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Page 17


With most lawyers, Broome would figure they were full of crap. But Harry Sutton, for all his private-life extremes—and, man, he had loads—would not pull something like this. There was no upside for him for lying about it.
“I’ll tell you about it later,” Broome said.
Goldberg put his hands on his hips, trying hard to look tough. “No, you’ll tell me now.”
“Harry Sutton may have located a witness.”
“What witness?”
“I was sworn to secrecy.”
“You were what?”
Broome didn’t bother to reply. He just kept moving, taking the stairs, knowing that Goldberg, a man who found it exhausting to reach for anything other than a sandwich, wouldn’t follow. When he got in his car, his cell phone rang. Broome saw that it was Erin.
“Where are you?” she asked.
“Heading to see Harry Sutton.”
Erin had been his cop partner for twenty-three years before retiring last year. She was also his ex-wife. He filled her in on the sudden reappearance of Cassie.
“Wow,” Erin said.
“The elusive Cassie,” Erin said. “You’ve been looking for her for a long time.”
“Seventeen years.”
“So you may get some answers.”
“We can hope. You call for a reason?”
“The surveillance video from La Crème.”
“What about it?”
“I may have found something,” Erin said.
“Do you want me to stop by when I’m done with Sutton?”
“Sure, that’ll give me time to hammer this out. Plus you can fill me in on your meeting with the elusive Cassie.”
Then, because he couldn’t resist: “Erin?”
“You said ‘hammer.’ Heh-heh-heh.”
“Seriously, Broome?” Erin groaned. “How old are you?”
“Lines like that used to work on you.”
“Lots of things used to work on me,” she said, and there was maybe a hint of sadness in her voice. “A long time ago.”
Truer words. “See you in a while, Erin.”
Broome pushed thoughts of his ex away and kept his foot on the accelerator. A few minutes later, he wrapped his knuckles on the pebbled glass. From inside, a gravelly voice called, “Enter!”
He opened the door and stepped fully into the room. Harry Sutton looked like a beloved college professor gone seriously to seed. Broome took in the whole room. There was no one here but Harry.
“Nice to see you, Detective.”
“Where is Cassie?”
“Have a seat.”
Broome did as asked. “Where is Cassie?”
“She’s not here at the moment.”
“Well, yes, I can see that.”
“That’s because you’re a trained detective.”
“I try not to brag,” Broome said. “What’s going on here, Harry?”
“She’s nearby. She wants to talk to you. But before she does, there are a few ground rules.”
Broome spread his arms. “I’m listening.”
“First of all, this is all off the record.”
“Off the record? What, you think I’m a reporter, Harry?”
“No, I think you’re a good and somewhat desperate cop. Off the record meaning just that. You don’t take notes. You don’t put this in the file. As far as anyone knows, you never talked to her.”
Broome considered that. “And if I say no?”
Harry Sutton stood and reached out his hand. “Good to see you again, Detective. Have a nice day.”
“Okay, okay, no need for theatrics.”
“No need,” Harry said with a bright smile, “but why not throw them in if I can?”
“So it’s off the record. Bring her in.”
“A few more rules first.”
Broome waited.
“Today is a one-time exclusive. Cassie will talk to you in my office. She will answer your questions to the best of her ability in my presence. Then she will vanish again. You will let her. You won’t try to learn her new name or identity—and more important, you won’t try to find her after this meeting.”
“And you’re going to just trust me on that?”
“I see,” Broome said. He shifted in the chair. “Suppose I think she’s guilty of a crime.”
“You won’t.”
“But suppose.”
“Tough. When she’s done talking to you, she goes home. You don’t see her again.”
“And suppose, after I investigate some more, I stumble across something new I need to ask her about.”
“Same answer: Tough.”
“I can’t come to you?”
“You can. And if I can help, I will. But she makes no commitment to do so.”
Broome could argue, but he had no leverage here. He was also a one-in-the-hand, don’t-look-a-gift-horse-in-the-mouth kind of guy. Yesterday he didn’t have the slightest clue where Cassie was. Now, unless he pissed off her or Harry, he could talk to her.
“Okay,” Broome said, “I agree to all your rules.”
“Marvelous.” Harry Sutton picked up his cell phone and said, “Cassie? It’s okay. Come on in now.”
He was a year from retirement with full pension, and it wasn’t enough. Not even close. Atlantic City might be a cesspool, but it was a costly one. He had alimony payments up the wazoo. His current love interest, Melinda, a twenty-eight-year-old porn star (they were always porn “stars,” Goldberg noticed, never just “actresses” or, as in Melinda’s case, “the lesser girl in the three-way”), was sucking him dry (and he meant that in two ways, snicker). But, man, was she worth it.
Yep, slice it any way you want, but in the end Goldberg was a cop on the take.
Normally he could justify it easily enough. Bad guys are like one of those mythological beasts where you cut off one bad guy, two more just pop up in its place. Or, better the devil you know—the one you can somewhat control and who won’t knock off real citizens and who will give you some dough—than the devil you don’t. Or, removing the sleaze from this city was like emptying an ocean with a tablespoon. Whatever, Goldberg had a million of them.
But in this circumstance, justification was even easier: The guy slipping him the Ben Franklins seemed, at least on the surface, to be on the same side as the angels.