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Page 18


So why was Goldberg hesitating?
He dialed the number. It was picked up on the third ring.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Goldberg!”
Reason one for his hesitation: The guy’s voice gave him the heebie-jeebies. The man—he sounded really young—was unfailingly polite and spoke in exclamation points, as though he were trying out for an old-time musical. The sound chilled Goldberg. But there was more to it than that.
There were the rumors about this guy. There were stories of violence and depravity done by this guy and his partner, the kind of stories that make grown men—big, tough, world-weary, seen-it-all men like Goldberg—stay up at night, pulling the covers just a wee bit higher.
“Yeah,” Goldberg said. “Hi.”
Even if the rumors were exaggerated, even if a quarter of the whispers were true, Goldberg had gotten in on something he wanted no part of. Still, the best course of action would be to take the money and shut up. In a sense, what choice did he have? If he tried to back out now or return the money, he might anger that voice on the other end of the phone.
The voice said, “What can I do for you, Mr. Goldberg?”
In the background, Goldberg heard a noise that was making his blood freeze.
“What the hell is that?” he asked.
“Oh, nothing to worry about, Mr. Goldberg. What did you want to tell me?”
“I might have another lead.”
“I’m not sure, that’s all.”
“Mr. Goldberg?”
What the hell was that sound in the background?
“Please tell me what you know.”
He had already leaked them whatever he could on the disappearance of Carlton Flynn. Why not? He and his partner were interested in finding the missing guy too, and the pay was pretty damn sweet.
The last thing Goldberg had leaked was what he learned from Broome: Carlton Flynn had a stripper girlfriend who worked at La Crème.
There was whimpering in the background.
“Do you have a dog?” Goldberg asked.
“No, Mr. Goldberg, I don’t. Oh, but I had the best dog when I was a kid! Her name was Ginger Snaps. Cute, right?”
Goldberg said nothing.
“You seem reluctant, Mr. Goldberg.”
“It’s Deputy Chief Goldberg.”
“Would you like to meet in person, Deputy Chief Goldberg? We can discuss this issue at your house, if you’d like.”
Goldberg’s heart stopped beating. “No, that’s okay.”
“So what can you tell me, Deputy Chief Goldberg?”
The dog was still whimpering. But now Goldberg thought that maybe he heard another sound too, another whimpering maybe, or something worse, underneath the first—a terrible, pain-stricken noise so nonhuman that paradoxically it could only come from another human being.
“Deputy Chief Goldberg?”
He swallowed and dived in. “There’s this lawyer named Harry Sutton.…”
THE DOOR TO HARRY SUTTON’S office opened, and Cassie walked in.
She looked pretty much the same.
That was the first thought that hit Broome. In those days, Broome had even known her a little, seen her at the club, and so he remembered her. She’d changed her hair color over the years—she’d been more platinum blond, if he recalled correctly—but that was about it.
Some might wonder, if she hadn’t changed very much, why Broome hadn’t been able to find her in the past seventeen years. The truth was, disappearing is not as hard as you might think. Back in those days, Rudy didn’t have even her real name. Broome had eventually found it. Maygin Reilly. But that was where it ended. She had gotten a new ID, and while she was something of a person of interest, it hardly warranted a nationwide APB or its own episode of Most Wanted.
The other change was that she looked wealthier and more—for a lack of a better term—normal. You could dress a stripper down, but you could always see the stripper. Same with the gambler, the drinker, heck, the cop. Cassie looked like a classic suburban mom. A fun one maybe. The one who gave as good as she got, who flirted when the mood struck, who leaned a little too close when she had a few drinks at the block party. But a suburban mom just the same.
She sat next to him and turned and met his eye.
“Good to see you again, Detective.”
“Same, I guess. I’ve been looking for you, Cassie.”
“So I gathered.”
“Seventeen years.”
“Almost like Valjean and Javert,” she said.
“Like in Les Misérables.”
“You’ve read Hugo?”
“Nah,” Broome said, “my ex dragged me to the musical.”
“I don’t know where Stewart Green is,” she said.
Cool, Broome thought. She was skipping the preliminaries. “You realize, of course, that you vanished at the same time he did?”
“When you both vanished, you two were seeing each other, right?”
Broome spread his arms. “That’s what I was told.”
She gave him a half-smile, and Broome saw the sexy girl from years ago emerge. “How long have you lived in Atlantic City, Detective?”
He nodded, knowing where she was going with this. “Forty years.”
“You know the life. I wasn’t a prostitute. I was working the clubs, and I had fun doing it. So, yes, for a while Stewart Green was part of that fun. A small part. But he eventually destroyed it.”
“The fun?”
“Everything,” she said. Her mouth tightened. “Stewart Green was a psychopath. He stalked me. He beat me. He threatened to kill me.”
“What part of the word ‘psychopath’ confused you?”
“So you’re a psychiatrist now, Cassie?”
She gave him the half-smile again. “You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know a psychopath,” she began, “any more than you need to be a cop to know a killer.”
“Touché,” Broome said. “But if Stewart Green was that crazy, well, he managed to fool a lot of people.”
“We are all different things to different people.”
Broome frowned. “That’s a tad trite, don’t you think?”
“It is.” She thought about it. “I once heard this guy give a friend some advice about dating a girl who appeared really normal but, well, underneath it all, she was tightly wound. You know the type?”