Long Lost Page 42

Dad, I think. Dad will find me. Any second now.

But no one comes.

’’HOW do you know Rick Collins?’’

I tell the truth. Again. So exhausted.

’’And how do you know Mohammad Matar?’’

’’I don\'t know who that is.’’

’’You tried to kill him in Paris. Then you killed him before we grabbed you in London. Who sent you to kill him?’’

’’Nobody. He attacked me.’’

I explain. Then something horrible happens to me, but I don\'t know what it is.

I am walking. My hands are tied behind my back. Can\'t see much, just small dots of light. A hand on either shoulder. They roughly pull me down.

Lying on my back.

Legs bound together. Belt tightened across my chest. Body lassoed to hard surface.

Can\'t move at all.

Suddenly the dots of light are gone. I think I scream. I may be upside down. I\'m not sure.

A giant, wet hand covers my face. Grabs my nose. Covers my mouth.

Can\'t breathe. Try to flail. Arms tied. Legs bound.

Can\'t move. Someone is holding my head. Can\'t even turn it. The hand presses down harder on my face. No air.

Panic. I\'m being smothered.

Try to inhale. My mouth opens. Inhale. Must inhale. Can\'t. Water fills my throat and runs up my nose.

I choke. Lungs burning. About to burst. Muscles screaming. Must move. Can\'t. No escape.

No air.

Dying.

I hear someone weeping and realize the sound is coming from me.

Sudden searing pain.

My back arches. My eyes bulge. I scream.

’’Oh God, please . . .’’

The voice is my own, but I don\'t recognize it. So weak. I am so damned weak.

’’WE have some questions for you.’’

’’Please. I answered them.’’

’’We have more.’’

’’And then I can go?’’

The voice is pleading.

’’It\'s pretty much your only hope.’’

I startle awake to a bright light in my face.

I blink. Heart racing. Can\'t catch my breath. Don\'t know where I am. My mind travels back. What is the last thing I remember? Putting the gun under the bastard\'s chin and pulling the trigger.

Something else is there, in the corner of my brain, just out of reach. A dream maybe. You know the feeling you wake up and the nightmare is so damn vivid but even as you try to recall, you can feel the memory dissipating, like rising smoke. That is what is happening with me now. I try to hold on to the images, but they\'re fading away.

’’Myron?’’

The voice is calm, modulated. I am afraid of the voice. I cringe. I feel horrible shame, though I\'m not sure why.

My voice sounds meek in my own ears. ’’Yes?’’

’’You\'ll forget most of this anyway. That\'s for the best. No one will believe you and even if they do, we can\'t be found. You don\'t know where we are. You don\'t know what we look like. And remember: We can do this again. We can grab you anytime we want. And not just you. Your family. Your mother and father down in Miami. Your brother in South America. Do you understand?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’Just let it go. You\'ll be fine if you do, okay?’’

I nod. My eyes roll back. I slip back into the dark.

23

I woke up scared.

That wasn\'t like me. My heart raced. Panic seized my chest, making it hard to breathe. All of this before I even opened my eyes.

When my eyes finally did blink open when I looked across the room I felt the heart rate slow and the panic ease. Esperanza sat in a chair concentrating on her iPhone. Her fingers danced across the letters;she was working no doubt with one of our clients. I like our business, but she loves it.

I watched her for a moment because the familiar sight was so damn comforting. Esperanza wore a white blouse under her gray business suit, hoop earrings, her blue-black hair tucked behind her ear. The window shade behind her was open. I could see that it was night.

’’What client are you dealing with?’’ I asked.

Her eyes widened at the sound of my voice. She dropped the iPhone onto the table and rushed to my side. ’’Oh my God, Myron. Oh my God . . .’’

’’What, am I dying?’’

’’No, why?’’

’’The way you rushed over. You usually move much slower.’’

She started crying and kissed my cheek. Esperanza never cried.

’’Oh, I must be dying.’’

’’Don\'t be a jackass,’’ she said, wiping the tears off her cheek. She hugged me. ’’Wait, no, be a jackass. Be your wonderful jackass self.’’

I looked over her shoulder. I was in your basic standard-issue hospital room. ’’How long have you been sitting there?’’ I asked.

’’Not long,’’ Esperanza said, still holding me. ’’What do you remember?’’

I thought about it. Karen and Terese being shot. The guy who killed them. Me killing him. I swallowed and braced myself. ’’How is Terese?’’

Esperanza stood upright and released me. ’’I don\'t know.’’

Not the answer I was expecting. ’’How can you not know?’’

’’It\'s a little hard to explain. What\'s the last thing you remember?’’

I concentrated. ’’My last clear memory,’’ I said, ’’was killing the bastard who shot Terese and Karen. Then a bunch of guys jumped on me.’’

She nodded.

’’I was shot too, wasn\'t I?’’

’’Yes.’’

That explained the hospital.

Esperanza leaned back into my ear in and whispered, ’’Okay, listen to me for a second. If that door opens, if a nurse comes in or anything, don\'t say anything in front of her. Do you understand?’’

’’No.’’

’’Win\'s orders. Just do it, okay?’’

’’Okay.’’ Then I said, ’’You flew to London to be with me?’’

’’No.’’

’’What do you mean, no?’’

’’Trust me, okay? Just take your time. What else do you remember?’’

’’Nothing.’’

’’Nothing between the time you got shot and now?’’

’’Where is Terese?’’

’’I already told you. I don\'t know.’’

’’That makes no sense. How can you not know?’’

’’It\'s a long story.’’

’’How about sharing it with me?’’

Esperanza looked at me with her green eyes. I didn\'t like what I saw there.

I tried to sit up. ’’How long have I been unconscious?’’

’’I don\'t know that either.’’

’’Again I repeat: How can you not know?’’

’’For one thing, you\'re not in London.’’


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