“You thought wrong. Look after those casters, would ya?” Trent said, and headed into the house, where the dog, spying his approach, did a quick twirl of excitement at the door. “And then come on in.” He opened the door and glanced over his shoulder. “I’ll buy you a beer.”
Lunch, if you could call it that, consisted of a cup of watery coffee and a Big Mac. Not a great combo on a strong stomach, even worse on a queasy one like Cassie’s, and she was paying for it, her insides gurgling as she pulled into the covered parking lot of the apartment building where Allie had rented a suite of rooms while filming Dead Heat.
Located in the Pearl, a hip district tucked beneath the West Hills of Portland, the three Art Deco buildings that comprised the Calista Complex were nearly a hundred years old, but had been renovated recently.
Parking was a bitch in this area, so she was lucky Allie’s space was empty, the car Allie had used in Portland, a sporty BMW, towed away by the police in their search for clues to her disappearance.
At that thought Cassie felt a pang of dread. “Where the hell are you?” she whispered as she parked and listened to the engine tick once she’d switched it off. The lot was underground and dark, a few pipes overhead dripping condensation from the low cement ceiling, just a handful of cars sprinkled between thick pillars that supported all eight stories of the Calista.
Cassie was one of the last persons to see Allie before she vanished. They’d fought, which she’d admitted and a nosy neighbor had confirmed, so the police had been interested in her for a time, either thinking she’d been in cahoots with her sister, or worse, that she had somehow been integral in Allie’s disappearance.
“Yeah, right,” she muttered, unbuckling her seat belt before getting out of the car and locking it remotely. Her skin crawled in this wide space with its weak overhead lights and tire marks on the floor. No one else was around, which was a good thing, right? And there were cameras mounted in the corners of each level of the garage, so if anything happened . . .
They didn’t help Allie though, did they? No camera lens caught anything unusual on the night she disappeared.
Ignoring her jittery nerves, Cassie made her way to the elevator and with the key Allie had given her, she ordered the elevator car that was already waiting, its doors opening with a hiss, no one inside. She punched the button for the eighth and uppermost floor and was grateful the car didn’t stop on its ascent. Again, she was aware of the camera mounted somewhere overhead in the elevator carriage, but didn’t look up until the car slid to a smooth stop and the doors parted again. Then she sneaked a peek and wondered about the tape of Allie’s last journey in the car. The police had it, she knew, but she hadn’t yet viewed it. Wasn’t sure she was ready for that.
Feeling like she was trespassing, she slid her key into the lock and, glancing over her shoulder to make certain she wasn’t observed, she opened the door of Allie’s apartment. Inside, the faded scent of her perfume still lingered, bringing back memories of the last time she’d been here. “Not now,” she reminded herself.
As she reached for the light switch, she heard the scrape of a shoe against hardwood. The hairs on the back of her neck raised. “Allie?” she called as she stepped inside and peered into the living area.
The silhouette of a tall man was backlit against the window, his dark form visible in front of the thin lines of gray light piercing through the slats in the blinds.
Cassie’s heart nearly stopped. “Oh, God.”
“Not Allie,” he said as she fumbled frantically for the light switch. “Nor God.”
She hit the switch, and the ultramodern apartment was suddenly illuminated.
“What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded, her heart thumping as she recognized Brandon McNary, not only Allie’s costar in Dead Heat, but a man with whom Allie had once had a very public and torrid affair. Their fights, splits, romantic trysts, and reconciliations were tabloid fodder, one of Hollywood’s most watchable and gorgeous couples. Standing in front of a sleek sectional, McNary had the audacity to smile at her, as if he knew he’d scared the living crap out of her.