Page 20

Mountain Darkness (Wild Mountain Men 1) Vanessa Vale 2022/7/22 14:36:52

“You came back because Erin offered you a job.”

She didn’t state it as a question. “That’s right.”

“Had she gone out with a specific guy Saturday night?”

“Not that I know of. Like I said, she doesn’t do boyfriends. Never has.”

“But based on the list you just gave”—she tapped her finger on the paper with the names—“what were they then? One-night stands?”

“We didn’t talk about her sex life.”

I shrugged. “Back in high school, her parents would get on her for guys she dated. Doing high school stuff like a movie or a dance. They pretty much vetoed every guy as not good enough. As you can imagine, she didn’t like that. What teenager did? So she adapted to that, never got serious enough for her parents to get involved. Also steered clear of high school boys. Moved onto older ones.” I tucked my hair behind my ear. “These days, from what I can tell, she hung out. Fooled around. Did the casual thing. You could call them one-night stands, I guess.”

“It’s been said that you and Erin had a fight.”

I stared at her wide-eyed. Her topic switches were giving me whiplash.

She opened a folder she’d set to the side, slid it in front of her and read something on the top page. “At The Gallows. Last week.”

The Gallows was a bar downtown. It was popular with locals, had good food and a happening ladies’ night. I’d been once with Erin, but I had only been there as her wingman, but obviously we’d been noticed.

“Yeah. We got into an argument about taking the Eddie Nickel account. Organizing events for the movie launch. It was a big deal. Big money. Erin wanted it because it would get the business name out there, to Hollywood.”

“You didn’t want that contract?” she asked.

“I did, but Erin and I, we have… had, different ways of thinking about some things.”

I gave a little laugh. “Money. She had it. Lots of it. While she was trying to make the business a success, I think it was just a pastime for her. She didn’t have to work. I don’t have money. You know that, I’m sure from your investigating. I need to have a job, need a paycheck to pay the bills. To cover some of my mom’s expenses.”

“I’d think the Nickel’s account would be great for you then,” she replied.

“If it worked out, yes. The money would have been great and the connections would have really pushed the business. But if it failed, if the contract fell through, then we’d be out of clients. It was her plan to have that be our only client. She didn’t do anything small, including arguments.”

“But Saturday night, before Erin was murdered, you were working a wedding the company planned. The last time you saw Erin?”

“Yes, even though we were ramping up work for the Nickel’s movie, that event had been on the books for months, well before I returned. A baby shower, too, which fell through this morning.” I thought of the phone call, frowned. “Erin had a cushion of cash to take big risks. I didn’t. We fought about that because I moved back here to work with her, and if it fell through…”

“Then you’d be out everything.”

“Exactly. In all the time we’ve been friends, she never once made me feel bad for having less, but she also didn’t understand.”

She looked at me pointedly. “Keith Mills said you were friends with Erin for her money.”

Wow, that hurt. Even though I knew that’s what he thought to be true.

“I’ve known that since the seventh grade when he told me that to my thirteen-year-old face.”

I flushed hotly. “I’d been invited with a bunch of other girls to a sleepover at Erin’s. I got my period. First time.” I flicked my gaze to Nix. “Ruined my jeans.”

Fortunately, being a woman, she understood. I wasn’t too thrilled to share the story with Nix listening in.