Fade Away Page 53

Clip startled up at that one. Life came back into the eyes. “You think it was me?”

“You were the only one I told about the blood. You wanted to keep the discovery secret.”

“I left that up to you,” Clip countered. “I said I thought it was the wrong move, but I’d respect your decision. Of course, I would want to avoid a scandal. Who wouldn’t? But I would never do something like that. You know me better than that, Myron.”

“Clip,” Myron said, “I have the dead woman’s phone records. She called you four days before the murder.”

“What do you mean she called me?”

“Your office number is in the phone records.”

He started to say something, stopped, started again. “Well, maybe she called here, but that doesn’t mean she spoke to me.” His tone was far from convincing. “Maybe she spoke to my secretary.”

Win cleared his throat. Then he spoke for the first time since entering the office. “Mr. Arnstein?” he said.


“With all due respect, sir,” Win continued, “your lies are growing tiresome.”

Clip’s mouth dropped. He was used to underlings kissing his rear, not to being called a liar. “What?”

“Myron has a great deal of respect for you,” Win said. “That’s admirable. People do not earn Myron’s respect easily. But you know the dead woman. You talked to her on the phone. We have proof.”

Clip’s eyes narrowed. “What kind of proof?”

“The phone records, for one—”

“—but I just told you—”

“And your own words, for another,” Win finished.

He slowed down, his expression wary. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Win steepled his fingers. “Earlier in this conversation, Myron asked you if you knew Liz Gorman or a woman named Carla or Sally. Do you recall that?”

“Yes. I told him no.”

“Correct. And then he told you—and I quote his exact words because they are relevant—‘that’s whom Greg was with the night he vanished.’ Awkward phrasing, I admit, but with a purpose. Do you recall your next two queries, Mr. Arnstein?”

Clip looked lost. “No.”

“They were—and again I quote exact words—‘Have you located her yet? Where is she now?’ ” Win stopped.

“Yeah, so?”

“You said, her. Then you said, she. Yet Myron asked you if you knew Liz Gorman or Carla or Sally. From his wording, wouldn’t it be natural to assume he was referring to three different women? A they rather than a she or her? But you, Mr. Arnstein, immediately concluded that these three names belonged to one woman. Don’t you find that odd?”

“What?” But Clip’s anger was all bluster now. “You call that evidence?”

Win leaned forward. “Myron is being well compensated for his efforts here. For that reason, I would normally recommend that he continue working for you. I would advise him to mind his own business and take your money. If you wish to muck up your own investigation, who are we to interfere? Not that Myron would listen. He is a nosy man. Worse, he has this warped sense of doing right, even when it is not required.”

Win stopped, took a breath, leaned back again. Instead of steepling his fingers, he gently bounced the tips against one another. All eyes were on him. “The problem is,” he continued, “a woman has been murdered. On top of that, someone has tampered with a crime scene. Someone has also vanished and may very well be a murderer or another victim. In other words, it is now far too dangerous to remain in such a situation with blinders on. The potential costs outweigh the possible benefits. As a businessman, Mr. Arnstein, you should understand that.”

Clip remained silent.

“So let us get to it, shall we?” Win spread his hands, then resteepled. “We know the murder victim spoke to you. Either tell us what she said, or we shake hands and part company.”

“She spoke to me first.” It was Calvin. He shifted in his seat. He avoided Clip’s eyes, but there was no need. Clip did not seem upset by the outburst. He sank farther down in his chair, a balloon continuing to deflate. “She used the name Carla,” Calvin continued.

With a small nod, Win settled back into his chair. He had done his part. The reins were back in Myron’s hands.

“What did she say?” Myron asked.

“She said she had some kind of dirt on Greg. She said she could destroy the franchise.”

“What was the dirt?”

Clip came back into the fold. “We never found out,” he chimed in. Clip hesitated a moment—to buy time or gather himself, Myron wasn’t sure which. “I didn’t mean to lie to you, Myron. I’m sorry. I was just trying to protect Greg.”

“You spoke to her too?” Myron asked.

Clip nodded. “Calvin came to me after she called. The next time she called we both spoke to her. She said she wanted money in exchange for silence.”

“How much?”

“Twenty thousand dollars. We were supposed to meet on Monday night.”


“I don’t know,” Clip said. “She was going to tell us the locale on Monday morning, but she never called.”

Probably because she was dead, Myron thought. Dead people rarely made phone calls. “And she never told you her big secret?”

Clip and Calvin looked a question at each other. Calvin nodded. Then Clip turned back to Myron. “She didn’t have to,” Clip said with resignation. “We already knew.”

“Knew what?”

“Greg gambled. He owed a lot of money to some very bad people.”

“You already knew about his gambling?”

“Yes,” Clip said.


“Greg told me.”


“About a month ago,” Clip said. “He wanted help. I … I’ve always been something of a father figure to him. I care about him. I care about him very much.” He looked up at Myron, his eyes raw with pain. “I care about you too, Myron. That’s what makes this so hard.”

“Makes what so hard?”

But he shook it off. “I wanted to help him. I convinced him to start seeing somebody. A professional.”

“Did he listen?”

“Greg started with the doctor just last week. A psychiatrist who specializes in gambling addictions. We also talked about him signing an endorsement deal,” he added. “To pay off the gambling debt.”

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies