Thirty-Six and a Half Motives Page 97

“Katherine, I didn’t—”

“Liar!” she shouted at the top of her voice. Then she stomped over to Hilary and grabbed her by the hair, aiming her gun at Hilary’s abdomen. “Admit it.”

I gasped in panic as I watched the scene unfold before me.

Joe rushed forward, terror on his face, but Kate’s face hardened and he came to a stop about ten feet from them. Skeeter was still standing in the back, his hands bound behind him.

“Kate,” Joe pleaded. “Stop! I know we’ve had our differences, but I’m begging you to stop. For me. That’s my baby, too.”

Kate shook her head. “This isn’t your baby.”

Joe’s eyes widened. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Kate tightened her grip on Hilary’s hair. “One thing at a time. I want our father to confess to a few things first.”

Joe shot a panicked look at his father.

Kate held her father’s gaze. “I killed those two men to prove I mean business,” she said. “I will shoot her baby. You killed mine. You killed Joe’s other baby. I should take this one from you.”

J.R. held up his hand. “Kate, just calm down.”

“What are you talking about?” Joe demanded. “What do you mean he took my other baby?”

He looked over at me, but Kate released a brittle laugh.

“Not her, you idiot. Savannah.” She flicked him a glance. “You’ll get the details, but you’ll have to wait for them. I’m doing this my way.” She turned her attention to J.R. “You killed Nick,” Kate said in a more even tone. “When he refused to go away for a few hundred thousand dollars, you made sure he went away anyway. Forever. Admit it.”

J.R. tensed. “He was unsuitable for you.”

“Yes,” Kate said. “You made that perfectly clear after I told you that we were engaged. But I want you to acknowledge that you made sure he went away.”

“Kate,” J.R. growled.

Kate jerked Hilary’s hair, making the redhead cry out in pain, and placed the gun directly on Hilary’s stomach this time. “I will kill her baby, and then I will kill James Malcolm, then Rose, then Joe if I have to. I will kill them all until you admit the truth.” She gave him a sinister grin. “And I know how much you planned to make Rose and James Malcolm pay for what they did. I will steal that pleasure from you if you don’t tell me what I want to know.”

Good to know she had my best interests in mind.

“What do you want me to say, Katherine?” J.R. asked, exasperated. “That I had that man killed?”

“That man had a name. His name was Nick. He loved me for me, not because I was a Simmons. He loved me in spite of it. You will call him by his name.”

Joe’s gaze shifted to me, and the misery in his eyes was nearly my undoing. He was thinking of us. Of how I had fallen in love with Joe McAllister before learning that his last name was really Simmons. His father had destroyed everything he had ever loved, so he’d been desperate to keep me away from his family.

“Fine, I had him killed,” J.R. said, waving his hand dismissively. “I did it for your own good.”

Joe took a step back, stunned.

“And my baby?” Kate asked evenly, as though he’d just read back her fast food order.

He shook his head. “Don’t be so dramatic.”

“I was in a car accident,” she said, her anger rising. “Broadsided by a shiny black sedan. I was conscious until the driver came over to check on me. Then I woke up in the hospital, and they told me that my baby was gone.”

“How far along were you?” I asked quietly. I was no fan of Hilary’s, but I wasn’t about to let Kate kill an innocent baby. I needed to distract her from her plan.

“Exactly as far along as Hilmonster is,” she said, looking at me. “I told you I’ve been waiting two years for this. Not that it’s any of your business.”

“The fact that I’m here makes it my business.”

“Shut up!” she shouted. “I’m talking to my father!” She turned her glare back to him. “You hired that man to hit my car. You had my baby killed. Admit it.”

“I swear to God I didn’t hire anyone to kill your baby, Kate.”

“I don’t believe you!”

Kate was coming undone, and I was terrified of what she might do. “What about Savannah?” I asked J.R. “Will you admit to having her killed?”

“What are you talking about?” Joe asked.

J.R. shot me a look of annoyance. “What does it matter to you?”

“You destroyed Joe, but wasn’t that the point? To keep him in line?” I asked. “To force him back into his box, so he’d finally accept his fate as the heir to your legacy?”

“She was an inconvenience.”

“So you had her killed. You hired Michael Cartwright to kill her. You had the scene set up, making sure she was barely alive when Joe got there.”

“What?” Joe demanded.

“It’s true,” Skeeter said from the back of the room. His nose had stopped bleeding, but his shirt and lower face were drenched in blood. “Your father couldn’t let Savannah have your baby, so he had her killed to teach you a lesson.”

Joe looked at Skeeter with pure hatred. “Did you set it up?”

Skeeter arched a brow, and Joe released an ugly laugh.

“I’ve been doin’ my homework,” Joe said. “I wanted to know why my father was so desperate to see you dead. I know you worked for him. I’ve put it all together. I remembered seeing you in our house when I was a kid. You were one of his elusive Twelve.”

“I haven’t worked for your father for five years, but once I figured out he was makin’ a play for me, I started asking questions. Your father is behind Savannah Deveraux’s death. And behind movin’ her brother here, too.”

Joe showed no emotion whatsoever as he turned to face his father. “Is it true?”

J.R. gave him a stern look. “Sometimes we are forced to do the right thing, no matter how difficult the task seems.”

Joe’s face turned red. “Killing Savannah and my baby was doing the right thing?”

“She was the wrong woman for you. The bastard would have scandalized your political aspirations—not to mention you would have felt obligated to marry her. I couldn’t let that happen.”

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