Chapter 20

DOLLY Lewiston saw the car drive past her house again.

It slowed. Like the last time. And the time before.

"It's him again," she said.

Her husband, a fifth-grade teacher named Joe Lewiston, did not look up. He was correcting papers with a little too much focus.


"I heard you, Dolly," he snapped. "What do you want me to do about it?"

"He has no right." She watched him drive off, the car seeming to dissolve in the distance. "Maybe we should call the police."

"And say what?"

"That he's stalking us."

"He drives down our road. It's not against the law."

"He slows down."

"That's not against the law either."

"You can tell them what happened."

He made a snorting noise, kept his eye on his papers. "I'm sure the police will be very sympathetic."

"We have a child too."

She had, in fact, been watching little Allie, their three-year-old, on the computer. The K-Little Gym Web site lets you watch your child via a webcam in the room-snack time, building blocks, reading, independent work, singing, whatever-so you could always check in on them. This was why Dolly chose K-Little.

Both she and Joe worked as elementary schoolteachers. Joe worked at Hillside school teaching fifth grade. She taught second graders in Paramus. Dolly Lewiston wanted to quit her job, but they needed both salaries. Her husband still loved teaching, but somewhere along the way the love had faded away for Dolly. Some might note that she'd lost her passion for teaching right around the same time Allie was born, but she thought it was more than that. Still, she did her job and fended off complaining parents, but all she really wanted to do was watch the K-Little Web site and make sure her baby was safe.

Guy Novak, the man in the car who drove by their house, had not been able to watch his daughter or make sure she was safe. So on one level, Dolly totally got where he was coming from and even sympathized with his frustration. But that didn't mean she was about to let him hurt her family. The world was often simply a case of us or them, and she'd be damned if it would be her family.

She turned to look at Joe. His eyes were closed, his head down.

She came up behind him and put her hand on his shoulders. He winced at her touch. The wince lasted a second, no more, but she felt it ripple through her whole body. He had been so tense the last few weeks. She kept her hands there, didn't pull them away, and he relaxed. She started rubbing his shoulders. He used to love that. It took a few minutes but his shoulders started to soften.

"It's okay," she said.

"I just lost my cool."

"I know."

"I went out to the edge, like I always do, and then..."

"I know."

She did. It was what made Joe Lewiston a good teacher. He had passion. He kept his students listening, told them jokes, sometimes crossed the line into inappropriateness but the kids loved that about him. It made them pay attention and learn more. Parents had gotten mildly upset by Joe's antics before, but he had enough defenders to protect himself. The large majority of parents fought for their kid to get Mr. Lewiston. They liked the fact that their children enjoyed school and had a teacher who showed genuine enthusiasm and didn't just go through the motions. Unlike Dolly.

"I really hurt that girl," he said.

"You didn't mean to. All the kids and parents still love you."

He said nothing.

"She'll get over it. This is all going to pass, Joe. It'll be fine."

His lower lip started quaking. He was falling apart. Much as she loved him, much as she knew that he was a far better teacher and person than she would ever be, Dolly also knew that her husband was not the strongest man. People thought he was. He came from a big family, growing up the youngest of six siblings, but his father had been too domineering. He'd belittled his youngest, gentlest son, and in turn, Joe found an escape in being funny and entertaining. Joe Lewiston was the finest man she had ever known, but he was also weak.

That was okay with her. It was Dolly's job to be the strong one. It fell to her to hold her husband and her family together.

"I'm sorry I snapped," Joe said.

"That's okay."

"You're right. This will pass."

"Exactly." She kissed his neck and then the spot behind the earlobe. His favorite. She used her tongue and gently swirled. She waited for the small moan. It never came. Dolly whispered, "Maybe you should stop correcting papers for a little while, hmm?"

He pulled away, just a little. "I, uh, really need to finish these."

Dolly stood and took a step back. Joe Lewiston saw what he'd done, tried to recover.

"Can I take a rain check?" he asked.

That was what sheused to say when not in the mood. That was, in fact, the "wife" line in general, wasn't it? He had always been the aggressor that way-no weakness there-but the last few months, since the slip of the tongue, pardon the wording, he had been different even in that.

"Sure," she said.

Dolly turned away.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"I'll be back," Dolly said. "I just need to run to the store and then I'll pick up Allie. You finish correcting your papers."

Dolly Lewiston dashed upstairs, logged online, looked up Guy Novak's address, got directions. She also checked her school e-mail address-there was always a complaining parent-but it hadn't been working for the past two days. Still nothing.

"My e-mail is still on the fritz," she called down.

"I'll check on it," he said.

Dolly printed out the directions to Guy Novak's house, folded the paper into quarters, and jammed it into her pocket. On the way out, she kissed her husband on the top of his head. He told her that he loved her. She told him that she loved him too.

She grabbed her keys and started after Guy Novak.

TIA could see it in their faces: The police weren't buying Adam's disappearance.

"I thought you could do an Amber Alert or something," Tia said.

There were two cops who looked almost comical together. One was a tiny Latino in uniform named Guttierez. The other was a tall black woman who introduced herself as Detective Clare Schlich.

Schlich was the one who replied to her question: "Your son doesn't meet the Amber Alert criteria."

"Why not?"

"There has to be some evidence he was abducted."

"But he's sixteen years old and he's missing."


"So what kind of evidence do you need?"

Schlich shrugged. "A witness might be nice."

"Not every abduction has a witness."

"That's correct, ma'am. But you need some evidence of an abduction or threat of physical harm. Do you have any?"

Tia wouldn't call them rude; "patronizing" would be the better word. They dutifully took down the information. They did not dismiss their concerns, but they weren't about to drop everything and put all their manpower on this one. Clare Schlich made her position clear with questions and follow-ups on what Mike and Tia told her:

"You monitored your son's computer?"

"You activated the GPS on his cell?"

"You were concerned enough about his behavior to follow him into the Bronx?"

"He's run away before?"

Like that. On one level, Tia didn't blame the two cops, but all she could see was that Adam was missing.

Guttierez had already talked to Mike earlier. He added, "You said you saw Daniel Huff Junior-DJ Huff-on the street? That he might have been out with your son?"


"I just spoke to his father. He's a cop, did you know that?"

"I do."

"He said his son was home all night."

Tia looked at Mike. She saw something explode behind his eyes. His pupils became pinpricks. She had seen that look before. She put a hand on his arm, but there was no calming him.

"He's lying," Mike said.

The cop shrugged his shoulders. Tia watched Mike's swollen face darken. He looked up at her, then at Mo, and said, "We're out of here. Now."

The doctor wanted Mike to stay another day, but that wasn't going to happen. Tia knew better than to play the concerned wife. She knew that Mike would get over his physical injuries. He was so damn tough. This was his third concussion-the first two he'd suffered in a hockey rink. Mike had lost teeth and had stitches in his face more times than a man should and had broken his nose twice and his jaw once and never, not once, missed a game-in most cases, he had even finished playing in the games where he'd been hurt.

Tia also knew there would be no arguing this point with her hus- band-and she didn't want to. She wanted him out of bed and looking for their son. Doing nothing, she knew, would hurt far more.

Mo helped Mike sit up. Tia helped him get on his clothes. There were bloodstains on them. Mike didn't care. He rose. They were almost out the door when Tia felt her cell phone vibrate. She prayed that it was Adam. It wasn't.

Hester Crimstein did not bother with hello.

"Any word on your son?"

"Nothing. The police are dismissing him as a runaway."

"Isn't he?"

That stopped Tia.

"I don't think so."

"Brett told me you spy on him," Hester said.

Brett and his big mouth, she thought. Wonderful. "I monitor his online activity."

"You say tomato, I say tomahto."

"Adam wouldn't run away like this."

"Gee, no parent has ever said that before."

"I know my son."

"Or that," Hester added. "Bad news: We didn't get the continuance."


"Before you say you won't go back to Boston, hear me out. I've already arranged for a limo to come pick you up. It's outside the hospital right now."

"I can't-"

"Just listen, Tia. You owe me that much. The driver will take you to Teterboro Airport, which isn't far from your house. I have my private plane. You have a cell phone. If any word comes in at all, the driver can take you there. There is a phone on the plane. If you hear something while in the air, my pilot can have you there in record time. Maybe Adam will be found in, I don't know, Philadelphia. It will pay to have a private plane at your disposal."

Mike looked a question at Tia. Tia shook her head and signaled for them to keep moving. They did.

"When you get up to Boston," Hester went on, "you do the deposition. If anything happens during the deposition, you stop immediately and go home on the private plane. It is a forty-minute flight from Boston to Teterboro. Chances are, your kid is just going to walk through the door with some teenage excuse because he was out drinking with friends. Either way, you will be home in a matter of hours."

Tia pinched the bridge of her nose.

Hester said, "I'm making sense, right?"

"You are."


"But I can't."

"Why not?"

"I wouldn't be able to concentrate."

"Oh, that's crap. You know what I want with this deposition."

"You want flirty. My husband is in the hospital-"

"He's already being released. I know all, Tia."

"Fine, my husband has been assaulted and my son is still missing. Do you really think I will be up for a flirtatious deposition?"

"Up for it? Who the hell cares if you're up for it? You just need to do it. There is a man's freedom at stake here, Tia."

"You need to find somebody else."


"Is that your final answer?" Hester said.

"Final answer," Tia said. "Is this going to cost me my job?"

"Not today," Hester said. "But soon enough. Because now I know that I can't depend on you."

"I'll work hard to get your trust back."

"You won't get it back. I'm not big on second chances. I got too many lawyers working for me who will never need one. So I'll put you back on crap detail until you quit. Too bad. I think you had potential."

Hester Crimstein hung up the phone.

They found their way outside. Mike was still watching his wife.


"I don't want to talk about it."

Mo drove them home.

Tia asked, "What do we do?"

Mike popped down a pain pill. "Maybe you should pick up Jill."

"Okay. Where are you going?"

"For starters," Mike said, "I want to have a little chat with Captain Daniel Huff about why he lied."