Darkest Fear Page 5

Her eyes flicked around the room. “One-in-four chance,” she said, stopping abruptly.


“The national registry found only three potential donors. By potential I mean that the initial HLA tests showed them as possibilities. The A and B match, but then they have to do a full blood and tissue workup to see—” She stopped again. “I’m getting technical. I don’t mean to. But when your kid is sick like this, it’s like you live in a snow globe of medical jargon.”

“I understand.”

“Anyway, getting past the initial screening is like winning a second-tier lottery ticket. The chance of a match is still slim. The blood center calls in the potential donors and runs a battery of tests, but the odds they’ll be a close enough match to go through with the transplant are pretty low, especially with only three potential donors.”

Myron nodded, still having no idea why she was telling him any of this.

“We got lucky,” she said. “One of the three was a match with Jeremy.”


“There’s a problem,” she said. Again the crooked smile. “The donor is missing.”

“What do you mean, missing?”

“I don’t have the details. The registry is confidential. No one will tell me what’s going on. We seemed to be on the right track, and then all of a sudden, the donor just pulled out. My doctor can’t say anything—like I said, it’s protected.”

“Maybe the donor just changed his mind.”

“Then we better change it back,” she said, “or Jeremy dies.”

The statement was plain enough.

“So what do you think happened?” Myron asked. “You think he’s missing or something?”

“He or she,” Emily said. “Yes.”

“He or she?”

“I don’t know anything about the donor—age, sex, where they live, nothing. But Jeremy isn’t getting any better and the odds of finding another donor in time are, well, almost nonexistent.” She kept the face tight, but Myron could see the foundation starting to crack a bit. “We have to find this donor.”

“And that’s why you’ve come to me? To find him?”

“You and Win found Greg when no one else could. When he disappeared, Clip went to you first. Why?”

“That’s a long story.”

“Not so long, Myron. You and Win are trained in this sort of thing. You’re good at it.”

“Not in a case like this,” Myron said. “Greg is a high-profile athlete. He can take to the airwaves, offer rewards. He can buy private detectives.”

“We’re already doing that. Greg has a press conference set up for tomorrow.”


“So it won’t work. I told Jeremy’s doctor we would pay anything to the donor, even though it’s illegal. But something else is wrong here. I’m afraid all the publicity might even backfire—that it may send the donor deeper into hiding or something, I don’t know.”

“What does Greg say to that?”

“We don’t talk much, Myron. And when we do, it’s usually not very pretty.”

“Does Greg know you’re talking to me now?”

She looked at him. “He hates you as much as you hate him. Maybe more so.”

Myron decided to take that as a no. Emily kept her eyes on him, searching his face as though there were an answer there.

“I can’t help you, Emily.”

She looked like she’d just been slapped.

“I sympathize,” he went on, “but I’m just getting over some major problems of my own.”

“Are you saying you don’t have time?”

“It’s not that. A private detective would have a better chance—”

“Greg’s hired four already. They can’t even find out the donor’s name.”

“I doubt I can do any better.”

“This is my son’s life, Myron.”

“I understand, Emily.”

“Can’t you put aside your animosity for me and Greg?”

He wasn’t sure that he could. “That’s not the issue. I’m a sports agent, not a detective.”

“That didn’t stop you before.”

“And look how things ended up. Every time I meddle, it leads to disaster.”

“My son is thirteen years old, Myron.”

“I’m sorry—”

“I don’t want your sympathy, dammit.” Her eyes were smaller now, black. She leaned toward him until her face was scant inches from his. “I want you to do the math.”

He looked puzzled. “What?”

“You’re an agent. You know all about numbers, right? So do the math.”

Myron tilted back, giving himself a little distance. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Jeremy’s birthday is July eighteenth,” she said. “Do the math.”

“What math?”

“One more time: He’s thirteen years old. He was born July the eighteenth. I was married October tenth.”

Nothing. For several seconds, he heard the mothers chatting over one another, one baby cry, one barista call out an order to another, and then it happened. A cold gust blew across Myron’s heart. Steel bands wrapped around his chest, making it almost impossible to breathe. He opened his mouth but nothing came out. It was like someone had whacked his solar plexus with a baseball bat. Emily watched him and nodded.

“That’s right,” she said. “He’s your son.”


“You can’t know that for sure,” Myron said.

Emily’s whole persona screamed exhaustion. “I do.”

“You were sleeping with Greg too, right?”


“And we only had that one night during that time. You probably had a whole bunch with Greg.”


“So how can you possibly know—?”

“Denial,” she interjected with a sigh. “The first step.”

He pointed a finger at her. “Don’t hand me that psychology-major crap, Emily.”

“Moving quickly to anger,” she continued.

“You can’t know—”

“I’ve always known,” she interrupted.

Myron sat back. He stayed composed but underneath he could almost feel the fissure widening, his foundation starting to shift.

“When I first got pregnant, I figured like you: I’d slept with Greg more, so it was probably his baby. At least, that’s what I told myself.” She closed her eyes. Myron stayed very still, the knot in his stomach tightening. “And when Jeremy was born, he favored me, so who was to say? But—and this is going to sound so goddamn stupid—a mother knows. I can’t tell you how. But I knew. I tried to deny it too. I told myself I was just feeling guilty over what we’d done, and that this was God’s way of punishing me.”

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