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The Temptation of Savannah O'Neill Molly O Keefe 2022/8/3 13:52:54

“Just answer the question.”

“No,” he said, his voice thick and solid.

“I can find out if you’re lying.”

She didn’t say anything, the memories and shame and guilt making her nauseous. She rested her head against the screen door, hating that the worst thing she’d ever done had brought her Katie, the best thing that had ever happened to her.

“I’m not married,” he said, softly.

“Good.” She pushed the word past the ball of sick in her throat. She stepped through the door and stopped again, sympathy and a dozen other things she didn’t want to examine too closely stopping her feet.

“There’s gumbo in the fridge,” she said. She listened to the humming silence behind her for a moment and went inside.

IT WAS EASY, in the end.

She sat in her dark ridiculous bed, moonlight splashed across her lap and the computer cradled there, her finger poised over the enter key.

Matt Woods typed into the search engine.

No matter what he said, Matt was absolutely not okay. She didn’t want to see it, but it was like watching someone self-destruct right in front of your eyes. Something was eating him, from the inside out.

Guilt deserves to be punished.

She had the terrible suspicion that Matt was using her courtyard as punishment.

Without a second thought, Savannah hit the enter key.

“Matt Woods receives award,” she muttered, reading the files. “Woods Takes On Downtown. Architect Has ‘Elemental’ Vision For The City. Contractor begins work on billion-dollar rejuvenation.”

She followed that link, her heart in her throat, to a three-page article in the Post-Dispatch.

The grand opening of Matt Woods’s new Elements Building ended in tragedy last night when twenty-eight-year-old Peter Borjat died in the partial building collapse.

Savannah sat back, feeling as if she’d swallowed rocks.

Instead of a picture of a happy family including Matt, what she saw was somehow worse. A haunting picture of a wide-open room with gabled ceilings and skylights, soaring steel girders and polished pine floors. Chandeliers glittered and cocktail tables still held half-filled martini glasses, as though the drinkers had just gone to the bathroom. A woman’s red high heel lay next to a gaping, jagged hole in the corner. A curvy steel sculpture jutted out of the black crater like a horrific swizzle stick.

She clicked onto the second page.

Officials now say that the floor collapse was caused by poor construction. The remodel of the two-hundred-year-old warehouse was incomplete and insufficient for the planned usage of the space. According to investigators, the floor in question was not properly reinforced.

“The lives of everyone at that party were in jeopardy,” Inspector Phillip Jefferson states. “It’s a blessing there weren’t more deaths.”

“The plans for that particular space were changed last minute,” Jack Donnelly said in a written statement. “That, however is no excuse for what I did and I take full responsibility.”

A picture was coming together in Savannah’s mind and it wasn’t pretty. Poor construction? The death of a twenty-eight-year-old man?

Her stomach twisted and churned, acid rising in her throat.

And she thought her demons were bad?

Matt had blood on his hands.

However, the next story muddied the picture in her mind.

Architect Proves No Knowledge of Poor Construction.

In deposition today, Matt Woods proved he had no knowledge of what his partner and longtime friend Jack Donnelly was doing to cut costs in the construction of the Elements Building.

Woods, who has been unreachable since the tragedy, appeared grief-stricken and shocked outside the courtroom. Despite the ruling, he defended Donnelly.

“What happened,” Woods said, “was my fault as much as it was Jack’s. This was a partnership. My condolences and sincere regret go out to Peter’s family and friends. I know there is nothing I can do to repair your loss and I am deeply sorry for my role in this tragedy.”

Savannah rubbed her hands over her face.

Hero? she wondered. Or bad guy?

There was only one way to find out.