“Mr. Ryder, are trying to say you have a gun but don’t remember how you got it?”
Alan tried not to shift in his chair. The interrogation room felt hot, and he longed to pull his jacket off but he feared any movement might inadvertently give something away. A Detective Lytton was seated across the table from him, between them, in a clear plastic bag, sat the gun from Alan’s safe.
“I’m sorry,” Alan said, his voice smooth. “I just can’t remember where I bought it.”
“And you don’t have any proof of purchase?”
“Not off hand. I could look, but it’d be back at my house. I can’t do you any good here.”
Lytton leaned forward a little and took on an understanding expression. “Mr. Ryder, I understand that you and Ms. Woods are engaged.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” asked Alan angrily. He gave in, and pulled off his jacket, tossing it onto the table.
“If she brought the gun into the house, it’s in both of your best interests to tell me-”
“She didn’t bring it into the house! This has nothing to do with Holly.”
“What has nothing to do with Holly?”
Alan let out of a huff of exasperation and leaned back in his chair. “I don’t know. Whatever this is about. I thought it was about a break-in and self-defense shooting.”
“Both of which have quite a lot to do with Ms. Woods. So what exactly do you think we’re talking about here?”
“Whatever it is,” said Alan calmly, “That’s got you so darn interested in this gun.”
“Which you still can’t tell me how you or Ms. Woods got a hold of it.”
“She got it out of my safe. And I bought it from someone but can’t remember who. It’s that simple.”
“You would have still had to legally transfer the gun through an officially licensed dealer and there’d be paperwork,” said Lytton. “That’s California law.”
“Well maybe we just did it wrong then.”
“So you’re saying you illegally acquired this gun?”
There was a long beat. Alan tried to do some quick reasoning. Should he ask what this was about? Demand to know why the sudden interest in the gun? It could look odd if he didn’t, if he just accepted this line of questioning without comment. At the same time an illogical part of him, hoped if he didn’t press it the questions would stop right here.
“Mr. Ryder?” Lytton prompted.
“Do I need to ask for a lawyer?” asked Alan calmly. “Any mistakes in the purchase of that gun, were an accident. If there’s a fine, I’m happy to pay it. But I think you’re taking a small oversight on paperwork a little too far here. I think I’ve been very cooperative, but you’re really trying-”
“Did you buy the gun from Peter Glades?” asked Lytton abruptly.
Alan nearly swore. A thought ran across his mind, a possibility. Say yes. Lay this all on him. He takes the fall, he’s out of Holly’s life, he’s out of your life, and this all goes away. Just as quickly the problems with that plan occurred to him as well. Why would he have bought a gun from Peter? When? Peter would deny it and nothing could be proved either way. It would place Alan too close to everything if he claimed that and raise even more impossible to answer questions.
There just wasn’t enough time to think.
“I told you. I don’t remember where I got it. I don’t understand what the problem is.” There was a beat, maybe a slightly too long beat, before he added. “Or what this has to do with Peter Glades.”
The detective sat there for nearly a minute, just looking at him. Alan wondered if he was just going to ignore the question. At last Lytton spoke. “The gun that Ms. Woods shot the intruder with. The gun she allegedly got out of your safe. The gun you don’t know where you got it from. It’s the same gun that was used to kill Layla Glades five years ago.”
It was strange how much harder it was to act for the benefit of one man then it was to act in a room full of cameras and crew. Alan frowned, letting several seconds tick by as he looked surprised and perplexed. Or tried to at any rate.
“I don’t understand. How is that possible?”
“That’s what we want to know. It gets stranger when you consider your connection with Ms. Woods and hers with Mr. Glades.”
Alan resisted the temptation to get angry Holly’s name being brought into it again. He needed to stay in control. “They’re friends.”
“There are rumors of more than that.”
“What? In the tabloids? I’d think the LAPD would know better than to believe everything printed there.”
“We do. But we also know that every avenue of inquiry has to be followed to their end. Which is why Mr. Glades is being questioned right now as we speak.”
Alan felt himself involuntary startle. Had Lytton seen? If he had, Alan should say something quickly, distract him and make him forget. He tried desperately to think of something, anything to say, but all that came out was, “Peter’s here?”