THE FLIGHT BACK to Barrow was turbulent, but Sophie’s stomach barely complained. After her experiences of the last twenty-four hours, a bumpy ride in a tiny plane was child’s play.
Once back in Barrow, she spent several hours in the police station. She tried to be helpful and apologized over and over again because so many of their questions were left unanswered. Was she ever going to discover what happened to William Harrington?
“I know that Harrington was involved in something he called the Alpha Project. I just don’t know what his role was.”
“How was Harrington connected to the scientists?” one officer asked.
She looked at Jack. “You explain.”
“One of the men who attacked us…Sophie met him in Chicago. He was at William Harrington’s apartment, and he told her Harrington had gone to Europe,” he said.
The interrogation continued, and when they’d finally concluded that she had told them everything she knew, she was given the chance to ask them some questions.
“The men who came after Jack and me…who were they?”
“You’ve already named Dr. Eric Carter for us, but we haven’t identified the others yet,” the lead officer answered. “We’re looking for IDs. The FBI will run prints.”
Joe Rooney had been standing by Jack listening intently. He joined the conversation. “As far as we know, there were never more than four scientists at the facility. Besides Carter, there were Dr. Brandon Finch, Dr. Marcus Lemming, and Dr. Kirk Halpern. We’ve spoken to Dr. Lemming and Dr. Halpern. They’re in Chicago, and they swear they didn’t know what Eric Carter was up to. Lemming said Carter often stayed behind after the others had gone home, and he didn’t tell them what he was doing on his own time.”
“Did you speak with the fourth doctor, Brandon Finch? Where is he?” Sophie asked.
“In an urn on his wife’s mantle, I imagine,” Joe said. “He died of a massive heart attack a couple of months ago. Evidently he had a heart condition and didn’t let the others know about it because he was concerned they wouldn’t let him continue his work. Agents will go through Eric Carter’s house and his lab in Chicago. They’ll check out the other doctors, too.”
“What about the man Jack chased on the snowmobile?”
“We haven’t had time yet to get a search team together,” Joe said. “They’re going to have a tough time with the ice shifting.”
“One of those men who died was pretending to be Paul Larson. That’s what I think,” she said. “I wish I had heard their voices.”
“We’ll get some help up here from Anchorage,” Joe assured her. “We should know more in the next few days.”
It had been a very long day by the time the police had finished their questioning. Jack invited the officers to join them for dinner, and most of them took him up on his offer.
The Red Seal Café was packed with customers. When Jack, Sophie, and the policemen walked in, a hush fell over the crowd. The whole town had heard the news of what had happened at Inook, and Sophie felt as though she were a guppy in a fishbowl. There was little doubt that she and Jack were the subject of every conversation at every table.
There was another whale meat special, and Jack decided he would try it again. He shuddered at the first bite.
“You’ve got to keep eating. By the third swallow, you’ll like it,” Joe told him.
Jack could only get two bites down before he gave up. “It must be an acquired taste,” he told the others.
Sophie took the opportunity at dinner to get more information about Barrow. She got up and went to the table next to theirs and asked a father and son if they would mind answering a few questions. By the time Jack was ready to leave, the entire restaurant was crowded around Sophie, helping her with her notes.
“Don’t forget to mention the lack of crime,” one man suggested.
“Until yesterday,” another said.
“Oh, right,” the first man admitted.
Later at the hotel, she sat down at the desk and started writing while Jack made several phone calls. When she had completed her article, she looked at the clock. Two hours had passed. She turned around. Jack, wearing only a pair of shorts, was sitting in bed reading.
She slipped into the bathroom and showered. Wrapped in a towel, she came back to the bedroom and stood beside the bed, waiting. When Jack looked up and smiled, she let the towel drop to the floor. He pulled the covers back so she could slip in next to him. He warmed her body with his and began to kiss her neck.
“You like this?” he asked as his fingers slid down her chest to her stomach.
She inhaled sharply. “Yes, I do, but tonight is the last…”
“Do you like this?”
His hand moved slower, and his fingers were doing magical things to her, robbing her of her thoughts. She knew she wanted to tell him something, but his touch was such a distraction. She gasped, then moaned. Jack leaned up on an elbow to watch her as he stroked her. The warm glint of his eyes made her heart race even more. She couldn’t stand the torment any longer. She pushed him onto his back, straddled him, and then proceeded to drive him out of his mind.
When they both had reached the peak of ecstasy, she collapsed on top of him. She lay there for a long time, content to listen to his heartbeat.
It took Jack a while to control his breath. “Where did you learn…?” he began.
“I didn’t learn,” she whispered. “It just felt…right.”
Her mind cleared and she remembered what she wanted to tell him. She rolled away, pulled the covers up, and said, “That was the last time we’ll do this.”
“Yeah?” He reached for her. “How come?”
“I’ll be back in Chicago, and I can’t get involved with an FBI agent. I just can’t.”
She thought he would be more understanding, but he wasn’t. He laughed.
“You are involved,” he said.
She’d have to give him that. “Okay, yes, but once we’re home, no more. Jack, you aren’t falling in love with me, are you?”
“Hell no. Absolutely not.”
“Good. I wouldn’t want to hurt you. Good night.”
She had trouble falling asleep. Why hadn’t he asked her if she was falling in love with him?
Maybe because he already knew the answer.
JOURNAL ENTRY 928
This may be my last entry for a while.
When I began this journal years ago, I had intended to create a personal record of my experiences should I one day want to write a memoir. I never could have imagined the journey it would chronicle.
The Dubai contact is willing to pay the fifty million next month and not wait for further experiments. I wish we could have expanded the testing. I’d especially have liked to try it on female subjects. We might have been able to negotiate another ten million.
I’m packing up and heading home. Eric will follow later. Our primary objective now is to make sure all of our data on K-74 is secure.
We regret that William Harrington’s death was in vain, but then, fairness has never been an attribute of science.
We can’t reveal any knowledge of him or his death, of course. Our voice monitors picked up on some pilots finding evidence of him. They found a business card. They’ll take it to the police, I suppose, and eventually he’ll be identified. We’ve been very careful to prevent any trail leading back to us, but it would probably behoove us to keep an eye on how this plays out.
DADDY WAS IN THE NEWS AGAIN.
Sophie came home to a celebration. She had just unpacked and was about to listen to the messages on her recorder when Mr. Bitterman called.
“Turn on your television. Hurry. It’s in the news. The FBI is going to owe your father big for this one.”
He hung up before she could ask him any questions. She dutifully turned on the local news, hit the Record button, and sat down on the bed to watch.
Natalie Miller was reporting live from the courthouse.
“Kevin Devoe and his wife, Meredith, have been arrested and taken into custody by the FBI. From what we’ve learned, the FBI was sent proof that the Devoes had stolen the money from the Kelly’s Root Beer employees’ retirement fund and had hidden it in several secret accounts using dummy corporations.”
The scene flashed to another reporter standing with an older man who was waving a cashier’s check.
“It’s all here,” he said, beaming at the camera. “It’s the exact amount I should have gotten when Kelly’s closed. To the penny. All of us got the checks at the same time. I know. I’ve talked to my friends. Bobby Rose did this. He found that money, and he got it back for us. He knew what those crooks were up to.”
“How do you know it was Bobby Rose?” the toothy reporter asked.
The man chuckled. “Who besides Bobby has the brains to figure it out and find our money? I’ll tell you this,” he added, waving his finger in front of the reporter’s face. “Bobby takes care of his own. Chicago,” he explained. “Oh, it was Bobby Rose, all right. Our Robin Hood. You can’t convince me it was anyone else.”
The reporter looked directly into the camera. “Natalie, the FBI will neither confirm nor deny that they know who was behind this. There will be a press conference tomorrow. Stay tuned for the latest developments.”
No mention was made of reopening Kelly’s. Mr. Bitterman would be disappointed if that didn’t happen. Sophie called him, and after discussing the good news, she gave him a few details about her trip. They talked about Harrington and what she had learned about the scientists, but she couldn’t bring herself to tell him about the killings just yet. She would wait until they were sitting face-to-face. Besides, she needed time to process it all.
She discussed a few articles she wanted to write about the people of Barrow, and he suggested she could work from home where there wouldn’t be any interruptions. She was happy to comply and, after hanging up, immediately went to work. She wrote the story of the football team first. After that, she put some finishing touches on her story about Samuel and Anna. She even wrote about the hotel in Deadhorse, but she wasn’t ready to write about Harrington. There were still too many holes in that story.
On her second day home, she received another piece of good news. Detective Steinbeck called to tell her the police had identified the man who had shot her in her apartment. Working with the FBI, they had checked the fingerprints from one of the bodies in Alaska and discovered they belonged to an ex-convict who lived in Chicago. His name was Ivan Brosky, and he had a record a mile long. When they searched Brosky’s apartment, they found a cache of weapons, and ballistics was able to match one of the guns with the bullet. They had their man. Any further investigation would be handled by the FBI.
Steinbeck’s call was followed immediately by one from Gil.
“Great news, huh, Sophie?” he said. “They got the guy.”
“How did you—” she began. She didn’t finish because she wasn’t really all that surprised. Gil had his ways of knowing everything.
“I’ve got Tony downstairs today, and Alec said it’s okay to send him home. I just wanted to let you know. I’ll check back with you in a few days to make sure you’re okay.”
Sophie thanked him and hung up. Maybe her life could get back to a modicum of normalcy once again.
Cordie called her at five o’clock. “Get dressed up. Regan and I are taking you to Fortune’s.”
“I’m not in the mood,” she said. “Maybe tomorrow.”
Cordie would not take no for an answer. “You love Fortune’s. We’ll pick you up at seven. Be ready.”
Maybe it would be good for her to be with friends, after all. Sophie needed something besides work to take her mind off Jack. Hopefully, one of them would have a horrible problem, and she could concentrate on that.
She quickly finished her work and changed into her favorite black silk dress. She added a bloodred scarf over her wool coat. If the restaurant got chilly, she could use it as a wrap.
The three women caused quite a stir when they followed the waiter to their table in a cozy alcove with drapes on either side.
“Where’s Alec tonight?” Cordie asked when they were seated at the round table.
“He and Jack were working on something, but he wouldn’t tell me what it was,” Regan answered.
Cordie talked about school, and Regan caught them up on her search for an apartment. “I don’t want a big house to take care of. Not yet. Besides, Alec might be reassigned. Okay, enough chitchat. Talk to us, Sophie. Tell us what you found out about Harrington.”
“I want to hear about Alaska, too,” Cordie chimed in.
Sophie didn’t know where to start. She talked about the trip all through dinner. Her friends sat wide-eyed, barely touching their food as she narrated the story of the last few days.
“Oh my God, Soph…” Regan gasped, the tears welling up in her eyes. “You could have been killed.”
“So the man who shot you…”
“Bluto,” Regan said. “She called him Bluto.”
“He followed you to Alaska. It wasn’t all about Kelly’s like everyone thought.”
“Speaking of Kelly’s…” Regan said. “Your dad is now a hero.”
Hero today, criminal tomorrow, Sophie thought. “How much do you want to bet the FBI will be looking even harder for my father now?”
Her friends nodded. They had known her father for years and were well aware how elusive he could be.
“Have you talked to Jack since you got home?” Cordie asked.
“Do you think Kelly’s will reopen? Mr. Bitterman thinks it will,” Sophie said.
Regan and Cordie exchanged a look. Cordie said, “Don’t change the channel. You were with a gorgeous man for days—and nights—and you haven’t mentioned him once. Why do you think that is…oh my God, I know why. You slept with him.”
Deny, deny, deny…except with her friends. Sophie couldn’t lie. “Yes, I did,” she admitted. “I don’t know what came over me. I do have principles…especially when it comes to the FBI…but….”
Regan opened her mouth to protest, but Cordie cut her off. “We know, you’re married to an agent, Regan, but your father isn’t a career criminal.”
Sophie looked miserable. “Maybe he’ll go away.”