Drake turned the jacket inside out and used it to brush broken glass off Sully and Jada’s coats.
“Let’s move,” he said, carrying the coat bunched under his arm in a bundle.
They crossed the street and headed west, and by the time a battered gray Mercedes came growling along the road, they were far enough from the abandoned cab that no one would have made an instant connection between this trio of pedestrians and the damaged taxi. But Drake kept them moving at a swift pace, knowing that the police would not make any presumption of innocence.
They turned north, six short blocks from where the Chelsea Piers complex was situated. It was mostly sports and recreation now, though it still had a private marina. Despite the autumn chill and the lengthening shadows of the fading day, he felt a circle of heat in the center of his back, as if a target had been painted there.
“Jada, where’s the wicked stepmother right now?” Drake asked.
Sully shot him a glance. “You planning to pay her a visit? I’m not sure I like that plan. Or did you forget the guys with the guns and how eager they were to kill us?”
“It’s not a plan,” Drake said. “I have no plan. Well, not much of one, and the one I do have doesn’t involve Jada’s stepmother. I’d just like to know what we’re dealing with here.”
As they turned into a small oval park, cutting diagonally across from Tenth Avenue to Eleventh, Jada pulled out her cell phone.
“What are you doing?” Sully asked.
“Getting an answer to Nate’s question,” she said, punching a couple of buttons before she put the phone to her ear. She listened a moment, and then her eyes narrowed. “Hi, Brenda, it’s Jada Hzujak. Is Olivia there?”
Drake saw a momentary confusion furrow her brow.
“Sorry, Miranda,” Jada said, glancing down at her feet as she walked. “I expected Brenda to pick up, and I’m—well, I’ve got a lot on my mind. Listen, I know you’re just covering the desk, but I didn’t realize this was the week Olivia was going to be out of town, and I was hoping to take her out to lunch. Do you have any idea when she’ll be back?”
Jada smiled thinly, but there was no amusement in it. She thanked Miranda and ended the call, then immediately began placing another.
“What’s going on?” Drake asked.
“If Olivia’s regular assistant hadn’t been at lunch, we probably wouldn’t even know this, but my stepmother’s away on business. Yeah, in her grief, instead of planning her husband’s funeral, she’s skipped town. I gathered from the way Miranda was talking that she doesn’t even know my father’s dead. Olivia hasn’t told her coworkers that her husband’s been murdered.”
Sully grunted. “Yeah, that’s not weird or suspicious.”
“So where did she go?” Drake asked.
Jada held up a finger to forestall him, turning her attention to her current phone call. She gave her name and cell phone number and then answered a couple of other questions, and it quickly became plain that she was calling her cellular service provider.
“Yes, I hope you can help me,” she said once she had proved her identity to the satisfaction of the AT&T rep on the line. “I’m not at home, but I’m desperately seeking a phone number. Last month, my father was in Egypt and I called him several times at a hotel there. I know it’s a strange request, but I’m hoping you can just glance at my bill from late September and give me that number. I need to get in touch with him and it’ll be awhile before I’m home and I don’t remember the name of the—Yes, that’d be great. Thanks so much.”
She paused, waiting for the information.
As they emerged from the park, where they could see the river across several lanes of traffic, she covered the phone with her hand for a second and looked at Sully and Drake.
“I’ll give you two guesses where Olivia is right now.”
“She’s in Egypt?” Sully asked.
“Look at that,” Drake said. “You didn’t even need your second guess.”
Sully shoved his hands into his jacket pockets. “Guess that answers our question about whether or not Olivia’s in on it with Henriksen.”
“For me it was never a question,” Jada said.
Drake cocked an eyebrow. “You know we’re jumping to a lot of conclusions, right? Henriksen is chasing the same mystery Luka was working on, and it sure looks like Olivia’s been working behind her husband’s back, but none of this is proof that they killed him or sent those nice men with the guns after us.”
Jada waved him to silence, focused on her phone call again.
“Yes, I’m still here. That’s perfect, thanks.” She looked around and realized she had nothing to write with or on. “Actually, if you could do me one other small favor? Could you e-mail me that number? I know it’s probably not what you’re supposed to do, but—”
She paused again, listening, and then smiled. “Even better. Thanks again.”
Jada ended the call and slipped the phone into her pocket. “He’s just going to e-mail me the whole bill. Should’ve asked for that in the first place.” She glanced at Sully. “So now we know where to start when we get to Egypt—at the hotel where my father stayed. But how the hell are we going to get there?”
“One step at a time,” Sully said as they turned north again, the vast Chelsea Piers complex in view up ahead. “First we get a boat.”
“You’re just going to walk into the marina and take one?” she asked.
Drake gave a small shrug. “Maybe not walk so much as skulk. Or slink. Possibly just a good old-fashioned sneak. What we lack in stealth we make up for in brazen stupidity and desperation.”
“Come on,” Jada said, turning to Sully. “Is this really going to work?”
Sully grinned his most rakish grin. “Seriously, kid. You don’t think we’ve never stolen a boat before?”
Jada seemed to ponder that for a moment, then let out a breath. “Actually, after the past few hours, that doesn’t surprise me at all.”
Drake glanced at Sully. “You know, I’m not sure if I should be flattered or insulted.”
They stole the boat on a Tuesday just as the sun was going down. As they walked onto the dock, a guard eyed them warily, trying to figure out if they were trespassers. Drake took Jada’s hand and then turned and gave her a radiant smile, and she went right along with the charade, snuggling up against him. They were pretending, but it was a nice sort of make-believe, and Drake had to remind himself that the girl was Sully’s goddaughter.
“Hey, there,” Sully said, sauntering up to the guard as if he belonged there.
The guard frowned at Sully, taking in the bomber jacket over the guayabera and the neatly trimmed mustache, clearly wondering if this was somebody he was supposed to know. Sully drew him aside, lowering his voice so that only the guard could hear, but Drake knew the gist of what he was saying. They had discussed it moments before, and it was a ruse they’d used more than once.
“Listen, amigo, here’s the deal. I’m working for Theresa Fonseca. I’m brokering the sale of some of the assets she’s received in her divorce settlement. I’ve got this couple on the hook, but they’re a little skittish because the divorce is turning ugly, and they’re looking for an excuse not to buy. They keep making noises about security down here, so what I need from you is to act like you’re busting my chops. Be a hardass—”
The guard looked confused, glanced at Drake and Jada, and then shook his head. “I don’t know any Theresa—what was the name?”
“Nah,” the guard said. “No Fonseca down here.”
Sully turned to Drake and Jada and put his hands up in a see-what-I-mean gesture, as if trying to show them just how tight security was at the marina.
“That’s good, man. Perfect,” Sully said.
The guard narrowed his eyes. “I’m not playacting here, pal. There’s no one named Fonseca.”
Sully bopped his palm against the side of his head. “Right, right. Divorce, remember? Crap, what’s the husband’s name? Starts with a K, I think. Keller? Kramer?”
“Kurland?” the guard suggested.
Sully pointed a finger at him, pistol-style. “That’s it. Yeah. Look, I just need to walk them down and show them the boat and I’ll be out of your hair. If I do my job right, Miss Fonseca—Mrs. Kurland, I guess—gets a decent price for the thing, and it’ll serve the son of a bitch right for making babies with his girlfriend on the side.”
The guard’s face twisted in deep disapproval. “Babies?”
“I know. Awful stuff. Imagine finding out your husband was having an affair for, what, six years? Bad enough, right? But the guy fathered two children with the other woman. How does a lady pick herself up after getting kicked like that?”
By then the guard was nodding in agreement.
“What an ass,” the guard said.
“Fortunately, the judge agreed,” Sully said, smiling conspiratorially. “Now, look, do me a favor? Tell me we’ve got thirty minutes, no more. I have another appointment before I can go home tonight, so I don’t want to be hemming and hawing with these folks for hours.”
The guard did better than that. He walked Sully over to Drake and Jada, looking as though he were doing them a mighty favor.
“I’m sorry, but the marina has strict policies about visitors,” he said. “Without the owner present, I can only give you half an hour. You’ll have to sign in and show your ID. Please respect the privacy of the other owners and see me on your way out.”
Jada squeezed Drake’s arm, apparently concerned about having to show her ID.
“Not a problem,” he said. “We wouldn’t have it any other way, especially if we might be owners ourselves.”
“I—um—left my purse in the car,” Jada said.
The guard furrowed his brow.
Drake only smiled wider. “I’ve got it, sweetie. I’ll sign us in.”
The guard glanced at Sully, clearly trying to decide whether to push the ID issue, but then he let it go. Apparently, he didn’t want to make trouble for Mrs. Kurland, because he led the three of them to a small guard booth not far from the marina entrance and barely glanced at the false identification Drake and Sully showed him as they signed the guest book.
Drake still had his bloodstained coat folded under his arm, and the guard shot a quizzical glance at it as Drake signed in, as if he thought he might be hiding something inside.
“What’ve you got there?” the guard asked.
Drake sighed in regret. “Not a damn thing. I spilled juice all over myself like an idiot. Ruined my coat.”
Careful to show only the inside of the coat, he unfurled it to show that there was nothing wrapped inside it and then draped it carefully over his arm.
“Thanks, amigo,” Sully said, giving a private little nod to the guard that Jada and Drake weren’t supposed to see. “Say, what’s the slip number again?”
He patted at his pants pockets as if looking for the piece of paper where he’d written the number down.
“One forty-seven,” the guard replied.
Drake felt sorry for him. It wasn’t the guard’s fault he was dumb enough to fall for their hustle. He probably was going to get into serious trouble over this, maybe even lose his job. But if Drake had to choose between getting shot or thrown in jail and causing problems for this guy, well, it was really no choice at all.
Sully thanked the guard, pressing a twenty into his palm as they shook hands—a tiny fraction of the reward money Drake had brought back from South America. Then they were walking along the dock, the boats swaying on either side of them, rocked by the river.
Compared to some of the luxury crafts that were docked at the marina, the boat in the Kurlands’ slip wasn’t much to speak of—a thirty-five-foot Chris Craft with a fiberglass deep V-hull, maybe twelve feet at the beam—but that was all right. They didn’t want anything huge or ostentatious. Even better, the Chris Craft was moored in a slip at the outside edge of the marina.
They boarded as if they belonged there, Sully behaving as if he were giving them a tour. Then Sully ducked out of sight, working the key switch off the ignition and pulling at the wires, figuring out which ones were for the starter. Drake kept watch out of the corner of his eye until the guard got a phone call at the booth. He was one of those people who paced while they were on the phone, and as he talked, he strolled back and forth between his security booth and the walkway that led from the dock to the marina club.
The third time he strolled up the walk, Drake gave a nod and Sully twisted the wires together. The motor growled to life, and Sully grinned up at Drake.
“You guys are a little too good at this,” Jada said.
“Our line of work requires a lot of improvising,” Drake said.
Jada gave him a dubious smile. “Right.”
Sully backed the boat out of the slip. Just as he throttled forward, pulling away from the dock, the guard came running toward them, shouting and waving at them to pull back into the slip. Drake knew that even then the man wouldn’t know exactly what to make of it all. If he had believed Sully’s story—and it was clear he had—Mrs. Kurland might have just given her broker the key so he could take the prospective buyers for a spin. The guard would suspect, certainly. But he wouldn’t be sure, and he wouldn’t do anything drastic until he was.
As they sped upriver, the boat whipping over the water, Drake watched the guard growing smaller in the distance.
“That guy is having a bad day,” he said.
“Could be worse for him,” Jada said. “He could be with us.”
P/S: Copyright -->www_Novel12_Com