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Tell No One, Page 39

Harlan Coben

Chapter 38

  I woke up and lifted my head and almost screamed. My muscles were two steps beyond stiff and sore; I ached in parts of my body I didn't know I had. I tried to swing my legs out of bed. Swing was a bad idea. A very bad idea. Slow. That was the ticket this morning.

  My legs hurt most, reminding me that despite my quasi marathon of yesterday, I was pathetically out of shape. I tried to roll over. The tender spots where the Asian guy had attacked felt as though I'd ripped sutures. My body longed for a couple of Percodans, but I knew that they would put me on Queer Street, and that's not where I wanted to be right now.

  I checked my watch. Six A. M. It was time for me to call Hester back. She picked up on the first ring.

  "It worked," she said. "You're free. "

  I felt only mild relief.

  "What are you going to do?" she asked.

  A hell of a question. "I'm not sure. "

  "Hold on a sec. " I heard another voice in the background. "Shauna wants to talk to you. "

  There was a fumbling sound as the phone changed hands, and then Shauna said, "We need to talk. "

  Shauna, never one for idle pleasantries or subtleties, still sounded uncharacteristically strained and maybe even - hard to imagine - scared. My heart started doing a little giddyap.

  "What is it?"

  "This isn't for the phone," she said.

  "I can be at your place in an hour. "

  "I haven't told Linda about, uh, you know. "

  "Maybe it's time to," I said.

  "Yeah, okay. " Then she added with surprising tenderness, "Love you, Beck. "

  "Love you too. "

  I half crouched, half crawled toward the shower. Furniture helped support my stiff-legged stumble and keep me upright. I stayed under the spray until the hot water ran out. It helped ease the soreness, but not a lot.

  Tyrese found me a purple velour sweat suit from the Eighties Al Sharpton collection. I almost asked for a big gold medallion.

  "Where you gonna go?" he asked me.

  "To my sister's for now. "

  "And then?"

  "To work, I guess. "

  Tyrese shook his head.

  "What?" I asked.

  "You up against some bad dudes, Doc. "

  "Yeah, I kinda put that together. "

  "Bruce Lee ain't gonna let this slide. "

  I thought about that. He was right. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't just go home and wait for Elizabeth to make contact again. In the first place, I'd had enough with the passive; gentle repose simply was not on the Beck agenda anymore. But equally important, the men in that van were not about to forget the matter and let me go merrily on my way.

  "I watch your back, Doc. Brutus too. Till this is over. "

  I was about to say something brave like "I can't ask you to do that" or "You have your own life to lead," but when you thought about it, they could either do this or deal drugs. Tyrese wanted to help - perhaps even needed to help - and let's face it, I needed him. I could warn him off, remind him of the danger, but he understood these particular perils far better than I did. So in the end, I just accepted with a nod.

  Carlson got the call from the National Tracing Center earlier than he expected.

  "We were able to run it already," Donna said.


  "Heard of IBIS?"

  "Yeah, a little. " He knew that IBIS stood for Integrated Ballistic Identification System, a new computer program that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms used to store bullet and shell casings. Part of the ATF's new Ceasefire program.

  "We don't even need the original bullet anymore," she went on. "They just had to send us the scanned images. We can digitize and match them right on the screen. "


  "You were right, Nick," she said. "It's a match. "

  Carlson disconnected and placed another call. When the man on the other end picked up, he asked, "Where's Dr. Beck?"