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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 47

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He turned and left the conference room.




Friday afternoon

Agent Ruth Warnecki steered Aiden and Benson Hoffman into the CAU. The large room was crowded with agents and staff, all talking on cell phones and landlines, while computer keyboards clicked away above the hum of hard drives. One agent was whistling. The noise was a din, hard to hear over.

Ruth smiled at the two men. "It's a bit hectic. What with the vice president's accident, we're all very busy."

Aiden Hoffman, Senator Hoffman's eldest son, stared around him. "Can you tell us why Agent Savich wanted to see us, Agent Warnecki?"

Ruth smiled. "As to that, I'll leave it to Agent Savich. Now, come with me, gentlemen." She led them down the hall to an interior conference room, opened the door, bowed them in, and closed the door behind her. Savich was standing beside the table, speaking on his cell phone. He studied Aiden and Benson as he rang off.

He motioned them to be seated at the table, then sat across from them. It was stone silent in this narrow, windowless interview room, locked down tight with the door closed, like a prison cell after the loud, busy unit Ruth had brought them through.

"Do we need a lawyer?" Aiden asked, his voice tense.

"A lawyer?" Unlike Aiden's, Savich's voice was calm and smooth. "I certainly hope not. I wished to meet with you both privately, and this seemed the best place. Thank you for coming on such short notice." Both men were buff and tanned, and reeked of good breeding, like their father. Unfortunately, neither son's eyes had their father's humorous twinkle or sharp intelligence. Despite their laid-back designer clothes, they looked scared. Good, Savich thought.

Aiden, the older at thirty-eight, was sitting forward, his hands clasped. He looked both sincere and apprehensive. "We wondered why you asked us here, Agent Savich. I mean of course we're concerned about Vice President Valenti, Ben and I have known him all our lives. But asking us here-what do we have to do with what happened? I mean, sure he was driving our father's car, but-"

Benson cut in on a nervous laugh. "It wasn't just a freaking car, it was a Brabus." Benson, thirty-six, wasn't as impressive a figure as his brother, either in height or looks. Clearly, he didn't have his brother's control either. Savich knew Benson was more in-your-face, less concerned with what others thought of him. Savich felt a barely banked temper roiling behind his eyes, ready to bubble over with the right provocation. At least he hoped so.

"Maybe you don't know what that is, Agent Savich." Benson tried and failed to keep his voice light. A note of contempt bled through.

"Why don't you tell me?" Savich said easily, amused by the barely veiled smirk on Benson's face.

"Ben," Aiden said quickly, "Agent Savich drives a Porsche Carrera. Our dad really enjoys driving Porsches, always had a new Porsche in the garage when we were growing up. He told us your last one got blown up."

Savich only nodded, watching Benson Hoffman's eyes go hot. Because Savich had made him look like a fool?

Aiden said, "When you called, I thought at first you wanted to ask us what we knew about Dana Frobisher, the woman who died at the restaurant. Then when you mentioned the vice president, we thought you must be trying to get some background, since Dad doesn't seem to want to talk to anyone except for calls from the hospital. He's taking this very hard. Our mom died three years ago, and now his longtime friend may die too, and he was driving Dad's car. I think Dad feels responsible."

Benson snorted. "He's mourning the car as much as Valenti. I hope he had it insured."

Aiden looked pained. He ignored his brother. "Look, Agent Savich, what can we tell you?"

"Why don't you tell me first about Dana Frobisher. Did you know her?"

Aiden shrugged. "We met her a few times at the house. Our mother worked with her on a charity board, and Mom talked about her quite a bit."

"Only at first," Benson said. "Then Mom didn't mention her again. I don't know what happened. We haven't seen her for what, Aiden, five years?"

Aiden nodded. "Something like that."

Savich said, "You said you've both known the vice president all your lives."

"That's right," Aiden said. "Valenti and our mother were very close once upon a time, high school sweethearts, the way she told it. When we were little, she'd tell us stories about adventures they'd had growing up, places they'd gone, then she'd look embarrassed and shut up. Later I heard her say that when Alex Valenti went off to Harvard and she went to Stanford, they didn't see each other much anymore, and that's when she met Dad."

Benson sat back in the uncomfortable chair, crossed his arms over his chest, and snorted. "I don't know why they let Mom into Stanford-on an academic scholarship-I mean, she never did anything with her degree, never made any money on her own. She did love her charities, though, joined every one she could find. Anyway, it's ancient history."

Aiden said, his eyes serious on Savich's face, "Alex Valenti and my mother kept up with each other, stayed friends, and after Ben and I were born, our families sort of merged."

"Yeah," Benson said, "the Valenti kids-always around, always welcomed by Mom whether we wanted them there or not."

Savich said easily, "I guess both of you know the Richards family as well?"

Benson said, "Oh yeah, we've all met. Even though Bowie's family's got tons of money, Bowie couldn't cut it, he ended up going to some police academy."

Aiden said, "Bowie's an FBI agent, Ben. He got promoted to Agent in Charge in the New Haven Field Office last year."

Benson shrugged again, a particularly irritating habit. "Yeah? Like you, Agent Savich? Well, I just know he's a putz. Maybe he didn't deserve what happened, but poor old Bowie ended up really getting the shaft, didn't he?"

"How's that?" Savich said.

Benson spit it right out with a smile. "Everybody put out his wife was killed in a plain old auto accident, and wasn't it tragic, but that wasn't what happened at all."

Savich realized he didn't want to know. This was private and had nothing to do with this case. He said, "Why don't we leave that for another time. What can you tell me about your father's best friend, Gabe Hilliard?"

"Another uncle forced down our throats," Benson said.

"He gave you a train set when you were eleven," Aiden said.

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