you.” Zack sighed. “How did you find this DVD, Rita?” Rita hesitated, picking at her clothes. “I opened up his backpack and checked out what was inside, of course.” “And?” Zack scooted to the edge of the couch. Both hands gripped the cushion’s edge. “I found the journal and the DVD.” Indignation still burned in Sam’s belly, but curiosity extinguished some of the heat. She took a long, deep breath and sat back down. “You’ve watched the whole DVD, right?” Her mouth had gone dry. She picked up George’s beer and took a swig. “I’d like to see it. Now.” Zack motioned toward the TV. Rita looked from person to person. “Do you think we should all watch it together?” Her gaze landed on Zack. “Or do you want to watch it alone?” Zack’s shoulders sank. “No need. I already know how it ends.” Rita took the cue and stood. As she walked over to her small, lopsided kitchen table, the reporter in Sam took over. She fired off questions she hadn’t had a chance to ask earlier. “You kept the DVD all this time? For at least a year? Why didn’t you turn the DVD over to the X-Force Adventure Vacation Company?” Rita picked up a simple camouflage backpack sitting on one of the kitchen chairs. “Michael obviously didn’t trust the folks working at X-Force Adventure Vacations, so why the hell should I? Plus, Michael ended up dead, and I don’t know if it was an accident or if someone at the company killed him because he’d been asking too many questions.” Rita headed back toward them with the backpack slung over her shoulder. “Where I come from, you keep your mouth shut and your nose out of other people’s business. That’s how you stay alive.” Silently, Sam applauded her statement. Rita Wright was a smart cookie, with good survival instincts. The waitress placed the backpack on the coffee table in front of the three of them. Sam stared at it, her suspicion growing by the minute. A Semper Fi patch was sewn onto the right side of the backpack. Michael Flint was a Marine? Military, just like Zack? She waited, giving him a chance to say something about the patch. He didn’t even acknowledge it. He was too busy opening the backpack and pulling out a black, leather-bound journal. He flipped open the pages and started reading. To himself, of course. She shot George a look, raising her eyebrows in a silent question. Shrugging, he remained silent. “Rita.” She pressed on despite the urgent desire to wring Zack’s neck—right after she pulled him out of the trance-like state he’d fallen into. But maybe he would have told her about Michael Flint. George had interrupted them before the promised hour had passed. “Why didn’t you call the police if this DVD showed something incriminating?” Rita picked up the DVD, and then stopped. “I don’t know that it does. You watch it, and you tell me. Besides, I’m on probation—doesn’t matter why. But if you even think about calling the police, we’re done here.” She shook the DVD at them. “Play the DVD.” Zack’s eyes had gone dark. A wave of empathy moved through Sam, washing away most of her anger. Zack was about to watch a beloved uncle die. He deserved a little compassion. Nothing hurt more than losing a loved one, as she knew first hand. Although her mother was technically still alive, in a coma she was more like the living dead. Every time Sam visited her, that harsh reality killed her a little, too. She reached over and placed her hand on his, curling her fingers over his clenched fist. She gave him a gentle squeeze. Zack didn’t return the gesture of affection, but he did turn to look at her. She pulled back a bit, startled by the haunted look in his eyes. No one in the room said a thing as the DVD cycled and began to play.
Chapter Ten Samantha’s soft touch surprised him. Zack hadn’t told her about the death of Michael Flint. When Detective Johnson hadn’t mentioned Flint after Wentworth died,