While the Reddit board cooks away on the issue of the Order of St. Franklin, I make plans for my prison visit. The last time was unnerving, but this time it’s different: This time, he asked me. I know what to expect, and I can plan accordingly, but most important, our supposed killer wants to talk. Why would he do that if he didn’t have something important he wanted to say? Something that, I hope, will break this case wide open.
Funny that I’m thinking of Peg’s death as a case now, but there it is: There are too many unanswered questions, too many loose threads and weird elements. The police—true to form, in a case where a confession was offered on a silver platter—didn’t dig very deep, or they’d have started uncovering all the worms under the rocks just like I have. If Brandon’s confession comes apart, the cops are going to have a lot of hard questions to answer . . . and the work I’ve done might just serve as the starting point for a real investigation. I don’t know if that’s what Ryan wanted when he got me started on this, but what he wants no longer matters. He’s part of the problem.
It’s early morning, and I’m still in bed watching the shadows of branches and leaves across the ceiling, moving in the low wind. Kara’s dead asleep, because I don’t hear the coffee machine running yet. I roll over on my side and close my eyes; I really should get more rest. But that only lasts for a few seconds before I sigh, sit up, and drag my laptop over. Pillows propped against the headboard make a good office chair, and I start my morning search.
I’m starting with just a single name. Travis Holcomb. Delilah’s notes have been haunting me, and I can’t stop thinking about how he’s the intersection of the Peg Graham case and my cousin’s death. All these old money families are intertwined—socially, economically, politically. Maybe they’re connected in more sinister ways, too.
I never really looked very hard at Travis when Delilah died, even though I knew he was a casual drug user, but now, with the info about the Order of St. Franklin . . . it could mean a whole lot more. I knew I didn’t like him, which was a large part of the reason I declined the party that night and left her on her own. She’d clearly felt like she needed backup, and I’d been selfish when she needed me most. When the police reported that there was no sign of anyone else in the hotel room where they’d found her, and she’d checked in all on her own, with her own credit card . . . I’d forgotten about Travis, and obsessed about why. Why would Delilah shoot up alone in a hotel room? When did she start using drugs, and how did I not see it? Or was it never her choice to take those drugs?
Maybe Travis Holcomb has the answer.
I type his name into an image search and pause at a picture of a pinch-waisted woman on a grand staircase. I recognize the staircase from Dick Carlisle’s alibi photo. A wing of the Holcomb family must have hosted the Order of St. Franklin party the night of Peg’s death. Another intersection.
“You’re in this,” I whisper to the photo of Travis that comes up next. In still pictures, he looks like a model: perfect hair, perfect tan, dressed like a Burberry mannequin. No sign of the drinking or the drugs—not yet, anyway. “You know something, and I’m going to find out what it is.”
I do feel a twinge of guilt that I’ve strayed from my mission—which is Peg, it has to be Peg—but I justify it by telling myself that Peg, Delilah, the Order of St. Franklin . . . surely it all ties together somewhere. Even if I have a personal grudge against Travis.
When I flip back to the text search, I idly page through results and ignore all the obvious entries from society publications, until on about page twelve I stumble upon what is obviously some kind of blog entry. The teaser mentions Travis’s name, and I click.
It’s gone. 404’d. I frown and click back to the results. I can’t glean much from the snippet that’s shown, except that whoever wrote this wasn’t happy with Travis. I copy the blog address and paste it into a new page, then delete the specific entry information and hope for the best.
I get a hot pink page with animated sparkles and a glittering header that says—screams, really—Sloane’s Happy Place. There’s a pic of Sloane, and I vaguely recognize her from UK. Maybe in one of my sophomore classes? I’m not sure.
There isn’t much on her blog, which seems to have gone silent a year back, more or less, but there’s a link to her Instagram. The most recent photo is from about six months after the last blog post.
I’m struck by the change it shows in her. I flip...