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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 44
HEN KATIE STEPPED OFF THE ELEVATOR and onto the eighth floor a large hand immediately pressed against her shoulder. Her immediate reaction was to rip it off, but when she looked up into the eyes of the broad-shouldered man with the serious expression she thought better of it.
“Come with me,” he said in a clipped British accent.
The man’s grip tightened on her shoulder. At the same time another man in a suit joined them, even larger and more powerful-looking than the first. He flashed a badge so fast that Katie couldn’t see what it said.
“We have some questions for you,” the second man said.
“Good, because I’ve got some questions for you.”
The pair bracketed her as they strode down the hall. A door opened and Katie was ushered into a small room and told to sit. She remained standing, arms crossed and a defiant look on her face. One of the men sighed.
“We’ll be back in a minute.”
Sixty seconds later they returned with another man, older, bald, and wearing a rumpled suit that needed a good cleaning.
He sat down and motioned Katie to do the same. “You want something to drink?”
“No,” she said as she sat down across from him. “What I want is to see Shaw.”
Frank sat back and studied her. “You mind my asking how you know him?”
“Yes, I do mind.”
He nodded at one of his men, who ripped Katie’s purse out of her hand. She clutched at it, but the other man held her back. Her wallet and passport were plucked out and given to Frank.
He perused them for a minute. “Katie James, name rings a bell. Reporter, right? You doing some kind of story on Shaw?”
“No, he’s a friend.”
“That’s funny, because I happen to know all of Shaw’s friends and you’re not one of them.”
“I’m a recent friend. And can I see your badge or credentials? I want to get my facts right for the exposé I’ll do on you if you don’t let me the hell out of here!”
“How recent?” asked Frank calmly.
She hesitated. “Edinburgh.”
“He never mentioned it.” Frank studied her passport more closely. “So you flew all the way over from New York to see your recent friend? Why?”
“Who the hell are you?”
“Why are you here?” Frank said again.
“Is he alive or dead!”
“Alive, barely. Now answer my question.”
“I called him yesterday. A woman answered. She said he was in the hospital, that he was in surgery. So I came.”
“I see. And why did you call him?”
“Do I get another question answered?”
“Why did you call him?”
Katie glanced nervously around the room. The two other men stared impassively back at her. “Because I heard about The Phoenix Group.”
Frank did not look pleased by this at all. “What about them?”
“Oh come on!” Katie exploded. “I doubt you missed the massacre in London.”
“What’s the connection to Shaw?”
“Anna Fischer. And I can see by your expression that you know all about that, so don’t try and bullshit. It doesn’t sit well.”
“How do you know Ms. Fischer?”
“Is she dead?”
“How do you know her, Ms. James?”
Katie debated whether to tell the whole truth or not. She decided on a complete fabrication that would sound plausible. “I was doing a story on The Phoenix Group. I met Anna that way. And through her I met Shaw. We became friends.”
“You said you met Shaw in Edinburgh. How did you know he’d be there?”
“Anna told me.”
“No she didn’t. I can read bullshit as well as you can. Now, you have two options. Either tell me the whole truth, or you can go cool your heels in a French jail as a remand prisoner. And French courts are notoriously slow. You might be in there for a few years before somebody remembers to bring you to trial. And the French aren’t known for the cleanliness of their incarceration system.”
“I know. I did a story on the French garbage cans they call prisons five years ago and won a major journalism award for the effort. By the way, what offense am I being charged with? Because even the French require that before throwing somebody’s butt in jail.”
“How about being stupid and uncooperative?”
“How about taking me to the American embassy? I have the address memorized.”
“We seem to have reached an impasse.” He tapped his fingers on the table. “Will you tell me the truth if I let you see Shaw?”
Now Katie sat back, not looking as defiant or as confident. This time she opted for the truth. “Okay, I was in Edinburgh on holiday. I saw Shaw and another man at the chapel at the castle. Something made me suspicious.” She went on to explain what had happened near Gilmerton’s Cove, Shaw saving her life, and her following up the clue Shaw had left at his hotel. And then her meeting Anna that way.
“I’m surprised he didn’t tell me any of this.”
“He barely survived that night. And he didn’t know about my tracking Anna down until very recently. And he wasn’t happy about it. In fact he got quite angry.”
“I’m sure he did.”
“Now you know all.” Katie hesitated hoping against hope. “Was Anna killed?’
“Yes. Along with everyone else in the place.”
Katie looked down at her hands. “Why? They were just a think tank. Anna said no one even paid attention to their work.”
“Apparently someone did.”
“Does Shaw know, about Anna?” She glanced up at him.
“No,” Frank said quietly, not meeting her eye.
“Is he going to be okay?’
“He lost a lot of blood, but the docs say he came through the surgery fine and that he’s out of danger. He’s a tough guy.”
Katie let out a long breath. “Thank God.”
“But when he finds out about Anna...?”
“Someone has to tell him.”
“I’m not sure it should be anytime soon,” Frank said candidly.
“But if he finds out on the TV, newspaper, telephone?”
Frank shook his head. “We’ve got that covered.”
“Won’t he wonder why she’s not here with him at the hospital?”
“I’ll tell him I made her stay away.”
“But he’ll want to talk to her, at least by phone.” She paused. “I never got your name.”
He hesitated. “Frank.”
“First or last name?”
“Just Frank.”
“Okay, Just Frank, they’re engaged to be married. He’s not going to buy for one second that he can’t talk to her or see her.”
“I didn’t say it was a perfect plan, okay!” Frank suddenly exploded. “He asked me to call her when he thought he was dying. And I told him I would even though I already knew she was dead.” He jumped up and started pacing around the small room, hands shoved deep in his pockets, his gaze on his shoes.
“Can I see him? You said if I told you the truth I could see him.”
Frank stopped pacing. Without looking at Katie he gave a curt nod to his men.
As they were escorting her out Frank called after her, “Tell him.”
She turned back. “What?”
“You were right. Tell him about Anna.”
Katie looked stunned. “Me? I... I can’t. I...”
“You said he saved your life. That you’re his friend. So start acting like it.”
A terrified Katie started to say something else, but Frank slammed the door in her face. A moment later she was walking toward Shaw’s room.
And it felt like she was traveling the last, lonely mile to her own execution.
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