Authors: Breena Wilde
“Thank God.” I heard Birdy sniffle. “Reid’s dead. They think I did it,” she blurted between sobs. “But I didn’t kill him. I swear. You’ve got to believe me.”
I was frozen. Reid was dead?
“Katie? Are you there? I need your help.”
me her father knew. But because it was a murder charge, they wouldn’t release her on bail until the D.A. held a hearing.
My first thought after the initial shock was that I wasn’t surprised Reid was dead. The fucker associated with a lot of people on the wrong side of the law. He frequented underground gambling establishments, the kind that took their business very seriously. He also spent a lot of time with hookers—male and female—and from what I’d heard tended to be rough on them. On top of that there were the drugs. He liked to party and didn’t care about the consequences. Most nights that meant doing shit that pissed a lot of people off.
What did surprise me was that Birdy had been accused of killing him. Obviously the police didn’t know the kind of person she was.
I’d known her a long time. We became friends at my seventh birthday party. My dad didn’t know or hadn’t cared that I couldn’t swim. He’d thrown me a swimming party. All the kids were playing a game, kind of like a twisted Duck Duck Goose. One person would be It. Everyone else stood around the pool. Whoever was it would walk around tapping on each person’s shoulder and saying, “Dry. Dry. Dry.” Until they came to the person they wanted to push into the pool when they would say, “Wet.” and push them in. Then they had to run around the entire pool and take the person who’d gone into the pool’s place before the person in the water made it out of the pool and back to their spot.
I hadn’t wanted to be uncool by telling everyone I couldn’t swim, so I took the first open place. It was at the deep end. The girl who was it came to me and shouted Wet and then shoved me in.
To this day I don’t blame her. It wasn’t her fault I didn’t know how to swim. I tried my best, flapping my arms, trying to stay above water, but I kept going under and water kept getting in my mouth.
At first the kids laughed. They thought I was joking around because, really, who had a pool and didn’t know how to swim? After a few seconds, though, they realized the truth.
But no one did anything. Except Birdy. She was tall for her age, taller than me at the time. She jumped into the pool, tucked an arm under my armpits, and paddled for the edge. Then she helped me out. I was gasping and sputtering.
She patted my back and kept saying the same words over and over: “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.”
I’d been crying too, but luckily no one except Birdy knew. When I could breathe normally again she stood and told everyone that Dry Dry Wet was a stupid fucking game and she wouldn’t play anymore.
That was the kind of person she was. She didn’t have a murderous bone in her body. She’d do anything for those she cared about.
But did that include murder?
Had her hatred for Reid and her love for Katie pushed her over the edge? I thought about the feelings within me I already possessed to protect Katie.
But I couldn’t believe it was possible she would do something so awful. I wouldn’t.
“She didn’t do it,” I said, sitting on the couch.
Katie hung up the phone. I realized I hadn’t heard what she’d said to Birdy. “I know.” I watched Katie walk over to the table, pick up her glass, drain it, and then grab her cigarettes. “How do I get outside? I need a fucking smoke.”
I pushed aside the white curtains and opened the sliding glass door. She stepped through without looking at me and lit up a cigarette before I even had the door shut. I watched as she took a drag, trying to read her mood, but I had no clue. I still didn’t know her well enough.
She walked over to the edge. “This is a nice view.”
“Thanks. I’ve always thought so.” It was a twenty million dollar view. There weren’t too many better. I could’ve bored her with interesting factoids about which famous person had lived where, but I was smart enough to know now wasn’t the time. I got the feeling she was making small talk while she wrapped her head around what Birdy had just told her.
“Mind if I bum a smoke?”
She shook one out and handed it to me, then gave me the lighter. We stood like that until my cigarette was gone, each of us lost in our own thoughts.
Finally she put hers out. “What should I do with the butt?”
“Hang on.” I walked over and grabbed an ashtray. “Use this.”
“Thanks.” She took another cigarette and lit it. “When we saw you at The Attic, I had no idea Birdy actually knew you.”
I shrugged, wishing I’d worn a jacket. It was a little cold and I was shirtless. “Our families hung in the same circles. We went to school together. After graduation, though, she went off to her college of choice and I went to mine. We lost touch.”
While I spoke, Katie turned. “You grew up together?”
She took a long drag of her cigarette and then blew. The smoke seemed to freeze in the cool air. “Why didn’t she ever mention you?” She turned away and I moved up behind her.
“Birdy was one of my first true friends. Over time we grew apart.” Katie glanced at me. “She probably never mentioned me because there was nothing good to say. As you know, Birdy is a good person.”
Katie nodded. Tears filled her eyes. “But she acted like…” She shook her head.
“Like what?” I said, brushed at a tear that’d fallen onto her cheek.
“Like she thought you were…” She looked away, embarrassed.
“I was what?”
“Fuckable,” she blurted.
It was my turn to be embarrassed. “It’s possible she didn’t realize who I was. We hadn’t seen each other in probably eight years.”
Katie nodded. That seemed to placate her. “She wasn’t a fan of her upbringing. I know that for sure.”
“No, she wasn’t.” I put my cigarette butt in the ashtray and took hold of her arms. “Do you want to try and get some sleep?”
She shook her head. “I can’t sleep. From what Birdy told me, the police are confident the charges against her will stick.”
“Why’s that?” I searched Katie’s worried face, wishing there was a way I could take away her pain.
“She said she found the body. She called the police. When they arrived, there was blood on her hands. They found a gun and she told them it was hers, but she didn’t shoot him, that the last time she saw her gun was three weeks ago when she took it to the shooting range.”
Katie began to pace. At first I tried to follow, but she kept running into me. So I sat in one of the patio chairs and listened. I was sick to my stomach. What Katie was telling me didn’t sound good. Her father was one of the best lawyers in the country, though. If anyone could make this go away, it was him. But then…
“Why did she call you?”
Katie sat on the chair next to mine. “Birdy thinks she’s being framed.” Her eyes locked on mine. They were deadly serious. “She thinks your drummer killed Reid.”
Why would she think that?” Griffin stood and walked to the concrete edge of his rooftop patio. My stomach roiled with nausea. It was true I had feelings for Griffin, but if sides were drawn I would stand beside Birdy one hundred percent. She wasn’t blood, but she was my sister and I would do anything for her, including never speaking to the beautiful man in front of me ever again. It might break my heart. It would probably cause me to shed many tears, but I would do it. Birdy meant that much to me.
“I don’t know all the details. They made her get off the fucking phone before she could finish, but she sounded pretty certain.”
Griffin turned. His hands were shoved in his pockets, pulling his jeans down so that I could see the way his hips indented in that delicious and sexy way. The man really was a rock god, no doubt about it.
“Did she give you any information?” Goosebumps prickled on his skin and I realized the man was outside in late October without a shirt or shoes.
I went to the sliding door and yanked it open. “I’m going inside. It’s cold.” I shoved my pack of cigarettes and lighter back in my purse. Part of me knew I should leave. Any more time spent with Griffin was just pouring salt in a wound that wouldn’t heal... but I couldn’t bring myself to walk away.
“I don’t believe Brian would kill anyone. Of all of the band members, he’s the most laid back.” Griffin came over and tilted my chin so I was looking at him. “You have my word I’ll get to the bottom of it, though. If he had anything to do with Reid’s murder, I’ll turn him in myself.”
By the look on his face I knew he meant it and I really respected that. We’d just fucked twice in the span of a few hours. It was possible he was still talking to make me feel good. Highly unlikely, but possible.
“I appreciate that, but I don’t want to come between you and your band. I’m just a girl.”
He gasped, which surprised me. I knew he wasn’t just any guy. He wasn’t just a fuck anymore. Over the past few hours I’d grown to consider him at least an acquaintance, one I’d spend time with again.
His hand cupped my face. “You’re more than just a girl, Katie.”
“Well, whether you believe that or not, that’s what your band will think. I don’t want to come between you and your dreams.”
Griffin’s face softened. “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.” His kissed my forehead. I closed my eyes and leaned into him because, god help me, I craved his touch—even after everything I’d just found out. In fact my messed up, addicted body believed that if we fucked again, everything would be alright.
My mind screamed it wasn’t true. Of course it wasn’t. I knew that logically. My dearest friend in the whole world had been accused of murder. The person she allegedly killed was my ex fiancé. It was as though my worst nightmare crept from my mind and made itself real. I should be in the fetal position, crying about how the world wasn’t fair.
Instead my body sang with longing, pleading for Griffin to make the real world go away. “Griffin,” I whispered, pressing my lips to his chest.
“I know, Katie.” He tilted my chin. Gently kissed my lips, pressing my mouth open and exploring with his tongue.
I moaned, giving him full access to my body and my heart while closing off my mind to all the shit lingering there. I’d have to deal with it, and I wanted to. No way would I let Birdy go to prison for something she didn’t do. Right now though I just wanted to forget. In Griffin’s arms that was possible. I wanted to pretend there was no one but me and him in all the world. There was no murder. There was only Griffin’s touch, his lips on mine, his hands caressing my body.
I’d stay with Griffin until sunrise and then I’d give him up cold turkey. But not right now. Not yet.
Precinct was on 21
street, New York, New York. It was a rather unassuming building: tan brick divided by dirty windows, except for the top row, which was stained glass. It could’ve been an apartment building from the way it looked on the outside. The only thing that distinguished it from the wall of buildings was the American flag hanging from a flagpole above the door.
A slight wind blew and I pushed some stray hair off my face. I took a deep breath, mentally preparing myself, pulled open the heavy plate-glass door, and walked to the front desk.
A balding male police officer sat behind the desk. His head shone like a polished bowling ball, gleaming in the fluorescent lights. “I’m here to see Bird… I mean Pamela Bird.”
He glanced up, his bloodshot eyes giving me a once over. “Name?”
“What?” I was confused. Did he want my lawyer’s license or my private investigator’s license? I didn’t have either. I’d discovered that, to be an official PI, I needed a lot more than a cool name, like Katie Jayne, PI. I needed logged hours working under an actual private investigator. I needed to study and take a test.
He sighed. “I need to see your driver’s license or some form of ID, Miss.”
“Oh.” I opened my purse, took my license from my wallet, and held it out.
His meaty hand pulled it from my grasp. “Just a moment.” I watched him type some information on the computer. “Says here your name is Dandelion.”
Usually the name got at least a snicker. The man gave me a blank stare
. Stupid. Fucking. Name.
Um, yes, that’s my given name, but I go by Katie.”