Dennis Daly arrived at the camp just as the boys were finishing their lunches. Patrick ran over to his car, eager for his praise. Some of the other boys, including his little brother, followed. "I did it!" Patrick exclaimed. "I did it, didn't I?"
Daly sighed. The problem with using children, he reflected, was that you had to be so very specific in your instructions. "You diluted the bleach, Patrick."
"Well, yeah, I had to, if it was all gone my mom would've skinned me." The boy's face fell. "Are you mad at me? I did a good job. She didn't even know it was me."
A dollar's worth of bleach, Daly thought. A single dollar's worth. But the boy was so eager, his face so pleading. "You did just fine, my lad. Just fine." He put an arm around the boy. "Listen,lad, there's a chance that some men may question you about the attack. They may say that they know it was you."
"I wore my mask, like you said," Patrick protested. "How can they know?"
"I told you!" Sean shouted. "I told you and Dad's going to beat you silly!"
"Shut up, baby," Patrick snapped.
"They don't know," Daly assured him. "They're only guessing. They'll try to bully you into a confession. You must not tell them anything."
Patrick wasn't reassured. "You said no one would know . . . "
"Patrick, believe me, everything will be fine. But anything you tell them will be used against us, against our Cause. I need your help, Patrick. You must keep quiet. All of you must keep quiet. If any of you speak what you know, our Patrick here will suffer for it."
"We won't say nothing!" one of the boys yelled, and the other chimed in.
Daly nodded. "Good, good. At least the children are still loyal."
"Is Annie going to see again?" Sean asked.
"Do you still care about her?" Daly demanded. "Knowing what you know, how she has betrayed us? Blindness will soon be the least of her worries. I've discovered that she's a far worse traitor that I believed her to be. There's a man - a Brit, of course - who's protecting her. I saw him at the hospital. And why would he protect her, if she wasn't their spy?"
"You gonna kill her?" Patrick asked, excited.
"I don't know," Daly said slowly. "It's beginning to look as if we'll have to. You're not to talk about this to anyone, understand. It is absolutely our secret." Secrets were good. They bound the boys together.
"I understand," Patrick said fervently.
"You're a good boy, Patrick. You give me hope." He patted the boy's shoulder again. "Right, then, off to your games. Don't be seen hanging about here. Go."
Patrick watched him walk away, an expression of absolute awe on his face. "He is so cool. A real hit!"
"What if somebody finds out?" His little brother fretted at his elbow. "And they could think maybe you did it. What if you go to jail?"
"Don't be such a punk," his brother scowled. "They can't put me in jail, I'm only a kid. Besides, Daly'll take care of me. He'll take care of everything. This is so cool!"
"Yeah," Sean muttered, unconvinced. "Cool."
Moving down the hospital corridor, McCall was sure he could hear Anne Keller weeping. But as he got close enough to draw her guard's attention, he realized that she was laughing instead. The guard recognized him, waved him past.
"Hey, McCall," Kostmayer called easily.
"Hello, Mickey. I'm glad you're here." Robert crossed the room and touched Anne's free hand. "How are you feeling?"
"Better. I got some sleep."
"Good. You and I are going to have a very serious talk now. About your attacker."
She drew her hand back, reached for Kostmayer's. "Mickey . . . "
"McCall," Mickey began warningly.
"Listen," Robert insisted. "Both of you, listen. Please."
He told them everything. Everything he knew about Dennis Daly, everything Control had in his files, everything Sullivan had said. They listened in silence; Mickey growing increasingly agitated, and Anne still and unreadable behind her bandages. When Robert was done, he touched her hand again. "You must give me the name, Anne. It's the only way I can stop this man."
"McCall, why didn't you tell me any of this before?" Mickey demanded.
Robert ignored him. "Anne? The name."
She remained still and silent.
"Anne. Daly already has the blood of half a dozen boys on his hands. He will use this one again if we don't stop him. The name."
When she hesitated again, Robert looked to Mickey. The younger man shrugged. "Annie, tell him."
She turned her head toward him, as if she could see. "If I do, when these bandages come off there better not be a mark on the kid."
Kostmayer winced. "No visible marks. Fine."
"Mickey. I mean it."
"I won't let him harm the boy," Robert assured her.
A long, long pause. She exhaled heavily. "His name is Patrick Smith. He lives downstairs from me, first apartment on the left."
"Thank you," Robert told her, with all his heart.
They waited together in Anne's apartment, interrupted frequently by neighbors with flowers, cards, a finger-painted picture and food from no less than twelve separate ethnic backgrounds. Robert snacked on a few dishes before putting them away; Mickey wouldn't touch any of it.
"All right, what is it?" McCall finally demanded.
"What's wrong with you? You've seen the woman, she's forgiven your - twice, apparently - and yet you're still moping around like some scolded schoolboy. What is it?"
Mickey looked at him for a long minute. "Nothing," he finally said.
"Mickey." McCall moved to where Kostmayer was sitting by the window, watching the street below. "I know about the child. I'm very sorry. If I'd known . . . "
"It was a long time ago, McCall."
"It must have been very difficult," Robert offered, hoping he could persuade a little conversation from Mickey about it. He suspected there was something more, something he still didn't know.
Mickey wasn't biting. "Yeah. Leave it alone."
McCall nodded. His suspicion was confirmed; there was more. But for now, he let it be.
A van pulled onto the street and stopped two doors up. "That's them," Mickey said, climbing to his feet.
"Patrick Smith? I'd like a word with you."
The boy froze. "Ain't got time. Maybe later."
Mickey's hand descended on the boy's shoulder from behind. "Maybe now."
Robert noticed that a loose pack of boys had gathered around them, watching. Their silence was unnerving. "Where were you very early this morning, Patrick?"
"At home, in bed. Where were you?"
"I don't think you were in bed. I think you were at Anne Keller's door. I think you are the one who sprayed her eyes with bleach."
The boy hesitated for barely a second. "You can't prove that! I didn't do it! Let me go!" He tried to squirm away; Mickey added a second hand to his shoulders, effectively immobilizing him.
"Do you realize how serious the consequences might have been, Patrick? She might have been permanently blinded."
"I wish she had been," the boy shrieked. "Then she couldn't take any more of her damn pictures!"
"Look, you little brat . . . " Mickey began, shaking the child.
"Kostmayer!" McCall barked. He wasn't sure it would work, but it did. Mickey stopped shaking the boy and settled for simply holding him - very firmly. "Who put you up to this?" Robert demanded of the boy.
Patrick squirmed. "You're hurting me," he complained loudly.
A smaller boy came out of the group and pulled on Mickey's arm. "Please mister, let him go." He was clearly frightened.
Kostmayer glared at the smaller boy, but reluctantly he eased his grip on the older one. "I'm gonna tell," Patrick proclaimed. "I'm gonna call the cops!"
"No, I don't think you will," Robert answered. He gestured and Mickey released the boy entirely. "You're in serious trouble, Patrick. I can help you, but only if you want to help yourself. Can't you see that Daly's only using you to do his dirty work? You're taking all the risks for him."
"It's for the Cause," the boy answered with chilling conviction.
"What cause?" McCall asked. "Do you even know?"
"You're a puppet, boy, and Daly's pulling your strings. You could end up dead if you're not careful. Other children have, for his Cause."
"You don't know nothing," Patrick sneered. He spun on his heels and sauntered away, with the gang of boys in an admiring throng around him. Only the smaller boy who had defended him lingered; he turned, about to speak, and then ran off in the other direction.
"That went well," Mickey observed dryly.
McCall sighed. "It went just as I expected it to go. Sullivan was right. Daly's their hero now."
"A hero we have Control's permission to cancel," Kostmayer reminded him.
"And make him a martyr?"
Robert shook his head. "We will handle Mr. Daly, Mickey, I promise you that. But we will do it in a way that doesn't add to his stature with these young men."
"You know I hate these little games of yours, McCall."
"Really? You've always seemed to enjoy them before."
"They didn't involve my girl before."
Robert chuckled, walking back toward the apartment. "Ah, so she's your girl again now, is she?" He caught the expression on his friend's face and wished he hadn't teased him. "For God's sake, Mickey, she's already told me everything."
"She doesn't know everything."
"You act as if you're the first teenager who accidentally got a girl pregnant . . . "
" . . . you stood by her, you married her, and things ended badly. That wasn't your fault. What is it you blame yourself for?"
"It wasn't an accident."
Robert paused mid-stride. "What?" he asked, turning.
Kostmayer looked pointedly away from him. "It wasn't an accident. I got her pregnant on purpose."
Robert frowned. "You mean the two of you . . . "
"No, not the two of us. She didn't know anything about it, she thought . . . I told her . . . " Mickey paused, flustered, not wanting to get into the details. "I told her it would be okay. But I knew."
"Why?" McCall asked carefully. "You were eighteen years old. What in God's name . . . "
"She won this competition. Photography, state-wide. She got published in this little booklet, she was going to have a showing in the state house, in Austin . . . " Mickey stopped again, now deeply ashamed. "I was going to lose her, McCall. I didn't want to lose her."
He stopped then, staring at his feet. There was a long, long silence. Finally Mickey looked up. McCall was gazing at him, with a critical and almost amused expression. "Is that all?" the older man asked gently.
"She almost died, McCall!"
"You didn't know that would happen."
"That's not the point."
"No, it's not." McCall sighed. "The point is, you did a very stupid and very selfish thing in the name of keeping what you loved. And you hurt the woman that you loved very badly in the process." Mickey nodded miserably. "And that was nearly two decades ago, and the woman is alive and well and you are alive and you have a chance to be together again, if only you can overcome this one thing in your past."
"I can't tell her, McCall."
"Mickey . . . "
"She'll forgive you, Mickey."
"I know she'll forgive me. I don't deserve it, McCall. Aren't you getting this? I nearly killed her. And if the baby hadn't died, I would have trapped her in Texas."
"And made a home for her, and made a family with her."
"And left her with a bunch of little kids to raise while I rotted in Leavenworth," Mickey reminded him.
McCall chuckled warmly. "Funny you should bring that up." He turned and started up the stairs to Anne's apartment. "Come, Mickey. I have something to show you. Maybe it'll help you to feel better."
"I doubt it," Mickey groused as he followed.
Robert just nodded again. Maybe learning the story of his letter wouldn't help Kostmayer much. That was beside the point now. The truth that Mickey had so desperately needed to get out was out. Once he'd said the words out loud, he could begin to deal with them, to resolve them. Perhaps, eventually, Mickey would tell Anne the truth. Or perhaps not. But the thorn that had kept this old wound festering had finally been removed, and the true healing could finally begin.
That much, McCall thought with satisfaction, that much at least he had accomplished. Now for Daly.
"Patrick, I'm scared."
Sean was tagging after his older brother as they wandered through an alley. Patrick was carrying his big squirt gun, wrapped in a pillow case. "Don't be such a baby."
"They're really going to kill her?"
"Yeah," Patrick answered with relish. "A real live assassin, all the way from Ireland. God, I can't wait." He stopped to peer into a dumpster but it was completely empty. He kept the gun and went on.
"But Annie's always been nice to us," Sean protested. "When she used to babysit us . . . "
"She's a traitor, Sean."
"She is not," Sean protested. "She's just the same old Annie she always was. You only hate her 'cause Daly tells you to."
"Daly knows about this stuff, you baby. When you're older, he'll talk to you about it and you'll understand. You just don't get it because you're a baby. "
"Yeah, but what if he's not such a big hero? What if he's really like that other guy said?"
"The Brit guy? You're going to listen to him? What are you, some kind of traitor too?"
"You heard me. You're a sympathizer. You're on her side."
"I'm not. I'm just saying . . . "
Patrick found a dumpster that suited him and pitched the squirt gun and the pillow case in. "You better not tell anybody what you heard," he told his brother savagely. "You better not. Because you're my brother, and if you're a traitor, I have to kill you myself."
"Patrick . . . "
"I might love you all to hell, Sean, but if you're a traitor I have to do it. That's what Daly says. And I would, too, I'd do it. So you better keep your trap shut."
"You'd kill me, Sean?"
"For the Cause, Sean, I'll do what I have to do."
The smaller boy burst into tears and ran off.
When he got to the street he stopped, wiping his eyes roughly. He didn't want anyone to see him crying. But he didn't know what to do. Everything had changed so much since Daly came. Everything used to be simple, and now it was all so mixed up. He didn't even have his friend to talk to about it.
Sean sniffed. He thought about it. He was scared. But his feet were already moving that way. Down two blocks, around the corner, across the street. He looked up at the apartment over the dry cleaner's. He could hear cartoons through the open window. He picked up a small rock from the gutter and threw it against the top of the window. Nothing happened. He threw another. Still nothing. Sean looked up and down the street. Lots of people, but none of the boys. "Tommy!"
His friend pressed his nose against the screen. "Hey."
"Hey yourself. Get your butt down here."
"I thought we weren't friends any more."
"Just come down, will you?"
"You in trouble?"
"Yeah," Sean answered.
"I'll be right down."
Robert wasn't especially happy with the security arrangements at the hospital; Anne wasn't especially happy with the food; the hospital wasn't happy with having cops in the corridor. It didn't take much to persuade them to let Anne go home after dinner.
Robert went in first, glanced around at the apartment - and scowled when he saw Control staring back at him from the couch. He had a copy of the new book in his hands, and he'd clearly been waiting a while. McCall moved aside and let Mickey guide Anne in.
She took a long, deep breath. "Rigatoni," she breathed. "Mrs. Alto's been here."
There was indeed another covered dish on the counter by the kitchen. "Everybody's been here," Mickey told her. "You won't need to cook for a month."
Anne made her way slowly but fairly confidently across the room to the couch. Control watched her with interest, not moving, silent. She sat down next to him. "Well?" she asked conversationally. "What do you think?"
Control raised one eyebrow. "Very impressive pictures. How did you know I was here?"
"The cigars. They're actual Cubans, aren't they?"
The man nodded. "Yes, they are. That's very good."
Anne shrugged. "Give me another day being blind, and I'll tell you why you always wear bow ties."
Control actually grinned - and then glared at Mickey. Kostmayer shrugged innocently.
"What are we doing about Daly?" Control asked McCall.
"What are we doing?" Robert returned. "We're dealing with him, of course. In our own way."
"You're playing another one of your games."
"It is not a game," Robert protested. "This man had convinced these children that he has some great cause, that he's a hero and will make all of them heroes - when in fact he's nothing but a petty, ambitious manipulator. We need to discredit him in their eyes, before he can do any more damage."
Control did not quite roll his eyes, but he looked like he wanted to. "How?"
"I'm not entirely sure yet. This camp of his . . . "
Anne snapped her head to her left. "Did you hear that?"
"What?" Control asked.
Mickey moved the way her head was pointed. "What did you hear?"
"I don't know . . . maybe nothing. I'm sorry, Robert, go on."
There was another noise, from the kitchen, and this time they all heard it. McCall and Kostmayer drew weapons as one; Control stood, placing one hand on the woman's shoulder, ready to move. The other two went into the kitchen.
Two small faces were pressed against the kitchen screen. Two small boys, perched at the top of the fire escape ladder.
McCall recognized one of them as the boy that had begged Mickey to let go of the Smith kid and the other as the kid that brought Anne's mail. He put his gun away, pushed the screen open and hauled them inside. "What are you doing?"
"We got something to tell Annie."
"Come here, guys," she called from the living room.
Nervously, the two boys went, with Mickey and McCall close behind them. Control scared them even more, but he moved away, leaving room on the couch with Anne, and they huddled close to her. She stayed relaxed, playful, and it helped put the boys at ease. "What's up, guys? What's with the ladder?"
"We can't use the front door," Tommy explained. "They might be watching."
Robert and Control shared a look. Paranoia from the mouths of babes; eerie words coming from a child. There were places in the world, they both knew, where children this size carried weapons, fought wars - but New York City was damn well not going to be one of those places. "Patrick?" Anne asked gently.
"And the others," Sean answered. "We're not supposed to be here."
"What did you come to tell me?"
The boys exchanged a long look. Tommy gestured; Sean shook his head. Tommy spoke. "Sean heard them talking. That Daly guy, and Patrick. Tell her."
"You can't tell anybody I told, 'cause then Patrick'll have to kill me."
"What did you hear?" Mickey asked quietly.
"They're going to kill Annie," Tommy blurted.
"They hired a guy from Ireland," Sean added.
"When?" McCall snapped.
The boys crowded closer to Anne. "I don't know," Sean answered. "He didn't say. But pretty soon I think. 'Cause the camp's over next week."
Robert nodded. "Yes, he'll want his audience, won't he?"
"Did you hear anything else?" Mickey asked soothingly.
"That's all," Sean answered. "I wasn't supposed to tell . . . "
"You did the right thing," Robert assured him. "Did anyone see you come up here?"
"Uh-uh," Tommy said. "We were real careful. The alley's too skinny for the big kids."
"If anyone did see you," Control suggested, "tell them you were listening at the window and got caught. Tell them we lectured you and threw you out."
Robert shook his head. "Just go out the way you came. Be careful, and don't be seen."
The boys got up. "You can stop this guy, right?" Tommy asked worriedly.
"We'll stop him," Mickey answered grimly.
The boys started out, but Sean turned back. "Annie . . . Patrick didn't mean to do anything bad. I mean, he did, but . . . he's not really like this. It's just that Daly tells him all this stuff . . . "
"I know, Sean. It's okay." She reached up and hugged him briefly. "It'll be okay. Now go. Be careful."
McCall took them back to the kitchen and latched the screen behind them. When he returned to the living room, Mickey was beside Anne on the couch, with an arm around her. She was leaning against him, and she was clearly scared, but still calm. Spend enough time with terrorists, McCall thought wryly, and nothing rattles you much.
"Your game just changed," Control observed.
"Not necessarily," Robert answered. He expected protest from Kostmayer, but got none. "We need the identity of this assassin Daly's hired."
Control nodded. "I'll see what I can find out. Miss Keller . . . "
The phone rang. Anne sat up and grabbed it before Mickey could reach it. "Hello?" She listened, then smiled. "Hi, Jamie. How . . . " The smiled dimmed. "Oh, fine, then, be that way." She held the receiver straight up. "Robert? He wants you."
Frowning, Robert took the phone. "Robert McCall here." He listened. "Yes, we did just become aware . . . " Another pause. "You're sure? Yes, thank you. Thank you so very much." He put the phone down. "Never mind," he told Control. "Daly's hired Vance Iverson."
Control nodded. "That was quick."
"Yes, well, Mr. Sullivan has maintained his old contacts," Robert said dryly. He sat down across from the couch. "Now we have enough information to make a plan."
Vance Iverson was a man of middle years, well-dressed and entirely unremarkable. He was having lunch in a nice restaurant, alone, and McCall arrived at the same time as Iverson's salad.
"Hello, Iverson," McCall said, sitting down. "Thank you for meeting me."
Vance nodded. "Can I get you something?"
"No, no. I won't stay long. I've come to ask for a . . . professional courtesy. You see, you and I are currently working at cross-purposes."
Iverson nodded non-commitally. He knew perfectly well that McCall knew his profession; they had worked together from time to time. But as to specifics, he was giving nothing away. Simply a professional caution.
"I am protecting Anne Keller," McCall announced.
"Ah. I didn't realize you were involved."
"I am. You've already collected half your fee. I would suggested that you take your money and go. You won't be seeing the other half."
Iverson considered. "You're that sure you can stop me?"
"I'm sure that one of three things will happen," McCall answered. "One, you will take my advice and drop this assignment. Two, you will attempt to kill the woman and you will fail, possibly being killed yourself in the process. Three, you will actually succeed and I will find you and kill you."
"Or four, I kill you first."
"In which case you'll have to deal with Mickey Kostmayer. Followed closely by the Company and the IRA."
Iverson blinked. "What is it about this girl? She's only a photographer."
"She's a photographer that I would very much like to live. You're a professional, Iverson. Surely it's obvious to you that this particular job is not worth the risks."
"Surely," Iverson agreed slowly. "All right. You've convinced me, McCall. Thank you for being so straightforward. I imagine you've saved all of us a great deal of time and effort."
McCall sat back, satisfied. He was damn glad it had been Iverson; he knew this man and while he didn't entirely trust him, he had known he could rely on the man's business instincts. "I wonder, Vance," he said, "if you might be interested in another little opportunity. Not your usual work, understand, but something equally shady."
Iverson considered. "Well, I do appear to have an opening on my schedule. What did you have in mind?"
The afternoon was bright and warm. She sat at the edge of the field, blind but enjoying the sun on her face, the soft breeze, the sound of the boys laughing and running. Or at least she appeared to be enjoying it.
"Daly's coming," Nick said nervously. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"It's okay, Nick," Anne murmured back. "It'll be fine."
Nick had been the most vocal opponent of this plan, but he'd finally been worn down by McCall's persistence. That, and the police presence, and the half-dozen carefully scattered Company men. And his confidence that Mickey would never let anything happen to this girl. But right now all he could see was her.
Daly joined them. "Annie, hello. I'm so glad to see you out and about."
Anne smiled, holding her hand out to him. "Hi, Denny. I just got so cabin crazy, Nick said I could come and hang out here."
"I am so sorry about all of this," Daly said warmly. "How the police can think that this was just a prank . . . "
Nick stood up. "We'd rather not get started on that right now."
"Of course, of course. I didn't mean to upset our girl." He patted her hand protectively. "We don't want that at all, do we?"
"I was just about to drive her home," Nick began.
"I'm getting kind of tired," Anne admitted.
Oh, I'll take her," Daly offered quickly. "You stay here with the boys, I'll take her home."
"Okay with you, Anne?"
Anne nodded. "Sure. Thanks for the outing, Nick. I'll see you tomorrow - I'll really see you tomorrow."
Nick stood and watched them go, Anne's hand on Daly's arm. Cold fear gripped at his chest; he wanted to shout after them, to stop this. With an effort, he kept his mouth shut.
The boys had stopped playing soccer, and were just standing now, watching.
Daly walked the girl to his car, carefully. "Wait right here," he said, casting a glance toward the roof of the church. "I've got to go unlock the other door."
She remained perfectly still as he moved away from her. And just on time, Iverson appeared on the church roof. He carried a rifle, with a scope, though it wasn't really that long a shot. Trying not to look up, Daly rattled his keys and waited.
"Denny?" the woman called. "What's taking so long?"
"I, uh . . . " What was taking so long? Iverson had a clear shot, the girl was standing still . . . "I can't get the lock. American cars, you
know. Hold on a minute."
Iverson raised the weapon, sited it right at Daly. For a moment the man felt cold terror run through him. What was this? Then the assassin lowered the gun and disappeared from view.
"No!" Daly said quietly.
The boys gathered now at the near end of the soccer field, watching, fascinated.
"Denny?" Anne said quietly.
"Nothing, nothing," Daly answered, shaking the keys again. Maybe something gone wrong, the gun had jammed, there was some miscommunication . . .
"Has Iverson gone?" the woman asked calmly.
"What?" Daly shrieked.
"I bought him off. You can do that with hired guns."
The boys were bunching together now, whispering. Daly saw them out of the corner of his eye, saw what was happening, that he was about to lose face before them. He snapped the car door open, snagged his own handgun from under the seat, pointed it at the woman and pulled the trigger.
Anne flinched at the clicking sound, but that was all.
"No!" Daly shrieked. He pulled the trigger again, and again, and again. Nothing.
"Your bullets are gone," Anne told him. "So is your firing pin."
Daly threw the gun aside and charged around the car at her. He never got close; Mickey tackled him five feet short. He threw Daly to the ground and hit him twice, once with each hand. Instead of fighting back, the man curled into a ball, covering his face with his arms. Mickey hit him again anyhow. Then Nick was there, trying to pull his brother off. Mickey resisted, getting in still another good punch, wanting to kill this man with his bare hands.
"Mickey?" Anne's voice, quiet and a little frightened. "Mickey?"
Reluctantly, shrugging off his brother, Mickey left the cowering terrorist and went to hold her. The police came from around the church and hauled Daly to his feet.
The boys were silent again.
"There's your hero, boys," McCall said from the back of their little pack. "Take a good look at him."
They shuffled uneasily, looking between Daly and McCall. "Go on, look," Robert urged. Daly was in cuffs now, still not standing up straight, protesting and bleeding and crying all at once. "Think about what you saw him do. When his assassination plans fell apart, he drew a gun and tried to shoot an unarmed, blind woman with no defense. In cold blood. That's what terrorists do. But this man is not a terrorist. He has no cause but his own. His cause, which was to impress all of you, and to make you do what he told you."
A murmur went through them. They began to draw back from Patrick - except for Sean, who stayed firmly at his brother's side.
"He doesn't look like such a hero now, does he?" Robert continued. "He doesn't look like anything but what he is. A small little man and a coward. Look at him, and remember. And don't be fooled again."
The pack started to drift. Patrick moved forward, toward the parking lot, toward the girl. Sean moved at his side.
Daly saw them and threw his head up in defiance. "You see? One is still loyal! One is still loyal to me!"
Patrick ignored him as the police dragged him away. He went and stood in front of Anne, tall and scared and determined, trying not to look at Mickey or Nick. Only at Anne. She had always had a smile for him, always been nice to him, but now her eyes were covered with bandages and he couldn't tell what she was thinking. "Annie? It's Patrick," he began humbly.
"I just . . . " He swallowed hard. He was way too old to cry in front of all these people. "I'm sorry. I'm really really sorry."
The woman opened her arms and gathered him to her and held him while he cried, just like she had when he was a little kid.
They sat at her kitchen table, Robert and Anne, and Robert read aloud from the Times. "'A powerful and thought-provoking journey through the troubled counties of Northern Ireland. Photographs that cannot be forgotten and a book not to be ignored.'" He put the paper down. "I rather think they like it."
"Sounds like it," Anne agreed. The bandages were gone; her eyes were laughing as she watched Mickey clamber around her, running the last wire along the baseboard. "Are you about done?"
"Just about." He went back into the living room.
"I don't think I'm going to like this," Anne ventured quietly.
Kostmayer heard her. "I don't care if you like it. You're not going to live in this city without an alarm system. Especially not if you're going to be famous."
"Six-thirty this morning," Anne reported to Robert, "I had a woman calling to ask if I would take portraits of her babies."
"Her babies are purebred Pomeranian pups."
A claxon chimed from the living room and was silenced. "Okay," Mickey announced, returning to the kitchen. "I'm done."
McCall stood up. "We'd better go then, if you're going to make your plane."
"Ah yes, Geneva awaits," Anne replied.
"What does that mean?" Robert asked, confused.
"I'll tell you on the way," Mickey promised. The three of them moved to the door.
"Congratulations on your book, Anne," Robert told her warmly. "I think it's going to be wonderfully successful."
"Thanks for all your help," she answered. She hugged him briefly. "Don't be a stranger, huh?"
"I'll be around." After a moment, McCall realized that Mickey was staring at him expectantly. "Well. I'll just . . . wait in the car, shall I? Don't be too long."
He went. Kostmayer joined him in the Jaguar five minutes later, looking quite pleased with himself. "She's really a lovely young woman," Robert observed as he pulled away from the curb.
"I do hope you'll be seeing her again."
"Oh, I think I will."
Robert glanced across and noticed that Mickey was installing a new key on his key ring. "Ah."
"Hey, McCall," Kostmayer said, putting his keys away, "thanks. Thanks for not letting me leave."
"You did leave," McCall reminded him. "But you came back all on your own."
"You helped, believe me. A favor, Robert?"
"Keep an eye on her for me?"
McCall nodded. "Of course. Of course."