Unlock the Truth - By Robena Grant
At nine sharp, Dena Roman pushed open the gold-lettered glass doors and squared her shoulders.
Steve Brennan would chew her out for sure. But after hearing the late news on TV last night she’d risk losing her job to gain access to Three C’s Estates. She’d do anything to find out the truth; even visit the small town in the California desert, despite the heat and the bugs. She blew out a small puff of air and rolled her eyes. This was no time to be worrying about bugs.
The receptionist looked up. Red lights blinked on her desk phone.
“Morning, Wendy,” Dena said, feigning cheerfulness.
“Mr. Brennan’s looking for you.” Wendy adjusted the phone’s handset while connecting to another incoming call. “Good morning, Brennan & Associates, Public Relations, this is Wendy. How may I direct your call?”
“Thanks.” Dena glanced down the long hall. Her boss strode toward them.
“You heard?” Steve waved the front section of the Los Angeles Times.
Dena nodded. Wendy wriggled her eyebrows, mouthed a big “sorry” and went back to answering the phones.
“Good morning,” Dena said over her shoulder. Steve followed her into her office. She sat behind the desk but left her sunglasses on.
“Sorry, yes, good morning, Dena.”
“I caught it on the late news.” Dena looked up at him. “Can’t say I got much sleep afterward.”
“I can imagine.”
Steve remained standing, and she wondered if he was about to leave for a meeting. He leaned a hand on the back of the chair opposite her, his expression grave as he put the newspaper on the desk. She glanced at it, not really wanting to see the headlines but drawn by some magnetic force.
She cleared her throat and shifted her gaze. “Can you believe another woman’s body had been buried there? I thought they’d done a complete investigation.”
Steve pressed his lips together and shook his head slowly. “You holding up okay?” His pale blue eyes crinkled at the corners as his frown deepened.
“I called him.”
“Zeke Cabrera. I have a two o’clock.”
“Now, before you get all steamed up.” Dena raised her hands and leaned both elbows on the desk. “You said I could offer representation to anyone. I could secure my own clients—”
“I did.” Steve rubbed at the back of his neck and glanced away. He smoothed his already smooth tie, and then he slid into the chair.
“This could be a conflict of interest. And, what if he’s found guilty?” He rolled up the newspaper and tapped it against his thigh. “The timing’s just wrong, Dena. I’d suggest you wait until after the results of this new investigation, and—”
“And what?” she asked, feeling her anger rip away from the last remaining shreds of self-control. She swallowed hard and fought to get control of her emotions. It wasn’t Steve’s fault, but her anger bubbled up from within. “I can’t sit around and wait for those small town cops to find out who murdered Carli. It’s been three whole months and not one lead. Somebody down there is covering for someone.”
“I know, I know. Calm down. Did you tell Cabrera who you are…and your relationship to Carli?”
Dena looked down at the stack of message slips. “I will, eventually.”
“Do it, and before he signs a retainer.”
Dena nodded. She knew it could be a conflict of interest. It could bring bad publicity their way, and she hated to do that to Steve. He’d always been good to her. But she wouldn’t back down. She couldn’t back down.
“I tried the correct channels,” she mumbled. “If the hotel development company would have allowed me to access the land—”
“It was a crime scene, and a hard hat area,” Steve said. “Besides, there would have been nothing left. No clues to be found.”
Dena blinked hard against the smart of her tears. It was easy for him to say that; Carli wasn’t his sister. She removed her sunglasses and exposed her tired, red-rimmed eyes. “Well, you’re wrong on that count. There’s a second body, remember?”
Steve sat back in his chair and frowned. “Look, the firm’s reputation is at stake here. You’ve become obsessed with investigating your sister’s death. But seriously—”
Dena stacked some loose papers. Anger rose in her chest again. Did nobody understand? She swallowed hard.
“Mom needs closure, hell we both need closure. I sense there are clues on that land that Cabrera owned. I mean why did he sell that portion so swiftly? Nobody in the town even knew about the hotel development. Did they?”
“It would have had to pass city council.”
“But it happened so fast.”
Steve straightened. “We’ve been over,