Page 87 of The Innocent

“She came here,” Kimmy said. “To my house.”


“Two months ago.”

“I don’t understand. She came here? Why?”

“She said she started looking for her birth mother. You know, out of curiosity. The way kids do. I told her as nicely as I could that you were dead, but she already knew that. Said she wanted to find Clyde and avenge you, something like that.”

“How would she have known about Clyde?”

“She said—let me think a second—she said that first she went to the cop who handled your homicide.”

“Max Darrow?”

“Right, I think that’s the name. She went to him. He told her that he thought Clyde killed you but that nobody knew where Clyde was.” Kimmy shook her head. “All these years. That son of a bitch has been dead all these years?”

“Yes,” Olivia said.

“It’s like hearing Satan died, you know.”

She did. “What was my daughter’s name?”

“She didn’t tell me.”

“Did she look sick?”

“Sick? Oh, wait, I see. Because of that online post. No, she looked pretty healthy.” Kimmy smiled then. “She was pretty. Not flashy. She had spunk though. Just like you. I gave her that picture. You know, the one of us from the Sayers-Pic routine. You remember that?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do.”

Kimmy just shook her head. “I just can’t believe you’re here. It’s like a dream or something. I’m scared you’re going to start to fade away and I’m going to wake up in this cockroach hell without you.”

“I’m here,” Olivia said.

“And you’re married. And pregnant.” She shook her head some more and let loose a dazzling smile. “I just can’t believe it.”

“Kimmy, do you know a Charles Talley?”

“You mean Chally? Crazy whack-job. He works at the club now.”

“When did you last see him?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Week at least.” She frowned. “Why? What does that bastard have to do with this?”

Olivia was silent.

“What is it, Candi?”

“They’re dead.”


“Charles Talley and Max Darrow. They were in on it somehow. I don’t know. Something with my daughter coming back tipped them off. They probably wrote that post to find me.” Olivia frowned. Something felt off about that part, but for now she pushed through. “Darrow wanted money. I gave him fifty thousand. Charles Talley was involved too.”

“You’re not making sense.”

“I was supposed to meet with someone tonight,” Olivia said. “They were supposed to show me my daughter. Only now Darrow and Chally are both dead. And someone is still looking for some tape.”

Again Kimmy’s face fell. “Tape?”

“When Clyde was beating me up, he kept asking, ‘Where’s the tape?’ And then today—”

“Wait a second.” Kimmy held up a hand. “Clyde asked you that?”


“And that’s why he killed Cassandra? To find a videotape?”

“I think so, yeah. He was going nuts searching for it.”

Kimmy started biting her nails.


But her old friend just stood and walked toward the cabinet in the corner.

“What’s going on?” Olivia asked.

“I know why Clyde wanted the tape,” Kimmy said, her voice suddenly calm. She pulled open the cabinet door. “And I know where it is.”

Chapter 56

MATT LED LOREN to the Eager Beaver’s darkened back booth. They sat down as ABC began to sing “The Look of Love.” The room was dark. The strippers felt suddenly far away.

“You’re not armed, are you?” Matt said.

“I didn’t have time to get a weapon approval.”

“You’re also here on your own.”


Matt shrugged. “If I wanted to, I could probably still knock you over and run.”

“I’m tougher than I look.”

“I don’t doubt it. You were a tough kid.”

“You weren’t.”

He nodded. “So what do you know about my wife?”

“Why don’t you start, Matt?”

“Because I’ve done all the stuff that shows trust so far,” he replied. “You haven’t.”

“Fair point.”


Loren thought about it but not for long. There was no reason not to. She truly believed he was innocent and if she was wrong, the evidence would prove it. He wouldn’t be able to talk his way out of it. Ex-cons don’t have that luxury.

“I know your wife’s real name is Candace Potter.”

She started talking. He did too. He interrupted with questions and follow-ups. When Loren reached the part about the Candace Potter autopsy, about the AIS woman, Matt sat up and his eyes widened.

“Say that again.”

“Max Darrow checked off the part about the victim having AIS.”

“Which you said is like being a hermaphrodite?”

“A little, yeah.”

He nodded. “So that’s how Darrow figured it out.”

“Figured out what?”

“That Candace Potter was alive. Look, my wife had a daughter when she was fifteen. The baby was put up for adoption.”

Loren started nodding. “So somehow Darrow found that out.”


“And then he remembers the AIS from the autopsy. If Candace Potter was at one time pregnant—”

“Then it couldn’t have been Candace Potter who was murdered,” Matt finished.

“Your wife is supposed to meet with her daughter here tonight?”

“At midnight, right.”

Loren nodded. “That’s why you made this deal with me. That one A.M. thing. So your wife would be able to keep her rendezvous with her daughter.”

“Right,” Matt said.

“Nice of you. To make that sacrifice.”

“Yeah, I’m a prince except . . .” Matt stopped. “Oh, Christ, think about what we’ve been saying. It’s all a setup. It has to be.”

“I’m not following.”

“Okay, let’s say you’re Max Darrow. Let’s say you figure out that Candace Potter is still alive, that she ran off. How would you find her after all these years?”

Tags: Harlan Coben Thriller