Long Lost Page 32
’’But you never felt it,’’ I said.
’’Never. The whole idea of burying the dead and putting a stone marker over their remains . . . it seems like a waste of space, like something held over from a superstitious era.’’
’’Yet,’’ I said, ’’you wanted to go back today.’’
’’Not to pay my respects.’’
’’This is going to sound nuts.’’
’’Go for it.’’
’’I wanted to come back to see if maybe something changed in the past decade. To see if this time I could feel something.’’
’’That doesn\'t sound so nuts.’’
’’Not \'feel\' like that. I\'m not saying this right. I thought coming back here might help us.’’
’’In what way?’’
Terese kept walking. ’’Here\'s the thing. I figured . . .’’ She stopped, swallowed.
’’What?’’ I said.
She blinked into the sunlight. ’’I don\'t believe in the supernatural either but you know what I do believe in?’’
I shook my head.
’’I believe in the maternal bond. I don\'t know how else to say it. I\'m her mother. That\'s the most powerful link known to mankind, right? A mother\'s love for her child trumps all. So I should feel something, one way or the other. I should be able to stand by that gravestone and know if my own daughter is alive or not. You know what I mean?’’
My gut reaction was to offer up some patronizing pap like ’’How could you?’’ or ’’Don\'t beat yourself up about it,’’ but I stopped myself before uttering the inane. I have a son, at least biologically. He\'s grown now and doing his second tour overseas this one in Kabul. I worry about him all the time and while I don\'t believe it\'s possible, I keep thinking I would know if something bad happened to him. I will feel it or imagine a chilly gust inside my chest or some nonsense like that.
I said, ’’I know what you mean.’’
We headed down an escalator that seemed to go forever. I glanced behind me. No sign of Sunglasses Man.
’’So what now?’’ Terese asked.
’’We head back to the hotel. You start looking at what we found at Karen\'s. Think about that opal code, see where that leads you. Esperanza will e-mail you whatever she gets. Something happened to Rick recently something that made him change his life and reach out to you. The best thing to do right now is figure out who killed him, why, and what he was working on the last few months. So you need to go through his stuff, see what jumps out at you.’’
’’What did you think of our conversation with Karen?’’ Terese asked me.
’’You two were close, right?’’
’’Then I will put it politely: I don\'t think Karen was being totally forthcoming. You?’’
’’Before today I would have said I would trust her with my life,’’ Terese said. ’’But you\'re right. She\'s lying about something.’’
’’Any idea what?’’
’’Let\'s maybe go back and try something else. Tell me everything you remember about the accident.’’
’’You think I\'m holding back?’’
’’Of course not. But now that you\'ve heard all this new stuff, I\'m wondering if anything about that night is striking you as different.’’
’’No, nothing.’’ She looked out the window, but there was only the blur of the tunnel. ’’I\'ve spent the past decade trying to forget that night.’’
’’You don\'t understand. I\'ve replayed that night in my head every single day for the past ten years.’’
I said nothing.
’’I have looked at that night from every angle. I have pondered every what-if if I had driven slower, taken a different route, left her at home, hadn\'t been so damn ambitious, everything. There is nothing more to remember.’’
We got off the train and headed forward toward the exit.
When we entered the lobby, my phone vibrated. Win sent the following text:
BRING TERESE TO THE PENTHOUSE. THEN GO TO ROOM 118.
The two seconds later, Win added:PLEASE REFRAIN FROM TEXTING BACK SOME WITTY ALBEIT HOMOPHOBIC COMEBACK VIS-À-VIS THE ’’ALONE’’ COMMENT.
Win was the only person I knew who was more verbose in texts than in person. I took Terese up to the penthouse. There was a laptop with Internet access. I pointed to it. ’’Maybe you can start digging into this Save the Angels charity.’’
’’Where are you going?’’ she asked.
’’Downstairs. Win wants to talk to me.’’
’’I can\'t go?’’
’’He said alone.’’
’’I\'m not really sure I like that idea,’’ Terese said.
’’Neither am I, but I find it\'s better not to question him.’’
’’How crazy is he?’’
’’Win is sane. He is just overly rational. He sees things in black and white.’’ Then I added: ’’He tends to be more of an ends-justify-means sort of guy.’’
’’His means can be pretty extreme,’’ she said.
’’I remember that from when I helped you find that donor.’’
I said nothing.
’’Win isn\'t trying to spare my feelings, is he?’’
’’Win and sparing a woman\'s feelings,’’ I said, making a scale with my hands. ’’I don\'t think that\'s a factor.’’
’’You better go.’’
’’Will you tell me what happens?’’
’’Probably not. If Win wants to keep something from you, it\'s for the best. You have to trust that, I guess.’’
She nodded and stood. ’’I\'m going to wash up and then hit the Internet.’’
She started for the bedroom. I reached for the door to the corridor.
I turned toward her. She stood facing me full. She was beautiful and vulnerable and strong and she stood like she was readying to take a blow and I wanted to jump in the way and protect her.
’’What?’’ I asked.
’’I love you,’’ Terese said.
She said it just like that. Facing me full, beautiful and vulnerable and strong. Something in my chest rose and took flight. I stood there, frozen, the gift of speech temporarily taken away from me.
’’I know the timing sucks and I don\'t want it to interfere with what we\'re doing now. But either way, if Miriam is alive or if this is all some horrible practical joke, I want you to know: I love you. And when this is over, however it turns out, I want more than anything to give you and me a try.’’