”Where’s Ellen now?“ Drew asks in a voice I can barely hear.
”At the hospital with my mother.“
Drew blinks rapidly, then looks down. Even through the bulletproof glass of the visiting window, I can see he’s close to breaking. His skin is so pale that he looks like he’s suffering from severe anemia. With Quentin standing behind my chair, I’ve just recounted what happened between Ellen and Kate at St. Catherine’s Creek. To his credit, Quentin did not interrupt once.
”Drew, you’ve got a big decision to make,“ I say. ”And it’s yours alone.“
He closes his eyes. Quentin lays a hand on my shoulder, but before I can turn, a single, racking sob bursts from Drew’s throat. His mouth makes it appear that he’s laughing, but I’ve seen that effect in many distraught people. I wish I could shatter the glass separating us and hug him, but there’s no way to do that. As I watch helplessly, he starts banging his forehead against the window like an autistic child.
He doesn’t seem to hear me.
I rise and put my mouth up to the metal vent in the window.
”Dr. Elliot!“ Quentin barks from behind me. ”We’ve got to make a decision about this matter!“
Drew stops banging the glass and stares at Quentin. ”Decision?“
”Your wife wants us to take her confession to the district attorney.“
He blinks in shock. ”Take Ellen to Shad Johnson?“
”That’s what she wants,“ Quentin says. ”She’s ready to confess to Shad that she killed your lover.“
I glare at him, but Drew is already shaking his head. ”No,“ he says. ”Absolutely not. She can’t do that.“
Quentin looks at me in triumph. ”Those are exactly my feelings, Doctor. The D.A. wouldn’t believe her anyway. Neither would Judge Minor. We have to focus on your appeal now.“
”Drew, listen to me,“ I implore. ”Right now, Tim is at risk of losing his father. At the very least, you’re about to be sentenced to spend the rest of your life in prison. At worst, you’ll get death by lethal injection. And Timmy will know that.All the time you’re waiting for your appeal, Timmy will be suffering. If you had killed Kate, that would be one thing. But you didn’t. I believed you before, but now I know. All through your trial, you told Quentin that you wanted the jury to know the truth. Well, now we know the real truth. And the jury should know it, too. Don’t you see?“
Drew is staring at me as though paying close attention, so I press on.
”If we can prove Ellen’s story, your conviction will be overturned. You’ll be a free man. Free to be the father Tim needs.“
”What would happen to Ellen?“
”She’d probably serve a brief sentence for manslaughter.“
”He can’t guarantee that,“ Quentin says. ”Your wife could get life for murder.“
”Manslaughter,“ I insist. ”No jury’s going to convict Ellen of murder for fighting with a girl who was pregnant by her husband. We could plea-bargain it ahead of time. There wouldn’t even have to be a trial. I’d represent Ellen.“
Drew stirs at this, but then Quentin says, ”You’re forgetting Ellen’s drug habit, Penn. How Kate was used to feed that habit. No jury is going to buy Ellen as a noble wife who lost control just once.“
”It doesn’t matter,“ Drew says in a monotone.
Quentin and I fall silent, waiting for him to explain.
”If I hadn’t gotten involved with Kate, none of this would have happened. Ellen did what she did because I put her in an impossible position. I won’t have her punished in my place. Not for my weakness.“ Drew stares out of the little cubicle with absolute conviction. ”I carry my own water, guys.“
”Let it go, Penn. I’ll take my chances on appeal.“ He stands and holds his cuffed hands up to the window. ”I appreciate you trying. But I want you to forget what Ellen told you. Every word of it.“
I bow my head, marshaling my strength for further effort. Then I flatten my hands against the window like starfish and lean close to the vent. ”You want to punish yourself? Fine. But don’t cheat Timmy out of a father. You owe it to him to be there for him.“
Drew lifts his eyes to mine, but all I see in them now is resignation. ”Tim will be okay with Ellen. Go home and hug Annie. Don’t worry about me anymore. Let it go.“
He turns away and knocks for a deputy.
I search for the right words to make Drew reconsider, but he’s gone before I find them. I turn to Quentin in anger and confusion.
The old lawyer is looking at the glass where Drew stood just a moment ago. ”That’s a man, right there,“ he says. ”Haven’t met any like him in at least twenty years.“
I clutch Quentin’s upper arm. ”You’d better get him off on appeal. You hear me? He doesn’t belong in a cell.“
”If it can be done, I’ll do it.“
”That’s what you said about the last trial.“
Quentin pats his coat flat, then shoots his cuffs. ”Nobody could have got him acquitted for that girl’s murder. Not in this town. Not this week. The deck was stacked, and Elliot’s too goddamn noble to play the game the way he would have had to for us to win. Even with his life at stake.“
I say nothing. It’s time for me to get back to the hospital, as much as I hate the idea. My jaw muscles are already aching, and the bone pain won’t be far behind.
Quentin and I take the elevator down together. Doris Avery is sitting with Daniel Kelly on a bench in the lobby, talking quietly. As Quentin and I walk toward them, my cell phone rings. The caller ID says,MIA.
”Yes! I’ve got to talk to you.“ She’s breathing as though she’s just run a hundred-yard dash. ”Face-to-face. Where are you?“
”The county jail. Where are you?“
”Your hospital room. I thought you’d be here.“ Her voice is crackling with energy, but I can’t tell whether that energy is the result of excitement or panic.
”Hang on.“ I shake Quentin’s hand, then motion him onward. ”It’s my kid’s babysitter. I’ll call you later at the hotel.“
Quentin says, ”We may head back out to the country tonight. Call me there if you don’t get me at the hotel.“
I wave to Doris as Quentin makes his way to the bench. Then I turn away and walk back toward the elevators. ”These are digital phones, Mia. No one’s going to hear you. Tell me what’s happened.“
”I can’t. It’s too dangerous.“
My patience has worn down to nothing. ”Mia, stop the melodrama and just tell me what’s going on.“
The silence that follows tells me I’ve hurt her feelings. I’m sorry for that, but there’s too much at stake now for high school detective games. ”Mia…“
”It’s okay,“ she says.
”What’s this about?“
”Wade? What about him?“
”He’s been sleeping with a student.“
My stomach goes hollow. ”Who?“
”Jenny Jenkins. She’s a junior. “
”How did you find this out?“
”She told me herself, not fifteen minutes ago. I was up at the school, in a meeting about the senior trip. When I came out, Jenny was waiting for me.“
”Are you two friends?“
”Not really. She told me because I’ve been bugging everybody all week about Marko. You know, trying to find you.“
”I don’t get it.“
”That’s what I’m trying to tell you. This isn’t really about Coach Anders-it’s about Marko. “
I can hardly contain my frustration. ”What about Marko?“
”His alibi is bullshit.“
I feel a wave of disorientation, but I’m not sure if it’s Oxycontin or the first hint of true knowledge. ”His alibi for which day? The Wilsons or Kate?“
”Wade Anders was Marko’s alibi.“
” That’swhat I’m telling you! Coach Anders’s story was bullshit!“
I blink in disbelief. ”Don’t say another word.“
Mia laughs. ”Told you.“
I think quickly. ”Do you know where Jewish Hill is?“
”The City Cemetery?“
”Meet me there as soon as you can.“
”I’m on my way.“
Daniel Kelly and I stand on the edge of Jewish Hill, waiting for Mia in a softly falling rain. Beyond the twin bridges over the Mississippi, the sun is sliding down the last of its arc; soon it will slip silently into the great river. I turn and look out over the cemetery. Kate’s grave is only a low mound of mud now. The faded green tent that protected it is gone, and there’s been no time to carve a gravestone. That takes weeks in this town.
Looking down the road that runs along the bluff, I spy a solitary figure in the rain. The Turning Angel. She’s not turning now, but merely standing with her head bowed, trying to weather the coming storm. As I stare, a hundred thoughts sweep through my mind. Ellen told me she killed Kate, and I believed her. But if Ellen killed Kate, why did Marko Bakic get Coach Anders to lie about his whereabouts that day? Could he have been doing a drug deal? If so, and Kate happened to get killed at the same time, then Marko must have improvised the alibi to cover his dope deal, not a murder.
It’s a plausible theory. But something has been bothering me ever since I heard Ellen’s confession. It’s the sequence of events as she described them. Ellen told me that after she began choking Kate, Kate quickly ”went out“-or became unconscious-and then fell and hit her head on the buried wheel rim. But the pathologist who autopsied Kate determined the cause of death to be strangulation, not head trauma. I believe Ellen choked Kate long enough to make her unconscious, but probably not long enough to kill her. In fact, my impression during Ellen’s confession was that she believed Kate died from the blow to her head. Ellen must have read otherwise in the newspaper, but she probably figured Kate was dead before her head hit the wheel.
But what if Ellen didn’t kill Kate at all? What if Marko-unknown to Kate-was at the crime scene, too? What if the person Ellen heard walking through the woods after Kate fell was not Drew, but Marko Bakic? That would have put Marko with Kate after Ellen left her, but before Drew arrived and discovered her corpse. The more I think about that scenario, the more convinced I become that it might be true.
But why would Marko have been there?
The answer comes to me so fast that it leaves me breathless. Marko met Kate there to sell her-or more likely, give her-Lorcet Plus. Cyrus had cut off Kate’s supply of pills; Cyrus’s e-mails to her told me that. Cyrus had warned Kate not to go to Marko in search of Lorcet, but what alternative did she have?
Because Marko gave me his hair so willingly at the X-rave, I discounted the possibility that he’d raped Kate. But maybe he gave me that hair because he knew he would be long gone before the police could arrest him. No…that would have been stupid. He would only have given me the hair if he was positive it could never come back and bite him on the ass.
”Oh, God,“ I say softly. Marko gave me that hair because he knew I would be dead in a matter of hours-long before I could deliver his DNA to anyone who mattered.
”What is it?“ Kelly asks.
”Wait a minute.“
The events of the past two weeks are realigning themselves in my head with nauseating speed. Why is the chain of cause and effect so hard to see sometimes? Sonny Cross sticks his gun into Marko’s mouth to interrogate him. Five hours later, Sonny is dead. Murdered by the Asians. Three days later, I track Marko down at the X-rave and question him about Kate’s murder. Four hours later, the Asians try to kill me in the lobby of the Eola Hotel. Coincidence?
Marko and the Asians have been working together all along-probably against Cyrus. That’s why Cyrus didn’t kill me when he had the chance. Cyrus never saw me as a threat. I was after Kate’s killer, and Cyrus knew he was innocent of that crime. But to Marko…I was a genuine threat.Jesus.
At Drew’s trial, Shad painted the jury a picture of Marko as the ”mystery man“ who’d left the other semen sample in Kate’s vagina. Shad chose Marko not based on evidence, but because Marko was conveniently missing, and thus offered the most possibilities for exploitation in court. But Shad painted Marko as Kate’s consensual partner-and Drew as the jealous killer. But what if those roles were reversed in reality? The rightness of this logic settles into my soul with the weight of gospel.
”That’s it,“I whisper. If Marko discovered Kate’s prone body just after Ellen fled, he might well have killed her, and then witnessed Drew finding her body. If so, Marko could have been the blackmailer who extorted money and drugs from Drew on the night of the crime. Was Marko the man on the motorcycle that we chased through the woods behind St. Stephen’s? Or was he the rifleman by the press box, shooting as we tried to get through the fence?
Another rush of images fills my brain. The lone killer dressed in black who shot so many of Cyrus’s men…who was that but Marko Bakic? What makes me sure is that it was the same night-just hours later-that the Wilsons were brutally murdered. And they weren’t gunned down in the style of the Asian gang, but stabbed dozens of times, as though in uncontrolled fury. What was that attack but retaliation by Cyrus’s crew against the man they believed responsible for the attack on their safe house?
”There’s your girl,“ Kelly says. ”Blue Honda Accord?“
Mia’s car is racing up Cemetery Road. She slows by the second gate, turns in, and speeds along the narrow lane toward the superintendent’s office. I watch her turn and climb the road to Jewish Hill.
”What do you want me to do?“ Kelly asks.
”Give us some space, but watch us. I have no idea where Marko is, but I have a feeling that kid’s a lot more dangerous than I thought.“
As Kelly walks down through the stones on the back side of Jewish Hill, Mia’s car noses onto the grass and drives along beside the wall shielding the graves. When I motion for her to stop, she opens her passenger door and waves me inside. I shake my head and beckon her out.
”It’s raining!“ she calls.
”That’s what’s keeping me awake!“
She nods and gets out of the car. She’s wearing old jeans and a royal blue St. Stephen’s sweatshirt. When she reaches me, she looks me up and down. ”You look really sick. Are you all right?“
”I’ve definitely been better.“
Mia tries to smile, but it doesn’t work. She buries her head in my chest and hugs me hard. I hold her for a minute, then gently separate us and lead her to the far edge of the hill, where the view of the river is unobstructed.
”Why did Coach Anders lie for Marko?“ I ask.
”Because Marko knew about Wade and Jenny.“
”What else did Jenny say?“
”Coach Anders has been really stressed out for the past week and a half. Really stressed, like talking to himself and stuff. Jenny didn’t know what that was about, but today at school she was worried he might have a heart attack or something.“
”Jenny went into Wade’s office after fifth period, and he was crying. She begged him to tell her what the matter was, and he finally did. It was Drew’s conviction. Apparently Wade had suspected for some time that Marko had something to do with Kate’s death. He told Jenny all about Marko and the fake alibi. But he was afraid to tell the police, because he knew Marko would blab about Jenny, and he’d lose his job. Maybe even his career as a coach.“
”It’s worse than that,“ I tell her. ”Wade’s in a position of trust as defined by statute. He’d be facing the same kind of sexual battery charges as Drew. Thirty years in the pen. He might even be charged as an accessory-after-the-fact in Kate’s murder.“
Mia looks at me in shock. ”Well, Wade told Jenny he’d been praying all week that Drew would be acquitted. When he heard it had gone the other way, he lost it.“
”What did Jenny do?“
”Freaked out. She knew she couldn’t keep quiet about the Marko thing. She’d already been going crazy herself because of the affair. She’s been late for her period a couple of times, and she was worried that Wade was sleeping with somebody else. It’s a mess.“
”God, this town has gone crazy.“
”No rules anymore,“ Mia says, pulling up the hood of her sweatshirt against the rain. ”It’s definitely Wade’s fault, but you can bet Jenny pushed hard to make that affair happen. She’s been with seven other guys that I know about, and she’s only sixteen. She’s got a messed-up home life.“
I’m not thinking about Jenny Jenkins, but Wade Anders.
”What are you going to do, Penn?“
”Call our esteemed athletic director.“
”Is that the best thing?“
”I need to know if he’s willing to admit the affair.“
Mia nods, but she looks unsure. ”Why should he, though? I mean, if he thinks Marko murdered Kate, and if he knows how crazy Marko is-which he does-he’d be crazy to tell on Marko. Forget keeping his job-he’ll be worried about his life. He only told Jenny what happened because he thought she’d keep quiet.“
”Will Jenny repeat her story to the police?“
”I have no idea. My gut says no.“
”I have to know, Mia. Call Information and get me Wade’s home number.“
”I already have it, from being head cheerleader.“ She calls the number and hands me her cell phone. ”Wade drives the bus to all the games. I had to deal with him a lot this year.“
The phone rings twice. ”And he never came on to you?“
Mia shakes her head. ”I guess he had Jenny taking care of him.“
”Mia?“ Wade Anders says in my ear.
He’s looking at his caller ID. ”No, Wade, this is Penn Cage.“
”Oh. What can I do for you, Penn?“
”I know about you and Jenny Jenkins.“
The silence on the phone makes the silence of the cemetery seem a roar.
”Wade? Are you there?“
”Yeah, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.“
”I don’t have time for lies, buddy. I don’t even care about your affair. I’m trying to solve a murder here. There are lives at stake.“
”What lies are you talking about, Penn?“
I look at Mia and shake my head. ”You’ve been having sex with Jenny Jenkins. That’s bad enough, okay? But you lied about where Marko Bakic was on the day Kate Townsend died, and that’s unacceptable.“
”I don’t know where you heard that, but it’s bullshit.“
”Wade,“I say in a locker-room voice, ”this is me, man. It’s gone too far already. You can’t get out of it now. Don’t even try. Drew’s already been convicted of murder because of you, and he could get the death penalty.“
”Listen, goddamn it!“ Anders says, anger hardening his voice. ”I know you were helping defend Drew, and I know you guys lost today. But don’t try to blame your failure on me. That’s bullshit, what you said. Jenny Jenkins has problems at home, real problems. I’ve tried to help her out. She may have made some advances toward me, but I never touched her. Not inappropriately, anyway. And I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about with this Marko stuff. And…and that’s all I have to say about it. You want to talk to me again, call my lawyer.“
”Do you have a lawyer, Wade?“
”I guess I better get one, if you’re talking this kind of shit.“
I start to press him further, but there’s no point. I hang up and give Mia back her phone.
”He denied it?“ she asks.
”All the way, the chickenshit.“
”What are you going to do?“
”I don’t know.“ I reach into my pants pocket and take out the bottle of Oxycontin. Mia watches as I open it and dry-swallow one of the tablets.
”It helps with the withdrawal.“
I forgot that she has no idea what I went through during the kidnapping. ”Cyrus shot me up with heroin. It really wiped me out.“
”Once? Or the whole time?“
”The whole time.“
”Wow.“ She walks over and sits on the low wall bordering the Jewish graves. ”That’s the Turning Angel down there, huh?“
”I never really saw it turn, you know? It always looked the same to me, no matter which way I came from. I figure it’s like those paintings where if some people stare long enough, they see another painting hidden inside the first one. I never saw those things either. I’m too much of a realist, I guess.“
”That’s not necessarily a bad thing.“
She shrugs and looks up at me. ”So do you want to hear my great idea?“
”I think I can get Marko to tell me what happened on the day Kate died.“
”How? No one even knows where he is.“
Mia smiles wickedly. ”His girlfriend does.“
”Alicia Reynolds? The cops have been following her for days, and they haven’t seen anything suspicious.“
”Twenty-four hours a day?“
”I assume so. I don’t know.“
Mia’s eyes gleam with certainty. ”Alicia knows where he is, I’m telling you. If she didn’t, she’d be a basket case. But she’s happy as a clam.“
”You think Marko’s close by?“
”At the rave, he told me he was leaving town.“
”I think he waited around to be sure Dr. Elliot got convicted. If he is leaving, he’s told Alicia he’s taking her with him.“
”Would she go with him?“
Mia snorts. ”What else is she going to do? Work at the Piggly Wiggly? She hasn’t even applied to college.“
”Okay, let’s say Marko is hiding in town somewhere. Why would Alicia tell you that? You’ve already bugged her for a week without results.“
”Because this time I’m going to scare her. And when she talks to Marko, he’ll be scared. And he’ll ask to see me.“
”What could possibly scare Marko at this point?“
”Coach Anders recanted Marko’s alibi. That should knock Marko’s legs right out from under him, even as cocky as he is.“
”You might be right. But even if Marko’s scared, why should he risk seeing you in person? He’ll already know what the threat is.“
”No, he won’t. I’ll only tell Alicia that it has to do with Coach Anders. Marko’s paranoia will do the rest.“
Mia definitely has a career ahead of her as a lawyer, if not an FBI agent. ”Why would Marko believe you, though? All of a sudden, you come to his girlfriend out of the blue to try to save him?“
Mia looks away from me and gazes out over the cemetery. ”It’s not out of the blue.“
”What do you mean?“
”I know Marko better than you think. Better than I let you think.“
I lean down in front of her, but she won’t meet my eye.
”I slept with him, okay?“ she says. ”When he first came here. It lasted about two months. Then I figured out he was just using me.“
I sit beside her on the wall. ”Using you for sex?“
”Yes. And to get Kate.“
God.”Can you tell me about it?“
Mia stands and turns toward the river, as though she can’t bear to look at me while she confesses this. ”When Marko first got to St. Stephen’s, everybody thought he was so cool. He had this aura about him, you know? The bad boy, ’I don’t give a shit about anything‘ aura. But he was smart, too. Anybody could see that.“
She bends and picks up a blade of new grass. ”He started paying a lot of attention to me. I was really down on myself back then. It was the start of senior year, and my boyfriend had just moved to Minnesota with his folks, because the tire plant closed down. Everyone else was so jazzed about the year, but I was just dead. Then…in walks Marko. It had more to do with Kate than anything else, even for me, probably.“ She turns to me at last, her eyes wet. ”Because everybody expected Marko to go for her, you know? Me included. But he didn’t. He wantedme -or pretended he did. And that made me feel really good. That’s probably what made me be with him, if I’m honest about it.“
”Did Marko hurt you?“
Mia nods slowly. ”Not physically. But he tore me up inside. He really convinced me that he cared about me. He told me about his childhood. He said I was the first person he’d trusted or let inside since he was a boy. And…I did stuff with him I’d never done before. I’d only been with one guy before Marko, my first boyfriend. I was so stupid. God. “ She turns away from me again. ”Look, I don’t want to talk about that part of it, okay? My point is that if I can get Marko face-to-face, I can make him tell the truth about what happened. If he killed Kate, I think he’ll brag about it to me. I’m serious. And if he does that, Dr. Elliott might go free.“
”That would only happen if you wore a wire, Mia.“
She nods. ”That’s what I’m talking about.“
”No way. You almost got killed last week. You want to put yourself into a worse situation?“
”But it’s not!“ she argues. ”Marko has no reason to fear me. Ever since I broke off our relationship, he’s been begging me to see him again. He’ll believe I want to warn him, Penn. His ego’s just that big.“
I take her by the shoulders and look hard into her eyes. ”Listen to me. We’re talking about this guy because we think he may have killed one high school girl already. There’s too much risk.“
She gives me a smile filled with regret. ”I’m not Kate, okay? The biggest risk isn’t that I’ll get killed. It’s that I’ll have to screw him.“
A wave of sickness rolls through my stomach. ”There’s something you need to know, Mia.“
Quickly, I tell her about Ellen’s confession in my hospital room. She listens with wide eyes, and when I’m done, she bites her bottom lip and looks toward the river.
”You believed her?“ she asks finally.
”I do, too. That’s exactly what Kate would do in that situation. I can just see it. She’d be so cruel to Ellen.“
”Then you see my point. It doesn’t make much sense to try to trap Marko if Ellen is the one who killed Kate.“
Mia shakes her head. ”I don’t believe she did. And you don’t either.“
”But you just said-“
”I believe Ellen choked her, yes. And if Kate had died from hitting her head, I might believe she’d killed her. But she didn’t, did she?“
”No,“ I concede, gratified to see that Mia has followed the exact logic I did. ”Strangulation.“
Mia nods with satisfaction. ”Marko was there. I mean, who else could it have been? You know?“
”You never believed Drew killed her. Neither did I.“
”But he could have.“
Mia dismisses this with a wave of her small hand. ”You know he didn’t. Your gut tells you that. And my gut tells me Marko did. “
Mine tells me the same. But can I put Mia at risk again to try to prove that? As I ponder this question, the cell phone I borrowed from my father rings. My caller ID showsDON LOGAN as the caller.
”Penn, I’ve got some information you might be interested in.“
”Remember we kept wondering why Sheriff Byrd was taking orders from Shad Johnson?“
”I finally found out. My source at the sheriff’s department told me. They’re celebrating like it’s New Year’s over there. There and the D.A.’s office. The sheriff told my source himself.“
”What did he say?“
”Shad Johnson told Billy Byrd that when he’s elected mayor, he’s going to abolish the Civil Service Commission. They do all the hiring and firing for the police and fire departments. I don’t know how Shad could do that, but Shad says that once the commission’s gone, he’s going to personally hire and fire every cop in town. And he’s offered Billy Byrd the job of chief.“
It takes me a few moments to absorb this. ”Why would Byrd put himself under Shad’s thumb like that?“
”Sheriff’s an elected position. Billy might never be elected again. But Shad is willing to give him the one token white position in his administration. I guess Billy figures, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ’em. I figure I’ve got about ninety days left in this job.“
”I’m sorry, Don.“
”Welcome to the real world, brother.“
I say nothing. An idea is taking shape in my mind, and it includes Chief Logan. ”Don, what if I told you we could overturn Drew’s conviction?“
”I’d ask you how.“
”What if I told you Marko Bakic killed Kate Townsend?“
”I’d ask what proof you have.“
”Proof exists. And you can help me get it. Are you up for that?“
”Are we talking about in my official capacity?“
”Quasi-official, you might say. It would be important after the fact that you’re the police chief.“
”I need more to go on than that.“
”Can you meet me at the City Cemetery?“
”Right now. And bring the smallest wire rig you’ve got with you.“
”What the hell are you up to, man?“
”Saving Drew’s ass and your job. Just get up here.“
Chief Logan breathes steadily into the phone. Right now he’s a man without a future. At length, he says one word.
I’m sitting in the passenger seat of Don Logan’s Crown Victoria. Kelly and Mia are in the backseat. Kelly is checking out the wire rig Logan brought over from the police station. I introduced Kelly to Logan as a corporate security expert from Houston.
”This is old technology,“ Kelly says. ”We use transmitters a quarter this size now.“
”Do you have one with you?“ I ask the rearview mirror.
”Not on this trip.“
”I don’t know about this scheme,“ Logan says. ”I mean, I see the upside. But this girl’s life is at risk. Let me play devil’s advocate for a minute. Even if Marko tells the Reynolds girl to bring Mia to him, we have no idea where that might be. We’ll be trying to follow her in two cars. If she loses us, Mia’s on her own.“
”Tracking device,“ says Kelly. ”I did bring one of those in my bag of tricks. It’s a GPS model. We won’t lose their car.“
”Okay,“ says Logan. ”But even if we manage to stick with them, Marko will have all the advantages. He’ll know the layout and the terrain. The home-court advantage, I guess I’m saying. And look at Penn: he’s at half strength, if that. So, it’s basically you and me, Mr. Kelly. You look like you know what you’re doing, and I’m sure you do. But just the two of us?“
”We’ll be fine,“ Kelly says with self-assurance. ”Don’t sweat that part of it.“
”I’m just saying, if we do find out where Marko is, why don’t I just call in backup and raid the place?“
”Because then we’d have a hostage situation,“ Kelly says. ”We want Mia to walk in and out of this place under her own power.“
”Plus,“ I add, ”if we raided the place, Marko would just lawyer up, and we’d never get a thing out of him about Kate’s murder.“
Chief Logan nods dejectedly.
”The risk to me isn’t that great,“ Mia insists. ”If it was, I wouldn’t go, you know?“
”If Marko finds that wire,“ says Kelly, ”he won’t be happy. Don’t kid yourself about that.“
”I’ve thought about it. But he will know there are cops all around.“
”Hostage situation again,“ says Logan. ”What then?“
Kelly looks the chief in the eye. ”Then I take him out.“
Logan glances at me. I nod once.
”You feel that confident?“ Logan asks Kelly.
Kelly smiles. ”I’ve been there before, Chief. Many times.“
”That’s not the outcome we want,“ I tell Logan. ”We want a confession. But if Mia’s in real danger, Kelly will have no choice.“
Logan looks unconvinced. ”I’d feel better with a SWAT team, Penn.“
I glance at Kelly, and he gives me permission with a nod.
”Daniel was a Delta Force operator for eight years,“ I explain. ”He’s worth more than any SWAT team we have around here. He’s the only reason I’m willing to let Mia go in there-wherever ‘there’ is.“
Logan processes this slowly. ”I see. So basically, I’m here to make this all legal after the fact.“
”That’s right, Don.“
Logan looks at me. ”What are you here for?“
”For the unexpected,“ Kelly says.
The chief chuckles softly. ”I don’t know if we’re the Three Musketeers or the Three Stooges.“
”The winners write history,“ I murmur. ”We’ll know which we are after this is over.“
”Aw, hell,“ says Logan. ”We don’t even know if Marko will take the bait.“
”He’ll take it,“ says Mia.
”How do you know?“
She smiles in the gathering dusk. ”Wouldn’t you?“
Kelly laughs. ”She’s got you there.“