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Tác giả: David Baldacci
Thể loại: Trinh Thám
Nguyên tác: The Whole Truth
Biên tập: Dieu Chau
Upload bìa: Dieu Chau
Language: English
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Chapter 14
HAW SLIPPED INTO the small bathroom. Most European baths were small; these folks apparently required far less space to relieve and bathe themselves than the rest of the world. He splashed water on his face, looked up and caught his reflection in the mirror.
Rugged is how most would describe his features. Even Anna had called him ruggedly handsome. The bones and skin were in decent shape. The eyes had always been his most distinctive element, though. Not only were they the lightest of blues that eyes could generate without artificial aids, they didn’t go with the rest of his coloring. His skin was swarthy, more Italian or Greek than Irish or Scottish, and his hair was dark and wavy, often with a mind of its own. Fetchingly rumpled, Anna had once described it. Yet when Shaw looked at himself all he saw was a haunted man with scars that ran far too deep to endure.
As though she had sensed her presence in his thoughts, Anna appeared behind him, wrapping her long arms around his bare and brawny shoulders.
She was wearing his T-shirt. On Shaw, the breadth and cut of his delts and chest made the shirt a tight fit. Yet even on the tall Anna, it was more like a dress.
“Trouble sleeping?” she asked.
“Rain. Don’t like rain at night.”
“I thought I heard you talking to someone.”
Shaw stared at her in the mirror’s surface as her fingers traced a small scar near his throat. It was a little souvenir from a visit to the Ukraine. He’d told her it was from falling off a bike. Actually it was from a knife thrown by an ex–KGB agent whose only qualification for the job was that he was a homicidal maniac. It’d missed Shaw’s jugular by about two centimeters. Still, he’d come pretty damn near bleeding to death in a place that would have made the chop shop in Turkey he’d dumped Frank at look like Johns Hopkins.
He had another scar on his right side that he’d never explained to her for a simple reason: he wanted to forget it was even there, because every time he did think of it, he felt shame. Branded. Like a horse. No, like a slave. In fact, that was the other reason he was in Dublin, to do something about that little present.
She said again, “Were you talking to someone?”
Frank, scars, and the KGB butcher passed from his mind. What Shaw was really wondering was whether Anna was now having second thoughts. His proposal had been followed with a tearful “yes” from her that he could barely hear. And then the bride-to-be’s enthusiasm and excitement ratcheting up, she’d accepted his marriage proposal in nine other languages, her tears leaching onto his skin, finally bringing Shaw the man as close as he’d ever come to crying.
But something in her tone now was signaling a message other than happiness. It really was time, he thought.
He splashed water on his face, licked some off his fingers, and turned to face her.
“I’m not really a business consultant specializing in international mergers and acquisitions,” he said.
“I know that.”
“What?” he said sharply.
“I know many business consultants. They rarely can beat unconscious two armed men. They rarely have knife scars on their bodies. And they almost always want to show off their wealth. I’ve never even seen where you live. We always stay at my London flat.”
“And you’re just telling me this now?”
“It’s different now. I just told you I’d marry you.”
“And if I’d still said nothing about what I did?”
“I’d have asked. Like I am now.”
“But you already said yes.”
“And I can also say no.”
“I’m no criminal.”
“I know that too. I can tell. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Now tell me the truth.”
He leaned back against the sink basin and marshaled his thoughts. “I work with an international law enforcement agency funded by several of the G8 countries. We handle stuff that’s either too dicey or too global for one country. Sort of like Interpol on steroids. I’m not in the field anymore. I’m in a desk position now,” he lied, carrying it off reasonably well, he thought.
“And what laws do you enforce?” she asked firmly.
“We try to stop bad people from doing bad things. Any way we can,” he added.
“And what you do now isn’t dangerous, though you get calls in the night?”
“Living is dangerous, Anna. You can turn the corner and get nailed by a bus.”
“Shaw, don’t condescend.”
“It’s not dangerous, no.” He could feel his skin growing hot. He could lie to a Persian madman with ease. But not to Anna.
“Will you continue to come and go as you have been?”
“Actually, I’m planning on retiring. Start doing something else.”
Her face brightened. “This... this is a surprise.”
I hope I live to carry it out. “Marriage is supposed to mean two people together, not apart.”
“You would do this for me?”
“I’d do anything for you.”
She stroked his cheek.
“Why?” he asked suddenly.
“Why what?”
“You could have any man you wanted. Why me?”
“Because you are a good man. A humble man. And a brave one. But as capable as you are, you need looking after, Shaw. You need me. And I need you.”
He kissed her, ran his fingers along her cheek.
“Do you have to leave now?”
He shook his head. “Two days.”
“Where to now?”
“Scotland.”
He took Anna in his arms, let her blonde hair touch his face, her scent mingle with his, canal stink and all.
“But first, to bed.”
They made love again. After she fell asleep, Shaw put one hand behind his head and the other protectively over Anna’s arm.
He listened to the rain and envisioned Frank chuckling at having screwed him again. He touched Anna’s face. Yes, it was different now.
The Dublin torrent poured on; each drop of water was a jacketed round fired right into his brain. Shaw had asked her to marry him. But after his conversation with Frank, he feared it might turn out to be the biggest mistake of his life.
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