Chapter no 34

Never Lie

EJ is unconscious.

It happened quickly. So quickly, I’m worried he got too much of the Ativan I ground up and mixed in with the Cheval Blanc. I didn’t know exactly how much to put inside because I didn’t know how much he would drink, so I added enough that even a glass would be enough to knock him out. It turns out, he drank the whole thing.

I rise from my desk and stand over him. His almost too handsome features are slack, with a little drool in the corner of his mouth, and his sun-streaked hair is gelled within an inch of its life. I have a pair of scissors in my desk drawer, and for a moment, I am seized with the almost irrepressible urge to take them out and plunge them into his chest. That would end the blackmail once and for all.

Of course, that would be unbelievably stupid. I’m sure the police would find out that he came here for an appointment and never left. I’d rather not go to jail for murder. It doesn’t matter that the victim really and truly deserved it. That the world would be a better place without him.

Instead, I reach for my phone and send off a text:

Come downstairs.

I walk around the side of the desk. EJ’s phone is jutting out of his pocket. I slide it out gently, although he’s sleeping so soundly, I doubt I could wake him up if I wanted to. He has an iPhone that’s a slightly newer model than mine. I pick up his right hand and press his thumb on the home button. It reads his fingerprint and the screen instantly unlocks. I release his hand and his arm drops limply back onto the sofa.

I go into his Photos. He doesn’t have many of them. I get the feeling that EJ is a bit of a loner—he hardly ever mentions his friends. Mostly, there are a few photos of him standing in front of a mirror with his shirt off. And a few more where he’s flexing his muscles. Then a few more of him completely naked. I scroll through those quickly.

After the naked pictures, there are some of me. These were taken without my permission. There’s one of me coming out of my house. Climbing into my car. And then one fuzzy one of what appears to be my bedroom window. Thank God, the blinds are mostly shut and you can’t see much.

Once I get rid of this stupid video, this man is never coming on my property again. I’ll get a restraining order if I have to.

Finally, I find what I’m looking for. The video from the parking lot. I watch it one more time, the bile rising in my throat. I had hoped it wasn’t as bad as I had thought, but it is. It’s just as bad. I seem so suspicious as my eyes dart around to make sure nobody’s watching me, then slash that tire. The expression on my face is almost demonic.

I nearly jump out of my skin when I hear the knock on my office door. I pull it up open gently—Luke is standing there, a deep crease between his eyebrows.

“Okay,” he says. “I’m here.”

I hold out the phone to him. “This is the video. I want you to eliminate any traces of it off this phone.”

He takes the phone from me, although he’s unable to wipe the disapproving look from his eyes. His index finger

hovers over the screen, and I grab his arm. “Don’t watch the video,” I say.

“I wasn’t going to.”

I purse my lips. “You looked like you were going to press Play.”

He lets out a huff. “I can’t delete this video from the phone if you won’t let me touch the screen, Adrienne.”

Fine. I respectfully take a step back and allow him to do his thing with the phone. While he’s working on it, I go back into the office, where EJ is still lying slumped on my leather sofa. I frown down at him, trying to make out the rise and fall of his chest. He is very, very still.

Christ, I didn’t kill him, did I?

Very gently, I place my fingers on his left wrist, over his radial artery. I hold my breath, feeling around for his pulse.

I don’t feel anything. Oh no.

Just before I can start panicking, he lets out a shudder and shifts his position on the couch, pulling his arm out of my grasp. Thank God, he’s alive. But I’m definitely going to have to help him get home.

I reach into his pocket gently and pull out his keys. He’s got the key fob on the ring for his Porsche, then a couple of other keys. I do not know which one opens his front door, but there aren’t that many. Luke can figure that out when he gets there.

When I come out of the office, Luke is standing there, his arms at his side, EJ’s phone in his right hand. “It’s done,” he says.

“And you didn’t watch the video?” “No.”

“You swear.” “I swear.”

He hands me the phone, and I lay the house keys in his palm. He sucks in a breath when he sees them. “Adrienne,” he says quietly. “I really don’t want to do this.”

Not this again. I assumed when he showed up here, he was done protesting. “It’s not that big a deal.”

“It is a big deal.” His eyes are wide behind his glasses. “We drugged him, and now we’re breaking into his house and hacking into his computer. That’s a really big deal.”

There’s a famous experiment by a Yale psychologist named Stanley Milgram—or should I say, infamous. The experiment measured the willingness of study participants to perform terrible acts when instructed to do so by an authority figure. Subjects were led to believe they were participating in an experiment in which they were a “teacher” administering electric shocks to another subject— the “learner”—every time he got the answer to a question wrong.

In reality, the “learner” was an actor. And the electric shocks were fake.

During the experiment, the learner would beg for mercy. He would plead for the experiment to stop. He would complain about a heart condition. But the experimenter overseeing the study would tell the subject to keep administering the shocks of increasing intensity. The subjects grew increasingly uncomfortable as the experiment proceeded, but here is the amazing part:

Every single subject administered shocks of at least 300

V. And more than half of them administered a shock of 450 V—a fatal shock if it had been real.

The purpose of the experiment was to explain the psychology of genocide. That the Nazis did terrible things just because they were told to do so. But I have a different interpretation.

I believe that any human being is capable of terrible things if you push them hard enough.

So is Luke.

“Please do this for me, Luke.” My eyes fill with tears— I’m not sure if they’re real or not. “You’re the only one who

can help me. He’s a terrible person. He’s going to destroy me if I don’t get this video off his computer.”

He shakes his head. “Whatever is on that video… Maybe you should just deal with it.”

“I can’t.”

“Well, I don’t think I can do this.”

I take a step back. “So that’s it. You’re going to let this man destroy my entire life when you have a chance to stop him.”


The tears are running down my cheeks now. “You don’t trust me. Even after all this time.”

“I trust you…”

“Then why won’t you help me?”

Luke stares down at the set of keys in his hand. He exhales slowly. “Okay. I’ll do my best. But no promises.”

“Thank you, Luke.”

I throw my arms around him in an uncharacteristically affectionate gesture. Usually, he’s the affectionate one. But this time he just stands there stiffly under my embrace.

Luke plugs the address I gave him for EJ’s house into his GPS and then he takes off, with a promise to text me when he’s on his way back. I don’t know what I’m going to do if he says he can’t get into that computer. As of now, I don’t have a Plan B. But I believe in Luke. He can do this.


It’s been well over an hour since Luke has been gone.

I’ve been babysitting EJ this whole time while he sleeps on my sofa. When he gets too quiet, I come over to make sure he is still breathing. He’s fine though. I had been concerned about him waking up too soon, but I’m not worried about that anymore. He’s really conked out. My biggest concern right now is how I’m going to get him home. Luke is not going to be thrilled about helping me, but I don’t think I can do it on my own.

Luke. What’s taking him so long?

I chew on my thumbnail as I contemplate things that could have gone wrong. Maybe Luke couldn’t get into the computer, which is undoubtedly password-protected. Maybe a neighbor saw him entering the house and called the cops. Or possibly most likely, he decided not to go through with it after all and I’m never going to see him again.

Then my phone buzzes. Luke’s name flashes on the screen.

I scoop it up and press the green button. “Hello? Luke?” “It’s done.”

All the anxiety drains out of my body, and I feel like I’m going to pass out. “Really? You deleted it from his computer?”


“Oh my God,” I breathe. “Thank you. Thank you so much. Was… was it difficult?”

There’s a long silence on the other line. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Okay…” I clear my throat. “You’re coming back to my house?”

His voice is a monotone. “Yes.”

“Okay.” I squeeze the phone until my fingers tingle. “Thank you for doing this, Luke.”


“I… I love you.”

“I’ll see you later,” he says. And he hangs up on me.

I lower the phone and stare at the blank screen, a sick feeling in my stomach. Luke is pissed off at me. He’s lost respect for me. I’m not sure if he watched the video or not, but I don’t know if it matters. He’s angry that I made him do this.

I did this to get EJ out of my life. But I may have inadvertently eliminated Luke from my life as well.

My eyes fill with very real tears. I don’t want to lose Luke. I’m not sorry I asked him to do this, because I didn’t

have a choice. I don’t want to stop seeing him. I don’t want him to empty the drawer I gave him in my bedroom. I want to give him more drawers.

I want him to move in with me. I’ve never felt this way before, but I realize it now. I want him here every night. For the rest of my life.

I can’t lose him over this. I can’t.

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