Darkest Fear Page 74

Win frowned. “How very Norman Rockwell.”

Myron and Win stepped out of the car. Stan the horsey looked up. The smile stayed on when he saw them, but you could see it starting to lose its grip at the edges. Stan hoisted his son off his back and said something to him Myron couldn’t hear. The boy gave an “Aaaw, Dad.” Stan jumped to his feet and ruffled the boy’s hair. Win frowned again. As Stan jogged toward them, his smile faded away like the end of a song.

“What are you doing here?”

Win said, “Back together with the wife, are we?”

“We’re giving it a go.”

“Touching,” Win said.

Stan turned toward Myron. “What’s going on here?”

“Tell the kids to go inside, Stan.”


Another car pulled in the driveway. Rick Peck was driving. Kimberly Green was in the passenger seat. Stan’s face lost color. He snapped a look at Myron.

“We had a deal,” he said.

“Remember how I told you that you had two choices when the novel was discovered?”

“I’m not in the mood—”

“I said you could run or you could tell the truth. Remember?”

Stan’s façade tottered, and for the first time, Myron saw the rage.

“I left out a third choice. A choice you yourself pointed out to me the first time we met. You could have said that the Sow the Seeds kidnapper was a copycat. That he had read the book. It might have helped you out. Taken some of the heat off.”

“I couldn’t do that.”

“Because it would have led to your father?”


“But you didn’t know your father had written the book. Isn’t that right, Stan? You said you never knew about the book. I remember that from the first time we talked. I’ve been watching you say the same thing on TV. You claim you didn’t even know your father wrote it.”

“All true,” Stan said, and the façade slipped back into place. “But—I don’t know—maybe subconsciously I suspected something somehow. I can’t explain it.”

“Good,” Myron said.

“Damn good,” Win added.

“The problem was,” Myron said, “you had to say you hadn’t read it. Because if you had, well, Stan, you’d be a plagiarizer. All this work, all your big plans to regain your reputation—it would be for nothing. You’d be ruined.”

“We discussed this already.”

“No, Stan, we didn’t. At least not this part of it.” Myron held up the evidence bag with the sheet of paper inside.

Stan set his jaw.

“Know what this is, Stan?”

He said nothing.

“I found it in Melina Garston’s apartment. It says ‘With love, Dad.’ ”

Stan swallowed. “So?”

“Something about it bothered me from the beginning. First off, the word ‘Dad.’ ”

“I don’t understand—”

“Sure you do, Stan. Melina’s sister-in-law called George Garston ‘Papa.’ When I spoke to him, he referred to himself as ‘Papa.’ So why would he sign a note like this ‘Dad’?”

“That doesn’t mean anything.”

“Maybe, maybe not. The second thing that bothered me: Who writes a note like this—on the top inside of a folded card? People use the bottom half, right? But see, Stan, this wasn’t a card. It was a sheet of a paper folded in half. That’s the key. Then there are those tears along the left edge. See them, Stan? Like someone had ripped it out of something.”

Win handed Myron the novel that had been sent to Kimberly Green. Myron opened it and laid the piece of paper inside it.

“Something like a book.”

It was a perfect match.

“Your father wrote this inscription,” Myron said. “To you. Years ago. You’d known about the book all along.”

“You can’t prove that.”

“Come on, Stan. A handwriting analyst will have no trouble with this. The Lexes weren’t the ones who found the book. Melina Garston did. You asked her to lie for you in court. She did. But then she started growing suspicious. So she dug around your house and found this book. She’s the one who mailed it to Kimberly Green.”

“You have no proof—”

“She sent it in anonymously because she still cared about you. She even tore out the inscription so no one, most especially you, would ever know where the book had come from. You had plenty of enemies. Like Susan Lex. And the feds. She probably hoped you’d think they did it. At least for a little while. But you knew right away it was Melina. She didn’t count on that. Or your reaction.”

Stan’s hands tightened into fists. They started shaking.

“The victims’ families wouldn’t speak to you, Stan. And you needed that for your article. You ended up following the book more than reality. The feds thought it was to fool them. But that wasn’t it. Maybe your father told you he was the killer, but nothing else. Maybe the real story wasn’t as interesting, so you needed to embellish. Maybe you weren’t that good of a writer and you really felt you needed those family quotes. I don’t know. But you plagiarized. And the only one who could tie you to that book was Melina Garston. So you killed her.”

“You’ll never prove it,” Stan said.

“The feds will dig hard now. The Lexes will help. Win and I will help. We’ll find enough. If nothing else, the jury—and the world—will hear all you did in this. They’ll hate you enough to convict.”

“You son of a bitch.” Stan cocked his fist and aimed it at Myron. With an almost casual movement, Win swept his leg. Stan fell down in a heap. Win pointed and laughed. Stan’s sons watched it all.

Kimberly Green and Rick Peck got out of the car. Myron signaled them to wait, but Kimberly Green shook her head. They cuffed Stan hard and dragged him away. His sons still watched. Myron thought about Melina Garston and his silent vow. Then he and Win headed back to the car.

“You always intended to turn him in,” Win said.

“Yes. But first I had to make sure he went along with donating the bone marrow.”

“And once you knew Jeremy was okay—”

“Then I told Green, yes.”

Win started the car. “The evidence is still marginal. A good attorney will be able to poke holes.”

“Not my problem,” Myron said.

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