"Megan, come in. I hadn't expected you." Sam greeted her long-time friend with a smile.
"I'm sorry to drop in on you unannounced, but…" Megan began hesitantly, but Sam pulled her inside.
"Let's sit down." Sam waved over to the couch. She was glad for the visit. An evening without work had left her longing for something meaningful to do besides sitting on the couch and watching TV. "I can't really offer something to eat, but I have some beer sitting in the fridge."
"That's fine with me. I have never been much of a cook myself." Megan sat down on the couch, placing her hand bag on the floor next to her.
"So I guess neither of us has changed in that respect. I still think the microwave is a modern miracle." Sam laughed and opened the refrigerator. "Here, one for you, one for me. There are more where those came from." Sam stretched out on the couch next to Megan.
"Sam, do you recall the good old days? When we had no idea about what's really going on?" Megan said with a sigh after she had taken a long sip from her bottle of beer.
"Sure, we were young and stupid." Sam replied lightly. She had done too much thinking about the past in the last twenty-four hours.
"You're probably right." Megan admitted, subdued. Sam looked at her. Megan seemed to have expected a different reaction from her.
"What's going on, Megan?" Sam put down her bottle of beer. She could tell her friend was struggling with something. They weren't as close as they had once been, but she could still read the other woman well.
"I guess I have been thinking too much. About how things were and how things could have been. When we grew up, we couldn't wait to get away from home. We thought everything would be better in the city. We thought we'd finally be free." Megan paused and took a drink from her beer. "But freedom is only as good as what you make of it."
"Deep thoughts. It's about Eric's murder, isn't it?"
"Not just him. We made a pact. We would all meet up in the city once we finished high-school back home in Red Sun. My first apartment was two rooms, no kitchen shared with four other people. I had no money, no job, I hated New York. I was about to get on a bus and go back to Red Sun when Eric and Richard got me a room in their apartment." Megan rubbed her hands together. "I can't believe that Eric is dead and Clyde is missing. They are my friends. There was a time when I couldn't imagine spending a day without them." There was regret in Megan's voice, but Sam wasn't sure what she was trying to tell her. She got the feeling that Megan knew more about what had been going her friends' lives ten years ago then she had previously told her. She might even know about the robbery and the disappearance of Ryan Kensington.
"To be honest, I haven't spoken to any of them since I divorced Clyde and I think it has been for the best. I got out when it was almost too late." Sam admitted and watched Megan's reaction carefully. If she knew about the robbery, then she no doubt knew about her involvement as well.
"Not all of us got out in time. Eric's death brings back a lot of memories. Memories of a different time. We were as you said young and stupid. And in love. I was in love. I even thought I was going to marry him. I don't think I ever told you."
"No, you haven't." Sam tried to recall who Megan had been dating at the time. Megan had always been the serious one, the one with the good job in the city, the one who knew what she wanted with her life.
"I have never told anyone about him. Ryan was engaged to another woman. We were meeting behind her back. He kept telling me that he would break up with her and that we would get together. I was stupid enough to believe him, but he was never going to break up with his girlfriend. She was paying rent, his clothes, even putting food in his fridge."
"You were in love with Ryan Kensington?" Sam asked. Megan nodded, confirming Sam's suspicions.
"My team at the FBI has re-opened the case of his disappearance. You did know that he went missing ten years ago?"
"Not immediately, I didn't. Ryan and I broke up before. His fiancée, Rodnina found out about us. Ryan chose her over me. Rodnina called me a few weeks after we broke up. She was out of her mind, accusing me of taking Ryan away from her; I finally figured out that she thought Ryan and I had run off together, to somewhere in Asia. I almost wish I had." Megan told Sam. Samantha wasn't sure what to believe. Megan's story presented an interesting alternative to the robbery scenario. Maybe Ryan's disappearance hadn't been related to the bank robbery after all, but to a love affair.
"When did you see Ryan for the last time?" Samantha asked, still thinking about Ryan's connection to the robbery. Her beer was long forgotten now.
Megan hung her head. "August 4th, 1994. But we had broken up back in March, when his fiancée found out. Ryan, he wanted it to end, but we both couldn't stay away from each other. We knew we had to stop seeing each other. We both had enough other things on our minds that summer."
Sam frowned. When Martin had phoned her earlier, he had said that Ryan had gone missing in August 1994. If Megan was still seeing him, how could she not have known that he went missing that same month? Sam wanted to ask Megan what had happened that day between them, but she was afraid that Megan might not tell the truth if her questions were too intrusive. Megan had come to visit a friend.
"He is dead." Megan said suddenly. "Ryan is dead. He has been dead ever since I left him at the cabin. I should never have left him behind." Megan started to cry.
"Tell me, from the beginning. Please, Megan." Sam turned to touch Megan's shoulders softly. "We're friends, right. What happened at the cabin?"
Megan sniffled. "The cabin belonged to Rodnina's family, but they never went there. Rodnina gave Ryan the key in case he wanted to spend some time away from the city. Ryan needed everything to be quiet when he worked on the computer. After a while, we got the idea to go up to the cabin, especially when Rodnina was away on one of her modelling jobs. We didn't want to go to his apartment, there the doorman would see us and someone was bound to tell Rodnina. On that day in August, Ryan called me in the morning at work. He wanted to meet in the cabin, after dinner. He said he had something important to talk about. I was still very much in love with him and agreed to meet him there. I came to the cabin around 9 p.m. Ryan and I got into an argument, I drove home, back to the city around midnight. That is the last I ever saw Ryan." Megan seemed to have recovered some of her composure. She straightened up and wiped at her eyes with her sleeve.
"I'm so sorry, Megan. We don't know much yet. It's still early." Samantha didn't know what else to say. As long as Megan was holding out on her, she didn't feel she could trust her.
"That's crap and you know it." Megan snapped.
"You are right. I forgot for a second that you are a cop." A smile ghosted over Sam's lips. "We haven't found any trace of Ryan past early August '94. Nothing of the usual, driver's licence, taxes, credit cards. No activity on any of them in the past ten years. We are looking into the possibility that Ryan left the country."
"Singapore, I know. Rodnina said something like that." Megan nodded. "So basically Ryan is either dead in New York City or alive in Asia and either way it is impossible to find him."
"You know how this plays. We can't catch a criminal across the Mexican border, much less find a missing person somewhere in Asia. Especially if Ryan wanted to disappear. What did you argue about that day?"
"Ryan…Ryan had gotten mixed up with something. That's what we fought about. But it had nothing to do with his disappearance." Megan at first hesitated, but then she seemed sure.
Sam wasn't sure what to do, pretend that she had no idea what Ryan and her ex-husband had been up to in the unlikely case that Megan really didn't know the details of her involvement, or just come out and potentially ruin her career and a friendship of ten years.
"Megan, you have to tell me what you know." Samantha turned to look her once-best friend directly in the eye. "Please tell me what happened to Ryan."
"I saw something, the night after I left him at the cabin. I had to turn back on the way because I had forgotten my handbag inside; in it were my wallet and my driver's license. I was on the road uphill from the cabin when I saw someone in the garden. It looked like they were digging a hole in the backyard of the cabin. I turned around and drove back to the city."
Sam was silent for a moment. It could have happened that way. In theory anyways. They didn't have a lot of facts at the moment.
"What kind of car did Ryan have at the time?" Samantha asked, wondering how Ryan who supposedly had left on foot had gotten to the cabin by car and then had vanished along with his car never to be seen again.
"A Ford Capri. It was an older car. Ryan had just bought their apartment after he broke up with me. Even though, he had sworn to get rid of the car once he came into some money." That was Sam curious. Robbing a bank was also a way to come into money. Martin had told her that according to his fiancée Ryan been quite wealthy, whereas Megan claimed he had been living off the other woman at least in the beginning of their relationship. "Before you ask, I have never seen the car since Ryan disappeared, but I'm certain that he took his car when he came to meet me at the cabin. I'm sure you looked into this already."
"Actually I'm not sure anyone traced the car. I hadn't heard that Ryan's car was missing as well. We assumed he disappeared on foot." Sam shrugged, trying to download her surprise at the series of revelations unfolding.
"He had it in a hired space in the city. Rodnina probably paid the rent on that as well." Megan sighed. "She paid for nearly everything and he felt so obligated to her, always, even when he was with me."
"So, what changed after Ryan had some money of his own?"
"Nothing really, we had already broken up by then. He was going to stay with her. They bought their apartment together when they had the chance. He was going to stay with her. Rodnina was a paranoid as ever. Ryan was unemployed for most of summer '94 and every time he went out looking for work or going to an interview, she thought he was going to see another woman. He told me that she always had to be in control, she even set up job interview for him at places he would never want to work." Megan shook her head. "She was suffocating him."
"Was that what the argument was about the last time you saw him? Did you want him to leave Rodnina?" Sam asked, and it came out harsher than she had intended.
Megan was defensive. "Sam, I'm not some perp. I came here to talk, not to be yelled at or interrogated." She got up from the couch and started walking towards the door. Sam followed her.
"Megan, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way. I think we are just both a little too close to what's been happening to last few days. It has brought back memories, not just for you. Let's sit back down. How about I order us some take-out? It's too late to find a decent meal even in this city." Sam forced a smile as she led Megan back to the couch.
"I have to go there. I have to be sure." Megan shook Sam's grip loose.
"Why? Where do you need to go?" Sam didn't understand.
"The cabin. I need to know if Ryan is really buried out there, I need to know if this is all my fault.
"You can't drive now. I can send a team up there first thing tomorrow morning." Sam tried to calm her friend down. It wasn't working. Megan turned and grabbed her by the arms.
"Are you sure that is what you want to do, Sam? They are going to ask questions. Ten years is a long time, we might have changed, but it doesn't change what we did." In that moment Sam knew what she had subconsciously struggled with ever since she had pulled Megan's file the day after Eric's body had been discovered.
"You were the fifth person in the robbery." Sam whispered.
Martin watched over the pale pre-dawn streets from the twelfths floor window of the hospital. The Styrofoam cup in his hand held a lukewarm coffee he had gotten from a machine down the corridor two hours ago. It seemed strange to Martin how quiet it was in this section of the trauma ward. He had expected nurse running around the corridors and doors never quite shutting all hours day and night, but this far from the emergency room, there was a semblance of peace in the spacious waiting area.
Danny suppressed a yawn. It was unlikely that he would get any sleep that night. The big red clock on the corner wall showed the time as 4.17 a.m. Too late to go the bed, he thought. His last meal seemed eons ago. He had been running on nervous energy and caffeine all night. Another cup would just make him jumpy. Danny didn't understand how Martin could drink cup after cup and still hold a pen. He yawned.
It was 4.43 a.m. when Dr. Allesandro Cortez found the two agents sitting in brown armchairs, waiting. Suits and ties were a rare sight for Dr. Cortez. He had been expecting the police.
"I assume you are the detectives." Allesandro stuck out a hand in greeting.
"Actually we are with the FBI." The taller one replied and showed him his ID. "I'm Agent Taylor, this is Agent Fitzgerald." Taylor indicated the other man, who had also gotten up from the armchair.
"Mrs. Buckner's injuries are minor. She suffered abrasions to her knees, elbows and hands, most likely from a fall. She has contusions on her neck and her trachea is most likely bruised."
"Did she say anything? How it happened?"
"She gave her name, nothing else. But I can tell you, someone tried to strangle this woman."
"Can we talk to her?" Taylor asked with an eagerness that made Allessandro wonder what the woman had done. She had looked innocent in a normal, suburban way, but they all did.
"Yes, but I already asked her if he wanted to press charges, she said she didn't. We'll let her go in the morning." Allessandro had stopped worrying about helping those who didn't want his help. You can only save those who want to be saved.
Allessandro led Martin and Danny to the bed where Linda Buckner was resting. Curtain gave them only a little privacy and there was hardly any room for them both to stand, but it would have to do.
Linda was wide awake in her bed. Her eyes immediately settled on them with curiosity and a trace of fear, but she kept her expression neutral.
"Mrs. Buckner, we have met before. We are still I investigating your husband's disappearance and we believe that this incident might be related. So, anything you can tell us might help?"
Linda closed her eyes for a moment. "It was nothing. Just a little fun that got out of control. I don't want to talk about it." Her voice was hoarse and she was almost whispering, but there was still confidence in her words.
Danny didn't believe her for a second, but he wanted to hear her story. "We need to know. Please what happened?"
"I went out to this bar, I met a guy. You can imagine the rest." Linda looked down as if ashamed. Danny wondered whether there was any truth to her story. Maybe Linda was embarrassed about lying to them.
"This guy, what's his name?" Martin asked.
"Please, it was a one-night stand. He said his name was Brian. Maybe it's true, maybe it isn't." If Linda had any emotion towards the man who had supposedly tried to choke her, she didn't show it. Her whole manner seemed cool and detached, but maybe it was the shock. Danny had seen just about every reaction when questioning victims. Some were hysterical, hardly able to speak a word; others were detached, unable to feel anything.
"And the name of the bar?"
"NaNu. I think. First time I have ever been there. I never went behind Clyde's back."
Danny and Martin looked at each other. The story was pitiful, but not impossible. There were just a lot of holes to fill.
"Where was your daughter while you went out to a bar?" Danny remained friendly and casual, hoping that Linda's concern for her daughter would get the better for her.
Linda remained firm however. "I sent her to my cousin in Jersey City. It's better for her to be away with all this going on. I will write to address down for you." She took Danny's note block.
"We had a look at your house again. We found a bullet hole in the wall of your living room. Do you have any idea how that got there?" Martin asked.
"I have no idea." Linda crossed her arms. "It's 5 a.m., I'd appreciate if you'd let me rest."
"We'll be in touch later." Danny pocketed his note block.
"I just don't think there is any point in checking this place out. It's a lie, we know what happened. We even found the car." Martin climbed out of the car across the street of The NaNu. The City had started to awake, on the streets definitely, as they had been caught in the early morning rush our bon their way to the bar. The drive had taken them nearly forty-five minutes. But the street in front the The NaNu was still fast asleep.
"I don't think we can get anyone in here at this hour." Danny walked down the three steps to the entrance which was on a lower level than the street. To their surprise, there was still noise coming from inside. It didn't sound like any business was still going on, but something was moving behind the black and white doors.
Martin knocked against the doors with force.
"FBI, open up."
Almost a minute later, a middle aged man, who looked like he had had a long night, opened the door.
"What the hell? Who called you? First the police, now the FBI?" He leaned down on the broom he was holding. He seemed more than just a little drunk.
"What did the police want?"
"Asked about a guy. This guy who killed those women." The man sounded like it was obvious.
Martin raised an eyebrow. They had stumbled into another case entirely.
"Let's go inside and you tell us the entire story. We are also looking for a guy." Danny smiled and they followed the man inside the darkened bar.
Jack stared at the red changing digits of the radio alarm clock. He had been watching the time pass for the past twenty-three minutes. It was still almost half-an hour until the alarm would go off and awaken Maria hundreds of miles away. She would be busy getting the girls ready for school and they would keep up their civil pretences like always, but for the first time Jack didn't know what to say to his wife. He had never wasted a second when it came to apologizing about coming home late when he had been with Sam after work. The lies had come easy to him. Had Maria ever lied to him? Jack wasn't sure. He had respected her work and never asked question, only to find out he knew nothing at all about how his wife spent her days. Did they see each other in the lunch breaks, or sneak out after work? Jack didn't want to think about Maria and her face-less lover, but the questions snuck into his thoughts against his will even as he was across the country.
If Sam was already awake? It was early in New York City, but he knew what it was like to be in the middle of an investigation. Everything took second place to the search for a missing person. The first forty-eight hours were crucial, after that most remained missing.
Jack sat up and reached for his mobile phone and hit speed-dial one.
His call went straight to voice mail. Jack didn't leave a message. He wanted to talk to Sam in person. Jack got up, slightly worried. He felt cut off being across the country from his team, away from the main investigation. He could have sent someone else to Washington, as the team leader, he got to delegate. But Jack had to admit he had been glad to get away from the city. Even if it was only for a day or two. And there was of course the investigation. He couldn't protect Sam from the past, what was done was done. All he could do was helping her close that chapter of her life for good.