The sun was rising as Alan steered his Volvo onto the Interstate. He headed south, thinking that a guy like him could find plenty of places to hide in a big city like New York. And plenty of opportunities.
It wasn’t a setback, he’d told himself after almost running into the police when he’d returned to pick up Sam and Logan. No, rather an opportunity.
Because there was no way in hell Korsakov would let Sam or Logan live. Hell, having seen the Russian when he worked himself into a frenzy, he wouldn’t be surprised if Korsakov torched the entire town in retribution for Hopewell giving sanctuary to Sam all these years.
But Alan still had a chance. He’d hightailed it back to his house, tossed everything of value into the car and headed off into the fog. Alive without a hundred million was better than being a dead man with it.
Still, all that money…the things he could do with it cascaded through his mind, torturing him with could-have-been scenarios.
His cell phone rang, breaking his reverie. He looked at it in its perch on the dashboard and narrowed his eyes in suspicion. What if it was Korsakov? Or what if Logan rolled on him? The cops could track those phones.
It rang again and again. What if it was Sam? Maybe he’d gotten clear of the cops and still wanted to deal? After all, as far as he knew, Alan was on his way to Bumfuck, Quebec right now, ready to kill his kid.
His hand hovered over the phone. He knew the safest bet was to ignore it, toss it out the window and buy a new one at the next Walmart. But one hundred million dollars, that was a helluva payoff. Least he deserved after spending two years setting this up.
He grabbed the phone and flipped it open. “Yeah.”
Christ, it was Sarah. What the hell did she want? He didn’t have time to play Sir Galahad—but she might still be a key to get him the money. “Yes? What’s up, sweetheart? Having trouble sleeping again?”
“I’m in jail. With your friend, Logan.” Her voice was clipped, rushed.
“Logan?” What the fuck had gone wrong? How had Logan and Sarah ended up together, much less in jail? And where the hell was Sam?
“It’s a long story. I need your help, Alan. Can you come down to the station? Please?” He couldn’t resist a smile when he heard her pleading. In two years, she had never asked anything of him, had always been the one taking care of everything herself. But now Miss Self-sufficiency was begging him for help.
“I’m on the road. It will take me awhile to get back. Maybe you should call someone else.” There was an emergency vehicle turn-around ahead. He slowed the Volvo and pulled onto the gravel path that connected both sides of the interstate.
There was a long pause before she answered. He could hear her breathing, it sounded raspy as if she was panicking. Good. The more desperate she was, the more she would follow his orders. All of them.
He stepped on the accelerator, now anxious to return to Hopewell.
“I’m scared, so much is going on. I can’t trust anyone but you, Alan,” she said. He pumped a fist in the air, excited that he finally had her exactly where he wanted her. “Please, Alan. I’ll do anything. Please come and get me out of this.”
“I’m on my way, sweetheart. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything.”
Sarah hung up the phone feeling as if she needed a long, hot shower. Even then she might never feel clean again. The tone in Alan’s voice…she shivered at the memory. It had been as if he’d been fantasizing about taking control over her, owning her body and soul.
Sam had said he’d been planning to kill her. She hugged herself with her free arm. To kill her after the marriage—after she shared his bed, vowed to love, honor, and cherish.
“What happened to my life?” she whispered.
Her only answer was Logan’s cackle coming from behind her. She covered her face with her hand and rested her elbow on the edge of the desk.
Hal knocked and came in. “All done?” he asked in a too-bright voice.
Sarah raised her head and nodded. “Alan’s coming. I don’t know how long he’ll be.”
Caitlyn appeared behind Hal, hands on her hips in a defiant posture reminding Sarah of the first time she’d first seen her two years ago. She and Hal had clashed then as well. Caitlyn remained at the door, standing apart from the rest.
Hal plopped down in his desk chair. “This is how we’re going to work this. Mr. Logan, do you still want to press charges?”
“I’m not sure. I’m going to wait until the lawyer gets here and see what my options are.”
“Uh-huh,” Hal said as if expecting this. “In the meantime, as soon as the government offices are open at nine, I’ll check out your permit and gun registration. If that’s all clear, you’ll be free to go.”
“That’s not for hours,” Logan protested.
“I know. So, I’d suggest you get comfortable.” Hal looked across his cluttered desk at Sarah. “You all right? I can move the cuffs, if you’d like.”
She noticed that he didn’t say “remove” the cuffs. Caitlyn tensed, watching. “I’m fine.”
“All right, then.” He settled back, propping his feet on the desk, and crossed his arms behind his head. “So we wait.”
Sarah looked up as Caitlyn made a disgusted snort and left, banging the door behind her.
“Nicely done, Chief,” Logan said, applauding. “Now you want to let me out of here?”
“Shut up,” Hal snapped. He dropped his feet to the floor with a thump and came around to Sarah’s chair. “Sarah, I’ve covered all I can for you. What the hell is going on?”
Caitlyn turned on the lights to the post office section of the building and considered her options. She glanced back through the window into the police department. Hal was crouched down on the floor, head to head with Sarah Durandt.
Definitely something fishy. She wished she hadn’t left her cell phone behind at Hal’s house. Ahh, there was a phone jack right beside the computer on the service counter. Even better, there was a phone attached to it, cleverly hidden on a shelf behind the counter. Sitting on top of the thinnest municipal phone book Caitlyn had ever seen.
She’d written field reports that took more pages than the Clinton county directory. Within minutes she had Gerald Merton on the line.
“The bullet?” he asked, his voice groggy. “It’s gone.”
“I know,” Caitlyn repeated for what felt like the tenth time. “I need the name and contact information on the officer who signed for it.”
“No one signed for it.”
“Sure they did. When the state police came to collect the evidence and the body.”
“They haven’t. They won’t—not until Chief Waverly calls them.”
Her grip on the receiver tightened. “They haven’t been called yet?”
“Nope. And I’d know because as county coroner, I have to release the body to them.”
“What happened to the bullet?”
“The Chief’s got it.” He sounded exasperated as if he were explaining the obvious. “He dug it out while you were on the phone. Took it with him. Guess you were so sick, he didn’t want to bother you.”
She could almost hear Merton’s sneer through the phone. A junior Jack Logan in the making. “You’re sure about that? The bullet isn’t there?”
“Of course I’m sure. Saw him button it in his pocket, didn’t I?”
She hung up and patted the breast pockets of Hal’s shirt that she had appropriated. No, couldn’t be that lucky. She’d grabbed one from a kitchen chair, he’d ended up with the same one he’d had one last night.
Caitlyn pursed her lips, glared at the closed door to the police office. Her headache was gathering, but wasn’t any more than a dull roar. Nothing she couldn’t handle. Yet.
She called Clemens. His voice was muffled and she could hear someone snoring in the background when he answered. The fiancée, no doubt.
“It’s Caitlyn,” she said, pacing as far as the phone cord would allow her. She couldn’t sit still, felt as jittery as if she’d devoured a gallon of espresso. “I need another favor.”
“Sure.” His voice emerged in a sleep-choked rasp. He cleared his throat. “What do you need?”
“A trace on a gun’s serial number.” She dug out the scrap of paper she’d scrawled the Glock’s registration onto before Hal whisked the gun out of sight. “How long will it take you?”
“A few days or so.”
“Sooner would be better.”
“I could put a rush on it if you have a priority case number.”
She was silent. She should have contacted the nearest field office as soon as she suspected the body Sarah found might be Leo Richland. But she hadn’t and now she was screwed until she had his identity confirmed.
“I take it you’re still off the books,” he said when she didn’t answer. “On that camping trip up in the mountains.”
“More like a fishing expedition. And I’m hooking some whoppers, just nothing concrete yet.”
His sigh resonated over the phone line. “I’ll get it as fast as I can.”
“Just be careful. All right?”
“Always.” She hung up. If Hal was stuck in the office waiting with his prisoners, then that gave her a chance to go to his house. To pick up her phone, of course. And maybe get a look at those files he’d distracted her from last night.