Tell no one, p.35
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       Tell No One, p.35

           Harlan Coben
 
Chapter 34

  No luggage. An e-ticket so she could check in by machine rather than with a person. She waited in a neighboring terminal, keeping her eye on the departure screen, waiting for the On Time next to her flight to evolve into Boarding.

  She sat in a chair of molded plastic and looked out onto the tarmac. A TV blared CNN. "Next up Headline Sports. " She made her mind blank. Five years ago, she had spent time in a small village outside Goa, India. Though a true hellhole, the village had something of a buzz about it because of the one-hundred year-old yogi who lived there. She had spent time with the yogi. He had tried to teach her meditation techniques, pranayama breathing, mind cleansing. But none of it ever really stuck. There were moments when she could sink away into blackness. More often, though, wherever she sank, Beck was there.

  She wondered about her next move. There was no choice really. This was about preservation. Preservation meant fleeing. She had made a mess and now she was running away again, leaving others to clean it up. But what other option was there? They were onto her. She had been careful as hell, but they had still been watching. Eight years later.

  A toddler scrambled toward the plate-glass window, his palms hitting it with a happy splat. His harried father chased him down and scooped him up with a giggle. She watched and her mind scrambled to the obvious what-could-have-beens. An old couple sat to her right, chatting amiably about nothing. As teenagers, she and Beck would watch Mr. and Mrs. Steinberg stroll up Downing Place arm in arm, every night without fail, long after their children had grown and fled the nest. That would be their lives, Beck had promised. Mrs. Steinberg died when she was eighty-two. Mr. Steinberg, who had been in amazingly robust health, followed four months later. They say that happens a lot with the elderly, that - to paraphrase Springsteen - two hearts become one. When one dies, the other follows. Was that how it was with her and David? They had not been together sixty-one years like the Steinbergs, but when you think about it in relative terms, when you consider that you barely have any memories of your life before age five, when you figure that she and Beck had been inseparable since they were seven, that they could barely unearth any memory that didn't include the other, when you think of the time spent together not just in terms of years but in life percentages, they had more vested in each other than even the Steinbergs.

  She turned and checked the screen. Next to British Airways Flight 174, the word Boarding started to flash.

  Her flight was being called.

  * * *

  Carlson and Stone, along with their local buddies Dimonte and Krinsky, stood with the British Airways reservation manager.

  "He's a no-show," the reservation manager, a blue-and-white uniformed woman with a kerchief, a beautiful accent, and a name tag reading Emily told them.

  Dimonte cursed. Krinsky shrugged. This was not unexpected. Beck had been successfully eluding a manhunt all day. It was a long shot that he would be dumb enough to try to board a flight using his real name.

  "Dead end," Dimonte said.

  Carlson, who still had the autopsy file clutched against his hip, asked Emily, "Who is your most computer-literate employee?"

  "That would be me," she said with a competent smile.

  "Please bring up the reservation," Carlson said.

  Emily did as he requested.

  "Can you tell me when he booked the flight?"

  "Three days ago. "

  Dimonte leapt on that one. "Beck planned to run. Son of a bitch. "

  Carlson shook his head. "No. "

  "How do you figure?"

  "We've been assuming that he killed Rebecca Schayes to shut her up," Carlson explained. "But if you're going to leave the country, why bother? Why take the risk of waiting three days and trying to get away with another murder?"

  Stone shook his head. "You're over thinking this one, Nick. "

  "We're missing something," Carlson insisted. "Why did he all of a sudden decide to run in the first place?"

  "Because we were onto him. "

  "We weren't onto him three days ago. "

  "Maybe he knew it was a matter of time. "

  Carlson frowned some more.

  Dimonte turned to Krinsky. "This is a waste of time. Let's get the hell out of here. " He looked at Carlson. "We'll leave a couple of uniforms around just in case. "

  Carlson nodded, only half listening. When they left, he asked Emily, "Was he traveling with anyone?"

  Emily hit some keys. "It was a solo booking. "

  "How did he book it? In person? On the phone? Did he go through a travel agency?"

  She clicked the keys again. "It wasn't through a travel agency. That much I can tell you because we'd have a marking to pay a commission. The reservation was made directly with British Airways. "

  No help there, "How did he pay?"

  "Credit card. "

  "May I have the number, please?"

  She gave it to him. He passed it over to Stone. Stone shook his head. "Not one of his cards. At least, not one we know about. "

  "Check it out," Carlson said.

  Stone's cell phone was already in his hand. He nodded and pressed the keypad.

  Carlson rubbed his chin. "You said he booked his flight three days ago. "

  "That's correct. "

  "Do you know what time he booked it?"

  "Actually yes. The computer stamps it in. Six-fourteen in the P. M. "

  Carlson nodded. "Okay, great. Can you tell me if anyone else booked at around the same time?"

  Emily thought about it. "I've never tried that," she said. "Hold on a moment, let me see something. " She typed. She waited. She typed some more. She waited. "The computer won't sort by booking date. "

  "But the information is in there?"

  "Yes. Wait, hold up. " Her fingers started clacking again. "I can paste the information onto a spreadsheet. We can put fifty bookings per screen. It will make it faster. "

  The first group of fifty had a married couple who booked the same day but hours earlier. Useless. The second group had none. In the third group, however, they hit bingo.

  "Lisa Sherman," Emily pronounced. "Her flight was booked the same day, eight minutes later. "

  It didn't mean anything on its own, of course, but Carlson felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

  "Oh, this is interesting," Emily added.

  "What?"

  "Her seat assignment. "

  "What about it?"

  "She was scheduled to sit next to David Beck. Row sixteen, seats E and F. "

  He felt the jolt. "Has she checked in?"

  More typing. The screen cleared. Another came up. "As a matter of fact, she has. She's probably boarding as we speak. "

  She adjusted her purse strap and stood. Her step was brisk, her head high. She still had the glasses and the wig and implants. So did the photograph of Lisa Sherman in her passport.

  She was four gates away when she heard a snippet of the CNN report. She stopped short. A man wheeling an industrial-size piece of carry-on ran into her. He made a rude hand gesture as though she'd cut him off on a freeway. She ignored him and kept her eyes on the screen.

  The anchorwoman was doing the report. In the right-hand corner of the screen was a photograph of her old friend Rebecca Schayes side by side with an image of. . . of Beck.

  She hurried closer to the screen. Under the images in a blood red font were the words Death in the Darkroom.

  ". . . David Beck, suspected in the slaying. But is that the only crime they believe he's committed? CNN's Jack Turner has more. "

  The anchorwoman disappeared. In her place, two men with NYPD windbreakers rolled out a black body bag on a stretcher. She recognized the building at once and almost gasped. Eight years. Eight years had passed, but Rebecca still had her studio in the same location.

  A man's voice, presumably Jack Turner's, began his report: "It's a twisted tale, this murder of one of New York's hottest fashion photographers. Rebecca Schayes was found dead in her dar
kroom, shot twice in the head at close range. " They flashed a photograph of Rebecca smiling brightly. "The suspect is her longtime friend, Dr. David Beck, an uptown pediatrician. " Now Beck's image, no smile, lit up the screen. She almost fell over.

  "Dr. Beck narrowly escaped arrest earlier today after assaulting a police officer. He is still at large and assumed armed and dangerous. If you have any information on his whereabouts. . . " A phone number appeared in yellow. Jack Turner read out the number before continuing.

  "But what has given this story an added twist are the leaks coming out of Manhattan's Federal Building. Presumably, Dr. Beck has been linked to the murder of two men whose bodies were recently unearthed in Pennsylvania, not far from where Dr. Beck's family has a summer residence. And the biggest shocker of all: Dr. David Beck is also a suspect in the eight-year-old slaying of his wife, Elizabeth. "

  A photograph of a woman she barely recognized popped up. She suddenly felt naked, cornered. Her image vanished as they went back to the anchorwoman, who said, "Jack, wasn't it believed that Elizabeth Beck was the victim of serial killer Elroy KillRoy Kellerton?"

  "That's correct, Terese. Authorities aren't doing much talking right now, and officials deny the reports. But the leaks are coming to us from very reliable sources. "

  "Do the police have a motive, Jack?"

  "We haven't heard one yet. There has been some speculation that there may have been a love triangle here. Ms. Schayes was married to a Gary Lamont, who remains in seclusion. But that's little more than conjecture at this point. "

  Still staring at the TV screen, she felt the tears start welling up.

  "And Dr. Beck is still at large tonight?"

  "Yes, Terese. The police are asking for the public's cooperation, but they stress that no one should approach him on their own. "

  Chatter followed. Meaningless chatter.

  She turned away. Rebecca. Oh God, not Rebecca. And she'd gotten married. Had probably picked out dresses and china patterns and done all those things they used to mock. How? How had Rebecca gotten tangled up in all this? Rebecca hadn't known anything.

  Why had they killed her?

  Then the thought hit her anew: What have I done?

  She had come back. They had started looking for her. How would they have gone about that? Simple. Watch the people she was closest to. Stupid. Her coming back had put everyone she cared about in danger. She had messed up. And now her friend was dead.

  "British Airways Flight 174, departing for London. All rows may now board. "

  There was no time to beat herself up. Think. What should she do? Her loved ones were in danger. Beck - she suddenly remembered his silly disguise - was on the run. He was up against powerful people. If they were trying to frame him for murder - and that seemed pretty obvious right now - he'd have no chance.

  She couldn't just leave. Not yet. Not until she knew that Beck was safe.

  She turned and headed for an exit.

  When Peter Flannery finally saw the news reports on the David Beck manhunt, he picked up the phone and dialed a friend at the D. A. 's office.

  "Who's running the Beck case?" Flannery asked.

  "Fein. "

  A true ass, Flannery thought. "I saw your boy today. "

  "David Beck?"

  "Yeah," Flannery said. "He paid me a visit. "

  "Why?"

  Flannery kicked back his BarcaLounger. "Maybe you should put me through to Fein. "