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Scarred: Sins and Secrets Series of Duets by Willow Winters (1)

Chapter 1


Wedding vows sound so sweet,

Meant for times of joy.

The truth is so much darker,

Filled with moments to destroy.

Your sins left me broken,

Scared and lonely too.

With no one to hear my plea,

With a secret no one knew.

I promise to love you forever. And that’s the easy part.

To honor and cherish you.

To keep your wishes and dreams my own.

To comfort you and keep you safe, always.

Till death do us part.

My wedding vows haunt me. The parts of them that I can remember, at least. I can’t stop seeing the look of complete devotion on Kat’s face on our wedding day, as I read my vows from a scrap of paper I’d written them on.

My heart raced as I spoke each word, my gaze straying from the paper to look back at her. She was so beautiful, with a love that I knew I didn’t deserve.

I can still remember the feel of her soft skin as I cupped her cheek in my hand. I can still smell the sweet fragrance that drifted toward me as I leaned closer to her, all of our friends and family clapping and cheering as I took my first kiss from my wife.

I can still taste her lips on mine.

When I said those words, I meant them. I thought they’d be so easy to keep, to be honest, and it never occurred to me that I’d forget.

A large metal door opens at the end of the hall and I look up, my view obstructed by steel bars from the jail cell.

It’s been a long damn time since I’ve been locked up. Years. Almost a dozen years, to be exact. I knew I’d be back soon though.

It was only a matter of time before they brought me in for questioning. I sit hunched over, resting my forearms on my thighs as I wait for the attending officer to come get me. He walks right past me though and I drop my head, focusing on the concrete floor and recalling every detail of the night that put me here.

My hands sweat as I twist my wedding band around my finger. I can’t think about Kat right now or what she’d say. I haven’t told her a damn thing about this and she’s still not letting me back into her life. If she knew the truth, she’d hate me forever.

The worst part about all of this, is that I don’t have a way out yet. I’m just falling into a dark black hole, not knowing how to escape, or when it will even end.

Someone coughs and I slowly turn my head to the left where it came from a few cells down, but I can’t see a damn thing. I think there’s only one other person in holding with me. And he’s on the same side so the rest of the cells are empty. I guess Tuesdays are slow days for the station.

My foot tap, tap, taps on the ground as I anxiously wait. The cops haven’t given me shit to go on yet. Other than the word murder. My best guess is that they think I gave Tony the coke and knew it was laced with poison.

Even if I didn’t know it was tainted, I’d still be held accountable. At least here in the state of New York I am. But that shit was fucked with. Someone wanted him dead. Although the only two people who knew it was even there were me and my old boss.

That lying piece of shit. My shoulders rise with a heavy breath as the anger gets the best of me. I can see him smile as he patted my back, walking out the room after making sure it’d be ready for our client, Tony. I know he knew.

He’s the one who put it there. The only question I have on my mind, is whether or not he’s the one who laced it. I can’t imagine he did. He wouldn’t be that stupid. But I’m not taking the fall for murder over that shitty decision that cost Tony his life.

“Thompson,” the cop’s voice bellows and echoes off the walls of the small cell.

“That’s me,” I answer him, looking him square in the eyes. I don’t recognize him as he puts the key in the lock and opens the door wide for me to get out and walk to the interrogation room. Adrenaline pumps hard in my blood. It seems more intense now than it did years ago.

Maybe it’s because I don’t know how I’ll get out of this. I have an alibi, but if James, my ex-boss, showed them the pictures proving I was with Tony that night, then I’m fucked.

I have to wonder if he would though. If that’s the case, he was deliberately withholding evidence and they’d have to question his intentions and his involvement.

My boots smack against the floor and I walk at an easy pace, making sure I don’t do anything to piss off the cop. He’s a short guy. Probably in his thirties I guess. Lots of wrinkles around his eyes though. Maybe from the stress, maybe from the sun.

“After you,” he says with a grim look on his face as he opens the door. I give him a nod and walk in; he doesn’t follow me though.

I only hesitate to sit down for a moment. There are two men in the room already. A tall cop with broad shoulders and a thin mustache that I want to shave off and Jay McCann, the lawyer from James’ PR company.

“You’re fired,” I tell him the second I sit down. I don’t even look at the dumb fuck. He’s represented me and plenty of other clients before, but I know he’d break attorney-client privilege and tell James everything. I don’t trust him.

“Are you sure?” the cop asks me as McCann stutters over a response. Obviously shocked and I don’t blame him.

“Evan, I don’t understand. I highly suggest we talk about this before you-”

“Yes, I’m sure. Sorry, Jay.” I turn to face him and wait for a response, but he stands up and straightens his jacket. He clenches his jaw as he grabs his briefcase and I can see he wants to say something, but he holds it in.

I watch him walk around the table and exit without another word, leaving me alone with the cop.

“I’m Detective Bradshaw, Mr. Thompson.”

“I would say it’s nice to meet you, but … ” I say with a smirk and tilt my hands up. Detective Bradshaw doesn’t laugh or respond to my little joke. And that’s fine. They never do in here where it’s recorded. I know how this works.

“Have you been informed of your rights?”

“I have,” I answer him.

“And do you know what you’re being charged with?” he asks me.

“Charged?” I answer quickly, my back stiffening as my muscles tense. “I wasn’t informed that I was being charged.”

“Well, I imagine there’s no refuting it on your part. You supplied Tony Lewis with the cocaine he overdosed on.”

“And you want me to admit to handing over the cocaine to him so you have someone behind bars to take the fall for a hotshot’s death?” I ask him sarcastically, seamlessly hiding how my nerves want to crack and how my blood pounds in my ears. I let out an uneasy huff of a laugh and shake my head. Leaning back in my seat I look him in the eyes with a smile as I say, “That’s not happening, Detective.”

“Well, someone is going to go down for murder, yes. But you’d only be sentenced for your part and we’re willing to cut you a deal. Whoever laced it with strychnine intended for it to kill. There’s no doubt in the DA’s mind that it’s murder.”

He waits for a reaction, but I use every ounce of energy in me to not give him anything. I won’t say a word. Inside, I’m denying it. No fucking way. There’s no way James would give a client something that would kill him. They’re wrong.

“We know it’s someone within the firm. It’s not the first time one of NY PR’s clients has turned up dead.” He leans back and adds, “As I’m sure you’re aware.”

As he talks, he pulls out a manila folder that was sitting on his lap and tosses it my way. It lands with a heavy thud in front of me and I easily open it, feigning disinterest.

“Nothing points to that person being you, but this was intentional. Someone wanted whoever it was that was going to be taking this coke to die. It was laced with enough strychnine to kill with the smallest sample.”

I don’t say anything as he pauses. He points his finger to a chart. “Whoever did it wanted even the smallest dose to kill.”

My heart beats hard in my chest and then again.

“If you have any information on how we’d go about finding the killer, that’d be useful and we’d certainly be grateful for that.”

I have to calmly exhale a few times, keeping as still as possible and making sure my expression doesn’t change in the least before I can respond. “I really liked Tony and it’s a shame what happened to him. It’s extremely upsetting to think someone murdered him.”

“It is, especially since he didn’t have any enemies we can find,” the cop says and then leans forward.

“You know if we can’t find who did it, you’ll be taking the full brunt of things.”

I let a sarcastic laugh rock my shoulders and then look toward the door to my left. The one that leads to my freedom. “I’m sorry Detective, everyone I know loved Tony and I didn’t give him any drugs.” I lean forward, mimicking his posture as I add, “It’s illegal.”

“If that’s the way you want to play it,” he says, reaching for the folder and I lean back in my seat again as he collects the papers.

“Am I free to go now?” I ask him. “I’d like to leave.”

He stands abruptly, making the steel chair legs scrape noisily across the floor. “I don’t think so. Maybe a night in the cells will help you remember something.”

Fucking prick.

“Be back in a bit, Thompson.”

I clench my jaw and crack my knuckles as I watch him leave.

It’s only when the door shuts and I’m left alone in the room that I realize the extent of what Detective Bradshaw said.

Someone wanted to kill Tony, knowing I’d give the coke to him. Maybe even thinking I’d take it too. I’m known for partying. It’s why clients chose me to represent them in the firm. My head spins as I try to recount that night. There’s no way anyone else could have gone in there. James had a key, and he gave me the only other copy.

I was there to party with the clients and make sure they had a good time, but stayed out of trouble. It was easy enough in the rec room.

For the last ten minutes I’ve been thinking someone was trying to kill Tony. It’s what the detective was suggesting.

I’d bet anything that James thought I’d take a hit at least.

Maybe it’s paranoia, but as I sit alone in the room, all I can think is that the coke was never intended for Tony.

Someone wanted me dead.