There was a subtle change in the lighting and the music. The pulsing sound was deeper, building anticipation. Allison stood still, waiting for the tap on her shoulder telling her to walk, her mind racing. She did try, but she couldn't disappear now. Her mind went to Liam. Could he be there in the crowd? It was a crazy thought, yet nothing would have surprised her. He'd shown up on the street when Will confronted her. He had been there when her car crashed down the hill. He might even have been at her graduation. He seemed to show up at the oddest times.
At every show she'd ever done for Giovanni, his assistant would whisper something outrageous right before she started down the runway to help her relax. She thought he'd forgotten, but as it turned out, tonight was no exception.
"Remember the three rules, Allison. No tripping, no smiling, and no puking on the guests."
She almost burst into laughter. No puking on guests? She wouldn't be able to get that visual out of her mind anytime soon.
Peter stood behind her, and when the music reached a crescendo, he touched Allison's shoulder. "Go," he whispered.
She stepped around the corner. Her body went on autopilot, and she walked just the way she was supposed to, long-legged strides, head held high, devoid of any expression on her face. At the end of the runway, she assumed the pose for a second or two, then pivoted and headed back. Thunderous applause followed her.
While Allison was being transformed by Giovanni's team, Jud Bronsky was waiting to be interviewed.
An extremely unattractive man with a personality to match, Jud was built like a gorilla, a fact he was proud of because he believed his size and shape made him look more threatening, and in his line of work, that was an important requirement. Jud had long arms and legs and hair growing out of his knuckles and his ears. He wasn't much for grooming. He did shave because he thought he looked younger than his thirty-two years without a beard, but that was as far as it went. Showering was only done when he was in the mood, which wasn't all that often, but he believed his cologne was better than soap any day. His friends, what few he had, called him Tarzan, and Jud liked the nickname because it made him feel cocky.
He wasn't feeling cocky now. He was sitting in an interrogation room sweating bullets while he waited for the FBI agent to tell him why he was being detained. He was going to demand an attorney but wanted to wait until after he found out what he was going to be charged with. Maybe this was just a fishing expedition. Maybe he wasn't even a suspect, and they didn't know what he had done. That was it, he decided. They were just fishing for information.
Jud was certain they didn't have a shred of proof that he'd done anything wrong. The car he'd used to run the woman off the road was in the junkyard now, in line to be stripped and crushed. His cousin Eddie, who ran the junkyard, promised he'd get it done as soon as possible. As a precaution Jud had already wiped the car down. There wasn't a single fingerprint anywhere. He'd been meticulous about that, making sure he didn't miss any spots. No, the FBI didn't have anything on him, and the only reason he was sitting there waiting was that they wanted information.
He was a little apprehensive about the agent coming in to question him. He'd heard the other agents talking about him. They sounded respectful but also a little nervous. Jud decided it was all an act to scare him.
He was wrong about that. Exactly thirty seconds after Special Agent Liam Scott walked into the interrogation room, Jud was shaking in his boots.
Another agent walked in first. He took up a position by the observation window with his arms folded, silent and watchful. Then Liam Scott walked in. He dropped a file on the table and, towering over Jud, said, "You're being charged with attempted murder."
"What? No, I didn't try to murder anyone. I didn't."
Liam acted as though Jud hadn't protested and continued. "I'd get a good attorney if I were you because, when I'm done with you, you could be going away for the rest of your life."
In all the times he'd been dragged into a police station, Jud had never been told to get an attorney. The detectives usually tried to discourage him. This agent was different.
"You don't have anything on me," he stammered. "I don't need an attorney because I didn't do anything wrong."
The bluff didn't work. "There are highway surveillance cameras showing you tailing Allison Trent. We found your car, you prick. You tried to kill the woman I love. I just may kill you myself, right here and now."
The look in the agent's eyes sent chills down Jud's spine. "I didn't even know the woman. Why would I want to kill her?" he asked, trying to sound sincere.