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Tell No One

Harlan Coben

Chapter 18

  Nothing's happening," Eric Wu said. "Beck keeps trying to sign on, but all he gets is an error message. "

  Larry Gandle was about to ask a follow-up question, when he heard the elevator rev up. He checked the clock.

  Rebecca Schayes was right on time.

  Eric Wu turned away from his computer. He looked at Larry Gandle with the kind of eyes that make a man take a step back. Gandle took out his gun - a nine-millimeter this time. Just in case. Wu frowned. He moved his bulk to the door and flipped off the light.

  They waited in the dark.

  Twenty seconds later, the elevator stopped on their floor.

  Rebecca Schayes rarely thought about Elizabeth and Beck anymore. It had, after all, been eight years. But this morning events had stirred up some long-dormant sensations. Nagging sensations.

  About the "car accident. "

  After all these years, Beck had finally asked her about it. Eight years ago, Rebecca had been prepared to tell him all about it. But Beck hadn't returned her calls. As time went by - and after an arrest had been made - she saw no point in dredging up the past. It would only hurt Beck. And after KillRoy arrest, it seemed irrelevant.

  But the nagging sensation - the sensation that Elizabeth's bruises from the "car accident" were somehow a precursor to her murder - lingered, even though it made no sense. More than that, the nagging sensation taunted her, making her wonder if she, Rebecca, had insisted, really insisted, on finding out the truth about the "car accident," maybe, just maybe, she could have saved her friend.

  The lingering, however, faded away over time. At the end of the day, Elizabeth had been her friend, and no matter how close you are, you get over a friend's death. Gary Lamont had come into her life three years ago and changed everything. Yes, Rebecca Schayes, the bohemian photographer from Greenwich Village, had fallen in love with a money-grubbing Wall Street bond trader. They'd gotten married and moved into a trendy high-rise on the Upper West Side.

  Funny how life worked.

  Rebecca stepped into the freight elevator and slid the gate down. The lights were out, which was hardly unusual in this building. The elevator started heading up to her floor, the churning sound reverberating off the stone. Sometimes at night, she could hear the horses whinny, but they were silent now. The smell of hay and something probably fouler mingled in the air.

  She liked being here at night. The way the solitude blended with the city's night noises made her feel her most "artsy. "

  Her mind started drifting back to the conversation she'd had last night with Gary. He wanted to move out of New York City, preferably to a spacious home on Long Island, at Sands Point, where he'd been raised. The idea of moving to the 'burbs horrified her. More than her love of the city, she knew that it would be the final betrayal of her bohemian roots. She would become what she swore she would never become: her mother and her mother's mother.

  The elevator stopped. She lifted the gate and stepped down the corridor. All the lights were off up here. She pulled back her hair and tied it into a thick ponytail. She peered at her watch. Almost nine o'clock. The building would be empty. Of human beings at least.

  Her shoes clacked against the cool cement. The truth was - and Rebecca was having a hard time accepting it, she being a bohemian and all - that the more she thought about it, the more she realized that yes, she wanted children, and that the city was a lousy place to raise them. Children need a backyard and swings and fresh air and. . .

  Rebecca Schayes was just reaching a decision - a decision that would have no doubt thrilled her broker husband, Gary - when she stuck her key in the door and opened her studio. She went inside and flipped the light switch.

  That was when she saw the weirdly shaped Asian man.

  For a moment or two the man simply stared at her. Rebecca stood frozen in his gaze. Then the Asian man stepped to the side, almost behind her, and blasted a fist into the small of her back.

  It was like a sledgehammer hit her kidney.

  Rebecca crumbled to her knees. The man grabbed her neck with two fingers. He squeezed a pressure point. Rebecca saw bright lights.

  With his free hand, the man dug with fingers like ice picks under her rib cage. When they reached her liver, her eyes bulged. The pain was beyond anything she'd ever imagined. She tried to scream, but only a choking grunt escaped her mouth.

  From across the room, a man's voice sliced through the haze.

  "Where is Elizabeth?" the voice asked.

  For the first time.

  But not the last.