PRE-ORDER YOU COPY • AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 28TH
Shortly after seeing Molly Decker drive away from the house in the black Tesla, Jude could tell that Thomas was ready to snap.
Jude didn’t like the fact that the woman had gotten away or what it meant, and delaying his trip to the island to go after her wasn’t how he planned on spending his afternoon.
All he wanted to do was go to the island and be with Monica, but there were two people to interrogate, a house full of bodies to torch, and all while they figured out Molly’s next move.
It was a shock to Jude that the girl could be involved, much less be the ringleader, but Thomas was convinced she had been the one to kill his wife. She had the motive, means, and opportunity. There was a lot to sort out, and Jude was going to start with the couple he had tied up and hope that they had answers.
Jude left the garage and went back to the front of the house where they were being held. When he walked into the room, the girl began to cry, and her boyfriend moved a little closer to her as if that was going to save them both.
“Are you going to shoot us?” asked the girl, whose eyes were full of fear as Jude walked over and stood them up against the wall. Her skinny legs trembled like a newborn deer.
“Not if you help me sort a few things out.” He hated to lie, but if she knew the truth, she wouldn’t be honest. He didn’t need her crying and begging any worse than she already was.
“Are you two cops?” asked her boyfriend.
Jude shook his head. Did the kid really think playing dumb was going to help him? “Come on, I’m sure you already know who we are. So, who is in charge here?”
“No one.” The guy shrugged.
Jude knew that was bullshit. “Oh, so is it a group effort? Maybe you should start by telling me what part everyone plays. And I’ll decide who the leader is.”
In the next room, Kyle was busy posing dead bodies, and Vance was one of them. While Jude was still unsure what happened to him, he couldn’t worry about it. They would stage him and let him burn with the rest. The firemen would find proof of the drug-making and think the house blew up in the process.
“I knew I shouldn’t have come here,” cried the girl. “I’m supposed to be in class.”
“Are you a student at Crestman?” asked Thomas.
“I go to Timbrook,” she said. “I’m in my second year.”
“Is that your new hunting ground?” asked Jude. “Crestman wasn’t big enough for you?”
“Hunting?” the girl asked, looking sincerely confused. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“What do you know about the deaths at Crestman?” Thomas asked the young man. “And don’t even act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. I know you know.”
“I know that the drug didn’t work like it was supposed to,” he said. “And a few of the kids killed themselves. They’re pretty sure the drug did something to them, but it wasn’t intentional.”
“Oh, so you didn’t mean to kill anyone?” Jude’s eyes narrowed. Had they been trying to kill or not? “But you didn’t know what the drug would do?”
“Kill?” The girl looked at her boyfriend. “What are they talking about? Did you kill someone?”
“No! I’ve never killed anyone,” he said. “I’m not like that. Don’t listen to them.”
“Oh, sure you are.” Jude looked at the girl. “He just sat by while a big group of young college students just like yourself took drugs that killed them. Tell me, has he made you any promises about a miracle drug lately?”
Jude watched as the girl’s eyes narrowed. “Why is he asking me that?”
“I don’t know,” said the young man. “Just ignore it. They’re crazy, and they’re lying.”
“And I’m losing my patience,” said Thomas, who got in the young man’s face. “My wife was a professor at Crestman. And she’s dead because of you, Molly Decker, and these other assholes. And I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s going on and who planned this shit.”
“Molly said the professor had found out about the study she was going to do. That’s all it was, just a study. They had to see if the drug worked and what its effects were. She wanted to make it and market it.”
“So, you and your friends needed guinea pigs. I’m starting to see a much clearer picture now.”
“It was Molly’s idea to use the students at Crestman. She works in a lab there.”
“So, is she the one who has been orchestrating everything? She killed my wife so she could run her tests without getting the whistle blown on her?”
“Your wife got in her way. She liked her. She hated that it had to happen, but Molly said it was too serious and that if things led back to her, everything was off. She said that she knew someone with the FBI or something like that.”
Thomas stared a hole through the young man and seethed. Jude knew he was minutes away from unleashing his wrath, and he wanted answers.
“So, you make the drug here. You wanted to test it. Where did you get the formula?”
“I’m not sure,” he said. “Molly had connections. She knew people. She said that she heard it was a miracle drug, and the military even used it. It was supposed to make you more mentally sound and focused. She wanted everyone to experience life like that. And what a better class of people than students?”
“I don’t guess any of you have taken it, have you? You weren’t brave enough to try it on yourselves?”
“Of course not,” said the young man. “We’re not stupid. We wanted to make sure it worked. But things went south, so they wanted to come up with a different plan.”
“You call the deaths of all those students going south?” Thomas shook his head.
The guy was about as sensitive to what was going on as Molly seemed to be. He had to be getting something out of it. But that wasn’t important, and Jude needed to steer Thomas back on track.
“Who are they? Molly and these guys?” Jude looked into the young man’s eyes.
The young man hesitated a moment. He nodded slowly. “Yeah, it was all Molly’s idea. She got Jason Foster and Dax Smith to help. She heard of a different drug. One that Dr. Morrison had created that was supposed to be even better than Precision-X. So, we wanted to figure it out and see if we could get a sample.”
“And how did she hear about that?” Molly didn’t seem like the type to run in Monica’s circles.
“I don’t know. Some guy she was hooking up with.”
That might explain it. “Do you have a name?”
“I don’t know. Look at her phone. It’s probably there.”
“Do you mean the phone that belonged to an old woman in Dendale?” asked Thomas. “I guess she’s the one who helped fund all of this.”
The young man nodded. “Molly lived with her a while. But when she died, Molly inherited all of her money and her stuff.”
“No, she didn’t. She saw an opportunity to take advantage of an old woman, and she stole it,” said Thomas. “And I would bet she had one of her buddies, Jason and Dax, murder her to speed things along.”
“I don’t know anything else,” he said.
“I don’t know. It sounds like you do. Who told her about the other drug?” Jude was ready to beat the guy to a pulp if he had to. “I want a name.”
“Was it Nick Bonin?” asked Thomas.
Jude knew it was a possibility. If Nick had been with Monica, Meredith, and Rosalynn, perhaps there wasn’t a young woman in Caldwell he hadn’t slept with, including Molly Decker. He met a lot of people coming and going from the club. And since he once owned the house they were in, it was the most logical connection.
“No,” he said. “That wasn’t who it was.”
“Who?” asked Thomas. “Tell me.”
Jude grabbed the young man’s hair and pulled him closer. “He asked you a question. And I’m tired of being polite. So, you had better start talking, or your pretty little girlfriend is going to watch you die.”
“It was Gavin Gaines,” he said. “Molly knew him before he got famous. He was our inside man. He was supposed to help her, but he double-crossed her, and she didn’t get the product. So she threatened him, and he offered to try to pull in some of his wealthy friends, but it didn’t’ work.”
“So, Molly was in it with Gavin Gaines?” Jude couldn’t believe that. The guy didn’t seem the type to sleep around with young, nerdy girls like Molly. She was pretty, sure, but Gavin’s women were on a whole other level.
“Do you know why they targeted the other clients?” he asked.
“I don’t know what you mean,” he said. “I’m not sure how many they’ve killed. I just try not to get in their way. I work in the lab, and I’ve been trying to break the drug down, but some of the things are not exactly accessible. So, we’re trying to find alternatives, at least until we hear about the new drug. Molly was working on a way to get it.”
“They killed Ramsey Radford and Nick Bonin trying to get it. Was that part of her plan?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “Please, I’m sorry. I didn’t know they were doing that.”
“That’s the biggest lie you’ve told me so far,” said Jude. “And I don’t like liars. You should really open up and tell me the truth before things get ugly for you and your girl.”
“Look, all I know is that they were hoping to make a distraction to get in the Morrisons’ private homes. That’s the last I heard. They wouldn’t let me in on it. They did hire some guys to watch the Infinity building and see what they could find out. But they ended up getting caught. I overheard Jason and Dax laughing about it. And about how they had shot someone several days back.”
“Right,” said Jude, thinking a pain pill would do him some good at that moment. His shoulder had been screaming the entire time, but he had to get through it. He didn’t have time for pain. He ignored it and focused his attention.
“What else have you got?”
“Nothing. That’s all. I swear. We thought we were doing something that would ultimately be good for the world.”
“While you got filthy rich, right? Something like that would pull in a fortune.” And Jude would know. He had been doing well from it himself.
“I don’t know what else to tell you,” he said.
“I’d think of something,” said Thomas.
“I’m serious. I don’t. They didn’t tell me anything important. If you wanted better information, you should have kept someone else alive to talk to.”
“Well, then, I can’t see any reason to keep you around,” said Jude as the young woman trembled and whimpered with fear.
“Please, let my girlfriend go,” begged the young man. “She really doesn’t have any part in this.”
“It’s a shame that you had to go and get her involved. I tell you what. I’ll kill her first, and then she won’t have to watch when I kill you.”
The girl’s cries sounded like wails as her boyfriend kissed her head. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “They’re just scaring us.”
Jude put the gun to the girl’s head and pulled the trigger.
The young man didn’t have time to scream. As soon as his eyes filled with horror over what he heard, Thomas did the right thing and put him out of his misery.
“What are you doing?” asked Jude. “You didn’t even have to get your hands dirty. I was going to handle it.”
“Yeah, well, my hands are already dirty. And you were torturing him. It’s not necessary. They’re just stupid kids. Besides, consider it warm-up for when I take out Molly.”
“I can do that too if you want. I know it’s not you.”
“No. She’s mine. I’m going to find her, and I’m going to make her pay for what she did.” He looked around the house. “Now, let’s finish up here.”
“I’m going to make sure we get all of their stashes. They had that bad batch of PX, and we don’t want it getting into the hands of anyone else. Or for the police to find it and try and trace it back to the Morrisons.” He still had a job to do, and that was protecting the Morrisons at all costs in every way possible. And he wasn’t going to fail in his duties just because of one little hiccup.