Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 28

"Listen to me, both of you! I don't know anything! I was in bed two nights ago, watching a stupid movie on TV, then I went to sleep at maybe midnight."

Erin said, "Since your husband wasn't with you, you really don't have an alibi, do you?"

"You told me he was with Carla." She shook her head, diverted. "Poor bitch, to have to settle for him. She divorced a jerk and now she's sleeping with another one. Look, I don't have an alibi, but I wouldn't leave my kids alone, I wouldn't! And I never sleep with another man in my own house, not with my children here. Caskie probably would, he's simply never had the opportunity. At least as far as I know."

Jane Ann Royal, whatever she knew, if there was indeed more, wasn't going to spill. Sherlock knew it. But they'd primed the pump well. Sherlock rose, Erin followed suit. She said, "We hope you have an excellent security system, Jane Ann. I strongly suggest you speak candidly to your husband about this. You might want to ask him how he plans to prevent his kids from getting hurt. He's up to his neck in alligators here. Encourage him to come clean with us, and we can help him. You might also want to give more thought to coming clean yourself. Good day."

After a few steps, Sherlock turned back. "You might want to consider visiting your mom for a while, with your kids."

Sherlock and Erin both nodded to Jane Ann Royal, who still sat at the wrought-iron white painted café table, the glass of iced tea in her hand. They walked around to the front of the house, just as the tennis instructor had done.

They heard Jane Ann shout, "Alana! Come here, now!"

"You really shook her," Erin said with a good deal of satisfaction. "She said so much, contradicted herself. To be honest, Sherlock, I couldn't tell the truth from the lies."

"I'm thinking she just might call me tonight. Don't think we failed, Erin. Thing is, we accomplished our mission. The woman is now seriously rattled."

She paused a moment as she opened the car door. She looked at Erin over the roof. "You said the wife always knows, but this was so blatant, so accepted, and Jane Ann has this ironic perspective about it.

"Dillon knows to his toes if he ever slept with another woman I'd shoot him dead, not the woman. Her I'd just rough up some." Sherlock shook her head. "To make promises, then to break them for no good reason I can think of, and you've got kids at home looking up to you, that's simply pathetic." She sighed as she opened the car door and slid in. "All too common, I guess."

Erin slid in beside her. "To be honest, I don't understand it either, not that I have all that much experience. I was married for a total of two months and twenty-seven days when I was twenty-two, not yet graduated from college. My husband was a grad student in economics. He didn't sleep with my friends, nothing like that, he simply didn't want to take his turn at washing the dishes and doing the laundry, that was my job, and so he told me. He said he had more important things to do than be a stupid drudge. Can you beat that?"

"Please tell me you took a whip to him."

"I should have, but I didn't. By the time eight weeks had passed I was so disillusioned with the jerk I didn't really care what he said, I just wanted him out and gone. But Jane Ann, she's different."

"Yes. I wonder if Caskie knows she sleeps with her tennis pros?"

When Sherlock's cell phone rang two hours later, she looked at the screen and pulled over. "It's Dillon, Erin. Let's see what's going on down there."

Sherlock listened as she unfastened her seat belt and stretched. "You're already on your way to see Senator Hoffman? This is wild, Dillon. His wife sends him a warning through you from the vast beyond, and he discounts it. Or maybe he didn't, just didn't realize he could die in a public restaurant.

"I bet he's really shook now. Yes, call me later. Then I'll tell you about Jane Ann Royal."



Late Wednesday afternoon

Savich drove his Porsche through Senator David Hoffman's old established neighborhood, Ruth beside him. "A longtime lobbyist dead of poison with a United States senator sitting across the table from her, and he's probably the one meant to eat the arsenic. This is going to be pretty wild, Dillon. Good thing wild is our unit's middle name."

"Actually, our middle name is Apprehension."

Ruth punched him in the arm.

"'Wild' is the word Sherlock used when I called her."

"Great minds usually run in parallel," Ruth said.

Savich was grinning when he turned the Porsche smoothly into Senator Hoffman's driveway. He saw a TV van parked across the street. "They're fast. We've got to hurry." He and Ruth did a fast jog up the flagstone path to the senator's front door.

An agent stepped out. "Agents. Get inside before the locusts swarm onto the yard. Look at that yahoo running up here to get to you, waving his camera guy forward. The idiot, I'll deal with him."

Savich closed the door firmly behind them and turned to look around the large entrance hall. It was empty and dead silent. They waited a moment, but no one appeared. There didn't seem to be anyone inside the house. Since Savich knew the way, he led Ruth to Senator Hoffman's study, down the hall and to the right. Another FBI agent stood beside the door. He nodded to them.

The senator was seated behind his desk, his head back against the comfortable headrest, his eyes closed. His senior aide, Corliss Rydle, stood in front of his desk, arms crossed over her chest, yet another guard dog. Savich had seen two FBI agents. He wondered how many more Mr. Maitland had assigned to guard the senator. Corliss Rydle stared at them hard. Message received, Savich thought, we'll have to go through you first to get to the great man. She was closer to a guard poodle, he thought, petite, probably had to stretch to reach five-foot-two. She had short black hair and an olive complexion, probably some Mediterranean blood lurking around in her background somewhere. She was dressed in a stark black suit, white blouse, and a glossy pearl necklace. She all but growled at them.

Senator Hoffman opened his eyes, sat forward. "It's all right, Corliss." There was a hint of humor in his voice. "This is Agent Savich, and he's-very important."

Savich introduced himself and Ruth to Corliss Rydle, watched her step down a bit. He asked her to leave.

She didn't move, shot her dark eyes to her boss. Hoffman said quietly, "It's all right, Corlie. If I'm not safe with these people, then I should simply hang it up. Go finish drafting that statement for me. We've got to move on this, and as soon as Agent Savich brings me up to date, we're going to proceed."

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