a few stepped aside and stared at him, but none of them seemed to interpret what he was doing. Jane whirled to see that there was a fourth standing on the other end of the lot. It was as though they were moving into firing positions.

Jane ran to the driver's side of her car, got in, and started the engine. She backed up quickly, saw the injured attacker trying to drag his tortured body toward a spot where he must have seen his gun. Jane swung the car around quickly and drove toward the end of the aisle.

She could see that one of the men was moving to the end of her aisle to wait for her. As she drove, he reached into the inside of his coat, as though he had his hand on a gun. Jane sped toward him, reached a spot where there were several empty parking spaces, swung abruptly through them to the next aisle, and cut away from the man.

In a moment she was out the exit and on the street. Jane made two rapid turns and then a third to take her along quiet residential streets to the entrance to the Youngmann Expressway. Then she was on the big highway, moving along at sixty-five, far from the hospital. She said, 'Do you still have the scrubs?'

'Right here.'

'Then take off the dress and put them on.'

'Okay.' The woman tore open the plastic package, pulled the dress off over her head, and quickly pulled on the scrub shirt, and then eased into the bottoms. She folded the dress and held it on her lap.

Jane's eyes flicked from one mirror to the other, then returned to the road. 'Okay. I'm persuaded that you're not imagining that they're after you. Is this about your child?'

'It has to be. I didn't think anybody even knew I was pregnant when I left, but they must have found out.'

'Who sent these people?'

'His name is Richard Beale.'

'What does he do?'

'He runs a company—business rentals, some residential, some real estate sales, some loans. I was his personal assistant. I quit, and he didn't want me to.'

'Why does he know the kind of people who would set off a bomb in a hospital to help them kidnap somebody?'

'Because he's that kind of person, too. I didn't know it when I met him. Now I do.'

Jane exited the expressway and drove up a side street. 'They must have had a car at the hospital. Have you seen it?'

'I only saw the man in the hallway, and then the other three outside. I never saw a car.'

'I didn't either. If I planned to set off a bomb, I wouldn't park in the hospital lot. I'd park on a dark street a block away. Let's hope they couldn't get to it in time to follow us.' Jane drove past the lighted front of a small grocery store that took up half of a strip mall. She made a U-turn, stopped behind the building, and said, 'Sit tight. I'll just be a second.'

She stepped to the pay phone on the wall and dialed 911. In a few seconds she heard the connection being made. She squinted at the tiny face of the white gold watch with the diamonds to time the call. 'Hello,' she said.

'Emergency. What's the nature of your emergency?'

'I was at the hospital a few minutes ago when the bomb went off. I saw the people who did it. There are four men and two women. The men were wearing dark suits to fit in with the benefit crowd. One of the men got hurt in the parking lot and seems to have a broken knee.'

'Who are these four people? Do you know them?'

'Six people. Four men, two women.'

'Tell me your name.'

'Sorry. I have to go.'

'Where are you now?'

Jane hung up, stepped to her car, and drove off. She could see that the girl was studying her.

'Just a quick phone call. I had to tell the police the little we knew.'

'You shouldn't have done that.'

'Why not?'

'Because I can't stay in Buffalo waiting for a trial, and I can't prove anybody did anything. The only person who would be stuck here is me, getting bigger and more pregnant every minute. If Richard knows where I am, he can hire sixty people instead of six.'

'This isn't about trials. I'm hoping the cops will see them and pull them over. That creates a record of their names, and it might get them searched for weapons and even tested for explosives. It's hard to plant a bomb without having a residue of certain chemicals on your hands. The main thing it would do is delay them for a day. Nobody knows your name or my name, and the call was too short to trace. Now we're on our way.'

'Where are we going?'

'To the place where Sharon sent you—my house.'

The car swung north, away from the center of the city along the elevated, curving strip of the Scajaquada Expressway. Jane could always feel Nundawaono place-names in the muscles of her mouth—along the tongue and palate, and behind her teeth: Canandaigua, Conestoga, Schenectady. She reached the stretch of Interstate 190 that ran along the broad, night-black Niagara River—Nee-ah-gah, really, meaning the Neck. It was the long, straight conduit where all of the water of the Great Lakes narrowed to flow from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and go eastward to the ocean. Jane kept going along the river past the town of Tonawanda—swift water, in English—and then coasted off the 190 at the Grand Island bridge and drove along River Road into Deganawida, the town where she was born. It was named after the wandering solitary prophet—what else could he be called?—who founded the Iroquois league.

When Jane drove the road on the bluff above the river it was more a physical act than mental—reflexes and long habit took the place of thought, and seeing took little attention because her mind was already so deeply imprinted with images of every house and tree and curve that it noticed only the changes. She turned off onto Two-Mile Creek Road, the first street, running between the dark groves of Veterans' Park, and then turned left onto the end of Fletcher, always watching her mirrors to see if anyone followed.

She went as far as Wheeler Street and turned, then continued for a mile or more away from the river, across the railroad tracks behind the long-closed fiberboard factory, and then made three left turns to come back the whole mile to be sure that there was no chance that she had been followed. Finally she turned again and went along the street past her own house, one of a dozen narrow two-story houses built eighty years ago on this block by men who worked in the factories and lumber mills that once existed in Deganawida.

She looked at the tall sycamore in the front yard beyond the privet hedge. Soon the days would be longer, and the sycamore's leaves would spend the summer growing as wide as two hands. She went around the final block and returned to the house, steered up the driveway, and pulled the car into the garage. Both women got out, and Jane closed the garage door so the car wouldn't be visible from the street. Then she went to open the back door of the house. She looked down at the back steps, then bent lower to see more clearly.

'Stay back,' she whispered. 'Let me check it out first to see if anyone's been here besides you. Be ready to run.'

She opened the door and stepped into the dark interior space, smelling the stale air that had been trapped since she'd closed the door three days ago. She picked up the other smells. There was the lemony smell of the wax she'd used on the wooden floors and the chlorine cleanser in the sinks and the ammonia from the window cleaner. But it was a very old house, and she could even pick up the faint scent of the wax that her mother and her grandmother had rubbed into the floorboards and the woodwork for decades, the old paint her grandfather had brushed on for the first time eighty years ago. Maybe there was still, lurking somewhere beneath the paint, the particular scents of her family—her grandmother's corn soup, or the French pastries her mother had learned to make when she was a girl in New York.

As she moved through the house, her senses took in everything. She could feel that the air was as it should be, that the doors and windows had been shut for a long time, but she had to be sure that the house had been that way for the three days since she had been here. She examined all the locks and latches and scanned the panes of glass. Before she walked on the living room carpet she knelt at the edge to see if shoes had left an impression on it.

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