Something About You Page 9

Jack and Wilkins exchanged looks.

“What?” Cameron asked. “What does that tell you?”

“So just to make sure we’re clear on this, the man you saw leave the room right before security arrived was about five-eleven or six feet tall, and around one hundred and seventy pounds. Is that what you’re saying?”

“That’s what I’m saying,” she agreed. “And I see that you’ve gotten whatever information it is you wanted out of me. So I would like some information in return.” She looked to Wilkins first, who looked to Jack.

After debating a moment, he leaned against the wall. “Okay. Here’s what I can tell you.”

“AND JUST SO we’re clear: everything I’m about to tell you needs to be kept confidential,” Jack told her. “In fact, if you weren’t with the U.S. attorney’s office, I wouldn’t be telling you anything.”

Cameron got the message: he didn’t want to tell her jack-shit, but his boss had ordered him to share information as a professional courtesy.

“Crystal clear, Agent Pallas,” she said.

“You’ve obviously put a few things together, so I’ll speed through the preliminaries,” Jack began. “You called hotel security, they found the dead woman next door, so they called the paramedics and the police. CPD arrived at the scene, saw there were signs of a struggle, and began their investigation.”

“What signs of a struggle?” Cameron asked.

“To save time, you should assume going forward that anything I don’t tell you is a deliberate decision on my part.”

Cameron looked up at the ceiling, biting her tongue. Of all the murder and she-had-no-friggin’-clue-what-else-but-something-that-apparently-involved-the-FBI crime scenes in all the hotels in all of Chicago, Jack Pallas had to walk into this one.

“While CPD was conducting their sweep of the room, they stumbled onto something hidden behind the television across from the bed. A video camera.”

“Do you have the murder on tape?” Cameron asked. If only all crimes came to prosecutors so neatly wrapped up.

Jack shook his head. “No. What’s on the tape is the stuff that took place before the murder.”

“Before the murder?” Cameron thought about the raucous sex noises she’d heard through the wall. “That must be quite a tape.”

“It is,” Jack agreed. “Especially since the man on the tape is a married U.S. senator.”

Cameron’s eyes widened. She had not expected that. She asked the obvious next question. “Which senator?”

Agent Wilkins pulled a photograph out of the inner pocket of his suit jacket and handed it to Cameron.

She glanced at the photograph, then back at Jack. “This is Senator Hodges.”

“So you recognize him?”

“Of course I recognize him,” Cameron said. Bill Hodges had represented the state of Illinois in the U.S. Senate for over twenty-five years. And lately she’d seen his face in the news more than usual—he had just been appointed the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Cameron thought back to the redheaded woman she had seen on the paramedics’ gurney. “That wasn’t the senator’s wife in room 1308, was it?”

“No, it wasn’t,” Jack said.

“Who was she?”

“Let’s just say that Senator Hodges was paying to have a lot more than his hardwood floors done last night.”

Nice. “A prostitute?”

“I think women at her level generally prefer to call themselves ‘escorts.’ ”

“How do you know this already?”

“We have the escort service’s records. The senator had been seeing her regularly for almost a year now.”

Cameron got up and paced before the bed, working the scenario like a new case she’d been handed. “So what’s with the camera? Don’t tell me the senator was stupid enough to think he could keep a sex tape secret.” She stopped, thinking quickly. “No . . . of course. Blackmail. That’s why CPD called you guys.”

“Having reviewed the tape, it’s obvious that Senator Hodges had no clue he was being filmed,” Wilkins said.

“You’re the one who got stuck reviewing the tape? Lucky you,” Cameron said.

“Not exactly. But Jack was busy playing bad-cop with Senator Hodges.”

“And here I thought that was special for me.”

Wilkins grinned. “Nah—he likes to break that out with everybody. It usually works, too, with that whole dark and glowering thing he’s got going on.”

Cameron peeked at Jack, who was back at his post in the corner of the room. “Glowering”—she liked that description. It was certainly more insightful than the generic “asshole” she’d been going with for the past three years.

She wondered if Jack Pallas ever smiled.

Then she remembered that she frankly didn’t give a damn whether he did or not.

“Given the content of the tape, Senator Hodges would normally be CPD’s primary suspect,” Jack said to her. “In fact, the police probably would’ve arrested him already, if it wasn’t for you.”

“Is that so?”

Jack pushed away from the wall and stormed over. He yanked the photo out of Cameron’s hands and held it in front of her face.

“Let’s cut through the crap. The guy you saw leave the room five minutes before hotel security found the girl dead—is there any possibility it’s this man?”

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