Darkest Fear Page 7

He shrugged. “Maybe someone else is Jeremy’s father.”

“Excuse me?”

“A third party,” he said. “You slept with me the night before your wedding. I doubt I was the only one. Could be one of a dozen guys.”

She looked at him. “You want your pound of flesh, Myron? Go ahead, I can take it. But this isn’t like you.”

“You know me that well, huh?”

“Even when you got angry—even when you had every right to hate me—you’ve never been cruel. It’s not your way.”

“We’re in uncharted waters here, Emily.”

“Doesn’t matter,” she said.

He felt something well up, making it hard to breathe. He grabbed his mug, looked into it as though it might have an answer on the bottom, put it back down. He couldn’t look at her. “How could you do this to me?”

Emily reached across the table and put her hand on his forearm. “I’m sorry,” she said.

He pulled away.

“I don’t know what else to say. You asked before why I never told you. My main concern was always Jeremy’s welfare, but you were a consideration too.”


“I know how you are, Myron. I know you can’t just shrug this off. But for now you have to. You have to find the donor and save Jeremy’s life. We can worry about the rest after that.”

“How long has”—he almost said my son—“Jeremy been ill?”

“We learned about it six months ago. When he was playing basketball. He started getting bruised too easily. Then he was short of breath for no reason. He started falling down …” Her voice tailed off.

“Is he in the hospital?”

“No. He lives at home and goes to school and he looks fine, just a little pale. But he can’t play competitive sports or anything like that. He seems to be doing well, but … it’s just a matter of time. He’s so anemic and his marrow cells are so weak that something will get him. Either he’ll contract a life-threatening infection or if he manages to get past that, malignancies will eventually develop. We treat him with hormones. That helps, but it’s a temporary treatment, not a cure.”

“And a bone marrow transplant would be a cure?”

“Yes.” Her face brightened with an almost religious fervor. “If the transplant takes, he can be completely cured. I’ve seen it happen with other kids.”

Myron nodded, sat back, crossed his legs, uncrossed them. “Can I meet him?”

She looked down. The sound of the blender, probably making a frappuccino, exploded while the espresso maker shrieked its familiar mating call to the various lattes. Emily waited for the noise to die down. “I can’t stop you. But I’m hoping you’ll do the right thing here.”

“That being?”

“It’s hard enough being thirteen years old and almost terminally ill. Do you really want to take away his father too?”

Myron said nothing.

“I know you’re in shock right now. And I know you have a million more questions. But you have to forget that for now. You have to work through your confusion, your anger, everything. The life of a thirteen-year-old boy—our son—is at stake. Concentrate on that, Myron. Find the donor, okay?”

He looked back toward the soccer moms, still cooing about their children. Listening to them, he felt an overwhelming pang.

“Where can I find Jeremy’s doctor?” he asked.


When the elevator doors opened into the reception area of MB SportsReps, Big Cyndi reached out to Myron with two arms the approximate circumference of the marble columns at the Acropolis. Myron almost leaped out of the way—involuntary survival reflex and all—but he stayed still and closed his eyes. Big Cyndi embraced him, which was like being wrapped in wet attic insulation, and lifted him into the air. “Oh, Mr. Bolitar!” she cried.

He grimaced and rode it out. Eventually she put him back down as though he were a porcelain doll she was returning to a shelf. Big Cyndi is six-six and on the planetoid side of three hundred pounds, the former intercontinental tag-team wrestling champion with Esperanza, aka Big Chief Mama to Esperanza’s Little Pocahontas. Her head was cube shaped and topped with hair spiked to look like the Statue of Liberty on a bad acid trip. She wore more makeup than the cast of Cats, her clothing form-fitted like sausage casing, her scowl the stuff of sumos.

“Uh, everything okay?” Myron ventured.

“Oh, Mr. Bolitar!”

Big Cyndi looked like she was about to hug him again, but something stopped her, perhaps the stark terror in Myron’s eyes. She picked up luggage that in her manhole-paw resembled a Close’N Play phonograph from the early seventies. She was that kind of big, the kind of big where the world around her always looked like a bad B-monster movie set and she was walking through a miniature Tokyo, knocking over power lines and swatting at buzzing fighter planes.

Esperanza appeared in her office doorway. She folded her arms and rested against the frame. Even after her recent ordeal, Esperanza still looked immensely beautiful, the shiny black ringlets still falling over her forehead just so, the dark olive skin still radiant—the whole image a sort of gypsy, peasant-blouse fantasy. But he could see some new lines around the eyes and a slight slouch in the perfect posture. He’d wanted her to take time off after her release, but he knew she wouldn’t. Esperanza loved MB SportsReps. She wanted to save it.

“What’s going on?” Myron asked.

“It’s all in the letter, Mr. Bolitar,” Big Cyndi said.

“What letter?”

“Oh, Mr. Bolitar!” she cried again.


But she didn’t respond, hiding her face in her hands and ducking into the elevator as though entering a tepee. The elevator doors slid closed, and she was gone.

Myron waited a beat and then turned to Esperanza. “Explanation?”

“She’s taking a leave of absence,” Esperanza said.


“Big Cyndi isn’t stupid, Myron.”

“I didn’t say she was.”

“She sees what’s going on here.”

“It’s only temporary,” Myron said. “We’ll snap back.”

“And when we do, Big Cyndi will come back. In the meantime she got a good job offer.”

“With Leather-N-Lust?” Big Cyndi worked nights as a bouncer at an S&M bar called Leather-N-Lust. Motto: Hurt the ones you love. Sometimes—or so he had heard—Big Cyndi was part of the stage show. What part she played Myron had no idea nor had he worked up the courage to ask—another taboo abyss his mind did its best to circumvent.

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