فصل 06

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فصل 06

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CHAPTER SIX

Hunted!

Thomas was drinking too much over dinner. She didn’t like it, and she told him so. He wanted to prove that she was wrong, so he drank even more. They had an argument.

After dinner, outside the restaurant, he pulled the keys to his Porsche out of his pocket.

‘Thomas, no! You’re too drunk to drive. Give me the keys.’

He held on to the keys and set off in the direction of the car park. He couldn’t walk straight and his foot kept slipping off the pavement into the road. She followed him, but stayed some way behind; she was too angry, and just wanted to get back to her apartment alone. He shouted something over his shoulder about how he could drive better when he was drunk.

She stood with her arms crossed on the other side of the car park and watched him put the key into the lock. It took him three or four attempts. Then he was inside and she lost sight of him between two other cars. She heard him start the engine, though.

The explosion knocked her to the ground. She lay there for a moment, and then jumped to her feet. The Porsche was a ball of fire.

Darby ran towards it, screaming his name. Bits of the car were still falling all around her, and the heat stopped her thirty feet away. She screamed with her hands over her mouth.

A second explosion tore through the car and pushed her back. She fell and her head hit the side of a parked car hard. Everything went blank for a minute.

Then there were people everywhere, and voices shouting:

‘Whose car is it? Call 911! Was there anyone in it?’

She was repeating the name Thomas. Someone put a cold cloth on her head. She heard the sound of the police and firemen coming, and then there were red and blue lights everywhere.

A black man was bending over her. ‘Are you all right, miss?’ he asked.

‘Thomas,’ she said. ‘Where’s Thomas?’

‘Miss, who’s Thomas?’ asked the man. ‘Was he in that car?’

She nodded and then closed her eyes. She could hear men shouting in the distance. They were all over by the burning car. She sat up and was sick between her legs. Then she felt better.

She got up and walked away. She knew who the bomb had been for: her. And she knew why.

She had to hide; they were hunting her. Were they behind her even now? She wandered deep into the French Quarter, found a cheap hotel and paid for a room with her card. As soon as she was in the room, she locked the door and curled up on the bed with all the lights on.


Mrs Verheek answered the bedside phone. ‘It’s for you, Gavin,’ she called into the bathroom, where he was shaving.

He came and took the phone from her. ‘Hello,’ he said angrily. Who could be calling this early in the morning?

‘This is Darby Shaw. Do you know the name?’

‘Yes. We share a friend.’

‘Did you read the little theory I wrote?’

‘Yes, the Pelican Brief, as we call it.’

‘And who is “we”?’

Verheek sat up straight. She was not calling for a friendly chat. ‘Why are you calling, Darby?’

‘I need some answers, Mr Verheek. I’m frightened to death.’

‘It’s Gavin, OK?’

‘OK, Gavin. Where’s the brief?’

‘Why? What’s wrong?’

‘I’ll tell you in a minute. Just tell me what you did with the brief.’

‘Well, I read it, and then I passed it on to someone else, who passed it on to Denton Voyles, who liked it.’

‘Has anyone outside the FBI seen it?’

‘I can’t answer that.’

‘Then I won’t tell you what’s happened to Thomas.’

‘All right. Yes, it’s been outside the FBI, but I don’t know exactly where and I don’t know how many people have read it.’

‘He’s dead, Gavin. He was murdered last night. Someone put a bomb in the car. I was lucky.’

Gavin was shocked. ‘Where are you? Are you safe?’

‘New Orleans. Who knows if I’m safe? They must be after me too. It was me they really wanted.’

‘I’ll have some men come and get you, Darby. You can’t stay on the streets. Then I’ll catch a plane and I’ll be there by midday.’

‘I don’t think so. Thomas is dead because he talked to you. Why should I want to talk to you? Give me your number at work. I may call you later.’

‘OK. But Darby, just tell me: did he feel any pain?’

There were tears in her voice. ‘No, it was very quick.’ Then she put the phone down. She could let herself cry now, because there wouldn’t be time later. Crying could get her killed.

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