With a body in her car and nowhere to run, Sam is forced to continue her con and earn ‘Claire’ a second chance on the police force. Whilst looking deeper into the secret life that Claire seems to have led, Sam’s only hope of finding answers lies with another ‘identical’, Alison.
Meanwhile, Felix was holding an after memorial wake at his Fun Flat. The guests had lit dozens of candles to pay their respects and condolences.
‘I just can’t figure out why Sam would kill herself,’ Vincent admitted sorrowfully as he puffed on a fresh cigarette. ‘It’s just not like Sam. To her, suicide isn’t the answer.’
‘Maybe she saw it as the only way to escape from you,’ Felix suggested.
‘Excuse me?’ Vincent was shell-shocked.
‘Think about it. If you had given her the love she deserved rather than knocked her about, then perhaps she wouldn’t have been pushed to do the unthinkable.’
Vincent scoffed at Fee. ‘At least Sam had love,’ he grunted. ‘And that’s way too much for you.’
‘And whose love did she have?’ Felix slammed his champagne bottle on the table and glared at Vincent. ‘Yours? Don’t fucking even go there.’
‘Love is imperfection itself.’
‘If that’s your definition, no wonder she jumped.’
Vincent lunged for Fee and threw him to the ground, choking him. ‘Say it’s my fault, then,’ he demanded. ‘Well go on! What are you waiting for? Say it’s my fault Sam killed herself.’
Felix managed to defend himself against Vincent, and he pushed him off with physical force. ‘Fine!’ he cried angrily. ‘It’s your fault that my foster sister is dead!’
One of the male guests helped Vincent back up on his feet. ‘I don’t need any assistance,’ he muttered. ‘I may be a lot of things, but I’m not an invalid.’ He had by then calmed down slightly.
It was late at night when I pulled the Jag into a secluded wooded area next to a ‘PRIVATE PROPERTY NO TRESPASSING’ sign. I pulled a shovel out of the trunk and commenced to dig a hole, using the car headlight as a torch light. With the pit ready, I steeled myself to go back to the car for Portia’s body. But as Portia’s head dropped out of the car, I bent over and threw up.
Struggling to get Portia out of the car, I kicked the door shut forcefully. With much effort, I finally managed to drag Portia over to the hole I’d dug.
When I dropped Portia next to the hole, I stared down at the body of the dead woman who bore my face. ‘Who the hell are you?’ I asked Portia’s dead body.
Before proceeding any further, I went through Portia’s pockets and found a room key for the Carlsborough hotel along with Portia’s license. Her license read: ‘Portia Obinger. Berlin, Germany.’
I rolled Portia into the hole and started to fill the hole up, burying her corpse. I did my best to hide my disgust, horror, and fear as much as I could.
Several hours later, at the DIY car wash, I found myself cleaning Portia’s remains out of the back seat of my car. I saw blood and brain matter streak out from under the Jag and down the drain. I noticed that I was covered in it myself, so I stripped off the rubber gloves I was searing and pulled clean clothes out from my bag. Then I made an urgent phone call. ‘What time do you open? I need front and driver’s side window.’
Finally, after what seemed like a millennium, my Jaguar was spotless inside and out. And at the right time too. Because I received yet another phone call from the same young woman who had rang me earlier. ‘What have you been up to?’ was her first enquiry.
‘Busy cleaning out evidence, obviously,’ I replied.
‘Just in case you don’t know where the briefcase is, I thought I should give you the address of the hotel where Portia was staying. I’ll text it to you now. And Claire, you must get the briefcase from her hotel room before they do.’
I was confused. ‘Who exactly are ‘they’?’
‘There’s no time to explain right now. When I call back around midnight, then I’ll let you in on all the details.’ She immediately hung up. At least by not calling me back till midnight, she would be buying me enough time so that I could search for important answers.
I knew I had to rush back home and clean myself up first, before carrying out the mission to retrieve Portia’s briefcase. There was no way I would head straight to the hotel from here whilst covered in grave dirt, mud, and someone else’s blood and brain matter.
I banged on the door of Felix’s flat and waited for him to quickly answer. ‘Vincent!’ I heard him shout in a fit of rage. ‘I have a knife and I will stab you in the face!’
‘It’s not Vincent,’ I replied stiffly.
Felix removed the lock and slid the door open for me. ‘Aren’t you supposed to wait about three days before rising?’ he said, but there was no humour in his voice. Vincent and his equally stupid friends had long since departed from the so-called memorial service.
I ignored Felix and walked past him, looking around at the memorial items, the lit candles, and the golden urn that contained Claire’s cremated ashes (which Vincent thought were mine). Next to it was a half-demolished double chocolate cake designed in the shape of a coffin. I felt disgusted.
‘What the hell is this supposed to be?’ I demanded.
‘I held a wake in ‘your’ honour,’ Felix admitted defiantly. ‘I was mad at you for taking off so I decided to blow all the money from your stolen coke on it.’
‘Does Katrina think I’m dead?’ I asked, perturbed. I was concerned for Katrina’s wellbeing.
Felix hung his head low. ‘I don’t know,’ was all he could say.
‘What the fuck do you mean you don’t know?’ I snapped, incensed.
‘What else am I supposed to tell you? Vincent fucked up everything when he got a hold of Siobhan somehow. I don’t know what she told Katrina! Speaking of Vincent, he has become even more obsessed with you now that you’re ‘dead’. He also wants to see Katrina, but I’ve already made it clear to him that Siobhan and I will never let that happen.’
I was too worn out to let everything sink in. As I made my way to the bathroom sink to clean off the blood, I explained to Felix about the German, Portia Obinger.
‘Is she another twin?’ Felix asked curiously.
‘She is another doppelganger.’ I filled him in on the details as much as I could, hoping that he wouldn’t bug me with any more queries. ‘I can’t explain to you about what happened. Now’s not a good time. And you need to find a way to tell Siobhan that I’m not dead and that it was all a mistake.’
Felix raised his eyebrow. ‘So I’m supposed to lie?’
‘I don’t care, as long as you make sure Katrina knows I’m fine,’ I vented. ‘Also, think about it. If I go in there now after 10 months, think about how hard Siobhan will make it to get custody!’ I handed over the large bag of money. ‘With all this, we can still escape with her.’
‘How much money is in there?’
‘It’s the 75K. Enough to lose Vincent, lose the twin sister weirdness, just get someplace safe with my daughter.’
Felix looked doubtful. He pulled out a stack of police files and Detective Anthony Bell’s business card. But the stacks of cash were nowhere to be found.
I felt dumbfounded. ‘Bastard must have followed me and nicked it,’ I muttered in shock. I rummaged through the bag in a state of frantic.
‘Just calm down, Sam,’ Felix advised me.
‘How can I?’ I yelled hysterically. ‘That money was our fucking only hope!’
I tearfully collapsed on the sofa, with my head buried in my hands. I felt like I was about to explode at any moment. Felix spotted the files sprawled on the table. ‘Who the hell is Bonnie Chen?’
‘Bonnie Chen is the woman Claire shot.’ Now that I’d managed to pull myself together, I was able to explain things a lot calmer.
Felix asked nothing more, but flipped through the files and found the official statement from Claire and Ant on the shooting. Ant had left them for Claire to review and revise. Felix and I both reviewed the files on the shooting. Frustrated, I sighed. ‘If I want to get the money back from Ant, I have to be Claire again.’
‘How long do you think you can keep impersonating a dead cop?’ Felix asked, clearly disapproving of how I was going about it.
‘Till I get our money,’ I convinced him. I punched in Ant’s number, using my black mobile phone.
Ant was at the cop shop when his own mobile phone rang. He answered professionally, but nonchalantly. ‘About time and all, Claire.’
‘What the hell do you think you’re playing at?’ I replied sharply, disguising my British accent with Claire’s Canadian accent.
‘I’m just following orders. That is all.’
‘Orders to steal from me?’ I angrily accused him over the phone.
‘I didn’t steal anything from you,’ Ant responded defensively. ‘Maybe you didn’t stop to check it before you crossed the border.’
‘Actually, I’m at home,’ I insisted. ‘Therefore, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick.’
‘I never get the wrong end of the stick,’ Ant countered. He then paused. ‘Meet me at Fung’s tomorrow afternoon,’ he ordered, before hanging up.
I was bemused. ‘What the hell is Fung’s? I don’t even know where that is.’
Having memorized Claire’s official statement on the shooting of Bonnie Chen, I dug up the address and location for Fung’s, where Ant told me to meet him. ‘The money is not a payoff, just so you know,’ I claimed when he quizzed me about the so-called stolen cash. ‘It is mine and Lee’s. I cleaned out my joint savings account and have yet to let Lee know. I planned to leave town, but couldn’t go through with that plan.’ I paused to take a deep breath. ‘The only reason I came back was to clear the shooting. I’m not dirty, Ant. I just freaked out.’
Ant glared at me suspiciously. ‘Are you wearing a wire?’ he demanded.
‘No, of course not!’ I squeaked out defensively. ‘What’s with the paranoia?’
‘Am I being paranoid?’ he shot back. ‘And you had no previous contact with Bonnie Chen?’
I denied that also. Just then, I began to feel uncomfortable as a pair of uniform cops walked by their booth.
‘The thing is, Claire,’ Ant went on. ‘I’m worried that there’s another story, one connected to the money. There is, isn’t there?’
What did he mean by that? According to Ant, Claire had been hiding something else, but I had no idea what. ‘There’s only one story,’ I asserted, though feeling slightly unnerved. ‘I can guarantee that.’
Ant flipped open the files. ‘I want you to walk me through it again, so I know you won’t crack under questioning.’
I memorized Claire’s story almost as though I’d rehearsed it dozens of times. “I was canvassing for the Ramsey Sun Jewellery heist. That was when – by chance – I spotted the racketeering suspect for whom I mistook Bonnie Chen. I entered the courtyard there. That’s when I heard someone behind me. And I turned around and I fired twice.’
One by one, Ant dropped the black and white shots of Bonnie Chen’s dead body in front of me, the last shot clearly showing the mobile phone in the victim’s hand. I gazed at the photos one by one, but kept myself from flinching as I continued.
‘They were both wearing black. However, it’s wasn’t her.’ I confirmed, determined to get this over with. ‘I then noticed the cell phone in Bonnie Chen’s hand and called it in. And then you showed up.’
‘If the brass find out you called my number before you “called it in”, he said to me in a harsh voice. ‘They’re going to start to dig. And if they start to dig, they’re going to find the pills. And if they find the pills, you may crack under pressure and tell them that I put the phone in the victim’s hand to cover your start ass!’
My heart sank. Not because of his warning but because I was shocked by yet another revelation of Claire’s unhinged state before her death. What in fuck’s name had happened to her? Only God knew.
‘But I wouldn’t do that,’ I assured him tightly. ‘I already know that I have to live with what I did. Bonnie Chen was in the wrong place at the wrong time. None of this ends up on you.’ As I said this, I tried to imagine it from Claire’s point of view, almost as though she were the one uttering these words, not me.
‘Fair enough,’ Ant insisted, putting the portfolio of files away. ‘In the meantime, I’m going to hang on to the 75K until after the shooting is cleared. Just to be sure that you can still be trusted.’