Anderson made a disgusted sound at the back of his throat. “I wasn’t born yesterday. I know why you’re here. You came to bargain for access.”
Lillian looked baffled. “Access to what?”
“To Marilyn, of course.” Anderson did not look at her. He kept his attention on Gabe. “We all know that when she’s elected, she’ll have a great deal of power. You want me to guarantee that you’ll have access to her, isn’t that right, Madison? A man in your position likes to have friends in high places.”
Lillian stared. “You don’t understand.”
“Of course I do.” Anderson flicked a quick glance at her. “What’s the matter, didn’t Madison tell you how he intended to use those pictures?”
“But we don’t have any photos,” Lillian said. “Marilyn took the camera, remember?”
“Don’t give me that crap. I know you had two cameras last night.”
“Why do you say that?” Gabe asked.
“You were too quick to turn the first one over to Marilyn when she demanded it.” Flint moved his hand in a small arc. “There’s only one reason why you would do that. You knew you had backup.”
“That’s not true.” Lillian was indignant.
“The double-camera routine is as old as the hills.” Anderson cut off her protest with a patently bored look. “It buys the photographer some time to escape an unpleasant confrontation. The victim thinks she’s confiscated the incriminating film and doesn’t realize until too late that there is another set of photos.”
“You sound familiar with the technique,” Gabe said.
“I didn’t tell Marilyn because I knew it would upset her. Now that I’m her manager, it’s my job to handle this type of incident. I certainly don’t intend to allow her to be destroyed by the same type of cheap blackmail that ruined her husband’s campaign.”
“How dare you imply that we would do something like that?” Lillian was furious now. “We didn’t come here to blackmail Marilyn.”
Anderson paid no attention to her. “Just tell me what you want, Madison, and I’ll see to it that you get it, provided that you destroy those photos.”
“What we want,” Gabe said evenly, “are some answers.”
Anderson’s brows came together in a puzzled scowl. “Answers to what?”
“Did you break into Lillian’s apartment in Portland?”
For an instant Anderson appeared frozen in place. Then he came up out of the chair. He was practically vibrating with outrage.
“Are you out of your mind?” he hissed. “Why would I do such a thing?”
“To look for her computer program,” Gabe said. “You can save the act. It’s good but it’s not that good.”
“I did not break into her apartment.” Each word was pronounced with unnatural precision.
“And what about her cottage here in Eclipse Bay?” Gabe said. “I assume that was you, too, but I’ll admit that incident is a little confusing because of the assault on Arizona Snow.”
“I don’t even know anyone named Arizona Snow,” Anderson gritted.
“Maybe that was an unrelated event, after all,” Lillian said to Gabe.
He shook his head. “I don’t know. I can’t get past the coincidence thing.”
“Coincidences happen,” she pointed out.
Anderson swung around to face her. “Stop it. Both of you. You can’t make false accusations like this.
You can’t prove a damn thing.”
“You’re right about not being able to prove anything,” Gabe said.
Anderson settled himself, relieved. “I knew it.”
“That’s why we came here instead of going to the cops. Of course, if you’d rather we went to Marilyn, we can do that. She might be interested to hear about your legal problems back in the days when you were selling online investments.”
Shock flashed on Anderson’s face. “Marilyn would never listen to you.”
“Don’t bank on it,” Lillian responded. “She and Gabe have a history. They go back a long way, I think Marilyn would listen to him if he told her that he didn’t believe that you were a good choice for campaign manager.”
“You can’t do that,” Anderson stammered. “You have no right. Nothing was ever proven.”
“All we want is confirmation that you went through Lillian’s things looking for her matchmaking program,” Gabe demanded.
Anderson abruptly turned away toward the window. He gazed bleakly out at the motel parking lot.
“I did not break into Lillian’s apartment or the cottage,” he said eventually, again enunciating each word with care.
“Let’s not quibble over the details.” Gabe watched him closely. “Maybe you didn’t break into her apartment. Maybe you let yourself inside with keys that you either duplicated from her key ring or conned out of the housekeeping staff or the manager.”
Lillian flashed him a startled look. Her mouth opened but she closed it quickly without saying a word.
“The cottage was a problem,” Gabe went on, “because you didn’t have a key so you had to pry open the door. The second time you smashed a window. By then you had heard about our theory that Lillian was being stalked. Word of that kind of thing gets around fast in a small town. You trashed her studio hoping to keep us looking in that direction. You didn’t want us thinking there might be another motive for the break-ins.”
“I am not a stalker.”
“I didn’t say you were,” Gabe said. “But I think it’s pretty clear that Marilyn can’t afford to be connected to a campaign manager who goes around imitating stalkers. Or one who breaks into apartments and cottages, for that matter. Bad for the image, you know.”
“It’s a lie. I didn’t trash Lillian’s studio. You can’t do this to me.”
“All we want is the truth,” Gabe said.
“Damn it, I won’t let you ruin this for me.”
Without warning, Anderson spun away from the window and flung himself at Gabe.
“Anderson, no,” Lillian called. “Stop. This won’t solve anything.”
But Anderson was beyond reason. Gabe managed to sidestep the initial charge but Anderson wheeled with startling speed and came at him again. This time Gabe found himself trapped in the corner, the television set on one side, a lamp on the other.