All the makeup and hair people left, Matilda changed quickly and was ready in ten minutes and there was nothing much left for Holly to do other than sit stiffly on the edge of the armchair, afraid to muss the look that had taken so many people, so many hours to create, and struggled to resist the urge to fidget. Matilda tried to make some small talk, but by this point Holly was too wound up to focus much on it.
At twenty till six Evelyn’s bedroom door opened. Holly felt her heart sink. She was on tenterhooks enough as it was, she didn’t think she could hear-
The doorbell rang.
Holly leaped to her feet, the biggest gesture she had dared to allow herself since her hair had been put up.
“That’s probably Allen,” she said quickly.
Evelyn’s lips twitched up a little and she exchanged a glance with Matilda. Holly suspected that somehow Evelyn knew exactly why she was so eager to hear the doorbell.
Holly hurried to the door and opened it. Alan was standing there, weaving a tux and smiling, his own all-encompassing smile.
“Holly,” he murmured, barely able to take his eyes off her. “You look…”
“Beautiful?” suggested Evelyn helpfully.
“Radiant.” He finished. “You look radiant.”
Holly kissed him and then turned to wave goodbye to Evelyn and Matilda. “I’ll see you at the premiere.”
Allen drew her arm through his and led her towards the elevator.
“Are you nervous?”
“I was. But I’m okay now.” She smiled up at him. “Because you’re here.”
Peter parked his car outside Clint’s apartment building and entered, taking the stairs up to the man’s apartment and knocking loudly on the door. He heard footsteps and then Clint opened the door.
“I got your text,” said Peter, “it said to come over.”
“Yeah.” Clint led him into the apartment. “I’ve got something to show you.” He rooted around under some stacks of paper that were piled up on the coffee table.
Peter frown and moved around to get a better look at Clint. “You look terrible.”
Clint glanced up and then grinned. “Wow, thanks. So thoughtful of you to say.”
“I didn’t mean that,” said Peter hastily. “I meant you look…actually no, terrible about sums it up.”
Peter cleared his throat and shoved his hands deep into his pockets. “You know, I happen to be pretty much an expert on how sucky relationships can be, and I can recognize trouble with women a mile off. And it’s kind of written all over you.”
“Well it doesn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to tell,” said Clint, sitting down on the couch.
“True. The empty beer cans on the side table combined with the fact you clearly haven’t been sleeping does make it kind of a dead giveaway. So you and Nikki huh?”
Clint laughed. “I am definitely not discussing my love life with you.”
“Fair enough. For the record though, it’s pretty inevitable.”
“What is?” asked Clint a little testily.
“Look, love sucks and it ends. It always disappoints and it just doesn’t work.”
“Says the man who commented a felony, in order to prove to the woman he loves that her boyfriend is a killer? That’s a lot of effort for someone who thinks it can’t ever work.”
Peter shrugged. “I’m under no delusions. She’s not going to run from him towards me. She knows how I feel, and she didn’t choose me. Alan being in or out of the picture isn’t going to change that.”
Clint studied him for a minute. “You know I believe you.”
“Great. So we both know it’s not going to work-”
“Not that. I mean I believe you about Alan.”
There was a stunned silence. “You do?”
“I believe he killed your wife. I believe you’re innocent. And I believe you went through hell and didn’t deserve it. Here,” he handed Peter an envelope. “I got the results back from the fingerprints. They matched. Which means Alan was definitely in the apartment, at most an hour before the murder. Given that, it’s credible to believe the text messages you found were definitely sent to and from him. Additionally,” he pulled a photograph out from under a stack on the table and held it up. “I found the photographic evidence of the affair that we were looking for.”
Peter took it and stared down at the photograph. It was a parking lot outside of a restaurant. The picture had clearly been taken some distance away but the two people in it were still recognizable: Layla with Alan’s arm around her tightly, him leaning in and whispering in her ear.
“This is Terry’s Garden,” he murmured, almost subconsciously.
“You know it?”
“Yes. I used to take her there sometimes, when we were first married. It was away from the paparazzi and they didn’t know about it.”
Clint grinned. “Sort of true. Most of them didn’t know about it.” He took the picture back. “The funny thing is, I had the picture we were looking for all along.”
“Yes. I was looking in all the wrong places, mostly parties, events, awards ceremonies, and of course Layla. But I didn’t even have this labeled under her. I used to go to Terry’s Garden because it’s so remote. Lots of celebrities go there when they want privacy. When someone famous thinks they’re in private is when you get the good stuff. This picture wasn’t worth anything back then so I just put dumped it in the Terry’s Garden folder and forgot about it. At that point Layla stepping out with a new man wasn’t news and Alan was a nobody. His dad’s a politician but he’s not really known that well outside of his own state. This picture wouldn’t have been worth nearly enough to expose my knowledge of Terry’s Garden and scare off other potential photo ops. So I shelved it and forgot all about it.”
“And now here it is,” said Peter staring at the photograph. “Proof that they were in a relationship.”
“Which means you have as much evidence as you’re probably ever going to have. So what are you going to do with it?”
Peter glanced up. “The only thing I can do. I’m going to show it to Holly.”