Clint didn’t even bother to look up when the knock sounded.
“It’s unlocked!” he yelled, and kept his attention on the stove.
He heard the front door open and footsteps and in a few seconds Peter entered the small kitchen. Clint picked the frying pan off the stove and scrapped the scrambled eggs onto a plate and then poured himself a cup of coffee.
“Want some?” he asked, indicating the coffee pot.
“No,” said Peter flatly. There was a beat and then he added, “Thank you.”
“I wasn’t expecting you so early.” Clint picked up his plate and cup and carried it out into the living room and placed them down on the coffee table. He received over for the remote control and switched off the muted TV. “Have a seat and I’ll get the photographs for you.”
Peter settled down on the couch as Clint disappeared into his office.
“I found what I could,” called out Clint, “Five years is a long time in tabloids, but a lot of them keep pretty good records and I contacted a couple photographers as well as a paparazzi agency and they were able to pull together a pretty good collection.” He came back out into the living room and handed a large folder over to Peter. As Peter flipped open the folder, Clint sat down to his food and began to eat.
Clint watched as Peter took out the stack of photographs and began to page through them at first slowly and then steadily faster. There was something a bit odd about the way he was looking at the photographs that Clint couldn’t quite figure out.
Peter reached the last picture and swore, before tossing them down onto the coffee table. He looked…oddly frustrated it seemed. Clint set down his fork, pushed aside his plate and reached over for the photographs.
“It’s what you wanted,” he said, organizing them back into a neat pile.
“Is that all of them?” asked Peter.
“All the ones I could get a hold of. Maybe I can find a few more but I thought these were pretty good.”
“I want any more you can get your hands on.”
Clint heard him let out a sigh and glanced up to see him run a hand across his eyes and lean back tiredly against the sofa, apparently deep in thought. Clint glanced back down at pictures. What was wrong with them? How were they not what Peter had wanted? Each one of them showed Layla with another man. Sure, they could hardly be a lot of fun for her husband to look at, but they were exactly what he had asked for. Right subject, right timeframe, and Peter just flicked through them with barely a glance.
One glance. As if that was all it took to tell if it were the right photograph. Clint flipped through a couple of them. There were only two things that you could register that quickly from each of them: the two people. Layla was in all of them. That’s what Peter had asked for. The only thing that changed was…
“You’re looking for a picture of her with a particular guy,” said Clint suddenly.
Peter looked up, an almost cornered expression on his face. “What?”
“That’s why none of these pictures are right. Because you looking for someone in particularly.”
Peter opened his mouth to argue but Clint pressed on.
“Look if you tell me who you’re really looking for it’ll be easier for me to find it.”
“I’m not looking for anyone,” said Peter, “Now, I should go. Just give me the photos and I’ll leave.” He reached out his hand for the folder but Clint held it back.
“Why are you looking for someone in particular anyways? A smear campaign is hardly going to help you.”
“I said I’m not looking for anyone-”
“And you wanted the photos of your apartment,” said Clint slowly and thoughtfully, the pieces slowly starting to form a picture. “Which were basically of the crime scene; you’d barely touched the room. And now you want something to prove that she was having an affair with a particular person. You’re trying to build a case.”
“I’m leaving.” Peter turned but Clint shot to his feet and made it to the door first, blocking the exit.
“You want to prove that someone else killed her don’t you? Or at least you want it to appear that way?”
“Appear that way?” Peter snapped, his eyes narrowing.
Clint held up his hands. “I only mean that I have no way of knowing whether you’re guilty or not and I’m not going to pander to you and say otherwise. But you are trying to show that it’s at least possible that someone else, a particular someone else, could be guilty, aren’t you?”
Peter crossed his arms. “What of it?”
Clint shrugged. “Well if that’s what you’re trying to do, it’ll be a lot easier for me to help you if I know it.”
“And why would you want to help me?”
“Because I want to know the truth. Because I’ve lived for five years wondering what exactly it is I did to you. Did I turn the public against an innocent man or guilty one? I want to know whether you killed your wife.”
“And you think you can find out this way?”
“I think I’ll have an idea. All I’ll be helping you with is finding the truth. I think when I see what you do with it, I’ll have a pretty good idea of what kind of man you are.”
“And the mutually assured destruction of the tabloids would keep you from going to the press.”
“Just like before,” agreed Clint.
Peter studied him for one long minute and then slowly held out a hand. Clint hesitated for only a fraction and then shook it; but as he tried to move away, Peter held on.
“The last time I trusted you, I got burned. This time had better be different, for both our sakes.” Peter let go.
Clint couldn’t resist a grin. “Threatening me. This is a great start.”