She leans over and grabs her beach bag, pulling out a little video camera. “I never made a sex tape of that night. But I’d like to make one now. In full daylight. On this beach.” She looks around for boats and they are all far away. “I don’t care who sees you take me, Spencer Shrike. I’m yours. Only yours. They can look, but they can’t touch. I want to talk dirty for you on camera. I want you to record my screams as your c**k unloads inside me. I want to film you eating my pu**y, and then turn the camera on me and film my face when you make me come. I want—”
I grab the camera and turn it on, then hand it back and take my shirt off. “Action, Bombshell.”
Yeah, those were the good old days. When Ronnie and I could just kick back on a beach, drink beer, and think about nothing except f**king and what’s for dinner.
My daydream is interrupted by a knock on my door. “Spencer?” Ronin calls as he opens it a crack. “Can I come in?”
The boys must’ve warned him about my mood when he came in the shop. “Yeah,” I say back.
He opens the door, enters, and then shuts it behind him. “They’ve got a new witness.”
“I heard,” I mumble back.
“Rook’s gonna come off looking pretty bad.”
“Yup. That’s about how it’s looking right now.”
Ford bursts through the door, no polite can-I-come-in knock from him. “Ashleigh’s with Rook in the lunchroom. Kate’s asleep.” He paces the room a few times and then stops and looks straight at me. “I’m feeling paranoid, Spencer. I’m feeling trapped. I’m feeling like we’re being set up.”
Ronin flops down on the couch and bends over to hold his head in his hands.
I stare out the window. “Ashleigh’s sister was just here. Talking shit about Tony and his parents. She didn’t say who’s behind the adoption thing.”
When I look back at Ford his expression says it all. That look says he’s scared. That look says this shit is not pretend.
Ford’s got it all right now. A wife he loves and who loves him back. A beautiful baby to take care of. A big house in a quiet neighborhood filled with designer shit. A job working with all his favorite people. And if there’s one lesson the three of us have learned, the more you have, the more you have to lose.
It’s scary as f**k. And isn’t it better to have nothing? Isn’t it better to have nothing to lose than to have everything, and know it’s all gonna disappear?
I think it is.
“Rook’s testimony,” Ronin reminds us. “What’s she supposed to say when this guy says she chose to stay with Jon?”
Silence. What can she say?
“We’re so f**ked,” I say. “She’s never gonna convince anyone of anything. Do you remember how many times we had to have her go over the details when we pinned all this shit on Abelli in the first place, Ford? And there was no one to cross-examine her.” I look over at Ronin and he’s pale. The truth of what we’re into is finally sinking in. For all of us. “Last fall, Ronin? That was just a statement. It was pre-school shit compared to what they’re gonna do to her next week when she takes the stand.”
“We only have one option,” Ford says. “She needs to tell the truth. Whatever the truth is about why she stayed, Ronin, that’s what she needs to say. That’s the only thing she’s got left. We need that jury to buy her story about Abelli and Jon one hundred f**king percent, otherwise we’re all going down. Otherwise all that shit she said about what happened in Boulder is back on the table. And if the jury decides we’re lying about what happened in Boulder, not only might this ass**le walk, but the Feds might think we’re the ones behind all this shit. Not Jon. Not Abelli. Not that f**kup in Boulder. Us. And how f**king ironic would it be for us to get pinned with their dirty shit?”
We’re silent again. “What’s the truth, Ronin? Did she say why she stayed?” I hate to ask it—I mean, I’m on Rook’s side—but you know, when someone comes and says they want to save you from an evil monster, most people get on board with that.
I look over at him when he doesn’t answer.
“We could say she was psychologically traumatized,” Ford offers.
“She probably was,” I agree. “But that doesn’t make her a reliable witness. We need that jury to buy into a lot of f**king lies. A lot of f**king lies. And her name is on that property, Ronin. She was half owner of the property where those girls were being sold. And then this witness comes in and says he tried to help her get away and she said no?”
I’m quiet to see if Ford will fill in the blanks for me, but he doesn’t. “Ronin.” I wait until he looks up at me. And God, it breaks my heart to see him so defeated, but he needs to hear the truth. “She’s going to jail if that guy testifies.” I look over at Ford and he’s got his hand over his mouth as he listens. “She’s going to jail for a long f**king time. We need a goddamned miracle at this point.”
Ronin pulls his phone out and texts someone. He waits for a reply and then sits back on the couch. A few seconds later there’s a knock on the door.
“Come in,” Ronin calls.
Rook peeks her head in, then swallows hard like she knows what’s coming. She slips in and closes the door behind her. Ronin stays silent and even I’m beginning to squirm.