Crimes Past(98)

By: Lauren Carr


“I had to go to the rest room,” Joan said with a roll of her eyes.

“Clarissa told me that you didn’t have any wedding gift,” Sanchez said.

“She—”

“And it was after that night that Clarissa suddenly didn’t want us to do anything with you and Troy anymore,” Sanchez said. “You two were best friends. Our kids played together. But suddenly—and I realized it was after that night—Clarissa started pulling away from your friendship—until the only thing left was the athletic club and Clarissa was even talking about quitting that.” He moved in closer to her—glaring down into Joan’s face. “You didn’t go get any wedding gift from the car, did you, Joan?”

The party had become eerily quiet. Joan gazed around to find several eyes on them—waiting for her answer. The truth was out there. It was now up to her to put it into words.

“I did get Brie a wedding present,” Joan spat out. “Exactly what she deserved. And I delivered it to their bridal suite—personally. A lovely bottle of De Margerie Grand Cru Brut—1988.”

Tears filled her eyes. “Brie was surprised to see me when she opened the door. She wasn’t afraid. After all, I was just a dumb little housewife—too weak to fight for my man. She had no idea what I was made of until I took her husband—permanently. Then, she put up a fight.” Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She swallowed. “That was when she found out what I was really made of.”

Tapping his ear to indicate that the wires Sanchez and Kassandra were wearing had collected a wealth of information to arrest Joan Underwood, David stepped forward to arrest Joan but found Mac’s hand on his arm.

“Wait,” Mac said. “I think there’s more.”

“How did Clarissa find out?” Sanchez’s tone was threatening.

“Blood on my dress,” Joan said. “She had found me cleaning it off my dress in the ladies’ room. I had made up an excuse about running into a homeless man in the parking garage and him stealing the wedding present. She believed me. That’s why she made the comment about murder when we suggested that Kassandra go check on Brie and Trevor. When she found out they were dead, Clarissa realized what had happened. I had vented to her quite a bit about what I wanted to do to Brie for cheating with Troy. She put everything together and confronted me about it. I told her that if she was my friend, she’d say nothing. She kept quiet for a while, but …” Her voice trailed off.

“But as time wore on,” Mac said, “Clarissa couldn’t keep quiet anymore.”

“She told me to plead insanity.” Joan’s eyes blazed. “Me? Insane? Brie Pratt ruined my marriage. She stole my happily ever after—so I took hers!”

“When did Troy figure out what you’d done?” Sanchez asked.

“I think he suspected from the first,” she said. “We never talked about it.”

“He didn’t ask because he didn’t want to know the answer,” Kassandra said. “The spouse always suspects the truth. Talking about it makes it real.”

“But he was a detective,” Mac said. “So he figured it out on his own.”

“I didn’t nag him into joining the Secret Service,” Joan said. “He left because he couldn’t face Rico after Clarissa died.”

“She didn’t die! You killed her!” Before anyone could stop him, Rico Sanchez had his hands around Joan Underwood’s throat.

Joan collapsed onto the floor with Sanchez on top of her. Mac, David, and Hector fought to loosen his grip on her throat. Fury over the loss of his wife seemed to give Sanchez superhuman strength. Joan’s face turned red from the lack of oxygen.

“You’re killing her!” Mac yelled in Sanchez’s ear while attempting to pull him back by his shoulders.

Joan’s lips turned blue.

“She’s not worth it!” Mac said.

“Clarissa wouldn’t want you to go down for her, baby!” Rosa pleaded. “Don’t let her take anything else from us!”

The reminder of his compassionate wife, the mother of his children, worked. Sanchez released his hold on Joan’s throat and threw his arms up.