The Maze (FBI Thriller, book 2) - Catherine Coulter (37/37)

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    khoảng 2 10 năm trước
  • 37



    DR LAUREN BOWERS SAID very quietly, "Lacey, do you remember getting into the trunk of Marlin's car?"



    Lacey moaned, her head turning from side to side.



    "It's all right. I'm here. Dillon is here. You're safe. This was a long time ago. Marlin's dead. He can't hurt you. You're remembering this for you, Lacey. Now, open your mind. Relax. Did you get into the trunk?"



    "Yes. I wanted to be sure that Belinda was betraying Douglas. I'd overheard her talking to him just an hour before. I heard them make a date. I followed her and this guy. I didn't know she knew I was there. I heard her talking to Marlin but I couldn't make out what they were saying. When we got to the warehouse and they dragged me out of the trunk, I'd never been so terrified in my life. Then Marlin made me walk to the center of the maze with Belinda.



    "I believed she was as terrified as I was, but she wasn't, at least she wasn't that night. But I believed she was. I walked every step beside her. Once she even handed me the string. Every few feet Marlin would call out to us, tell Belinda how he'd have to punish her if she didn't get to the center of the maze. Oh God, I remember being so afraid, feeling so helpless."



    "Yes, that's all right, Lacey. You were just nineteen. What happened next?"



    "When we finally got to the center of the maze, Marlin was there and he was smiling. He smiled even when I thought he knifed Belinda. I thought he'd kill me next. I can remember screaming, running to where Belinda was lying. The horror of it just shut me down. That's all I remember."



    "And you just refused to remember it later," Dr. Lauren Bowers said to Savich. "Anything else?"



    "Did Marlin tell Belinda he had to punish her because she cursed too much? Because she bad-mouthed her husband?"



    "I think so. Wait, yes, he did."



    "I think we know everything she needs to let go of the past." Dillon was silent a moment, then he said quietly, "Before you bring her back, ask her what she wanted to do with her life before Belinda's murder. Oh yes, tell her not to recall it."



    When Lacey awoke she looked at Dillon and said, "The answer was there all the time, locked in my brain. I guess that's why I had the horrible nightmares for months and months after Belinda's murder, why I was terrified that someone would get to me and murder me. That's why I had the nightmare at your house, Dillon. It was coming too close. The dream helped me keep it under wraps."



    "That's right, Lacey. But it's gone now."



    Savich asked her later as they walked to the car, "Will you tell Douglas that Belinda did indeed have an affair with Marlin, that it was his child she carried?'"



    "I think he already knew. I don't think he knew it was Marlin, but he sure had to know that it wasn't his kid.



    "Belinda wouldn't have ever had an abortion. She wanted that baby. Yes, Douglas must have known he had a low sperm count, even then he must have known. And that's why he hit her, he was furious."



    "Yet he married Candice when she told him she was pregnant. Guess he wanted to believe that despite a low sperm count, he'd scored. Who knows? Now maybe he and Candice have a good shot at making it. If he can't sire a kid and she doesn't want one, well, then, all problems are solved."



    "Now that I can remember, I can see that Belinda's life was out of control. I don't think she was difficult, like our mother, which is what my father told me, but she was over the edge. And I was a bratty teenager, bugging her, spying on her."



    "Yes, you're probably right. And that's the answer to the differences Wild Ralph York found in all the physical comparisons he did of the murders. Marlin killed Belinda for different reasons and the differences show up in how he built the props. You know something else, Sherlock?"



    She cocked her head to the side in that unique way she had. He patted her cheek. "It's all over now. Every shred of it, every scintilla. There'll be the media, but you can handle that. Jimmy Maitland will try to protect you from the vultures as much as he can. Oh yeah, there's just one other detail." He paused a moment, frowning down at his shoes. "Hannah hired a hood, one of her informants, to go after you in that car, and the same guy broke into your house. She claims that he didn't follow orders. She never told him to rape you, just scare the shit out of you. She says she's really sorry, Sherlock, claims she never meant to hurt you. She's been asked to leave the Bureau. It's up to you if you want her prosecuted."



    "Did she tell you why she did it?"



    "She claims she lost it. She was crazy jealous. She thought she could scare you off, make you pack up and go back to California."



    "If we get the guy she hired, then she'd have to take a fall too, wouldn't she?"



    He nodded, then said, "Yes. If they catch the guy, she'd be prosecuted."



    "Let me think about it."



    He helped her into his Porsche, then walked around to the driver's side. He gave the left front tire a good kick. "Damned car. I can't believe it wouldn't start that night. If Luke hadn't come along, we might have been in deep trouble."



    "Luke's coming to the wedding?"



    "Oh yes." He leaned over and kissed her. "Fasten your seat belt. I'm feeling like a wild and crazy guy."



    "I'm feeling kind of wild and crazy too. Tell you what. Why don't we go home and watch old movies and eat popcorn?"



    "Why don't we go home and make our own movies? Popcorn is optional."



    "But you don't have a movie camera, do you?"



    "Let's call this a dress rehearsal."



    She gave him a slow, sweet smile. "You promise to make me a star?"



    EPILOGUE



    I DON'T BELIEVE THIS," Lacey said as she took a glass of chardonnay from Fuzz, the bartender.



    "He never told you, never let on?" Sally Quinlan asked, saluting her with her own glass of chardonnay.



    "Never a word. Sure, he would sing me country-and-western songs. But this? I had no idea. Doesn't he look beautiful up there, wearing those boots and that belt with the silver buckle?"



    The two women sat back as Ms. Lily, draped in a white silk dress that made her look as epic as Cleopatra, said from the small square stage, "Now listen up, brothers and sisters, even you yahoos we've got here tonight. I've got a special treat for you. We finally got our Savich back. He and Quinlan have agreed to play for us. Take it away, boys."



    "This ought to be great," said Marvin, the bouncer, at Lacey's shoulder. "You just sit back and enjoy, Chicky."



    Dillon's beautiful baritone filled the smoky bar, his guitar a mellow background, Quinlan's sax running a harmony with the melody. His voice was deep and rich and sexy, carrying clearly to every darkened corner of the club.



    What's a man without love?



    What's his night without passion?



    What's his morning without her smile?



    What's his day without her in his mind?



    Bring her love to my nights.



    Bring her smile to my mornings.



    Bring her mind to fill my days.



    Just bring her back to me.



    What's a man without his mate?



    What's his life without her laughter?



    What's his soul without her joy?



    What's a man without his mate?



    Bring her love to my nights.



    Bring her smile to my mornings.



    Bring her joy to my days.



    Just bring her back to me.



    Sherlock was crying. She hadn't meant to, didn't even realize she was doing it. Not making a sound, just letting the tears gather and trickle down her cheeks. When the sax and guitar faded out, there was absolute silence in the Bonhomie Club. A woman sighed. A man said, "Ah, shit."



    Then the applause came on, really soft and light at first, then gathering momentum. The women were clapping louder than the men.



    "It's his cute butt, Sally," Ms. Lily said, leaning over to pat Lacey. "Well, actually, it's both their cute butts. Now, little gal, when are you and my Savich going to get married? I don't allow any gal shacking up with him. He's innocent. I don't want him taken advantage of, you got me?"



    "You'll get the invitation next week, Ms. Lily."



    "Good. Just maybe Fuzz will bring another bottle of chardonnay that has a real live cork, just like he did for Sally and Quinlan. Your Dillon's real talented, honey. You just let him sing to you and bring him down here once a week. It's good for my soul to hear him wail out his songs. Also, no crooks dare come near the club when the two supercops are playing here.



    "Now he's looking at you and he's got that wicked smile on his face. Imagine an FBI agent who could smile at a woman like that. Just goes to show you, doesn't it?



    "Well, I'm off to win myself some money in a little poker game. Don't tell my boys about it, will you? Their cop genes just might get scrambled and we don't want them to feel like they're in any moral dilemma."



    Quinlan said from the stage, "Savich here is going to get himself married, just like I did. It's about time. Now, we have this song for you that celebrates his short number of bachelor days left. It's called 'Love Surfin'."



    Moved myself to the bright blue sea. Knew the change would be good for me. Made enough money in the old rat race,



    Sure to die if 1 kept my pace.



    Now I'm lying in the warm, soft sand.



    Checking all the girls showing lots of tan.



    All these girls-what's a guy to do? I want them all, think I'll surf right through.



    Going love surfin', Gonna love them all



    Love surfin' Heading for a fall



    Love surfin' Such a greedy man.



    Love surfin' Getting all I can.



    Lacey was laughing so hard that when she threw her purse at him, it bounced off Quinlan instead.



    Ms. Lily was standing outside of her open office door. She yelled out, "You taking your life in your hands, Savich, what with your chicky being an FBI agent."



    Savich was beaming at Lacey. He said into the mike, "My sister wrote that one. I just came up with the music."



    "I'll be speaking to your sister," Lacey called out.



    "I heard you got an offer on your town house." "Yes. A very good offer. It's a done deal. I'm here to stay now, Dillon."



    "Good. Let's get married on Friday."



    "That would be nice but I don't think we've got the time



    to pull it off. How about next month? I promised Ms. Lily that she'd get an invitation. Actually I told her she'd get one next week. Also, my friend MacDougal from the Academy just got back from the desert. I want him to come."



    "You mean a big wedding? All my family? Your family? Even Douglas and Candice? My God, even your mother and father and the BMW? A ton of people? All with fistfuls of rice?"



    "I guess we have to. You once told me that family was family and there was nothing you could do about it. You just made the best of it and went about your business. Hopefully Mom and Dad will try to act normal for the day; hopefully Douglas won't start screaming at Candice and then go slaver over my mother. Oh yeah, there's Conal Francis, Belinda's father, my mother's first husband. He's called my mother. My father is livid."



    "Families are grand. Any idea what's going to happen there?"



    "Not a clue, but it should be fun to see it played out. I don't think I'll invite him, though. My shot at trying to keep the peace. You know, Sally Quinlan said a big wedding was great sport. You don't want to?"



    "Well, hell, let's go for it." He kissed her nose, then her chin.



    "We don't have to worry about the BMW. Dad just bought a Porsche, a fire-engine red 911. He said even Mom on her worst days couldn't possibly think he'd want to hit her driving that beauty. He laughed then. He said her new shrink is making progress. He's even had sessions with her. Also, Mom's on some new medication." "Families. Ain't they great?" She kissed his shoulder.



    "Oh yeah, I've got another piece of good news for you. They caught the guys who were murdering those abducted kids in Missouri. Ollie's gut was right. It happened really fast. Turns out that it was three young males, all twenty-one, who were reported to a local FBI agent by one of the girlfriends who was angry because her boyfriend kicked her out for another babe." He laughed. "I just heard that they just caught up with the girlfriend. She'd skipped bail and took off for Mexico City with all the money."



    She laughed with him. "I'll bet Ollie is pleased."



    "Yep, but he wanted to be the one to make the arrest. Oh yeah," he added, raising his face just above hers, "your wedding present from me is arriving tomorrow. You took the day off to see your doc so I set up the delivery."



    She grabbed his arms, hugged him, then shook him. "What is it? Tell me, Dillon, what did you get me?"



    "I ain't talkin', honey. You can just wait for now, but I sure want to hear something out of you when I come in tomorrow night."



    "You won't even give me a hint?"



    "Not a single one. I want you to wallow in anticipation, Sherlock."



    She sighed, then punched his arm. "All right, but I'll probably be too excited with all this anticipation to sleep. Would you sing me just one line?"



    He blinked, then raised his head and sang, "I don't know nothin' better than a spur that's got its boot."



    "All right, that's not enough. More."



    He kissed her ear, then her throat. "I don't know nothin' better than a barb that's got its wire."



    She laughed and snuggled closer. "More."



    "I don't know nothin' better than a glass that's full of scotch.''



    "More."



    "I don't know nothin' better than a poke that's got his cow.''



    "And the last line?"



    "No, I don't know nothin' better than a man who's got his mate.''



    "Oh, Dillon, that's the greatest."



    "Goodness, you're easy." He kissed her mouth. "No, my sister didn't write that one, I did. You like that? You're not putting me on, are you? You appreciate the finer points of my music?"



    "Oh yes," she said. "Oh yes."



    "I wrote it for you."



    She gave him a radiant smile, "I just thought of another verse."



    An eyebrow went up.



    She sang in an easy western twang, ' I don't know nothin' better than a fetlock with its horse.''



    "A team," he said. "We make a great team. What's a fetlock anyway?"



    She just grinned up at him. He stroked his fingers over her soft skin. He began kissing her and didn't stop for a very long time. When he was finally on the edge of sleep, he wondered what she'd play for him first on the new Steinway grand piano that was being delivered tomorrow.


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