Even more shocking was the participation of Mr. Leonard. Also known as Senator Horace Leonard from the great state of Indiana. Since he was in no condition to be evacuated during the fire, he was simply left there. Police found him crawling across the floor of the room next to mine. He probably would have died were it not for Dylan’s heart pumping in his chest.
Although he won’t be sentenced until next month, even his own attorneys expect him to get life in prison. Thanks to Dylan’s heart, that could mean a lot of time behind bars.
Then again, Mr. Leonard could always kill himself, which is what Dr. Wagner did after Leslie freed him and Jeannette from the burning room. Once the three of them escaped out a back exit of the Bartholomew and went their separate ways, he spent two days at a Sheraton in Flushing, Queens, before putting a gun to his temple and pulling the trigger.
Jeannette went the opposite route, going home and sitting with her husband until the police arrived.
Leslie Evelyn was apprehended at Newark Liberty International Airport as she was about to board a flight to Brazil. Because she was the only major player left alive, prosecutors pummeled her with charges ranging from human trafficking to aiding and abetting to tax fraud.
After she received multiple life sentences, I sent her a list of rules she needed to follow in prison. At the top was this: No nights spent away from your cell.
I didn’t sign the letter. She knows damn well who it came from.
Out of everyone I encountered at the Bartholomew, only one person is neither dead nor facing years in prison.
She was nowhere to be found when cops stormed the Bartholomew. The police searched her apartment and the basement storage cage, finding them mostly intact. The only thing that looked amiss was an empty box in the storage cage marked with a single word—Useful.
Whatever was inside must have been very useful indeed, for Greta made a clean getaway. No one has seen or heard from her since, a fact that messes with my emotions more than it should. While I have a burning desire to see her brought to justice, I also know that I never would have escaped without her help.
Then there’s the fact that she literally has a piece of me with her everywhere she goes. I wasn’t lying when I told her I hoped she lived a long, long time. Otherwise it would all be such a waste.
As for me, I’m still adjusting to my new existence as a celebrity victim—two words, by the way, that should never be used together. Yet that’s what I was called during those few weeks when I was a media darling. Everyone was talking about the plain, quiet girl with no job and no family who took down an evil criminal enterprise. Chloe took a two-week leave of absence from work to help me deal with all the interview requests. I did the bare minimum. A few phone interviews. Nothing in person. Definitely nothing on camera.
I told the reporters exactly what happened, without embellishment. The truth is bizarre enough. I ended each interview by talking about Jane, imploring anyone with the slightest bit of information to please come forward, anonymously if necessary.
So far, there have been no new leads.
Until there are, I’ll keep trying, hoping for the best but planning for the worst.
But people have been generous in other ways. My former boss called to tell me my old job was waiting for me if I ever wanted to return. I politely declined. The day I was released from the hospital, Andrew showed up with flowers. He didn’t stay long or say very much. He just told me he was sorry. I believe him.
Then there’s the GoFundMe page Chloe set up to help pay for my medical expenses. Although I wasn’t keen on the idea of accepting charity, I didn’t have a choice. When your sole possession is a broken picture frame, you come to terms with relying on the kindness of strangers.
And people have truly been kind. I’ve received so many clothes that Bobbie and I started handing things out at the homeless shelter. Same thing with shoes and phones and laptops. Everything I lost has been replaced threefold.
That’s in addition to the money I’ve received. More than sixty thousand dollars in five months. The amount got to be so high that I begged Chloe to close the account. It’s more than enough money, especially considering that on Monday I’ll be starting a new job at a nonprofit group that tries to help people locate missing loved ones. They asked if I wanted to work for them after I used some of my GoFundMe money to make a donation in Jane’s memory. I said yes. The office is small. The salary is even smaller. But I’ll get by.
I’m feeding Rufus a barbecue sparerib when I notice the time. Quarter after one.
“We need to go,” I tell Ingrid.
Ingrid brushes rice from her lap and jumps to her feet. “We definitely don’t want to be late for this.”
“Are you positive you want to do this?” Chloe says.
“I think we need to,” I tell her. “Whether we want to or not.”
“I’ll be here when you get back,” she says. “With wine.”
On the walk to the PATH station, I get a few strange looks from passersby. I’m finally being noticed, for all the wrong reasons. On the train itself, I spot a girl reading Heart of a Dreamer. Not my first sighting since word got out that Greta Manville was involved with the Bartholomew’s dark doings. The book is suddenly back in vogue, returning to bestseller lists for the first time in decades.
The girl catches me watching and does a double-take of recognition. “Sorry,” she says.