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52

Jack approached the glistening skyscraper that housed Tribe amp; Wright with anticipation. It felt so good to be taking action himself, free from prison. If Whittier was behind this, he would find out. He eyed the building. If there had been press around the building, there wasn't anymore; the eleven o'clock news was over and the reporters had crawled back under their rocks. It was dark, the street was empty. He hurried down the sidewalk and entered the marble lobby.

The security guard at the desk came to a nervous wake-fulness when he recognized Jack. It had to be from the news; Jack didn't know the security guards on this late a shift. 'Sign in, please, sir,' asked the guard, righting his cap, his eyes glued to Jack's wounded cheek.

'Ran into a truck,' Jack said, and walked to the elevator. His shoes echoed in the cavernous lobby and he stepped into an open elevator and hit the button for thirty. The elevator doors closed behind him with an expensive swoosh.

As soon as Jack was out of sight, the security guard reached for the telephone and punched in a number, as he had been instructed.

Jack had walked through the halls of Tribe amp; Wright a hundred times, even after hours, and the firm used to be as familiar to him as his home. But tonight it felt as foreign and unforgiving as the moon's surface and almost as lifeless. The lights were on but the reception area was empty, the front desk bare and unstaffed, and the offices vacant. Though his floor looked the way it always did, he couldn't shake the feeling that he didn't know where

he was. Either the firm had changed or he had changed. Or both.

He walked by the foxhunting prints on the wall and scrutinized them as he never had before. He passed a side table made of tiger maple and wondered what it was doing in the hallway. It was just in the way. He passed the two large offices off the hall, one was Rossman's, but they weren't in, of course. He could do what he needed to do.

Jack's office was just down the hall and as he walked toward it, he sensed it would be his last time. He wouldn't be coming back to Tribe and he wouldn't miss the place. All he wanted from it now was answers. He was going to sit in his chair and use his correspondence, notes, and time records to reconstruct everything that happened the day of Honor's murder.

Jack's pace quickened. The police would have confiscated some files, but he hoped not all of them. Then he remembered. His laptop, with the single ticket to London. The prosecution would use it against him, but he had arranged the trip to give himself some time alone, to consider what was happening in his marriage since Paige's emancipation. It had all come apart before he had the chance. Jack arrived at his office, opened the door, and froze on the spot.

It was completely empty. Even the furniture wasn't there anymore. How could that be? The police would have seized flies and computers, but not every file, cabinet, book, and law review. Where was his stuff? Photos of Paige and Honor? His personal papers? Diplomas, a citation from Girard? Then he thought about it. Only the firm could take these things and only with the approval of the managing partner. Whittier.

Jack felt his jaw clench in anger. What was going on? Was Whittier really involved in this? A man he had known and worked with all his life? And why would Whittier want Honor dead? It was unthinkable. She had chosen him to be her executor, she had trusted him so much.

Whittier's office was around the corner and down the hall. If Jack wanted answers, that's where he'd find them. He turned and strode down the corridor, more determined with every step. He'd tear the place apart. Ransack every drawer. Jack was halfway there when he heard voices. Strange. It was too late for the cleaning people. The voices grew louder as he got closer to Whittier's office. It sounded like shouting. The door was open. Jack broke into a run, and when he reached the office door, he got the surprise of his life.

Whittier and Trevor stood staring at him. Trevor looked disheveled, his eyes sunken and glassy. He was high, but Whittier surely wasn't. The managing partner, still in shirt and suit pants, stood open-mouthed. He looked merely startled, but completely in command.

'What the fuck?' Jack said, enraged, and suddenly everybody was in motion.

Trevor bolted in panic for the door, pushing Whittier out of the way. Jack lunged for Trevor but the teenager had enormous momentum and knocked him backward. He darted out the door, and Jack recovered and ran after him, his heart pounding. Jack wasn't about to let Trevor get away. He'd catch up with Whittier later.

Trevor thundered down the hall, a strapping kid in sneakers, but Jack ran quicker, fueled by a father's rage. He heard shouting from the reception area at the hall's end. He couldn't explain it and didn't try. Trevor bounded for the reception area with Jack right behind him, panting heavily.

'Stop, Trevor!' Jack shouted. He narrowed the gap between them, reaching for Trevor's sweatshirt, then veered around the corner. The sweatshirt was almost within Jack's fingertips when the elevator doors opened and a cadre of Philadelphia police flooded the reception area. Cops? Where had cops come from? What the hell was going on? Jack skidded to a bewildered stop but Trevor ran practically into the arms of the cops.

'He's got a gun!' Trevor screamed. 'He's trying to kill me!'

'Freeze!' one of the cops ordered, drawing his gun on Jack.

I'm unarmed!' Jack shouted, but in the next instant a crazed Trevor grabbed the gun from the cop's hand.

'No!' yelled the cop, jumping for his weapon. The cop flanking Trevor grappled for it, too, and they were wrestling for the gun when it went off, the sound reverberating hideously in the tony corporate setting. Jack held his breath and didn't know if anyone had been hit. Neither did the cops. And for a final split second, neither did Trevor.

'Shit!' said one of the cops, pained and angry, when the gun dropped to the plush Oriental.

Jack watched in horror as a strange smile appeared on Trevor's face, then went suddenly slack. Bright red blood spurted from a round hole in his neck, under his chin. His eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed silently against the cops, who sprang instantly into action, trying to save his life. One palmed a radio while another ran to the reception desk for a phone. Two knelt over him, checking for a pulse and trying to staunch the flow of blood.

Jack, aghast, rushed to Trevor's side and knelt down beside the cops. Blood was everywhere, spurting regularly with each heartbeat, and they couldn't seem to stop it. They fell silent, their drawn faces acknowledging what they couldn't say. Even Jack could see how much blood Trevor was losing and hung his head over the boy's body.

'Shit, it's arterial,' said the cop at Trevor's neck. Blood gushed through his fingers despite his grip. Trevor's face was ashen and his blue eyes still.

The carotid,' the other cop said, his voice heavy with regret. 'Oh, jeez. Oh, jeez.'

Jack couldn't believe it was happening. The kid was dying. He shook his head over his body, then spotted something. Trevor's shirt had been pushed up in the struggle and a purplish bruise peeked from the elastic bottom.

Jack reached out and pressed his shirt to the side. My God. Bruises blanketed Trevor's stomach. It had to be the bruises Mary had told him about, that hadn't been on Paige. Jack was looking at the man who murdered Honor.

'No,' he said, remembering Whittier, in a horrified daze. He had to make him account for this. And for Honor, and Paige. He rose to his feet but when he stood up his arms were grabbed from behind, wrenched together, and slapped into tight handcuffs. 'What are you doing?' Jack demanded, twisting around in anger.

'Take it easy, Newlin,' a cop ordered, shoving him to the elevator.

'I didn't do anything! I don't have a gun -'

'We've been looking for you. We're taking you down for questioning in the attempted murder of your daughter.'

'What? Me, kill Paige! Are you insane?' Jack struggled against the handcuffs but more cops appeared. This was a nightmare. Him suspected of trying to kill Paige. Trevor bleeding on the floor. Whittier getting away with murder. 'You can't stop me, you have no right! Get Whittier, would you? Arrest him! He's behind this and the murder of my wife!'

The cops shoved him toward the elevator. 'Tell the detectives about it when you get there,' one said.

'How dare you. Jack!' came Whittier's voice, from the entrance to the reception area. Jack twisted around in the cops' grasp, but Whittier remained composed, slipping into the pinstriped jacket he'd been carrying. 'That's libel, and if you repeat it I'll sue you and the paper that prints it.'

'Sue me, you asshole!' Fury constricted Jack's throat and he lunged for Whittier. The cops yanked him back and the handcuffs dug into his forearms. They shoved him toward the elevator but he stood his ground. 'This boy's dying because of you! My wife died because of you! And my daughter -'

'Enough!' Whittier shouted. 'As I told the officers, this boy, as you call him, has been blackmailing me over you.

He told me you have been trafficking in cocaine, with his assistance -'

That's a lie!' Jack shouted. He resisted the cops but they edged him to the elevator bank.

'- he was threatening to go to the press with it, destroying my law firm.' Whittier tone quieted in the face of Jack's rage. 'You must have known he'd be meeting me tonight, here, and that's why you -'

'Bullshit! You and Trevor killed my wife! You tried to kill my daughter!' Hearing himself raging, even Jack knew Whittier looked and sounded the more believable of the two. And he didn't have a murder charge hanging over his head. It infuriated Jack all the more. 'I'm on to you, you asshole!'

'- came to my office, to kill him. You've lost control, Jack. You need help. Counseling. Are you an addict, too? You're not the man I knew.'

'He's lying!' Jack erupted, lunging again for Whittier. He almost slipped free but the police tackled him to the rug, grunting and shouting. The wound on his cheek erupted and pain shot through his ribs. He thrashed and fought back to get to Whittier, but the cops subdued him.

'Get the fuck down!' they shouted. 'On the floor! Get down!' They rained blows on his arms and legs. His ribs exploded in renewed agony.

Jack torqued his body right and left to get free, screaming Whittier's guilt until his ranting ended with a blow to the head and everything went black.


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