Gone for Good Page 90

I was still shaking my head, but she pressed on.

“My job was to stay close because we figured that if Ken contacted anybody, it would be you. I made up that story about seeing him at the graveyard, so you would trust me.”

I found my voice. “But you were attacked,” I said. “In my apartment.”

“Yes,” she said.

“You even called out Asselta’s name.”

“Think about that, Will.” Her voice was so even, so confident.

“Think about what?” I asked.

“Why were you cuffed to the bed like that?”

“Because he was going to set me up, the same way he set up—”

But now she was the one shaking her head. Katy gestured with the gun at Ken. “He cuffed you because he didn’t want you to get hurt,” she said.

I opened my mouth, but nothing came out.

“He needed to get me alone. He needed to find out what I’d told you—to see what I’d remembered—before he killed me. And yes, I called out John’s name. Not because I thought it was him behind the mask. I called out to him for help. And you did save my life, Will. He would have killed me.”

My eyes slowly slid toward my brother.

“She’s lying,” Ken said. “Why would I kill Julie? She was helping me.”

“That’s almost true,” Katy said. “And you’re right: Julie did see Ken’s arrest as a chance for redemption, just like he told you. And yes, Julie had agreed to help bring McGuane down. But your brother took it a step too far.”

“How?” I asked.

“Ken knew that he had to get rid of the Ghost too. No loose ends. And the way to do that was to frame Asselta for Laura Emerson. Ken figured that Julie would have no problem going along with that. But he was wrong. You remember how close Julie and John were?”

I managed a nod.

“There was a bond there. I don’t pretend to know why. I don’t think either of them could explain it either. But Julie cared about him. I think she was the only one who ever did. She would bring down McGuane. She would do that gladly. But she would never hurt John Asselta.”

I couldn’t speak.

“That’s bull,” Ken said. “Will?”

I did not look at him.

Katy continued. “When Julie found out what Ken was going to do, she called the Ghost to warn him. Ken came to our house to get the tapes and files. She tried to stall him. They had sex. Ken asked for the evidence, but Julie refused to give it to him. He grew livid. He demanded to know where she had hidden it. She wouldn’t tell him. When he realized what was up, he snapped and strangled her. The Ghost arrived seconds too late. He shot Ken as he ran away. I think he would have gone after him, but when he saw Julie dead on the floor, he just lost it. He fell to the floor. He cradled her head and let out the most anguished, inhuman wail I’ve ever heard. It was like something inside of him broke that would never be fixed.”

Katy closed the gap between us. She grabbed my gaze and would not let it go.

“Ken didn’t run because he was afraid of McGuane or of being framed or any of that,” she said. “He ran because he killed Julie.”

I was tumbling down a deep shaft, reaching, trying to grab on to something. “But the Ghost,” I said, flailing. “He kidnapped us. . . .”

“We set that up,” she said. “He let us escape. What neither of us realized was that you’d be so willing and ready. That driver was only supposed to make it look good. We had no idea you’d hurt him so badly.”

“But why?”

“Because the Ghost knew the truth.”

“What truth?”

She again gestured toward Ken. “That your brother would never show just to save your life. He would never put himself in that danger. That something like this”—she lifted her free hand—“was the only way he’d ever agree to meet you.”

I shook my head again.

“We had a man wait at the yard that night. Just in case. No one ever came.”

I stumbled back. I looked at Melissa. I looked at my father. And I knew that it was all true. Every word that she said. It was true.

Ken had killed Julie.

“I never meant to hurt you,” Katy said to me. “But my family needs closure. The FBI had set him free. I had no choice. I couldn’t let him get away with what he did to my sister.”

My father spoke for the first time. “So what are you going to do now, Katy? Are you just going to shoot him?”

Katy said, “Yes.”

And that was when all hell broke loose again.

My father made the sacrifice. He let out a cry and dove toward Katy. She fired the gun. My father staggered and continued toward her. He knocked the weapon from her hands. He also went down, holding his leg.

But the distraction had been enough.

When I looked up, Ken had whipped out his own gun. His eyes—the ones I had described as pure ice—were focused on Katy. He was going to shoot her. There was no hesitation. He just had to aim and pull the trigger.

I jumped toward him. My hand hit his arm just as he pulled the trigger. The gun went off, but the shot was wild. I tackled my brother. We rolled on the ground again, but it was nothing like before. Not this time. He elbowed me in the stomach. It knocked the wind out of me. He rose. He pointed the gun at Katy.

“No,” I said.

“I have to,” Ken said.

I grabbed him. We wrestled. I told Katy to run. Ken quickly took the advantage. He flipped me over. Our eyes met.

“She’s the last thread,” he said.

“I won’t let you kill her.”

Ken put the barrel of the gun against my forehead. Our faces were no more than an inch apart. I heard Melissa scream. I told her to stay back. In the corner of my eye, I saw her take out a cell phone and start dialing.

“Go ahead,” I said. “Pull the trigger.”

“You think I won’t?” he said.

“You’re my brother.”

“So?” And again I thought about evil, about the shapes it takes, how you are never truly safe from it. “Didn’t you hear anything Katy said? Don’t you understand what I’m capable of—how many people I’ve hurt and betrayed?”

“Not me,” I said softly.

He laughed, his face still inches from mine, the gun still pressed against my forehead. “What did you say?”

“Not me,” I repeated.

Ken threw his head back. His laugh grew, echoing in the stillness. The sound chilled me like no other. “Not you?” he said. He lowered his lips toward me.

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