After Ben gave the okay, Randy punched a remote and the screen came to life.
You could hear a pin drop it was so quiet as the men waited and watched.
There was no sound, only the grainy footage of the intersection where Ami was hit. Soon, her car rolled into view and an SUV plowed into it. What was weird is that it appeared to be on purpose.
“Holt shit!” said Cole, “Where did you get this? I thought they didn’t have traffic cams.”
Randy paused it. “There’s not. It was from a home security system across the street. Cole, do you recognize this vehicle?”
Cole didn’t, but it was a big SUV, possibly a Cavalcade. Just like they thought. “I don’t think so.”
“Maybe this will refresh your memory,” said Randy. “The night Ami was hit, this same vehicle was parked at C&M earlier in the day. We have it on surveillance footage. You went there a few nights later and it was there again. Watch.”
He showed a still of him walking from the parking lot to the front of the building. He walked right by the black SUV.
“Oh yeah. I remember,” said Cole. “I went to see Avery to let her know Ami was okay. That car was there. I only noticed it because it was after hours. But it was gone by the time I got upstairs. I called her so I wouldn’t frighten her since she was there alone,” then a thought occurred to him a chill ran down his spine that the driver was someone they might know. “You are sure this is the same car? The one that hit Ami?”
“Yes, the same license plate as the one that we have later driving through another intersection, a few minutes later, with damage to the front bumper.”
Cole couldn’t sit there anymore and stood up nervously. “Why was it at C&M? Were they stalking Avery and Ami? Or were they trying for Avery instead?” asked Cole, looking around the room.
“To meet with Avery,” his father said softly.
“Wait … no … she was alone,” objected Cole, “There was no one else in the building that night.”
“Show him, Randy,” said Ben and hung his head, unable to watch.
Cole’s heart was racing as he flopped back down in the chair. What was Avery doing with the person that hit Ami?
Randy hit the remote again and more surveillance footage showed up. “This was just last week. Same vehicle,” explained Randy, as a man Cole had never seen before got out of the black SUV.
Then he was in Avery’s office. When he walked in the two of them embraced, then he kissed her. They broke apart and started to talk but there was no sound. Cole was glad, he didn’t think he could stomach voices.
“Turn it off!” yelled Cole. He couldn’t watch anymore. He was having a hard time catching his breath and his heart was racing, or maybe it was shattering into a million tiny pieces.
“Give us a minute,” said Ben. The three other men stood up filed out without a word. Garret clapped Cole on the back when he walked by him.
When only the two of them remained Ben poured a shot of whiskey into a glass and shoved towards Cole. “Here, drink,” he commanded.
Cole picked up the glass with shaking hands and downed it relishing the feel of the burn as it slid down his throat. He pushed the glass back to his father for more.
“One more. Then you listen,” said his father calmly.
Cole downed the second shot. This time he could feel his body responding and his heart rate slowed down enough he could breath. “Okay,” he said, fortified by the amber liquid, “Tell me what the fuck I just saw. What is going on?”
Ben took a deep breath, rubbing his temples, before beginning. “The man Avery was with is an investor, Spencer Granville. His company, Granville Investments, has been working with C&M for years. He’s been providing financing for new home buyers since the starter neighborhood. In addition, he provides interim construction financing for us. His company has been vital to the success of C&M. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship. About three years ago, he began to work closely with Avery.”
Cole felt another chill run down his spine and hot tears formed behind his eyes at his father’s words.
When his father paused and drank down his own shot of courage before continuing, Cole whispered, “Granville Investments?” He knew the name, that’s who called Avery last night. She was talking to her fucking lover while pretending to care about him.
“Yes,” agreed Ben sadly, “Mickey and Randy began investigating Avery when we learned she and Spencer were lovers. Evidently, they were together before she moved to Newcrest and they had been seeing each other off and on, until right before the two of you married. We don’t know exactly when they began to become involved again, but it appears to have been at least a year ago, if not longer. We have more shots of him arriving at C&M after hours. But no video inside the office, until the past week, when we bugged all of the offices.”
The tears came. “She’s been cheating on me for more than a year? The late nights and weekends. She told me she was working. I believed her. Dad, she wasn’t working, was she?”
Ben shook his head slowly. “Avery had us all fooled Cole. She’s in the wrong goddamned profession. Shoulda been a fucking actress.” Ben stopped and blew out a long breath. “Mickey began to surveil the offices before the cameras were in place. He got some still pictures of the two of them. It’s not pretty and I won’t make you look at them. We eventually got the place bugged, so we could hear what was being said.”
“Tell me,” said Cole simply. He was numb now, as the realization that his wife’s lover may have tried to kill his sister. But why?
Ben poured Cole another drink before beginning again. “From what we can piece together, after I told everyone my plans to give Ami 51% – she must have told him. So he, or they, we aren’t sure yet, decided to – ‘take care’ of … Ami.” Ben had a hard time finishing his sentence.
Cole spoke up, his voice shaking. “After we got home that night, Avery was furious about your decision. We had a huge fight and she stormed out of the house. She was gone three hours. She said was sitting in her car at the park – thinking. She must have gone to see him.”
“I’m so sorry Cole. Avery knew what he was planning and didn’t stop it. They had both assumed you would be taking controlling ownership.”
Cole threw the empty shot glass at the wall and shattered it with a less than satisfying crash and he began to sob.
Ben didn’t move and continued on softly. “Cole, the police are arresting her and Spencer as we speak. For attempted murder. Ami wasn’t the only target. Once Ami was out of the way,” he stopped and swallowed hard, “they had discussed plans to get you out of the way too.”
Cole was breathing too fast but had to get the words out. In between breaths he told his Dad about last nights conversation. “She wanted – to make you – sign the company – over to me – so she could run it.”
Then his breaths began to come so fast he couldn’t see, he tried to stand up so he could splash water on his face and nearly hit the floor. His father managed to catch him.
“Sit down son,” said Ben and helped him to the floor. Then he yelled, “GARRET!”
The three men came back in. “He almost passed out,” explained Ben, “I think he’s better now.”
Mickey texted the receptionist on his cell phone and she came in with a wet cloth.
Cole was still on the floor. “Are you feeling better now?” he asked.
Cole sat up slowly, trying to regain control. “No….I don’t even know what to do now. What do I tell the twins? And Ami. And Noah. I can never face them again. Oh God. Why?”
Avery was pissed. Ben didn’t come in again. Even more reason for her to take over. After she hung up with Cole, she called Spencer. He answered on the first ring.
“Hey Angel. How did it go?” he asked.
“He didn’t show up again!” groused Avery.
“Well fuck … we could always try to find another drunk driver to eliminate his little princess.”
She sat back in her chair. “God Spencer. NO! That was awful. But, actually, it’s working to our advantage. Ben is a huge mess. That man’s issues have issues. I really think I can get him to just sign the controlling shares over to Cole, if he ever comes in. I can have contracts drawn up and then switch them out at the last minute with ones that give me full control. He won’t even know. Then I can simply divorce Cole and no one else gets hurt. When he finds out, if he complains, we can threaten to tell his precious children all about him. We will finally have full control of Newcrest, and instead of working for scraps, we will make millions.”
“I like the way you think baby,” he said and laughed, “Now I know why I love you. But are you sure hubs will just go away?”
Avery rolled her eyes. “All he cares about are those damn kids and his clinic.” And me, added a little voice in the back of her head, that she quickly dismissed. “If I give up my rights to the kids, he’ll do anything. And Ben is too screwed up right now to give a shit. We’ll have to fire Noah. That’s a shame, but we can find a replacement easily enough.”
“See you tonight then?” he asked.
She smiled at the thought. “Please. I don’t want to go home and pretend to be Susie Homemaker another day. The sooner this is over, the better. I love you.”
“Well, you may have to fuck your husband a few more times, so don’t blow it now baby. It actually makes me hot thinking of you and him.”
“You’re horrible!” she said, but laughed because, truthfully, it made her a little hot too. She always thought about Spencer when she was with Cole and fantasized about him watching. “Maybe next time I’ll record it for you.”
“You would? Damn baby. Can I come see you now?”
“Not now perv. Sofia is in the other room.”
“Fine, tonight then. Don’t wear any panties.”
“Spencer!” she admonished laughing, then stopped abruptly. “Oh, before I forget, Cole called earlier and said Ben was at BASE and asked him to come by. He said it was important. You don’t think they found anything do you?” she asked.
“Really?” replied Spencer, his tone suddenly very serious. “That’s curious. Well, let me do some checking. See you tonight babe – sans panties,” he added playfully and laughed again.
After she hung up, she felt much better. Spencer always made her feel better. Nothing seemed to bother him. She hoped this would be over soon and they could finally be together openly and not have to sneak around.
She started working on the contract that would give her full control of C&M Development.
She looked up when a detective and a policemen walked into her office. She quickly shoved the incriminating papers in the desk drawer. She saw Sofia standing in the outer office watching.
“Hi gentlemen. What can I do for you? Is there a problem?” she said pleasantly.
“Are you Avery Coulter Murdock?” asked the detective.
“Yes. I am. Did you need to ask me more questions? I thought the case was closed.”
“It’s been reopened Mrs. Murdock. You are under arrest for the attempted murder of Amelia Murdock Redcliffe.”
“Is this a joke?” she asked, her mouth suddenly dry.
“No ma’am. I have the warrant for your arrest right here. You’ll need to come with us,” said the detective, as the uniformed officer walked over to where she was sitting and took her arm indicating she needed to come with him. “Read her her rights, please,” he said to the officer.
“That’s ridiculous! It was a drunk driver!” she said in a panic as she tried to push the officer away from her. She couldn’t even think straight. The car couldn’t be traced back. Not to her anyway. Spencer already had it repaired, that very night.
As they moved to put on handcuffs, and the officer began reciting the Miranda Rights, she started to cry. This can’t be happening! “No! You don’t understand, I was in bed with my husband when that happened! Ask him!”
As they walked her out the door and past Sofia, she called out, “Sofia, call Cole! Tell him to come get me!” But she could tell, by the look on her mother-in-laws face, she already knew.
Cole was still at the BASE offices, re-hydrating, and trying to make sense of his new reality when his phone rang. He frowned. “It’s the Police Department,” he said weakly. Mickey nodded, so he reluctantly answered the call. “Cole Murdock,” he said.
“Cole! Thank God!” cried Avery. “Tell them, I was with you that night. They think I tried to kill Ami!”
Avery was crying hysterically. He felt only disgust for her and it surprised him. “Rot in hell bitch,” he said and hung up.
The next thing he knew, he was in his fathers arms, crying like a baby. His dad was talking to him, soothing him and rocking him back and forth. He had a strange sense of deja vu. But it was comforting. “Cole, Mom is going after the kids,” he heard his father saying softly, “And you’re going to come home with me. No need to go back to your house for now.”
“Phil, you have to get him too, and Sarah,” he mumbled, “They’ll need Sarah.”
His dad released him and looked him in the eye. “Cole, they’ll need their father too, don’t forget that,” he said, his voice thick with emotion, “It’s gonna be okay son. We’ll get through this – together. You have your family and we’ll always be here for you. Don’t forget that either.”
A/N – to find out where Spencer is, read Lonestar’s Hit and Run three part mini-series which covers the investigation by Mickey and friends.