The U.S. Marshals’ oce in downtown Austin is on a side street, its windows
peering in on other buildings, peering in on the parking garage across the street.
Most of those buildings are now dark and closed for the night. The parking lot is
mostly empty. But Grady’s oce—and his colleagues’ oces—are lit up and
“Let’s walk through this again,” Grady says.
He sits on the edge of his desk as I pace back and forth. I can feel his
judgment but it’s unnecessary. No one is judging me more than I’m judging
myself. Bailey is missing. She’s missing. She is out there, alone.
“How’s this helping to nd Bailey?” I say. “Unless you arrest me, I’m going
out there to look for her.”
I start to walk out of the oce, but Grady hops down from his desk and
blocks my exit.
“We have eight deputies looking for her,” he says. “What you need to do right
now is go through it all again. If you want to help us nd her, that’s the only
thing to do.”
I hold his gaze but relent, knowing he’s right.
I walk back over to the windows and look outside, as though there is
something I can do—as though I’ll spot Bailey somewhere on the street below. I
don’t know who I’m looking at—the myriad of people walking through
nighttime Austin. The sliver of moon, the only light, makes it feel even more
terrifying that Bailey is roaming among them.
“What if he took her?” I say.
“Nicholas?” he says.
I nod, my head starting to spin. I go obsessively over everything I know about
him now—how dangerous he is, the heights Owen went to get away from him.
To keep his daughter away from Nicholas’s world. How I’ve brought her back.
“That’s unlikely,” Grady says.
“But not impossible?”
“I guess nothing is impossible, now that you brought her to Austin.”
I try to comfort myself, something Grady apparently has no desire to do. “He
couldn’t have found us so quickly…” I say.
“No, probably not.”
“How did you even nd us?” I ask.
“Well, your call this morning didn’t help. And then I heard from your lawyer,
a Jake Anderson, in New York City. He told me you were in Austin and he
couldn’t reach you. That you went dark and he was worried. So I put a trace on
you. Clearly not soon enough…”
I turn and look at him.
“Why on earth would you come to Austin?” he says.
“You showed up at my house, for starters,” I say. “I found that suspicious.”
“Owen never told me you were a detective.”
“Owen never told me about any of this. Period.”
It seems unwise to harp on the fact that I wouldn’t have come here if Grady
had told me what was going on, if anyone had told me the truth about Owen
and his past. Grady is too angry to care. Still, I can’t stop myself. If we are
pointing ngers, they shouldn’t be pointed at me.
“In the last seventy-two hours, I’ve learned that my husband isn’t the person I
thought he was. What was I supposed to do?”
“What I told you to do,” he says. “Lay low, get yourself a lawyer. Let me do
“And what is that exactly?”
“Owen made a decision over a decade ago to get his daughter out of a life he
couldn’t protect her from otherwise. To give her a clean start. I helped him do
“But Jake told me… I thought Owen wasn’t in the protection program.”
“Jake would have been correct that Owen wasn’t in witness protection. Not
I look at him, confused. “What the hell does that mean?”
“Owen was set to join WITSEC after he agreed to testify, but he never felt
safe. Thought there were too many holes, too many people he’d have to trust.
And, during the trial, there was a small leak.”
“What do you mean a small leak?”
“Someone in the New York oce compromised the identities we had secured
for Owen and Bailey,” he says. “Owen didn’t want any part of government
involvement after that.”
“Shocking,” I say.
“It wasn’t typical, but I did understand why he wanted to go another route.
Why he disappeared with Bailey. No one knew where they were going. No one
else in the Marshals Service knew. We made sure there wasn’t a line that would
lead to him.”
Grady ew halfway across the country to check on Owen—to check on his
family, to help Owen out of this mess.
“Except you, you mean,” I say.
“He trusted me,” he says. “Maybe because I was new here then. Maybe I
earned it. You’ll have to ask him why.”
“Can’t really ask him much of anything at the moment,” I say.
Grady walks over to the windows, leans against them. Maybe it’s because I’m
looking for it, but I see something in his eyes, something like sympathy.
“Owen and I don’t talk a whole lot,” he says. “For the most part, he’s just
been living his life. I think the last time he reached out was when he told me he
was marrying you.”
“What did he say?”
“He told me that you were a game changer,” he says. “He said he’d never been
in love like that before.”
I close my eyes against it, how deeply I feel that, and how deeply I feel the
“Truth is, I tried to talk him out of pursuing anything with you,” Grady says.
“I told him his feelings would pass.”
“Well thank you for that.”
“He wouldn’t listen to me about walking away,” he says. “But he did take my
advice, apparently, when I told him he couldn’t tell you about his past. That it
was too dangerous for you. That if he really wanted to be with you, he needed to
leave his past out of it.”
I think of the two of us in bed, Owen struggling with whether to tell me—
Owen wanting to tell me the entire truth of his past. Maybe Grady’s warning
stopped him. Maybe Grady’s warning stopped Owen and me from being in a
position to handle this together.
“Is this your way of telling me I should blame you instead of him?” I say.
“Because I’m happy to do that.”
“This is my way of telling you we all have secrets we don’t share,” he says.
“Kind of like your lawyer friend Jake? He told me that you guys were engaged
once upon a time.”
“That’s not a secret,” I say. “Owen knew all about Jake.”
“And how do you think he’d feel about you involving him in this?” he says.
I was running out of choices, I want to say. But I know it’s a fool’s errand to
argue with him. Grady is intent on putting me on the defensive, as if that will
make it easier for him to pry something out of me—not exactly a secret, more
like my will. My will to do anything but listen to what he thinks we should do
“Why did Owen run, Grady?” I ask.
“He had to,” he says.
“What does that mean?”
“How many photographs have you seen of Avett in the news this week? The
media would be all over Owen too. His picture would be everywhere and they’d
nd him again. Nicholas’s employers. Even though he looks dierent than he
did, he doesn’t look that dierent. He couldn’t risk that kind of exposure. He
had to get out of there before that happened,” he says. “Before he blew up
I take that in. It makes me understand in a dierent way why there was no
time to tell me anything—why there was no time to do anything but go.
“He knew he would have been brought in,” he says. “And when he was, he
would’ve been ngerprinted, just like Jordan Maverick was this afternoon. And
that would reveal who he actually was, game over.”
“So they think Owen’s guilty?” I say. “Naomi, the FBI, whoever else?”
“No. They think he has answers they need, that’s a dierent thing,” he says.
“But if you’re asking me if Owen was a willing participant in the fraud? I would
say not likely.”
“What’s more likely?”
“That Avett knew about Owen.”
I meet his eyes.
“Not any of the specics, Owen never would have told him, but he knew he
hired someone who came out of nowhere. No references to speak of, no ties to
the tech world. Owen said at the time that Avett just wanted the best coder he
could nd, but I think Avett was looking for an angle. He wanted someone he
could control, if it turned out he needed that control. And it turned out he did.”
“You think Owen knew what was happening at The Shop but he couldn’t
stop it?” I say. “That he stayed there hoping he could x it, get the software
operational, before he got caught in the crosshairs.”
“I do,” he says.
“That’s a pretty specic guess,” I say.
“I know your husband pretty specically,” he says. “And he’s been watching
his back for such a long time that he knew if The Shop scandal touched him,
he’d have to disappear all over again. Bailey would have to start over. And this
time, of course, she’d have to be told the history. Not ideal to say the least…” He
pauses. “Let alone what you would’ve had to give up, assuming you chose to go
“Assuming I chose to go?”
“Well, you couldn’t really hide out as a woodturner. Even a furniture
designer. Whatever you call yourself. You would have to give up everything. Your
job, your livelihood. I’m sure he didn’t want that for you.”
I ash to it—one of my early dates with Owen. He asked me what I would do
if I hadn’t become a woodturner. And I told him that it was probably because of
my grandfather—maybe it was because I associated woodturning with the only
stability I’d ever had—but it was all I’d ever wanted to do. I had never really
imagined doing anything else.
“He didn’t think I’d choose to go with them, did he?” I say, more to myself
than to him.
“That doesn’t matter now. I’ve managed to tamp it down, to keep your
friends at the FBI at bay…” he says. “But I won’t be able to pull rank much
longer unless you guys are ocially being protected.”
“Yes, meaning WITSEC.”
I don’t say anything, trying to take in the weight of that. I can’t begin to
fathom being a protected person. What will that look like? My only experience
with anything close is what I’ve seen in the movies—Harrison Ford hanging out
with the Amish in Witness, Steve Martin sneaking out of town to get the good
spaghetti in My Blue Heaven. Both of them depressed and lost. Then I think of
what Jake said. How in reality it’s nowhere near as good as that.
“So Bailey will have to start over?” I say. “New identity? New name? All over
“Yes. And I’d take starting over for her,” he says. “I’ll take it for her father too
as opposed to what’s happening now.”
I try to process that. Bailey no longer Bailey. Everything she has worked so
hard for—her schooling, her grades, her theater, herself—it will be erased. Will
she even be allowed to perform in musicals anymore, or will that be a tell? A way
to lead people to Owen. The new student at a random school in Iowa starring in
the school musical. Will Grady say that’s another way they can track them? That
instead of pursuing her old interests, she has to take up fencing or hockey or just
completely stay under the radar. Any way you shake it out, it certainly means
Bailey will be asked to stop being Bailey—at the exact moment she is becoming
singularly, inimitably herself. It feels like a staggering proposition—to give up
your life when you’re a sixteen-year-old. It’s a dierent position than when you
were just a toddler. It’s a dierent proposition when you’re forty.
But still. I know she would pay that price to be with her father. We would
both gladly pay that price, again and again, if it meant we could all be together.
I try to nd comfort in that. Except there is something else gnawing at me—
something Grady is skirting around that isn’t sitting right—something that I
can’t hold in my hands just yet.
“Here’s what you’ve got to understand,” he says. “Nicholas Bell is a bad man.
Even Owen didn’t want to accept how bad of a man he was, not for a long time,
probably because Kate was loyal to her father. And Owen was loyal to Kate, and
to Charlie, who Owen was quite close to, as well. They believed their father was
a good man with some questionable clients. And they convinced Owen of that.
They convinced him that Nicholas was a defense attorney, doing his job. No
illegal activity of his own. They convinced him because they loved their father.
They thought he was a good father, a good husband. He was a good father, a
good husband. They weren’t wrong. He is just other things too.”
“Like complicit in murder. And extortion. And drug tracking,” he says.
“Like completely and totally unrepentant for how many lives he helped ruin.
Like how many people whose entire fucking world he helped destroy.”
I try not to show it on my face, how that gets to me.
“These men that Nicholas worked for are ruthless,” he says. “And
unforgiving. There’s no telling what kind of leverage they would use to get
Owen to turn himself in.”
“They could go after Bailey?” I say. “That’s what you’re saying? That they’d
go after Bailey to get to Owen?”
“I’m saying, unless we move her quickly, it’s a possibility.”
That stops me, even in the heat of this. What Grady’s insinuating. Bailey
being in danger. Bailey, who is wandering the streets of Austin alone, potentially
already in danger.
“The point is, Nicholas won’t stop them,” he says. “He couldn’t stop them
even if he wanted to. That’s why Owen had to get Bailey out. He knew Nick’s
hands weren’t clean in any of this. And he used that information to hurt the
organization. Do you understand that?”
“Maybe you should say it slower,” I say.
“Nicholas wasn’t always dirty, but at some point he started passing messages
for leadership, from lieutenants in prison to leadership outside of prison.
Messages that couldn’t be sent another way except through a lawyer. And these
weren’t innocent messages. These were messages like who needs to be punished,
like who needs to be killed. Can you imagine knowingly passing along a message
that would result in a man and his wife being killed and their two kids being left
“And where does Owen come in?”
“Owen helped Nicholas set up an encryption system that Nicholas ultimately
used to send these messages, to record these messages when they needed to be
recorded,” he says. “After Kate was killed, Owen hacked into the system and
turned everything over to us. All the emails, all the correspondence… Nicholas
served more than six years in prison for conspiracy to commit. Which we were
able to prove directly from those les. You don’t betray Nicholas Bell like that
and come back from it.”
This is when it hits me—the piece that has been gnawing at me, the piece that
Grady hasn’t been addressing.
“So why didn’t he come to you then?” I say.
“Why didn’t Owen come straight to you?” I say. “If the only way this ends
well, if the only way to truly keep Bailey safe now is for her to be in witness
protection, for Owen to be in witness protection, then when everything in The
Shop blew up, why didn’t Owen reach out to you? Why didn’t he show up at
your door and ask you to move us?”
“You’ll have to ask Owen that.”
“I’m asking you,” I say. “What happened with the leak last time, Grady? Did
you guys nip it in the bud or was Bailey’s life compromised?”
“What does that have to do with what’s happening now?”
“Everything. If what happened made my husband think you can’t keep Bailey
safe now, it has everything to do with what’s happening now,” I say.
“The bottom line is that WITSEC is the best option that Owen and Bailey
have for staying safe,” he says. “Period.”
He says this without apology, but I can see that my question got to him.
Because he can’t deny it. If Owen were really certain that Grady could keep
Bailey safe, that he could keep all of us safe, he would be here with us now. As
opposed to wherever he is.
“Look, let’s not get sidetracked here,” he says. “What you need to do now is
help me gure out why Bailey left the hotel room.”
“I don’t know why,” I say.
“Wager a guess,” he says.
“I think she didn’t want to leave Austin,” I say.
I don’t add the details. She probably didn’t want to go yet, not when she was
so close to nding answers of her own—answers to questions about her past,
answers Owen left me ill-equipped to even begin to deal with. It calms me
somewhat to believe this is the reason, to believe she is alone somewhere but safe,
searching for answers she doesn’t trust anyone else to nd for her. I should
recognize that trait in someone. I have it myself.
“Why do you think she wants to stay in Austin?” he says.
At the moment I tell him the only piece of truth I know. “Sometimes you can
sense it,” I say.
“Sense what?” he says.
“When it’s all up to you.”
Grady gets called into a meeting and a dierent U.S. marshal, Sylvia Hernandez,
leads me down the hall and into a conference room, where she says I can make a
phone call—as though the call isn’t being taped or traced or whatever else they
do here to make sure they know everything you do. Before you even do it.
Sylvia sits outside the door and I pick up the phone. I call my best friend.
“I’ve been trying to reach you for hours,” Jules says when she picks up. “Are
you guys okay?”
I sit down at the long conference room table, holding my head in my hand,
trying not to fall apart. Even though it feels like the moment to fall apart, when I
am safe to—Jules there to catch me.
“Where are you?” she says. “I just got a crazy call from Jake, screaming about
how your husband is putting you in danger. Can’t say I miss that guy.”
“Yeah, well, Jake is Jake,” I say. “He’s just trying to help. In his incredibly
“What’s going on with Owen? He didn’t turn himself in, did he?” she says.
“What exactly?” she said. But she says it softly. Which is also her way of
saying I don’t need to explain right now.
“Bailey is missing,” I say.
“What?” she says.
“She took o. She left the hotel room. And we can’t nd her.”
“I know that, Jules. Why do you think I’m so scared?”
“No, I’m saying, she’s sixteen. Sometimes disappearing for a bit is what you
need to do. I’m sure she’s ne.”
“It’s not as simple as that,” I say. “Have you heard the name Nicholas Bell?”
“Should I have?”
“He’s Owen’s former father-in-law.”
She is silent, something coming to her. “Wait, you don’t mean Nicholas
Bell… like, the Nicholas Bell? The lawyer?”
“Yes, that’s him. What do you know about him?”
“Not a lot. I mean… I remember reading in the papers when he was released
from prison a couple of years ago. I think he was in there for assault or murder or
something. He was Owen’s father-in-law?” she says. “I don’t believe it.”
“Jules, Owen’s in big trouble. And I don’t think there’s anything I can do to
She is quiet, thoughtful. I can feel her trying to add up some of the pieces
that I’m not helping her see.
“We’ll stop it,” she says. “I promise you. First we’ll get you and Bailey home.
Then we can gure out how.”
My heart clutches in my chest. This is what she has always done—what we
have done for each other. And this is why I can’t breathe suddenly. Bailey is
wandering the streets of this strange city. And even when we nd her—and I
have to believe they’ll nd her soon—Grady just informed me that I’m not
going home. Not ever.
“Did I lose you?” she says.
“Not yet,” I say. “Where did you say you were?”
“I’m home,” she says. “And I got it open.”
The way she says it is loaded. And I realize she is talking about the safe, the
small safe inside the piggy bank.
“Yep,” she says. “Max found a safecracker who lives in downtown San
Francisco, and we opened it about an hour ago. His name is Marty and he is
about ninety-seven years old. It’s insane what this guy can do with a safe. He
listened to the machine for ve minutes and opened it that way. Stupid little
piggy bank, made of steel.”
She pauses. “A will. The nal will, for Owen Michaels né Ethan Young. Do
you want me to tell you what it says?”
I think about who else is listening. If Jules starts to read, I think of who else
will be listening to Owen’s will—not the will I pulled up on his laptop
computer, but the will that the other will alluded to, as if in a secret message to
Owen’s real will, his more complete will. Ethan’s will.
“Jules, there are probably people listening to this call, so I think we should
stick to a few things, okay?”
“What does it say about Bailey’s guardians?”
“That you’re her primary guardian,” she says. “In case of Owen’s death, but
also in case of his inability to care for her himself.”
Owen prepared for this. Maybe not exactly this, but something like this. He
prepared for it in a way that Bailey would get to be with me—that he wanted
Bailey with me. At what point did he trust me enough to do that? At what point
did he decide that being with me was what was best for her? It breaks something
wide open in me to know that he got there, that he thought I could do it. Except
now she is missing, somewhere in this city. And I allowed that to happen too.
“Does he mention any other names?” I say.
“Yes. There are dierent rules based on whether you can’t care for her or
based on Bailey’s age,” she says.
As she reads, I listen to her carefully, taking notes, writing down the names I
recognize. But really, I’m listening for just one name—one person who I am
trying to gure out whether to trust, whether Owen trusts, despite any and all
evidence that he shouldn’t. When I hear it, when she says Charlie Smith, I stop
writing. I tell her I need to go.
“Be careful,” she says.
This instead of goodbye, instead of her usual “I love you.” Considering the
circumstances, considering what I need to gure out how to do now, it’s the
I stand up and look out the conference room windows. It has started raining,
Austin nightlife active below, despite it. People walk the streets with umbrellas,
heading to dinner and shows, debating about a nightcap or a late movie. Or
deciding they’ve had enough, that the rain is getting harder, and they want to go
home. Those are the lucky ones.
I turn toward the glass door. U.S. Marshal Sylvia sits on the other side. She is
looking at her phone, either disinterested in me or busy with something more
important than her babysitting assignment. Perhaps she is busy with the one
thing I know about too well. Finding Owen. Finding Bailey.
I’m about to walk into the hall and demand a status update, when I see
Grady walking down the hall.
He knocks on the door as he opens it, and smiles at me—a softer Grady, who
seems to have thawed somewhat.
“They have her,” he says. “They have Bailey. She’s safe.”
I let out a breath, tears lling my eyes. “Oh, thank goodness. Where is she?”
“Up at campus, they’re bringing her back here,” he says. “Can we talk for a
minute before they do? I just think it’s really important that we are on the same
page with her about what the plan is going to be.”
What the plan is going to be. He means the plan to move her, to move us. He
means that he wants me to help hold it all steady when he tells her that life as she
knows it is over.
“And we need to talk about something else,” he says. “I didn’t want to get
into it before, but I haven’t been completely transparent with you…”
“I wouldn’t have guessed.”
“We received a package yesterday with a zip drive of Owen’s work emails. I
had to verify they were real, and they are. He kept meticulous records of the
pressure Avett was applying to push through the IPO, despite Owen’s
objections. And all the work he did after to try and make it okay…”
“It wasn’t just a specic guess then?” I say. “About Owen’s culpability in all
“No, I guess not,” he says.
“So it’s really my husband who tamped it down?” I say.
My voice rises. I try to check it, but I can’t. Because Owen is doing everything
to protect us, even from wherever he is now. And I just don’t trust that Grady
knows how to do the same.
“He has certainly helped,” he says. “WITSEC can be challenging about who
they’re willing to help out, and these les plus his history underscore why he
didn’t blow the whistle until now. Why he felt he had no choice but to stay on
I take this in, feeling a weird mix of relief and something else. At rst I think
it’s irritation at Grady for withholding this, withholding that he’d heard from
Owen, but then I realize it’s something more sinister. Because it’s starting to
crystallize for me—what else Grady’s been withholding from me.
“And why are you sharing this information with me now?” I say.
“Because we need to be a united front when Bailey gets here,” he says. “About
WITSEC, about the best way for you guys to move forward. And I know it
doesn’t feel like it, but you won’t be starting over, not completely.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that money Owen left for Bailey? It’s legitimate earnings. It’s
money Owen kept clean,” he says. “You’ll be entering WITSEC with a nice nest
egg. Most people in our program don’t have anything close.”
“Sounds to me, Grady, that you’re saying if we decline, the money goes
“If you decline, all of it goes away,” he says. “Being a family again, safely, goes
I nod, knowing that’s what Grady’s trying to convince me of—that I should
be on board with Bailey and me entering protection. That I need to be on board
because everything is set up for Owen to join us in this new life. Everything is set
up for our family to be reunited. New names, but reunited. Together.
Except this is what I can’t let go of despite Grady’s insistence, what I know
Owen doesn’t want me to let go of. My doubt. My doubt when I think about
the leak at WITSEC and when I think about Nicholas Bell. My doubt when I
think about Owen’s hasty exit and what I know about him, which would
explain it. The only thing that would explain it. Everything I know about Owen
is convincing me of something else.
Grady is still talking. “We just need Bailey to understand that this is the best
way to keep her as safe as possible,” he says.
As safe as possible. That stops me. Because he doesn’t just say safe. Because
there is no safe. Not anymore.
Bailey isn’t wandering the streets, but she is on her way to this oce and to a
world in which to be as safe as possible, Grady is going to tell her she is going to
have to become someone else. Bailey, no longer Bailey.
Unless, of course, I manage to stop it. All of it.
Which is when I brace myself against it. What I need to do now.
“Look, we can get into all of this,” I say. “The best way to handle Bailey. But I
just need to go to the restroom rst… splash some water on my face. I haven’t
slept in twenty-four hours.”
He nods. “No problem.”
He holds the door open and I start to head out of the conference room,
pausing in the doorway, pausing when I’m right next to him. I know this is the
most important part, making him believe me.
“I’m so relieved she’s safe,” I say.
“Me too,” he says. “And look, this isn’t easy, I get that. But this is the best
thing to do, and you’ll see, Bailey will get comfortable with it sooner than you
think, and it won’t all seem so scary. You’ll get to be together and we’ll get to
bring Owen to you as soon as he reemerges. I’m sure that’s what Owen’s waiting
for now, to make sure you’re safe, rst, make sure you’re all set up…”
Then he smiles. And I do the one thing I can. I smile back. I smile like I trust
him that he knows why Owen is still gone, like I trust a relocation will be the
answer he and his daughter need to be together. To be safe. Like I trust that
anyone is capable of keeping Bailey safe—except for me.
Grady’s phone rings. “Give me a minute?” he says.
I point toward the restroom. “Can I?”
“Sure thing. Go ahead,” he says.
He is already walking toward the windows. He’s already focusing on whoever
is on the other end of his phone call.
I head down the hall, and in the direction of the restroom, turning back to
make sure Grady isn’t watching. He isn’t. His back is to me, his phone to his ear.
He doesn’t turn around as I walk past the restroom’s door and the elevator,
where I press the down button. He keeps staring out the conference room
windows, staring at the rain while he talks.
The elevator arrives blessedly fast and I jump in, alone, pushing the close
button. I’m in the lobby before Grady gets o his phone call. I’m outside, in the
rain, before Sylvia Hernandez is sent into the ladies’ room to check on me.
I have turned the corner before she or Grady look on the conference room
table and see what I left there for them to nd. I left the note on the table,
beneath the phone. The note that Owen left me. I left it for Grady.
And I walk at a quick clip down the unfamiliar Austin streets to be there for
Bailey now, to be there for her and Owen the best way I know how, even though
it’s taking me back to the last place I am supposed to go.