6:30 P.M., SUNDAY
She stood at the window of the Manhattan apartment, peering through a slit inthe drapes. Her hands trembled.
"Do you see anyone?" the man across the room asked, voice edgy.
"I'm not sure. Maybe." Her body pitched forward, tense, Gabriela tugged thethick sheets of cloth closer together, as if someone was scanning the windowswith binoculars. Or a sniper rifle. "Of course, I didn't see anybody earliertoday, either. Until it was too late." She muttered fiercely, "I wish I had agun now. I'd use it. If anybody's there, I swear to God I'd use it."
Sam Easton asked, "But who would it be?"
She turned to him, stepping away from the window fast. "Who? It could be anyone.Everybody in the world, it seems, wants the goddamn October List!"
"How could they know you were here?"
Gabriela gave a bitter laugh. "I don't seem to have any secrets anymore." Shehesitated, then, reluctantly, she looked out again. "I just can't tell. Ithought somebody was there. But the next minute he was gone. I—" Then shewhispered manically, "The dead bolt!"
Sam stared, cocking his head.
Eyes wide in alarm, Gabriela asked, "Did I lock it?" She walked quickly out ofthe living room around the corner to the hallway and then returned. "No, it'sokay. Everything's locked up."
Sam now took her place at the window, looked out. "I see shadows, I see somemovement. But I can't tell for sure. Could be somebody, could be a tree blowingin the breeze. Damn streetlight's out, the one in front of the building." Heglanced at her. "Was it working earlier?"
"I don't know," she said. "I think maybe it was. How could somebody shut out astreetlight?"
Sam didn't answer. He too stepped back from the slit between the drapes. Hecrossed the room and sat on a hassock near her. She'd noted earlier that he wasin good shape but hadn't seen clearly how slim his waist was, how broad hisshoulders. His muscles tested his suit jacket and white shirt.
Gabriela raged, "Jesus, I hate this! ... Sarah, what's she going through? What'sshe thinking? What—?" Her voice choked. Then she breathed in and outslowly. "How soon, do you think, until we know?" Daniel and Andrew had leftabout a half hour ago to meet Joseph.
She wiped a dot of blood from her lower lip.
Sam said, "Hard to say. Joseph's got his own agenda, you know. The ... someonein his position pretty much has all the power."
Gabriela could tell he'd been about to say "the kidnapper" but didn't want toadd that, maybe so that she didn't become more upset.
She exhaled slowly, pressed her rib cage. Gave a faint wince. "I hate thewaiting."
Sam said awkwardly, "They'll make it happen."
"Will they?" she asked, in a whisper. "Joseph's a crazy man. A wild card. I haveno idea what he's going to do."
A fog of silence filled the dim room, a silence engendered by two strangers whowere waiting to hear a child's fate.
"When exactly did it happen?" Sam asked. His suit was unbuttoned, his tielessdress shirt starched smooth as Sheetrock.
"When did Joseph kidnap her?" Gabriela asked; she wasn't afraid to use the word."Saturday morning. Yesterday."
Forever ago. That was the phrase that had occurred to her but she didn't use theexpression with this man, whom she'd only known a few hours.
"And how old is Sarah?"
Gabriela responded, "Six. She's only six."
"Oh, Jesus." His long, matte-dry face revealed disgust, a face older than thatof most men in their mid-thirties. A jowl quivered.
She nodded, a token of thanks for the sympathy. After a pause: "I hate Sundays."
"I know what you mean." Sam's eyes regarded her again: the new black jeansbought on the run while she and Daniel were being chased through the streets ofNew York. They fit poorly. A bulky, unbecoming navy-blue sweatshirt. He'd beennoting her mussed auburn hair, and a gaunt face whose makeup had long ago beenteared away. He scanned her lean hips too, her abundant breasts, but clearly hadno romantic or lustful interest. She reflected, Whatever his circumstances orpreferences, I'm sure I look pretty bad.
She rose and walked to the corner of the apartment. There sat a black backpack,from which the price tag still dangled. She unzipped it, then withdrew a smallergym bag and, from that, a skein of yarn, some needles and the piece she'd beenworking on. The strands were deep green and blue ...
Echoing a line from a song.
One of her favorites.
Eyes red, demeanor anxious, Gabriela sat once again in the shabby plush purplechair in the center of the living room. Though she clutched the yarn, she didn'tbegin the rhythmic, comforting motion, so familiar, with the red knittingneedles yet. She touched her mouth with a tissue. Looked at the wad, which waswhite as fine linen, now blotched red. Her fingers were tipped with polish of asimilar shade.
Then, tap, tap, Gabriela knitted five rows. She coughed several times,pressed her side, below her right breast, her eyes squinting shut momentarily.She tasted blood. Copper, salty, bitter.
Concern rippling his brow, Sam asked, "If it's bleeding like that, shouldn't yougo to the emergency room? It looks worse."
Gabriela gave a brief laugh. "That probably wouldn't be a good idea. Didn'tDaniel tell you what happened this afternoon?"
"Oh. Sure. Wasn't thinking."
"I'll live with it until I get Sarah back. Then I'll have things taken care of.In the prison hospital, most likely." A cynical smirk accompanied this comment.
She studied the apartment once more. When she and Daniel had arrived two hoursago she'd been too preoccupied to notice much. In addition to being filled withbeat-up furniture, and exuding a sense of the temporary, it was gloomy,particularly now in the oppressive dusk. She supposed this atmosphere was mostlydue to the tall ceilings, small rooms, gray wallpaper flecked with tiny paleflowers. Her eyes went to the wrought-iron coffee table in the middle of theroom. Its spiky edges looked like a weapon from a science fiction film.
The table set her nerves aflame. But she thought yet again, as she'd done sooften in the past two days: Your goal. All you should think about is your goal.
Sarah. Saving Sarah is your only goal. Remember that, remember that, rememberthat.
Gabriela asked, "You work with Daniel much?"
Sam replied, "We've had a relationship with him and The Norwalk Fund for closeto seven years."
"How many people've told him he looks like the actor?" She was thinking back toFriday night—could it really have been just two days ago?—meetingDaniel Reardon for the first time. Then later that evening: recalling his dampbrow, speckled with moisture, and beneath, his blue eyes, which weresimultaneously easy and intense.
"A lot," Sam said and again rubbed his bare, shiny scalp. "I don't get thatmuch: Are you this or that actor?" He was laughing. He had a sense of humorafter all, maybe.
"And the head of your company, Andrew—what was his last name again?"
"He's a fascinating man," she said. "I've never heard of a specialty like hisbefore."
"Not many companies do what we do. He's made a name for himself. Travels allover the world. Flies a hundred thousand miles a year. Minimum."
She knit another row of blue and green. Tap, tap.
"And your job, Sam?"
"I'm a behind-the-scenes guy. The operations chief for the company."
"Like me," she said. "I run my company's office and ..." Her voice faded and shegave a sour laugh. "I ran the office. Before all this happened." Shesighed, dabbed at her mouth once more, examined the tissue and continuedknitting, as if she was simply tired of receiving bad news. She gave him a wrylook. "Operations chief also has babysitter in the job description?"
He opened his mouth—a protest was coming—but then he said, with agrin, "Was it that obvious?"
She continued, "It doesn't make a lot of sense for you to be involved in thisexcept for one reason: to make sure I stay out of their hair."
"Daniel and Andrew are negotiating your daughter's release from a kidnapper.What would you do if you'd gone with them?"
She shrugged. "Scratch Joseph's fucking eyes out."
"That's what Daniel figured. Better for you to stay here."
"And if I wanted to sneak off to the meeting, how were you going to stop me?"
"I'd probably beg."
"What do you know about Joseph?" Sam asked.
The smile vanished like water in parched dirt. "He's a monster, a sadist." Shecast a glance at the CVS drugstore bag, inside which they could see abloodstain, paled by the white plastic.
Sam noted it too. "Daniel told me about that. Unbelievable. Who'd do somethinglike that?"
She closed her eyes momentarily, brow wrinkling. "Joseph's big and intimidating.A bully, a thug. But you know what's worse? He's got this weird side to him.Like his haircut. He has real thick, blond curly hair, and he greases it orsomething. It's eerie. He grins a lot. And he's got this, I don't know, thistone when he talks. You heard him on speakerphone. Taunting. Giddy."
"You know who he sounded like? That character from one of the Batman movies.Heath Ledger played him. Remember?"
"Yes, you're right. Exactly. The Joker."
Suddenly Gabriela's fists closed around the knitting, as if she was going to ripthe piece apart. A moment passed and she seemed to deflate, head forward,shoulders sagging. "God, what a nightmare—this weekend." A pathetic smilebent her lips. "Two days ago I was a mother with a job I loved. I'd just metDaniel and, you know, things really clicked between us. And now? My daughter'sbeen kidnapped. Daniel and your boss might be on their way to get shot. Thepolice are after me and I've done some ... I've done some terrible things today.Oh, Christ ..."
She nodded toward the window. "And apparently Joseph isn't the only one to worryabout. The goddamn October List? Why did it end up in my lap?"
"It'll work out," he said, though they both knew the reassurance was merelyverbal filler.
After a moment she asked Sam, "Why would Daniel do all of this for me? Anybodyelse would've been long gone."
"Why? He's got an interest in what happens."
Sam smiled. "He likes you. That's what he told me ... And told me not to tellyou."
She pictured Daniel's close-cropped black hair, his square jaw, his dancing blueeyes.
The actor ...
She felt the rippling sensation, low in her belly. Had a memory of his lips onhers, his body close. His smells, his tastes. The moisture on his brow and onhers. "I like him too."
"Here's the thing," Sam said, sitting forward on the leather hassock. "Nosurprise: Daniel's good looking and he's rich and he's a nice guy. A lot ofwomen see that and they think, Jackpot. But they don't care who he is, notinside. They don't connect. Daniel said you and he hit it off before youknew he had the boat and the fancy cars and the money."
"Yeah, our meeting was not the most romantic experience in the historyof relationships." She gave Sam a careful gaze. "Okay, he likes me. But he'salso doing this because of what happened in New Hampshire. Right?"
"He told you?" Sam seemed surprised.
"He did, yes. Sounded pretty bad."
A nod. "Oh, yeah. Changed his whole outlook on life. And, true, probably thatis one of the reasons he's helping you. Kind of giving back for whathappened. That was tough. You know, with his kids involved and all."
"Daniel doesn't tell everybody about New Hampshire. In fact, hardly anyone."
She stared at her knitting, the tangles of color. "God, it's so risky, what heand Andrew're doing. They downplayed it, but ..." She pulled her phone from thesweatshirt pouch, glanced at the screen, slipped it back.
"Nothing." A sigh. She rose, walked to the bar and poured some red wine. Liftedher eyebrow. Sam nodded. She filled a glass for him and returned to the couch,handed it off. They sipped. No tap of glasses or toast, of course. Not now.
Gabriela sat and started to sip, but eased the wine away from her lips. Sheexhaled audibly.
"Are you all right?" Sam asked.
Frowning broadly, she was staring at a newspaper on the Alien coffeetable. Scooting forward.
"My God," she said.
She looked up, eyes wide as coins. "I know what it is."
He regarded her quizzically.
"The October List, Sam." She slid the New York Times his way. He walkedforward and picked it up. She continued, "I know what it means! The clues werethere all along. I just didn't put them together." In a low voice, "It's bad,Sam. What's going to happen is really bad."
But before she could say anything more there came a noise from the fronthallway: a click, followed by the distinctive musical notes of the front doorhinge, O–oh, high–low. Stale air moved.
Gabriela rose fast. Sam Easton, holding his wine in one hand and the newspaperin the other, turned to the hallway.
"Is my daughter all right?" she cried. "Please tell me! Is my daughter allright?"
A man entered the room quickly. But it wasn't Daniel Reardon or Andrew Faraday,returning from their mission to save her daughter.
Joseph wore a black jacket and gloves and yellow-tinted aviator glasses. Hisglistening golden curly hair dangled to mid-ear.
In his gloved hand he held a pistol whose muzzle ended in a squat, brushed-metalsilencer.
"No!" Gabriela gasped, looking toward Sam.
After scanning the room quickly, Joseph turned toward them, lifting the gun in away that seemed almost playful.CHAPTER 2
5:50 P.M., SUNDAY 40 MINUTES EARLIER
The warehouse was just as he'd left it on Friday, when he'd been here makingpreparations.
Damp, brick walls covered with scabby light green paint, redolent of cleanserfumes and oil and pesticide and rust, lit by unkind fluorescents. One beganflickering and Joseph rose from the table where he'd been sitting, took a mopfrom the corner, the strands molded into a mass, sideways, like windswept hair,and with the tip of the handle shattered the offending tubular bulb. There wasnothing sturdy enough to stand on to remove it. Shards fell, dust too. Thecrackle was satisfying.
This building was similar to the one where he'd done his little surgery lastnight, the warehouse west of Times Square. Here, in SoHo, there was a demand forindustrial spaces to turn into private residences—at astronomical sums, ofcourse. This particular building would probably never be converted. There wereno windows. Bad for resale to chic-minded lawyers and brokers. Good for Joseph'spurposes, though. In fact, he could just make out a faint spatter of dark browndots on the floor. Several months ago those discolorations had been bright red.The man had finally told Joseph what he wanted to know.
Solid brick walls. They absorbed the screams well.
Before returning to the chair, he walked to the heater panel, turned the unitup. Mold-scented air slipped out of the vents. Warmish. Still, he kept on hisgloves—thin, flesh-colored cloth. Not for the comfort, though. Force ofprofessional habit. Joseph recalled many times in the heat of summer when he'dworn gloves like these.
He sat once more, in the chair on whose back his leather jacket was draped.Pulling off his baseball cap and rubbing his thick golden ringlets, Josephreached into the bag he'd brought with him and extracted the distinctive greenbox of Dom Pérignon champagne. He then removed from his pocket two mobilephones—his own iPhone, and the one lifted from the same apartment wherehe'd taken the boxed wine. His phone he set on the table. The other he scrolledthrough—clumsily because of the gloves—and noted the phone numbersand texts.
He set the Samsung down then stretched out his legs, checking the time. Hewouldn't have long to wait. That was good. He was tense. You always were on edgeat times like this. You had to be. He'd known plenty of men who'd relaxed whenthey shouldn't have. They were dead or changed for the worse, much worse.
But adrenaline got you only so far.
He glanced toward a door at the back of the warehouse, secured with a thick deadbolt. It led to a small storeroom. From beneath the door warm yellow lightflowed. You could hear the Dora the Explorer DVD.
"Hey, Boots! Let's go over there!"
Joseph looked once more at the box containing the champagne. It was marred witha bloodstain on the side. Six dots in a row, like part of the Morse code for S-O-S. He knew the prestige of Dom Pérignon, though he'd never had any. Thisreminded him that he had a thirst. He rose and, walking stiffly from the chill,went to a cupboard in the corner of the warehouse, where he'd stashed a bottleof his Special Brew. He twisted off the cap and thirstily drank down nearly halfof the contents. Felt the rush, felt the comfort.
Excerpted from The October List by Jeffery Deaver. Copyright © 2013 Jeffery Deaver. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.