Page 78 of The Innocent

“I do.”

“So Kimmy Dale was another classic case. She ran away from home and started stripping when she was probably fourteen, fifteen tops.”

“Do you know where she is now?”

“She moved out to Reno. I got a home address if you want.”

“I do.”

He gave her Kimmy Dale’s home address. “Last I heard she works out of a place called the Eager Beaver, which, believe it or not, is not as classy as the name would lead you to believe.”

Eager Beaver, she thought. Wasn’t that where Yates said Charles Talley worked?

Taylor said, “Nice town, Reno. Not like Vegas. Don’t get me wrong. I love Vegas. We all do. It’s awful and horrible and mobbed up, but we don’t leave. You know what I’m saying?”

“I’m calling you from Newark, New Jersey,” she said. “So yeah, I know what you mean.”

Taylor laughed. “Anyway, Reno is actually a pretty nice place to raise a family nowadays. Good weather because it’s below the Sierra Nevada mountains. Used to be divorce capital of the USA and have more millionaires per capita than anywhere in the country. You ever been?”


“Are you cute?”


“So come out to Vegas. I’ll show you around.”

“Next plane, I’m there.”

“Wait, you’re not one of those ‘I-hate-men’ feminazis, are you?”

“Only when I don’t get enough sleep.”

“So what’s this about?”

Her cell phone began to ring. “I’ll fill you in later, okay? Thanks, Taylor.”

“We’ll stay at the Mandalay Bay. I know a guy. You’ll love it.”

“Right, soon, bye.”

She hung up and hit the answer button.


Without preamble, Mother Katherine said, “She was murdered, wasn’t she?”

Loren was about to hem and haw again, but something in Mother Katherine’s tone told her it would be a waste of time. “Yes.”

“Then I need to see you.”

“Why’s that?”

“I wasn’t allowed to say anything before. Sister Mary Rose was very specific.”

“Specific about what?”

“Please come by my office as soon as you can, Loren. I need to show you something.”

“What can I do for you, Agent Yates?” Olivia asked.

By the door, Cal Dollinger’s eyes swept the room. Adam Yates sat and rested his elbows on his thighs. “You own a lot of books,” Yates said.

“Very observant.”

“Are they yours or your husband’s?”

Olivia put her hands on her hips. “Yes, I can see how that would be relevant, so let me clear your mind. Most of the books belong to me. Are we done?”

Yates smiled. “You’re very amusing,” he said. “Isn’t she amusing, Cal?”

Cal nodded. “Most strippers and whores, they’re bitter. But not her. She’s a slice of sunshine.”

“Sunshine indeed,” Yates added.

Olivia did not like the way this was going. “What do you want?”

“You faked your own death,” Yates said. “That’s a crime.”

She said nothing.

“That girl who really died,” he went on. “What was her name?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Her name was Cassandra, wasn’t it?” Yates leaned in a little. “Were you the one who murdered her?”

Olivia held her ground. “What do you want?”

“You know.”

Yates’s hands tightened into fists, then relaxed. She glanced at the door. Cal remained calm, a statue.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t.”

Yates tried a smile. “Where’s the tape?”

Olivia stiffened. She flashed back to that trailer. There had been a horrible smell when she and Kimmy first moved into it, as if small animals had died in the walls. Kimmy had bought some heavy potpourri—much too perfumed. It tried to mask something that could never really be hidden. The smell came back to her now. She saw Cassandra’s crumpled body. She remembered the fear on Clyde Rangor’s face as he asked:

“Where’s the tape?”

She tried to keep her voice from cracking. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Why did you run away and change your name?”

“I needed a fresh start.”

“Just like that?”

“No,” Olivia said. “Nothing about it was ‘just like that.’ ” She stood. “And I don’t want to answer any more questions until my attorney is present.”

Yates looked up at her. “Sit down.”

“I want you both out of here.”

“I said sit down.”

She looked over at Cal Dollinger again. Still playing statue. He had eyes with nothing behind them. Olivia did as Yates said. She sat.

“I was going to say something like, ‘You got a nice life here, you wouldn’t want me to spoil it all for you,’ ” Yates began. “But I’m not sure that will work. Your neighborhood is a cesspool. Your house is a dump. Your husband is an ex-con wanted in a triple murder.” He gave her the smile. “One would have thought you’d have made the most of your new start, Candi. But amazingly you did just the opposite.”

He was intentionally trying to antagonize her. Olivia wouldn’t let that happen. “I’d like you both to leave now.”

“You don’t care who learns your secret?”

“Please leave.”

“I could arrest you.”

That was when she decided to take the chance. Olivia put out her hands, as if ready to be cuffed. Yates did not move. He could arrest her, of course. She wasn’t sure of the exact law or the statute of limitations, but she had clearly interfered with a murder investigation—she had, in fact, pretended to be the victim. It would be more than enough to hold her.

But that wasn’t what Yates wanted.

Clyde’s pleading voice: “Where’s the tape?”

Yates wanted something else. Something Cassandra had died for. Something Clyde Rangor had killed for. She looked into his face. The eyes were steady. His hands kept clenching and unclenching.

Her wrists were still together in front of her. She waited another second, then dropped them back to her sides. “I don’t know anything about any tapes,” she said.

Tags: Harlan Coben Thriller