Promise Me Page 68

“Oh.”

“And I’ll probably be working on this until late.”

“Myron?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t care how late.”

He smiled.

“Whatever the time, come by,” Ali said. “I’ll be waiting. And if I fall asleep, throw pebbles at my window and wake me up. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“Be careful.”

“Ali?”

“Yes?”

“I love you.”

There was a little intake of air. Then, with a little song in the voice: “I love you too, Myron.”

And suddenly, it was as if Jessica were a wisp of smoke.

Dominick Rochester’s office was a depot for school buses.

Outside his window was a plethora of yellow. This place was his cover. School buses could do wonders. If you transport kids in the seats, you could pretty much transport anything else in the undercarriage. Cops might stop and search a truck. They never do that with a school bus.

The phone rang. Rochester picked it up and said, “Hello?”

“You wanted me to watch your house?”

He did. Joan was drinking more than ever. It could have been from Katie’s disappearance, but Dominick was no longer so sure. So he had one of his guys keep an eye. Just in case.

“Yeah, so?”

“Earlier today some guy stopped by to talk to your wife.”

“Earlier today?”

“Right.”

“How much earlier?”

“Couple of hours maybe.”

“Why didn’t you call then?”

“Didn’t think much about it, I guess. I mean, I wrote it down. But I thought you only wanted me to call you if it was important.”

“What does he look like?”

“His name is Myron Bolitar. I recognized him. He used to play ball.”

Dominick pulled the receiver closer, pushing it against his ear as though he could travel through it. “How long did he stay?”

“Fifteen minutes.”

“Just the two of them?”

“Yeah. Oh, don’t worry, Mr. Rochester. I watched them. They stayed downstairs, if that’s what you’re wondering. There was no . . .” He stopped, not sure how to put it.

Dominick almost laughed. This dopey guy thought he was having his wife watched in case she was sleeping around. Man, that was rich. But now he wondered: Why had Bolitar come by and stayed so long?

And what had Joan told him?

“Anything else?”

“Well, that’s the thing, Mr. Rochester.”

“What’s the thing?”

“There is something else. See, I wrote down about Bolitar’s visit, but since I could see where he was, I didn’t worry much, you know?”

“And now?”

“Well, I’m following Mrs. Rochester. She just drove to some park in town here. Riker Hill. You know it?”

“My kids went to elementary school there.”

“Good, okay. She’s sitting on a bench. But she’s not alone. See, your wife is sitting there with that same guy. With Myron Bolitar.”

Silence.

“Mr. Rochester?”

“Get a man on Bolitar too. I want him followed. I want them both followed.”

During the Cold War, the Riker Hill Art Park, located right smack in the bosom of suburbia, had been a military control base for air-defense missiles. The army called it Nike Battery Missile Site NY-80. For real. From 1954 until the end of the Nike air defense system in 1974, the site was operational for both Hercules and Ajax missiles. Many of the U.S. Army’s original buildings and barracks now serve as studios where painting, sculpture, and crafts flourish in a communal setting.

Years ago, Myron had found this all somewhat poignant and oddly comforting—the war relic now housing artists—but the world was different now. In the eighties and nineties, it had all been cute and quaint. Now this “progress” felt like phony symbolism.

Near the old military radar tower, Myron sat on the bench with Joan Rochester. They hadn’t done more than nod at each other. They were waiting. Joan Rochester cradled her mobile phone as if it were an injured animal. Myron checked his watch. Any minute now, Katie Rochester was supposed to call her mother.

Joan Rochester looked off. “You’re wondering why I stay with him.”

In truth, he wasn’t. First off, awful as this situation was, he was still feeling a little giddy from his phone call with Ali. He knew that was selfish, but this was the first time in seven years he had told a woman that he loved her. He was trying to push all that from his mind, trying to focus on the task at hand, but he couldn’t help feeling a little high from her response.

Second—and maybe more relevant—Myron had long ago stopped trying to figure out relationships. He had read about battered woman syndrome and perhaps that was at play here and this was a cry for help. But for some reason, in this particular case, he didn’t care enough to reach out and answer that call.

“I’ve been with Dom a long time. A very long time.”

Joan Rochester went quiet. After a few more seconds, she opened her mouth to say more, but the phone in her hand vibrated. She looked down at it as though it had suddenly materialized in her hand. It vibrated again and then it rang.

“Answer it,” Myron said.

Joan Rochester nodded and hit the green button. She brought the phone to her ear and said, “Hello?”

Myron leaned close to her. He could hear a voice on the other end of the line—sounded young, sounded female—but he couldn’t make out any of the words.

“Oh, honey,” Joan Rochester said, her face easing from the sound of her daughter’s voice. “I’m glad you’re safe. Yes. Yes, right. Listen to me a second, okay? This is very important.”

More talking from the other end.

“I have someone here with me—”

Animated talk from the other end.

“Please, Katie, just listen. His name is Myron Bolitar. He’s from Livingston. He means you no harm. How did he find . . . it’s complicated. . . . No, of course I didn’t say anything. He got phone records or something, I’m not really sure, but he said he would tell Daddy—”

Very animated talk now.

“No, no, he hasn’t done that yet. He just needs to talk to you for a minute. I think you should listen. He says it’s about the other missing girl, Aimee Biel. He’s looking for her. . . . I know, I know, I told him that. Just . . . hold on, okay? Here he is.”

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