Will Julz complete her mission for vengeance against the Gypsy Brothers? Or is Dornan still one step ahead?
More shocking secrets will come to light and lives will be lost in this final, devastating instalment of the Gypsy Brothers series.
“I want my lawyer,” I repeat for the hundredth time.
There are two CIA agents in front of me, and they’re playing a very cheesy rendition of good cop / bad cop.
We’ve been at this for hours. Boss Bitch — Agent Dunn, as she’s since told me — on one side, and her completely dumb but cute male offsider, Agent Brennan, on the other. In my head, to pass the hours, I’ve nicknamed them Agent Bitch and Agent Dumbass. I sit across from them, my hands in my lap, heavy metal cuffs weighing them down.
My throat is dry, my tongue parched. Agent Dumbass has a fresh can of Coke in front of him, and I can see the tiny beads of condensation running down the sides. I want it. I want to reach over and grab the can. I don’t even need to drink what’s inside. I’ll settle for the condensation making its lazy descent down the side of the bright red can and onto the dusty Formica table that separates me from them.
“Let’s try this again,” the female cop says, tucking a loose blonde hair behind her ear. The rest is up in a severe bun that reminds me of a matronly grandmother, even though this woman only looks about thirty. She’s got a slight southern inflection that reminds me of Elliot’s grandma.
I don’t reply, waiting for whatever it is she plans on doing next. Her next big thought, her latest overdone gesture, to try and convince me that I should spill all of my dirty secrets onto this table between us. So far she’s used threats against Jase, a plea deal that would grant me immunity, and long stretches of silence.
None of that will break me. I’ve been tortured by Dornan fucking Ross. This woman’s going to have to try a lot harder, or maybe get out some pliers and start yanking my teeth out of my mouth, before I’ll give her a single damned thing.
She snatches up a manila folder and opens it, handing a photograph to her male offsider. “Stick these up,” she barks at him, and he moves slowly, ripping a section of blue-tack from a large blue ball of the stuff that must live permanently on the wall to my left. I watch, just slightly interested as to what they’re going to try and scare me with.
They don’t disappoint. As I watch them pin 5×7 photographs to the wall, I can’t help but feel some sense of satisfaction for the lives that ended at my hands. I have to remain impassive though, so I tamp down the gloating grin that wants to spread across my face and settle for my resting bitch face instead.
Dunn peeks at me from the corner of her eye, and I return her gaze impassively. She might think she can get under my skin, but I grew up in the Gypsy Brothers MC for shit’s sake. I know how to hold out in front of a cop.
“Chad Ross,” Dunn says, smoothing her pants as she stands up and circles the table, coming to stand next to the photographs her partner is sticking up in a haphazard fashion. I wait for her to reach out and straighten them. Boom. Three seconds later, she does just that, making sure all of the photos line up.
“Chad Ross was poisoned,” she continues, tapping one manicured fingernail against the photo of his bloated death face.
“Looks nasty,” I reply.
“It’s a nasty way to die,” Dunn says, peering at me. “The killer added pure methamphetamine to an energy drink he later consumed. He was probably dead before he hit the ground.”
He wasn’t. He suffered. Thankfully.
“And you’re showing me this why?” I ask, studying my own nails, bitten down to the quick. I never was a girly girl. It’s not easy to keep your nails tidy when you’re constantly trying to claw your way back from death.
Dunn looks at me pointedly before jabbing her fingernail towards the second photo. Ahhh, yes. Maxi in all his naked, bloody glory. His face is a mess from the coke I shoved underneath his nose, the coke laced with strychnine that made blood gush from his nose like warm water from a faucet. I still remember the way his blood felt on my hands. How surreal everything was, bright and garish, as my skull burned with a small amount of the poisoned coke I’d snorted myself.
How I’d nearly died in my quest to kill him.
How it was so worth the risk to see the look on his smarmy fucking face, when I whispered in his ear who I really was and sat back on his lap to watch the fury rise in his cheeks.
As he realized a black widow was the one who’d just fed him his last meal of poison and cocaine.
I glance at Agent Dunn, clearing my throat and attempting to look bored.
“Strychnine-laced cocaine,” she says. “In fact, the same thing you were admitted to hospital for that very night. Jason Ross brought you in to emergency room. They said you almost died.”
“It was a hell of a night,” I reply curtly. “My nose still bleeds just thinking about it.”
She raises her eyebrows in disbelief, and in that moment I have no doubt that she’s cataloguing me as a sociopath or similar.
“Can I ask you a question?” I say suddenly.
“Shoot,” Dunn responds.
I reach my hand out slowly, methodically and take hers, a bold move. She could pepper spray me, shoot me. You’re not supposed to touch the interrogators. But she’s ballsy enough that she doesn’t want to take her hand away, even as I watch her flinch minutely.
“How do you keep your nails so pretty?” I ask sweetly, the saccharine in my voice not reaching the cold death stare I give her. I hold up my other hand. “Mine are hopeless. You spend much time in the field, Agent Dunn?”
She takes her hand away, and I let my own cuffed hands fall back into my lap. I know her skin must be crawling from my touch.
I hope the feeling stays there for a long time. She should not have fucked with me.
“I take good care of myself, Miss Portland,” she says briskly. “Which is more than I can say for you.”
“My child died,” I say blankly. “Physical appearance isn’t on the top of my priority list right now.”
She bristles momentarily. “I am sorry for your loss,” she says finally.
I sit back, crossing my legs. “No, you’re not,” I reply.
“It’s a leg,” Dunn supplies.
“Ohhh,” I say, nodding. “Thanks.”
It is indeed a leg, or at least part of one. Charred and black, with spots of unmarred flesh and blood still peeking through in sections. Huh. I wonder who it belonged to.
“Two Ross brothers were killed in an explosion. Somebody put homemade bombs in their fuel tanks, can you believe that?”
I shrug. “Sounds like they must have had it coming.”
Dunn points to the final photos, and a cloying heat bleeds up my chest and neck as I remember those three months of horror and torture I endured at Dornan’s hands before I was broken out. The way Dornan’s father Emilio flew backwards with a meaty thump as the top of his head was blown clean off, blood and brains flying everywhere. Mickey’s look of horror that didn’t fade after the bullet entered his face, such a satisfying end for men whose only fault in death was that their ends were much too swift. I imagine how much more satisfying it would have been to hang them by their feet and burn their eyes out with cigarettes and blowtorches, or pull their teeth out with rusty pliers, one by one.
That would have been much more fitting for the men who tried to destroy me, the same men who murdered my father.
Still… they’re dead, and that’s better than them being alive.
“That’s got to give you a headache,” I joke, referring to the last two pictures. The blood and gore have no effect on me. My stomach is made of iron after the atrocities I’ve seen, after all that I’ve endured. If this bitch wants to rattle my cage, she’s going to have to try harder.
“And then we have Jimmy,” she says, sticking one last photograph to the wall. Jimmy’s face, still frozen in shock, the trail of blood from his temple where Jase shot him barely noticeable in the extreme close-up.
“He looks unwell,” I comment. “Thing is, I’m still not sure why you’re showing me all of this.”
Dunn frowns so hard it looks like she’s about to burst a blood vessel.
“Here’s the thing,” she says, throwing a stack of photographs in front of me. “We’ve got you. We have your DNA on the first two victims, and motive. We’ve got probable cause to take you to trial.”
I sift through them, suppressing a twisted smile as I see what happened to Jazz and Ant after they bit the big one when bombs in their motorcycle fuel tanks exploded, ripping them to pieces. It isn’t pretty, what became of them. But to me, it’s beautiful.
I drop the photographs on the table and lean back in the hard metal chair I’ve been sitting on for the past five hours.
“These people are — were — like family to me. Don’t you think it’s a little tacky showing me all of this? I’m still grieving for these boys. They were like brothers to me.”
Agent Dunn actually rolls her eyes at me. At least she’s got some spunk somewhere in there. “Give it a rest, Miss Portland,” she says impatiently. “You’ve got more motive than anyone else, and no alibi for any of these murders.”
“Motive?” I ask sweetly. “And what might that be?”
Agent Dunn hesitates. Go on, I think. Say it. They raped me until they thought I was dead. The murdered my father, and you want to arrest me? Say it.
“I’m not authorized to talk with you about an active investigation,” Dunn says finally. “But I really think you should start talking, Miss Portland.”
I roll my eyes. “Okay,” I say finally. “I give up. You got me. I’ll tell you something. Let me write it down.”
Dunn’s beady eyes practically wig out of her head. She studies me for a moment, probably to see if I’m telling the truth, and I stare right back at her. If she wanted a wallflower who’d stare at the floor, she arrested the wrong girl.
After a beat, she stands up, turns and bustles out of the room. I divert my attention to Agent Dumbass, who looks like he’s about to fall asleep in his chair.
“I’ll make a full confession,” I say, “if you give me that.” I point to the coke can and he eyes it dubiously. After a pause, he slides the can over to me with one finger. With a smile, I pick up the can between my cuffed hands and take a long drink.
The fizzy liquid burns on the way down my throat, but it’s delicious. I drink as much as I can before Agent Bitch returns, setting it back down on the table and smiling at Dumbass. I slide the can back towards him with a wink. Let him think we’re friends. Let him think I’m just a silly young girl who couldn’t possibly hurt anyone. He looks surprised, taking the can back as Agent Bitch walks back into the room.
She looks between me, the can and the goofy look on Agent Dumbass’s face and shakes her head.
Sliding into her seat, she drops a yellow legal pad on the table between us as she addresses Dumbass.
“She killed a man by poisoning his drink with pure meth,” she says to her partner. “You sure you want that back?”
“Allegedly,” I add.
The oaf stares at the can for a few seconds. Finally, he pushes it back in my direction with an embarrassed look.
In the past five hours or so since I was unceremoniously dumped in this interrogation room, I’ve gone through the whole gamut of emotions. Fear. Shock. Despair. Now, I’m at anger. Anger that bubbles within me. Anger that is thinly disguised as apathy to these two morons.
Dunn drops a blue Bic pen on the legal pad and pushes it over to me. I hold up my cuffed wrists helplessly.
“I can’t write with these things on,” I say.
Dunn gives me the filthiest look before nodding at Dumbass. He stands and circles around to me, removing my cuffs before returning to his spot.
I WANT A LAWYER. I write it as obnoxiously large as I can, underlining the word LAWYER three times.
Agent Bitch’s smile disappears, replaced by a thin line of contempt at her mouth. I grin. Good luck getting those cuffs back on me, motherfucker. I sit back in my seat and snatch up the Coke, draining the rest of the can before they think to take it from me.
“We can play this game for however long you want, Miss Portland,” she says curtly, fiddling with the stack of crime scene photographs in front of her. I smile.
“I’ve got all day,” I say sweetly, even though I really, really don’t. Dornan has Elliot’s daughter and ex-girlfriend, and possibly Elliot himself, and Jase and I have twenty-four hours to meet him and get the girls out of danger before he kills them. At least, that’s what I’m assuming he plans to do to them. I can’t even comprehend what else he might be planning to do to those poor girls to get back at us.
Agent Dunn shakes her head one last time, gathering up the files and stalking towards the door. “I’ll give you some time to think about your position,” she says.
“Isn’t this illegal?” I call out to her. “I’m an American citizen. I have the right to an attorney. Get me a goddamn lawyer!”
Really, I just need a lawyer to post bail so I can get the hell out of here. Not that I’m sure I’d actually be bailed out, but I need something, and talking to these two is proving fruitless. A cold panic is building up inside my stomach, in the hollow space where my baby once lived and died.
God, it’s still so raw, so vicious when the memory of our tiny little baby takes hold and squeezes me. Sometimes, selfishly, I wish I could forget about her, because losing her has cursed me with more pain than I could ever imagine.
If I had any remnants of doubt about killing Dornan before? They’re gone, bled from me in the moments after our daughter was born, still and dead, in the early hours of the morning when the world was still dark.
He took her from me. From us. And I cannot rest until he’s dead and buried, a rotting corpse in the cold ground, a memory and nothing more.
Dornan Ross needs to burn for the things he’s done.
Agent Dumbass follows his partner out of the room and pulls the door shut. I immediately stand up and go to the door, testing the handle. Locked from the outside. Of course. I go back to my chair, collecting the pen someone so thoughtfully left for me and shoving it into my pocket. You know, just in case I need to stab somebody sometime soon.
Which, as it turns out, is sooner than I’d anticipated.
About an hour later, Agent Bitch sticks her head back into the room. “Your lawyer’s on the way,” she says, closing the door behind her again.
This could be anyone. A cop posing as a lawyer to get a confession on tape. A hit man, sent by the Gypsy Brothers or the Cartel. I’m like a sitting duck in here, and I don’t like it one tiny bit.
But what greets me isn’t any of those things.
It’s so much worse.
I don’t move an inch as the door swings open and he walks into the room. Dressed in a suit I’ve seen before, clutching a black leather briefcase by his side. He looks positively fucking amused.
“Well,” I say bitterly, “They’ll let any motherfucker take the bar these days, won’t they?”