Long Lost Page 22

I did. He said nothing, steepling his fingers. Win always steepled his fingers. On me it looks ridiculous. On him, with those manicured nails, it somehow works. When I finished, Win said, ’’Yowza.’’

’’Nice summation.’’

’’How much do you know about her car accident?’’ he asked.

’’Just what I told you now.’’

’’Terese never saw the body,’’ Win said. ’’That is rather curious.’’

’’She was unconscious for two weeks. You can\'t keep a body out of the ground for that long.’’

’’Still.’’ Win bounced his fingertips. ’’Didn\'t her now-deceased ex say that whatever he had to tell her would change everything?’’

I had thought about that too. I had thought about the strange tone in his voice, his near panic.

’’There has to be some other explanation. Like I said, the DNA tests are preliminary.’’

’’You realize, of course, that the cops let you go in the hopes you\'d lead them to Terese.’’

’’I know.’’

’’But that won\'t happen,’’ Win said.

’’I know that too.’’

’’So what next?’’ Win asked.

That surprised me. ’’You\'re not going to try to talk me out of helping her?’’

’’Would it help if I did?’’

’’Probably not.’’

’’It may be fun then,’’ Win said. ’’And there is one more big reason to continue this quest.’’

’’That being?’’

’’I\'ll tell you later. So where to now, kemosabe?’’

’’I\'m not sure. I\'d like to question Rick Collins\'s wife she lives in London but Berleand has my passport.’’

Win\'s cell phone chirped. He picked it up and said, ’’Articulate.’’

I hate when he says that.

He hung up. ’’London it is then.’’

’’I just told you ’’

Win stood. ’’There is a tunnel in the basement of this building. It leads to the Samaritaine Building next door. I have a car waiting. My plane is at a small airport near Versailles. Terese is there. I have IDs for you both. Please hurry.’’

’’What happened?’’

’’My big reason for wanting to continue this quest. The man you shot a few hours ago just died. The police want to pick you up for murder. I think perhaps we need to be proactive in clearing your name.’’

12

WHEN I told Terese about the DNA test, I expected a different reaction.

Terese and I sat in the lounge area on Win\'s plane, a Boeing Business Jet he\'d recently purchased from a rap artist. The seats were leather and oversize. There was a wide-screen TV, a couch, plush carpeting, wood trim. The jet also had a dining room and in the back a separate bedroom.

In case you didn\'t figure it out, Win is loaded.

He earned his money the old-fashioned way: He inherited it. His family owned Lock-Horne Investments, still one of the leading lights on Wall Street, and Win had taken its billions and par-layed them into more billions.

The ’’flight attendant’’ I put that in quotes because I doubt she\'s had much safety training was stunning, Asian, young, and, if I knew Win, probably very limber. Her name tag read ’’Mee.’’ Her attire looked like something out of a Pan Am ad from 1968, with the tailored suit, fitted puffy blouse, even the pillbox hat.

When we started to board, Win said, ’’The pillbox hat.’’

’’Yeah,’’ I said. ’’It really throws the whole look together.’’

’’I like her to wear the pillbox hat all the time.’’

’’Please don\'t go into any more details,’’ I said.

Win grinned. ’’Her name is Mee.’’

’’I read the name tag.’’

’’As in, it\'s not just about you, Myron, it\'s about Mee. Or, I enjoy having carnal knowledge alone with Mee.’’

I just looked at him.

’’Mee and I will stay in the back so you and Terese can have some privacy.’’

’’In the back, as in the bedroom?’’

Win slapped my back. ’’Feel good about yourself, Myron. After all, I feel good about Mee.’’

’’Please stop.’’

I boarded behind him. Terese was there. When I told her about being jumped and the ensuing shoot-out, she was obviously concerned. When I segued into the DNA test vis-à-vis her being the blond girl\'s mother first using words like ’’preliminary’’ and ’’incomplete’’ to the point where I feared it might cause an eye roll she shocked me.

She barely reacted.

’’You\'re saying that the blood test shows I could be the girl\'s mother?’’

In fact, the preliminary DNA test showed that she was the girl\'s mother, but maybe that was a bit much to state at this point. So I simply said, ’’Yes.’’

Again it didn\'t seem to be reaching her. Terese squinted as though she were having trouble hearing. There was a small and nearly imperceptible wince in the eyes. But that was about it.

’’How can that be?’’

I said nothing, gave a little shrug.

Never underestimate the power of denial. Terese shook it off, snapped into reporter mode, and peppered me with follow-up questions. I told her everything I knew. Her breathing grew shallow. She was trying to hold it together, so much so that I could see the quake in her lips.

But there were no tears.

I wanted to reach out and touch her, but I couldn\'t. I\'m not sure why. So I sat there and waited. Neither of us said it, as if the very words might burst that particularly fragile bubble of hope. But it was there, the proverbial elephant in the room, and we both saw it and avoided it.

Sometimes Terese\'s questions seemed too pointed, anger slipping through over what perhaps her ex, Rick, had done here or maybe simply to stave off the hope. Finally she leaned back and bit down on her bottom lip and blinked.

’’So where are we going now?’’ she asked.

’’London. I thought maybe we should talk to Rick\'s wife.’’

’’Karen.’’

’’You know her?’’

’’Knew her, yes.’’ She looked at me. ’’Remember I told you I was dropping Miriam off at a friend\'s house when I got in the car accident?’’

’’Yes.’’ Then: ’’Karen Tower was that friend?’’

She nodded.

The plane had reached its cruising level. The pilot made an announcement to that effect. I had a million more questions, but Terese closed her eyes. I waited.

’’Myron?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’We don\'t say it. Not yet. We both know it\'s here with us. But we don\'t voice it, okay?’’


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