Chapter Six

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Am I capable of murder?

That's inevitably the question I would ask myself over and over after that night in the bar. Right after I got over the denial that I could be a suspect in my best friend's murder. Those moments on that plane sitting with Terrance, and right after I'd found out about Danielle's bloody shoe, I wasn't over the denial. And denial is what drove every question and action I took after that point. Denial that Danielle was dead. Denial that I could really be blamed. Denial that there might be a reason.

***THE PAST...

I stare at Terrance, not quite able to comprehend what he's just told me. "Danielle wasn't arrested?"

"Why would you think she was arrested?"

"I just thought—she might be in trouble."

He leans close and grabs my hand. "If you don't remember anything, why would you ask that question?"

His fingers dig into my arm and I yank against his grip, only to have him hold on tighter. "Answer," he orders.

"The police answered her phone," I snap. "My first thought wasn't that she was dead." She can't be dead, I think, before tugging against his grip again. "Let go of me."

Almost as if he's spitting me, he pierces me with a hard light-blue stare for several beats before he complies. "I've spent the better part of the night ensuring you do not become a suspect in her murder."

"Murder?!" I swallow had and try to catch my breath. "You think she was murdered?" I stand up and tower over him. "You think—"

"Sit back down and act composed, the way a—"

"Future First Daughter acts?" I challenge, pressing my hands on the table and leaning toward him. "Is she dead? Is Danielle dead?"

"Sit down," he bites out. "Now."

"No, because as the future First Daughter, my best friend might be dead. And a First Daughter cares. I care."

"Sit the fuck down. Now."

It's not like standing, or shaking him, which is what I want to do right now, would get me answers. I sit down. "Is she dead?"

"There is no body, but they are treating it as if it's murder. Or an abduction, but thus far there is no ransom request."

"It was supposed to be me, and I left, so they took her," I say. "That has to be it. That's why I have Rudolf."

"It's certainly a consideration," he confirms.

"Maybe they thought she was me. She had on the same color dress. Maybe when they found out it wasn't—"

"They'd still ask for money. She's close to you. She's your friend."

"Who might be dead or being raped or beaten right now, as we speak."

"Tell me what you know," he says as if I haven't spoken.

"That's just it. I don't remember. I don't know how I got back to my room. I think I was drugged. That's the truth."

"That reads like a lie meant to cover-up murder."

My reaction is instant, fierce, angry. I lean forward, and hiss a whispered, "You think I murdered Danielle?!"

"My job is not to judge you. Frankly, I don't care if you're innocent or guilty. I care about how this impacts your father becoming President, which means we're going to make this go away. Now, tell me what you will tell no one else, so I know what I'm dealing with."

"I told you. I didn't kill her."

"Actually, you didn't. You asked if I thought you did." I open my mouth to curse him before I hit him, but he holds up a hand. "Tell me what you remember."

"Nothing. I blacked out. I have vague memories after drinking a martini. The last one is leaving the bar."

"While fighting with Danielle."

"Tobey told you." Of course he told Terrance. The man is his father.

"Yes," he says. "He did, but he won't be telling the police. He doesn't want to be connected to murder either. He left with you and dropped you at the hotel early. Danielle refused to leave."

"Surely there are witnesses that will say otherwise?"

"Tobey says that's exactly what happened."

"Where is he now?"

"At the police station, answering questions and setting the groundwork for you to back him up."

"Why didn't I just stay and answer questions?"

"Tobey is not you, but he is the man who wants to be your future and in the White House. He has your back and ours."

"Why didn't I stay and answer questions?" I repeat.

"We hope that a little space and time means the mystery is solved, and you aren't in the middle of this."

"She was my best friend—is my best friend. I'm in this. It's going to get press."

"That I control and that means I need to know whatever it is that you aren't telling me."

"I don't remember anything after that drink, which is why I think I was drugged," I say, "and—and maybe that is proof that someone intended to abduct me." I leave out the part where I thought I was drugged by Danielle. That was wrong. It couldn't have been Danielle. "Tobey saved me," I add. "I'm sure he's told you this, too. Danielle got in the line of fire. I just need to tell the truth."

"The police don't need to hear that you were drugged. You left. Danielle stayed. And besides, Tobey says that you were perfectly fine when you left the bar and when he left you in your room. You stick to the story. You were worried about bad press and Tobey took you to your room. He said that he never even wanted to go to the bar for that very reason. Danielle convinced you to go. You left Danielle, in said bar, because it was a private club and she refused to leave. Understand?"

I stare at him two beats, but I nod. "Yes. I understand."

"Repeat it."

"I was concerned about bad press for my father and Tobey, who tried to convince me not to go out at all, was quick to escort me to my room."

"Good. We're going to repeat that story about a hundred times on this flight."

"Where is my father and what does he say about all of this?"

"Back in Washington as far from Austin, and this mess, as I could get him."

"What did he say about—it all?"

"He's worried. About you. About Danielle. About this country."

In other words, he's worried about his campaign.

"Let's review your story," Terrance says, refocusing me on his expectations, which, of course, are really my father's. "I left early. Tobey took me home. Danielle stayed at the bar." I repeat the rest of the story. I take his questions as if they are that of the police. It's a full hour later when he sends me to a seat in the back of the plane to rest.

I choose a spot away from him, alone, which is how I feel right now. I'm terrified I'm going to be accused of murder, and I hate myself for even worrying about that when Danielle could be dead. But I am, and I have questions in my mind, questions about myself, and what happened last night. About my anger with Danielle, that I somehow know exists, but I can't remember why. But I don't let myself go there. I can't go there now, because if I question myself, others might question me.

Right now, I just want to get this police interview over and I find myself thinking through the perfect story Terrance has created. In doing so, I also find myself wondering, is a lie a lie if you don't know that it's not the truth?

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