The innocent, p.56
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       The Innocent, p.56

           Harlan Coben
 
Chapter 55

  THE SMELL OF POTPOURRI filled Kimmy's trailer.

  Whenever Olivia had smelled potpourri over the past decade it brought her back to that trailer outside Vegas. Kimmy's new place still had that same smell. Olivia could feel herself start slipping back in time.

  If there were train tracks nearby, this neighborhood was on the wrong side of them. The trailer had siding that seemed to be in mid-shed. Missing windows were covered with plywood. Her rusted car cowered like an abandoned dog. The driveway was oil-stained sand. But the interior, besides the aforementioned odor, was clean and what magazines would dub tastefully furnished. Nothing expensive, of course. But there were little touches. Nice throw pillows. Small figurines.

  It was, in short, a home.

  Kimmy grabbed two glasses and a bottle of wine. They sat on a futon couch, and Kimmy poured. The air conditioner whirred. Kimmy put her glass to the side. She reached out with both hands and gently placed them on Olivia's cheeks.

  "I can't believe you're here," Kimmy said softly.

  Then Olivia told her the whole story.

  It took a while. She started with being sick at the club, going back to the trailer early, Cassandra's dead body, Clyde attacking her. Kimmy listened, totally rapt. She did not say a word. She cried sometimes. She shook. But she did not interrupt.

  When Olivia mentioned the online post about her daughter, she saw Kimmy go rigid.

  "What?"

  "I met her," Kimmy said.

  Olivia felt her stomach drop. "My daughter?"

  "She came here," Kimmy said. "To my house. "

  "When?"

  "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. "

  "Who?"

  "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?"

  "Yes. "

  "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.

  "Kimmy?"

  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. "

 

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