The cove, p.24
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       The Cove, p.24

         Part #1 of FBI Thriller series by Catherine Coulter

  “It didn’t work out?” Sally repeated. “You tried to kidnap me and shove a needle in my arm, and all you can say is it didn’t work out?”

  He merely smiled at her and shrugged again.

  “He brought two goons with him, Noelle,” Quinlan said. “All three of them grabbed Sally when she came out of the bathroom and tried to give her a shot.” He turned back to Beadermeyer. He wanted very badly to wring the bastard’s neck. “We nearly got you, you miserable excuse for a human. At least you have to have your rear window replaced.”

  “No problem,” Beadermeyer said. “It wasn’t my car.”

  “What is going on here?” Scott said. “Noelle told me that Sally escaped. Now she’s with an FBI agent. Doctor Beadermeyer told me Sally met this man in this hick town in Oregon and they’re lovers. That’s not possible. Sally, you’re still my wife. What’s going on here?”

  Quinlan smiled benignly at all of them. “Why don’t you just consider me a sort of lawyer for her? I’m here to see that you don’t run all over her or that the good doctor here doesn’t try to shove another needle into her.”

  He eyed Scott Brainerd. Tall, slim, beautifully dressed, but that handsome face of his looked haggard. There were dark circles beneath his eyes. He didn’t look happy about any of this, and more, he looked scared. He should. Quinlan could tell that he wasn’t carrying a gun. He was nervous, part of him always moving, his hands fidgeting. He pulled a pipe out of the pocket of his lovely English jacket. A shoulder holster would ruin the line of that jacket. The bastard.

  Quinlan said nothing more, just watched him light his pipe. He imagined that he used the delay to good advantage when he was in negotiations. It also gave his hands something to do when he was nervous or scared shitless.

  “You’re the man who took Sally away from me, aren’t you? You’re the one who broke into the sanitarium?”

  James smiled at Beadermeyer. “Yeah, right on both counts. How are the German shepherds? They’re fine dogs, both with a taste for good raw steak.”

  “You had no right to break into my facility. I’ll sue your butt off.”

  “Just be quiet, Alfred,” Noelle said, “and you too, Mr. Quinlan. Sally, why don’t you sit down? Would you like a cup of tea? You look exhausted. You need to rest. You’re so thin.”

  Sally looked at her mother and slowly shook her head. “I’m sorry, Noelle, but I’m afraid you’d let Doctor Beadermeyer drug the tea.”

  The woman looked as if she’d been hit. She looked frantic. She took a step toward Sally, her hand out. “Sally, no, I’m your mother. I wouldn’t hurt you. Please, don’t do this. All I want is what’s best for you.”

  Sally was shaking. James took her arm in a firm grip and led her to a small settee. He stayed close to her, knowing it was important for her to feel him beside her, feel the warmth of him, the solidness of him. He put his hands behind his head and eyed them all from beneath his lowered lashes.

  He said to Scott Brainerd, who was now puffing furiously on his pipe, “Tell me about how you first met Sally.”

  “Yes, Scott, do tell him,” Sally said.

  “If I do, will you tell him to get the hell out of our lives?”

  “It’s a possibility,” Quinlan said. “Tell you what I can promise for sure. I won’t throw Sally in the slammer.”

  “Good,” Noelle said. “She needs to be kept safe. Doctor Beadermeyer will see to it. He’s promised me he would.”

  Their litany, Quinlan thought, their damned litany. Was Noelle a part of this? Or could she be this gullible? Couldn’t she really see Sally? See that she was perfectly all right?

  Scott began to pace, looking at Noelle, who was staring intently at her daughter, as if to read her thoughts, then at Beadermeyer, who was lounging in his large wing chair, trying to copy the damned agent.

  “I met her at the Whistler exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. It was an exciting evening. They were displaying sixteen of Whistler’s Japanese paintings. Anyway, Sally was there partying with her friends, like she always did. One of the Smithsonian lawyers introduced us. We talked, then had coffee. I took her to dinner.

  “That’s how it began, nothing more, nothing less. We discovered we had a lot in common. We fell in love. We married.”

  Beadermeyer rose and stretched. “Vastly romantic, Scott. Now, it’s late and Sally needs her rest. It’s time for us to leave, Sally.”

  “I don’t think so,” Sally said, her voice as calm as could be. James felt the shaking in her arm. “I’m twenty-six years old. I’m perfectly sane. You can’t make me go back with you. Incidentally, Scott, you didn’t tell James why you neglected to mention that you worked for my father until after we were married.”

  “You never asked, did you, Sally? You were caught up with your own career, all your fancy parties and wild friends. You didn’t really care what I did. You never asked, damn you.”

  “I asked, but you never came right out with it. You told me it was a law firm and left it at that. I remember asking you, but you wouldn’t give much out, ever.”

  Quinlan felt the ripple beneath the flesh of her hand. He squeezed slightly but kept quiet. She was doing just fine. He was pleased and optimistic. He was fast getting the measure of all three people. Soon, he thought, soon now.

  Sally paused just a moment, then said calmly, “I certainly didn’t care after I found out you were having an affair.”

  “That’s a lie! I wasn’t having an affair. I was faithful to you. I’ve always been faithful to you, even during these past six months.”

  Noelle cleared her voice. “This is leading nowhere. Sally, you’re saying that you’re sane, that indeed your father abused you in the sanitarium—”

  “So did Doctor Beadermeyer. He had this creepy little attendant called Holland who liked to bathe me, strip me, fix my hair, and sit on the side of my bed just staring at me.”

  Noelle turned to Beadermeyer. “Is this true?”

  He shrugged. “Just a bit of it. She did have an attendant named Holland. He’s gone now. Perhaps once he might have been out of line. These things happen, Noelle, particularly when a patient is as sick as Sally is. As for the rest of it, it’s just part of her illness—the delusions, the dark fantasies. Believe me, just as you believed your husband and Scott. Scott lived with her. He saw the disintegration. Isn’t that right, Scott?”

  Scott nodded. “It was frightening. We’re not lying, Noelle.”

  Noelle St. John did believe them. Quinlan saw it on her face, the look of new resolve, the new certainty, the profound pain she felt.

  She said to her daughter, “Listen, Sally, I love you. I’ve loved you forever. You will get better. I don’t care what it costs. You’ll have the best care. If you don’t like Doctor Beadermeyer, then we’ll find you another doctor. But for now, please, go back with him to the sanitarium so you can be protected.

  “You were judged mentally incompetent by Judge Harkin. You don’t even remember the hearing, do you? Well, no wonder. You were so ill, you just sat through the whole thing, didn’t say a thing, just stared straight ahead. I spoke to you, but you just looked through me. You didn’t even recognize me. It was horrible.

  “I’m your guardian now that your father is dead. Both Scott and I are, as a matter of fact. Please trust me, Sally. I only want what’s best for you. I love you.”

  Scott said, “Mr. Quinlan, you could hold her for a day, maybe, but that’s all. The judge has already ruled that she isn’t responsible for her actions. You can’t do anything to her. No one would consider having her stand trial for the murder of her father.”

  She kept her head, though Quinlan knew that shook her. This was some group. He still couldn’t make up his mind about her mother. She seemed so sincere, so caring, but . . . Now they seemed certain she’d murdered her father? It was almost time for him to intervene, but not just yet.

  Sally said, raising her hand to stem her mother’s words, “Noelle, did you know that Doctor Beadermeyer kept me drugg
ed all the time? That’s why I don’t remember the hearing. I told you that my father came and beat me twice a week, but did you know that Doctor Beadermeyer watched? Oh, yes, Doctor, I know about that two-way mirror. I also know you let others look through the door window when my father was fondling himself while I was lying naked on the bed.”

  She jumped to her feet, and Quinlan was sure she was going to attack Beadermeyer. He lightly touched her arm. Her muscles were frozen. She yelled, “Did you enjoy it, you filthy slug?”

  She whirled around to face her mother. “I don’t remember the hearing because he kept me drugged up so I wouldn’t fight him or any of his keepers. Don’t you understand? There was no way in hell they could let up on the drugs. I would have blown them out of the water. Did you also know that sometimes my father would have him lighten the dosage so I’d be more alert when he came to abuse me? That’s right, Noelle, believe it. My father, your husband. I’m not lying to you. I’m not making this up to defend my shattered ego. My father was a monster, Noelle. But you know that, don’t you?”

  Her mother screamed at her, “No more of that, Sally! No more of your crazy lies. I can’t stand it, I just can’t.”

  Scott Brainerd shouted, “That’s right, Sally. That’s more than enough. Apologize to your mother for those horrible things you’re saying about her husband.”

  “But they’re all true, and you know they are, Scott. Father couldn’t have had me committed without your being in on it. Why did you want me put away, Scott?”

  “It nearly killed me to have you committed,” Scott said. “Nearly killed me. But we had to. You were going to harm yourself.”

  To Quinlan’s relief, Sally actually managed to laugh. “Oh, that’s really good, Scott. You’re a wretched liar. Now, Noelle, when my father was beating me, or just holding me down while he stood over me, he’d laugh, tell me how he finally had me right where he wanted me, where I deserved to be.

  “Goodness, I remember it all now. He said it was his revenge for all the years I tried to protect you, Noelle. He said being in this nice place would keep my mouth shut about the other, but I don’t know what he meant by that.”

  “I do,” Quinlan said. “We’ll get to that later.”

  She smiled at him and nodded, then turned back to her mother. “Did he tell you how much he hated me? But I guess locking me away wasn’t enough for him. I guess he wasn’t beating you enough, Noelle, since he had to come and beat me as well. Twice a week. Like clockwork. He was a man of disciplined habits. I was so drugged I sometimes didn’t even know, but Holland, that pathetic little creep, he would say, ‘Yep, every Tuesday and Friday, the old guy’s here to knock you around and beat off.’

  “Of course, I do remember many of the times, particularly when they lightened the drugs. It pleased him—to know I knew it was him and I was helpless to stop him doing anything he wanted to do.”

  Noelle St. John turned on Dr. Beadermeyer. “She is sick, isn’t she, Alfred? This can’t be true, can it? And not just Amory, but Scott too. Why, he’s sworn to me that she’s very ill. Just as you have.”

  Beadermeyer shrugged. It was the man’s favorite response, Quinlan thought. “I think she believes what she’s saying is true. She really is very ill. Because she believed he did this to her, she had to murder him to assuage her own guilt. I told you how she managed to hide the sedatives beneath her tongue and escape the sanitarium. She came straight here, like a homing pigeon, took her father’s gun from his desk, and when he came in, she shot him. You heard the shot, Noelle. So did you, Scott. By the time I got here she was standing over him, watching the blood leak out of his chest, and all of you were just staring at her. I tried to help her, but she turned that gun on me and escaped again.”

  Quinlan sat forward on the sofa. Ah, now it would come out. It was time. None of this surprised him. In a few minutes it wouldn’t surprise Sally either.

  Beadermeyer turned to Sally, and his voice was gentle as a soft rain on the windowpanes. “Come, my dear, I’ll protect you from the police. I’ll protect you from the FBI, from the press, from everyone. You must leave this man. You don’t even know who he is.”

  “Susan,” Scott said, “I’m sorry for all this, but I know you couldn’t help yourself. All those delusions, those dreams, those fantasies, Doctor Beadermeyer told us you had. You did shoot Amory, you had the gun in your hand. Noelle and I saw you holding that gun, leaning down over him. We just want to help you, protect you. We didn’t tell the police a thing. Doctor Beadermeyer left before they even came. No one accused you. We’ve been protecting you all along.”

  “I didn’t kill my father.”

  “But you told me you didn’t remember anything,” Noelle said. “You told me you were afraid I’d done it and that was why you ran away. To protect you, I made the police suspect me, acted as guilty as I could, even though I hadn’t killed him. What saved me was that they couldn’t ever find the gun. Neither Scott nor I ever told the police that we were practically witnesses to the shooting. In fact, Scott didn’t even tell them he was here. That made me a better suspect. They couldn’t find you. The police are certain that you know I did it and that’s why you ran. But I didn’t, Sally, I didn’t. You did.”

  “And I know she didn’t, Susan,” Scott Brainerd said, his pipe dangling loose in his right hand, cold now. “I met her in the hallway, and we came into the living room together. You were there, leaning over him, the gun in your hand. You have to go with Doctor Beadermeyer or else you’ll wind up behind bars.”

  “Ah, yes,” said Quinlan. “The good Doctor Beadermeyer, or should I call you Norman Lipsy, from the fair nation of Canada to our north?”

  “I prefer Doctor Beadermeyer,” the man said, with exquisite calm. He lounged more comfortably in his chair, a man without a care, relaxed, at ease.

  “What’s he talking about?” Scott said.

  “Your good doctor here is a fake,” Quinlan said. “That little hideaway of his is nothing more than a prison where he keeps folks that family or others want out of the way. I wonder how much money Sally’s father paid him to keep her? Maybe you know, Scott? Maybe some of it was your money. I’ll just bet it was.”

  “I am a doctor, sir. You are insulting. I will sue you for libel.”

  “I have been to the sanitarium,” Noelle said. “It’s a clean, modern facility. The people there couldn’t have been nicer. I didn’t get to see Sally simply because she was so ill. What do you mean, people pay for Doctor Beadermeyer to hold their enemies prisoner?”

  “It’s true, Mrs. St. John, the simple truth. Your husband wanted Sally out of the way. Was it his final revenge against her for trying to protect you? I’ll bet that’s sure one part of it.”

  Quinlan turned to Sally. “I think you might have wasted your time protecting your mom, Sally. It seems to me that she would just as soon throw you right back to the hounds.”

  “That’s not true,” Noelle said, twisting her hands now. “Don’t believe him, Sally.”

  Quinlan just smiled at her. “In any case, your husband, Mrs. St. John, paid Norman Lipsy here a ton of money every month to keep his daughter drugged to her ears, to let him come visit his little girl and abuse her. Oh, yes, he did abuse her, humiliate her, treat her like a little sex slave. We have a witness.”


  DR. BEADERMEYER DIDN’T change position or expression. Scott actually jumped. As for Noelle, she turned as white as the walls.

  “No,” she whispered. “A witness?”

  “Yes, ma’am. FBI agents picked up Holland. Just before we came here, they called. He’s singing, Norman. His little lungs are near to bursting with all the songs pouring out of his mouth.

  “It’s not just Sally who was kept there. There’s a senator’s daughter. Her name is Patricia. Doctor Beadermeyer gave her a lobotomy—and botched it, by the way.”

  “That isn’t true, none of it.”

  “Now, Norman, the FBI will be at the sanitarium shortly with a search warrant, and the
y’ll go through that office of yours like ants at a picnic lunch. All your dirty little secrets will be out. I have a friend at the Washington Post. All the world will soon know your secrets. All those poor people you’ve kept at your prison will be free again.

  “Now, given all this, Noelle, do you still want to put any stock in this guy’s word?”

  Noelle looked from Quinlan to Dr. Beadermeyer. “How much did my husband pay you?” It was suddenly a new Noelle—straight shoulders, no longer pale and fragile-looking, but a strong woman whose eyes were narrowed now, whose jaw was locked and hard. He saw rage in those soft blue eyes of hers.

  “It was just for her care, Noelle, nothing more. Her case is complex. She’s paranoid schizophrenic. She’s been mentally ill for some time. We tried a number of drugs to relieve her symptoms. But we were never fully successful. This thing she dreamed up about her father—it gave her enough to focus to escape and come to kill him. It’s that simple and that complex. I did nothing wrong.

  “This Holland—poor fellow—I took him in. He’s very simple in the head. It’s true he attended Sally. He was very fond of her in his moronic way. Only a fool would believe anything he said. He’d say whatever anyone wanted him to say. They’ll realize quickly enough that he’ll say anything, just to please them.”

  “For someone who’s not a shrink, you’re not bad, Norman,” Quinlan said.

  “What do you mean he’s not a shrink?” Scott said.

  “He’s a plastic surgeon. He deals with the outside of the head, not the inside. He’s a fake. He’s a criminal. And he watched your husband hurt his own daughter. I have no reason to lie to you, Mrs. St. John.”

  “Bastard,” Dr. Beadermeyer said. “All right, Noelle, if you no longer believe me, no longer trust my word, then I won’t take Sally back with me. I’ll leave. I’ve got nothing more to say. The only reason I came here was to help Sally.”

  He took a step forward, but Quinlan was up in an instant. Three steps and he had Dr. Beadermeyer’s tie in his fist. He said very softly, right in his face, “Who is paying you to hold Sally now that her father’s dead? Scott here? If so, why? Why was she put away? It wasn’t just revenge, was it?” Quinlan knew, but he wanted to hear it out of Beadermeyer’s mouth.

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