The large business jet was waiting when they arrived at the airport. The small crew was cordial but businesslike. The flight left the ground within five minutes of boarding. An attendant, a smartly dressed woman in her forties named Greta with a pretty but smug face and shifty eyes handed Annie a phone.
“Daddy?” Annie said, her voice breaking, sounding oddly like that of a child’s. “Tell me what happened. Yes, I’m okay. I want to know everything.” Annie kept the phone to her ear for a long time, occasionally exclaiming in awe or grief. “Oh no. My God, no. Daddy . . . please don’t cry . . . please. I know. Yes, I love you too, Daddy.”
Slowly, as if in a trance, Annie put the phone down. Doug wanted to puke. He was pitting his love for Annie against his hatred for her father and in the process he was totally ignoring the fact that her mother was dead and that she was hurting. But he couldn’t help it. This was all wrong. They’d vowed never to go back there. Now they were being forced into it; De Roché was manipulating Annie’s emotions like a talented maestro conducting an orchestra.
Annie fixed Doug with a vacant, helpless stare. “Oh . . . Christ, Doug,” she said, and the words were choked in an odd way, as though she was trying to swallow them.
Doug reached over and touched her trembling hand. “God, Annie, I’m so sorry.”
“Daddy . . . heard . . . her . . . get out of bed around midnight. He drifted back to sleep and woke up to the sound of gunfire. He went . . . looking for her and someone shot at him. The gunman somehow escaped. Daddy found Mama on the bathroom floor with a . . . bullet through her heart.”
“Annie, that place is a fortress. How could a gunman get through security?”