I knew stuff that I’d only know if I could read minds. He just figured it out.” I knew I was repeating my self, but what could I say? It was the truth. “I know he won’t tell anyone. If that’s what you’re worried about.”

Chris sighed, not happy to have one more person know. “I guess it was inevitable. Just be more careful, okay? I mean…look what happened with Kate. You can’t let people know.”

“I know,” I said. “Believe me, if there’s one thing I understand, it’s that.”

“Um…good. I’m sure you do. I don’t mean to sound upset, it’s just…you know, a big deal.” He glanced at me with a quick smile to take away the sting of his words. “So what did Eddie do after Manetto told him off?”

“He tried to shoot me,” I said bluntly. “But lucky for me, Uncle Joey threw his knife and hit him square in the chest.” What a throw, I could still hardly believe it. I couldn’t help adding; “I guess they don’t call him Joey ‘The Knife’ for nothing.”

Chris sat back, amazed I’d made it out of there alive. He was thinking,
‘Joey The Knife,’
and it all made sense. “So he killed Eddie.”

“Yeah. Right after that, we had to leave in a hurry because the feds showed up.” I explained how we got out, and the story Uncle Joey wanted me to tell if the police asked me any questions. “I got a phone call from Dimples before I left this morning, and I told him I had a premonition about the club. He said he’d tell the FBI, so I’m probably the reason they showed up.”

“Better not let Manetto know that,” Chris said.

“I know,” I agreed. “Dimples also told me about his girlfriend.” I went on to explain who she was, and about the auction of underwear tomorrow. “I’m planning to go, and with any luck at all, I might solve the case.”

“That’s great,” he said. “But I can’t see how the money could be in the crates of underwear. The police would have found it. Still, this Betty person must think that’s where it is, or she wouldn’t want it. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?”

“No, but if she’s thinking about the money, at least I’ll know she’s Keith’s partner. But if the money’s not there, I don’t know how we’ll prove it. I’ll just have to see what happens tomorrow. I’d sure like to find that money though.”

“You will,” Chris said. “I mean, you can read minds, how hard can it be?”

“Damn straight,” I said, pleased he was being so supportive.

“So what happens with Kate?”

“Good question,” I said. “Uncle Joey told me she wouldn’t be staying, so he must have some place to send her. Good thing, because I would be happy if I never saw her again.”

***

The next morning, I eagerly drove to the old city hall where the auction was being held. All the auction items were available to preview between eight-thirty and nine-thirty, with the auction starting at nine-thirty. Since I hadn’t heard from Dimples, I knew the money wasn’t inside the crates. But Betty didn’t know that, and I hoped to hear her reasons for bidding on them were because she was Keith’s partner.

I pulled into the parking lot, surprised to find it nearly full. I’d never been to a police auction before, but with all the people here, it looked pretty crowded. There must be some really good deals here. Good thing I brought my money in case I found a great deal on something I needed.

Inside the hall, the items were displayed on tables at the back of the room. The other end of the hall held a podium and several rows of chairs where the bidding took place. Each item had an assigned number, and everyone moved between them, jotting down the items they were interested in bidding on. Most items were done by silent auction with people writing their bids on sheets of paper. Only thirty were scheduled for the actual auction.

It was hard not to join the line and inspect everything I could buy, but I needed to focus on the underwear first. I caught sight of Dimples and Betty on the other side of the room and hurried over. My heart raced with anticipation. In a moment I’d know the real reason why Betty was here.

“Hey,” I said to Dimples. “Imagine finding you here.”

“Hi Shelby,” Dimples said. He was glad I’d made it, and was thinking he’d never had a chance to tackle looking inside the crates. Since Betty was determined to buy them, he was sure he’d get the chance at her place. If she wouldn’t let him help her with the crates, he’d know she was using him. After everything she’d meant to him, he was determined to find out if she was involved in the bank robbery.

We exchanged pleasantries, and he introduced me to Betty who was thinking she’d seen me before.

“Hi,” Betty said, wrinkling her brow. “Don’t I know you from someplace?”

“You look familiar to me too,” I said, playing along. “Oh, I know! You own that bra shop, Betty’s Bra Bar. I was just there a few days ago.”

“That’s right,” she said. “So…do you work with Drew?”

“Drew? Who’s…oh! You mean Dimp… I mean Detective Harris. Yes. I work with him. Sorry for the confusion, I just never knew his first name till now. I always call him Dimples. Kind of a nick-name, you know?”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “He does have great dimples!” She was thinking he probably hated it. At least she would.

I glanced at Dimples. Did he hate it? He smiled good-naturedly. He was thinking that he didn’t mind if I called him that, but he sure didn’t want Betty to start. Or anyone else for that matter. Of course, she might not be in his life much longer if she was really a crook. He sure hoped she wasn’t.

I concentrated on Betty, but didn’t get much. “So what brings you here?” I asked.

“Drew told me about some crates of underwear they’re auctioning off, and I thought I could bid on them for my business.”

“That’s nice,” I said. “Where are they?”

“Over there, number twenty-seven.” She was hoping no one else would bid on them, but it didn’t matter, since she was prepared to outbid anyone here. She had to get those crates. That’s the only place it could be. “Are you interested in bidding on them too?”

“Me? Oh, no,” I said. “I’m just surprised they’re selling them all together. I’d bid on them if I didn’t have to buy the whole crate. Most people probably would. I wonder why they’re doing it that way.”

“That’s just how they’ll start out,” Dimples explained. “But I might have had something to do with that. When Betty told me she wanted to bid on both crates, I relayed that to the people in charge, and they were more than happy to sell them all together.”

“Got it,” I said, then turned to Betty. “Good thing you’ve got friends in the police department, huh?”

BOOK: Lie or Die: A Shelby Nichols Adventure
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