Why? All these years I’d wondered about that. Christopher could have meant much more to me, a link to the new family my mother had created.
Opening the drawer, I stared at the tiny flash drive that Angus had retrieved from the Lucases’ home. Did it hold the answer?
Would it matter now if it did?
The moment I dreaded came much too quickly. I lay on the bed with my eyes closed, feeling the bed shift as Eva turned over, hearing her soft sigh as she settled into the new position. She would drift back into sleep if I let her. I could give her a few more hours of peace.
But Victor’s flight was on the ground in New York. The police could arrive here at any moment. Reality was going to intrude no matter how badly I wanted to hold it at bay, which meant the time I had left to break the news to my wife was winding down.
I sat up and scrubbed a hand over my face, feeling the burn of the stubble that shadowed my jaw. Then I touched her shoulder, rousing her as gently as I could.
“Hey.” She rolled toward me, her eyes slumberous. “You’re still dressed. Did you work all night?”
I stood and turned the bedside light on, unable to discuss the situation without being on my feet. “Eva. We need to talk.”
Blinking at me, she pushed up onto her elbow. “What’s wrong?”
“Splash some water on your face while I fix you a cup of coffee, okay? And wait here in the bedroom until I bring it to you.”
She frowned. “You sound serious.”
“I am. And you need to be awake.”
“Okay.” Tossing back the comforter, Eva got out of bed.
I grabbed Lucky and shut the bedroom door behind me, dropping him off in the bathroom before I fixed coffee for both me and Eva. New day, same routine. A few more minutes of pretending nothing had changed amounted to a different kind of lie.
When I returned to the bedroom, I found Eva pulling on a pair of pajama pants. She’d pulled her hair back in a short ponytail and there was a spot of toothpaste on her T-shirt. Normal. For the moment, she was the wife I loved beyond all reason.
She took the mug from me and breathed in the aroma, her eyes closing in pure pleasure. It was so like her, so very Eva, that my chest hurt.
I set my coffee aside, my stomach suddenly too knotted to contemplate putting anything into it. “Sit in that chair over there, angel.”
“You’re starting to freak me out.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” I touched her cheek. “I don’t mean to drag this out. If you sit down, I’ll explain.”
Eva settled into the reading chair beneath the arched windows. The sky was turning from night to bluish gray. I turned on the light beside her, then grabbed the other chair and placed it in front of her. Holding out my hand for hers, I sat, squeezing her fingers gently.
I took a deep breath. “I lied to you. I’m going to defend that decision when I’m done, but for now …”
Her gaze narrowed. “Spit it out, ace.”
“You were right about the gunshots you heard. One of the photographers opened fire on us last night. Your mother was hit.” I paused, struggled to say the words. “She didn’t make it.”
Eva stared at me, her eyes big and dark in her suddenly pale face. Her hand was trembling violently when she put her coffee on the end table. “What are you saying?”
“She was shot, Eva.” I tightened my grip on her abruptly cold hands, sensing her panic. “It was fatal. I’m sorry.”
Her breathing picked up.
“I don’t have any answers to give you right now. They have the shooter in custody and Raúl has told me that Detectives Graves and Michna were assigned to the case.”
“They’re homicide cops,” she said, her voice flat.
“Yes.” They’d been the ones to investigate Nathan Barker’s death. I knew them better than I wished.
“Why would someone want to kill my mother?”
“I don’t know, Eva. It might have been random. Could be he missed his target. We could call Graves or Michna—you still have their cards, right? They might not tell us anything, but I’m expecting them to come by and take our statements.”
“Why? I don’t know anything.”
The fear I’d been fighting all night swamped me. I’d expected anger and tears. A violent explosion of emotion. Instead, she seemed disoriented. Almost lifeless.
“Angel.” I released one of her hands to cup her face. “Cary’s here, in the guest room. Your father is en route from the airport. He’ll be here soon.”
“Dad.” A lone tear slid down her face. “Does he know?”
“Yes. I told him. Cary knows, too. He was there.”