A is for Alibi Page 75

"You want to tell me about it?" I said. My own heart was pounding and I could feel damp rings of sweat forming under my arms

She shook her head but that was all she could manage. She seemed transfixed. Her face had changed, taking on that look people get in their sleep when all the guards are down. Her eyes were luminous and dark and two bright patches of pink appeared now in the pale of her cheeks, a clownish effect, as though she'd applied too much blusher in an artificial light. She blinked back tears then, propping her chin on her fist, looking off beyond me, fighting for self-control, but the last defense was breached and the guilt was pushing against that gorgeous facade. I'd seen it happen before. People can hold out just so long and then they fold. She was really an amateur at heart.

"You got pushed too hard and you broke," I said, hoping I wasn't overplaying my hand. "You waited until he and Nikki left town and then you used Diane's keys to get into the house. You put the oleander capsules in his little plastic vial, being careful to leave no prints, and then you left.”

"I hated him," she said, mouth trembling. She blinked and a tear splashed on her shirt like a drop of rain. She took a deep breath, words coming out in a rush. "He ruined my life, took my kids, robbed me blind, insulted, abused—oh my God, you have no idea. The venom in that man ...”

She snatched up a napkin and pressed it to her eyes. Amazingly, Rosie didn't seem to notice her distress. She sat at the bar, probably reading Ann Landers, thinking At Wit's End should have turned hubby in for the obscene calls he made, while a customer confessed to murder right under her nose. To her right, the little television set flickered a Muppets rerun.

Gwen sighed, staring down at the tabletop. She reached over and picked up her glass, taking in a big slug of Scotch, which made her shudder as it went down. "I didn't even feel bad about it, except for the kids. They took it hard and that surprised me. They were far better off with him gone.”

"Why the affair?" I probed.

"I don't know," she said, folding and refolding the paper napkin. "I guess it was my revenge. He was such an egotist. I knew he couldn't resist. After all, I'd insulted the hell out of him by having an affair with someone else. He couldn't tolerate that. I knew he wanted his own act. It wasn't even that hard to engineer. He wanted to prove something to himself. He wanted to show me what I'd passed up. There was even a certain amount of jazz to the sex for once. The hostility was so close to the surface that it gave us both a sick charge. God, I loathed him. I really did. And I'll tell you something else," she said harshly. "Killing him once just wasn't enough. I wish I could kill him again.”

She looked at me fully then and the enormity of what she was saying began to sink in.

"What about Nikki? What did she ever do to you?”

"I thought they'd acquit her," she said. "I never thought she'd go to jail, and when the sentence was handed down I wasn't going to stand up and take her place. By then it was too late.”

"So what else?" I said and I noticed that my tone was getting sullen. "Did you kill the dog too?”

"I had nothing to do with that. He got hit Sunday morning. I drove Diane over there because she'd remembered that she'd left him out and she was upset. He was already lying in the street. My God, I wouldn't run over a dog," she said emphatically, as though I should appreciate the delicacy of her sentiments.

"And the rest just fell into place? The oleander in the yard? The capsules upstairs?”

"One capsule. I doctored one.”

"Bullshit, Gwen. That's bullshit.”

"It's not. I'm telling the truth. I swear to it. I'd thought about it for a long time but I couldn't see a way to make it work. I wasn't even sure it would kill him. Diane was a wreck about the dog anyway so I drove her to my place and put her to bed. As soon as she was asleep, I took her keys and went back and that's all it was." She spoke with an edge of defiance, as though having opened up this far there was no point in mincing words.

"What about the other two?" I snapped. "What about Sharon and Libby Glass?”

She blinked at me, pulling back. "I don't know what you're talking about.”

"Oh the hell you don't," I said, getting up. "You've lied to me since the first minute we met. I can't believe a goddamn word you say and you know it.

She seemed startled by my energy. "What are you going to do?”

"Give the information to Nikki," I said. "She paid for it. We'll let her decide.”

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