As Hannah drove to Silas’s place, she texted him to warn him that she was on her way. She had tried in vain to reach him the night before, but for whatever reason, he never answered his phone. She was dying to tell him all about the most recent rape allegations against Owen Bishop that occurred at the public vigil.
Hannah couldn’t believe that had happened. And she still could hear the crowd’s reaction as the girl’s voice broke through the silence with the accusations. Hannah had only gotten a glance at the girl, but she looked distraught and anguished by the situation, and if she had to make a decision based on that first impression of her, she believed that something had gone down between the two. There was simply too much passion for it to be a lie.
When the accusation was made, the shock was apparent on Owen’s face, but so was the guilt. The look of evil that was always there under the surface had risen, and it had given him away.
And to make things worse, his new girlfriend’s composure faltered too. She seemed—by her own look of horror, that was sudden and unforgiving—that she too felt there was some truth to what the woman was saying.
But why would she feel that way? Didn’t she trust him? What did she know about Owen that no one else did? What could have made her suspicious? Had she seen the woman around before? Hannah wished she had five minutes to pick the woman’s brain. She’d get those answers and much more. Firstly, what was she doing with a man like Owen Bishop in the first place?
She checked the time on the dashboard and realized that the family memorial, which was set for ten thirty that morning, was just minutes from starting. Hannah was sure that the mood had been dampened by the new allegations, even though Owen had tried his best to play them off. And she couldn’t help but wonder what Win Bishop thought of his son’s night at the vigil, especially since he and his wife were absent from the event.
As she parked to go up to Silas’s place, she hoped that everything was okay with him. She still wasn’t sure why he was ignoring her texts and hoped that he hadn’t had his own emergency.
She went up to his floor and hit the buzzer a few times before he answered. It wasn’t until she waited that she hoped he didn’t have company. And suddenly, her heart began to race.
Maybe that was the reason he had avoided her? She suddenly felt a bit silly being there unannounced and thought that maybe she was overstepping a bit. But just when she decided to leave and check on him later, she heard his groggy voice call out to her.
“Who is it?”
She stepped back to the door. “It’s me, Hannah. Is it a bad time?”
He opened the door wearing nothing but a robe. His hair was damp, and he smelled like aftershave. “Come on in. I was just freshening up.’”
“I’m sorry to barge in on you. There was no one at the desk, so I came on up. I guess I caught you at a bad time.”
Silas shook his head and waved her in. “No, it’s okay. There’s never anyone there on Saturday morning.” He walked away to his room. “Make yourself at home. I’ll just be a minute.”
Hannah walked around to the sofa and sat down, where she noticed Aria Patterson’s book lying on the cushion next to her. She picked it up to see that one page had been dog-eared. Silas had only gotten a few chapters in, and she couldn’t help but wonder if he was enjoying the read.
She moved it to the coffee table and noticed that his phone was also there next to an empty wine glass that still had a small amount pooled at the bottom.
If that was any indication of the previous evening, he’d spent it alone. That helped her not feel so awkward about showing up unannounced.
A couple of minutes later, Silas came out wearing jeans and a gray T-shirt that showed off his chest and arms. She much preferred to see him this way, not that his daily suits and ties weren’t attractive. But there was something about him like this that made him seem more laid back and down to earth.
“So, how did the vigil go?” he asked, walking to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee.
“You really don’t know?” she asked, giving him a wide-eyed look.
“Know what?” He glanced over at her from the counter.
“Have you seriously been under a rock all night? I’ve texted you a hundred times. Did you not see any of them?”
“No. Sorry.” He finished up in the kitchen and walked over to join her. “I crashed early on the couch. At some point, I made it to my bed, and I don’t even remember that. I just dragged my ass out of bed and went to the shower before you showed up.” He looked around and found his phone on the coffee table. “Shit, I bet it needs to be charged.”
“Well, I’ll spare you reading the texts. I’ve been dying to talk to you all night. I would have come over after the event, but it took us forever to get out of there and back home.” The crowd hung around the park for a long time after Owen left, and with so much going on and a lot of confusion from the public, it made things a bit more chaotic leaving.
“Did something bad happen?” He narrowed his eyes. “Don’t tell me Bishop saw you.”
Hannah chuckled halfheartedly. “Oh, he saw me alright. And so did Traeger, but that’s not it. There was a woman in the crowd who spoke out against Owen. She started yelling at him and saying he raped her.”
Silas’s mouth fell open in shock. “What? Are you serious? This happened during the vigil?”
“Yeah. Of course, Traeger swooped in and took the poor girl out of there. I’m sure she was arrested for public disturbance, and if I have to guess, knowing Traeger, she’s still being held until after the family memorial this morning. He won’t want her around to make a scene again.”
Silas slumped back against the cushions. “This is a lot to take in. I swear, I have one lazy night, and all hell breaks loose.”
She hadn’t even told him half of it. “Yeah, well, it was crazy, alright. I saw Lonnie Smith there too. He was with his group of bikers there to pay tribute to Baby Ollie.”
“I guess it’s good to see there’s a human being in there after all. Did he see you?”
Hannah remembered Lonnie’s Hollywood smile fading as he met her eyes. “Oh yes. We even had a brief conversation. But the best part of seeing him was seeing his reaction to Owen Bishop arriving on the scene. The public had no idea he was going to be there. I only found out through a leak with my friend, so when they announced him, Mr. Smith’s expression was priceless, to say the least.”
“He didn’t like him?”
“Not at all. I don’t think there’s any love or friendship between them. In fact, it seemed as if Lonnie had a reason to hate him.”
Silas shrugged. “He’s a prick. Maybe Smith is pissed he’s not getting that attention anymore.”
Hannah didn’t take Lonnie Smith as the jealous type. “I think it’s more than that. I just don’t know what. But now, with this accusation, I’m even more curious.” She let out a sigh. “It’s like a Christmas gift.”
“What did Owen say about her accusations? What did he do?”
“He was shocked at first. And then he tried to play it off, saying she must be channeling Claire Ford. He laughed it off, but you could see his face. He was shaken up by it. And Karissa Shelby, the hot new girlfriend. Wow. You could have knocked her over with a feather.”
“I bet.” He got up to put his phone on the charger and check the coffee.
“Yeah, but there was something else.” Hannah could still remember the look in the man’s eyes.
“What?” he asked when he reached the counter. “Don’t tell me there’s more.”
“He looked right at me, and there was so much contempt in his eyes that I’m certain he thinks I had something to do with it.”
Silas sighed. “Great. So now he’s going to go after you?”
“What else is new?” she said with a shrug.
“And here I tell you to stay out of trouble.” He shook his head as he poured two cups of coffee. “Well, it shouldn’t really make a difference in the case. They are separate matters entirely. So, we can’t let it sidetrack us. His drama is his drama. We have enough of our own to deal with.”
“I don’t know. I think it makes a hell of a difference.” She got to her feet and went over to join him.
“How so?” He handed her a cup and pushed the sugar and creamer toward her.
“Well, it could speak to her frame of mind. If we paint her as a victim who was used, abused, and controlled by the monster Owen Bishop, it might gain her a little sympathy. We could suggest that she feared having her daughter around a man like him and that he had her all shaken up since she had just seen him.” She poured a little sugar into her cup and took a sip of the rich drink.
Silas was still unconvinced. “We don’t even know if this accusation is going to go anywhere. It might not stick, and in a few days, no one will care. Some could think that it’s just another attack on his reputation or that the woman is just some Claire Ford fan who is trying to stir the pot.”
“I agree. It’s possible. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any truth to it. That’s why I want to figure out who the girl is and why she made the allegations in the first place. I need the facts. And I know where I can get them. I just don’t want to talk to him.”
“Wait, you mean you’re going to talk to Traeger? Is that the only way you can get to her?”
“Not the only way. But it’s where I will start. He’ll have her statement. And not only that, but I want to know what he’s going to do with it. I think an allegation like that has to be looked into. He can’t just ignore it and hope that it goes away. He owes it to the girl to investigate it. And I want him to know there’s someone who cares about the truth.”
Silas turned and leaned against the counter. “He’ll probably just dismiss her with a warning.” He stepped away and carried his coffee back to the couch.
Hannah followed. “You should have seen her. She wasn’t some passionate fan girl looking for attention and fueled by anger. She was an emotional wreck.”
“She was probably on something,” said Silas.
“No. You could tell that wasn’t the case. Something happened to her. That’s the part that was the most shocking to me. She was a wreck and just what you’d expect to see from someone who had been abused.”
Silas sighed. “I should have gone. I would have loved to see that play out.”
“No, you did the right thing by not being there. You wouldn’t have been any good to anyone if you had gone. And it would have made things look even worse, especially when Owen started calling out Claire Ford’s name.”
“So much for lying low,” he said.
“I can’t help it,” she said with a wink. “I guess I stand out in a crowd.”