Graduation Night, continued...
Roger had blown it and he had blown it good. As he drove home, he gripped the steering wheel tightly, his eyes pinned on the road, not answering Joy when she asked him what was wrong, why Adam and Brynne had left so suddenly. There was a hard lump in his throat that was preventing him from speaking.
As soon as they got home, Roger went straight into the bedroom and lay down on the bed. He closed his eyes, fighting the waves of panic coming over him. He felt Joy’s hand on his cheek. “Rog,” she whispered. “Honey, what’s going on?”
Roger opened his eyes and stared at Joy’s pretty face. She didn’t look like Brynne that was for sure, but he loved her with all his heart. The most important thing in his life was to be with her. But would she really stand by him when she found out about his past? He couldn’t let her find out what a horrible person he was.
He opened his eyes and took her into his arms. He held her very close to his chest and stroked her soft chestnut hair. He couldn’t let anything come between him and a happy life. He couldn’t let Adam destroy him.
But how could he stop him? Adam was going to testify, no matter what.
Unless he was dead.
Roger felt a chill go down his spine as he realized that this was the only solution to his problem. If Adam died, the secret would die with him. Of course, Maggie knew the truth too, but Roger knew her well enough to know she’d never come forward in a million years. And if she did...
Roger shook his head. Was he really contemplating murder? Not just a murder, but murdering his former best friend. How could he do something like that?
Then again, he had already murdered Shannon Richards.
It would be so easy. Adam with his issues of depression... no close friends who knew him well... who knew what he did in his free time? Maybe he did drugs. Maybe sometimes he did too much drugs.
“I love you, Roger,” Joy whispered into his neck
“I love you too, Joy,” he whispered back. And I’m going to make this right.
Although Adam had vowed to take action against Roger, it was the last thing on his mind over the next few days. Brynne was coming over every night, bubbling with excitement and plans for moving in with him. Adam had to admit—her excitement was infectious. He couldn’t believe he was finally moving in with a girl, especially one as drop dead gorgeous as Brynne. Of course, Brynne had a lot of other great qualities too: she was sweet, intelligent, and very experimental. Adam was convinced that they’d eventually work out their little problem in bed, although it was still very much on his mind.
It wasn’t until three days later, while Adam was at work, that he got the phone call from David Richards. If Richards hadn’t called, he might have forgotten about it altogether.
“I just wanted to let you know,” Richards said, “I’m bringing the suit against Jacobson whether you help me or not. But I probably won’t win unless you help me.”
“All right, I’ll do it,” Adam agreed.
Richards was too surprised to speak for a moment. “You’ll do it?”
“Yeah.” Adam closed his eyes, suppressing the urge to slam down the phone. Roger deserved this. And Richards deserved his revenge.
“Well, good for you, Harding,” Richards said. “I’m glad you came to your senses. Between you and me, we’ll take this fucker down.”
“Fine,” Adam said. He felt no satisfaction at the idea of his old friend Roger going down. “Now I want you to tell your son to stop harassing me.”
“My son?” Richards sounded genuinely confused. “What are you talking about?”
“He’s been sending me threatening letters,” Adam said. “And he came to my apartment.”
“Brad did that?” Richards asked incredulously. “I don’t think that’s possible, Mr. Harding.”
“And why not?” If Richards said his son was dead or something creepy like that, Adam decided he was hanging up the phone right then and there.
“Brad’s in boarding school halfway across the country right now,” Richards explained.
“Well, he was in my apartment. A skinny kid, dark hair... sort of looks like you...”
“Shit,” Richards murmured. “He better not have fucking escaped again...”
Adam felt uneasy at his use of the word “escape.” People escape from prison, not from a school.
“I don’t want to alarm you,” Richards said. “But Brad has got some... very serious psychological issues. It’s not completely his fault—he lost his mother at such a young age. I sent him out to that prep school because... I just couldn’t handle him anymore.”
Adam shivered. “What... what do you mean?”
“I mean, he’s dangerous.”
Oh great, Adam thought, just what I need.
“Wait’ll I get my hands on that kid...” Richards was muttering.
Adam couldn’t help but think that it was because of Roger that the Richards family had gotten so screwed up. It was hard to know what might have happened if Shannon Richards had lived, but it didn’t seem like things could be any worse.
I’m doing the right thing, Adam told himself, Roger deserves this.
But somehow, he still felt the guilt.
Roger tried to hide his nervousness, but he could see his own hands trembling underneath his desk. He only hoped that the man sitting across from him couldn’t tell how scared he was. Pete Amsterdam always made him very nervous, but he had never felt his heart pounding like this before.
“Hey Jacobson, mind if I have myself a smoke?” Pete asked.
Roger nodded faintly, but he almost choked when he saw Pete pull out a joint. “Er, not in here, if you don’t mind,” Roger said quickly.
Pete shrugged. “It’s your office, you’re the boss.”
Roger rubbed his hands together and he felt the perspiration on his palms. “So you, uh... brought the stuff?”
“Sure,” Pete said, toying with the gold chain around his neck. “This stuff will get you a great high and it’s completely undetectable on a urine tox screen.”
Roger swallowed. What was he doing here with this shady character? This seemed like a mistake. It wasn’t too late to turn back now. He could still tell Pete that he wasn’t interested, forget the whole thing. “Can... can I see it?”
Pete smiled and reached deep into his pocket. He pulled out a Visine bottle filled with clear liquid. “Here it is,” he said. “Just don’t put it in your eyes.”
Roger reached across the desk and took the bottle from him. “How much?”
“Hey, don’t insult me by bringing up money,” Pete said with a wave of his hand. “You’re my lawyer, Jacobson. You’ve got me out of a lot of tough jams. I’m happy to do you a favor this time and I know you’ll repay me, right?”
“Of course,” Roger managed. He almost wished Pete had asked for money. He didn’t like the idea of feeling indebted to this man. He fingered the bottle, wondering if he’d even have the nerve to go through with it. “So, um... how much do you take of this?”
“Two or three drops are enough to make you very happy,” Pete assured him. “That bottle should last you a while.”
Roger nodded. “And um, how much would it take to... you know, OD?”
Pete’s eyes narrowed slowly. “Hey Jacobson, what exactly are you up to here?”
“Nothing,” Roger said quickly, his heart slamming in his chest.
“You wanna off someone with my juice?”
“No!” Roger said. He felt sick to his stomach. He didn’t like the idea of Pete Amsterdam knowing what he was planning.
Pete held up his hands, “Look, this is your business, Jacobson. You do whatever you want. This little transaction here, this never happened.” He hesitated. “But just a little piece of side information, if someone drank that whole bottle, they ain’t wakin’ up.”
Pete stood up from his seat and left Roger’s office, leaving him alone holding the small bottle of Visine. Roger gripped the bottle in his palm, wondering if he’d have the nerve to go through with it. There was little enough liquid in that bottle that nobody would notice it if it were, say, slipped into their coffee or something along those lines.
He didn’t want to do this. But Adam was going to testify against him and Roger had to find a way to stop him. And it seemed like this might be the only way.
“God forgive me,” Roger whispered.
To be continued....