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Authors: James Patterson,Howard Roughan

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BOOK: Don't Blink
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“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a press conference to give,” he said. “Big one, too. You might want to stick around for it. This morning, Eddie ‘The Prince’ Pinero was arrested for ordering the murder of Vincent Marcozza.”

Chapter 43

I WOULD HAVE sooner volunteered for a double root canal than stuck around for Sorren’s press conference that morning.

Still, there was no escaping it later that night on the news. It was everywhere on the dial — not that I was too surprised by that. Americans have always loved a good mob story.

But was David Sorren telling the public the right story? Was it the truth?

With practically every flip of the channel there was a clip of Pinero in handcuffs followed by another clip of Sorren facing the hordes of media on the steps of his building. And to watch and listen to Sorren was to make no mistake: the New York Country DA’s Office was

For now, anyway.

As I continued to watch him address the cameras without a single hair out of place, it was easy to picture him making the move to a new building. Like City Hall. If timing is everything, then Pinero’s arrest would be the perfect lead-in for Sorren to announce his candidacy for mayor.

So don’t screw it up
, I was about to be told in no uncertain terms.

Out of the blue, or at least out of
blue, the doorbell rang. Whoever it was had made it past the night doorman unannounced. Then again, what else was new? Newborn babies dozed off less than the guy manning our front door.

Looking through the peephole, I blinked with disbelief. It was really her, though.


Bumping into her at the New York Library benefit was one thing, but now here she was at my apartment.

“Wow, twice in one week,” I said as I opened the door. “Just like old times.”

“Twice too many,” Brenda shot back, zipping right by me into my narrow foyer. She turned to face me, her hands planted sternly on her hips. “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Excuse me? Can I have a little hint here?”

“Don’t play dumb, Nick,” she said. “I really hate it when you play dumb. That was another of our problems.”

Fair enough. “Did Sorren put you up to this?” I asked. “He’s worried about me, isn’t he?”

“David doesn’t even know I’m here. He would never ask me to intervene on his behalf. Never happen.”

Again, it was so hard to tell when Brenda was lying, telling the truth, whatever.

“He obviously told you I went to see him today, though, right?” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered. “David and I are a couple, Nick. Couples tell each other things.”

“Don’t remind me,” I said.

She knew exactly what I meant by that. It was ostensibly the reason we broke up.

Long, painful story made short, I had done an important interview with Bill Gates in which he went on record for the first time about his planned retirement from Microsoft. That night I told Brenda. I mean, everyone knows that pillow talk never leaves the bedroom, right? Especially when both of you have made promises to that effect.

Apparently Brenda had had her fingers crossed. The very next day, she reported it on air. “According to a reliable source,” she began the story. It was a real coup for her at the network, a feather in her cap.

And a dagger right through my heart.

I knew right then and there that I could never trust Brenda Evans again. Not that she would ever give me the satisfaction of telling her that. No chance. Ten minutes after her broadcast I received a Dear John e-mail from her. That’s right,
was breaking up with
. With an
. Her reason why? I wasn’t as driven as her and she needed someone who was. And that was that.

“Are you doing this because of what happened between us?” she was asking me now. “Because if you’re trying to get even, it’s not fair to David.”

“What is it exactly you think I’m doing?” I felt compelled to ask.

“I know you, Nick. I know how you play your hunches. You’re relentless even when you’re dead wrong, not even warm.”

“I think what I discussed with your new boyfriend was a little more than a hunch. I may very well be right. There’s evidence, and it’s mounting.”

“But what if you’re wrong
Have you considered for one second how making waves about Pinero’s guilt would reflect on David and his political future?”

I shook my head and smirked. “Wow, you’ve already got your dress picked out for the inauguration, don’t you?”

If looks could kill, this story would end right here. Fortunately, they can’t.

“This isn’t about me, Nick.”

“That’s where you’re a hundred percent wrong. It’s always about you, Brenda, and it always will be.”

That touched a nerve, to put it mildly. Her face immediately flushed bright red, her hands balling into fists. Apparently it was time for her to wake the neighbors.

“Fuck you!” she yelled. “Do you hear me? FUCK YOU! You’re such a loser, Nick.”

She then marched out of my apartment, making a beeline for the elevator. She hit the down button so hard, I was sure she broke a nail.

“Does this mean I’m not getting a Christmas card?” I asked from my doorway.

It was a glib comment, but I couldn’t help it. She was bringing out the worst in me, as she always did.

The elevator opened and Brenda stepped inside — but not before having the last word, a proverbial kick to the groin. She really did know how to hurt a guy, especially me.

“By the way,” she said. “My new boyfriend? He’s way better than you in bed!”


Chapter 44

I WALKED INTO the cavernous Main Concourse of Grand Central Station the next morning, weaving my way through the buzzing crowd of tourists and visiting weekend suburbanites. I must say that I love this building and can’t thank Jacqueline Onassis enough for saving it once upon a time.

Out of nowhere I bumped shoulders with a young man who had a knapsack strung over one shoulder. As we traded polite, if not clipped, apologies and went our separate ways, I couldn’t help noticing his T-shirt. In big block lettering it read, “

Naturally, I couldn’t help thinking of Dr. Alan Cole and wondering how he was doing — and where he might be doing it. Hopefully, he’d soon be back home safely.

Of course, that would make only one of us. With everything that’s happened since I returned home from Darfur, I
almost longed for the relative peace and quiet of being chased and shot at by the Janjaweed militia …

Maybe that’s why I was so looking forward to this day and what I would be doing soon.

Pure and simple, there’d be no talk of murder, no mention of the mob, no discussion of the mysterious stranger who’d told me to mind my own business and do nothing.

That would all take a backseat to a pair of box seats at Yankee Stadium. Myself in one, and the center of my current universe in the other. That would be my niece, Elizabeth.

Her passport says she’s fourteen, but you’d never know it. Bright and articulate beyond her years, she also happens to be the bravest kid I know.

No, scratch that. She’s the bravest
I know.

Elizabeth’s train hissed to a stop right on time at platform forty, the long row of doors opening in perfect unison. While the mad dash to exit was nowhere near your typical weekday morning rush hour, there was still enough of a crowd that I couldn’t spot her right away.

That’s when I heard her, the familiar sound that always accompanies her arrival on any scene.

Immediately, I smiled. I could see her now. But she couldn’t see me.

Elizabeth couldn’t see anything.

She’s been blind since the age of five.

“You forgot your mitt again, didn’t you?” I said as she got a little closer.

She smiled an amazing smile before scrunching her freckled nose. “And you’re wearing too much cologne again. I could just about smell you on the train coming in.”

I gave her a hug, squeezing her tightly in my arms. “I think Jeter’s going to hit one today,” I whispered. “I can feel it in my bones.”

“I think he’s going to hit two,” she whispered back. “Let’s go and see.”

Then she did what she always did. She broke away from my grasp so she could walk on her own, her foldout white cane leading the way.

Tap-tap-tap …

That’s my niece, Elizabeth.

The bravest anybody I know.

The perfect antidote for everything that had happened this week.

Chapter 45

YOU MIGHT WONDER — WASN’T I afraid I might be putting Elizabeth in harm’s way? I had thought about it and briefly considered canceling our day together, but that would have broken her heart —
the Mafia had always put women and children out of bounds. That was the code.

So it was Elizabeth and me — and we were already drawing some attention, as we always do.

I understood the double takes. I could even put up with the excessive staring. After all, whoever heard of bringing a blind girl to a baseball game?

But they didn’t get it, not any of them. It was as if they were the ones who were blind.

Don’t you see? Anybody?

Baseball is the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd, the smell of cut grass and hot dogs, the crunch of peanut shells at your feet.

Elizabeth couldn’t see the game with her eyes, but she enjoyed it no less than those who could. Perhaps she even enjoyed it more. Because while others merely watched it, she

And the gushing smile on her face was all I needed to see to be assured of that.

“So, how is Courtney?” Elizabeth asked after the top of the first. Between innings was when we did most of our talking. My niece had met Courtney half a dozen times and they adored each other.

“Courtney told me to say hello,” I said, which was the truth. “How’s your mom?” I asked then, quickly changing the subject.

“Mom’s lonely, that’s how she is,” answered Elizabeth. “But she’s tough, too.”

As often as I spoke to my older sister, Kate, I never felt as if she completely leveled with me. Elizabeth, on the other hand, always told it like it was.

“Lonely, huh? Like,
lonely?” I asked.

“Is there any other kind?”

“Good point.”

“She needs to meet someone,” said Elizabeth. “Isn’t Courtney getting married?”

“She is, and to a very impressive guy. Your mom’s been going on a few dates, hasn’t she?”

“Yeah, few and far between.”

I laughed out loud. “It takes time, Lizzy.”

“Okay, but it’s been, like, four years since he died, Nick. That’s enough time.”

Four and a half, to be exact. That’s when my sister’s husband,
Carl, had suffered a fatal heart attack while on business in London. He had been only forty-two.
How on earth does that happen? Why? On whose orders?

Kate had called me to break the news. She’d also asked that I come out to their home in Weston, Connecticut, so I could help break the news to Elizabeth. She couldn’t bear to do it alone. The girl was nine years old and blind, and suddenly she was also fatherless, and her mom had a huge hole in her heart.

I’ll never forget what Elizabeth asked me that hot August afternoon as I held her hand on their living room couch. She was wearing a yellow sundress, her frazzled blond hair tucked back in rows of barrettes. “Will I be able to see my daddy in heaven?” she wanted to know.

My eyes welled up. I could barely hold back the tears.

“Yes,” I told her. “You’ll see him every day.”

“Do you promise?”

“I do.”

I squeezed her little hand and she squeezed back, and all I could remember thinking was one thing.

If there is indeed a God up there, he better not make a liar out of me

“So anyway, Uncle Nick,” Elizabeth said after a quick sip of soda, “tell me all about Courtney and this impressive fiancé of hers.”

“Okay, okay — I’m heartbroken,” I finally admitted.

“I knew you were,” she said. “I could tell in your voice, just in the way you say her name. You truly are heartbroken. And I’m heartbroken for you.”

Part Three


Chapter 46

COURTNEY HAD APPARENTLY been holed up in her large Upper West Side apartment through the weekend. When she finally returned one of my many phone calls that Sunday evening, I convinced her to let me come over.

When she opened the door, she was dressed in baggy sweats, she wasn’t wearing a touch of makeup, and her eyes were so red from all the crying that she could have been the “before” picture in an allergy medication ad.

But to me, she never looked more beautiful. I just wanted to hold her. But I didn’t. I wouldn’t even try under the circumstances.

We hung out in her kitchen and opened up a bottle of Bordeaux. It was a 2003 Branaire-Ducru, her favorite. I couldn’t help wondering if Thomas Ferramore knew that. Did he know any of her favorite things? Maybe he did. Maybe he loved her like I did.
Screw Ferramore. Of course he doesn’t

After a few sips in complete silence, she took the deepest of deep breaths and exhaled. “Go ahead,” she said, “ask the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question.”

Given Ferramore’s bank account it was more like the sixty-four-million-dollar question, but that was a bad joke I wasn’t about to crack. I was also going to do my best to avoid the word

Still, I asked the question she wanted — make that
— me to ask. “Is it true?”

“Tom swears that it isn’t. He even said he’d be able to prove it to me.”

“Do you believe him?”
Don’t, Courtney. He’s a super-rich super-scumbag

Courtney stared down at the wineglass cradled in her hands, the plum red of the Bordeaux reflecting off her ten-carat diamond ring. She was still wearing it.

“I don’t know,” she answered finally.

That was that.

She didn’t ask my opinion. She didn’t want to know what I thought she should do. Perhaps that’s because she already knew. She is

BOOK: Don't Blink
12.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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