Darkest Fear Page 38

Myron started backing out of the room. “This isn’t helping,” he said again.

“Yes,” she said, “it is.”

“You want me to find the donor. I’m trying to do that. But this kind of distraction doesn’t help. I need to stay detached.”

“No, Myron, you need attachment. You need to get emotional. You have to understand the stakes—your son, that beautiful boy who opened the door—is going to die before he’s even kissed a girl.” She moved closer to him and looked into his eyes and Myron thought that her eyes had never looked so clear before.

“I watched you play every game at Duke,” she said. “I fell in love with you on that court—not because you were the team star or because you were graceful or athletic. You were so open out there, so raw and emotional. And the more emotional you got, the more pressure there was, the better you played. If the game was a blowout, you lost interest. You needed it to matter. You needed to be double-teamed with only a few seconds on the clock. You needed to lose control a little.”

“This isn’t a game, Emily.”

“Right,” she said. “The stakes are higher. The emotion should be higher. I want you desperate, Myron. That’s when you’re at your best.”

He looked at the photograph of Jeremy, and he knew that he was feeling something that he had never felt before. He blinked, caught the expression on his face in the closet-door mirror, and for a moment he saw his own father staring back.

Emily hugged him then. She buried her face in his shoulder and started to cry. Myron held on tight. They stood that way for several minutes before making their way downstairs. Over dinner, Emily told him about Jeremy, and he soaked in every story. They moved to the couch and broke out the photo albums. Emily tucked her legs under her, her elbow on the top of the couch, her head leaning on the heel of her hand, and told him more. It was nearly two in the morning when she walked him to the door. They were holding hands.

“I know you spoke to Dr. Singh,” she said in the open door.


She let loose a deep breath. “I’m just going to say this, okay?”


“I’ve been keeping track. I bought one of those home tests. The, uh, optimum conception day will be Thursday.”

He opened his mouth but she stopped him with her hand.

“I know all the arguments against this, but it might be Jeremy’s only chance. Don’t say anything. Just think about it.”

She closed the door. Myron stared at it for a few moments. He tried to conjure up the moment Jeremy had opened it, the crooked smile on the boy’s face, but already the image was hazy and fading fast.


First thing in the morning, Myron called Terese. Still no answer. He frowned at the phone. “Am I getting the big kiss-off?” he asked Win.

“Doubtful,” Win said. He was reading the newspaper and wearing silk pajamas with a matching bathrobe and slippers. Give him a pipe and he could have been something Noël Coward created on an off day.

“What makes you say that?”

“Our Ms. Collins appears to be rather direct,” Win said. “If you were being tossed into the dung heap, you’d know the smell.”

“And then there’s the part about my being irresistible to women,” Myron said.

Win turned the page.

“So what’s she up to?”

Win tapped his chin with his index finger. “What’s the term you relationship people use? Oh, yes. Space. Perhaps she needs some space.”

“ ‘Needing space’ is usually a code phrase for the big kiss-off.”

“Yes, well, whatever.” Win crossed his legs. “You want me to look into it?”

“Into what?”

“What Ms. Collins might be up to.”


“Fine,” Win said. “Let’s move on, shall we? Tell me about your encounter with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Myron recapped the interrogation.

“So we don’t know what they wanted,” Win said.


“Not a clue?”

“Nothing. Except that they were scared.”


Myron nodded.

Win took a sip of tea, pinky up. Oh, the horrors that pinky had witnessed, partaken in, even. They sat in Win’s formal dining room and used a silver tea set. Victorian mahogany table with lion-paw feet, silver tea set, silver milk pitcher, boxes of Cap’n Crunch and some new cereal called Oreo, which is exactly what you would imagine. “Theorizing at this juncture is a waste of time. I’ll make some calls, see what I can find out.”


“I’m still not sure I see a connection between Stan Gibbs and our blood donor.”

“It’s a long shot,” Myron agreed.

“More than that. A newspaper columnist makes up a story about a serial kidnapper and now—what?—we think the fictional character is the donor?”

“Stan Gibbs claims the story is real.”

“Does he now?”


Win rubbed his chin. “Pray tell, why does he not defend himself?”

“No clue.”

“Presumably because he is guilty,” Win said. “Man is, above all, selfish. He’s into self-preservation. It’s instinctive. He does not martyr himself. He cares about one thing above all else: saving his hide.”

“Assuming I agree with your sunny view of human nature, wouldn’t you agree that man would lie to save himself?”

“Of course,” Win said.

“So armed with this pretty decent defense—the idea that the serial kidnapper copycatted the novel—why wouldn’t Stan use it to defend himself, even if he was guilty of plagiarism?”

Win nodded. “I like the way you’re thinking.”

“Cynically, yes.”

The intercom buzzed. Win pressed the button, and the doorman announced Esperanza. A minute later, she swept into the room, grabbed a chair, and poured herself a bowl of Oreo cereal.

“Why do they always say it’s ‘part of this complete breakfast’?” Esperanza asked. “Every single time, every single cereal. What’s all that about?”

Nobody replied.

Esperanza took a spoonful, looked at Win, head-gestured toward Myron. “I hate it when he’s right,” she said to Win.

“A bad omen,” Win agreed.

Myron said, “I was right?”

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