Long Lost Page 23

’’Okay.’’

She opened her eyes and looked away. I understood. The moment was too raw even for eye contact. As if on cue, Win opened the bedroom door. Mee, the flight attendant, had on her pillbox hat and everything else. Win was also fully dressed and waved for me to join him in the bedroom.

’’I like the pillbox hat,’’ he said.

’’So you said.’’

’’It suits Mee.’’

I looked at him. He led me into the bedroom and closed the door. The room had tiger-print wallpaper with zebra-skin bedding. I looked at Win. ’’You channeling your inner Elvis?’’

’’The rapper decorated the room. It\'s growing on me.’’

’’Did you want something?’’

Win pointed to the TV set. ’’I was watching you talk to her.’’

I looked up. Terese was on the screen sitting in the chair.

’’That\'s how I knew it would be a good time for me to interject.’’ He opened a drawer and reached in. ’’Here.’’

It was a BlackBerry cell phone.

’’Your number still works all your calls will come in, but they will be untraceable. And if they try to track you down, they\'ll end up someplace in southwest Hungary. By the way, Captain Berleand left you a message.’’

’’Is it safe to call him back?’’

Win frowned. ’’What part of \'untraceable\' confuses you?’’

Berleand answered on the first ring. ’’My colleagues want to lock you up.’’

’’But I\'m such a charming fellow.’’

’’That\'s what I told them, but they\'re not convinced that charm trumps a murder charge.’’

’’But charm is in such short supply.’’ Then: ’’I told you, Berleand. It was in self-defense.’’

’’So you did. And we have courts and lawyers and investigators who may eventually come to that conclusion too.’’

’’I really don\'t have the time to waste.’’

’’So you won\'t tell me where you are?’’

’’I won\'t.’’

’’I find the Kong restaurant a tad touristy,’’ he said. ’’Next time I will take you to this little bistro off Saint Michel that serves only foie gras. You\'ll love it.’’

’’Next time,’’ I said.

’’Are you still in my jurisdiction?’’

’’No.’’

’’Pity. May I request a favor?’’

’’Sure,’’ I said.

’’Does your new cell phone have the capability to view photographs?’’

I looked at Win. He nodded. I told Berleand that it did.

’’I\'m sending you a photograph as we speak. Please tell me if you recognize the man in it.’’

I handed the phone to Win. He pressed a Home key and then found the photograph. I took a good hard look, but I knew right away.

’’It\'s probably him,’’ I said.

’’The man you hit with the table?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’You\'re positive?’’

’’I said probably.’’

’’Make sure.’’

I took a longer look. ’’I\'m assuming this is an old photograph. The guy I hit today is at least ten years older than the one in this picture. There are changes the head shaven, the nose is different. But overall, I\'d say I\'m fairly positive.’’

Silence.

’’Berleand?’’

’’I would really like you to come back to Paris.’’

I didn\'t like the way he said that.

’’No can do, sorry.’’

More silence.

’’Who is he?’’ I asked.

’’This is not something you can handle on your own,’’ he said.

I looked over at Win. ’’I have some help.’’

’’It won\'t be enough.’’

’’You wouldn\'t be the first to underestimate us.’’

’’I know who you\'re with. I know his wealth and reputation. It\'s not enough. You may be good at finding people or helping athletes in trouble with the law. But you\'re not equipped to handle this.’’

’’If I were less of a tough guy,’’ I said, ’’you might be scaring me right now.’’

’’If you were less of a head case, you\'d listen to me. Be careful, Myron. Stay in touch.’’

He hung up. I turned to Win. ’’Maybe we can forward this picture to someone back home, someone who can tell us who he is.’’

’’I have a contact at Interpol,’’ Win said.

But he wasn\'t looking at me. He was looking over my shoulder. I turned to follow his gaze. He was watching the TV monitor again.

Terese was there, but her resolve was gone. She was doubled over, sobbing. I tried to make out her words, but they were garbled by the anguish. Win took the remote and turned up the volume. Terese was repeating the same thing over and over, and as she slid off the couch I finally thought I could make out what she was saying:

’’Please,’’ Terese begged to some higher power. ’’Please let her be alive.’’

13

IT was late by the time we arrived at the Claridge\'s hotel in the center of London. Win had rented the Davies penthouse. There was a spacious sitting room and three huge bedrooms, all with four-poster king-size beds and those wonderfully deep marble tubs and showerheads the size of manhole covers. We threw open the French windows. The terrace offered up a wonderful view of the London rooftops, but frankly I\'d had my fill of views. Terese stood out there in dead-woman-walking mode. She went from numb to emotional. She was devastated, sure, but there was hope. I think hope scared her the most.

’’Do you want to come back inside?’’ I asked.

’’Give me a minute.’’

I\'m not necessarily an expert on body language but every muscle in her being seemed coiled and locked in a protective stance. I waited near the French windows. Her bedroom was sunflower yellow \'n\' blue. I looked at the four-poster bed, and maybe it was wrong, but I wanted to pick her up and carry her to that beautiful bed and make love to her for hours.

Okay, no ’’maybe.’’ It was wrong. But.

When I say stuff like this out loud, Win calls me a little girl.

I stared now at her bare shoulder and I remembered a day after we had come from that island, after she came to New Jersey and helped me and she smiled, really smiled, for the first time since I had known her, and I thought that I might be falling for her. Usually I go into relationships like, well, a girl, thinking long-term. This time it sneaked up on me and she smiled and we made love differently that night, a little more tenderly, and when we were done I kissed that bare shoulder and then she cried, also for the first time. Smiled and cried for the first time with me.

A few days later, she was gone.


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