Darkest Fear Page 64

“We need to talk,” she said. “Let me out.”

Eric Ford met Clara and Stan by the door. “Let’s head down this way,” he said.

“No,” Clara said.

“Pardon me?”

“We’ll talk in here,” she said, “where I can watch my client. Wouldn’t want an accident, now, would we?”

There were no chairs so they all stood by the one-way window—Kimberly Green, Eric Ford, Clara Steinberg, Stan Gibbs, Myron, and Win. Stan kept his head down and plucked at his lower lip with his fingers. Myron tried to meet his eyes. Stan never gave him the chance.

“Okay,” Clara said. “First off, we need a D.A.”

“What for?” Eric Ford asked.

“Because we want a deal.”

Ford tried to snicker. “Are you out of your mind?”

“No. My client is the only one who can tell you where Jeremy Downing is. He’ll only do so under specific conditions.”

“What conditions?”

“That’s why we need a D.A.”

“A D.A. will back whatever I agree to,” Eric Ford said.

“I’ll still want it in writing.”

“And I want to hear what you’re looking for here.”

“Okay,” Clara said, “here’s the deal. We help you find Jeremy Downing. In exchange, you guarantee not to seek the death penalty for Edwin Gibbs. You also agree to psychiatric tests. You then recommend he be placed in a proper mental health facility, not a prison.”

“You have to be kidding me.”

“There’s more,” Clara said.


“Mr. Edwin Gibbs will also agree to donate bone marrow to Jeremy Downing if the need arises. I understand that Mr. Bolitar is representing the family here. For the record, we should note that he is present as a witness to this agreement.”

No one said anything.

“So we clear?” Clara said.

“No,” Ford said, “we’re not.”

Clara adjusted her eyeglasses. “This deal is nonnegotiable.” She turned to leave, her gaze snagging on Myron’s. Myron just shook his head.

“I’m his attorney,” she said to him.

“And you’ll let a boy die for him?” Myron said.

“Don’t start,” Clara said, but her voice was soft.

Myron studied her face again, saw no give. He turned to Ford. “Agree,” he said.

“Are you nuts?”

“The family cares about retribution. But they care more about finding their son. Agree to her terms.”

“You think I’m taking orders from you?”

Myron’s voice was soft. “Come on, Eric.”

Ford frowned. He rubbed his face with his hands and then dropped them back to his side. “This agreement assumes, of course, that the boy is still alive.”

“No,” Clara Steinberg said.


“Alive or dead does not change the state of Edwin Gibbs’s mental health.”

“So you don’t know if he’s alive or—”

“If we did, it would be an attorney-client communication and thus confidential.”

Myron looked at her in stark horror. She met his eyes and would not blink. Myron tried Stan, but his head was still lowered. Even Win’s face, usually the model of neutrality, was on edge. Win wanted to hurt somebody. He wanted to hurt somebody badly.

“We can’t agree to that,” Ford said.

“Then there’s no deal,” Clara said.

“You have to be reasonable—”

“Do we have a deal or not?”

Eric Ford shook his head. “No.”

“See you in court, then.”

Myron moved into her path.

“Step aside, Myron,” Clara said.

He just looked down at her. She raised her eyes.

“You think your mother wouldn’t be doing the same thing?” Clara said.

“Leave my mother out of this.”

“Step aside,” she said again. Aunt Clara was sixty-six. For the first time since he’d known her, she looked older than her age.

Myron turned back to Eric Ford. “Agree,” he said.

He shook his head. “The boy is probably dead.”

“Probably,” Myron repeated. “Not definitely.”

Win spoke up this time. “Agree,” he said.

Ford looked at him.

“He won’t get off easily,” Win said.

Stan’s head finally rose at that one. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Win gave him flat eyes. “Absolutely nothing.”

“I want this man kept away from my father.”

Win smiled at him.

“You don’t get it, do you?” Stan said. “None of you get it. My father is sick. He’s not responsible. We’re not making this up. Any competent psychiatrist in the world will agree. He needs help.”

“He should die,” Win said.

“He’s a sick man.”

“Sick men die all the time,” Win said.

“That’s not what I mean. He’s like someone who has a heart condition. Or cancer. He needs help.”

“He kidnaps and probably kills people,” Win said.

“And it doesn’t matter why he does it?”

“Of course it doesn’t matter,” Win said. “He does it. That’s enough. He should not be put in a comfortable mental hospital. He should not be allowed to enjoy a wonderful film or read a great book or laugh again. He should not be able to see a beautiful woman or listen to Beethoven or know kindness or love—because his victims never will. What part of that don’t you understand, Mr. Gibbs?”

Stan was shaking. “You agree,” he said to Ford. “Or we don’t help.”

“If the boy dies because of this negotiation,” Win said to Stan, “you will die.”

Clara stepped into Win’s face. “You threatening my client?” she shouted.

Win smiled at her. “I never threaten.”

“There are witnesses.”

“Worried about collecting your fee, Counselor?” Win asked.

“That’s enough.” It was Eric Ford. He looked at Myron. Myron nodded. “Okay,” Ford said slowly. “We agree. Now, where is he?”

“I’ll have to take you,” Stan said.


“I wouldn’t be able to give you directions. I’m not even sure I can find it after all these years.”

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