The Last Thing He Told Me

3.7 The Devil Is in the Details

chapter
Chapter

Grady says one thing in the car that will stay with me forever.
He says one thing to me on the way back to the U.S. Marshals’ o􀏩ce where
Bailey is waiting.
The sun comes up over Lady Bird Lake as we drive, Austin stirring in the
early morning. When we merge onto the highway, Grady turns from the road to
look at me—as if I would miss it otherwise, how unhappy he is with what I’ve
decided to do.
Then he says it.
“They’re going to get their revenge against Owen, one way or another,” he
says. “You should know that.”
I hold his eyes, because it’s the least I can do. Because I’m not going to let him
scare me.
“Nicholas just doesn’t let things go,” he says. “You’re being played.”
“I don’t think so,” I say.
“And what if you’re wrong?” he says. “What’s the plan? To get on a plane, go
back to your life and just hope you guys are safe? You’re not safe. It doesn’t work
that way.”
“How do you know?”
“Fifteen years’ experience for one thing.”
“Nicholas has no problem with me,” I say. “I walked into this without
knowing anything.”
“I know that, you know that. But Nicholas doesn’t, not beyond a doubt.
And that’s not the kind of wager he makes.”
“I think this is an exceptional circumstance.”
“Why?”
“I think he wants to know his granddaughter,” I say. “More than he wants to
punish Owen.”
That stops him. And I can see him considering it. And I see him coming to
the conclusion I came to—that, just maybe, that’s true.
“Even if you’re right about that, if you do this, you’ll never see Owen again.”
There it is, the buzzing in my ear, in my heart. Nicholas saying it, now Grady
saying it. As though I don’t know it. I do know, the gravity of it running
through me, through my blood.
I’m giving up Owen. I’m giving up the chance that on the other side of all
this, if there is another side, things will get to go back to Owen and me, together.
That it will ever go back to the two of us. I can doubt that Owen is coming
home. I can doubt it, but this way I know it.
Grady pulls over, on the side of the highway, trucks racing past, the wind
shaking the car.
“It’s not too late. Fuck Nicholas. Fuck whatever deal that Nicholas thinks
you just made him,” he says. “It wasn’t your deal to make. You need to think of
Bailey.”
“Bailey is all I’m thinking about,” I say. “What is best for her. What Owen
would want me to do for her.”
“You honestly think he’d want you to pick a path where he never gets to see
her again? Never gets to have a relationship with her?”
“You tell me, then, Grady,” I say. “You’ve known Owen a lot longer than I
have. What do you think he wanted me to do when he disappeared?”
“I think he wanted you to lie low until I could help resolve this. Hopefully
without his face ending up on the news. Hopefully with a way for you all to
keep your identities intact. And, if necessary, with me 􀏯nding a way to move you
all so you could stay together.”
“That’s where you lose me,” I say. “Every time.”
“What are you talking about?” he says.
“What are the chances, Grady? If you moved us, what are the chances they
􀏯nd us anyway?”
“Slim.”
“Meaning what? Five percent chance? Ten percent chance?” I say. “How
about the leak last time? Was there a slim chance of that happening too? Because
it did happen. Owen and Bailey were put in jeopardy under your watch. Owen
wouldn’t want to risk that. He wouldn’t roll the dice on something happening
to Bailey.”
“I won’t let anything happen to Bailey—”
“If these men did 􀏯nd us, they would get to Owen however they could,
wouldn’t they? They wouldn’t stand on ceremony or particularly care if Bailey
got caught in the crosshairs. That’s correct, is it not?”
He doesn’t answer me. He can’t.
“Bottom line is that you can’t guarantee that won’t happen. You can’t
guarantee me and you couldn’t guarantee Owen,” I say. “Which is why he left
her with me. Which is why he disappeared and didn’t come directly to you.”
“I think you’re wrong about that.”
“And I think my husband knows who he married,” I say.
Grady laughs. “I would think if this taught you anything it’s that no one
knows who they marry,” he says.
“I disagree,” I say. “If Owen wanted me to sit still and let you run this, he
would have said so.”
“So how do you explain the email correspondence he sent me? The detailed
􀏯les he kept? They’re going to help ensure that Avett is punished for his crimes.
The FBI is already into a plea deal that is going to put Avett away for the next
twenty years…” he says. “How do you explain your husband doing that? How do
you explain away his setting everything up so he could enter witness
protection?”
“I think he did that for another reason.”
“What’s that?” he says. “His legacy?”
“No,” I say. “Bailey’s.”
He smirks, and I can hear all the things he wants to tell me but feels like he
can’t tell me. I can hear all the things he knows about Owen—the same things
Nicholas knows, but with a di􀏦erent sheen on them. Maybe he thinks telling me
something closer to the truth will move me closer to his side. I’ve already picked
a side though. Bailey’s. And mine.
“I’m going to say this as simply as I can,” he says. “Nicholas is a bad fucking
man. He is going to punish you one day. Bailey may be safe, but if he can’t get to
Owen, he’ll punish you in order to hurt him. You’re completely expendable to
him. He doesn’t care about you.”
“I don’t think he does,” I say.
“So then you have to know how risky this is for you to just try and go back to
your life?” he says. “I can only protect you if you let me.”
I don’t answer him, because he wants me to say yes—yes, I’ll let him protect
me. Yes, I’ll let him protect us. And I’m not going to say that. I’m not going to
say it because I know this much is true: he can’t.
Nicholas can probably get to us anyway, if that’s what he wants to do. That’s
what this all has taught me. One way or another, things come back. Things just
came back. So I may as well take a shot at doing the best thing for Bailey. And, by
doing it this way, Bailey gets to stay Bailey.
No one gave her that choice before. She is already losing so much. The least I
can do is give it to her now.
Grady starts the car up again, heads back into tra􀏩c. “You can’t trust him.
It’s crazy for you to think you can. You cannot make a deal with the devil and
expect it to turn out okay.”
I turn away from him, look out the window. “Except I just did.”


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