“Where were you between eight p.m. and eleven p.m. tonight?”
“How long were you sleeping with your father’s girlfriend?”
“Why did you kill her, Reed? Did she make you mad? Threaten to out the affair to your dad?”
I’ve watched enough cop shows to know that you keep your mouth shut when you’re in a police interrogation room. Either that, or you just utter the four magic words—I want my lawyer.
Which is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past hour.
If I were a minor, these assholes wouldn’t dream of questioning me without a parent or an attorney present. But I’m eighteen, so I guess they think I’m fair game. Or maybe that I’m stupid enough to answer their leading questions without my lawyer.
Detectives Cousins and Schmidt don’t seem to care about my last name. For some reason, I find that kind of refreshing. I’ve gotten a free pass my entire life because I’m a Royal. If I get in trouble at school, Dad writes a check and my sins are forgotten. For as long as I can remember, girls have lined up to hop into bed with me so they can tell all their friends they bagged a Royal.
Not that I want girls lining up for me. There’s only one girl I care about these days—Ella Harper. And it absolutely kills me that she had to watch me get dragged out of the house in handcuffs.
Brooke Davidson is dead.
I still can’t wrap my head around it. My father’s platinum-blonde, gold-digging girlfriend was very much alive when I left the penthouse earlier.
But I’m not telling these detectives that. I’m not an idiot. They’ll twist everything I say.
Frustrated with my silence, Cousins slams both his hands on the metal table between us.
“Answer me, you little shit!”
Under the table, my fists start to curl. I force my fingers to relax. This is the last place I should lose my temper.
His partner, a quiet woman named Teresa Schmidt, shoots him a warning look. “Reed,” she says in a soft voice, “we can’t help you unless you cooperate. And we want to help you here.”
I arch a brow. Really? Good cop/bad cop? I guess they’ve watched the same TV shows that I have.
“Guys,” I say carelessly, “I’m starting to wonder if you have hearing issues or something.” Smirking, I cross my arms over my chest. “I’ve already asked for my lawyer, which means you’re supposed to wait until he arrives to ask questions.”
“We can ask you questions,” Schmidt says, “and you can answer them. There’s no law against that. You can also volunteer information. For instance, we can move this process along if you explain things like why you have blood on your shirt.”
I resist the urge to clamp a hand against my side. “I’ll wait until Halston Grier gets here, but thanks for your input.”
Silence falls over the small room.
Cousins is visibly grinding his molars. Schmidt just sighs. Then both detectives scrape back their chairs and leave the room without another word.
Royal - 1
Police - 0.
Except, even though they’ve clearly given up on me, they still take their sweet-ass time granting my request. For the next hour, I sit alone in the room, wondering how the hell my life got to this point. I’m not a saint and have never claimed to be one. I’ve gotten into my share of fights. I’m ruthless when I need to be.
But…I’m not this guy. The guy who gets dragged out of his own house in handcuffs. The guy who has to watch fear fill his girlfriend’s eyes as he’s hauled into the back of a police cruiser.
By the time the door swings open again, claustrophobia has set in, spurring me to be ruder than I should.
“Took you long enough,” I snap at my father’s lawyer.
The fifty-something gray-haired man is dressed in a suit, despite the late hour. He gives me a rueful smile. “Well. Looks like somebody is in high spirits.”
“Where’s Dad?” I demand, peering past Grier’s shoulder.
“He’s in the waiting room. He can’t be in here.”
Grier shuts the door and walks over to the table. He sets his briefcase on it and unbuckles the gold snaps. “Because there are no restrictions against parents testifying against their children. Testimonial privilege extends only to spouses.”
For the first time since I was arrested, I feel queasy. Testifying? This isn’t going to go to court, is it? How far are these cops planning on taking this bullshit?
“Reed, take a breath.”
My stomach twists. Damn it. I hate that I revealed even a trace of helplessness in front of this man. I don’t show weakness. Ever. The only person I’ve ever been able to lower my guard around is Ella. That girl has the power to smash through my barriers and actually see me. The real me, and not the cold, callous ass that the rest of the world sees.
Grier pulls out a yellow legal pad and a gold fountain pen. He settles in the chair across from mine.
“I’m going to make this go away,” he promises. “But first I need to know what we’re dealing with here. From what I’ve managed to squeeze out of the officers in charge of the investigation, there’s security footage of you entering the O’Halloran penthouse at eight forty-five tonight. That same footage shows you leaving about twenty minutes later.”
My gaze darts around the room, searching for cameras or recording equipment. There’s no mirror in here, so I don’t think there’s anyone watching us from some shadowy second room. Or at least I hope not.
“Everything we say in here is between us,” Grier assures me when he notices my wary expression. “They can’t record us. Lawyer/client privileges and all that.”
I release a slow breath. “Yeah. I was at the penthouse earlier. But I didn’t fucking kill her.”
Grier nods. “All right.” He jots something down on his notepad. “Let’s go back even earlier. I want you to start from the beginning. Tell me about you and Brooke Davidson. No detail is too small. I need to know everything.”
I swallow a sigh. Awesome. This is going to be fun.
The Royal boys have rooms in the south wing, whereas their dad’s suites are on the other side of the mansion, so I hook a right at the top of the stairs and hurry across the gleaming hardwood toward Easton’s door. He doesn’t answer at my soft knock. I swear, that boy could sleep through a hurricane. I knock a bit louder. When I hear nothing, I push the door open to find Easton sprawled facedown on the bed.