All About the Money (A Jesse Watson Mystery Series Book 7) (6 page)

BOOK: All About the Money (A Jesse Watson Mystery Series Book 7)
13.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“Only after we made it clear that we wouldn’t do it. What
happens if she decides to take matters into her own hands? She might decide to
seek help some other place and hire a hit man. Do you think she might do that?”

“I don’t know, but I do know that people will do almost
anything to protect themselves. For example, take your mother. Who would have ever
thought she was capable of killing anyone?”

“That was self-defense, and you know it.”

“Right, but who’s to say that Flo won’t seek out Downer, blow
him away, and then claim self-defense?”

I had to laugh. “That’s ridiculous,” I said. “Blow him away?
You’ve been watching too much television.”

Billy laughed. “I’m not the one who watches all those crime

“I figure I can learn something from them.”

“Like how to get yourself killed? Real life doesn’t always
end on a high note like it does in the movies. A crime isn’t solved in an hour,
like they are on television. That’s a joke. Too bad it doesn’t though. ”

After we were on the road again, I asked, “Not to change this
interesting lecture on the ills of believing what you see on television, but
where are we going? You just passed the Sheriff’s Office. I thought we were
going to talk to him.”

“I didn’t see his SUV out front. We’ll call instead.” Billy
pulled out his cell phone and made the call. “Hello, Sheriff Hudson. This is
Billy. How’s the investigation going? That’s right… Flo Garner.”

The conversation was short. From the way it sounded, Billy
wasn’t getting anywhere with the sheriff. When he closed his cell phone, he
glanced at me and said, “They don’t have anything yet, but I did get some news

We were coming to the intersection at Rt. 33 and Rt.29 when
Billy had to swerve to keep from hitting a car that tried to pass us. He
managed to regain control of the truck and brought it to a stop just in time.
We looked around to find the car, but it had disappeared into the heavy

“Where’d he go?” Billy asked, irked. “He could’ve killed us.”

“Was he trying to run us off the road?”

“I don’t know, but he almost did.”

“I didn’t even have a chance to see what color the car was.
It all happened so fast.”

“It was a red Dodge Charger,” Billy said as he turned right
at the light. “I caught a quick glimpse of the front end as he zoomed past us.

“Do you think it was a bad driver, or someone trying to send
us a message?”

“I thought of both the minute it happened.”

Billy’s cell phone beeped. He picked it up and flipped it
open. “Hello, brother,” he said. “What do you have for me?” Billy listened, and
then said, “I want you to find out who owns a red, Dodge Charger. The first
three letters on the plate are ZMK. Sorry, but that’s all I have.” A few
minutes later, Billy closed the phone and said, “Jonathan’s been doing some
checking for me.”

I was surprised that Billy even got a look at the license
plate, but then again, he’s very observant. I should’ve known he would see more
than I did. He has eyes like a hawk... as they say.

“You have good eyes,” I said. “I barely saw the car, let
alone the license plate.”

“I’m an Indian. We don’t miss much.”

I laughed, and then said, “Maybe we should add Jonathan’s
name to the front door of our detective agency. He works with us on just about
every case.”

“He likes to help, but he wouldn’t want to be committed.
Putting his name on…”

“I was just kidding.”

Billy smiled. “He ran a background check on Downer Rhodes for
us. He’s got a layout of his house, including the security system, which will
be just what we need if we decide to bug his place like Flo suggested.”

“I don’t think I like her plan. It seems too risky, and if we
do get anything on him, we can’t use it in court.”

“That’s why I’ve come up with a better plan. Jonathan says
that Downer lives at
Jack Rabbit Road
. We
got lucky on this one. It just so happens that the property next to him belongs
to a friend of mine. It’s a wooded lot. No house on it.”

A plan was formulating in my head as Billy talked, and by the
time he finished explaining his idea, it was the same one that I had come up

“So… you’ll get your friend Keith to let us camp out on his
land, and we’ll use that cool listening device like we did that time we staked
out Rose Hudgins’ house.”

“I think that would be the best plan. If we do get anything
that the cops need to know about, we’ll tell them we got the information by

“I agree. I like your plan better. Trying to get into someone’s
house to plant bugs is not something I want to do if I don’t have to.”

“I just hope I can reach Keith. He travels a lot.”

“Oh, you’ll be able to find him. I have confidence in your
ability to do anything you set your mind to. You have the innate ability to
make things happen. No matter what it is.”

“I do my best, `ge ya. I do my best.”

We were close to our office when it dawned on me that Billy
hadn’t told me the news about
. As he pulled up to the front door,
I asked, “What about
? You said you had some news. What is

“Sheriff Hudson’s going to close the case.
was defending herself. There won’t
be any charges brought against her.”

“What about the photos I have in my purse? They clearly paint
an ugly picture. After looking at them, it makes me wonder.”

“About what?”

“Where did the pictures come from? Did Andrea bring them with
her to show to
so she could blackmail her, or use
them against her in some way? Or… did the pictures belong to
? If they belonged to
that means she already knew about
the child. The photo with Andrea, the infant, and McCoy clearly shows that he’s
probably the father. Wouldn’t you think?”

“Pictures don’t always show the truth. Perhaps McCoy went to
visit his secretary at the hospital when she had the baby.”

“I doubt that.”

“Such a skeptic.”

“I saw the look on his face. That was the look of someone
with pride. It makes you wonder why
and McCoy didn’t have children. Maybe she can’t, and when his secretary gave
birth to his baby, he was thrilled.”

“Getting a woman pregnant, who isn’t your wife, isn’t
something one would be proud of. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. When we
leave here, we’ll go by the hospital to see

“I’m starving. Can we order a pizza while we’re at the

“Sure,” Billy replied as we got out of the truck and headed
to the entrance. He opened the door for me and then followed me to the front
desk where Lila was. She greeted us with a smile.

Seeing the office brought back fond memories of the time when
I met Billy. The place looked the same, but the relationship between the two of
us is completely different now. Now… we’re a husband and wife team. I smiled at
the pleasant thought.

“Hello,” Lila said, handing Billy a stack of messages. “I have
them in order of importance. There are two cases worth looking into. The rest
are ones you probably don’t want to mess with.”

“Did our phones and vests arrive?” Billy asked as he looked
through the messages.

“What?” I asked, looking at Billy. “You bought us new

“Don’t you think it’s time we upgraded? Besides, we need
and all the other apps the phone comes with. These
new phones are terrific. They do everything but drive your car for you.”

“If you say so, but I’ve just figured out how to use the one
I have. I like my Razr. And what’s this about new vests?”

“It’s time we had those, too. The one I have needs replacing,
so I bought both of us one. You need one, too, now that you’re a full-fledged,
gun-toting mama.”

Lila laughed and then pointed to the box sitting on Billy’s
desk. “The vests are in the box, and the phones are plugged into the chargers.
They should be charged by now. They’re set to be activated at
today, so after that your old cell phones will be cut off.” 
She looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, Jesse. You’re smart. This new phone
won’t be hard to use.” She looked back at Billy. “Jonathan came by earlier and
added an extra app to each one… if you know what I’m talking about.”

“Ah, so they’re going to be even more juiced up, huh?” I
asked. “Jonathan does have a way with electronics.”

“Would you order a couple of pizzas for us?” Billy asked.

“Sure,” Lila replied. “Any preferences?”

“Papa John’s, and no pepperoni for me,” I said. “I don’t care
what else is on it.”

“I’ll take the works. Get one for yourself.” Billy walked
away and went to his office.

“Thanks, but that’s okay. I’ve already had lunch.” She looked
back at Billy as she dialed the pizza place. “Your mother went to the doctor
today. I just thought you’d like to know.” She placed the delivery order, and
then said, “Ten minutes.”

“What did the doctor say?” I asked with concern. “Normally,
Sarah tells me about her doctor visits. She knows I’ll hound her if she

“She says her diabetes is under control with her new diet.
That’s about all I know.”

“I’ll call her later,” I added. “If she’s hiding anything,
I’ll find out.”

Billy walked out of his office wearing his new bulletproof
vest. He held out one for me and said, “Try it on.”

I slipped into the vest. It wasn’t as confining and
cumbersome as I would have expected. It actually felt comfortable. “I think I
can handle it,” I said. “As long as it isn’t too hot. It’s probably ninety-five
degrees outside. Does it come with air-conditioning?”

“Only if a bullet pierces it,” Lila said, jokingly, and then
recanted. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. It wasn’t funny.”

“Sure it was.” I laughed. “Besides, you were only kidding.”

Billy handed me my new cell phone and said, “If you get lost,
I’ll be able to find you through this. I’ll show you how everything works.”

The pizza arrived just about the time my old cell phone rang.
’s name appeared on the screen. I
grabbed a slice from the carton and said, “Hello.”

“You can bring my photos back now, Jesse,” she said. “Thank
you for keeping them. I wouldn’t want the police to get their hands on them. It
wouldn’t look good.”

So... she knew all along.

Chapter 6

My mouth fell open as I choked out the words, “How did you
know I took them? I didn’t tell you.” I felt embarrassed that she now knew that
I had swiped the photos. I tried to explain my actions further. “I saw them
lying next to your purse, so, naturally, I looked at them. I didn’t know what
to do, but I didn’t want to leave them for the police to find. They looked

“They are,” she replied. “They prove that my husband had an
affair with that woman.”

“But you told me that… oh, never mind. Let’s not talk about
this over the phone. We’ll be there shortly.”

“I’ll be waiting. I’m still in the emergency room.”

We hurriedly ate our pizza, took off our vests, and started
to leave. Billy handed the messages back to Lila and said, “Set up a meeting
with that body shop person, and the woman with the husband problem. Handle the
rest like you would usually do when we’re not going to take the case.”

“Will do,” she replied. “I’ll let you know when it’s

We left the office and headed to the University of Virginia
Hospital. It was almost
, and the day
was wearing on. Billy and I discussed our plans on the ride over.

“As soon as Keith returns my call, we’re going to…”

Billy’s cell phone rang.

“Hello,” he said after flipping the phone open. “Glad to hear
from you so quickly.”

The call was from Billy’s friend, Keith, who agreed to let us
use his property for our stakeout. Billy explained what we had planned, and
Keith was more than glad to help us out.

“It’s nice to have so many friends,” I said after Billy
completed his conversation. “You sure do know a lot of people.”

“I’ve been in this business a long time. You make a lot of
friends, and you make a few enemies.”

“When is this stakeout going to take place? Have you


“Why tonight? Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”

“No. I want to find out for myself what’s going on over at
’ household. I want to be sure we
have a reason to spend our time trying to get the dirt on the man.”

“That tells me you’re not sure of Downer’s guilt.”

“I’m not, but once you make that call to his house, we’ll
know for sure. You’ll get him to talk.”

“Me? You want me to call him?”

“I don’t want Flo to do it. She’s liable to say something we
don’t want her to say. She might mess it up. To make matters worse, she’d
probably lose her temper and threaten the man. That wouldn’t be good.”

“What am I supposed to say? He doesn’t know me.”

“He doesn’t have to. You’re going to pretend that you’re Flo.
He won’t know the difference. All you have to do is tell him you know
everything. Let him think you know more than you do. You won’t have to go into
great detail. Less is more.”

“This ought to be interesting.”

“We’ll go see
and then head home to pick up the rest of our gear.”

“Maybe we’ll even have time to eat dinner with the kids.”

“I assume you have
photos in your purse. You need to give them back to her. I don’t want us to be
in possession of evidence.”

“She wants them back anyway. That’s why she called me.
However, they’re only pictures. They don’t prove anything. Isn’t that what you

“True, but it’ll look bad that you took them. The sheriff
will swear that you were trying to conceal evidence, trying to cover up

“I was. As soon as I saw those pictures, I knew something was
going on. They were pictures of Andrea, the woman
had just killed, with her infant and
’s husband. Now, what does that tell

“It looks as if
killed Andrea because she found out that her husband had fathered the woman’s

“Yeah, but we don’t know how long
has known about the child. That
makes all the difference in the world. If
knew about the child all along then why would she wait until now to do
something about it?”

isn’t the kind of person who takes
matters into her own hands. She’s non-confrontational. Most likely she’d kick
McCoy out first. She wouldn’t kill someone over her husband. It’s just not her

“I guess we’re going to find out, huh?”

was a busy place. There had been a
pileup on I-64, and the accident victims were still being brought in. Even
though traffic was being stopped to allow for emergency vehicles, we didn’t
have to wait too long. We parked in the parking garage, and then headed to the
main entrance of the hospital.

I had stuffed
packet of photos down the front of my pants, since I rarely carried my handbag
unless I absolutely had to. I’ve learned that the less you drag with you, the
better. I carried my new cell phone in my hand, and stuffed the old one in my
back pocket. I wanted to be prepared and not without my phone service for a
minute. Anything could happen.

We walked the corridor until we saw McCoy standing outside
the emergency room.

Billy held out his hand. “How are you holding up, my friend?”

“I’m hanging in there,” McCoy replied. “I guess it could be

I walked over to McCoy and gave him a hug. “I’m sorry about

“I guess you guys have a few questions for me, huh?” he
stated. “I can just imagine what you must be thinking. You probably think we’ve
been lying to you about our relationship.”

“Your relationship with your wife is your business,” Billy replied.
“My concern is how it impacts the outcome of
’s case.”

“We’re a case now?”

“It won’t be the first time,” I joked, lightheartedly.
“That’s how we met you, remember?”

“I remember well.
still has nightmares about that guy.”

Billy changed the subject. “Let’s go talk with

“You go ahead,” McCoy said. “She doesn’t want to see me. I’ve
been waiting out here ever since…” His voice trailed off.

“You mean you haven’t seen her since she was brought here?”

 “No, I haven’t. She refuses to see me. Back at the house,
she told me to go back to Fancy Gap. That’s when she fell and hit her head.
Then, when I tried to see her in the emergency room, she screamed for the
doctors to throw me out. I’ve just been hanging around the hospital. She wants
me out of her life, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave. I have to know how
she’s doing. I tried to talk to her, but it’s not happening. Maybe you could
convince her to see me. Her lawyer’s been with her the whole time. I think he’s
got a crush on her.”

“Let’s not worry about that right now,” I interjected. “You
need to talk about your marriage. I
think it can be salvaged. You both love each other.”

“Oh, I think she’s way past that now,” he said, looking at
me. “She’ll never forgive me.”

Billy squared his shoulders, stood firm and asked, “And why
is that? What’s the story?”

McCoy looked at Billy and replied, “You’re a good
investigator. I’m sure you know all my dirty laundry by now.”

“I’m not so sure I do anymore. Why don’t you fill me in?”

“There’s not much to tell,” McCoy answered. “A little over a
year ago, I got drunk at the Christmas office party, and Andrea gave me a ride
home. I’m sure you can figure out the rest of the story.”

“Where was

“She was here in Stanardsville. I was still living in Fancy
Gap. We weren’t separated. We were just not together very much. My practice was
there, and she loved it at our place here. We were in limbo. Then, she told me
to move here or our marriage was over. So, I started spending as much time here
as I could while I sold the house in Fancy Gap and cleared up my caseload. That
cruise we went on was supposed to be a second honeymoon for us, but, actually,
it was a last ditch effort to save our marriage. It worked for a while.”

“Until Andrea showed up here.”

“That’s my fault. I take full responsibility. I don’t
remember much about the night of the Christmas party, but I do remember
sleeping with her. I was drunk. It was like I knew what I was doing was wrong,
but I couldn’t stop myself.”

“Hmmm,” I said in a sarcastic manner. “I guess you were just
too drunk to control your urges. That’s too bad. Look where it got you.”

McCoy ignored my snide remark and continued, “When she told
me she was pregnant with my baby, I couldn’t turn my back on her.”

“You’re a married man, McCoy,” I added. “Didn’t you realize
would find out eventually, and then
your marriage would be sucked down the drain? Women don’t forgive something
like that.”

Billy looked at me and asked, “They don’t?”

I rolled my eyes at him and firmly stated, “No, they don’t,
Mister Smarty Pants. So… if you ever…”

McCoy started laughing, and then Billy joined in.

I threw my hands up in the air and said, “Men! It must be a
guy thing. Who else would ask such a ridiculous question?”

“Come on, Jesse,” Billy said, teasing me. “You know you’re
the only `ge ya for me.”

“Get over yourself, buster.”

After the two of them stopped laughing, Billy turned back to
McCoy and asked, seriously, “How long has
known about the baby?”

“Is it important?”

“Of course, it is. If she just found out, the police would
use that against her. They’ll say she killed Andrea when she discovered the
baby was yours. They’ll accuse her of luring Andrea here on the pretense of
settling the matter, but murdered her instead. This could turn into a real

I looked at Billy and said, “We can check phone records.”

“We’ll need to search Andrea’s desk and anything else she had
access to,” Billy added. “The sheriff has her car, so searching it is out of
the question.”

“But the sheriff already said there would not be any charges
brought against
. It was self-defense. She was just
protecting herself. She didn’t mean any harm to come to Andrea.”

“They don’t know about the pictures, yet, but they’ll find

“What pictures?”

“The ones
had in her possession. Pictures of
Andrea, the baby, and you.”

“Oh, no,” McCoy moaned. “I didn’t want
to ever see those.”

“She didn’t know about the baby?”

“Yes, she knew about my son, Kaleb. I had to tell her. I couldn’t
live with the guilt, and it wouldn’t be fair to him. But I didn’t want to rub
it in with those photos.”

“Good,” Billy said. “It’s good that you told
the truth and that she’s known about
it all along. It wasn’t news to her.”

“How did she handle it when you told her?” I asked.

“She wasn’t happy to say the least, but we tried to work it

“I can’t believe she didn’t dump you the minute she learned
of your indiscretion,” I snapped. “I know I would have.” I looked at Billy.
“And don’t even say anything funny this time, Injun.”

Billy smiled, but didn’t make a remark. He knew when it was
time to step back.

“At first, she told me it was over, but then I convinced her
to give me another chance. We’ve been working on it. It’s been a long road.”

“From what you’ve told us, and the fact that
said that Andrea just showed up
without being invited, I don’t think the sheriff has a leg to stand on.
Pictures or no pictures. It was clearly a case of self-defense. Let’s go see

Without another word, Billy turned, pushed on the closed
door, and then walked in. He motioned for us to follow. McCoy was reluctant,
but as soon as I took him by the hand, he followed. He dropped his head as he
started to walk inside. I let go of his hand and put my hand under his chin,
raising his head as I did so. “It’s too late for that, pal,” I said. “Be a man.
Stand up and take your punishment. Don’t be a wimp.” McCoy straightened up and
prepared to take his medicine.

both hands bandaged from her encounter with Andrea and a huge bandage on her
forehead from the fall, sat up in bed and yelled, “Get him out of here. It’s
his fault I’m in this mess! I don’t want to ever see him again! You lying,
cheating, no-good rat!”

BOOK: All About the Money (A Jesse Watson Mystery Series Book 7)
13.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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