Authors: Jerry B. Jenkins
Tags: #FICTION / Christian / General, #FICTION / Religious
No surprise, Ambrose and Lucy Drake were the first to arrive. “You're looking good, Son,” Boone's father said. “A lot better.”
“Where are your own clothes?” his mother said. “Is that even a man's outfit?”
“I don't know,” Boone deadpanned, watching her adjust the blinds and drapes. “I got it from a man.”
“We could have brought your clothes.”
“You could bring me my car.”
“You're not able to drive. We'll handle that.”
“You won't be here when I'm released.”
She stopped and faced him with a sigh. “Your father blamed your nastiness the other day on your condition.”
“I'm sorry, Mom. Really. I don't even remember your being here.”
“You were pretty articulate.”
“Not really,” Ambrose said. “Doesn't surprise me he remembers nothing. Now, Boone, what do you need your car for?”
“It doesn't take two hands to drive. I want to drive myself. And as much as I appreciate that this has to be hard on you too, I really want to recuperate on my own.”
“With shoulder surgery looming?” Lucy said.
“Again, I'm sorry, Mom, but I don't want caretakers.”
like you to bring me a set of my own clothes and my car. Can you do that?”
“Of course,” Mr. Drake said. “Whatever you want.”
“He's a grown man, Lucy.”
His mother stalked into the hall, calling back, “How many are we expecting?”
“The doctor and Haeley Lamonica.”
From somewhere she found enough chairs. “We met her, your coworker. Was she named after Hayley Mills?”
“Not likely. It's H-A-E-L-E-Y.”
“Why is she coming anyway?”
Boone hesitated. “Same reason you and Dad are here. She loves me.”
“She seemed very nice,” Ambrose said.
“Oh, honey,” Lucy whispered. “We only talked with her for five minutes.”
“Boone seems to care for her. She must have something on the ball.”
Lucy looked away. “Well, where is she?”
“She'll be here,” Boone said, looking at his watch. It wasn't like her to be late and not call. “Might be looking for someone to watch her son.”
“Her son?” Lucy said, shooting Ambrose a look.
Boone shrugged. “She's a single mom. Precious little guy.”
When Dr. Duffey arrived carrying a large envelope, Ambrose and Lucy immediately rose for greetings and pleasantries. Boone asked if the doctor would mind waiting a few moments for Haeley to arrive.
Dr. Duffey looked at his watch. “How about I continue my rounds and you buzz the nurses' station when she arrives?”
He left the envelope, which bore the name of a local imaging company. “Pull that out of there, Dad,” Boone said. “Let's have a look.”
Ambrose slid it out and held it up to the light. Boone had no clue what to look for, but what he could make out made his shoulder look like goulash.
Boone's mother leaned in. “Oh, my,” she said. “What are they going to do with that?”
“All they need to do is give me something to work with,” Boone said. “Trust me, this is just a temporary setback.”
When Haeley had still not arrived fifteen minutes later, Boone called her cell and got an immediate voice mail. He called her office. Strangely, the recorded after-hours message was from her stand-in. He couldn't make that compute.
Half an hour later Dr. Duffey poked his head back in. “Do you want to put this off till tomorrow?”
Boone shrugged. “You did already talk with Ms. Lamonica anyway, didn't you?”
“I did,” Dr. Duffey said. “She hasn't seen the MRI, but I told her what I told you about Dr. Valdez at Presbyterian St. Luke's down the streetâbut you remember none of that, do you?”
Boone smiled and shook his head.
“He's a fellow at the Rush Arthritis and Orthopedics Institute,” Duffey said.
“When can he do this?”
Duffey pulled out his BlackBerry. “He's opened a slot at dawn on Monday the fifteenth. Neither of us wants to wait any longer than that.”
“When can I be done with all this?” Boone nodded toward the IV pole.
Duffey rose and squinted at the hanging bags. “We can get you off the saline now. How often are you hitting the morphine?”
“Not at all today.”
“Really? You're not just playing macho?”
“No, it's okay. I'd just as soon be off it.”
“That's easy enough,” the doctor said, shutting off the feeds and detaching the tubes. “It's been too long since I've removed a port from the hand, so I'll let the nurses do that. You're still on the oral meds, right?” He checked his notes. “Perc and Oxy? You're going to need those, especially after surgery. You've got to be able to push through the pain to regain your strength and range of motion. That's no time to be a hero.”
“I'm going to be obsessive about therapy and rehab.”
“That's good. I can't tell you how many patients don't complete their physical therapy because it hurts. They wind up with chronic pain and immobility.”
“You won't have to worry about that with me.”
“Doctor,” Lucy said, “Boone has this idea that he won't need any help at home after surgery.”
“Well, he'll need a ride home. We won't want him driving while on hallucinogenic narcotics. But once he's home, he needs to learn to function with one arm on his own as soon as possible. Then, with therapy, he can get back the use of the shoulder.”
Lucy fell silent.
“When can I get out of here?” Boone said.
Dr. Duffey cocked his head and shrugged. “Give it a day or two and then you tell us. You're off the drips, so now you just need to stabilize.”
“No, you're not. I can see from looking at you that you'd rather be in bed than sitting here. But it won't be long.”
Dr. Duffey held up the MRI film. “The shattered bone and ripped tendons and ligaments can be repaired or even replaced.” He pointed with his little finger. “But these blood vessels were cauterized in the ER to stop the internal bleeding. Those need to be repaired so you get proper blood flow.” He tucked the film back into the envelope and stood. “Tell Ms. Lamonica I'm sorry I missed her.”
As soon as he was gone, Mrs. Drake said, “You and your coworker are an item now? Does everyone know about this but us?”
“You know about it now too.”
“Boone! There are so many good girls in our church, the church you grew up in.”
“Mom, Haeley is a wonderful Christian girl.”
Lucy was quiet a moment. Then, “She's a churchgoer?”
“She's on the worship team.”
She raised a brow. “Maybe we should stay around and get to know her.”
“All in good time, Mom. I'm getting to know her myself. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. You and Dad bring me some clothes and my car in the morning and say good-bye. I promise when I'm doing better after surgery I'll invite you back up and we can all get acquainted.”
“But don't you need us here, honey? You're not well.”
“I am, and I'll be better. I just need time. Now, I appreciate you and love you and need you to do this for me.”
Bone weary as he was, Boone wouldn't even try to nap until he had located Haeley. After calling her cell several more times, he called the pastor of her church.
“Haven't heard a thing, Boone. If I do hear from her, I'll sure tell her to call you. It's been fun seeing you all over the news. That was some deal you were involved in. How you feeling?”
Boone gave him enough to not be rude, then asked for Florence's phone number. “Maybe she knows something.”
Florence was a single working woman, but Boone expected her to be home during the evening. Yet he got another answering machine and left another message.
He tried Jack a few more times, then reached Margaret at Jack's apartment again.
“He workin' late, hon,” she said. “But he told me to tell you he'd come by in the morning. All right?”
“Has he said anything about Haeley?”
“No, nothin' to speak of.”
If Boone had a car, he would have driven right then to Haeley's to find out what was up. But he was so tired he could hardly move. A nurse came in to remove the IV port from his hand. She proved either new or uncaring, because she didn't even come close to George's bedside manner. Everything stung when she yanked off the tape and pulled out the needle. She did, however, steady Boone as he lay back in bed.
Worried and puzzled, Boone slept till dawn, rousing only when nurses came to check his vitals.
Thursday, February 4
Boone awoke with such a sense of foreboding that he had to force himself to eat breakfast. He was not in the least hungry but knew he needed nourishment. When the physical therapist came by, he moved quickly out of bed and marched up and down the hall, despite her cautioning him to take it easy.
“You said yourself I was unaffected from the torso down, so unless you want me to play volleyball, this is a piece of cake.”
“Slow but sure,” she said.
“Yeah, well, my patience is in short supply,” he said. “Ignore me. It's not your fault.”
“Being focused is good,” she said. “It's what we look for before discharging people.”
“I'm about to discharge myself,” he said.
“We can't have that. You're a civil servant, right? You've got to be careful to keep your insurance in place.”
Boone hadn't thought of that. What were they going to do, deny a hero benefits if he checked out too early? He'd like to see them try. He knew lawyers. He could make noise.
What was he thinking?
He wasn't back in his room long when his parents showed up, his mother finally seemingly resigned to leaving. “You know I'm willing and want to stay and help you,” she said.
“I know this is hard for you, Mom. But it's the right thing. Thanks for understanding.”
His dad hung Boone's coat, shirt, and pants in the closet and also set a pair of shoes in there. He put underwear and a T-shirt in a drawer, along with Boone's car keys, telling his son where his car was parked.
Boone felt guilty that he couldn't be rid of his parents soon enough. He found himself pacing, aching, and looking forward to his once-every-four-hour meds. As soon as they were delivered, he called the office. Again he reached Haeley's substitute.
“What's going on over there?” he said. “Where's Haeley?”
“Not in today, Detective. May I take a message?”
“Where is she?”
“I'm not sure, exactly. I was asked to fill in. That's all I know.”
“Really? Why is the after-hours message in your voice and not hers?”
“Is she still even working there?”
“I'm not at liberty to speak to that, sir. I'm sorry.”
“You've replaced her permanently?”
“I didn't say that.”
“Is she still an employee of the CPD or not?”
“I'm sorry, Detective, but I can'tâ”
“Is Jack Keller in?”
“He's unavailable to come to the phone just nowâ”
“Tell him I need to talk with him immediately.”
Boone was ready to throw the phone against the wall. He paced to the end of the cord and back.
“Sir, Deputy Chief Keller told me to tell you he is still planning on visiting you this morning and to please wait until then to talk with him.”
“Tell him I need just thirty seconds.”
“Sir, I have other calls coming in.”
“Listen, you tell Jack that if he doesn't call me back in ten minutes, I'm checking myself out of here and finding Haeley myself. And I'm not kidding.”
Boone set his watch, shut the door, and changed into his street clothes, tears streaming as he gingerly worked the sling off, the shirts on, and then the sling back on. He sat, one knee bouncing.
Thirty seconds after ten minutes had passed, he stood and drew his coat on, draping the left side over the sling. There would be no zipping it. He peered outside. Ice everywhere. Terrific.
Boone could not be mad at Haeley. She'd call if she could. He was mad at Jack. Leaving him in the dark after all they had been through, after all Boone had suffered? Unforgivable.
He peeked out the door, and the uniformed cops raised their brows at him. “Goin' somewhere?” the big one said.
“Getting out today, Ferguson.”
“No kidding? We hadn't heard.”
“You're hearing now.”
“We supposed to walk you out?”
“Yeah. Soon.” Boone hesitated only because he saw Francisco Sosa get off the elevator.
“You know this guy, right? He okay?”
Boone nodded and backed into the room.
Sosa knocked and entered. “What're you doing, Boone? You know better than this.”
“What're you talking about?”
“C'mon, man, don't play me. Jack Keller called and asked if I was on my way. Wanted me to be sure to keep youâ”
Boone slammed his fist on a rolling tray. “Keller calls you and won't talk to me? What's going on?”
“They're not telling me anything, Boone, but Keller will see you this morning. He promised.”
Boone sat, shaking his head. “Do you know how hard this is?” He told Francisco about Haeley's not showing the night before and now being unreachable. “I'm about to goÂ crazy.”
Sosa shrugged. “I know nothing except that they really don't want you checking yourself out.”
“I wasn't checking out. I was just leaving.”
“Jack said something about jeopardizing the integrity of your insurance.”
“Scare talk. They're not gonna leave me out in the cold after what I've done. And somebody'd better tell me something or they're going to be sorry. How do I know Haeley's not in danger? Do they think I'm going to sit here and do nothing?”
“I don't get the impression she's in trouble.”
“How would you know?”
“I don't. But I'd be surprised if she was in danger and they weren't telling you.”
“You'll find out this morning. Jack will tell you. How can he not?”
“Francisco, I'm sorry I got you in the middle of this.”
“I'm here to help. Just tell me what I can do.”
Before Boone could answer, Jack Keller swept in wearing his dress blues, something Boone hadn't seen in a long time. Boone stood and took a breath to start in with his questions, but Jack stopped him with a gesture, then shook Sosa's hand as the pastor stood.
“I appreciate your getting here so quickly, sir,” Jack said. “Now, I'm sorry to have to ask you to leave us, as we have confidential business. Forgive me.”
“Not at all,” Sosa said. “I'll be in touch, Boone.”
“Wait,” Boone said. “As long as you're both hereâJack, Pastor Sosa needs to be cleared to meet with Candelario. IÂ was making some progress with PC, andâ”
“Way ahead of you, Boone,” Francisco said. “Chief Keller already set that up, and I've already been there. Pascual remains very moved that you were willing to take a bullet for him. Believe me, it gave him a living picture of the sacrificial love ofâ”
“Where is he?”
Sosa glanced at Keller as if for permission. “I've been sworn to secrecy within an inch of my life.”
“Not secrecy from me!” Boone said. “What in the world, Jack?”
“Sit down, Boones,” Keller said. “Push that door shut, would you, Pastor?”
As Sosa grabbed a chair, Boone said, “I don't want to sit down. I want out of here. I want to find Haeley and then I want to visit Pascual.”
“You're going to sit down or I'm not gonna tell you anything. You looked in a mirror lately? All dressed up but lookin' like Shinola. I'm no doctor, but you look to me like if you don't sit down you're gonna be on the floor in sixty seconds.”
Boone reluctantly sat.
Keller dragged over a chair and leaned forward, speaking softly. “I got to say, CPD bought the best safe house we've ever had. Because it's in DuPage County rather than CookâAddison, actuallyânobody with a brain suspects it. It's an old junkyard with a Quonset hut and a couple of mangy dogs. Twelve-foot-high fence with razor wire along the top. Junk all over. Old guy who put it up for sale had it overpriced. All he wanted was to cash in and move back to the South. CPD paid cash through a dummy buyer, and the old guy was gone the next day, no questions asked and everything left just the way it wasâdogs and all.
“Took us about a week to make the place impenetrable and redo the inside. We ferried Candelario and his mother and baby in there after midnight in a couple of impounded cars and a beat-up old pickup. Place is stocked like a hotel and comfortable.
“It's at the end of a long, unpaved drive, and nobody gets in there except on purpose. We have all kinds of signs that say the junkyard is closed, and we've had only a couple of cars that got that far and U-turned out of there. It's perfect.”
“It is,” Pastor Sosa said. “I couldn't believe it.”
“Great,” Boone said. “I'm going to want to get there at least once before surgery. Now tell me that for some reason you've got Haeley there too.”
Keller pressed his lips together and Boone went cold. Finally Jack turned to Sosa. “Now I really do have to excuse you, sir. Sorry.”
The pastor rose. “I'm going to get out to see Pascual before heading back to church, Boone. Any message or anything?”
Boone waved him off. “Just tell him I'll see him soon.”
As soon as the door was shut again, Boone said, “Jack, this had better be good.”
“It's not so good, Boones.”
“Tell me she's okay.”
“As far as I know, she's all right.”
“So spill it.”
“She's in Cook County Jail.”
Boone started to rise, but Keller put a hand on his knee. “We have really got to keep it down, Boones; now I mean it.” He looked over his shoulder as if to be sure the door was shut and lowered his voice even more. “I'm not even sure what the charge is, but you know I'm convinced we have a rat inside.”
“You can't possibly suspect her.”
Jack hesitated. “Tell you the truth, I'd sooner suspect Garrett Fox.”
Boone's onetime partner had left the force in disgrace after lying during Boone's misconduct hearing the year before. “Fox isn't even CPD anymore!”
“He was close enough to us that he could have picked up information he shouldn't have had. That would give him the means, and we all know he had a motive to see youÂ hurt.”
“I'm not buying that. But even if it's true, what's that got to do with Haeley?”
Jack spoke deliberately. “There are some who think she was, at the very least, careless with classified information.”
“C'mon! I've never seen anyone more careful.”
Jack shrugged. “Apparently there was enough to get her on violating the public trust, breaching her oath of loyaltyâ”
“Jack, who's behind this? Galloway didn't have her arrested and then quit, did he?”
Keller shook his head. “You don't want to know.”
“Of course I do!”
“It was Pete.”
“Wade? You've got to be kidding! Wasn't he the one who didn't want to even suspect anyone inside? Anyway, he loves Haeley!”
“That's what I thought. He's not happy about all this. In fact, I get the impression he's really conflicted over it. But he studied everything himselfâand you know he's always been tops as an investigatorâ”
“He's even hoping it will come out that if she somehow inadvertently leaked information, it was a mistake and that she won't take a real hit for it.”
“She's already taking a hit if she's in County, Jack! That pit breaks the worst gangbangers. Imagine what it'll do to an innocent, someone with no record, no historyÂ .Â .Â .”
have anything to do with this, she's regretting it now.”
“Why didn't you stop it? You know it can't be true, and you're Pete's boss.”
“I'd have to have cause to stand in the way of an arrest like that. I'd have to be dead sure.Â .Â .Â .”
“Jack, it makes no sense. Don't people know Haeley and I are seeing each other? What possible motive would she have for putting me in danger?”
“Having a relationship with you would be a good cover.”
Boone shook his head. “What's happening with Max? Tell me Child and Family Services doesn't have him.”
“You kiddin'? Haeley would have killed herself before she let that happen. She got some woman from her church to take him, and her mother is driving up from South Carolina to take over, today or tomorrow, I think.”
“How's Haeley doing? I've got to get over to see her.”
“No one's heard from her that I know of, but I wouldn't advise that. She used her one phone call to make arrangements for her son. Far as I know, she doesn't even have a lawyer yet.”
“And you don't advise my getting over there? You'd have to put one between my eyes to keep me away. You think I'm going to let her sit there aloneâ?”
“Boones, slow down. Don't make things worse for her. Get her a lawyer, but don't make it look like you're conspiring.”
“Conspiring? What, I was in cahoots with her to get myself shot? Anybody who hears about my visit will know I don't believe for a second that she was behind any of this. What're you worried about, Jack? If I get too noisy now, is that going to affect your angling for Galloway's job?”