“Secrets Behind A Wedding Cake” Chapter Twenty-Two

“Miss Rutledge, I am asking you one more time to answer the most important question. With all your planning and all the things you did to people, why would you decide to kill your partner, Hallie?” Sarah asked then looked over at Max. She could feel the heat of anger stewing inside Max. She was ready for whatever came next.
“Listen, Detectives, I have admitted what I have done. I have given you a lot of the background, and I have done all this while being recorded and without a lawyer. So I tell you now that I did not go to Hallie’s house to kill her.”
Max said in a low guttural voice, “I have a question for you Miss Rutledge, so you stated that by two chance meetings with Hallie on the same day, you deducted that she was going to pursue me to get her pregnant.”
“It’s not a deduction Detective Drake. Hallie told me about your conversations both in the morning at Starbucks and later that evening at Donte’s Grill. She was surprised to see you that night. She took it as a sign that maybe you two could strike up a friendship.”
“A friendship? She said a friendship?”
“Max, stop,” Sarah said sternly.
“Just a minute Sarah, this is important; I want an answer. Did Hallie suggest that she and I might build a friendship or did you come up with the idea for her to set me up to get her pregnant.”
“Oh no detective, it was all Hallie’s idea. She said there was a possible opportunity and was pretty sure you were attracted to her. She told me about your personal conversation with her. Your wife dying of cancer a year or so ago I think it was. She said that she also liked you from the start. So that is something, Detective. She liked you so it wasn’t all a ploy.” Victoria said with a half-smile.
“You smug bitch.”
“Max, outside right now.” Sarah got up and walked out.
Max got up slowly not taking his eyes off of Victoria before turning and walking out.
“What the hell are you doing in there Max? You have to get your emotions under control. I do not want to see anything happen to jeopardize our case. Victoria is going down and so is John Knowles. She is playing with you; she is in control in there and guess what, she is working you for a reason. If you lose it in there and do something foolish, that is going to play out in court. So get your shit together or stay out, I’m not giving any defense lawyer a crack in this open and shut case just because you might threaten her or even worse, hop over the table and smack her. This case is solid. We have her. So what’s it going to be a partner, you coming back in and acting like the detective I know or you going to stay out?”
Max ignored Sarah’s question, “She was a beautiful young lady and we had a heartfelt conversation that evening. Yes, I thought she was attractive, and it did cross my mind that maybe, just maybe, there could be something there. I certainly wasn’t ready to take her home and bang her.” Max said.
“Max, why are you so angry over this?” Sarah asked.
Max clenched his teeth, he looked away then turned his head and looked directly at Sarah.
“You really want to know?” Max said with a shaky voice.
“Yes, I do.”
“For the first time in a long time, I felt something inside me besides pain and abandonment. I feel guilty being the survivor. I spend most evenings staring at the walls of my home, I have looked at all the pictures of Susan and me together. I have my daughter, Michelle, and she’s great! She is trying to fill a void in my heart, and I love her for that. What I don’t have is my wife. I miss Susan so much. There is a hole in me that may never heal. I am confused emotionally. Then the shock of finding Hallie murdered; the very person that sort of got to me and grabbed a handful of my pain. I am angry yes. Now I hear that hussy in there say that she and Hallie were no more than con artists. I feel guilty for cheating on Susan by letting someone touch me emotionally, and then to find out it was all a lie. I am more dead inside than ever.”
“Max, I never knew you were feeling this way. Why are you burying your emotions instead of talking about them? I am your partner, you can come to me anytime and talk through what your feeling, that’s what partners do Max.”
“I know you are my partner. It’s hard Sarah, and I thought I was possibly turning a corner when this whole case blew up in my face. I have always tried not to bring my personal issues to work. I don’t want personal shit affecting you or me in doing our job.”
“If you are not healthy emotionally I should know that Max. My safety is in play, and I have to know where you stand, just like you have to feel you can trust me. I’m sorry you are hurting, but we have a job to do, and that is to get her to tell us she killed Hallie so we can arrest her.” Sarah said.
“Okay Sarah, you’re right, I’m okay. Let’s go back in there and finish this.” Max said.
Sarah opened the door to the interview room, and both Max and Sarah walked in and sat down.
“You guys okay. I mean you both look like you have been fighting.” Victoria said smugly.
“Enough of the bullshit Miss Rutledge, why did you kill Hallie?” Sarah said.
“Can I get another cup of coffee?” She said with a smile.
“No. Start talking,” Sarah said.
Victoria focused on the cup, slowly spinning it on the table with her fingers. Sarah and Max watched her facial expression; she showed absolutely no emotion.
“I got a call from Hallie in the early afternoon. It’s true she wanted to talk. I finally agreed to meet her at home. She said it was important.”
“So Hallie having sex with Julian and the consequences of that plan and starting the supposedly fight between you two was nothing more than a setup to control Julian and Parker?” Max said.
“Yes, we never had a disagreement. We laughed about how easy it was to pull this off.”
“Go on Miss Rutledge,” Sarah said.
“I went over to Hallie’s place and went into the house. I called her, and she was in the garage. I went out there. Hallie and I started talking. We were making our plans to move forward when Hallie blew me away. She straight out saying she had been thinking a lot about it and wanted to end the whole thing. To my surprise, my partner started to have reservations about getting pregnant to keep the plan going. She said she wanted a fresh start. I mean come on, we were in the World Series of cons here.”
“I told her we could not quit now. It was close to being finished. I pleaded with her to see this to the end, and I promised this would be our last ruse. She said she felt guilty about what she had done to tear down Parker. It was destroying him. I reminded her I was taking care of that emotional mess he was living in. His depression was as thick as mud, but I could control him. He and I had several long conversations in bed.”
“Hallie didn’t care, she wanted out. She wanted to come clean to Parker and Julian. That started an argument that escalated. She wouldn’t back down, and she wouldn’t listen to reasoning. I tried to get her to finish this, and we could talk about no more cons or manipulations. We could just live our lives, and with this final plan coming to fruition, we would be set for life.”
“Hallie wouldn’t hear any more; she raised to hand and said stop talking. I felt backed into a corner. This came out of the blue, and it didn’t appear she was going to even consider having more conversations before blowing up our game. Without thinking I picked up the hammer and hit her on the head. She fell really hard. I was in shock. Blood poured out on the floor. I heard her moan, and I didn’t know what to do. I found the gloves in one of the tool box drawers. I put them on and choked her until the moaning stopped.”
“How long did it take until the moaning stopped,” Sarah said.
At that point, Victoria’s eyes filled with tears, “believe it or not this is really painful for me. I mean I have no idea how we got to a place like that. To answer your question, maybe three minutes. I knew she was dead. Her eyes stared up at me, and I knew she was gone. You may think I am a monster, but I loved Hallie. It just happened. I guess I panicked.”
“So now we know why it happened. How did John get involved?” Sarah asked.
“As you have figured out, I got him to help me clean up the mess. It was not easy, but John is a weak man. A little money and some sex got him to help me. He came over and helped clean up the whole place. We both loaded her body into her car. John came with me and helped dump the body in the dairy country.” Victoria started to cry, “I drove him back, parked Hallie’s car, wiped things down and made sure everything was done. I took the bags of towels and other stuff like Hallie’s purse, the hammer and gloves, and drove them to Parker’s business and dumped them. I hoped it would lead you to think Parker did this. Looks like I almost guessed right except for a couple of lab results and those damn keys in my bag.” With that Victoria got quiet.
“So after all that you and John did that afternoon, why would he show up at the Blue Moon late?” Sarah asked.
“We got our stories straight, then I took him up to my office and gave him five thousand dollars and had sex with him.”
“In your office?” Sarah asked.
“Miss Rutledge, is there anything else you wanted to add?” Sarah asked.
“No. I’ve said too much; I think I want a lawyer.”
“Miss Rutledge stand up. You are under arrest for the murder of Hallie Cook-Knowles.” Sarah came around the table and cuffed Victoria’s hands behind her.
“You have the right to remain silent,”
“No need detective I know my rights. It’s time for a lawyer.”
Max stood up, “Any regrets?”
Victoria looked at Max for a couple of seconds, she smiled, “No.”

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