Sherlock gently wiped the tears that were seeping out of the corners of Deputy Lynd’s eyes. “You want to rest now?”
“No, no, let me finish it. I want you to catch these two. The thing is, when the young guy—she called him Victor—when he came back down over me, I knew he was going to shoot me right between the eyes, I knew it, and I was helpless. Helpless.”
No one said a word. Dr. Lazarus stared at the young woman whose life he’d managed to save. Sure, he’d been inside her chest, taking out the bullet and repairing her lung, he’d watched her heart stop twice, but now he was inside her head, living her memories with her of being shot with that bullet, of what it was like to almost die, and know it. He didn’t think he’d ever forget this moment as long as he lived. He took a step back from the big FBI guy in front of him. He rubbed his hand over his chest. It hurt to listen to her, hurt—
“It was so weird; he winked at me, twice, and he fired, only the bullet hit the pavement maybe six inches from my head. I heard her yell, ‘Notch that boy’s belt!’—something like that. I heard Randall—he’s the dispatcher—yelling on my cell, and I knew in that moment that maybe I had a chance.” She raised her eyes to Dr. Lazarus. “You saved my life?”
He nodded, wordless.
“Thank you, Doctor. Agent Sherlock, will you please get these two killer kids?”
“Yes, we’ll get them.”
“The girl, Lissy, she shot Davie?”
“She would have shot me between the eyes too.”
Again, Sherlock nodded.
“I wonder why he didn’t?”
Because Victor knew Lissy couldn’t see what he was doing. Sherlock closed her hand around Gail’s, squeezed just a bit. “That is an excellent question. Maybe there’s something in him that can still be redeemed.”
Sherlock leaned close. “I know it was horrible. You will always remember this as being horrible, but you know what? The shock of it, the pain, the hopelessness of what you felt, it will fade when you begin to laugh again, when you smile at yourself in the mirror, when you hug your kids. I was shot not long ago, and you know what? It is beginning to fade. Never forget, Gail, you survived. I’ll be checking on you. You get well, no setbacks, okay?”
Gail Lynd managed a smile as she closed her eyes.
Ethan walked into his kitchen to see Autumn throwing kibble to Lula, Mackie, and Big Louie. She was laughing. When she saw him, she gave him a huge smile. “Ethan, when Big Louie slides, you can hear his fingernails scraping the floor.”
He leaned down and hugged the little girl. She was wearing a pink T-shirt with tulips on it. “You sleep okay, kiddo?”
She hugged him back before she nodded. “Mama didn’t. She had a nightmare and started moaning. I had to wake her up.”
“No wonder. So much has happened. I’m glad you didn’t have a nightmare too. Would you like a bowl of Rice Krispies and some toast?”
She nodded and threw another piece of kibble to Lula, who went flying out of the kitchen after it.
“It was the last one,” she said, and rubbed her hands on her white shorts. “I hope you catch Blessed today, Ethan.”
From the mouths of children. “I do too. Everyone’s trying, Autumn. Sit down now.” He poured cereal in a bowl and handed her the milk. As she poured it, she said, “I’m going to try to call Dillon again tonight.”
She took a big bite and chewed while he pushed the bread down in the toaster, then stared at her. “Dillon? Who’s he?”
She grew very still. She looked scared.
He came over to her, knelt down beside her chair. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
“I’m not supposed to say anything.”
“Anything about what? About Dillon?”
“Even my mama doesn’t know about me calling Dillon. I didn’t want to tell her. I knew it would upset her, and she’s so scared right now, so worried about me. But I know she was going to tell Uncle Tollie.”
Tell him what?
The toast popped up. He frowned as he buttered and added strawberry jam to each slice, one for him and one for Autumn. “Here you go. My mom made this jam; it’s pretty good.”
She gave him a guilty look and ducked her head. She didn’t eat, only sat there. Big Louie trotted over and laid his head on her leg. She began petting him.
He said, “Did you use your mom’s cell phone to call Dillon?”