“I’m sorry,” Tilly told me. “I’m sorry, okay? I shouldn’t have hit you, but …”

But you need to hit someone. And I deserve it because I didn’t warn you. It wasn’t road rage, what happened last night. Those guys were trying to kill Nina and me, and I didn’t warn you. Oh, God …


“I know … I know it’s not your fault, but … Dammit, McKenzie. What did you get me into?”

It was the same question Nina had asked me, only this time I had no answer. The gears wouldn’t mesh. My brain raced along in neutral, going nowhere fast.

“Say something,” Tillman said.

My mouth moved. Words came out. Useless sounds.

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“I’m so sorry, Tilly.”


“I didn’t know they were this dangerous.”

“You didn’t know?”

“I don’t even know who they are.”

“The depth and breadth of what you don’t know is staggering.”

“Tilly, you and Susan have to talk to the police. You have to tell them …”

“Susan won’t—she won’t even consider it. Maybe later, maybe when she’s had some time … Right now all she can think of is Sheila.”

“May I talk to Susan?”

“Hell no! She hates you. I hate you, McKenzie. What they did to her …”

“I’m sorry.”


“Tilly, I’ll take care of this.”

“How the hell are you going to take care of this, McKenzie? Are you going to wish it away? You going to make it so it never happened?”

“It’ll be all right.”

“It will never be all right.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I know you’re sorry. I know … Listen, just—just go away, all right? Just go.”

He flung open the door and was out of the waiting room before I could reply. It was just as well. I had nothing more to say except “I’m sorry” another two or three hundred times. He brushed past the detectives without answering their questions and entered his wife’s room, closing the door behind him. The cops asked me the same questions when I walked past. I didn’t have any answers for them, either.

“A crime was committed,” the male cop announced.

“No kidding, Barney,” I said and instantly regretted it. I had despised being called Barney Fife when I was a policeman.

“Sorry,” I told him.

“Sorry doesn’t cut it,” he said.

He had me there.

I went to the elevators, punched the down button, and thought about Susan. I had dealt with rape victims when I was on the job. Sometimes I told them, “I know how you feel.” Only I didn’t. I was taught how to behave, how to “chaperone” a victim. I was taught that rape was the ultimate violation, just one step short of homicide. I was taught about the fear, shame, anger, shock, and guilt that a woman experiences. I was taught about her inability to sleep and the nightmares she’ll have when she does sleep, the erratic mood swings and the feelings of worthlessness that will come later. But feel what she feels? Who was I kidding?

And Tilly. I could only guess at what he felt, too. The humiliation. The powerlessness. The crushing knowledge that he failed to do what men are taught they must do—protect their families. I’ve seen it suck the heart right out of a guy.

That’s why I wasn’t upset that Tilly slugged me, and I certainly didn’t hold it against him. Having failed the image he had of himself, he’d need to do something rough to restore his self-respect, something that’d absolve him of the sin of helplessness. It’s one way some men cope, and better than the alternatives many choose—blaming the woman for the assault or ignoring it altogether, pretending the rape never happened, out of sight, out of mind. Besides, the way I figured it, he had a few more free shots coming. Yet what I wished most for my friend was that he’d find within himself the strength, courage, patience, humor, and depth of love necessary to help him and Susan heal. That’s what I wished for them both.

As for me—I should have warned him. Goddammit, what was I thinking?

I told Tillman I’d take care of this, and I meant it. I couldn’t make it all right, I knew that. But I could make it better. I could find Frank Crosetti. I could find his thugs. I could grind them into dust. It’s the least I could do for Tilly and Susan. I owed them now.

I took a slow elevator to the main floor and worked my way out of the hospital. It wasn’t until I was in the parking lot that it dawned on me.

“Mr. Mosley.”

I didn’t warn him, either.

I punched his number into my cell phone. There was one ring followed by a voice mail message. “You’ve reached Mosley Honey Farms. We’re sorry we can’t take your call right now …”

Six cruisers from the Carver County Sheriff’s Department and one black Buick Regal were parked every which way on Mr. Mosley’s property. I parked behind the Regal and ran to the house. A female deputy opened the door. She wore pink lipstick, but most of it had been gnawed off where she chewed on her lips.

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