Darkest Fear Page 29

“And that makes it right to threaten and blackmail me?”

Myron had no quick answer to that. “I need to talk to you about your brother Dennis.”

“So you said on the phone.”

“Where is he?”

Susan Lex looked at Granite Man. Granite Man frowned and cracked his knuckles again. “Just like that, Mr. Bolitar?” Susan Lex said. “You call my office. You threaten me. You insist I alter my schedule to accommodate you. And then you come in here and make demands?”

“I don’t mean to be abrupt,” Myron said. “But this is a matter of life and death.”

Whenever he said “a matter of life and death,” he expected to hear that melodramatic dum-dum-duuuummm music.

“That’s hardly an explanation,” Susan Lex said.

“Your brother registered with the national bone marrow center,” Myron said. “His marrow matched a sick child’s.” After the creepy say-good-bye-to-the-boy conversation last night, Myron had decided to stop being gender specific. “Without that transplant, the child will die.”

Susan Lex arched an eyebrow. The rich are really good at that, at arching eyebrows without altering anything else on their face. Myron wondered if they learned it at rich-people summer camp. Susan Lex looked at Granite Man again. Granite Man was trying to smile now. “You’re mistaken, Mr. Bolitar,” she said.

Myron waited for her to say more. When she didn’t, he said, “Mistaken how?”

“If you’re telling the truth, you’ve made a mistake. I will say no more.”

“With all due deference,” Myron said, “that’s not good enough.”

“It will have to be.”

“Where is your brother, Ms. Lex?”

“Please leave, Mr. Bolitar.”

“I can still go to the press.”

Granite Man crossed his legs and started cracking his knuckles again.

Myron turned to him. “Yes, but can you do this?” Myron patted his head with one hand and rubbed his belly with the other.

Granite Man didn’t like that one.

“Look,” Myron said, “I don’t want to cause any trouble here. You’re private people. I understand that. But I need to find this donor.”

“It’s not my brother,” Susan Lex said.

“Then where is he?”

“He’s not your donor. More than that is none of your concern.”

“Does the name Davis Taylor mean anything to you?”

Susan Lex repursed the lips as though a fresh beetle had sneaked through. She turned and walked out. Her daughter did likewise. Again on cue, the door behind Myron opened and the two blue-blazers filled it. More glares. They stepped fully into the room. Granite Man finally stood, which took some time. He was indeed big. Very big.

The men approached Myron.

“Let’s go to the judges,” Myron said. “Charles Nelson Reilly, your score?”

Granite Man stepped in front of him, shoulders square, eyes calm.

“The not introducing yourself,” Myron said, doing his best Charles Nelson Reilly lisp, which was not very good. “I thought that was really very macho. And that whole silent persona combined with the amused glare. Very nicely done, really. Professional. But—and here’s where you kinda lost me—the knuckle cracking, well, Gene, that was overkill, don’t you think? Overall score: an 8. Comment: stick with the subtle.”

Granite Man said, “You finished?”

“Yes.”

“Myron Bolitar. Born in Livingston, New Jersey. Mother Ellen, father Al—”

“They like to be called El-Al,” Myron interjected. “Like the Israeli airline.”

“Basketball All-American at Duke University. Picked eighth in the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics. Blew out your knee in your first preseason game, ending your career. Currently owns MB SportsReps, a sports representation firm. Dated the novelist Jessica Culver since you graduated college, but you two recently parted ways. Should I go on?”

“You left off the part about my being a snazzy dancer. I can demonstrate if you like.”

Granite Man smirked. “You want my score on you now?”

“Suit yourself.”

“You wisecrack too much,” Granite Man said. “I know you do it to look confident, but you’re trying too hard. And since you raised the issue of subtlety, your story about a dying kid needing a bone marrow transplant was touching. The only thing missing was the string quartet.”

“You don’t believe me?”

“No, I don’t believe you.”

“So why am I here, then?”

Granite Man spread his satellite-dishes excuse for hands. “That’s what I’d like to know.”

The three men formed a triangle, Granite in front, the two blue-blazers in back. Granite made a small nod. One of the blazers produced a gun and aimed at Myron’s head.

This was not good.

There are ways of disarming a man with a gun, but there’s an inherent problem: It might not work. If you miscalculate or if your opponent is better than you think—something not unlikely in an opponent who knows how to handle a gun—you could get shot. That’s a serious drawback. And in this particular situation there were two other opponents, both of whom looked good and were probably armed. There is a word expert fighters use for a sudden move at this juncture: suicide.

“Whoever did your research on me left something out,” Myron said.

“What might that be?”

“My relationship with Win.”

Granite Man didn’t flinch. “You mean Windsor Horne Lockwood the Third? Family owns Lock-Horne Security and Investments on Park Avenue. Your college roommate from Duke. Since moving out of the Spring Street loft you shared with Jessica Culver, you’ve been living at his apartment in the Dakota. You have close business and personal ties, might even be called best friends. That relationship?”

“That would be the one,” Myron said.

“I am aware of it. I am also aware of Mr. Lockwood’s”—he paused, searching for the word—“talents.”

“Then you know that if that bozo gets itchy”—Myron head-gestured toward the blazer with the gun—“you die.”

Granite Man wrestled with his facial muscles and this time he achieved a smile, though not without effort. Heart’s song “Barracuda” played in Myron’s head. “I am not without my own, uh, talents, Mr. Bolitar.”

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