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Tác giả: David Baldacci
Thể loại: Trinh Thám
Nguyên tác: The Whole Truth
Biên tập: Dieu Chau
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Language: English
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Chapter 36
HAW COULD SENSE the eye burning into him from the peephole. He would have laid down a bet that she wasn’t going to let him in. He would have lost.
Katie got right down to business. “Look, I can tell you’re upset but did you see Anna?” Her voice was anxious, her features worried.
She sat down on the small sofa and curled her legs under her. She had on a hotel bathrobe and slippers covered her feet. Her hair was wet and straight. Shaw could still sense the steam coming from the bathroom. Her shampoo’s aroma drifted into his nostrils. Yet he barely noticed. He was so angry he could barely keep from shaking.
“Can I ask you a question?” he said.
“Go ahead.”
He exploded. “What the hell do you think you’re doing getting involved in my life?”
“I was just trying to help.”
“I don’t need your help, lady.”
She sat back and crossed her arms. “Really? So you’re totally oblivious to the fact that you have this amazing woman head over heels in love with you but trying to figure out whether you’re her knight in shining armor or a psychopath?” Her tone was far more aggressive now.
“You have no business, no right butting into this.”
“I told Anna to talk to you before she made up her mind. I told her I thought you were a good guy. Well, are you or aren’t you?”
“Right now I’m having a hard time making up my mind.”
“Why?”
“Because part of me wants to strangle you.”
“Okay. I can understand that. Would you like some coffee instead?”
For the first time he noticed the room service table with her breakfast on it.
“No.”
“Well, I’m sure you won’t mind if I help myself.”
She poured out a cup of coffee and took a bite of bagel. “Well?”
“Well what?” he shot back.
“Did you talk to Anna?”
“Yes.”
“And?”
“And it’s none of your damn business.”
“So that’s the only reason you came here? To read me the riot act?”
He moved so fast her eyes could barely follow. The room service table smashed against the wall with a loud crash.
Unperturbed, Katie finished her coffee and put her cup down. “Are you finished with the histrionics?”
“Stay out of my life.”
He turned to leave.
“I actually have one question for you. And it doesn’t involve Anna,” she quickly added.
He stopped at the door and glowered at her.
“What did you mean when you said you’d been to hell and it was just as bad as everyone thought it was?”
“Like I told you before, you wouldn’t understand the answer.”
In response, Katie slid her robe partially down, exposing a blistery red gash on her upper right arm.
“Try me.”
Shaw eyed the old wound on her shoulder. “Gunshot?”
“I figured you were the sort of man who could tell. Fired by one ticked-off Syrian. Good thing he was such a lousy shot. He said later he was aiming at my head.”
She picked up an unbroken coffee cup and the carafe that miraculously hadn’t burst open and poured him a cup of coffee. As she handed it to him she said, “Whenever Clint Eastwood got shot in the arm in a movie they’d just pour some whiskey on it, wrap a little sling around it, and he’d get on his trusty horse and ride off. They never bothered to dwell on what happens when the bullet enters your arm and keeps going, shattering an artery here, ripping up muscle and tendon there, or nicking my left ventricle on its pinball ride through Katie’s organs. I was in rehab for three months after they finally weaned me off the ventilator. They had to cut a nice little hole in my back to get the slug out. It was flat as a pancake.”
Shaw sat down. The sight of the wound seemed to have wilted his anger. “Soft head. Designed to tumble through your body, trashing everything in its path. And it tends to stay in you, which means a surgeon has to cut you open in another place, while you’re just about dead, to get the sucker out.”
She eyed him from over the rim of her cup. “How many gunshot wounds do you have? You can show me, I won’t tell.”
“A good plastic surgeon could take care of that scar.”
“I know. They wanted to when I got back to the States.”
“So why didn’t they?”
“I didn’t want them to.”
“Why not?”
“Because I wanted to keep the scar. That explanation cover it for you?”
Her face softened and she said in a calmer tone, “Look, you have every right to be pissed off at me. If you were messing in my life—not that I have one right now, but if you were—I wouldn’t be happy about it. For what it’s worth, I was just trying to help. You picked a great lady and it’s easy to see how much she loves you.”
Shaw drank his coffee but said nothing.
Katie continued. “And no more meddling from me. I swear. I hope things work out for you both.”
He finished his coffee and rose, looking very uncomfortable. “Anna and I are fine. I told her... I told her things I should have told her a long time ago.” He took a few steps toward the door before glancing back. “I’m glad to see you got out of Edinburgh okay.”
“It’s coming in awfully late, but I want to thank you for saving my life back there. I mean really thank you.”
“How’d you find out about Anna?”
“Hey I am an award-winning investigative reporter. Your hotel room. You left her name engraved on the blotter. And I found a book receipt in your jacket pocket. I’d actually heard an Anna Fischer speak a few years ago and was very impressed. Figured it was worth a couple of phone calls to see if it was the same one. From what I’d seen of you it would take an exceptional woman to keep your interest.”
Shaw looked a little surprised by this praise, but didn’t say anything.
He happened to look at her desk parked next to the hotel room door. Piles of papers, news clippings, and writings were scattered over it. On the laptop screen was a headline detailing the recent events with Russia.
“Your next Pulitzer?” he asked.
“A girl has to keep trying. And do it far better than the boys just to stay equal.”
“You sound like Anna.”
Shaw hesitated and then slowly pulled something from his pocket and passed it to her. It was a card with no name on it, just a phone number.
“I don’t give that out to many people.”
“I’m sure you don’t.”
“But if you went to see Anna there’s a chance the man I work for might come creeping around. If he does.”
“You’ll be the first one I call.”
“Take care of yourself. I doubt we’ll be seeing each other again.”
“I thought that the last time and look where we are. Having a nice cup of coffee together.”
A second later he was gone.
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