he’d probably never held a gun, much less fired one.

Used to be?”

“Well, yeah. I guess we wouldn’t be here if the old fires were completely banked.”

“Damn right.”

Hy got out of the car, and John followed. John was wearing a light-colored shirt; Hy tossed him the black microfiber jacket he wore over his dark T-shirt. John’s blond hair was bright, even on a moonless night. “Pull up that hood,” Hy told him.

They started up the driveway, keeping to the side next to the stone wall. The vineyards were quiet except for the occasional light breeze that rustled the leaves of the grape plants. The air was warm, its smell earthy. The house loomed before them, silhouetted against the dark sky. At first Hy thought he’d been right about there being no lights in its windows, but then he glimpsed slanting yellow shafts coming from the rear to the left.

When they reached the top of the drive, he motioned for John to follow him under the oak trees. Led him around the spots that shone upward on their gnarled branches. Stopped and held up his hand. Pointed at himself and then at the back of the house.

Stay here. I’ll check it out.

John nodded.

In a crouch Hy moved through the oaks to the house. Sidled along the wall. Outside the first shaft of light, he stopped. The window was open, and he heard voices.

“… Great dinner, Mrs. Peeples. I really appreciate you letting me stay the night. I so enjoyed the times I spent here with Larry.” A youngish male.

Murmured reply in an older woman’s voice.

“And I’m so sorry Mr. Peeples is away at that conference.”

“He’ll be sorry he missed you.”

“If it’s okay, I’d like to take a walk before turning in. It’s so warm here-unlike in the city-and everything’s so fragrant.”

Another murmured reply.

Hy slipped back along the side of the house, clicked his fingers at John, motioning him to follow.

They were halfway to the rear windows when the lights went out. Another flashed at the back of the house. A door opened and closed. Footsteps swished-moving over grass-then crunched on gravel.

Hy kept going, John close behind.

They reached the back of the house, and Hy touched John’s shoulder, signaling for him to stop. Ahead of them a figure was disappearing into yet another oak grove. Hy measured the open space they’d have to cross, waited till the figure disappeared, then gestured for John to follow him in a crouch.

At the other side of the grove he saw a stable-big place, not like the one that he and Shar housed their horses in at their ranch. The tack room would be there.

He signaled to John and they moved forward. Through the open front doors, where the familiar smells of hay and manure greeted him. Past the stalls, where the horses-five or six, he couldn’t tell in the dim light-pawed and snorted at the intrusion. There was a faint glow in the doorway to the tack room. He motioned for John to stop, then eased close to the doorjamb.

A man knelt inside, flashlight trained on the floor, feeling around at the boards.

Hy restrained himself. Waited to see if the bastard pried up the right one.

The man lifted the board, shone the light down. Gasped and dropped the wood.

Hy raised the.45 in both hands. “Stand up, Gold, and stay still.”

Ben Gold panicked instead. Dropped the flashlight into the space where the duffel bag had been and rushed forward. Hy almost shot him. His momentary hesitation gave Gold time to dodge past him.

But the kid didn’t get far. Behind him Hy heard a grunt and a thud. Then another thud, louder than the first.

John exclaimed, “Ha!”

Hy retrieved the still-glowing flashlight and shone it around. John was standing with one foot on the small of Gold’s back. Gold wriggled feebly against the weight, then lay still.

Hy said, “Don’t crush him, for God’s sake.”

“Why not?”

“As I said, I’ve got plans for him.”

With the flash off, the tack room was a black hole. Gold lay handcuffed on the floor at Hy’s feet. Hy let the silence build for nearly five minutes; it must’ve been an eternity for Gold. Then he turned on the light and shone it straight into the shackled man’s eyes.

“For Christ’s sake!” High-pitched, tremulous whine.

“If you believe in a god, better start praying.”

The face twitched, pale in the blinding light.

“I’m going to ask you questions. You will respond truthfully. I already know the answers.” He had learned these interrogation tactics in his early years with RKI, in order to extract information from people involved in hostage- holding situations.

He turned the flash out and waited.

John stirred restlessly behind him. Hy waited some more, until Gold began to moan, then switched on both the recorder and the flashlight. Gold flinched away from the glare, squeezed his eyes shut.

“Your name is Ben Gold?”

“… Yes.”

“You are the former lover of Larry Peeples?”

“What does this have to do-”

“Answer me.”


“Did Larry Peeples tell you about Haven Dietz’s plan to embezzle a hundred thousand dollars from her employer?”

No response.

Did he?” Hy brought the light closer to Gold’s face.

“… Yes. He thought she’d never get away with it.”

“How did you know she succeeded?”

“The night before she’d told Larry it was all set. Said she would bring her briefcase to his place, show him what real money looked like.”

“The next night, did you attack her in the park and take the money from her briefcase?”


Hy brought the light to within an inch of Gold’s closed eyelids. Gold rolled his head from side to side, moaning.

Did you?”

“Okay, okay, yes.”

“You hurt her badly. Was that necessary to subdue her?”

“She fought pretty hard.”

“Did she?”


“Tell me the truth, Gold.”

“All right, I hated the bitch. She didn’t like me, and I was afraid she’d convince Larry to dump me. I know people like her-they can’t leave anybody alone. Her way or no way.”

Hy shifted the light to one side. “So you brought the money here and concealed it under the floorboards.”

“… Yes. I was afraid it might be marked, or something.”

“And when you decided it was safe to spend it, and that you and Larry could go away together…?”



“All right. We fought. He was so smug, saying a hundred thousand wasn’t much at all, saying that he was coming back here to run the vineyard.”

Вы читаете Locked In
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату