The Last Thing He Told Me

2.8 Two Can Play at That Game

chapter
Chapter

I wait until the morning to call him. I wait until I feel calm and I’m sure I can do
what I need to do.
I gather up all of my notes and throw on a sundress. I close the door to the
hotel room quietly, careful not to wake Bailey. Then I head downstairs, through
the bustling lobby, and go outside, where I can walk along the street, where I can
control better what he hears in the background.
It is still quiet out—the lake placid and peaceful—even with the morning
rush, commuters on their way over the Congress Street Bridge, heading into
their o􀏩ces, their children’s schools, on their way to start their blessedly normal
days.
I reach into my pocket and pull out the napkin from Fred’s, Grady’s cell
phone number underlined twice.
I turn on my cell phone, pressing *67 􀏯rst before I tap in the number, hoping
this will help block my call a little bit longer—if he is so inclined to unblock it, if
he’s so inclined to try and 􀏯gure out where I am.
“This is Grady,” he says when he picks up.
I brace myself to lie. This is, after all, what there is left to do. “It’s Hannah,” I
say. “I heard from Owen.”
This instead of hello.
“When?” Grady says.
“Late last night, around two A.M. He said he couldn’t talk in case someone
was listening to the call. Tracking him. He called from a pay phone or
something. It came up as a blocked number and he was talking fast. He wanted
to know if I was okay, if Bailey was okay, and he was adamant that he didn’t have
any part in what is going on at The Shop. He said he’d had a feeling Avett was up
to something, but he didn’t know the depth of it.”
I can hear Grady on the other end of the phone, rustling around. Maybe he is
looking for a notepad, something on which to write down the clues he seems to
think I’m going to give him.
“Tell me what he said exactly…” he says.
“He said it wasn’t safe for him to stay on the phone, but that I should call
you,” I say. “That you’d tell me the truth.”
The rustling stops. “The truth? About what?”
“I don’t know, Grady. Owen made it sound like you’d know how to answer
that.”
Grady pauses. “It’s early in California,” he says. “What are you doing up so
early?”
“Would you be able to go back to sleep if your husband called you at two A.M.
and told you he was in trouble?”
“I’m a pretty good sleeper, so…” he says.
“I need to know what’s going on, Grady. What’s really going on here,” I say.
“Why does a U.S. marshal based in Austin, Texas, come all the way to San
Francisco seeking out someone who isn’t a suspect?”
“And I need to know why you’re lying to me about Owen calling you when
he obviously did not.”
“Why are there no records of Owen Michaels before he got to Sausalito?” I
say.
“Who told you that?” he said.
“A friend.”
“A friend? You’re getting some faulty information from your friend,” he says.
“I don’t think so,” I say.
“Okay, well, did you remind your friend that one of the primary functions of
The Shop’s new software is to alter your online history? That it helps you erase a
trail you don’t want to leave, correct? No online trail as to who you are. That
includes online databases to universities, housing records—”
“I know how the software works.”
“So why hasn’t it occurred to you that if anyone expunged Owen’s record, it
might have been the one man who has the capability to do so?”
Owen. He is saying Owen made the trail to his past run cold. “Why would he
do that?” I say.
“Maybe he was testing out his software,” he says. “I don’t know. I’m just
saying you’re making up quite an elaborate story when there are a variety of
explanations as to what your friend did or didn’t 􀏯nd out about Owen’s past.”
He is trying to throw me o􀏦-balance. I won’t let him. I won’t let him try to
control this narrative for his own agenda, which is feeling increasingly
suspicious.
“What did he do, Grady? Before all of this? Before The Shop? Why did he
change his identity? Why did he change his name?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I think you do,” I say. “I think that explains why you came all the way to San
Francisco for an investigation you have no jurisdiction over.”
He laughs. “My jurisdiction puts me 􀏯rmly in charge of this investigation,”
he says. “I think you should probably worry a little less about that and more
about some other things.”
“Like what?”
“Like the fact your pal Special Agent Naomi Wu at the FBI is threatening to
name Owen as an o􀏩cial person of interest.”
I pause. I haven’t said her name. He knew her name. He seems to know
everything.
“We don’t have a whole lot of time before her team shows up at your house
with search warrants. I’m 􀏯ghting hard to hold her o􀏦 for the moment, but I
can’t guarantee you it will keep going this way.”
I think of Bailey having to come home to see her room turned apart—her
world turned apart.
“Why, Grady?”
“Excuse me?”
“Why are you 􀏯ghting so hard to stop that from happening?”
“That’s my job,” he says.
He says it assuredly, but I’m not convinced. Because something has clicked in
for me. Grady doesn’t want any of this for Owen any more than I do. Grady
wants to help keep Owen away from that fate. Why is that? If Grady were just
investigating Owen, if he were just trying to bring him in, if he was just trying to
end this, he wouldn’t care as much as he does. But something else is going on
here—something far more nefarious than Owen being implicated in simple
fraud. And suddenly I feel terri􀏯ed that that something is worse than anything I
have imagined yet.
Protect her.
“Owen left us a bag of money,” I say.
“What are you talking about?” he says.
“Really, he left it for Bailey. It’s a lot of money, and if someone shows up with
one of those search warrants you’re threatening me with, I don’t want them
discovering it. I don’t want it used against me or as an excuse to take Bailey from
me.”
“That’s not how this works.”
“I’m still new to how this works, so in the meantime, I’m telling you about
the money,” I say. “It’s under my kitchen sink. I don’t want anything to do with
it.”
He is quiet. “Well, I appreciate that, it’s better that I take it than that they
􀏯nd it,” he says. “I can have someone in our San Francisco o􀏩ce come out and
get it.”
I look out past Lady Bird Lake, at Austin’s downtown, its gentle buildings,
the trees letting through the morning light. Grady is probably in one of those
buildings already, starting his day. Grady is closer than I suddenly want him to
be.
“Now’s not a good time.”
“Why not?”
Everything in my body tells me to tell him the truth. We are in Austin. But
I’m still not sure whether he is a friend or a foe. Or both. Maybe everyone is a
little bit of both, Owen included.
“I need to get some work done before Bailey gets up,” I say. “And I’ve been
thinking… maybe I should take Bailey somewhere else until this all calms down.”
“Like where?”
I think of Jake’s o􀏦er. I think of New York.
“I’m not sure,” I say. “But we don’t have to be in Sausalito, do we? I mean, we
don’t have to stay there for any legal reason, correct?”
“Not o􀏩cially, but it won’t look good,” he says. Then Grady pauses. He
pauses as if hearing something.
“Wait. Why did you just say ‘there’?”
“What?”
“You said, we don’t have to stay there. Talking about your house, talking about
Sausalito. If you were home, you would have said ‘here.’ We don’t have to stay
here.”
I don’t say anything.
“Hannah, I’m sending one of my colleagues over to check on you,” he says.
“I’ll put on some co􀏦ee,” I say.
“This isn’t a joke,” he says.
“I don’t think it is.”
“So then where are you?” Grady says.
If Grady wants to trace my phone call, I know he can do it. For all I know he
is already trying to do it. I look out at Grady’s hometown, wondering what it’s
been for my husband.
“Where are you worried I’ll be, Grady?” I say.
Then, before he can answer, I hang up the phone.


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