Chapter 53

But it wasn't over.

Four days passed. Grace got better. She went home that first afternoon. Cora and Vickie stayed with them. Cram came by that first day too, but Grace asked him to leave. He nodded and complied.

The media went crazy, of course. They only knew bits and pieces, but the fact that the notorious Jimmy X had resurfaced only to be murdered had been enough to send them into a total state of derangement. Perlmutter set up a patrol car in front of Grace's house. Emma and Max still went to school. Grace spent most of her days in the hospital with Jack. Charlaine Swain kept her company a lot.

Grace thought about the photograph that started it all. She now figured that one of the four members of Allaw had found a way to get it in her packet. Why? That was harder to answer. Perhaps one of them realized that the eighteen ghosts would never sleep.

But then there was the question of timing: Why now? Why after fifteen years?

There was no shortage of possibilities. It could have been the release of Wade Larue. It could have been the death of Gordon MacKenzie. It could have been all the anniversary coverage. But most likely, what made the most sense, was that the return of Jimmy X set everything in motion.

Who really was to blame for what happened that tragic night? Was it Jimmy for stealing the song? Jack for attacking him? Gordon MacKenzie for firing a weapon under those circumstances? Wade Larue for illegally carrying a gun, panicking, and firing more shots into an already frenzied crowd? Grace did not know. Small ripples. All of this carnage had not started with some big conspiracy. It had started with two small-time bands playing some dive in Manchester.

There were still holes, of course. Lots of them. But they would have to wait.

There are some things more important than the truth.

Now, right now, Grace stared at Jack. He lay still in his hospital bed. His doctor, a man named Stan Walker, sat next to her. Dr. Walker folded his hands and used his gravest voice. Grace listened. Emma and Max waited in the corridor. They wanted to be there. Grace didn't know what to do. What was the call on this one?

She wished that she could ask Jack.

She did not want to ask him why he had lied to her for so long. She did not want an explanation for what he had done that terrible night. She did not want to ask him how he'd happened by her on the beach that day, if he had been intentionally seeking her out, if that was why they fell in love. She didn't want to ask Jack any of that.

She only wanted to ask him one last question: Did he want his children by his bedside when he died?

In the end Grace let them stay. The four of them gathered as a family for the last time. Emma cried. Max sat there, his eyes trained on the tile floor. And then, with a gentle tug at her heart, Grace felt Jack leave for good.