Long Lost Page 21

’’One of my old girlfriends has been talking out of school.’’

’’Your self-deprecation,’’ Berleand said. ’’It\'s very charming.’’

I hit Terese\'s number. It rang for a while and then the voice mail picked up. I left her a message and hung up.

’’Now what?’’

’’Do you know anything about tracing cell phone locations?’’ Berleand asked.

’’Yes.’’

’’And you probably know that as long as the phone is on, even if no call is being made, we can triangulate coordinates and know where she is.’’

’’Yes.’’

’’So we weren\'t worried about following Ms. Collins. We have that technology. But about an hour ago, she turned her phone off.’’

’’Maybe she ran out of battery,’’ I said.

Berleand frowned at me.

’’Or maybe she just needed downtime. You know how hard it must have been to tell me about her car accident.’’

’’So she what? turned her phone off to get away from it all?’’

’’Sure.’’

’’Instead of just silencing the ringer or whatever,’’ he went on, ’’Ms. Collins turned the phone all the way off?’’

’’You don\'t buy it?’’

’’Please. We can still run her call logs see who called her or whom she called. About an hour ago, Ms. Collins received her only call of the day.’’

’’From?’’

’’Don\'t know. The number bounced to some phone in Hungary and then a Web site and then we lost it. The call lasted two minutes. After that, she turned off her phone. At the time she was at the Rodin Museum. Now we have no idea where she is.’’

I said nothing.

’’Do you have any thoughts?’’

’’About Rodin? I love The Thinker.’’

’’You\'re killing me, Myron. Really.’’

’’Are you going to hold me?’’

’’I have your passport. You can go, but please stay in your hotel.’’

’’Where you can listen in,’’ I said.

’’Think of it this way,’’ Berleand said. ’’If you finally get lucky, maybe I can pick up a few pointers.’’

The processing to release me took about twenty minutes. I started back down the Quai des Orfèvres toward the Pont Neuf. I wondered how long it would take. There was a chance, of course, that Berleand already had me under surveillance, but I considered it unlikely.

Up ahead was a car with the license plate 97 CS 33.

The code, of course, couldn\'t have been simpler. The junk e-mail read 86 BR 22. Just add one to each one. Eight becomes a nine. B becomes a C. As I approached the car a piece of paper dropped out of the driver\'s-side window. The piece of paper was attached to a coin so it wouldn\'t blow away.

I sighed. First the overly simple code, now this. Would James Bond go so low tech?

I picked up the note.

1 RUE DU PONT NEUF, FIFTH FLOOR. TOSS PHONE IN CAR BACK WINDOW.

I did. The car took off, phone on and in tow. Let them track that. I turned right. It was the Louis Vuitton Building, the one with the glass dome on the top. The Kenzo department store was on the bottom floor, and I felt hopelessly unhip just opening the door. I stepped into the glass elevator and saw that the fifth floor was a restaurant called Kong.

When the elevator stopped, a hostess in black greeted me. She was over six feet tall, dressed in tourniquet-tight black and looked about as fat as your average lamp cord. ’’Mr. Bolitar?’’ she said.

’’Yes.’’

’’Right this way.’’

She led me up a staircase that glowed fluorescent green and into the glass dome. I would call Kong ’’ultra-hip’’ but it was almost beyond that like postmodern ultra-hip. The décor was futuristic geisha. There were plasma TVs with sleek Asian women winking as you passed. The chairs were acrylic and see-through except for the printed faces of beautiful women with strange hairstyles. The faces actually glowed, as though there were a light in each one. The effect was kind of eerie.

Above my head was a giant tapestry of a geisha. The patrons were dressed like, well, the hostess trendy and black. What made the place work though, what threw it all together, was the killer view of the Seine, almost as great as the one at police headquarters and there, at the front table with the absolute best view, was Win.

’’I ordered you foie gras,’’ he said.

’’Someone\'s going to catch on to our old trick one of these days.’’

’’They haven\'t yet.’’

I sat across from him. ’’This place looks familiar.’’

’’It was featured in a French film with François Cluzet and Kristin Scott Thomas,’’ Win said. ’’They sat at this very table.’’

’’Kristin Scott Thomas in a French film?’’

’’She\'s lived here for years and speaks fluent French.’’

Win knows stuff like this, I don\'t know how.

’’Anyway,’’ Win continued, ’’perhaps that\'s why the restaurant is causing to remain in our French environs déjàvu.’’

I shook my head. ’’I don\'t watch French films.’’

’’Or,’’ Win said with a deep sigh, ’’perhaps you recall Sarah Jessica Parker eating here in the series finale of se* and the City.’’

’’Bingo,’’ I said.

The foie gras goose liver for the uninitiated arrived. I was indeed starving and dug in. I know the animal-rights people would crucify me, but I can\'t help it. I love foie gras. Win had red wine already poured. I took a sip. I\'m no expert, but it tasted like a deity had personally squeezed the grapes.

’’So I assume you now know Terese\'s secret,’’ Win said.

I nodded.

’’I told you it was a doozy.’’

’’How did you learn about it?’’

’’It wasn\'t that hard to discover,’’ Win said.

’’Let me rephrase. Why did you learn about it?’’

’’Nine years ago you ran away with her,’’ Win said.

’’So?’’

’’You didn\'t even tell me you were going.’’

’’Again I say, so?’’

’’You were vulnerable, so I did a background check.’’

’’Not your place,’’ I said.

’’Probably not.’’

We ate some more.

’’When did you arrive?’’ I asked.

’’Esperanza called after you spoke. I turned the plane around and headed this way. When I got to your hotel, you\'d just been arrested. I made some calls.’’

’’Where is Terese?’’

I figured that Win had been the one to call her to get her off the grid.

’’We\'ll meet up with her soon enough. Fill me in.’’


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