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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 40

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"Why do you sound so surprised? I have known and trusted Helmut for ten years. There are others, of course, and I will be forced to rely on them, but I have never trusted anyone like I trusted and depended on Helmut."

"Yes, I too am sorry for it." Gerlach looked over at his boss of more than twenty years, the one always seated on the royal throne, the bastard. But there was one area where Gerlach was the king and so he dug out his knife. He smiled at Dieffendorf, and said in a complacent voice he knew Adler hated, "I miss my wife."

"I miss Claire too," Dieffendorf said, staring out the window, swinging his foot rhythmically back and forth until Gerlach wanted to kick him. "It is a constant ache." Dieffendorf's wife had died of breast cancer six years earlier. He'd even tried two experimental drugs. Nothing had worked.

"I know," Gerlach said as he turned back to the closet to hang up one of his three Savile Row white dress shirts.

Dieffendorf looked over at Gerlach now, his voice meditative as he said, "It was such a shock when your precious Mathilde was struck by that hit-and-run motorcycle driver last year. I remember you couldn't stop crying at her funeral."

"Yes, it was very difficult. It was good to have all my friends there to support me."

Dieffendorf paused a moment, then added, a drip of acid on his tongue, "Laytha, your wife of eight months, is your son's age, Werner." Beneath the drip of acid there was a note of disapproval in his deep resonant voice, but he was masking his envy, Gerlach knew it.

And envy was what Gerlach had wanted to hear. "Actually, Laytha is younger than Klaus by nearly a year," he said comfortably, and gave Dieffendorf a sly smile. "I told you she has a sister who is also very lovely, and very well educated. I believe she just turned twenty-five."

"I prefer not to agitate my children, all of whom are older than this sister." Dieffendorf pushed himself up to his feet. It seemed each year slowed down some other part of him. He saw himself in fifteen years with no moving parts at all. It crossed his mind that when everything stopped moving, he'd just fall over and die. That would be preferable to cancer.

"Why are we talking about your wife? Good grief, Werner, we must decide about our interview with the American FBI agents we'll see tomorrow."

Gerlach shrugged. "There is no other choice but to tell them part of the truth, which, I suspect, they probably believe themselves-Caskie Royal is responsible for the Culovort shortage in the United States, he pressed forward on his own authority. He may also be responsible for the murder of Helmut Blauvelt. They know nothing about Renard. I see no reason to enlighten them.

"If they find Royal, they can surely extract a confession from him, discover why he planned the shortage, and that he acted on his own. You are skillful, Adler, you will steer them away from considering any company involvement. They will close their case. Then we will go home and I will be with Laytha." Gerlach calmly hung up the third shirt.

Dieffendorf gave him a sharp nod and walked back toward the suite. He turned in the doorway. "The Culovort papers are Schiffer Hartwin documents. If they surface, it will hardly be as easy as all that."



Thursday evening

"Is Georgie asleep?"

Sherlock nodded to Savich, watching Erin as Bowie handed her two aspirins and a glass of water. After she'd taken the pills, Sherlock added, "I only read her two pages of Nancy Drew, and luckily, she was down and out." She turned to Erin and Bowie. "She said to give you both a kiss. If you like, I'll pass on that."

Sherlock sat down beside Dillon, and Bowie moved to join her. Erin realized she was sitting by herself, the three of them sitting opposite her, together, silent and waiting. She was in the dock. Confession time.

Sherlock said, "Georgie's asleep, the dishes are washed and put away, you've got aspirin on board. It's time, Erin. Tell us why you broke into Caskie Royal's office and printed the Culovort papers off his computer."

Bowie froze. Sherlock wondered if he'd guessed this was Erin's secret, but seeing him staring at Erin, shock clear on his face, obviously he hadn't.

Sherlock lightly laid her fingertips to his arm. "I can't let this go on any longer, Erin. Not only don't I want to see you killed, what you know is critical to our investigation."

Bowie stared down at Sherlock's fingers on his arm. Was she afraid he was going to start screaming at Erin? Maybe leap up and strangle her?

Bowie couldn't believe it, simply couldn't. "Yes," he said, his voice perfectly pleasant, "please tell us everything."

Erin didn't look at him. She knew she'd see his dawning sense of betrayal, and she couldn't bear it. Sherlock was right, there was too much on the line now to hold back any longer. She said, "Yes, it's past time. How long have you known I was the one who pulled off the break-in, Sherlock?"

"I wondered about your level of interest. I thought it was really over the top, your intensity, the way you were so very focused on every word we said. And the clincher was our witness, who described you perfectly."

Savich sat forward, his hands clasped between his knees. "You were friendly, Erin, you were charming, but you didn't act exactly right around the three of us, particularly Bowie."

"What do you mean? I acted weird around Bowie?"

"I didn't say weird," Savich said. "You just acted off. Bowie would have seen it for himself if he hadn't been so caught up in the investigation of Blauvelt's murder, and, naturally, his worry about his daughter.

"Of course I checked you out," Savich continued. "And that led me to your dad. You'd told us about his being a consultant to law enforcement for the last twenty years of his life, but not the nitty-gritty details like the specialized skills he taught-building security for the new millennium, situational and strategic planning-like what to do if you're caught somewhere you shouldn't be, whether behind enemy lines or in a CEO's office. Oh, yes, I should mention he was known to be able to pick any lock in the known universe. You were lucky there were thick bushes below that bathroom window to break your fall."

Sherlock said, "I bet you learned everything from him, including lock picking. Time to get it all out, Erin. Tell us all of it."

Bowie remained silent. Erin wanted to punch him, make him say something, anything. "I don't want to go to jail, Sherlock. Am I going to need a lawyer?"

Bowie said, his voice too calm, too controlled, "I'm going to see to it you have the greenest public defender in Connecticut."

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