Chapter 12. In the Box
“Trust can be hard to build, particularly when we’ve been hurt.” Dr. Garrison said. “You have both suffered a loss of trust in your relationship, and now you will need to do some work to rebuild. Clearly, you both want your relationship to work, or you wouldn’t be here—so that is a good start.”
Sean had agreed to come to therapy with me. He wasn’t particularly happy about it, but he knew that he owed me, and I thought it might be good for us.
“I agree that it is a good start, but I guess…well….” I broke off, not sure I could bring myself to say what I wanted to say.
“Continue, Ed. It’s important to be honest and open in here, especially with Sean.” Dr. Garrison smiled.
I took a deep breath. “I don’t see why I should have to regain his trust. I didn’t do anything wrong. If anything, I’m paying for a mistake made by someone who came before me.”
“Trust isn’t always about who did something wrong—it’s about working with the person as they are, and in the context of their feelings and experiences. Part of my strategy will involve encouraging you both to change your patterns of thinking, so that you aren’t as likely to assume things about each other that may be wrong or harmful to your relationship. But that’s only part of the work that will need to be done. We will work to come up with things that you both need and want to make you feel safe in your relationship, and that will help build the trust back up.”
Sean and I looked at each other, gauging each other’s willingness to commit to this course of action.
“I am willing to try anything. I know I’m not going to make the mistake of leaving again, but I want Ed to be able to trust me.” Sean said.
“I’m in, too.” I said.
“Great. Now, let’s start thinking about things that each of you can do to make the other feel safer while we are building back the trust. Ed, you go first.”
“This is too much make-up. I look like a clown.”
“Stop. You don’t. So, your therapist suggested that you go on a date?” Kendra said. This was the first opportunity she’d had to come over since Sean had come back.
“Things like dates. To re-familiarize ourselves with each other, get back to a normal sort of place.”
Kendra snorted. “Normal? You two? Does he know how you met? What you both do for a living?”
“Gee, thanks.” I said, but with a smile.
“But seriously, how normal can you expect it to be? He left for months, and now he’s back. It’s gotta be weird.”
“It is. But, we’re working on it.”
Kendra remained quiet for several moments, so I said, “What is it?”
“Nothing. I’m just trying to put myself in your shoes, wondering how I’d react if Connor did something similar.”
“It’s hard to imagine. And honestly, I don’t think you ever know how you’ll react until you’re in a situation. I know I certainly thwarted my own expectations of myself.”
“Are you happy?” Kendra said.
“I’m…on my way there. I think.” I said, laughing.
“Then that is all that matters.” Kendra said. “What is going to happen with work, now that he’s back?”
“Well, Nick hasn’t said that I need to go back to the library.” I said. Kendra stuck out her bottom lip in a pout. “But I don’t know that we’re bringing in enough money for me to stay on if Sean is brought back on the payroll.”
“Well, you know I’ll hire you back at the library, if it comes to that.” Kendra said.
“Thanks. That helps my peace of mind. Like I said, Nick hasn’t really said anything, so I don’t know what is in his head about it. All I know is that tomorrow, we’re all meeting Patricia at the bank,” I said. Nick and I had spent most of the morning going to the four banks in Sunset Valley, asking bank employees whether the key we had would match to a safe deposit box. Nick and Connor were going to escort Patricia to Valley Bank tomorrow, where Kevin Tremaine had purchased space in a safe-deposit box two days before he disappeared. Sean and I would meet them there.
“Are you nervous about tomorrow?” Kendra said.
“Not nearly as nervous as I am about tonight.” I said.
Sean took me to a new restaurant that had recently opened, and I had made a mental note to tell Kendra about it as a possible wedding reception venue. It had been too cold to dine outside on the patio, but with the ocean views over the cliffs, it would be beautiful on a warmer day.
“So do you need me to stay over tonight?” Sean said, then after he saw my look, clarified, “On the couch—for protection.”
“Oh. I guess it might be nice to give the guys a break.” I said.
“The guys.” Sean said.
“Yeah—Kevin and Julio.” I said. Armand’s bodyguards had been helping keep watch of my house at night since the attack. “Too many Kevins, huh?” I joked. We were meeting Kevin Tremaine’s wife at the bank tomorrow, and then there was Kevin Bennett, Armand’s bodyguard.
“Armand’s bodyguards.” Sean said.
“I guess you and Armand are on friendly terms.” Sean said.
“I wouldn’t say ‘friendly,’ exactly. He’s generally an asshole, most of the time. But I helped him with the sexual harassment case he had, and –“
“Did you ever think that maybe I don’t want you to be friends with him? I mean, he did sleep with my ex-fiancée before she was my ex.”
I tried to take a few moments before answering, but I was still angry when I spoke. “Did you ever think that your opinion about my friends ceased to matter as much when you high-tailed it to Europe and left me here, wondering whether you’d come back and if you did, whether we’d still be together?”
We glared at each other across the table for a few moments, eyes angry and accusing. Sean was the first to realize that we were fighting on our date, and his eyebrows flattened out, his eyes turned sad. My own face followed suit.
“Hey, I’m….I’m sorry. I have no right—“
“No, I should be more—“
“Let’s try again. How about we clear our heads. Care for a dance?”
I nodded and we made our way to the dance floor. A pianist was playing slow romantic tunes, and an elderly couple danced near us.
“That’s better.” Sean said, smiling as his arms came around me. It felt good to be there, with him, music around us, just acting like we had no problems and like we were a normal couple who did normal couple things. For a few moments, we weren’t broken and complicated.
“Do you really want to spend the night on my couch?” I said.
“Of course. No place I’d rather be.” Sean said.
I must have looked skeptical, because he added, “Well, other than in your bed, with you.”
I shook my head, laughing, and he shrugged, saying, “It was worth a shot. If you change your mind, I’ll be snuggling with Victor on your couch.”
The next day, Sean and I walked into the Valley Bank lobby, our wet shoes squeaking on the polished floor. Nick and Connor were waiting near the elevator.
“She went up about ten minutes ago.” Nick said.
Patricia came down moments later, holding an expanding file. “It has notes, and a computer disk.”
We decided that we should take everything to Rocca Investigations, and our small caravan drove to the office. Sean and I speculated about what could be on the disk all the way there.
We all gathered around Belinda’s desk as Nick loaded the disk in the drive.
“It’s a video.” Nick said, bringing it up on the screen.
When my brother’s face appeared on the screen, I felt the pressure of tears build behind my eyes. Patricia said, “Kevin” under her breath as he appeared on the screen, beside my brother.
“Interview with Scott Prescott.” Kevin Tremaine said, then recited the date. It was a little over a week before my brother and Kevin had disappeared. I was almost too overwhelmed to pay attention to the video, and I had to shake myself to pay attention to all the details.
“That’s in our garage. He filmed it in our garage.” Patricia said.
Kevin proceeded to ask my brother questions, and it was clear that he was doing so mostly for documentation, rather than information. He already knew the information he was pulling from Scott with his questions—he was recording the answers for evidence. After taking Scott through statements about who he was and about his winning of the internship, Kevin asked Scott more open-ended questions.
“What happened when you started your internship with Donald Price?” Kevin’s voice came from off-camera.
Scott licked his lips, then answered, “The first two days, it was fine. I made copies and edited letters and speeches. I was trained to do fundraising calls, and I sorted mail and directed emails to different offices. Normal stuff for a political office.” Scott paused, closing his eyes briefly.
“But on the third day, I had been sent in to do some inventory of a supply closet that was attached to Donald Price’s office. The closet had two doors—one that was accessible from the rest of the office suite, and one that opened into his office. I was in there when I heard Mayor Price talking with someone. I wouldn’t have thought much of it, but I could tell he was really angry, so it got my attention. He wasn’t shouting, but he was…he just sounded mad.”
“What was he saying?” Kevin said.
“He was arguing with someone—at first I didn’t know who it was. The person he was arguing with said something like ‘I want out of it. You don’t even need me anymore.’ And Mayor Price told him he wasn’t getting out, and said, ‘You’ll keep it up or you’ll spend your life in prison. Don’t forget that I can make it look like you did it. You will just be another guy who killed a man to get to his wife.’”
“Did you know who he was referring to?” Kevin asked.
“No. I still didn’t know who was in his office. The guy said ‘Even the most experienced killers make mistakes. Maybe you forgot something, and it will come out.’” I was really scared at this point, because the guy was saying that Donald Price had killed someone, and instead of denying it, Price said, ‘Maybe, but who will believe that I killed someone when I can pin it on a career criminal like you? Who would you believe? Pillar of the community, or scum of the earth?’ Then the other guy said something really quietly that I couldn’t hear, and Mayor Price just laughed and told the guy to keep his mouth shut and get out.”
“Did you find out who Donald Price was talking to in his office?”
“Yes. I got out of the closet fast when I realized the guy would be leaving, and I went to the main office suite, where the office manager was. When the guy walked through, I asked her who he was because I’d never seen him in the office before, and she said it was Hector Dorantes.”
Kevin took Scott through his actions after that. Scott had chosen to contact a reporter instead of police because he worried about Price’s power and position as mayor. He had contacted Kevin because he’d been the one who came to take his picture and write up the blurb about his winning the internship in Price’s office.
Soon after that, Scott’s interview ended, and Kevin’s face appeared in front of the camera instead.
“I’m worried about that kid, and I’m worried about me. I think this story is the tip of the iceberg for Price, and he won’t let it come out without a fight. If something happens to me, look to Price. I think he and Dorantes were partners for the dock project, but after that…something happened and Price ended up killing or having James ‘Jimmy’ Rocca killed.”
“Jimmy Rocca’s wife, Desdemona, or ‘Mona’ married Hector Dorantes after Jimmy was found gunned down in a parking lot, so that seems to be the incident Price refers to when he is arguing with Dorantes.” Kevin stopped, rubbing his forehead, and added, “I’m going to talk with a source in the police department this weekend, and see what I can find out there. If I can build enough of a case, I might be able to take it to the DA first.”
Kevin ended his footage and it took a few seconds for us to break out of the haze of discovery. My brother had been caught up in the plot to reveal that Price was a murderer, and he might have been murdered as a result.
“I…I’m sorry, I just need a moment.” Patricia stood up so fast that her computer chair spun around in lazy circles, and she was trying to cover the tears on her cheeks as she hurried to the bathroom.
We were still trying process what we’d just watched when Nick said, “Well, shit. Hector is innocent.”
Authorial Interjection: Some confirmation of information that we heard before, but a few details we didn’t know. It is possible that there are only two or three chapters left, gentle readers.