Chapter 13. Reunion
“What’s the next step, then?” Sean asked.
Connor had left moments ago to take Patricia home. We had made several copies of the video and the materials before sending the originals with Patricia. One copy was locked up in Nick’s safe in his office, and more copies were distributed amongst us to hide in our own homes.
“I think we have to go to Hector and tell him about this.” Nick said. “He might be able to help us pinpoint exactly who can be trusted in the prosecutor’s office, and between this video and his testimony, they might be able to arrest Donald Price.”
“I’ll set it up.” I said. I stepped away to make the call.
“Dorantes residence. Beulah speaking.”
“Beulah, hi. This is Edith Prescott. I need to set up a meeting with Hector.”
“Let me transfer you.” She said. I heard the line ring twice, then it was picked up.
“Yes?” Hector said.
“Hi Hector, it is Edith Prescott.”
“That is what Beaulah said, but I wasn’t sure I heard her correctly. Is something wrong?”
“We need to meet with you. Something has come up.”
“Who is ‘we’, exactly?”
“Nick, Sean, and me.”
Hector was silent for several moments. When he spoke, his voice was hoarse. “Nick will be there?”
“It must really be something, then. His mother will be thrilled to see him.”
“When can we meet?”
“As soon as possible. I can clear my schedule.”
“Then, say, half an hour?”
“Yes. See you soon.”
When I hung up, Nick and Sean stopped talking. “Well?”
“Half an hour.” I said.
Nick nodded, and swallowed, his mouth pressing into a flat line. I could only imagine what he must have felt, given how much time and effort he had spent trying to prove Hector was guilty of his father’s murder. I could only hope that he could take comfort in reuniting with his mother, and that would be enough to make up for those lost years.
Nick drove us to the estate, and as we entered the gates, he said, “I never thought I’d come through these gates ever again.”
We were greeted by the ever-present Beulah in the entryway. I noticed that she studied Nick closely as we walked up, and I wondered whether she knew what it would mean to her employer that he had come.
“Right this way.” She said.
We were led into the same sitting room that I’d met Mona in before, and both she and Hector were waiting inside.
There was an awkward pause as everyone waiting for the other person to say something.
“I’ll bring in the coffee.” Beulah said, smoothly breaking the silence.
Mona walked up to Nick, slowly, as if she were approaching a skittish animal. “Nick….”
She threw her arms around him and they hugged. Then she turned to Sean, “I need to hug you, too. It’s been too long, son.”
Hector came up to Nick, and kept his hands at his sides. “Can I take your presence here to mean that you have found something to clear my name?”
“We found something to corroborate your story, but I’m not sure it will be admissible in court.” Nick said.
“I don’t care about court—all I care about is that you know that I didn’t kill your father.”
“I….I know that, now. I’m sorry. I don’t know what….I just…I’m sorry.”
“I can’t blame you for thinking that I did, and I’m not completely blameless in what happened to him. But it has been so hard, without you in our lives. It left a hole.”
“I see no reason to…to avoid being in your lives in the future.” Nick said.
Hector pulled him into a hug, and Sean went over to get his hug as well. I smiled, considering what an odd family reunion this was. Beulah came in with the coffee, and we sat down.
“Beulah, please come meet my son and my nephew.” Mona said. “Beulah is my right-hand. I’m not sure what I would do without her.”
“Nicholas Rocca.” Nick said.
“So nice to finally meet you.” Beulah said.
“Sean Campbell.” Sean said.
“Nice to meet you as well.” Beulah said, then took her leave. I noticed a look pass between Nick and Sean, and I rolled my eyes.
“Just ask your mother for her number.” I said to Nick. Hector burst out laughing, and Mona smiled.
Nick’s cheeks were pink as he cleared his throat. “Uhm. Well, so, the thing is, in the course of investigating the disappearance of Ed’s brother, Scott, we found a video in which he corroborates Hector’s story.”
Hector frowned. “A video?”
“He went to a journalist in town—Kevin Tremaine. Kevin disappeared around the same time that Scott Prescott did.” Nick said, then went on to explain what Scott said in the video.
“And you never heard from him?” Hector asked me.
“No. I’m not even sure that he’s alive. In fact, you may have heard about the remains that were discovered at the beach last week—it is possible that it’s him.”
Hector looked at the floor, then back up at me. “That isn’t your brother.”
I went utterly still. “What? How do you know?”
“I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that the authorities will discover that is Kevin Tremaine.”
“How do you know that?” I said. “What do you know about my brother?”
Everyone was quiet, staring at Hector.
“I shouldn’t tell you.”
“Did you kill my brother?” I asked, my voice getting shrill toward the end.
“No—I swear I didn’t. But if I tell you this, you cannot tell anyone. Not your parents. No the police. No one.” Hector said.
“Tell me. Now.” I said. When he hesitated, I added, “I need to know. Please.”
“I knew that your brother was in contact with Kevin Tremaine because Price got wind of it when Tremaine approached his police contact. He had no way of knowing that the officer was on Price’s payroll.”
Hector looked at Mona, and she nodded for him to continue. “Price ordered me to kill Kevin Tremaine and Scott.”
I felt my stomach drop. He was going to tell me that he knew the body on the beach was Tremaine because he’d put it there, and Scott was, was somewhere else and was dead, in a hole…
“I didn’t kill them.”
I burst into sobs, shocking everyone in the room.
“Eddie.” Sean said, moving to the back of my chair. Hector rushed over, kneeling in front of me.
“Edith, I gave your brother $20,000 and told him to leave the state, and possibly the country, and to never come back or contact anyone. Price found out before I could do the same for Kevin, and he sent some of my men to kill him. He made sure to make it look like the orders were from me. One more way that he had me under his thumb.”
“He was alive?” I said, not sure I’d heard correctly.
“When I last saw him, yes. I didn’t track where he went or how he left. I didn’t want to know, because if I didn’t know, it made it less likely Price could find out.”
“Then he might still be alive.” I said.
“He might—but I don’t know whether Price was able to find him or whether he got away safely. All I know is that I tried.”
I could barely take it in, and the words rattled around my head.
“Th—thank you.” I said. The words felt completely inadequate, but it was all I had at that moment.
“Why didn’t you convince him to testify along with you?” Nick asked Hector.
“Because I knew he’d be dead before the trial.” Hector said, tone bleak. “I hated that he’d been dragged into my mess, and once he was, the only thing I could do was get him out. I didn’t know he’d made a video—I only knew that he’d contacted Tremaine.”
“Do you think we can get the district attorney’s office to bring a case against Price, if you testify and with Scott’s video interview?” Sean asked.
“I don’t know. I mean…I’m going to be cast as an unreliable witness. Scott’s video might not be admissible. Let me talk to my attorney, get her feel for it.”
“I think it might also be time to bring Erica in.” Sean said, staring at Nick.
“Yay.” Nick said in a flat tone. With a sigh, he added, “I’ll call her.”
I sat back, still reeling. My brother might be alive.
Authorial Interjection: Some big revelations here! Now we know a bit about what happened (or didn’t) to Scott! It seems fitting that the chapter in which Nick reunites with his mother is posted on Mother’s Day–but I never wanted to take this long in between the last chapter and this one! We’re getting close, patient and gentle readers!