No Going Back (Sawyer Brooks #3) by T.R. Ragan



“That’s horrible.”

“I always thought his anger was due to his traumatic upbringing, being abandoned and all that, but that wasn’t the whole story.”

Sawyer waited.

“Our marriage ended after I returned home early from work and found two naked, sweaty bodies in my bed! That’s when everything started to make sense. My husband, a proud and outspoken homophobe, was gay. The hypocrisy.” She shook her head. “If only he had told me. Maybe I could have helped him.”

“You had no idea?”

“No.”

“How do you think you could have helped him?” Sawyer asked.

“I think his anger stemmed from his own inner conflict with same-sex attraction. Nick and I hadn’t been intimate in years. If he’d tried to talk to me, maybe I could have helped him see that the world was changing and that it wasn’t too late for him to live his best life by being who he wanted to be.”

“Any ideas on who might have wanted your ex-husband dead?”

Linda appeared to ponder the question before shaking her head. “Sorry. No.”

“What about family and friends?” Sawyer asked.

“No family, of course.” Linda sighed. “No friends either. I never even learned the name of the man I found in my bed.”

“Where did your ex-husband grow up?”

“In Sacramento. At a home for troubled children. He despised almost everyone—the other kids, the staff—and yet . . .” Her eyes widened, and she wagged a finger at Sawyer. “He did stay in contact with a couple of the boys from the home.”

“Do you remember their names?”

“No,” she said with a shake of her head. “I’ve never been good with names.”

“You said Nick was a bully. Any idea who he might have bullied?”

“Sorry. No idea. I’m not any help at all.” She glanced at her watch. “I should go.”

They exchanged phone numbers in case Sawyer had more questions or Linda thought of anything else she might have forgotten.

As Sawyer watched Linda Calderon walk off, her intuition sounded an alarm, telling her that the Black Wigs had nothing to do with his death.





CHAPTER THREE

Sixteen-year-old Tara Alcozar and three of her closest friends—Rachel, Laura, and Mandy—sat cross-legged on the white shag rug in her bedroom. In the center of their human circle was a plastic bin filled with black wigs and eye masks.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Rachel said.

Laura rolled her eyes. “Don’t be a weasel. We’re not going to hurt him. We’re just going to scare him, show him what it feels like to be powerless.”

Tara nodded. “He deserves it after what he did to Pamela.”

“Pamela has had a crush on Kyle since the beginning of time,” Rachel said. “I saw her coming on to him at the party. She wanted him as much as he wanted her.”

The party had taken place two months ago at Trey Matthews’s house, the most popular guy at Rocklin High School. All five of them had told their parents they were sleeping at Pamela’s house. Since she was their designated driver, Mandy had stayed away from the spiked punch while Tara, Rachel, Pamela, and Laura had gotten wasted and spent most of the night dancing and flirting with the upperclassmen.

“Pamela just wanted to make out with Kyle, not screw him,” Tara explained to Rachel. “But he took her upstairs into an empty room and locked the door. They kissed. When he slipped his hand under her shirt, she told him to stop. But that only made him more aggressive, and he wouldn’t let her go. He held her down while he pulled up her skirt. She said she became numb and it was horrible, and that when he was finished, he zipped up his pants and walked away.”

Everyone was quiet while they finished putting on their wigs and masks. When they were done, Tara made a few adjustments. She tucked in loose strands of hair peeking out of Rachel’s wig, then handed the red lipstick to Mandy and told her to put some on.

Although Tara was nervous about tonight, she was glad Kyle was going to be taught a lesson. The moment Pamela said she wanted to make Kyle pay for what he did to her, Tara had gotten an idea. They’d started brainstorming and come up with a plan. Tara’s parents would be staying overnight in San Francisco. When the time came, Pamela would tell Kyle that she’d decided to forgive him and even had a surprise for him. If everything went well, they would be arriving here at Tara’s house in the next ten minutes.