The edge of dominance, p.13
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       The Edge of Dominance, p.13
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         Part #4 of The Doms of Her Life series by Shayla Black

  “Where did you meet her?”

  Hiding in the alley behind Shadows. “I don’t recall that, either.”

  “How old was she?” Cameron demanded.

  Sterling intervened. “You’ve basically answered that. Don’t repeat yourself.”

  Hammer just smiled. “Next?”

  Winslow narrowed his eyes. “How old was she the first time you took her to bed?”

  His lawyer shook his head at that question, too.

  Last November fourth, three short months ago. God, he’d wanted her for so long. “Can we step this up? I’d like to go home.”

  But that wasn’t happening anytime soon. The hours ticked by like days, and it seemed as if there was no end in sight. Hammer soon realized the two officers wouldn’t be satisfied until they’d nailed him to the wall.

  “In a rough estimation, Mr. Hammerman, how many sex partners would you say you’ve had in the last…oh, I don’t know…since your wife committed suicide?”

  “Irrelevant to the charges, Winslow.” Sterling shook his head in disgust. “Don’t answer that, Macen.”

  “Was your late wife younger than you, Mr. Hammerman? Was she the first child you molested?” Cameron quipped.

  “I already told you, I’ve never had sexual contact with a minor.” Even when he’d been a minor himself, he’d seduced grown women left and right. But clearly these two clowns thought they were going to mindfuck him. Amateurs. “I was a year older than Juliette. She was twenty when we married. But I think it’s interesting you assume I had a child bride. Do your questions stem from your own personal experience?”

  Cameron sent Macen an arctic glare. “You and your late wife didn’t have children? Not even a little girl for you to practice on?”

  “Why would you think that?” Hammer quizzed. “Is that what you do with your daughters?”

  Sterling cleared his throat. “We’re all quite aware that Mr. Hammerman has no dependents.”

  “Well, none that have been born yet,” Winslow added with a sly smile. “Rumor is, Ms. Kendall is pregnant.”

  “How many times did you have to force her to have sex with you before she conceived? Or did your pal, O’Neill, knock her up? I bet you’re holding out hope for a little girl so you can repeat the cycle,” Cameron jabbed.

  “That isn’t even a viable question,” Barnes objected.

  “What types of sexual acts do you most often engage in, Mr. Hammerman?” Winslow asked. “Strictly the ménage à trois? Or is Ms. Kendall a third to your homosexual relationship with Mr. O’Neill? Are you an equal-opportunity kind of pervert?”

  When Winslow succumbed to Cameron’s level of character assassination, Hammer felt as if he’d scored a victory. In fact, he couldn’t help but chuckle as Sterling laid his hand on Hammer’s arm and shook his head.

  “I think they only brought me here to ask about my sex life because theirs are lacking,” Macen drawled.

  “At the moment, that’s how it sounds,” his lawyer agreed before turning his attention to the two detectives. “If you’re quite finished wasting my client’s time, we’ll leave now so you can utilize this room for real criminals.”

  “Not yet.” Winslow smiled and pulled out a stack of papers from a nearby file folder before spreading them over the table like a deck of cards.

  Hammer went cold.

  He recognized his own handwriting instantly. Each page represented a copy of a money order he’d written to Bill Kendall to stay the fuck away from Raine. Over six years’ worth of payments stared him in the face.

  He could imagine exactly how this would be construed, and he struggled to think of a plausible explanation. Even the truth could land him in prison.

  Hammer’s guts twisted. His heart raced.

  “These money orders look familiar?” Winslow taunted, his eyes lighting up like a cat ready to devour a mouse. “All summed, it’s a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. What could a man like Bill Kendall possibly possess that would entice you to pay him such a large sum of money? His daughter, perhaps?”

  Macen felt as if the walls were closing in around him. The air thinned. His suit suddenly felt tight. Even his skin seemed to shrink, as if he needed to shed it like a snake. He reached up and loosened his tie.

  “As your attorney, I’m advising you to ignore that question, too.”

  “Good, I’d rather not dignify it with an answer,” Hammer countered.

  “What were you paying Bill Kendall for, Mr. Hammerman?” Winslow pressed. “A nice, juicy virgin?”

  “Obviously, you know the going rate. I don’t have a clue since I’m not in the habit of buying sex partners.” Macen ground his teeth together.

  “Was he blackmailing you?” Cameron tossed out. “I’ll bet Bill Kendall was holding all your immoral and unnatural proclivities over your head.”

  “You mean because he was such a fine, upstanding citizen himself?” Macen couldn’t resist. “If you discount the fact that he raped and murdered his wife and one of his own daughters…”

  “Hammer…” Barnes warned.

  “No worries, Sterling. I thought I had a pretty open view of sexuality, but these two? Wow. Buying juicy virgins for the purpose of forced sex and breeding? And I’m the pervert here? Their fantasies are way more twisted than mine.” Hammer leveled a flat stare at the two officers. “I guess working in Vice has given you some ideas over the years. What other non-consensual shit do you get your rocks off with, boys?”

  Ignoring his volley, Winslow scowled. “Did you arrange for Bill Kendall to kidnap his own daughter so that Ms. Kendall could kill him in ‘self-defense’ and you wouldn’t have to pay her father whatever else you owed him?”

  Hammer couldn’t help but blink at the absurdity of the question. “Dig out your own police reports, gentlemen. One of your peers labeled him a sexual predator and killer. I wouldn’t have put a flea in his path.”

  “How much money did you still owe him?” Cameron pressed.

  “Hammer,” Sterling cautioned.

  Seething, Macen breathed through his anger to keep his shit together. This fucking game was pissing him off. “I’m worth eight figures, gentlemen. If I paid him anything, I assure you two thousand dollars a month would hardly motivate me to plot such a ridiculously convoluted murder.”

  “Are those all the questions you have?” Sterling interceded.

  “Just one more thing.” Winslow smirked. “Mr. Hammerman might want to consider getting off his high horse, because we have an eyewitness who has corroborated that not only did Raine Kendall work at your club, but she spent nearly every night in your bed since you bought her as a minor.”

  Witness? Who the fuck could that lying sack be? Everyone who joined Shadows signed tight legal documents that ensured nothing happening inside the club’s walls made its way to outsiders.

  “In fact, the witness said you bragged about it and saw Ms. Kendall act as your domestic slave, cleaning up after you. Cooking for you.” Winslow sneered. “You like apple spice muffins, don’t you? We hear you controlled her bank account, too, so she couldn’t leave you.”

  “Don’t respond to that,” Barnes snapped.

  Macen couldn’t—without the truth being twisted to make him look guilty as hell. Only those who had spent time with him knew he liked apple spice muffins and that Raine made them for him. That he controlled her bank accounts because he’d never wanted her to worry about money again.

  Who could the damn Judas be?

  Winslow went on. “According to our witness, you also arranged for Ms. Kendall to have a public beating at your establishment, followed by a sodomizing—all while you watched.”

  Hammer knew exactly which night the detective referred to. Only a member of Shadows could know about it. Someone had talked—and misrepresented everything about his relationship with Raine to suit their own purpose.

  His heart raced, sputtered. He racked his brain to remember who had been there for that debacle. Who hated him enough to unleash this sort of v
endetta?

  He was in far deeper shit than he’d imagined.

  Christ. This could not be happening. But even his body knew it was as his lungs froze, his mouth went dry, and his heart all but beat out of his chest.

  The life he’d waited years to enjoy was slipping through his fingers. Liam would be left to care for Raine alone. And what about their child? Would he ever know the baby they’d conceived in love?

  Damn it, he wasn’t going down without a fight. “I suggest you bring in your witness and get your facts straight, because someone is feeding you a metric ton of bullshit.”

  “Trust me, Mr. Hammerman, our witness has an impeccable reputation,” Winslow assured.

  “Let’s end this charade. Everyone in this room knows you’re guilty. We’ve got the proof right here in black and white,” Cameron growled, scattering the copies of the money orders all over the table. “Give us a statement. Plead guilty. Maybe the DA will reduce the charges he plans to file against you and you’ll only go away for five to ten years. If you want to keep pretending you’re a model citizen, I guarantee a jury will lock you up and throw away the key.”

  “I’ve done nothing wrong,” Hammer growled. “You can take your evidence and shove it up your ass. If you’re going to arrest me, then fucking do it. Otherwise, I’m done here.”

  “Easy,” Sterling murmured.

  Hammer was beyond that. If he didn’t get out of this claustrophobic sweat box in the next ten seconds, he was going to come completely unhinged.

  “Aside from yourself, who else had sexual relations with Ms. Kendall when she was a minor?” Winslow continued. A look of renewed vigor lightened his face. “That will count as a charge of prostitution, but we’ll let you share that sentence with the other schmucks if you’ll give us names.”

  “Stooping to psych warfare seems beneath even you, Winslow,” Hammer sneered. “What makes it worse is that you suck at it.”

  “Oh, you’re familiar with the tactic? Guess you’ve been in trouble far more than your records show.” Winslow turned to Sterling. “Did you get him cleared of other crimes, too?”

  Sterling branded the man with a scathing glare. “As my client has stated, if you’re going to arrest him, do it. Otherwise, I’m taking Mr. Hammerman home.”

  Macen didn’t wait for either detective to reply, he simply stood and headed toward the door with Sterling on his heels.

  “Don’t leave town, Mr. Hammerman,” Winslow called out as Macen stormed from the room.

  “Come on. I’ll drive you home,” Sterling offered. “We can discuss the particulars in the car.”

  Hammer was about to take the man up on his offer when Dean Gorman passed by and caught his eye, pulling out his cell phone. Striding closer to Hammer, Dean pressed it to his ear and pretended to speak into the device. “Don’t look at me. We need to talk. Be in touch soon.”

  Following Dean’s directive, Hammer kept his eyes pinned on the wall at the end of the corridor. He gave no hint of acknowledgment.

  Inside, his ragged nerves twitched. What would happen next? How the hell would he stop it?

  As he and Sterling rounded the corner, heading toward the front door, Beck and Seth jumped from their seats, both wearing identical looks of concern.

  “How’s Raine?” Hammer asked anxiously. “Is she all right?”

  “Relax,” Beck soothed. “She’s fine. Pregnant women faint. It’s nothing to worry about. How are you, man?”

  “You free to go?” Seth asked, arching his brows.

  “For now.” Turning toward Sterling, he shook the man’s hand. “Thanks for coming down. I’ll swing by your office in the morning and fill you in on all the details.”

  “Please do. I don’t much like trying to represent clients when I’m in the dark.”

  “Understood.”

  As Sterling walked away, Hammer exhaled, wishing he could blow out all his exhaustion and fear with it. “Come on, guys. We’ll talk in the car. I want to get the hell out of here and back home to my girl.”

  For as long he could.

  * * *

  Raine wrung her hands as she sat in an ancient chair surrounded by ugly yellow walls and dirty, speckled linoleum, finding it hard to breathe. Beside her sat an attorney she’d met all of five minutes ago. Hammer was, even now, being questioned for crimes he hadn’t committed. And they wanted to drag her in, too?

  “Don’t be nervous,” the distinguished man nearing forty leaned over and whispered.

  Calvin something. She was too rattled to recall what. He’d introduced himself with piercing eyes and the smile of a shark.

  “Sterling filled me in on what he knows and—”

  “I’m not a victim,” she cut in. “Hammer did nothing wrong.”

  “Sterling indicated that you probably wouldn’t give the police much to support their investigation.”

  “I won’t help them send someone innocent—whom I love dearly—to prison.”

  Minutes after Macen had been taken away, more police officers had shown up and asked to question her and Liam. She was thankful that with one phone call, Sterling had arranged attorneys from another reputable law firm to meet them at the station. Because money talked, the lawyers had come running.

  “You don’t have to say a word, Ms. Kendall. They can’t force you to answer questions.”

  “But I have to make them realize Hammer has never harmed me in any way.”

  “It’s unlikely they’ll drop their investigation simply because the ‘victim’ doesn’t want to cooperate. For all we know, they have other evidence, and they’re running with it. If you want to help Mr. Hammerman, then your job isn’t to tell them everything. It’s to not give them any information that might dig him a deeper hole.”

  “But he helped me, he rescued—”

  “They don’t care. As far as the detectives are concerned, he’s a sex club owner in an alternative lifestyle who’s behaved inappropriately with a minor in some form or fashion. They’d like to see him behind bars.”

  “No. That’s not Macen at all. He’s—”

  “It doesn’t matter what I think. Don’t lose your cool and don’t lie. If any question strays too deep into territory you think paints Mr. Hammerman in a criminal light, refuse to answer. And you don’t have to say anything that incriminates yourself. If you’re even remotely unsure about a question, look at me. I’ll guide you.”

  Raine nodded. She hated being jittery. After all, she had the truth. But that didn’t stop her nerves from jangling.

  A female detective summoned her a few minutes later. Raine’s stomach tightened as she followed the woman into a small gray interview room. Calvin trailed behind, pulling out the chair for her when the cop bade her to sit.

  “Raine Kendall?” the female asked.

  She looked no-nonsense, maybe around thirty. Her long, dark hair bisected her back in a severe ponytail. She wore almost no makeup and a button-down shirt that looked just this side of masculine. With both a badge and gun strapped to her belt, she gave off an impatient, don’t-fuck-with-me vibe.

  And she intimidated the hell out of Raine.

  “Yes.”

  “I’m Detective Perez. I’d like to ask you a few questions about your association with Macen Hammerman. Do you know him?”

  “Yes.”

  “How did you two meet?”

  Raine looked at the attorney. The answer to that could be so misconstrued and land Hammer in more trouble, but Calvin probably didn’t know enough to realize that.

 
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