“I truly wouldn’t put anything past her.”
“If she did have a role in his death, do you think it was for the money?”
Dan shrugged. “I would hear my dad sometimes in his little den after he’d been hitting the booze a bit.”
“What would he say?”
“He had really bad arguments with my mother about things. And when she wasn’t around, he would go to his den and talk to himself.”
“And say what exactly?”
“I just caught snatches here and there. And he didn’t seem to be making much sense. But it seemed he had a problem with my mother and what she was doing in her job.”
“And do you know what that was?”
“I know she spent a lot of time in Russia.”
“As part of a START verification team?”
“I think that’s right, yeah. At least I found out about that later. She never talked to me about her work.”
“Why would that bother him? She was helping to dismantle nukes.”
“It didn’t seem like he had a problem with that. I think it was more personal.”
“Meaning someone she worked with?”
“All I know is I heard my dad once say he’d kill the guy if he had the chance.”
“Kill the guy?”
“Yeah. And my dad was a pretty calm person. I don’t know what he found or heard, but he was definitely pissed off about it.”
“What does your sister think?”
“She was closer to our mom than I ever was. She wouldn’t agree with anything I’ve been saying. They see each other a lot. They’re tight. My mom has even helped my sister out financially.”
“Where does she live?”
“In Gaithersburg, Maryland. She has a clothing store up there.”
“She do well with it?”
“She does okay. Like I said, I know Mom helps her out financially.”
“Does that surprise you? I mean, given what you’ve told me about your mother?”
Dan shrugged. “My sister won’t bite the hand that feeds her. So she tells the woman what she wants to hear. But to give our mother her due, if she loves anyone, it would be my sister.”
Puller wrote some notes down and said, “She told me about making the Olympic team in the biathlon. She said she might have won the gold.”
“Did she tell you she didn’t compete?”
“Yeah, some sort of medical issue.”
“What’s the joke?” asked Puller.
“ I was the medical issue.”
“She was pregnant with me. They wouldn’t let her compete.”
“Was she upset about that?”
“She was so upset about it that she never mentioned it. I only found out from my dad.”
“Hey, it takes two to tango. She knew what she was doing.”
“My dad said she claimed he messed with her birth control pills.”
“Who knows? If she wanted to win a medal in the Olympics she knew she couldn’t do it while heavily pregnant. Maybe my dad did do it. She was so controlling. Maybe he wanted to give her a taste of her own medicine. And it might be one reason she never really took to me. I guess I represented her missed opportunity at glory.”
“It may or may not have been someone’s fault, Dan, but it sure as hell wasn’t yours. You weren’t even born.”
“Sounds logical. But some people are not swayed by logic.”
They sat in silence drinking their coffees.
Puller finally said, “I’m surprised you’ve talked to me about all this.”
Dan gave a mirthless laugh. “I guess I surprised myself. But when you called out of the blue, I thought, well I just thought—”
“That the truth might come out and justice would be finally served for your father?”
The two men locked gazes. Dan said, “After all, it’s why I joined the FBI’s legal office. And I really loved my dad.”
“Well, I hope I can make that happen for you,” Puller said.
And for my brother, he thought.
He thanked Dan Reynolds and headed back to his car. Before he got there his phone buzzed. It was Knox.
“I was wondering when I was going to hear from you,” he said. He listened for a bit and said, “Shirlington, huh? Okay, it was definitely worth a shot. Why don’t you stay with them and we can hook back up later.” He paused, listening, but she broke off in mid-sentence. His features grew tight. He said, “Knox? Knox?”
He heard her yelling something, not at him, at someone else.
When he heard her words he started to run.
The next sound he heard made Puller redouble his efforts. As he ran full out to his car he screamed into his phone. “Knox? Veronica!”
She never answered.
And then the line went dead.
KNOX HAD BEEN sitting in a car she had requisitioned from INSCOM at Fort Belvoir. While she had told Puller that she needed to report in and start filling out voluminous paperwork, her real purpose was to stay behind and then follow Donovan Carter when he left the facility.
He had a black Town Car and a driver. And Knox could see the man accompanying him.
It was Blair Sullivan, the internal security man who had gotten so heated about their investigation of Susan Reynolds.
As they exited out of the DTRA complex, Knox fell in behind them. They got on Interstate 95 and Knox kept a few car lengths back. They exited onto Interstate 395 and headed north toward D.C.
Knox had no idea if this would lead to anything, but there was a chance and she felt she had to take it. She had nothing to lose. They exited at Shirlington and she followed. A few minutes later the car pulled to a stop in front of a small outdoor mall of upscale eateries and shops. The driver parked the Town Car, and Carter and Sullivan went into one of the restaurants.
“Great,” said Knox out loud to herself. “An early dinner. Just my luck. And I can’t go in because unless they suddenly go blind, they’re going to see me.”