Page 56 of Beach Bodies

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“Right. And he was a detective. She said he was worried about his job, too. But she was in love with him, and she said he loved her, too. The time wasn’t right to end his engagement. He needed more time, and Lily was happy to give it to him. We were so relieved! We thought, at last, someone who loves our Lily. But he’s terrible!”

“Again, poor Lily. She wasn’t to blame.”

“Oh God, you agree!” Mrs. Porter cried. “You’re not judging her.”

“I’m not. I want to find out as much as I can about what her life was like in the past six months. It feels to me like that timeframe will tell us what we need to know about what happened to Lily.”

Laura thought of the drugs that had been present in Lily’s blood hours after her death, the same drugs Ryan Maddox took. A pregnancy. Left half naked in the sea with a bullet wound to the head. “Did Lily take any prescription drugs?”

“Not that I know of,” Mrs. Porter said. “I’ll give you my permission to talk to her doctor if you want. She didn’t have health insurance because Adam Marchand didn’t offer it to her, even though she baked for that dump for years. The clinic at the hospital took care of her health needs.”

“Do you know where she got her prescriptions filled if she needed anything?”

“Yes. At the pharmacy at Target.”

“Would you give me permission to see her records there?”

“I’ll have our attorney do that right away if you think it will help.”

“Mr. and Mrs. Porter, I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I’m going to do everything in my power to see that Lily gets the justice she deserves.”

Laura stood, the gravity of what she’d just learned making her heart rate skyrocket, and it wasn’t slowing down. As soon as she got to her car, she’d call Will. She didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t confront Alan Stone on her own. Since he was the detective on the case, the legal pathway she needed to follow was to contact the prosecutor.

After extricating herself from the Porters, it took every ounce of self-control she had not to vault out of their house. Finally in the car, she drove a few houses down until she was out of their sight, then she stopped at the curb and got out her phone.

“She was having an affair with Alan Stone. The parents knew about it. He was going to break up with his fiancée to be with Lily.”

“Why the hell didn’t they say that right away? It doesn’t make any sense,” Will bellowed.

“You have to understand, they are deeply religious people, Will. Presentation means everything to them, and they didn’t want Lily to look bad. It says in the Bible to avoid even the appearance of sin.”

“Well, you know I think that’s bullshit.”

“I agree. Could Alan have known she was pregnant?”

“I doubt she even knew, it was so early, Laura. The blood has twenty-five units per liter of measurable human chorionic gonadotropin when you’re pregnant. Borderline results are ten to twenty-five. She had twenty-four. So it was just on the rise.”

“I have to tell the prosecutor she was dating Alan,” Laura said. “That’s going to go over like a fart in church.”

“The police know she had a positive pregnancy test. I’m sure they’d go after Dan Chua first, since he’s the only man who has admitted to having sex with her.”

“I guess this news gets my sister off the hook.”

“Well, she might not have taken a shot at her, but she’s not off the hook. Not yet. If there’s anything that points a finger at her, Laura, we have to fess up.”

“Oh, God, don’t even tell me that.”

Her phone beeped that a text had just come through.

“I know, I know,” Will said. “I’d better let you get back to work. Love you.”

She read the text, a short note from Lily Porter’s mother telling Laura to stop by their attorney’s office to get a release letter allowing Laura to see Lily’s prescription file. The attorney’s office was in the same complex as Dan Chua’s. She pulled around to the back, as far from his dusty Porsche as possible, and still, she practically had a head-on collision with him in the outer corridor.

“Jesus, watch where you’re going, why don’t you,” he groused. “You should have called first. I’m leaving.”

“I’m not here to see you anyway, Chua.” She pushed by him.

“Wait. Laura, I’m sorry. Is everything okay?”