What I've Done (Page 56)
In the corner of the ICU, Morgan filled two Styrofoam cups with coffee. Across the way, she could see through the glass partition into Sharp’s room, where Lance sat at the bedside. She rooted through a drawer and found a stash of shortbread cookies.
Her stomach rumbled. Daylight filtered through the blinds, and she blinked. She hadn’t even noticed that the sun had risen.
The door opened, and Esposito walked into the unit. He spotted her and altered his course. He set a cup on the pod-style machine and pressed “Brew.” “How’s Sharp?”
“He had a lacerated liver and lost a lot of blood. But the surgery went well. He made it through the night, and the doctors are hopeful.” Morgan filled her pocket with little packs of cookies. “Who else survived the night?”
Her bullet had caught Chase in the center of the back and had penetrated his heart. He’d been dead when he’d hit the ground. She wasn’t sure how she felt about killing him, and she imagined her conscience would trouble her when she fully processed it. But she’d made the right decision. Chase would have shot Haley, and Morgan couldn’t have let that happen. Lance’s opinion had been good riddance.
Morgan picked up the two coffee cups and walked back toward Sharp’s room. Lance spotted them through the window and walked out into the hallway to join them. He turned, keeping one eye on Sharp through the open door, as he’d done all night long.
Morgan did a quick scan of Sharp’s machines. Nothing had changed. He was breathing. His heart was beating. She said a prayer that he continued to do those things. She handed Lance his coffee and offered him a pack of cookies from her pocket.
“No, thanks.” He shook his head.
Morgan opened the plastic with her teeth and ate a shortbread.
Lance sniffed his coffee and lowered the cup. “I don’t suppose Isaac has started talking,” he said to the ADA.
“No. The only words Isaac spoke were to request his lawyer.” Esposito drank his coffee and made a disgusted face. The ADA must have stopped home to shower and change his clothes, because he was wearing a suit instead of jeans. The only signs of the night before were a burn on his jaw and the shadows under his eyes. He tossed his half-full cup in a nearby trash can. “But Justin woke up during the night, and his mouth has been on a confession marathon. He got lucky. The bullet grazed him. Lots of blood, no real damage.”
Morgan’s sister had brought her a change of clothes, and Lance wore a pair of hospital scrubs donated by an orderly.
Lance perked up. “He seemed ready to break.”
“He’s so guilt ridden, it’s pathetic,” Esposito said. “He signed a ten-page confession. Justin and Isaac are both going to prison forever.”
“Justin, Chase, and Isaac were in it together?” Morgan had been pondering possibilities all night.
“Yes.” Esposito took a deep breath. “Justin says it all began last summer at a music festival. Noah wasn’t with them. He ditched them to spend the day with a girl. Isaac, Chase, and Justin were all pretty steamed that he’d blown them off again. They ran across a very drunk woman named Adele Smith in the parking lot and decided to have sex with her. They took her to a secluded spot and gave her more alcohol. Isaac slipped a few of Justin’s Ambiens into her vodka, but he wasn’t patient enough to wait for the pills to work. They all raped her. She struggled and yelled a little at first. Isaac smacked her around and even half choked her to make her shut up. Eventually, they all passed out. When they woke up, she was dead. They’d given her too much Ambien on top of all the booze. They’d used condoms, and none of them had any felony convictions. Their DNA was not in the system. They thought they were in the clear. They left her body by the side of the road and went home.”
“S**t.” Lance drank his coffee and crushed the empty cup. “They’re animals.”
“There’s more.” Esposito folded his arms. “They took pictures.”
Appalled, Morgan felt her mouth drop open. She wasn’t sure if she was more surprised by their callousness or stupidity.
“And Noah saw some of the pictures,” Esposito continued. “They lied to Noah, telling him it was an accident. They were all drunk and didn’t even remember most of it.”
“Obviously that was bullshit.” Lance’s arms tensed.
“How could it have been an accident?” Morgan needed more coffee for her brain to make all the connections. “They gave her Ambien.”
Esposito gave her a patient look. “They lied and told Noah that they didn’t know what drugs Adele might have taken.”
“Right.” Morgan sighed. “And that detail wasn’t made public, so Noah wouldn’t have known.”
“Yes. As for our recent cases, they were at Beats the week before Noah’s murder. They ran into Shannon. Justin remembered her from the inn. They’d talked for a few minutes, apparently. She’d asked him for the names of the local hot spots, and he’d directed her to Beats.”
“Then it wasn’t a coincidence that she was there,” Morgan said.
“No.” Esposito shook his head. “Adam was at the club that night too. He’d had too much to drink, so Noah left early to drive him home. Isaac, Justin, and Chase were in the parking lot after the fire alarm went off. They found Shannon wandering around. She couldn’t find her car. They thought they’d gotten away with it once before, so why not do it again? They repeated the ploy, taking her out into the woods, giving her alcohol. This time they only slipped one pill into her drink. But she woke up while Isaac was raping her and screamed. He strangled her. Again, they thought they couldn’t be tied to her murder. Except when Noah heard about her disappearance, he started looking at them funny. Then he started asking questions about what they’d done that night after he’d left the club.”
“So they killed him.”
Esposito nodded. “Justin said Noah let them in that night. He was irritated that Haley had passed out on him right after they’d had sex. The three men had previously agreed to each stab him once so that they were all equally culpable. Justin had slipped Haley two sleeping pills at the club. They’d planned on framing her all along, but after they’d stabbed Noah, she was standing there. At first, they thought she was watching, until Isaac figured out she was sleepwalking. They put the knife in her hand and pushed her into the puddle of blood. She slid and fell. She scrambled and ended up covered in blood. Justin said it couldn’t have been easier.”
“They killed their friend to cover up their own crimes,” Morgan said.
“When Haley was arrested for Noah’s murder, they thought they were home free.” Esposito gestured from Morgan to Lance. “Until you two started asking questions. They were particularly concerned when you”—the ADA pointed at Lance—“told them she remembered parts of the night. They didn’t like the questions or the direction of the investigation, which is why they set Lance’s house on fire. They thought if Morgan and the PI firm were out of the picture, they’d be safe.”
“How did they start this fire, tonight?” Morgan asked.
“The arson investigator thinks Isaac shot a hole in the propane tank,” Esposito said. “The initial explosion is probably what killed the bodyguard.”
“Why did they decide to kill Haley?” Lance asked. “She was taking the fall for their crimes.”
“Yes. At first, Isaac thought they could make her seem crazy,” Esposito explained. “He hacked into the router and whispered nasty things to her through her game console. But Isaac and Chase must have decided they needed a clean slate. Justin was losing his s**t. He’d become a risk. Haley might have been remembering that night. If Haley and Justin were both dead, there would be no witnesses.”
“But Justin wasn’t dead,” Morgan said.
“They didn’t know that,” Esposito said. “As for incriminating evidence, Justin said their clothes only had a little bit of Noah’s blood on them. Isaac’s final stab wound was the only one that had bled heavily. They’d managed to keep their shoes out of it. They’d disposed of their clothes and gloves by burning them in a barrel behind Isaac’s house. The black dog hair you pointed out on the forensics report belongs to a coonhound. Chase’s father happens to own several, including a black-and-tan dog that he uses for hunting. And we found Haley’s medical alert bracelet in Isaac’s house. He’d kept an earring that belonged to Adele and a scarf that belonged to Shannon. Trophies of his crimes, I guess.” The ADA shrugged. “We’re hoping he starts talking once he learns that Justin has turned on him.”
“Who shot Justin?” Morgan asked.
“Chase,” Esposito said. “He and Isaac knew Justin was near the breaking point. Justin had talked on the phone to Chase a half hour before you showed up at his door. He admits he was freaking out and telling them he couldn’t keep lying. The guilt was too much for him.”
“But not for Isaac and Chase.” Lance tossed his empty cup into the trash can.
“No.” Esposito’s phone beeped. He pulled it out of his pocket and checked the display. “They had no remorse. Isaac still doesn’t.”