All About the Money (A Jesse Watson Mystery Series Book 7) (24 page)

BOOK: All About the Money (A Jesse Watson Mystery Series Book 7)
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Savannah
greeted us from the doorway before we got out. “Come on in,” she yelled to us.
“Have a drink… or two… or three.” She turned and staggered away.

“Oh, Lord,” I whispered to Billy as I grabbed the bouquet of
flowers off the seat. “She’s been drinking again.”

“Be cool. Don’t antagonize her.”

“These are for you,” I said, handing the flowers to her once
we got inside. “We thought they might cheer you up. A lot has happened to you
lately, and you deserve something to brighten your day. I hope the flowers
cheer you up.”

Savannah
looked terrible. She was dressed in a pair of gym shorts and a big, bulky
sweater, and she was barefoot. Her hair was a scraggly mess, and her eyes were
puffy from crying.

“Whew… you can say that again,” She said as she dropped the
bouquet of flowers on the countertop. “Life’s been rough. Everything’s gotten
all turned around.” She went to the cabinet, took out two small glasses, and
then filled them to the rim with whiskey. “Have a drink.” She handed the
glasses to us one at a time and very slowly. “I’m trying to drown my sorrows
before the big day.”

“And which day would that be?” Billy calmly asked her.

“Tomorrow!” she shouted, angrily. “What other day would I be
talking about? The day they’re going to bury my lying, cheating, drug addicted
husband. I still can’t believe I stayed married to that man after all the bad
things he’s done to me.”

Sitting on the kitchen table was a large canvas bag filled
with mail. Open letters and stacks of unopened mail lay spread out all over the
place. A laptop sat amid the mail.

“I see you’ve noticed my mail,”
Savannah
said. “They hate me! I got a bag
full of letters from my fans who say they hate me and will never buy my books
again. Look at this.” She swaggered over to the table, picked up a handful of
mail, and then tossed them across the room. “I got over a thousand emails just
this morning.” She took her hand and smacked the laptop sideways, sending it
sailing to the floor, pieces of it scattering. “People can be so mean and
hateful! Nasty little…”

“May we sit down,
Savannah
?”
I asked, interrupting her tirade. “My feet hurt.” I had to come up with
something to break her train of thought and bitter outbursts. Hurting feet was
the first thing that came to mind.

“What’s the matter with your feet?” She stumbled over to
look, spilling her drink in the process. “Oops! I’m making such a mess. McCoy
would slap me if he knew I was spilling booze all over the place. He hates a
dirty house. Mr. Clean! Mr. Clean! Where are you when I need you?” She giggled.
“Everything had to be just perfect for my husband. Lousy...”

Billy reached out and grabbed her before she fell, and then
helped her over to the sofa. “Perhaps you should sit down.” He went to take the
glass from her hand, but she waved him off.

“Leave me alone,” she yelled. “I don’t need your help. I
don’t need anybody’s help! Where’s Cole? I need Cole! Cole!”

She was definitely having a meltdown. She had survived a
vicious attack and her husband had died, but having her fans desert her in
droves was the final straw. She was a broken woman. The people who had meant
the most to her were now a thing of the past.

I started picking up the strewn mail while Billy tried to
comfort her. His words were soothing even to my ears. “
Savannah
, you don’t need people like that.
They’re nothing. They like you when everything’s fine, but when you have
difficulties, they walk away. They aren’t your friends. Your real friends are
the ones who stand by you no matter what. Let us help you.”

I picked up the mangled laptop, sat it back on the table, and
then walked over to her.

“You’re such a nice man, Billy Blackhawk. Why does Jesse hate
me? What did I ever do to her to make her hate me so much? We used to be good
friends... in another lifetime. Now I have nobody to be my friend.”

I sat down on the sofa next to her and said, “I don’t hate
you,
Savannah
. I just hate it when you lie to me.
I want a friend who’s honest with me, someone I can trust.”

“You can trust me, Jesse. I only tell lies so people won’t find
out my dirty, little secrets.”

“What secrets,
Savannah
?
What don’t you want people to find out? What could possibly be so bad?”

“McCoy hurt me in ways you’ll never know.”

“Why don’t you tell me?”

“I can’t. I’m too embarrassed. There are some things you
don’t tell anyone. I’d had my fair share of tales I could tell... that’s for
sure.”

“We’re friends. You can tell me anything.”

“Jesse,” Billy whispered to me. “Come here.”

I got up and walked over to Billy as he walked off to the
side. “What’s the matter?” I whispered. “She’s about ready to let it all hang
out. I can get the truth from her now, while she’s drunk. I say we go for it.”

“She’s blackout drunk. Anything she says to you will be a
figment of her imagination, and she won’t remember a thing in the morning.
You’re wasting your time. We need to get her to go to bed and sleep it off.”

“All right, Billy.” I walked back over to
Savannah
and took her by the hand. “Come on,
girlfriend. You need to lie down.”

“We’re girlfriends again?”

“Sure, we’re girlfriends again. We always have been ever
since we first met. We’re friends to the end.”

I led
Savannah
to her bedroom, and then pulled back
the covers on her bed. She crawled in without making a fuss, and pulled the
covers up to her neck. She smiled and then closed her eyes. Within seconds, she
was snoring like a drunken sailor.

“That was easy,” I whispered to Billy. “While we’re here,
let’s search the place. You take the bathroom and I’ll search the dresser
drawers.”

“Why not?” he replied. “We won’t have to get your mother and
Eddie to do it for us. I’ll feel better about that.”

“Me, too.”

We began our search while
Savannah
was passed out in the bed. I rummaged through her drawers, my fingers touching
everything and every corner. But there were no pill bottles. Nothing out of the
ordinary. “How’s it going in there?” I whispered to Billy.

“Nothing,” he said, walking back into the bedroom.

“Same here.”

He went to the closet while I checked McCoy’s armoire. I
didn’t think I’d find anything, but I had to look. I rummaged through the
drawers and came up with nothing. When I went to open the doors they wouldn’t
open.

“Billy,” I whispered. “Come here.”

He walked over to me, and then I said, “The doors are locked.
Why would someone lock their armoire? What would be the point? It’s just
clothes in here.”

“Maybe not,” Billy replied as he ran his hand across the top,
searching for the key. “If it’s locked, there’s a good reason. Somebody’s got
something to hide.”

We both looked around and tried to figure out where the key
might be hidden, but we couldn’t come up with anything. We knew it could be
anywhere and we didn’t have the time or inclination to search any longer.

“This is a waste of time,” Billy said. “We could search all
day and never find the key.” He grabbed the handles with both hands and jerked
open the doors. They released with a pop.

When
Savannah
groaned, it startled both of us. We
turned to look. She rolled over in bed, but didn’t wake up. She was out, stone
cold. We turned our attention back to the armoire. Everything was stacked or
lined up neat as a pin. Billy rummaged around the top shelf, while I searched
the next one down. I found the target of our search. I scooped up six
prescription bottles and looked at the labels while Billy pulled out a packet
of photographs.

“Geez, look here, Billy,” I exclaimed, and then looked up at
him. “Not one of these prescriptions belongs to McCoy, and here’s mine. I guess
I was right about
Savannah
.”

“No, you weren’t,” Billy corrected. “This is McCoy’s dresser,
and he kept it locked. What does that tell you?”

“That he didn’t want anyone going in here… not even his wife.
This must’ve been his secret hiding place.”

“If you think you found a smoking gun, check out what I
found,” he said, showing me the photographs one by one, until I had to look
away.

“I don’t want to see anymore.”

The photos were of
Savannah
.
She was naked in all of them, and from the look on her face, she wasn’t
enjoying the moment. In some of the pictures she was tied to a bed, naked and
bruised with tears on her face. The sight of her in that condition made me want
to cry.

“I was wrong about
Savannah
,”
I said, tears coming to my eyes. “McCoy wasn’t the man we all thought he was.
He was a sadist, and poor
Savannah
was the one who suffered from his
sickness. How could he treat her that way? I never expected something like
this. McCoy was one messed up dude. What a pervert!”

“I would say so. Do you still think she stole your pills?”

“If she did, he made her do it. He made her do a lot of
things. Why do people do such terrible things to the one they love? It makes me
sick to think about it.”

“Keeping photos like this is crazy. What if they fell into
the wrong hands? This isn’t something you’d want people to see.” Billy put them
back in the packet, and then placed them back on the shelf. “Put those back
where you got them,” he said. “This is over.”

I placed the pill bottles on the shelf and then noticed
something weird. In the opposite corner was a small jar filled with clear
liquid and some kind of object. I picked up the container and held it up to the
light. “Geez! It’s part of someone’s finger! Now that’s really sick.”

Billy and I stared at each other, baffled by my find.

“Andrea had a finger missing. I wondered what happened to it.
Now I know. This is disgusting.”

“You don’t think McCoy cut off her finger, do you?” Billy
asked. “Why would he do something like that?”

“Don’t ask me. If he could do something like this, imagine
what else he could do. I bet if we look closer at the contents of the closet
we’d find other weird things of his. Maybe he’s got part of a leg hiding in
there.”

“I thought I knew the man. I guess I was wrong.”

“This is all too weird for me,” I said. “I can’t believe
McCoy was so sick in the head. He just didn’t seem like the type.”

“You never really know a person until you go through their
stuff.”

I placed the jar back where I found it, and tried my best to
keep from vomiting. All I wanted to do was leave, but that didn’t happen.

Billy closed the doors to the armoire and said, “Let’s get
out of here before she wakes up and catches us. She’s been through enough
already. She doesn’t need to find us betraying her.”

“I can’t imagine what her life was like with him, but if it
was so bad, why did she stay?”

“Because I loved him,”
Savannah
said.

Startled, Billy and I jumped.

“I thought he would change, but he only got worse.” She sat
up in bed, sober as could be. “He had a thing for taking pictures. He
photographed me nude, and the more I cried, the more he loved it. I was so
ashamed. I told you he had a problem with drugs. He’s the one who stole those
pills. And, yes, that’s Andrea’s finger. They had an argument and she pointed
her finger at him, so he cut it off. He said she deserved it, and he was proud
of what he did. He said it would teach her not to assume she had the right to
defy him. That’s what kind of man he was. When he showed me the jar, I knew he
really needed help, but he wouldn’t listen to me. Now you know the real McCoy.
What you saw on the outside wasn’t the person he was on the inside.”

“I can see that now,” Billy said.

I was angry that she pulled a fast one on us by pretending to
be drunk. “You faker!” I accused. “You weren’t drunk. You were lying to us
again! Liar, liar. Pants on fire.”

“Me? What about you? As soon as you thought I was passed out,
you started going through my stuff. What kind of friend does that?”

I didn’t say anything. What could I say? She was right. What
kind of friend was I?

“And, yeah, I was acting drunk, because people say all kinds
of things around a drunken person. They don’t think we’re capable of paying
attention. I knew you were up to something when you showed up right after your
mother left. I wondered why she kept asking me all those questions. Now I know.
Did you send her over here to pry into my business? How could you do that? I
trusted your mother. She’s always been so kind to me. She was a true friend.
Not like you.”

“Don’t bring my mother into it,” I said, defiantly. “She has
nothing to do with this. She’s just a nice lady who thought you were worth
saving.”

BOOK: All About the Money (A Jesse Watson Mystery Series Book 7)
13.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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