Promise Me Page 85

“What the hell happened in there?”

Erik did not break stride. “Go home, Claire. In case she calls.”

Claire glanced at Myron, as though looking for help. Myron did not offer any. Erik was already in the driver’s seat, figuratively and literally. Myron quickly slid to the passenger side before Erik zoomed off.

“You know the way to the Wolfs’ house?” Myron asked.

“I dropped my daughter off there plenty of times,” he said.

He hit the gas. Myron studied his face. Normally Erik’s expression landed somewhere in the vicinity of disdainful. There’d be furrowed brows and deep lines of disapproval. None of that was there now. His face was smooth, untroubled. Myron half expected him to snap on the radio and start whistling along.

“You’re going to get arrested,” Myron said.


“You think they’ll keep quiet?”


“The hospital will have to report the bullet wound.”

Erik shrugged. “Even if they do talk, what would they say? I’m entitled to a jury of my peers. That would mean some parents with teenagers. I take the stand. I talk about how my daughter was missing and how the victim is a teacher who seduced a student and took bribes to change academic records. . . .”

He let his voice trail off as if the verdict was too obvious to mention. Myron was not sure what to say. So he sat back.



“I’m to blame, aren’t I? My affair was the catalyst.”

“I don’t think it’s that simple,” Myron said. “Aimee is pretty strong willed. It may have contributed, but in a weird way, it sort of adds up. Van Dyne is a music teacher and works in her favorite music store. There would be some appeal there. She had probably outgrown Randy. Aimee has always been a good kid, right?”

“The best,” he said softly.

“So maybe she just needed to rebel. That would be normal, right? And there was Van Dyne, at the ready. I mean, I don’t know if that’s how it worked. But I wouldn’t put all of it on you.”

He nodded, but he didn’t seem to be buying it. Then again, Myron wasn’t selling that hard either. Myron considered calling the police, but what exactly would he tell them? And what would they do? The local police could be in Jake Wolf’s pocket. They might warn him. Either way, they’d have to respect his rights. He and Erik need not worry about that.

“So how do you figure this all played out?” Erik asked.

“We have two suspects left,” Myron said. “Drew Van Dyne and Jake Wolf.”

Erik shook his head. “It’s Wolf.”

“What makes you so sure?”

He cocked his head. “You still don’t get the parental bond, do you, Myron?”

“I have a son, Erik.”

“He’s over in Iraq, right?”

Myron said nothing.

“And what would you give to save him?”

“You know the answer.”

“I do. The same as me. And the same as Jake Wolf. He’s already shown how far he’ll go.”

“There’s a big difference between paying off a teacher to switch transcripts and . . .”

“Murder?” Erik finished for him. “It probably doesn’t start that way. You start by talking to her, trying to make her see things your way. You explain how she could get in trouble too, what with her acceptance to Duke and all. But she won’t back down. And suddenly you understand: It’s a classic us-or-them scenario. She holds your son’s future in her hands. It’s either her future or your son’s. Which are you going to choose?”

“You’re speculating,” Myron said.


“You have to keep your hopes up.”


Myron turned toward him.

“She’s dead, Myron. We both know that.”

“No, we don’t.”

“Last night, when we were on that cul-de-sac, do you remember what you said?”

“I said a lot of things.”

“You said you didn’t think she’d been randomly abducted by a psycho.”

“I still don’t. So?”

“So think about it. If it was someone she knew—Wolf, Davis, Van Dyne, take your pick—why would they abduct her?”

Myron said nothing.

“They all had reasons to keep her quiet. But think it through. You said it could be either Van Dyne or Wolf. My money is on Wolf. But either way, they were all afraid of what Aimee could reveal, right?”


“You don’t simply abduct someone if that’s what you’re after. You kill them.”

He said it all so calmly, his hands at ten and two o’clock on the steering wheel. Myron was not sure what to say. Erik had spelled it out in pretty convincing fashion. You don’t kidnap if the goal is to silence. That doesn’t work. That fear had been gnawing around in Myron too. He had tried to smother it, not let it free, but now here it was, excavated by the one man who’d want to paint the rosiest picture of what could have happened.

“And right now,” Erik went on, “I’m fine. You see? I’m fighting. I’m battling to find out what happened. When we find her, if she’s dead, it’s over. Me, I mean. I’m done. I’ll put on a façade. I’ll move on for the sake of my other children. That’s the only reason I won’t just shrivel up and die. Because of my other kids. But trust me on this: My life will be over. You might as well bury me with Aimee. That’s what this is about. I’m dead, Myron. But I’m not going out a coward.”

“Hang on,” Myron said. “We don’t know anything yet.”

Then Myron remembered something else. Aimee had been online tonight. He was going to remind Erik of this, give him some hope, but he wanted to play it through in his head first. It wasn’t adding up. Erik had raised an interesting point. From what they had learned, there’d be no reason to abduct Aimee—only reason to kill her.

Had it really been Aimee online? Had she sent Erin a warning?

Something wasn’t adding up.

They veered off Route 280 at a speed that put the car on two tires. Erik braked as they hit the Wolfs’ street. The car crawled up the hill, stopping two houses away from the Wolfs’.

“What’s our next move?” Erik asked.

“We knock on the door. We see if he’s home.”

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