Darkest Fear Page 49

“You think they could frame you for the murder?”

“At the very least.”

“Are you saying they killed Melina Garston?”

“Maybe. Or it could have been the Sow the Seeds kidnapper. I don’t know.”

“But you think Melina was a warning.”

“She was definitely a warning,” Stan Gibbs said. “I just don’t know who sent it.”

On the radio, Stevie sang out about a landslide coming down. Oh yeah.

“You’re leaving something out, Stan.”

Stan kept his eyes forward. “What’s that?”

“There’s a personal connection here,” Myron said.

“What do you mean?”

“Susan Lex mentioned your father. She said he was a liar.”

Stan shrugged. “She might be right.”

“What does he have to do with this?”

“Take me back.”

“Don’t hold back on me now.”

“What do you really want here, Myron?”

“Excuse me?”

“What’s your interest here?”

“I told you.”

“That boy who needs a bone marrow transplant?”

“He’s thirteen years old, Stan. He’ll die without it.”

“And what if I don’t believe you? I did a little research of my own. You used to do government work.”

“A long time ago.”

“And maybe now you’re helping the FBI. Or even the Lex family.”

“No.”

“I can’t take that chance.”

“Why not? You’re telling me the truth, right? The truth can’t hurt you.”

He snorted. “You really believe that?”

“Why did Susan Lex mention your father?”

Nothing.

“Where is your father?” Myron said.

“That’s just it.”

“What?”

Stan looked at him. “He vanished. Eight years ago.”

Vanished. That word again.

“I know what you’re thinking and you’re wrong. My father wasn’t a well man. He had been in and out of institutions all his life. We’ve always assumed he ran off.”

“But you never heard from him.”

“That’s right.”

“Dennis Lex vanishes. Your father vanishes—”

“More than twenty years apart,” Stan interjected. “It’s not connected.”

“So I still don’t get it,” Myron said. “What does your father or his disappearance have to do with the Lexes?”

“They think he’s the reason I wanted to do the story. But they’re wrong.”

“Why would they think that?”

“My father was a student of Raymond Lex’s. Before Midnight Confessions came out.”

“So?”

“So my father claimed the novel was his. He said that Raymond Lex stole it from him.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“No one believed him,” Stan added quickly. “Like I said, he wasn’t right in the head.”

“Yet you suddenly decided to investigate the family?”

“Yes.”

“And you’re telling me that’s just a coincidence? That your own investigation had nothing to do with your father’s accusations?”

Stan leaned his head against the car window like a little kid longing for home. “No one believed my father. That includes me. He was a sick man. Delusional even.”

“So?”

“So at the end of the day, he was still my father,” Stan said. “Maybe I owed it to him to at least give him the benefit of the doubt.”

“Do you think Raymond Lex plagiarized your father?”

“No.”

“Do you think your father is still alive?”

“I don’t know.”

“There has to be a connection here,” Myron said. “Your story, the Lex family, your father’s accusations—”

Stan closed his eyes. “No more.”

Myron switched tracks. “How did the Sow the Seeds kidnapper get in touch with you?”

“I never reveal sources.”

“Come on, Stan.”

“No,” he said firmly. “I may have lost a lot. But not that part of me. You know I can’t say anything about my sources.”

“You know who it is, don’t you?”

“Take me home, Myron.”

“Is it Dennis Lex—or did the same kidnapper take Dennis Lex?”

Stan crossed his arms. “Home,” he said.

His face closed down. Myron saw it. There would be no more give tonight. He took a right and started heading back. Neither man spoke again until Myron stopped the car in the front of the condominium.

“Are you telling the truth, Myron? About the bone marrow donor?”

“Yes.”

“This boy is someone close to you?”

Myron kept both hands on the wheel. “Yes.”

“So there’s no way you’ll walk away from this?”

“None.”

Stan nodded, mostly to himself. “I’ll do what I can. But you have to trust me.”

“What do you mean?”

“Give me a few days.”

“To do what?”

“You won’t hear from me for a little while. Don’t let that shake your faith.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You do what you have to,” he said. “I’ll do the same.”

Stan Gibbs stepped out of the car and disappeared into the night.

27

Greg Downing woke Myron early the next morning with a phone call. “Nathan Mostoni left town,” he said. “So I came back to New York. I get to pick up my son this afternoon.”

Goody-goody for you, Myron thought. But he kept his tongue still.

“I’m going to the Ninety-second Street Y to shoot around,” Greg said. “You want to come?”

“No,” Myron said.

“Come anyway. Ten o’clock.”

“I’ll be late.” Myron hung up and rolled out of bed. He checked his e-mail and found a JPEG image from Esperanza’s contact at AgeComp. He clicked the file and an image slowly appeared on the screen. The possible face of Dennis Lex as a man in his mid to late thirties. Weird. Myron looked at the picture. Not familiar. Not familiar at all. Remarkable work, these age-enhanced images. So lifelike. Except in the eyes. The eyes always looked like the eyes of the dead.

He clicked on the print icon and heard his Hewlett-Packard go to work. Myron checked the clock on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Still early in the morning, but he didn’t want to wait. He called Melina Garston’s father.

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