Gone for Good Page 91

“You,” he whispered in my ear, “I’ve hurt and betrayed more than anyone.”

His words hit me like cinder blocks. I looked up at him. His face tensed and I was sure he was going to pull the trigger. I closed my eyes and waited. There were shouts and commotion, but all of that seemed very far away. What I heard now—the only sound that really reached me—was Ken crying. I opened my eyes. The world faded away. There was just the two of us.

I can’t say what happened exactly. Maybe it was the position I was in, on my back, helpless, and he, my brother, not my savior this time, not my protector, but looming over me, the cause of it all. Maybe Ken looked down and saw me vulnerable and something instinctive, something that had always needed to keep me safe, took over. Maybe that was what shook him. I don’t know. But as our eyes met, his face began to soften, started shifting in degrees.

And then it all changed again.

I felt Ken’s grip on me loosen, but he kept the gun against my forehead. “I want you to make me a promise, Will,” he said.


“It’s about Carly.”

“Your daughter.”

Ken closed his eyes now, and I saw genuine anguish. “She loves Nora,” he said. “I want you two to take care of her. You raise her. Promise me.”

“But what about—?”

“Please,” Ken said, his voice a desperate plea. “Please promise me.”

“Okay, I promise.”

“And promise me you’ll never take her to see me.”


He was crying hard now. Tears ran down his cheeks, wetting both our faces. “Promise me, dammit. You never mention me to her. You raise her as your own. You never let her visit me in prison. Promise me that, Will. Promise me or I’ll start firing.”

“Give me the gun first,” I said, “and I’ll promise.”

Ken looked down at me. He pushed the gun into my hand. And then he kissed me hard. I wrapped my arms around him. I held him, the murderer. I hugged him to me. He cried into my chest like a small child. We were like that for a long time, until we heard the sirens.

I tried to push him away. “Go,” I whispered to him, pleading. “Please. Just run.”

But Ken did not move. Not this time. I will never know why exactly. Maybe he had run enough. Maybe he was trying to reach through the evil. Maybe he just wanted to be held. I don’t know. But Ken stayed in my arms. He held on to me until the police came over and pulled him away.


Four days later

Carly’s plane was on time.

Squares dropped us off at the airport. He, Nora, and I headed toward Newark Airport’s Terminal C together. Nora walked up ahead. She knew the child and was anxious and excited to see her again. Me, I was anxious and scared.

Squares said, “Wanda and I talked.”

I looked at him.

“I told her everything.”


He stopped and shrugged. “Looks like we’re both going to be fathers sooner than expected.”

I hugged him, happy as hell for them both. I was not so sure about my own situation. I was about to raise a twelve-year-old girl I did not know. I would do my best, but despite what Squares had said, I could never be Carly’s father. I had come to terms with a lot about Ken, including the possibility that he would probably spend the remainder of his life in prison, but his insistence on never seeing his daughter again gnawed at me. He wanted, I assume, to protect his child. He felt, again I assumed, that the girl was best off without him.

I say “assumed” because I could not ask him. Once in custody, Ken had refused to see me too. I did not know why, but his whispered words . . .

You I’ve hurt and betrayed more than anyone.

. . . kept echoing inside me, shredding with razor talons, inescapable.

Squares stayed outside. Nora and I rushed in. She was wearing the engagement ring. We were early, of course. We found the incoming gate and hurried down the corridor. Nora put her purse into the X-ray machine. I set the metal detector off, but it was just my watch. We rushed to the gate, though the plane was not due to touch down for another fifteen minutes.

We sat and held hands and waited. Melissa had decided to stay in town for a little while. She was nursing my father back to health. Yvonne Sterno had, as promised, gotten the exclusive story. I don’t know what it will do for her career. I had not yet contacted Edna Rogers. I would soon, I guessed.

As for Katy, no charges had been filed following the shooting. I thought about how much she needed closure, and I wondered if that night had helped her or not. I think maybe it did.

Assistant Director in Charge Joe Pistillo had recently announced that he would retire at the end of the year. I now understood only too well why he was so eager for me to keep Katy Miller out of this—not just for her health but because of what she had seen. I don’t know if Pistillo truly doubted the testimony of a six-year-old girl or if his sister’s grieving face made him twist Katy’s words to suit his purposes. I do know that the feds had kept Katy’s old testimony under wraps, supposedly because they were trying to protect a little girl. But I have my doubts.

I had, of course, been crushed to learn the truth about my brother, and yet—this is going to sound odd—it was somehow okay. The ugliest truth, in the end, was still better than the prettiest of lies. My world was darker, but it was back on its axis.

Nora leaned over. “You okay?”

“Scared,” I said.

“I love you,” she said. “Carly will love you too.”

We stared up at the arrivals monitor. It began to blink. The Continental Airlines gatekeeper picked up the microphone and announced that Flight 672 had landed. Carly’s flight. I turned to Nora. She smiled and gave my hand another squeeze.

I let my eyes travel then. My gaze floated across the waiting passengers, the men in suits, the women with carry-ons, the families heading for vacation, the delayed, the frustrated, the worn. I casually swept over their faces and that was when I saw him looking at me. My heart stopped.

The Ghost.

A spasm ripped through me.

Nora said, “What?”


The Ghost beckoned me toward him. I stood as though in a trance.

“Where are you going?”

“I’ll be right back,” I said.

“But she’s going to be here.”

“I just need to run to the bathroom.”

I kissed the top of Nora’s head gently. She looked concerned. She glanced across the gate, but the Ghost was no longer in sight. I knew better. If I walked, he would find me. Ignoring him would only make it worse. Running would be futile. He would ultimately find us.

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