But now I was sitting in one of those rooms that I’d only seen on reality TV. I was sure the camera in the corner wasn’t for show. Although I’d done absolutely nothing wrong, I half expected a barrel-chested detective to burst through the door and start throwing accusations at me.
My fingers curled around the crumbled tissue I’d been holding for what felt like hours. The man I’d kamikazed into had called the police since I hadn’t been able to figure out how to get my phone out of my purse and use it.
That’s what the EMTs who’d arrived right behind the flashing red and blue lights of the police cars had told me. They had wanted me to go to the hospital to get checked out, but the responding officers were understandably impatient. They needed answers. I was a witness to a—to a murder.
Because that man in the alley was dead.
And there was nothing seriously wrong with me. My palms were a bit raw and my body ached from my tumble. The cuts on my cheeks were nothing compared to what had happened to the man lying facedown in the alley.
I would be fine.
My breath caught, and I refused to close my eyes for anything longer than a second because when I had as the police officer drove me to the station, I saw the bald man firing the gun. I heard it crack. I saw the man fold like a paper sack.
I saw the bald man pointing the gun at me.
Terror resurfaced, and I shut it down before it took hold, but it was a struggle to not think about the fact that the murderer had seen my face. He knew that I was a witness. That was terrifying because there was no doubt in my mind that he would have no problem putting a bullet in me.
He had no problem doing it to that man.
Folding my arms across my chest, I stared at the near-empty paper cup in front of me. I’d all but gulped it down when the officer had brought it to me. A shiver rolled across my shoulders. It was so chilly in here. Even the tip of my nose was icy.
Instead of keeping my thoughts blank, I focused on what had happened. How much time I thought had passed between when I left the bar and had walked in front of the alley. What I saw was important. Someone was murdered, and I’d seen the persons responsible. Whatever information I had would help bring them to justice.
So I replayed the events over and over, up to the horrifying moment the gun had gone off, despite how badly it made me shudder and how I wished I had kept walking. That may be wrong, but I knew that until my dying day, I would never forget tonight.
That man died with his face pressed into an alley that smelled of urine.
I shuddered again. Never in a million years had I thought accepting a date with Rick the Dick would end with me sitting in a police station after witnessing…a murder.
I had no idea how long I’d been sitting in this room, but at some point an officer had shown up with my car keys. After confirming the make and model, the officer had left again to retrieve my car from the scene. I wasn’t sure if that was protocol or not, but I appreciated the gesture.
The last thing I wanted to do was return to the scene.
A shaky breath puffed out as the door opened, causing my chin to jerk up. Two men entered. The first thing I noticed was that both were dressed like I expected detectives to be. The first man wore tan trousers and the other one had on black. The first man’s dress shirt was slightly wrinkled, as if he had gotten the call in the middle of the night and had picked the first thing up from the floor. He was older, possibly in his fifties, and his dark gaze was sympathetic as he moved closer to the table. The scent of fresh coffee wafted from the cup he held. He placed a closed file on the table.
“Ms. Ramsey? I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I know you’ve had a long night. I’m Detective Hart.” He stopped, turning halfway. “And this is Detective…”
I was already looking up at the other guy, taking in how the pressed, white polo was loose at his trim waist and a bit tighter along a clearly defined chest and shoulders. Right now really wasn’t the best moment to be checking out a guy, so I forced myself to look up. My gaze had just moved to his face when Detective Hart introduced the second detective.
My heart stopped for the second time that evening.
Oh my God.
I could feel my eyes widen as I gawked at the second man, who was openly staring back at me with the same look of disbelief on his unbelievably handsome face. I didn’t even need to hear his name spoken. I knew who it was.
Oh my God, there was no mistaking him. Those high, angular cheekbones, the cut line of an often stubborn jaw, his full lips and those bright and piercing blues eyes had spawned an embarrassing amount of fantasies in high school and beyond.
God, it probably made me a terrible person. I had a boyfriend all through high school—a boy who ultimately became my husband—but there had always been Colton. He was the untouchable god in high school, the boy you went to school for and lusted for from afar, even though an icicle had a better chance of surviving in hell than you did when it came to gaining his attention.
Colton was classically handsome, just like his younger brother, Reece, and he looked more ready to arrive at a fashion shoot for a men’s health magazine than he appeared ready to investigate a homicide.
So shocked at the sight of him, the question blurted out of me. “I thought you worked for the county?”
“I did, but I transferred to the city.” Colton lifted his arm, running his hand over his dark brown hair. Did he still live in Plymouth Meeting? Had he moved to Philadelphia? Those questions were so inappropriate, and I was amazed I kept my mouth shut as he stared at me. “Damn, Abby. I had no idea it was you in this room.”
He knew my name? Let alone, remembered it? The Kool-Aid dude could burst through the one-way mirror and I wouldn’t be any more surprised. Colton and I hadn’t run in the same circles, and I was sure, a hundred percent positive, I hadn’t been on his radar in high school.
“You two know each other?” Hart asked with a frown as he glanced between us.
Colton gave a tight shake of his head. “We went to high school together, but I haven’t seen her…” He lowered his arm. “I haven’t seen you in years.”
Oh, but I had seen him around town. Not often. At the grocery store once in a while. Once at the movies. I’d been with my friend and he had been with this statuesque blonde.
“I…” Swallowing hard, I glanced at Detective Hart. Off kilter from what had happened, I already felt like I was stuck in a dream. Or a nightmare. “I left for college and then moved to New York after I graduated. I’ve been back for about four years.”
Colton stepped around Hart and those blue eyes, framed by a heavy fringe of lashes, narrowed. “Are you okay?” His head jerked back toward the other detective. “Has she seen an EMT?”
“From what Officer Hun said, she was treated and refused to go to the hospital.”
That narrowed gaze landed on me sharply. “You need to get—”
“I’m fine.” How bad did my face look? I resisted the urge to glance at the one-way glass window. “Really, I am.”
“You were shot at,” Colton stated.
I flinched, unable to stop myself. Either the responding officer had filled him in or that info was in the file. “The bullet must’ve hit a nearby wall. It was chunks of brick.” Pausing, I wetted my lips. “It’s not…”