Then You Hide - Roxanne St. Claire

Roxanne St. Claire - Bullet Catcher #5 - Then You Hide

Then You Hide (Bullet Catcher #5)
Roxanne St. Claire



Charleston , South Carolina , 1978

“WELL, LOOK WHAT we have here. The prettiest little suspect in Charleston County.” The fluorescent lights cast a sick, yellow shadow on the cheeks of the man who’d just entered the interrogation room.

Eileen Stafford straightened in the uncomfortable wooden chair and met his gaze. “Where’s my lawyer?”

“He’s comin’, sweetheart. He’s comin’. Mind if I sit down?” Across the table, he yanked out the other chair, flipped it around, and spread his legs around the back. “You remember me, don’t you?”

As if she could forget the man who’d tried to blind her with a flashlight, cut her with handcuffs, and insult her from the front seat of his squad car.

She sat silent. Because anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

“We met the other night out on Ashley Bridge.” He lifted thick black eyebrows and crinkled his forehead, all friendly and social.

She glared back at him. “Pretty convenient, you and your partner just cruising along looking for people driving away from crime scenes.”

“Oh, now, honey, you know what happened. Someone saw you running and called the cops. While we were following you lead-footin’ out of Charleston, Ms. Sloane’s body was found.” He held out his hands to imply that this happened all the time to a good cop.

Or a very bad one.

Didn’t he realize this case was so flimsy you could see through it? She’d seen the murder; she’d witnessed it! She knew who did it, yet she sat here, sweating, waiting for a lawyer who was supposed to be here hours ago. When he came, she could tell him who pulled the trigger and who put that gun on the passenger seat of her car—a gun she’d never touched.

But would she have the nerve to tell the truth? To take on the most powerful man in the county? The thought made her stomach roll.

“Why’d you do it, Miss Stafford?”

She bit her lip to keep from saying a word.

“It is miss, isn’t it?” Hazel eyes dropped to her chest. “Sure it is. I’ve seen you around the courthouse. You’re a flirty little thing. Real friendly with all the lawyers and judges. You’re a legal secretary. Just like…the deceased.”

“Which makes me smart enough to know I get a lawyer before I talk to anybody.”

He chuckled, propping his elbows on the table and locking his hands into a little shelf for his chin. “And smart enough to know that the South Carolina legal system don’t always work as right as it should.”

She fought a quiver, unwilling to let him see her fear. “I’m not going to talk to you, Officer.”

“Then how ‘bout you listen to me…Leenie.”

Oh, God—only one person on earth called her that. Which meant whatever this cop was about to say was a direct message from him.

“Listen real careful, okay?” His look made her heart wallop against her ribs. “I’m gonna offer you a fine deal.”

“A deal?” Or her worst nightmare? The man who had destroyed her happiness, forcing her to make a decision she would regret until the day she died—that man could do anything. He could lie, cheat, steal, and, oh, Godamighty, he could kill.

“Real simple, this deal. You tell your lawyer exactly how you killed Wanda, how you were hidin’ right there in that alley, just waitin’ to pounce on the gal who’d taken your place as the prettiest legal secretary in the courthouse, and—”

“I wasn’t waiting for—”

“—and we’ll make sure you don’t have to sit in the hot seat.” One corner of his thin-lipped mouth slid up. “You know what I mean by the hot seat, don’t you, Leenie?”

“There hasn’t been an electrocution in this state since 1962.”

“Capital punishment is alive and well in the state of South Carolina, darlin’. In the hands of”—he bared straight, shiny teeth—“the right judge.”

Eileen closed her eyes. She’d known this was coming. Ever since she’d hidden behind that brick wall in Philadelphia Alley and watched her former lover put a bullet into Wanda Sloane, she’d known she couldn’t run far, and she couldn’t hide for long. Not from him.

“It’s a simple deal. You tell the lawyer just what happened, Leenie. And in exchange…” He shrugged, as if the rest were obvious.

“Say it,” she insisted hoarsely. “You have to say it.”

He leaned close. “Sign the piece of paper pleading guilty…and nothing will happen to your baby.”

She knew it.

“I don’t have a baby.”

That statement would