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“Amabel told me how Noelle came here once—it was early on in her marriage—and told you both what my father was doing. You didn’t want to hear about it. You insisted she go back. You turned her away. You were horrified. Did you even think she was making it up?”
Sally thought for a wild moment that this was surely the wrong way to go about getting money from them. She hadn’t realized all this resentment toward them was bottled up inside her.
“We will not speak of your mother to you, Susan,” her grandmother said. She nodded slightly to her husband, but Susan saw it. He took a step toward her. She wondered if he would try to hold her down and tie her up and call Doctor Beadermeyer. In that moment, she truly wanted him to try. She wouldn’t mind hitting that tight, mean mouth of his that masked weakness and preached platitudes.
She took a step back, her hands in front of her. “Listen, I need some money. Please, if you have any feeling for me at all, give me some money.”
“What are you wearing, Susan? That’s a man’s jacket. What have you done? You haven’t harmed some innocent person, have you? Please, what have you done?”
She’d been a fool to come here. What had she expected? They were so set in their ways that a bulldozer couldn’t budge them. They saw things one way, only one—her grandmother’s way.
“You’re not well, are you, Susan? If you were, you wouldn’t be wearing those clothes that are so distasteful. Would you like to lie down for a while and we can call Doctor Beadermeyer?”
Her grandfather was moving toward her again now, and she knew then that he would try to hold her here.
She had a trump card, and she played it. She even smiled at the two old people who perhaps had loved her once, in their way. “The FBI is after me. They’ll be here soon. You don’t want the FBI to get me, do you, Grandfather?”
He stopped cold and looked at his wife, whose face had paled.
She said, “How could they possibly know you were coming here?”
“I know one of the agents. He’s smarter than anyone has a right to be. He also has this gut instinct about things. I’ve seen him in action. Count on it. He’ll be here soon now with his partner. If they find me here, they’ll me back. Then everything will come out. I’ll tell the world how my father—that larger-than-life, very rich lawyer take—beat my mother and how you didn’t care, how you ignored it, how you pretended everything was fine, happy to bask in the additional glory that such a successful son-in-law brought you.”
“You’re not a very nice girl, Susan,” her grandmother said, two spots of bright red appearing on her very white cheeks. Anger, probably. “It’s because you’re ill, you know. You didn’t used to be this way.”
“Give me money and I’ll be out of here in a flash. Keep talking, and the FBI will be here and haul me off.”
Her grandfather didn’t look at his wife this time. He pulled out his wallet. He didn’t count the money, just took out all the bills, folded them, and thrust them toward her. He didn’t want to touch her. She wondered about that again. Was he afraid he’d go nuts if he did?
“You should immediately drive back to Doctor Beadermeyer,” he said to her, speaking slowly, as if she were an idiot. “He’ll protect you. He’ll keep you safe from the police and the FBI.”
She stuffed the bills into her jeans pocket. It was a tight fit. “Good-bye, and thank you for the money.” She paused a moment, her hand on the doorknob. “What does either of you know about Doctor Beadermeyer?”
“He came highly recommended, dear. Go back to him. Do as your grandfather says. Go back.”
“He’s a horrible man. He held me prisoner there. He did terrible things to me. But then again, so did my father. Of course, you wouldn’t believe that, would you? He’s so wonderful—rather, he was so wonderful. Doesn’t it bother you that your son-in-law was murdered? That’s rather low on the social ladder, isn’t it?”
They just stared at her.
“Good-bye.” But before she could leave the room, her grandmother called out, “Why are you saying things like this, Susan? I can’t believe that you’re doing this. Not just to us but to your poor mother as well. And what about your dear husband? You’re not telling lies about him, are you?”
“Not a one,” Sally said and slipped out of the room, closing the door behind her. She grinned briefly.