Long Lost Page 28

’’Pretty well.’’

’’Maybe that\'s what he was working on. Trying to find you.’’

’’It wouldn\'t have taken him months.’’

’’You\'re sure?’’

’’And even if that\'s what he was doing, why would he?’’

’’I\'m trying not to be a jealous wife here,’’ Karen said. ’’But I would think something like a father killing himself might make you question your life choices.’’

Terese made a face. ’’You think . . . ?’’

Karen shrugged.

’’No chance,’’ Terese said. ’’And even if you thought Rick was trying to I don\'t know connect or woo me back, why would he tell me it\'s an emergency?’’

Karen thought about that. ’’Where were you when he reached you?’’

’’In a remote spot in northwest Angola.’’

’’And when he said it was urgent, you dropped everything and came, right?’’

’’Yes.’’

Karen spread her hands as if that answered everything.

’’He wasn\'t lying to get me to Paris, Karen.’’

Karen did not look convinced. She had looked sad before we entered. Now she looked deflated. Terese glanced back at me. I nodded.

It was time to kick this up a notch.

Terese said, ’’We need to ask you about the accident.’’

The words hit Karen like a stun gun. Her eyes shot up, and they looked dazed now, out of focus. I\'d wondered about the use of the word ’’accident,’’ if she would understand what Terese meant. Clearly she did.

’’What about it?’’

’’You were there. At the scene, I mean.’’

Karen didn\'t reply.

’’Were you?’’

’’Yes.’’

Terese seemed a little startled by the answer. ’’You never told me that.’’

’’Why would I tell you? Strike that when would I tell you? We never talked about that night. Not ever. You woke up. It wasn\'t like I was going to say, \'Hi, how are you feeling, I was at the scene.\' ’’

’’Tell me what you remember.’’

’’Why? What difference could it make now?’’

’’Tell me.’’

’’I love you, Terese. I always will.’’

Something changed. I could see it in her body language. A stiffening of the spine maybe. The best friend was slipping away. An adversary was coming to the surface.

’’I love you too.’’

’’I don\'t think a day goes by that I don\'t still think about you. But you left. You had your reasons and your pain and I got it. But you left. I made a life with this man. We were having problems, but Rick was my whole world. Do you get that?’’

’’Of course.’’

’’I loved him. He was the father of my son. Matthew is only four. And someone murdered his father.’’

Terese just waited.

’’So we\'re in mourning right now. I\'m dealing with that. I\'m dealing with trying to keep my life together and protecting my child. So I\'m sorry. I\'m not going to talk about a car accident from ten years ago. Not today.’’

She stood. It all made sense and yet something in her tone sounded oddly hollow.

’’I\'m trying to do the same,’’ Terese said.

’’What?’’

’’I\'m trying to protect my child.’’

Karen had the stun-gun look again. ’’What are you talking about?’’

’’What happened to Miriam?’’ Terese asked.

Karen studied Terese\'s face. Then she turned to me, as if I might offer a glimmer of sanity. I kept my gaze steady.

’’Did you see her that night?’’

But Karen Tower didn\'t reply. She opened those pocket doors and vanished into a pack of mourners.

16

WHEN Karen left the drawing room, I walked around to the desk.

’’What are you doing?’’

’’Snooping,’’ I said.

The desk was rich mahogany with a gold letter opener that doubled as a magnifying glass. Slit envelopes stood vertically in antique holders. I didn\'t feel great about this, but I didn\'t feel terrible about it either. I took out my BlackBerry. The one Win gave me had a pretty good camera feature. I started opening envelopes and taking pictures.

I found credit card statements. I didn\'t have time to go through them all, but all I would need is the account numbers anyway. There were phone bills (that interested me) and energy bills (that didn\'t). I opened the drawers and started rifling through the contents.

’’What are you looking for?’’ Terese asked.

’’An envelope that says \'BIG CLUE INSIDE.\'’’

I was hoping for a miracle, of course. Something about Miriam. Pictures maybe. Short of that, I had the bills, the credit card, the phone numbers. We should be able to get some information from that. I hoped to find a day planner, but there was none.

I stumbled across a few photographs of people I assumed were Rick, Karen, and their son, Matthew.

’’Is this Rick?’’ I asked.

She nodded.

I didn\'t know what to make of him. He had a prominent nose, blue eyes, and dirty blond hair that landed someplace between wavy and unruly. A man can\'t help it he sees an ex, he sizes him up. I started to do that and then I made myself stop. I put the pictures back where I found them and continued my search. No more pictures. No blond daughter he\'d kept hidden for years. No old photographs of Terese.

I turned and saw the laptop on the matching credenza.

’’How much more time do you think we have?’’ I asked.

’’I\'ll stand guard by the door.’’

I flipped on the MacBook. It came up in seconds. I clicked on the iCal icon on the bottom. His daybook came up. Nothing in the past month. On the right, there was only one To Do note. It read:

OPAL

HHK

4714

I had no idea what that meant, but the priority was listed as High.

’’What?’’ Terese said.

I read off the To Do and asked her if she had any idea what it meant. She didn\'t. Time was still a factor here. I debated e-mailing the iCal contents to Esperanza, but that might get noticed. Then again, so what? Win, of course, had several anonymous e-mail addresses. I sent copies of the data on both the calendar and address book to him. Then I went into the Sent file and deleted them so no one would see.

Ain\'t I clever?

Here I was, rummaging through the belongings of a man who\'d recently been murdered while his widow and son mourned in the other room. I felt quite the hero. Maybe on the way out, I should kick good ol\' Casey.

’’Who is the Mario you two talked about?’’ I asked her.

’’Mario Contuzzi,’’ Terese said. ’’He was Rick\'s best friend and assistant producer. They worked on everything together.’’


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