Long Lost Page 63

’’You think he broke into their offices?’’

’’It adds up,’’ I said.

She finally wrested her eyes off the photograph. ’’So where is she now?’’

’’I don\'t know.’’

’’She\'s my daughter.’’

’’Biologically.’’

Something crossed her face. ’’Don\'t hand me that. You found out about Jeremy when he was fourteen. You still consider him your son.’’

I wanted to say that my situation was different, but she had a point. Jeremy was biologically my son, but he had never known me as his father. I had found out about him too late to make a significant difference in his upbringing but I was now still a part of his life. Was this situation any different?

’’What\'s her name?’’ Terese asked. ’’Who raised her? Where does she live?’’

’’Her first name might be Carrie, but I can\'t say for sure. The rest of it I don\'t know yet.’’

She lowered the photograph onto her lap.

’’We need to tell Jones about this,’’ I said.

’’No.’’

’’If your daughter was kidnapped ’’

’’You don\'t believe that, do you?’’

’’I don\'t know.’’

’’Come on, be honest with me. You think she\'s involved with these monsters that she\'s one of those girls Jones talked about, with daddy issues.’’

’’I don\'t know. But if she is innocent ’’

’’She\'s innocent either way. She can\'t be more than seventeen. If she somehow got caught up in this because she was young and impressionable, Jones and his pals at Homeland Security will never understand. Her life will be over. You saw what they did to you.’’

I said nothing.

’’I don\'t know why she\'s with them,’’ Terese said. ’’Maybe it\'s Stockholm syndrome. Maybe she had terrible parents or is a rebellious teenager hell, I know I was. Doesn\'t matter. She\'s just a kid. And she\'s my daughter, Myron. Do you get that? It\'s not Miriam, but I have a second chance here. I can\'t turn my back on her. Please.’’

I still said nothing.

’’I can help her. It\'s like . . . it\'s like it was meant to be. Rick died trying to save her. Now it\'s my turn. The call said not to tell anyone but you. Please, Myron. I\'m begging you. Please help me rescue my daughter.’’

35

WITH Terese still beside me, I called Berleand back.

’’Jones implied that you somehow lied or doctored the DNA test,’’ I said.

’’I know.’’

’’You do?’’

’’He wanted you off the case. I did too. That was why I didn\'t return your call.’’

’’But you called before.’’

’’To warn you. That\'s all. You should still stay out of it.’’

’’I can\'t.’’

Berleand sighed. I thought about that first meeting, at the airport, the tired hair, the glasses with the oversize frames, the way he took me out on that roof at 36 quai des Orfèvres and how much I liked him.

’’Myron?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’Before, you said you knew that I didn\'t lie about the DNA test.’’

’’Right,’’ I said.

’’Is this something you deduced because I have a trustworthy face and almost supernatural charisma?’’

’’That would be a no.’’

’’Then please enlighten me.’’

I looked over at Terese. ’’I need you to promise me something.’’

’’Uh-oh.’’

’’I have information you\'ll find valuable. You probably have information I will find valuable.’’

’’And you\'d like to make an exchange.’’

’’For starters.’’

’’Starters,’’ he repeated. ’’Then before I agree, why don\'t you fill me in on the main course?’’

’’We team up. We work on this together. We keep Jones and the rest of the task force out of it.’’

’’What about my Mossad contacts?’’

’’Just us.’’

’’I see. Oh, wait, no, I don\'t see.’’

Terese moved closer so she could hear what he was saying.

’’If Matar\'s plot is ongoing,’’ I said, ’’I want us to bring it down. Not them.’’

’’Because?’’

’’Because I want to keep the blond girl out of it.’’

There was a pause. Then Berleand said, ’’Jones told you that he tested the bone samples from Miriam Collins\'s grave.’’

’’He did.’’

’’And that it\'s a match for Miriam Collins.’’

’’I know.’’

’’So forgive me but I\'m confused. Why then would you be interested in protecting this probably hardened terrorist?’’

’’I can\'t tell you unless you agree to work with me.’’

’’And keep Jones out of it?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’Because you want to protect the blond girl who probably had a role in the murders of Karen Tower and Mario Contuzzi?’’

’’As you said, probably.’’

’’That\'s why we have courts.’’

’’I don\'t want her to see the inside of one. You\'ll understand why after I tell you what I know.’’

Berleand went quiet again.

’’Do we have a deal?’’ I asked.

’’Up to a point.’’

’’Meaning?’’

’’Meaning that once again you are thinking small-time. You are worried about one person. I understand that. I assume that you will tell me why she is important to you in a moment. But what we are dealing with could involve thousands of lives. Thousands of fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. The chatter I heard suggests something huge is in play, not just one strike, but a variety of attacks over the course of many months. I don\'t really care about one girl not against the thousands that might be slaughtered.’’

’’So what exactly are you promising?’’

’’You didn\'t let me finish. My not caring about the girl cuts both ways. I don\'t care if she gets caught and I don\'t care if she escapes prosecution. So, yes, I am with you. We will try to solve this ourselves something I\'ve been doing pretty much anyway. But if we are outmanned or outgunned, I reserve the right to call in Jones. I will keep my word and help you protect the girl. But the priority here has to be stopping the jihadists from carrying out their mission. One life is not worth thousands.’’

I wondered about that. ’’Do you have any children, Berleand?’’

’’No. But please don\'t play that paternal-bond card with me. It is insulting.’’ Then: ’’Wait, are you telling me that the blond girl is Terese Collins\'s daughter?’’


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