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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 21
ATIE JAMES EXTENDED HER STAY, unwilling to return to New York and the next big death. She’d taken a First ScotRail train over from Glasgow to Edinburgh, soaking in the alternately stark and then lush Scottish countryside during the fifty-minute ride, near where the Firth of Forth dug a notch out of the country right above the capital city.
She checked into the Balmoral and had a quick bite of lunch in the restaurant before setting off. She bumped into a tall, broad-shouldered man on the way out. He politely apologized for the collision and strode quickly away. Katie rubbed her bruised shoulder and stared after him. It’d been like hitting a damn wall. He was probably a rugby player.
She passed the doorman in his full kilt outfit, right down to the ceremonial dagger in the sock. After a pleasant day touring the city and taking tea near Holyroodhouse Palace, she dodged myriad pubs trying to draw her in like a nail to a magnet and made the pilgrimage up the hill to the crown jewel of the city, Edinburgh Castle.
The dark crag of Castle Rock lurching skyward above the setting-sun end of town was the sole reason Edinburgh existed. The rock-strewn volcano remains sat like an anchor between central Scotland and England, the land many Scots still referred to as the “Auld Enemy.” Katie passed the Entrance Gateway, flanked by statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, who’d each built their legends on kicking English ass. She’d missed the firing of the one o’clock gun, a World War II twenty-five-pounder, but she did see the Stone of Destiny. It had been taken by the English in the thirteenth century, who’d kept it until the twentieth. In the intervening seven hundred-odd years it had rested under the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey, on which every monarch from Edward II to Elizabeth II had perched their royal bums.
A bit later she walked to the peak of Castle Rock where sat St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh. It was here, inside the chapel, that she saw him again, the big man who’d bumped into her at the hotel. He was kneeling in front of the third pew. As she drew closer, Katie spied another man next to him. He looked like a typical tourist. She would’ve turned and walked out except for what she suddenly glimpsed. She quickly knelt down in the rear pew, slid out her camera, and used the zoom to confirm her initial observation.
The tattoo on the man’s right forearm. She’d seen one just like it years ago while covering yet another war overseas. Her senses heightened now, she could tell they weren’t praying or reciting well-worn catechisms. They were whispering to one another.
She could not hear them clearly enough to make out the words, so she left the chapel but remained within a few feet of its front door. Ten minutes later the tattooed man came out. She was debating whether to follow him when he was suddenly lost in a gaggle of passing tourists.
The tall man stepped out a minute later and Katie focused on him instead. If he was staying at the Balmoral, she thought, he might be heading there now. She had no reason really to follow him, or to become involved in any of this. Yet she was a reporter, a reporter at rock bottom desperately looking for any way to crawl her way off the obituary page. She had no idea if this would lead to anything, but it might. And it wasn’t like she had anything else to do.
He didn’t return to the Balmoral. Instead, he headed north of the city center, two miles to be exact, to Leith, where he plopped his money down to tour the royal yacht Britannia, out of commission and anchored there.
Katie slipped off her shoes and rubbed her sore feet. Her quarry had been inconsiderately a very fast walker. She paid her pounds and crossed the gangplank. She tried her best to blend into the crowd, because if the man she was following recognized her from the hotel? The chapel? He looked powerful enough to strangle a bull.
Katie half listened to the guide as he recited yacht facts to the crowd. She did focus when the man pointed out the mahogany windbreak on the balcony deck in front of the bridge. It had been built to prevent sneaky breezes from suddenly lifting royal skirts and revealing royal panties. Katie kept a firm grip on her own skirt even as she watched the tall man wander away. She followed. He looked out over the water. Another person joined him at the rail. Katie moved as close as she dared. She managed to hear three words that summed it all up for her. Tonight, and Gilmerton’s Cove.
She immediately left the yacht and grabbed a cab back to the hotel. She didn’t have much time to get ready. And she had a little research to do first. She didn’t know what she’d stumbled onto. Yet experience had taught her that some of the biggest stories started from the most unexpected encounters.
The Whole Truth The Whole Truth - David Baldacci The Whole Truth