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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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Cập nhật: 2016-03-29 17:24:49 +0700
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Chapter 16
WO DAYS LATER Shaw kissed a tearful Anna good-bye.
“We need to set a wedding date,” he told her.
She looked at him strangely. “Yes, of course.”
Shaw drove off in a rental car, but didn’t head to the airport. He was going to Malahide Castle.
Malahide, in Gaeilge, means “on the brow of the sea.” It is situated on the Howth peninsula at the north end of Dublin Bay. Built on a small rise, it has a commanding view of the water, because in those days enemies would often come by boat to pillage and slaughter. Now Shaw passed broad fields on the grounds of the castle where local teams played rugby and cricket, without an ax-wielding pillager in sight.
He paid his euros and was admitted to the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland. It looked like one would expect of a medieval keep: built of sturdy stone block, with wings of imposing circular turrets and ivy grafted onto its hard skin. It had belonged to the Talbot family from 1185 right up to the 1970s.
He waited until the current tour was over and then walked up to the small, thin woman who’d just finished telling a gaggle of tourists all about Malahide Castle, the Talbot family, the Battle of Boyne, the disappearing virgin, and the building’s four ghosts, including the puckish “Puck.”
“Hello, Leona.”
She turned, hesitantly at first, and then swung around to stare straight up at him. Leona Bartaroma was in her sixties, her long hair still dark, her face mostly unlined, her lips full and painted a muted red that coexisted nicely with her natural coloring.
She said nothing, but took his arm and quickly guided him into a small room and shut the door behind them.
“What the hell are you doing here?” she spat out.
“I take it you’re not happy to see me.”
“If Frank finds out...”
“Frank always knows exactly where I am, thanks to you.” He pressed his finger against his right side. “That’s why I’m here.”
She sat down behind a small wooden desk with cherubs carved into its sides. “I do not understand you, Shaw. I never have.”
“I want you to take it out.”
“I’m retired. I give tours. I don’t perform surgery.”
He stepped closer to the desk. “You have one more operation inside you.”
“Impossible.” She started sifting papers on her desk.
“Nothing’s impossible if you want it badly enough.”
“You are a fool.”
“I’m retiring soon too, Leona. And I want it out.”
“Find someone else, then.” She waved a hand carelessly around the room as though another person with surgical skills was lurking somewhere there.
“You, Leona. I know how you put it in me. If it’s taken out incorrectly...”
Her dark face turned noticeably paler. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“Dirk Lundrell, Leona, remember him? He tried to have his removed. They still haven’t found all the pieces.”
“Lundrell came to me too. And I told him the same thing I’m telling you. No!”
“What if Frank approves it?” He cocked his head at her. “What then?”
“You think Frank would okay something like that?” she scoffed. “I have heard he and you still don’t get along.” She smiled. “And retiring? You don’t retire from your line of work, Shaw.”
“I’m getting married. Two more jobs, I’m done.”
“You, married?” she said incredulously.
“Yeah. What, you don’t think people like me get married? I’ve spent six years of my life nearly getting killed. I’m tired. I’m done.”
“I know what you have done these last six years,” she said more calmly. “I know well the risks you’ve taken.” She paused to study him. “What is the woman’s name?”
“What?”
“Your fiancée? What is her name?”
“Anna.”
“I was married once.” Leona looked down at her hands. “You love her very much?”
“I wouldn’t be marrying her if I didn’t.”
Leona was silent for a long moment while Shaw simply stared at her.
“If Frank approves it, I will take it out of you.”
“And I’ll still be alive when you’re done?”
“Surgery always involves risk,” she began. But then she added, “You will live.”
He rose. “That’s all I needed to know. I’ll be in touch.” He turned to leave.
“Where is this Anna from?”
“Germany.”
“German women make good wives, or so I’ve heard.”
Shaw closed the door softly behind him. Now all he had to do was convince Frank. And survive the next few days.
Three hours later, he was on a high-speed catamaran crossing the Irish Sea to England. Normally he would’ve just flown to Edinburgh from Dublin, but his instructions had been clear. Take the ferry. And then, at Holyhead, an express train through Wales to London. And from there an overnight sleeper to the Scottish capital. He would arrive in the wee hours, whereas a direct flight from Dublin to Edinburgh would’ve taken less than an hour.
In the lounge of the catamaran, Shaw sat at the third desk from the right set along one wall. There was a light on the desk. He turned it off, on, and then off again in accordance with the instructions he’d been given.
While he was waiting he opened the book to read Anna’s inscription to him. Her message was written in French, but his language skills were sufficient enough to translate. It was short, simple, and hit him like a sledgehammer.
Love without trust is nothing.
As Shaw slowly closed the book he instinctively glanced up.
Tipped off by his signal with the lamp, a man was coming his way. They always were.
CHAPTER 17
SHAW ARRIVED IN EDINBURGH and walked from the train station to the Balmoral Hotel at one end of the North Bridge. Anna’s inscription in her book was seared across his brain. Love without trust is nothing. Around three in the morning he fell asleep, thoughts of a possible life and family with Anna drifting through his mind.
And maybe that’s why it began. Again.
“Mudder? Where’s Mudder?”
“Shut the hell up, you dumb shit. You ain’t got no mum!”
The little boy, just awoken from a nightmare, cried louder, “Mudder!”
One of the older boys mimicked the child’s speech. “‘Mudder, where’s Mudder?’ Mudder’s dead. That’s why you live in an orphanage, you idiot.”
Another older boy chuckled and said, “Mudder’s dead. Mudder’s dead. Mudder is absolutely, positively dead.”
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