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The Couple Next Door / (by Shari Lapena, 2016) -

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The Couple Next Door /    (by Shari Lapena, 2016) -

The Couple Next Door / (by Shari Lapena, 2016) -

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: 126
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The Couple Next Door / (by Shari Lapena, 2016) -
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2016
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Shari Lapena
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Kirsten Potter
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/ / / upper-intermediate
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upper-intermediate
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08:40:29
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64 kbps
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mp3, pdf, doc

The Couple Next Door / :

.doc (Word) shari_lapena_-_the_couple_next_door.doc [865 Kb] (c: 2) .
.pdf shari_lapena_-_the_couple_next_door.pdf [1.24 Mb] (c: 2) .


: The Couple Next Door

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ONE A nne can feel the acid churning in her stomach and creeping up her throat; her head is swimming. She_s had too much to drink. Cynthia has been topping her up all night. Anne had meant to keep herself to a limit, but she_d let things slide_she didn_t know how else she was supposed to get through the evening. Now she has no idea how much wine she_s drunk over the course of this interminable dinner party. She_ll have to pump and dump her breast milk in the morning. Anne wilts in the heat of the summer night and watches her hostess with narrowed eyes. Cynthia is flirting openly with Anne_s husband, Marco. Why does Anne put up with it? Why does Cynthia_s husband, Graham, allow it? Anne is angry but powerless; she doesn_t know how to put a stop to it without looking pathetic and ridiculous. They are all a little tanked. So she ignores it, quietly seething, and sips at the chilled wine. Anne wasn_t brought up to create a scene, isn_t one to draw attention to herself. Cynthia, on the other hand . . . All three of them_Anne, Marco, and Cynthia_s mild-mannered husband, Graham_are watching her, as if fascinated. Marco in particular can_t seem to take his eyes off Cynthia. She leans in a little too close to Marco as she bends over and fills his glass, her clingy top cut so low that Marco_s practically rubbing his nose in her cleavage. Anne reminds herself that Cynthia flirts with everyone. Cynthia has such outrageous good looks that she can_t seem to help herself. But the longer Anne watches, the more she wonders if there could actually be something going on between Marco and Cynthia. Anne has never had such suspicions before. Perhaps the alcohol is making her paranoid. No, she decides_they wouldn_t be carrying on like this if they had anything to hide. Cynthia is flirting more than Marco is; he is the flattered recipient of her attentions. Marco is almost too good-looking himself_with his tousled dark hair, hazel eyes, and charming smile, he_s always attracted attention. They make a striking couple, Cynthia and Marco. Anne tells herself to stop it. Tells herself that of course Marco is faithful to her. She knows he is completely committed to his family. She and the baby are everything to him. He will stand by her no matter what_she takes another gulp of wine_no matter how bad things get. But watching Cynthia drape herself over Marco, Anne is becoming more and more anxious and upset. She is still more than twenty pounds overweight from her pregnancy, six months after having the baby. She thought she_d be back to her pre-pregnancy figure by now, but apparently it takes at least a year. She must stop looking at the tabloids at the grocery-store checkout and comparing herself to all those celebrity moms with their personal trainers who look terrific after mere weeks. But even at her best, Anne could never compete with the likes of Cynthia, her taller, shapelier neighbor_with her long legs, nipped-in waist, and big breasts, her porcelain skin and tumbling jet-black hair. And Cynthia always dressed to kill, in high heels and sexy clothes_even for a dinner party at home with one other couple. Anne can_t focus on the conversation around her. She tunes it out and stares at the carved marble fireplace, exactly like the one in her own living-dining room, on the other side of the common wall that Anne and Marco share with Cynthia and Graham; they live in attached brick row houses, typical of this city in upstate New York, solidly built in the late nineteenth century. All the houses in the row are similar_Italianate, restored, expensive_except that Anne and Marco_s is at the end of the row and each reflects slight differences in decoration and taste; each one is a small masterpiece. Anne reaches clumsily for her cell phone on the dining table and checks the time. It is almost one o_clock in the morning. She_d checked on the baby at midnight. Marco had gone to check on her at twelve thirty. Then he_d gone out for a cigarette on the back patio with Cynthia, while Anne and Graham sat rather awkwardly at the littered dining table, making stilted conversation. She should have gone out to the backyard with them; there might have been a breeze. But she hadn_t, because Graham didn_t like to be around cigarette smoke, and it would have been rude, or at least inconsiderate, to leave Graham there all alone at his own dinner party. So for reasons of propriety, she had stayed. Graham, a WASP like herself, is impeccably polite. Why he married a tart like Cynthia is a mystery. Cynthia and Marco had come back in from the patio a few minutes ago, and Anne desperately wants to leave, even if everyone else is still having fun. She glances at the baby monitor sitting at the end of the table, its small red light glowing like the tip of a cigarette. The video screen is smashed_she_d dropped it a couple of days ago and Marco hadn_t gotten around to replacing it yet_but the audio is still working. Suddenly she has doubts, feels the wrongness of it all. Who goes to a dinner party next door and leaves her baby alone in the house? What kind of mother does such a thing? She feels the familiar agony set in_she is not a good mother. So what if the sitter canceled? They should have brought Cora with them, put her in her portable playpen. But Cynthia had said no children. It was to be an adult evening, for Graham_s birthday. Which is another reason Anne has come to dislike Cynthia, who was once a good friend_Cynthia is not baby-friendly. Who says that a six-month-old baby isn_t welcome at a dinner party? How had Anne ever let Marco persuade her that it was okay? It was irresponsible. She wonders what the other mothers in her moms_ group would think if she ever told them. We left our six-month-old baby home alone and went to a party next door. She imagines all their jaws dropping in shock, the uncomfortable silence. But she will never tell them. She_d be shunned. She and Marco had argued about it before the party. When the sitter called and canceled, Anne had offered to stay home with the baby_she hadn_t wanted to go to the dinner anyway. But Marco was having none of it. _You can_t just stay home,_ he insisted when they argued about it in their kitchen. _I_m fine staying home,_ she said, her voice lowered. She didn_t want Cynthia to hear them through the shared wall, arguing about going to her party. _It will be good for you to get out,_ Marco countered, lowering his own voice. And then he_d added, _You know what the doctor said._ All night long she_s been trying to decide whether that last comment was mean-spirited or self-interested or whether he was simply trying to help. Finally she_d given in. Marco persuaded her that with the monitor on next door they could hear the baby anytime she stirred or woke. They would check on her every half hour. Nothing bad would happen. It is one o_clock. Should she check on Cora now or just try to get Marco to leave? She wants to go home to bed. She wants this night to end. She pulls her husband_s arm. _Marco,_ she urges, _we should leave. It_s one o_clock._ _Oh, don_t go yet,_ Cynthia says. _It_s not that late!_ She obviously doesn_t want the party to be over. She doesn_t want Marco to leave. She wouldn_t mind at all if Anne left, though, Anne is pretty sure. _Maybe not for you,_ Anne says, and she manages to sound a little stiff, even though she_s drunk, _but I have to be up early to feed the baby._ _Poor you,_ Cynthia says, and for some reason this infuriates Anne. Cynthia has no children, nor has she ever wanted any. She and Graham are childless by choice. Getting Marco to leave the party is difficult. He seems determined to stay. He_s having too much fun, but Anne is growing anxious. _Just one more,_ Marco says to Cynthia, holding up his glass, avoiding his wife_s eyes. He is in a strangely boisterous mood tonight_it seems almost forced. Anne wonders why. He_s been quiet lately, at home. Distracted, even moody. But tonight, with Cynthia, he_s the life of the party. For some time now, Anne has sensed that something is wrong, if only he would tell her what it is. He isn_t telling her much of anything these days. He_s shutting her out. Or maybe he_s withdrawing from her because of her depression, her _baby blues._ He_s disappointed in her. Who isn_t? Tonight he clearly prefers the beautiful, bubbly, sparkly Cynthia. Anne notices the time and loses all patience. _I_m going to go. I was supposed to check on the baby at one._ She looks at Marco. _You stay as late as you like,_ she adds, her voice tight. Marco looks sharply at her, his eyes glittering. Suddenly Anne thinks he doesn_t seem that drunk at all, but she feels dizzy. Are they going to argue about this? In front of the neighbors? Really? Anne begins to glance around for her purse, gathers up the baby monitor, realizes then that it_s plugged into the wall, and bends over to unplug it, aware of everyone at the table silently staring at her fat ass. Well, let them. She feels like they_re ganging up on her, seeing her as a spoilsport. Tears start to burn, and she fights them back. She does not want to burst into tears in front of everyone. Cynthia and Graham don_t know about her postpartum depression. They wouldn_t understand. Anne and Marco haven_t told anyone, with the exception of Anne_s mother. Anne has recently confided in her. She knows that her mother won_t tell anyone, not even her father. Anne doesn_t want anyone else to know, and she suspects Marco doesn_t either, although he hasn_t said as much. But pretending all the time is exhausting. While her back is turned, she hears Marco_s change of heart in the tone of his voice. _You_re right. It_s late, we should go,_ he says. She hears him set his wineglass on the table behind her. Anne turns around, brushing the hair out of her eyes with the back of her hand. She desperately needs a haircut. She gives a fake smile and says, _Next time it_s our turn to host._ And adds silently, You can come to our house, where our child lives with us, and I hope she cries all night and spoils your evening. I_ll be sure to invite you when she_s teething. They leave quickly after that. They have no baby gear to gather up, just themselves, Anne_s purse, and the baby monitor, which she shoves into it. Cynthia looks annoyed at their swift departure_Graham is neutral_and they make their way out the impressively heavy front door and down the steps. Anne grabs hold of the elaborately carved handrail to help her keep her balance. It is just a few short paces along the sidewalk until they are at their own front stairs, with a similar handrail and an equally impressive front door. Anne is walking slightly ahead of Marco, not speaking. She may not speak to him for the rest of the night. She marches up the steps and stops dead. _What?_ Marco says, coming up behind her, his voice tense. Anne is staring. The front door is ajar; it is open about three inches. _I know I locked it!_ Anne says, her voice shrill. Marco says tersely, _Maybe you forgot. You_ve had a lot to drink._ But Anne isn_t listening. She_s inside and running up the staircase and down the hall to the baby_s room, with Marco right at her heels. When she gets to the baby_s room and sees the empty crib, she screams. TWO A nne feels her scream inside her own head and reverberating off the walls_her scream is everywhere. Then she falls silent and stands in front of the empty crib, rigid, her hand to her mouth. Marco fumbles with the light switch. They both stare at the empty crib where their baby should be. It is impossible that she not be there. There is no way Cora could have gotten out of the crib by herself. She is barely six months old. _Call the police,_ Anne whispers, then throws up, the vomit cascading over her fingers and onto the hardwood floor as she bends over. The baby_s room, painted a soft butter yellow with stencils of baby lambs frolicking on the walls, immediately fills with the smell of bile and panic. Marco doesn_t move. Anne looks up at him. He is paralyzed, in shock, staring at the empty crib, as if he can_t believe it. Anne sees the fear and guilt in his eyes and starts to wail_a horrible, keening sound, like an animal in pain. Marco still doesn_t budge. Anne bolts across the hall to their bedroom, grabs the phone off the bedside table, and dials 911, her hands shaking, getting vomit all over the phone. Marco finally snaps out of it. She can hear him walking rapidly around the second floor of the house while she stares across the hall at the empty crib. He checks the bathroom, at the top of the stairs, then passes quickly by her on his way to search the spare bedroom and then the last room down the hall, the one they have turned into an office. But even as he does, Anne wonders in a detached way why he is looking there. It_s as if part of her mind has split off and is thinking logically. It_s not like their baby is mobile on her own. She is not in the bathroom, or the spare bedroom, or the office. Someone has taken her. When the emergency operator answers, Anne cries, _Someone has taken our baby!_ She is barely able to calm herself enough to answer the operator_s questions. _I understand, ma_am. Try to stay calm. The police are on their way,_ the operator assures her. Anne hangs up the phone. Her whole body is trembling. She feels like she is going to be sick again. It occurs to her how it will look. They_d left the baby alone in the house. Was that illegal? It must be. How will they explain it? Marco appears at the bedroom door, pale and sick-looking. _This is your fault!_ Anne screams, wild-eyed, and pushes past him. She rushes into the bathroom at the top of the stairs and throws up again, this time into the pedestal sink, then washes the mess from her shaking hands and rinses her mouth. She catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Marco is standing right behind her. Their eyes meet in the mirror. _I_m sorry,_ he whispers. _I_m so sorry. It_s my fault._ And he is sorry, she can tell. Even so, Anne brings her hand up and smashes at the reflection of his face in the mirror. The mirror shatters, and she breaks down, sobbing. He tries to take her in his arms, but she pushes him away and runs downstairs. Her hand is bleeding, leaving a trail of blood along the banister. _ _ _ An air of unreality permeates everything that happens next. Anne and Marco_s comfortable home immediately becomes a crime scene. Anne is sitting on the sofa in the living room. Someone has placed a blanket around her shoulders, but she_s still trembling. She is in shock. Police cars are parked on the street outside the house, their red lights flashing, pulsing through the front window and circling the pale walls. Anne sits immobile on the sofa and stares ahead as if hypnotized by them. Marco, his voice breaking, has given the police a quick description of the baby_six months old, blond, blue eyes, about sixteen pounds, wearing a disposable diaper and a plain, pale pink onesie. A light summer baby blanket, solid white, is also missing from the crib. The house is swarming with uniformed police officers. They fan out and methodically begin to search the house. Some of them wear latex gloves and carry evidence kits. Anne and Marco_s fast, frantic race through the house in the short minutes before the police arrived had turned up nothing. The forensic team is moving slowly. Clearly they are not looking for Cora; they are looking for evidence. The baby is already gone. Marco sits down on the sofa next to Anne and puts his arm around her, holds her close. She wants to pull away, but she doesn_t. She lets his arm stay there. How would it look if she pulled away? She can smell that he_s been drinking. Anne now blames herself. It_s her fault. She wants to blame Marco, but she agreed to leave the baby alone. She should have stayed home. No_she should have brought Cora with them next door, to hell with Cynthia. She doubts Cynthia would have actually thrown them out and had no party for Graham at all. This realization comes too late. They will be judged, by the police and by everybody else. Serves them right, leaving their baby alone. She would think that, too, if it had happened to someone else. She knows how judgmental mothers are, how good it feels to sit in judgment of someone else. She thinks of her own mothers_ group, meeting with their babies once a week in one another_s homes for coffee and gossip, what they will say about her. Someone else has arrived_a composed man in a well-cut dark suit. The uniformed officers treat him with deference. Anne looks up, meets his piercing blue eyes, and wonders who he is. He approaches and sits down in one of the armchairs across from Anne and Marco and introduces himself as Detective Rasbach. Then he leans forward. _Tell me what happened._ Anne immediately forgets the detective_s name, or rather it hasn_t registered at all. She only catches _Detective._ She looks at him, encouraged by the frank intelligence behind his eyes. He will help them. He will help them get Cora back. She tries to think. But she can_t think. She is frantic and numb at the same time. She simply stares into the detective_s sharp eyes and lets Marco do the talking. _We were next door,_ Marco begins, clearly agitated. _At the neighbors_._ Then he stops. _Yes?_ the detective says. Marco hesitates. _Where was the baby?_ the detective asks. Marco doesn_t answer. He doesn_t want to say. Anne, pulling herself together, answers for him, the tears spilling down her face. _We left her here, in her crib, with the monitor on._ She watches the detective for his reaction_What awful parents_but he betrays nothing. _We had the monitor on over there, and we checked on her constantly. Every half hour._ She glances at Marco. _We never thought . . ._ but she can_t finish. Her hand goes to her mouth, her fingers press against her lips. _When was the last time you checked on her?_ the detective asks, taking a small notebook from the inside pocket of his suit jacket. _I checked on her at midnight,_ Anne says. _I remember the time. We were checking on her every half hour, and it was my turn. She was fine. She was sleeping._ _I checked on her again at twelve thirty,_ Marco says. _You_re absolutely certain of the time?_ the detective asks. Marco nods; he is staring at his feet. _And that was the last time anyone checked on her, before you came home?_ _Yes,_ Marco says, looking up at the detective, running a nervous hand through his dark hair. _I went to check on her at twelve thirty. It was my turn. We were keeping to a schedule._ Anne nods. _How much have you had to drink tonight?_ the detective asks Marco. Marco flushes. _They were having a small dinner party, next door. I had a few,_ he admits. The detective turns to Anne. _Have you had anything to drink tonight, Mrs. Conti?_ Her face burns. Nursing mothers aren_t supposed to drink. She wants to lie. _I had some wine, with dinner. I don_t know how much exactly,_ she says. _It was a dinner party._ She wonders how drunk she looks, what this detective must think of her. She feels like he can see right through her. She remembers the vomit upstairs in the baby_s room. Can he smell drink on her the way she can smell it on Marco? She remembers the shattered mirror in the upstairs bathroom, her bloodied hand, now wrapped in a clean dish towel. She_s ashamed of how they must look to him, drunken parents who abandoned their six-month-old daughter. She wonders if they will be charged with anything. _How is that even relevant?_ Marco says to the detective. _It might affect the reliability of your observations,_ the detective says evenly. He is not judgmental. He is merely after the facts, it seems. _What time did you leave the party?_ he asks. _It was almost one thirty,_ Anne answers. _I kept checking the time on my cell. I wanted to go. I . . . I should have checked on her at one_it was my turn_but I thought we_d be leaving any minute, and I was trying to get Marco to hurry up._ She feels agonizingly guilty. If she had checked on her daughter at one o_clock, would she be gone now? But then there were so many ways this could have been prevented. _You placed the call to 911 at one twenty-seven,_ the detective says. _The front door was open,_ Anne says, remembering. _The front door was open?_ the detective repeats. _It was open three or four inches. I_m sure I locked it behind me when I checked on her at midnight,_ Anne says. _How sure?_ Anne thinks about it. Was she sure? She had been positive, when she saw the open front door, that she_d locked it. But now, with what had happened, how can she be sure of anything? She turns to her husband. _Are you sure you didn_t leave the door open?_ _I_m sure,_ he says curtly. _I never used the front door. I was going through the back to check on her, remember?_ _You used the back door,_ the detective repeats. _I may not have locked it every time,_ Marco admits, and covers his face with his hands. _ _ _ Detective Rasbach observes the couple closely. A baby is missing. Taken from her crib_if the parents, Marco and Anne Conti, are to be believed_between approximately 12:30 a.m. and 1:27 a.m., by a person or persons unknown, while the parents were at a party next door. The front door had been found partly open. The back door might have been left unlocked by the father_it had in fact been found closed but unlocked when the police arrived. There is no denying the distress of the mother. And of the father, who looks badly shaken. But the whole situation doesn_t feel right. Rasbach wonders what is really going on. Detective Jennings waves him over silently. _Excuse me,_ Detective Rasbach says, and leaves the stricken parents for a moment. _What is it?_ Rasbach asks quietly. Jennings holds up a small vial of pills. _Found these in the bathroom cabinet,_ he says. Rasbach takes the clear plastic container from Jennings and studies the label: ANNE CONTI, SERTRALINE, 50 MG. Sertraline, Rasbach knows, is a powerful antidepressant. _The bathroom mirror upstairs is smashed,_ Jennings tells him. Rasbach nods. He hasn_t been upstairs yet. _Anything else?_ Jennings shakes his head. _Nothing so far. House looks clean. Nothing else taken, apparently. We_ll know more from forensics in a few hours._ _Okay,_ Rasbach says, handing the vial of pills back to Jennings. He returns to the couple on the sofa and resumes his questioning. He looks at the husband. _Marco_is it okay if I call you Marco?_what did you do after you checked on the baby at twelve thirty?_ _I went back to the party,_ Marco says. _I had a cigarette in the neighbors_ backyard._ _Were you alone when you had your cigarette?_ _No. Cynthia came out with me._ Marco flushes; Rasbach notices. _She_s the neighbor who had us over for dinner._ Rasbach turns his attention to the wife. She_s an attractive woman, with fine features and glossy brown hair, but right now she looks colorless. _You don_t smoke, Mrs. Conti?_ _No, I don_t. But Cynthia does,_ Anne says. _I was sitting at the dining-room table with Graham, her husband. He hates cigarette smoke, and it was his birthday, and I thought it would be rude to leave him alone inside._ And then, inexplicably, she volunteers, _Cynthia had been flirting with Marco all evening, and I felt bad for Graham._ _I see,_ Rasbach says. He studies the husband, who looks utterly miserable. He also looks nervous and guilty. Rasbach turns to him. _So you were outside in the backyard next door shortly after twelve thirty. Any idea how long you were out there?_ Marco shakes his head helplessly. _Maybe fifteen minutes, give or take?_ _Did you see anything or hear anything?_ _What do you mean?_ The husband seems to be in some kind of shock. He is slurring his words slightly. Rasbach wonders just how much alcohol he_s had. Rasbach spells it out for him. _Someone apparently took your baby sometime between twelve thirty and one twenty-seven. You were outside in the backyard next door for a few minutes shortly after twelve thirty._ He watches the husband, waits for him to put it together. _To my mind it_s unlikely that anyone would carry a baby out your front door in the middle of the night._ _But the front door was open,_ Anne says. _I didn_t see anything,_ Marco says. _There_s a lane running behind the houses on this side of the street,_ Detective Rasbach says. Marco nods. _Did you notice anyone using the lane at that time? Did you hear anything, a car?_ _I . . . I don_t think so,_ Marco says. _I_m sorry, I didn_t see or hear anything._ He covers his face with his hands again. _I wasn_t paying attention._ Detective Rasbach had already checked out the area quickly before coming inside and interviewing the parents. He thinks it unlikely_but not impossible_that a stranger would carry a sleeping child out the front door of a house on a street like this one and risk being seen. The houses are attached row houses set close to the sidewalk. The street is well lit, and there is a fair bit of vehicular and foot traffic, even late at night. So it is odd_perhaps he_s being deliberately misled?_that the front door was open. The forensics team is dusting it for fingerprints now, but somehow Rasbach doesn_t think they_ll find anything. The back holds more potential. Most of the houses, including the Contis_, have a single detached garage opening onto the lane_behind the house. The backyards are long and narrow, fenced in between, and most, including the Contis_, have trees and shrubs and gardens. It is relatively dark back there; there are no streetlights as there are in the front. It_s a dark night, with no moon. Whoever has taken the child, if he had come out the Contis_ back door, would only have had to walk across the backyard to the garage, with access from there to the lane. The chances of being seen carrying an abducted child out the back door to a waiting vehicle are much less than the chances of being seen carrying an abducted child out the front door. The house, yard, and garage are being thoroughly searched by Rasbach_s team. So far they have found no sign of the missing baby. The Contis_ garage is empty, and the garage door has been left wide open to the lane. It_s possible that even if someone had been sitting out back on the patio next door, he or she might not have noticed anything. But not likely. Which narrows the window of the abduction to between approximately 12:45 and 1:27 a.m. _Are you aware that your motion detector isn_t working?_ Rasbach asks. _What?_ the husband says, startled. _You have a motion detector on your back door, a light that should go on when someone approaches it. Are you aware that it isn_t working?_ _No,_ the wife whispers. The husband shakes his head vigorously. _No, I . . . it was working when I checked on her. What_s wrong with it?_ _The bulb has been loosened._ Detective Rasbach watches the parents carefully. He pauses. _It leads me to believe that the child was taken out the back, to the garage, and away, probably in a vehicle, via the lane._ He waits, but neither the husband nor the wife says anything. The wife is shaking, he notices. _Where is your car?_ Rasbach asks, leaning forward. _Our car?_ Anne echoes. THREE R asbach waits for their answer. She answers first. _It_s on the street._ _You park on the street when you_ve got a garage in back?_ Rasbach asks. _Everybody does that,_ Anne answers. _It_s easier than going through the lane, especially in the winter. Most people get a parking permit and just park on the street._ _I see,_ Rasbach says. _Why?_ the wife asks. _What does it matter?_ Rasbach explains. _It probably made it easier for the kidnapper. If the garage was empty and the garage door was left open, it would be relatively easy for someone to back a car in and put the baby in the car while the car was in the garage, out of sight. It would obviously be more difficult_certainly riskier_if the garage already had a car in it. The kidnapper would run the risk of being seen in the lane with the baby._ Rasbach notices that the husband has turned another shade paler, if that is even possible. His pallor is quite striking. _We_re hoping we will get some shoe prints or tire tracks from the garage,_ Rasbach adds. _You make it sound like this was planned,_ the mother says. _Do you think it wasn_t?_ Rasbach asks her. _I . . . I don_t know. I guess I thought Cora was taken because we left her alone in the house, that it was a crime of opportunity. Like if someone had snatched her from the park when I wasn_t looking._ Rasbach nods, as if trying to understand it from her point of view. _I see what you mean,_ he says. _For example, a mother leaves her child playing in the park while she fetches an ice cream from the ice-cream truck. The child is snatched while her back is turned. It happens._ He pauses. _But surely you realize the difference here._ She looks back at him blankly. He has to remember that she is probably in shock. But he sees this sort of thing all the time; it is his job. He is analytical, not at all sentimental. He must be, if he is to be effective. He will find this child, dead or alive, and he will find whoever took her. He tells the mother, his voice matter-of-fact, _The difference is, whoever took your baby probably knew she was alone in the house._ The parents look at each other. _But nobody knew,_ the mother whispers. _Of course,_ Rasbach adds, _it is possible that she might have been taken even if you were sound asleep in your own bedroom. We don_t know for sure._ The parents would like to believe that it isn_t their fault after all, for leaving their baby alone. That this might have happened anyway. Rasbach asks, _Do you always leave the garage door open like that?_ The husband answers. _Sometimes._ _Wouldn_t you close the garage door at night? To prevent theft?_ _We don_t keep anything valuable in the garage,_ the husband says. _If the car_s in there, we generally lock the door, but we don_t keep much in there otherwise. All my tools are in the basement. This is a nice neighborhood, but people break into garages here all the time, so what_s the point of locking it?_ Rasbach nods. Then he asks, _What kind of car do you have?_ _It_s an Audi,_ Marco says. _Why?_ _I_d like to have a look. May I have the keys?_ Rasbach asks. Marco and Anne regard each other in confusion. Then Marco gets up and goes to a side table near the front door and grabs a set of keys from a bowl. He hands them over to the detective silently and sits back down. _Thank you,_ Rasbach says. Then he leans forward and says deliberately, _We will find out who did this._ They stare back at him, meeting his eyes, the mother_s entire face swollen from crying, the father_s eyes puffy and bloodshot with distress and drink, his face pasty. Rasbach nods to Jennings, and together they leave the house to check the car. The couple sit on the sofa silently and watch them go. _ _ _ Anne doesn_t know what to make of the detective. All this about their car_he seems to be insinuating something. She knows that when a wife goes missing, the husband is usually the prime suspect, and probably vice versa. But when a child goes missing, are the parents usually the prime suspects? Surely not. Who could harm their own child? Besides, they both have solid alibis. They can be accounted for, by Cynthia and Graham. There is obviously no way they could have taken and hidden their own daughter. And why would they? She is aware that the neighborhood is being searched, that there are police officers going up and down the streets knocking on doors, interviewing people roused from their beds. Marco has provided the police with a recent photo of Cora, taken just a few days ago. The photo shows a happy blond baby girl with big blue eyes smiling up at the camera. Anne is angry at Marco_she wants to scream at him, pummel him with her fists_but their house is full of police officers, so she doesn_t dare. And when she looks at his pale, bleak face, she sees that he is already blaming himself. She knows she can_t survive this on her own. She turns to him and collapses into his chest, sobbing. His arms come up around her, and he hugs her tightly. She can feel him shaking, can feel the painful thumping of his heart. She tells herself that together they will get through this. The police will find Cora. They will get their daughter back. And if they don_t, she will never forgive him. _ _ _ Detective Rasbach, in his lightweight summer suit, steps out the front door of the Contis_ house and down the steps into the hot summer night, closely followed by Detective Jennings. They have worked together before. They have each seen some things that they would like to be able to forget. Together they walk toward the opposite side of the street, lined with cars parked bumper-to-bumper. Rasbach presses a button, and the headlights of the Audi flash briefly. Already the neighbors are out on their front steps, in their pajamas and summer bathrobes. Now they watch as Rasbach and Jennings walk toward the Contis_ car. Rasbach hopes that someone on this street might know something, might have seen something, and will come forward. Jennings says, his voice low, _What_s your take?_ Rasbach answers quietly, _I_m not optimistic._ Rasbach pulls on a pair of latex gloves that Jennings hands him and opens the door on the driver_s side. He looks briefly inside and then silently walks to the back of the car. Jennings follows. Rasbach pops open the trunk. The two detectives look inside. It_s empty. And very clean. The car is just over a year old. It still looks new. _Love that new-car smell,_ Jennings says. Clearly the child isn_t there. That doesn_t mean she hadn_t been there, however briefly. Perhaps forensic investigation will reveal fibers from a pink onesie, DNA from the baby_a hair, a trace of drool, or maybe blood. Without a body they will have a tough case to make. But no parents ever put their baby in the trunk with good intentions. If they find any trace of the missing child in the trunk, he will see that the parents rot in hell. Because if there_s anything Rasbach has learned in his years on the job, it is that people are capable of almost anything. Rasbach is aware that the baby could have gone missing at any time before the dinner party. He has yet to question the parents in detail about the previous day, has yet to determine who, other than the parents, last saw the child alive. But he will find out. Perhaps there is a mother_s helper who comes in, or a cleaning lady, or a neighbor_someone who saw the baby, alive and well, earlier that day. He will establish when the baby was last known to be alive and work forward from there. This leaving the monitor on, checking every half hour while they dined next door, the disabled motion detector, the open front door, it could all simply be an elaborate fiction, a carefully constructed fabrication of the parents, to provide them with an alibi, to throw the authorities off the scent. They might have killed the baby at any time earlier that day_either deliberately or by accident_and put her in the trunk and disposed of the body before going to the party next door. Or, if they were still thinking clearly, they might not have put her in the trunk at all but in the car seat. A dead baby might not look that different from a sleeping baby. Depending on how they killed her. Rasbach knows that he_s a cynic. He hadn_t started out that way. He says to Jennings, _Bring in the cadaver dogs._ FOUR R asbach returns to the house, while Jennings checks in with the officers on the street. Rasbach sees Anne sobbing on the end of the sofa, a woman police officer sitting beside her with her arm across Anne_s shoulders. Marco is not with her. Drawn by the smell of fresh coffee, Rasbach makes his way to the kitchen at the back of the long, narrow house. The kitchen has obviously been remodeled, and fairly recently; it is all very high-end, from the white cabinetry to the expensive appliances and granite counters. Marco is in the kitchen, standing by the coffeemaker with his head down, waiting for it to finish brewing. He looks up when Rasbach comes in, then turns away, perhaps embarrassed by such an obvious attempt to sober up. There is an awkward silence. Then Marco asks quietly, without taking his eyes off the coffeemaker, _What do you think has happened to her?_ Rasbach says, _I don_t know yet. But I_ll find out._ Marco lifts the coffeepot and pours coffee into three china mugs on the spotless stone counter. Rasbach notices that Marco_s hand trembles as he pours. Marco offers the detective one of the mugs, which Rasbach accepts gratefully. Marco leaves the kitchen and returns to the living room with the other two mugs. Rasbach watches him go, steeling himself for what is ahead. Child-abduction cases are always difficult. They create a media circus, for one thing. And they almost never end well. He knows he will have to apply pressure to this couple. It_s part of the job. Each time Rasbach is called out on a case, he never knows what to expect. Nonetheless, each time he unravels the puzzle, he is never surprised. His capacity for surprise seems to have evaporated. But he is always curious. He always wants to know. _ _ _ Rasbach helps himself to the milk and sugar that Marco has left out for him and then pauses in the doorway of the kitchen with his coffee mug in his hand. From where he stands, he can see the dining table and the sideboard near the kitchen, both obviously antiques. Beyond that he can see the sofa, upholstered in dark green velvet, and the backs of Anne and Marco Conti_s heads. To the right of them is a marble fireplace, and above the mantelpiece hangs a large oil painting. Rasbach doesn_t know what it is a painting of, exactly. The sofa faces the front window, but more immediately in front of the sofa there is a coffee table and, across from that, two deep, comfortable armchairs. Rasbach makes his way into the living room and resumes his previous seat across from the couple, in the armchair nearest the fireplace. He notes how Marco_s hands still shake as he brings the mug to his mouth. Anne simply holds the cup in her hands on her lap, as if she doesn_t realize it_s there. She has stopped crying, for the moment. The lurid lights of the police cars parked outside still play across the walls. The forensic team goes about its tasks in the house quietly, efficiently. The atmosphere inside the house is busy but subdued, grim. Rasbach has a delicate task before him. He must convey to this couple that he is working for them, doing everything possible to find their missing baby_which he is, along with the rest of the police force_even while he knows that in most cases when a child goes missing like this, it is the parents who are responsible. And there are factors here that certainly make him suspicious. But he will keep an open mind. _I_m very sorry,_ Rasbach begins. _I can_t even imagine how hard this is for you._ Anne looks up at him. The sympathy makes her eyes instantly well up with more tears. _Who would take our baby?_ she asks plaintively. _That_s what we have to find out,_ Rasbach says, setting his mug on the coffee table and taking out his notebook. _This may seem too obvious a question to ask, but do you have any idea who might have taken her?_ They both stare at him; such an idea is preposterous. And yet here they are. _Have you noticed anyone hanging around lately, anyone showing interest in your baby?_ They both shake their heads. _Do you have any idea, any idea at all, who might want to do you harm?_ He looks from Anne to Marco. The two parents shake their heads again, equally at a loss. _Please, give it some thought,_ Rasbach says. _Take your time. There has to be a reason. There_s always a reason_we just have to find out what it is._ Marco looks like he_s about to speak, then thinks better of it. _What is it?_ Rasbach asks. _This is no time to hold back._ _Your parents,_ Marco says finally, turning to his wife. _What about my parents?_ she says, clearly surprised. _They have money._ _So?_ She doesn_t seem to understand what he_s getting at. _They have a lot of money,_ Marco says. Here we go, Rasbach thinks. Anne looks at her husband as if dumbfounded. She is, possibly, an excellent actress. _What do you mean?_ she says. _You don_t think someone took her for . . ._ Rasbach watches the two of them carefully. The expression on her face changes. _That would be good,_ she says, looking up at him, _wouldn_t it? If all they want is money, I could get my baby back? They won_t hurt her?_ The hope in her voice is heartbreaking. Rasbach is almost convinced that she has nothing to do with this. _She must be so scared,_ she says, and then she falls completely apart, sobbing uncontrollably. Rasbach wants to ask her about her parents. Time is of the essence in kidnapping cases. Instead he turns to Marco. _Who are her parents?_ Rasbach asks. _Alice and Richard Dries,_ Marco tells him. _Richard is her stepfather._ Rasbach writes it down in his notebook. Anne regains control over herself and says again, _My parents have a lot of money._ _How much money?_ Rasbach asks. _I don_t know exactly,_ Anne says. _Millions._ _Can you be a little more precise?_ Rasbach asks. _I think they_re worth somewhere around fifteen million,_ Anne says. _But it_s not like anybody knows that._ Rasbach looks at Marco. His face is completely blank. _I want to call my mother,_ Anne says. She glances at the clock on the mantelpiece, and Rasbach follows her gaze. It_s two fifteen in the morning. _ _ _ Anne has a complicated relationship with her parents. When Marco and Anne are having issues with them, which is frequently the case, Marco tells her that her relationship with them is fucked up. Maybe it is, but they are the only parents she has. She needs them. She makes things work the best she can, but it isn_t easy. Marco comes from an entirely different kind of background. His family is large and squabbling. They yell good-naturedly when they see one another, which isn_t often. His parents emigrated from Italy to New York before Marco was born and own a dry-cleaning and tailoring business. They have no money to speak of, but they get by. They are not overly involved in Marco_s life, as Anne_s wealthy parents are in hers. Marco and his four siblings have had to fend for themselves from a young age, pushed out of the nest. Marco has been living his life on his own_and on his own terms_since he was eighteen. He put himself through school. He sees his parents occasionally, but they are not a big part of his life. He isn_t exactly from the wrong side of the tracks in anybody_s book, except for Anne_s parents_ and their well-heeled friends at the Grandview Golf and Country Club. Marco comes from a middle-class, law-abiding family of hardworking people, who have done well enough but no better than that. None of Anne_s friends from college or from her job at the art gallery think Marco is from the wrong side of the tracks. It is only old money that would see him that way. And Anne_s mother is from old money. Anne_s father, Richard Dries_actually her stepfather; her own father died tragically when she was four years old_is a successful businessman, but her mother, Alice, has millions. Her wealthy parents enjoy their money, their rich friends. The house in one of the finest parts of the city, the membership at the Grandview Golf and Country Club, the luxury cars and five-star vacations. Sending Anne to a private girls_ school, then to a good university. The older her father gets, the more he likes to pretend that he_s earned all that money, but it isn_t true. It_s gone to his head. He_s become quite full of himself. When Anne _took up_ with Marco, her parents acted as if the world were coming to an end. Marco looked like the quintessential bad boy. He was dangerously attractive_fair-skinned for an Italian_with dark hair, brooding eyes, and a bit of a rebellious look, especially when he hadn_t shaved. But his eyes lit up warmly when he saw Anne, and he had that million-dollar smile. And the way he called her _baby__she couldn_t resist him. The first time he showed up at her parents_ house, to pick her up for a date, was one of the defining moments of Anne_s young adulthood. She was twenty-two. Her mother had been telling her about a nice young man, a lawyer, the son of a friend, who was interested in meeting her. Anne had explained, impatiently, that she was already seeing Marco. _Yes, but . . . ,_ her mother said. _But what?_ Anne said, folding her arms across her chest. _You can_t be serious about him,_ her mother said. Anne can still remember the expression on her mother_s face. Dismay, embarrassment. She was thinking about how it would look. Thinking about how she would explain to her friends that her daughter was dating a young man who came from nothing, who worked as a bartender in the Italian part of the city and rode a motorcycle. Her mother would forget about the business degree Marco had earned at the same university that was considered good enough for their daughter. They wouldn_t see how his working his way through school at night was admirable. Maybe nobody would ever be good enough for her parents_ little girl. And then_it was perfect_Marco had roared up on his Ducati, and Anne had flown out of her parents_ house and straight into Marco_s arms, her mother watching from behind the curtains. He kissed her hard, still straddling the bike, and handed her his spare helmet. She climbed on, and they roared away, manicured gravel spitting up in their wake. That was the moment she_d decided she was in love. But you aren_t twenty-two forever. You grow up. Things change. _I want to call my mother,_ Anne repeats now. So much has happened_has it been less than an hour since they returned home to an empty crib? Marco grabs the phone and hands it to her, then sits back down on the sofa with his arms crossed in front of him, looking tense. Anne dials the phone. She starts to cry again before she_s even finished dialing the number. The phone rings, and her mother answers. _Mom,_ Anne says, dissolving into incoherent sobbing. _Anne? What_s wrong?_ Anne finally gets the words out. _Someone has taken Cora._ _Oh my God,_ her mother says. _The police are here,_ Anne tells her. _Can you come?_ _We_ll be right there, Anne,_ her mother says. _You hold on. Your father and I are coming._ Anne hangs up the phone and cries. Her parents will come. They have always helped her, even when they_re angry at her. They will be angry now, at her and Marco, but especially at Marco. They love Cora, their only grandchild. What will they think when they hear what she and Marco have done? _They_re on their way,_ Anne says to Marco and the detective. She looks at Marco, then looks away. FIVE M arco feels like an outcast; it_s a feeling he often gets when Anne_s parents are in the room. Even now, with Cora missing, he is ignored, while the three of them_his distraught wife, her always-composed mother, and her overbearing father_slip into their familiar three-person alliance. Sometimes their exclusion of him is subtle, sometimes not. But then again, he knew what he was getting into when he married her. He thought it was a deal he could live with. He stands at the side of the living room, useless, and watches Anne. She_s seated in the middle of the sofa, her mother at her side, pulling Anne into her for comfort. Her father is more aloof, sitting up straight, patting his daughter on the shoulder. No one looks at Marco. No one offers him comfort. Marco feels out of place in his own home. But worse than that, he feels sick, horrified. All he wants is his little Cora back in her crib; he wants all of this never to have happened. He feels the detective_s eyes on him. He alone is paying attention to Marco. Marco deliberately ignores him, even though he knows he probably shouldn_t. Marco knows he is a suspect. The detective has been insinuating as much ever since he got here. Marco has overheard the officers in the house whispering about bringing in the cadaver dogs. He isn_t stupid. They would only do that if they thought Cora was dead before she left the house. The police obviously must think he and Anne killed their own baby. Let them bring in the dogs_he_s not afraid. Maybe this is the kind of thing the police deal with on a regular basis, parents who kill their children, but he could never hurt his baby. Cora means everything to him. She has been the one bright light in his life, the one reliable, constant source of joy, especially these last few months as things have fallen steadily apart and as Anne has become increasingly lost and depressed. He hardly knows his wife anymore. What happened to the beautiful, engaging woman he married? Everything has been going to shit. But he and Cora have had a happy little bond of their own, the two of them, waiting it out, waiting for Mommy to return to normal. Anne_s parents will hold him in more contempt than ever now. They will forgive Anne quickly. They will forgive her almost anything_even abandoning their baby to a predator, even this. But they will never forgive him. They will be stoic in the face of this adversity; they are always stoic, unlike their emotional daughter. Perhaps they will even rescue Anne and Marco from their own mistakes. That is what they like to do best. Even now he can see Anne_s father looking off over the heads of Anne and her mother, his brow furrowed, concentrating on the problem_the problem Marco created_and on how he might solve it. Thinking about how he can rise to this challenge and come out triumphant. Maybe he can show Marco up, one more time, when it really counts. Marco despises his father-in-law. It_s mutual. But the important thing now is to get Cora back. That_s all that matters. They_re a complicated, screwed-up family in Marco_s view, but they all love Cora. He blinks back a fresh surge of tears. _ _ _ Detective Rasbach notes the coolness between Anne_s parents and their son-in-law. In most cases a crisis like this dissolves such barriers, if only for a short time. But this is not an ordinary crisis. This is a situation where the parents ostensibly left their baby alone in the house and she was taken. Watching the family huddled on the sofa, he can see at once that the adored daughter will be absolved from any blame by her parents. The husband is a handy scapegoat_he alone will be blamed, whether it_s fair or not. And it looks as if he knows it. Anne_s father gets up from the sofa and approaches Rasbach. He is tall and broad-shouldered, with short, steel gray hair. There is a confidence about him that is almost aggressive. _Detective?_ _Detective Rasbach,_ he supplies. _Richard Dries,_ the other man says, offering his hand. _Tell me what you_re doing to find my granddaughter._ The man speaks in a low voice but with authority; he is used to being in charge. Rasbach tells him. _We have officers searching the area, interviewing everyone, looking for witnesses. We have a forensics team going through the house and the surrounding area. We have the baby_s description out locally and nationally. The public will soon be informed by the media coverage. We may get lucky and catch something on CCTV cameras somewhere._ He pauses. _We hope to get some leads quickly._ We are doing everything we can. But it probably won_t be enough to save your granddaughter, Rasbach thinks. He knows from experience that investigations generally move slowly, unless there is an early, significant break. The little girl doesn_t have much time, if she_s even still alive. Dries moves closer to him, close enough that Rasbach can smell his aftershave. Dries glances over his shoulder at his daughter and says more quietly, _You checking out all the perverts?_ Rasbach regards the larger man. He is the only one who has put the unthinkable into words. _We are checking out all the ones we know about, but there are always those we don_t know about._ _This is going to kill my daughter,_ Richard Dries says to the detective under his breath, looking at her. Rasbach wonders how much the father knows about his daughter_s postpartum depression. Perhaps this is not the time to ask. Instead he waits a moment and then says, _Your daughter has mentioned that you have considerable wealth. Is that right?_ Dries nods. _You could say that._ He looks over at Marco, who is not looking his way but staring at Anne. Rasbach asks, _Do you think this could be a financially motivated crime?_ The man seems surprised but then considers it. _I don_t know. Do you think that_s what it is?_ Rasbach gives a slight shake of his head. _We don_t know yet. It_s certainly possible._ He lets Dries ponder that for a minute. _Is there anyone you can think of, in your business dealings perhaps, who might have a grudge against you?_ _You_re suggesting that someone took my granddaughter to settle a grudge against me?_ The man is clearly shocked. _I_m just asking._ Richard Dries doesn_t dismiss the idea at once. Either his ego is large enough, Rasbach thinks, or he_s made sufficient enemies over the years that he considers that it might just be possible. Finally Dries shakes his head. _No, I can_t think of anybody who would do that. I don_t have any enemies_that I know of._ _It_s not likely,_ Rasbach agrees, _but stranger things have happened._ He asks casually, _What kind of business are you in, Mr. Dries?_ _Packaging and labeling._ He turns his eyes to meet Rasbach_s. _We have to find Cora, Detective. She_s my only grandchild._ He claps a hand on Rasbach_s shoulder and says, _Keep me in the loop, will you?_ He produces his business card and then turns away. _Call me, anytime. I_d like to know what_s going on._ A moment later Jennings comes up to Rasbach and speaks low in his ear. _The dogs are here._ Rasbach nods and leaves the stricken family behind him in the living room. He goes out to the street to meet with the dog handler. A K-9 Unit truck is parked outside the house. He recognizes the handler, a cop named Temple. He_s worked with him before. He_s a good man, competent. _What do we have?_ Temple asks. _Baby reported missing from her crib sometime after midnight,_ Rasbach says. Temple nods, serious. Nobody likes missing-children cases. _Only six months old, so not mobile._ This is not the case of a toddler who woke up in the middle of the night, wandered off down the street, got tired, and hid in a garden shed somewhere. If that were the case, they would use tracking dogs to follow the child_s scent. This baby was carried out of the house by someone. Rasbach has asked for the cadaver dogs to see if they can determine whether the child was already dead inside the house or the car. Well-trained cadaver dogs can detect death_on surfaces, on clothing_as little as two or three hours after it has occurred. Body chemistry changes quickly upon death, but not instantly. If the baby was killed and moved immediately, the dogs won_t pick it up, but if she was killed and not moved right away_it_s worth a shot. Rasbach knows that the information that may be gained via the dogs is useless from an evidentiary standpoint without corroborating evidence, like a body. But he is desperate to get any information he can. Rasbach is one who will avail himself of every possible investigative tool. He is relentless in his pursuit of the truth. He must know what happened. Temple nods. _Let_s get started._ He goes to the back of the truck, opens the hatch. Two dogs jump down, matching black-and-white English springer spaniels. Temple uses his hands and voice to direct the dogs. They don_t wear leashes. _Let_s start with the car,_ Rasbach says. He leads them to the Contis_ Audi. The dogs heel by Temple_s side, perfectly obedient. The forensics team is already there. Seeing the dogs, they step silently back. _Are we good here? Can I let the dogs have a look?_ Rasbach asks. _Yeah, we_re done. Go ahead,_ the forensics officer says. _Go,_ Temple tells the two dogs. The dogs go to work. They circle the car, sniffing intently. They jump into the trunk, into the backseat, then the front seat, and quickly jump out again. They come and sit by their handler and look up. He hands them a treat, shakes his head. _Nothing here._ _Let_s try inside,_ Rasbach says, relieved. He hopes that the missing baby is still alive. He wants to be wrong about her parents. He wants to find her. Then he reminds himself not to be hopeful. He must remain objective. He can_t afford to become emotionally invested in his cases. He would never survive. The dogs test the air all the way up the front steps and enter the house. Once inside, the handler takes them upstairs and they start in the child_s bedroom. SIX A nne stirs when the dogs come in, shrugs out from underneath her mother_s arm, and stands up unsteadily. She watches the handler go upstairs with the two dogs without a word. She feels Marco come up beside her. _They_ve brought in tracking dogs,_ she says. _Thank God. Now maybe we_ll get somewhere._ She feels him reach for her arm, but she shrugs him off, too. _I want to see._ Detective Rasbach holds up a hand in front of her. _Better that you stay down here and let the dogs do their work,_ he tells her gently. _Do you want me to get some of her clothing?_ Anne asks. _Something that she wore recently, that hasn_t been washed yet? I can get something out of the laundry downstairs._ _They_re not tracking dogs,_ Marco says. _What?_ Anne says, turning to Marco. _They_re not tracking dogs. They_re cadaver dogs,_ Marco says. And then she gets it. She turns back to the detective, her face white. _You think we killed her!_ Her outburst stuns everyone. They are all frozen in shock. Anne sees her mother put her hand to her mouth. Her father_s face looks stormy. _That_s preposterous,_ Richard Dries blurts out, his face a rough brick red. _You can_t honestly suspect my daughter would harm her own child!_ The detective says nothing. Anne looks back at her father. He has always stood up for her, for as long as she can remember. But there isn_t much he can do to help her now. Someone has taken Cora. It is the first time in her life, Anne realizes, looking at him, that she has ever seen her father afraid. Is he afraid for Cora? Or is he afraid for her? Do the police really think she killed her own child? She does not dare look at her mother. _You need to do your job and find my granddaughter!_ her father says to the detective, his belligerence a transparent attempt to mask his fear. For a long moment, no one says anything. The moment is so strange that no one can think of anything to say. They listen to the sound of the dogs_ toenails clicking on the hardwood floor as they move around overhead. Rasbach says, _We are doing everything in our power to find your granddaughter._ Anne is unbearably tense. She wants her baby back. She wants Cora back unharmed. She can_t bear the thought of her baby suffering, being hurt. Anne feels she might faint and sinks down again into the sofa. Immediately her mother puts a protective arm around her. Anne_s mother refuses to look at the detective anymore. The dogs come scampering down the stairs. Anne looks up and turns her head to watch them descend. The handler shakes his head. The dogs move into the living room, and Anne, Marco, and Richard and Alice Dries all hold perfectly still, as if not to draw their attention. Anne sits petrified on the sofa while the two dogs, noses testing the air and running along the area carpets, investigate the living room. Then they approach and sniff her. There is a police officer standing behind her to see what the dogs will do, perhaps waiting to arrest her and Marco on the spot. What if the dogs start to bark? Anne thinks, dizzy with fear. Everything is tilting sideways. Anne knows that she and Marco did not kill their baby. But she is powerless and afraid, and she knows that dogs can smell fear. She remembers that now, as she looks into their almost-human eyes. The dogs sniff her and her clothes_she can feel their panting breath on her, warm and rank, and recoils. She tries not to breathe. Then they leave her and go to her parents, and then to Marco, who is standing by himself, near the fireplace. Anne shrinks back into the sofa, relieved when the dogs seem to draw a blank in the living room and dining room and then move toward the kitchen. She can hear their claws scuttling across the kitchen tile, and then they are loping down the back stairs and into the basement. Rasbach leaves the room to follow them. The family sits in the living room waiting for this part to be over. Anne doesn_t want to look at anyone, so she stares at the clock on the mantelpiece. With every minute that goes by, she feels more hopeless. She feels her baby moving farther and farther away from her. Anne hears the back door in the kitchen open. She imagines the dogs going through the backyard, the garden, the garage, and the lane. Her eyes are staring at the clock on the mantelpiece; what she sees is the dogs in the garage, rooting around the broken clay pots and rusted rakes. She sits rigid, waiting, listening for barking. She waits and worries. She thinks about the disabled motion detector. Finally Rasbach returns. _The dogs drew a blank,_ he says. _That_s good news._ Anne can sense her mother_s relief beside her. _So can we now get serious about finding her?_ Richard Dries says. The detective says, _We are serious about finding her, believe me._ _So,_ Marco says, with a touch of bitterness, _what happens next? What can we do?_ Rasbach says, _We will have to ask you both a lot of questions. You may know something you don_t realize you know, something that will be helpful._ Anne looks doubtfully at Marco. What can they know? Rasbach adds, _And we need you to talk to the media. Someone might have seen something, or someone might see something tomorrow or the next day, and unless this is in front of them, they won_t put it together._ _Fine,_ Anne says tersely. She will do anything to get her baby back, even though she is terrified of meeting with the media. Marco also nods but looks nervous. Anne thinks briefly of her stringy hair, her face bloated from crying. Marco reaches for her hand and clasps it, hard. _What about a reward?_ Anne_s father suggests. _We could offer a reward for information. I_ll put up the funds. If somebody saw something and doesn_t want to come forward, they might think twice about not speaking up if the money_s right._ _Thank you,_ Marco says. Anne merely nods. Rasbach_s cell phone rings. It is Detective Jennings, who has been going door-to-door in the neighborhood. _We might have something,_ he says. Rasbach feels a familiar tension in his gut_they are desperate for a lead. He walks briskly from the Contis_ home and within minutes arrives at a house on the street behind them, on the other side of the lane. Jennings is waiting for him on the front step. Jennings taps the front door again, and it is immediately opened by a woman who looks to be in her fifties. She has obviously been roused from her bed. She is wearing a bathrobe, and her hair is held back with bobby pins. Jennings introduces her as Paula Dempsey. _I_m Detective Rasbach,_ the detective says, showing the woman his badge. She invites them into the living room, where her now wide-awake husband is sitting in an armchair, wearing pajama bottoms, his hair mussed. _Mrs. Dempsey saw something that might be important,_ Jennings says. When they are seated, he says, _Tell Detective Rasbach what you told me. What you saw._ _Right,_ she says. She licks her lips. _I was in the upstairs bathroom. I got up to take an aspirin, because my legs were aching from gardening earlier in the day._ Rasbach nods encouragingly. _It_s such a hot night, so we had the bathroom window all the way up to let the breeze in. The window looks out over the back lane. The Contis_ house is behind this one, a couple houses over._ Rasbach nods again; he_s noted the placement of her house in relation to the Contis_. He listens carefully. _I happened to look out the window. I have a good view of the lane from the window. I could see pretty well, because I hadn_t turned the bathroom light on._ _And what did you see?_ Rasbach asks. _A car. I saw a car coming down the lane._ _Where was the car, exactly? What direction was it going?_ _It was coming down the lane toward my house, after the Contis_ house. It might have been coming from their garage, or from any of the houses farther down._ _What kind of car was it?_ Rasbach asked, taking out his notebook. _I don_t know. I don_t know much about cars. I wish my husband had seen it_he would have been more help._ She glances toward her husband, who shrugs helplessly. _But of course I didn_t think anything of it at the time._ _Can you describe it?_ _It was smallish, and I think a dark color. But it didn_t have its headlights on_that_s why I noticed it. I thought it was odd that the headlights weren_t on._ _Could you see the driver?_ _No._ _Could you tell if there was anyone in the passenger seat?_ _I don_t think there was anyone in the passenger seat, but I can_t be sure. I couldn_t see much. I think it might have been an electric car, or a hybrid, because it was very quiet._ _Are you sure?_ _No, I_m not sure. But sound carries up from the lane, and the car was very quiet, although maybe that_s because it was just creeping along._ _And what time was this, do you know?_ _I looked at the time when I got up. I have a digital alarm clock on my bedside table. It was twelve thirty-five a.m._ _Are you absolutely sure of the time?_ _Yes._ She adds, _I_m positive._ _Can you remember any more detail about the car, anything at all?_ Rasbach asks. _Was it a two-door? Or a four-door?_ _I_m sorry,_ she says. _I can_t remember. I didn_t notice. It was small, though._ _I_d like to take a look from the bathroom window, if you don_t mind,_ Rasbach says. _Of course._ She leads them up the stairs to the bathroom at the back of the house. Rasbach looks out the open window. The view is good_he can see clearly into the lane. He can see the Contis_ garage to the left, the yellow police tape surrounding it. He can tell that the garage door is still open. How unfortunate that she was not just a couple of minutes earlier. She might have seen the car without headlights coming out of the Contis_ garage, if in fact it had. If only he had a witness who could put a car in the Contis_ garage, or coming out of their garage, at 12:35 a.m. But this car might have been coming from anywhere farther down the lane. Rasbach thanks Paula and her husband, hands her his card, and then he and Jennings depart the house together. They stop on the sidewalk in front of the house. The sky is beginning to lighten. _What do you make of that?_ Jennings asks. _Interesting,_ Rasbach says. _The timing. And the fact that the car_s headlights were off._ The other detective nods. Marco had checked on the baby at twelve thirty. The car was driving away from the direction of the Contis_ garage at 12:35 a.m. with its headlights off. A possible accomplice. The parents have just become his prime suspects. Filtered a couple of officers to talk to everybody who has garage access to that lane. I want to know who was driving a car down that lane at twelve thirty-five a.m.,_ Rasbach says. _And have them go up and down both streets again and try to find out specifically if anybody else was looking out a window at the lane at that time and if they saw anything._ Jennings nods. _Right._ _ _ _ Anne holds Marco_s hand tightly. She is almost hyperventilating before meeting the press. She has had to sit down and put her head between her knees. It is seven in the morning, only a few hours since Cora was taken. A dozen journalists and photographers are out on the street waiting. Anne is a private person; this kind of media exposure is awful to her. She has never been one to seek attention. But Anne and Marco need the media to take an interest. They need Cora_s face plastered all over the newspapers, the TV, the Internet. You can_t just take a baby out of someone else_s house in the middle of the night and have no one notice. It_s a busy neighborhood. Surely someone will come forward with information. Anne and Marco must do this, even though they know that they_ll be the target of some nasty press once it all comes out. They are the parents who abandoned their baby, left her home alone, an infant. And now someone has her. They are a Movie of the Week. They have agreed on a prepared statement, have crafted it at the coffee table with Detective Rasbach_s help. The statement does not mention the fact that the baby was alone in the house at the time of the kidnapping, but Anne has no doubt whatsoever that that fact will get out. She has the feeling that once the media invade their lives, there will be no end to it. Nothing will be private. She and Marco will be notorious, their own faces on the pages of supermarket tabloids. She is frightened and ashamed. Anne and Marco walk out their front door and onto the front step. Detective Rasbach is at Anne_s side, and Detective Jennings stands beside Marco. Anne hangs on to her husband_s arm for support, as if she might fall. They have agreed that Marco is to read the statement_Anne is simply not up to it. She looks as though a stiff breeze will knock her over. Marco gazes into the crowd of reporters, seems to shrink, then lowers his eyes to the piece of paper shaking visibly in his hands. The cameras flash repeatedly. Anne looks up, stunned. The street is full of reporters, vans, TV cameras, technicians, equipment and wires, people holding microphones to their heavily made-up faces. She has seen this on TV, has watched this very thing. But now she is front and center. It feels unreal, like it_s not actually happening to her but to someone else. She feels strange and disembodied, as if she is both standing on the front step looking out and also watching the scene from above and a little to the left. Marco holds up a hand to indicate that he wishes to speak. The crowd quiets suddenly. _I_d like to read a statement,_ he mumbles. _Louder!_ someone shouts from the sidewalk. _I_m going to read a statement,_ Marco says, more loudly and clearly. Then he reads, his voice growing stronger. _Early this morning, sometime between twelve thirty and one thirty, our beautiful baby girl, Cora, was taken from her crib by a person or persons unknown._ He stops for a moment to collect himself. No one makes a sound. _She is six months old. She has blond hair and blue eyes and weighs about sixteen pounds. She was wearing a disposable diaper and a plain, pale pink onesie. There is a white blanket also missing from her crib. _We love Cora more than anything. We want her back. We say to whoever has her, please, please bring her back to us, unharmed._ Marco looks up from the page. He is crying now and has to stop and wipe away the tears to continue reading. Anne sobs quietly at his side, looking out at the sea of faces. _We have no idea who would steal our beautiful, innocent little girl. We are asking for your help. If you know anything, or saw anything, please call the police. We are able to offer a substantial reward for information leading to the recovery of our baby. Thank you._ Marco turns to Anne, and they collapse in each other_s arms as more bulbs flash. _How much of a reward?_ someone calls out. SEVEN N o one understands how it could have been missed, but shortly after the press conference outside the Contis_ front door, an officer approaches Detective Rasbach in the living room holding a pale pink onesie between two gloved fingers. The eyes of every person in the room_Detective Rasbach, Marco, Anne, and Anne_s parents, Alice and Richard, are instantly fixed on the piece of clothing. Rasbach starts. _Where did you find that?_ he asks curtly. _Oh!_ Anne blurts out. Everyone turns from the officer holding the pink onesie to look at Anne. All the color has drained from her face. _Was that in the laundry hamper in the baby_s room?_ Anne asks, getting up. _No,_ the officer holding the article of clothing says. _It was underneath the pad on the changing table. We missed it the first time._ Rasbach is intensely annoyed. How could it have been missed? Anne colors, seems confused. _I_m sorry. I must have forgotten. Cora was wearing that earlier in the evening. I changed her outfit after her last feeding. She spit up on that one. I_ll show you._ Anne moves toward the officer and reaches for the onesie, but the officer moves back, out of her reach. _Please don_t touch it,_ he says. Anne turns to Rasbach. _I changed her out of that one and put her into another one. I thought I put that onesie in the laundry hamper by the changing table._ _So the description we have is inaccurate?_ Rasbach says. _Yes,_ Anne admits, looking confused. _What was she wearing, then?_ Rasbach asks. When Anne hesitates, he repeats, _What was she wearing?_ _I . . . I_m not sure,_ Anne says. _What do you mean, you_re not sure?_ the detective persists. His voice is sharp. _I don_t know. I_d had a bit to drink. I was tired. It was dark. I nurse her in the dark for her last feeding, so she won_t wake up completely. She spit up on her onesie, and when I changed her diaper, I changed her outfit, too, in the dark. I threw the pink one in the laundry_I thought I did_and I took another one out of the drawer. She has a lot of them. I don_t know what color._ Anne feels guilty. But clearly this man has never changed a baby in the middle of the night. _Do you know?_ Rasbach asks, turning to Marco. Marco looks like a deer caught in headlights. He shakes his head. _I didn_t notice that she_d changed her outfit. I didn_t turn the lights on when I checked on her._ _Maybe I can look through her drawer and figure out which one she has on,_ Anne offers, filled with shame. _Yes, do that,_ Rasbach agrees. _We need an accurate description._ Anne runs upstairs and pulls open the drawer to the baby_s dresser where she keeps all the onesies and sleepers, the little T-shirts and tights. Flowers and polka dots and bees and bunnies. The detective and Marco have followed her and watch as she kneels on the floor, pulling everything out, sobbing. But she can_t remember, and she can_t figure it out. Which one is missing? What is her daughter wearing? She turns around to Marco. _Maybe get the laundry from downstairs._ Marco turns and goes downstairs to do her bidding. He soon returns with a hamper of dirty clothes. He dumps them on the floor in the baby_s room. Someone has cleaned up the vomit from the floor. The baby_s dirty clothes are mixed in with their own clothes, but Anne seizes on all the little baby articles and puts them aside. Finally she says, _It_s the mint green one, with the bunny embroidered on the front._ _Are you sure?_ Rasbach asks. _It has to be,_ Anne says miserably. _It_s the only one that_s not here._ _ _ _ Forensic study of Anne and Marco_s home has revealed little in the hours since Cora was taken. The police have found no evidence that anyone unaccounted for has been in Cora_s room or in the Contis_ house, none at all. There is not one shred of evidence_not one fingerprint, not one fiber_inside the house that cannot be innocently explained. It appears that no one has been inside their home, other than themselves, Anne_s parents, and their cleaning lady. They have all had to submit to the indignity of being fingerprinted. No one seriously considers the cleaning lady, an older Filipino woman, to be a possible kidnapper. Nonetheless, both she and her extended family are being carefully checked out. Outside the house, however, they have found something. There are prints of tire tracks in the garage that on investigation do not match the tires on the Contis_ Audi. Rasbach has not yet shared this information with the parents of the missing baby. This, in combination with the witness who saw a car going down the lane at 12:35, is the only solid lead in the investigation so far. _They probably wore gloves,_ Marco says when Detective Rasbach tells them about the lack of any physical evidence of an intruder in the house. It is now midmorning. Anne and Marco look exhausted. Marco looks like he might still be hungover as well. But they won_t even try to rest. Anne_s parents have been asked to go to the kitchen and have coffee while the detective questions Anne and Marco further. He must constantly reassure them that they are doing everything possible to recover their baby, that he is not simply wasting their time. _Very likely,_ the detective says, agreeing with Marco_s guess about the gloves. But then he points out, _Still, we would expect to see some footprints or impressions inside the house_and certainly outside, or in the garage_that don_t match yours._ _Unless he went out the front,_ Anne says. She remembers what she saw: the front door was open. She is clearer on that now, now that she is completely sober. It is her belief that the kidnapper took the baby out the front door and down the front steps to the sidewalk, and that is why they have found no strange footprints. _Even then,_ Rasbach says, _we would expect to find something._ He looks pointedly at them both. _We have interviewed everyone we possibly can. No one admits to seeing anybody carrying a baby out your front door._ _That doesn_t mean it didn_t happen,_ Marco says, his frustration showing. _You haven_t found anyone who saw her being carried through the back door either,_ Anne points out sharply. _You haven_t found a damn thing._ _There is the bulb that was loosened in the motion detector,_ Detective Rasbach reminds them. He pauses, then adds, _We have also found evidence of tire tracks in your garage that don_t match your car._ He waits for the information to sink in. _Has anyone used your garage lately, that you know of? Do you let anyone park there?_ Marco looks at the detective and then quickly looks away. _No, not that I know of,_ he says. Anne shakes her head. Anne and Marco are clearly stressed. It is not surprising, as Rasbach has just implied that in the absence of any physical evidence of anyone else carrying their baby out of the house_specifically across the backyard to the garage_it must have been one of them who removed her from the home. _I_m sorry, but I must ask you about the medication in your bathroom cabinet,_ Rasbach says, turning to Anne. _The sertraline._ _What about it?_ Anne asks. _Can you tell me what it is for?_ Rasbach asks gently. _I have mild depression,_ Anne says defensively. _It was prescribed by my doctor._ _Your family doctor?_ She hesitates. She looks at Marco, as if not sure of what to do, but then she answers. _By my psychiatrist,_ she admits. _I see._ Rasbach adds, _Can you tell me the name of your psychiatrist?_ Anne looks at Marco again and says, _Dr. Leslie Lumsden._ _Thank you,_ Rasbach murmurs, making a note in his little book. _Lots of mothers get postpartum depression, Detective,_ Anne says defensively. _It_s quite common._ Rasbach nods noncommittally. _And the mirror in the bathroom? Can you tell me what happened to it?_ Anne flushes and looks uneasily at the detective. _I did that,_ she admits. _When we came home and found Cora missing, I smashed the mirror with my hand._ She holds up her bandaged hand. The hand her mother had bathed and disinfected and bandaged for her. _I was upset._ Rasbach nods again, makes another note. According to what the parents had told Rasbach earlier, the last time anyone other than one of them saw the child alive was at about two in the afternoon on the day of the kidnapping, when Anne had grabbed a coffee at the Starbucks on the corner. According to Anne, the baby had been awake in her stroller and smiling and sucking her fingers, and the barista had waved at the little girl. Rasbach had been to the Starbucks earlier that morning and had spoken to the same barista, who fortunately had already been at work by then. She remembered Anne and the baby in the stroller. But it looks as if no one else will be able to confirm that the baby was alive after 2:00 p.m. on Friday, the day she disappeared. _What did you do after you stopped at Starbucks yesterday?_ Rasbach asks now. _I came home. Cora was fussy_she_s usually fussy in the afternoon_so I was walking around the house holding her a lot,_ Anne says. _I tried to put her down for a nap, but she wouldn_t sleep. So I picked her up again, walked her around the house, the backyard._ _Then what?_ _I did that until Marco got home._ _What time was that?_ Rasbach asks. Marco says, _I got home about five. I knocked off a bit early, because it was Friday and we were going out._ _And then?_ _I took Cora from Anne and sent Anne upstairs for a nap._ Marco leans against the back of the sofa and rubs his hands up and down his thighs. Then he starts to jiggle one of his legs. He is restless. _Do you have kids, Detective?_ Anne asks. _No._ _Then you don_t know how exhausting they can be._ _No._ He shifts his own position in the chair. They are all getting tired. _What time did you go next door to the party?_ Rasbach asks. _About seven,_ Marco answers. _So what did you do between five and seven o_clock?_ _Why are you asking us this?_ Anne says sharply. _Isn_t this a waste of time? I thought you were going to help us!_ _I have to know everything that happened. Please just answer as best you can,_ Rasbach says calmly. Marco reaches out and puts a hand on his wife_s thigh, as if to settle her down. He says, _I played with Cora while Anne slept. I fed her some cereal. Anne woke up around six._ Anne takes a deep breath. _And then we had an argument about going to the party._ Marco stiffens visibly beside her. _Why did you argue?_ Rasbach asks, looking Anne in the eyes. _The babysitter canceled,_ Anne says. _If she hadn_t canceled, none of this ever would have happened,_ she says, as if realizing it for the first time. This was new. Rasbach hadn_t known there was to be a babysitter. Why are they just telling him this now? _Why didn_t you say this before?_ _Didn_t we?_ Anne says, surprised. _Who was the babysitter?_ Rasbach asks. Marco says, _A girl named Katerina. She_s our regular babysitter. She_s a twelfth-grader. She lives about a block from here._ _Did you talk to her?_ _What?_ Marco says. He doesn_t appear to be paying attention. Perhaps his exhaustion is catching up with him, Rasbach thinks. _When did she cancel?_ Rasbach asks. _She called about six o_clock. By then it was too late to get another sitter,_ Marco says. _Who spoke to her?_ Rasbach is writing a note in his book. _I did,_ Marco says. _We could have tried to get another sitter,_ Anne says bitterly. _At the time I didn_t think it was necessary. Of course, now . . ._ Marco trails off, looking at the floor. _Can I have her address?_ Rasbach asks. _I_ll get it,_ Anne says, and goes to the kitchen to retrieve it. While they wait, Rasbach hears murmured voices coming from the kitchen; Anne_s parents want to know what_s going on. _What was the argument about, exactly?_ Rasbach asks after Anne has returned and handed him a piece of paper with the name and address of the babysitter scribbled on it. _I didn_t want to leave Cora home by herself,_ Anne says bluntly. _I said I_d stay home with her. Cynthia didn_t want us to bring the baby because she fusses a lot. Cynthia wanted an adults-only party_that_s why we called the sitter. But then, once she canceled, Marco thought it would be rude to bring the baby when we_d said we wouldn_t, and I didn_t want to leave her home alone, so we argued about it._ Rasbach turns to Marco, who nods miserably. _Marco thought if we had the monitor on next door and checked her every half hour, it would be fine. Nothing bad would happen, you said,_ Anne says, turning with sudden venom on her husband. _I was wrong!_ Marco says, turning to his wife. _I_m sorry! It_s all my fault! How many times do I have to say it?_ Detective Rasbach watches the chinks in the couple_s relationship widen. The tension he had picked up on immediately after their daughter was reported missing has already blossomed into something more_blame. The united front they had shown in the first minutes and hours of the investigation is starting to erode. How could it not? Their daughter is missing. They are under intense pressure. The police are in their home, the press is pounding at their front door. Rasbach knows that if there is anything here to find, he will find it. EIGHT D etective Rasbach leaves the Contis_ house and sets off to interview the babysitter at her home to confirm their story. It is late morning, and as he walks the short distance down the leafy streets, he turns the case over in his mind. There is no evidence that an intruder was in the house or yard. But there are fresh tire tracks on the cement floor of the garage. He is suspicious of the parents, but now there is this news about the babysitter. When he arrives at the address Anne provided, a distraught-looking woman answers the door. She has obviously been crying. He shows her his badge. _I understand Katerina Stavros lives here._ The woman nods. _She_s your daughter?_ _Yes,_ the girl_s mother says, finding her voice. _I_m sorry. This isn_t a good time,_ she says, _but I know why you_re here. Please come in._ Rasbach steps into the house. The doorway opens into a living room that appears to be full of women crying. Three middle-aged women and a teenage girl are sitting around a coffee table covered with plates of food. _Our mother died yesterday,_ Mrs. Stavros says. _My sisters and I are trying to make arrangements._ _I_m very sorry to bother you,_ Detective Rasbach says. _I_m afraid it_s important. Is your daughter here?_ But he_s already spotted her on the sofa with her aunts_a chubby sixteen-year-old, her hand hovering over a plate of brownies as she lifts her eyes and sees the detective enter the living room. _Katerina, there_s a policeman here to see you._ Katerina and all the girl_s aunts turn to stare at the detective. The girl starts spouting fresh, genuine tears and says, _About Cora?_ Rasbach nods. _I can_t believe someone would take her,_ the girl says, putting her hands back in her lap, forgetting about the brownies. _I feel so bad. My grandma died, and I had to cancel._ Immediately all the aunts hover around the girl while her mother perches on the arm of the sofa beside her. _What time did you call the Contis_ house?_ Rasbach asks kindly. _Do you remember?_ The girl begins to weep. _I don_t know._ Her mother turns to Detective Rasbach. _It was about six. We had a call from the hospital around then, asking us to come, because it was the end. I told Katerina to call and cancel and come to the hospital with us._ She puts a hand on her daughter_s shoulder. _We feel terrible about Cora. Katerina is very fond of her. But this is not Katerina_s fault._ The mother wants everyone to be very clear on this point. _Of course not,_ Rasbach says emphatically. _I can_t believe they left her alone in the house,_ the woman says. _What kind of parents would do that?_ Her sisters shake their heads in disapproval. _I hope you find her,_ the girl_s mother says, looking worriedly at her own daughter, _and that she_s okay._ _We will do everything we can,_ Rasbach says, and turns to go. _Thank you for your time._ The Contis_ story has checked out. The baby was almost certainly still alive at 6:00 p.m., or how would the parents have dealt with the expected sitter? Rasbach realizes that if the parents had killed or hidden the baby, it had to have happened after that six-o_clock call. And either before seven, when they went over to the neighbors_, or sometime during the party. Which means they probably wouldn_t have had enough time to dispose of the body. Maybe, Rasbach thinks, they_re telling the truth. _ _ _ With the detective out of the house, Anne feels she can breathe a little more easily. It_s like he_s watching them, waiting for them to make a misstep, to make a mistake. But what mistake can he possibly be waiting for? They don_t have Cora. If they had found some physical evidence of an intruder, she thinks, he wouldn_t be zeroing in, wrongly, on them. But whoever has taken Cora has obviously been very careful. Perhaps the police are incompetent, Anne thinks. She is worried that they will bungle everything. The investigation is moving too slowly. Every hour that goes by ratchets her panic up another notch. _Who could have taken her?_ Anne whispers to Marco when they_re alone. Anne has sent her parents home for the time being, even though they_d wanted to settle themselves in the spare room upstairs. But Anne, as much as she relies on her parents, especially in times of stress and trouble, finds they make her anxious, too, and she is anxious enough. Plus, having them around always makes things more difficult with Marco, and he already looks like he_s about to snap. His hair is a mess, and he hasn_t shaved. They_ve been up all night, and the day is half gone. Anne is exhausted and knows she must look as bad as Marco does, but she doesn_t care. Sleep is impossible. _We have to think, Marco! Who would take her?_ _I have no idea,_ Marco says helplessly. She gets up and starts pacing back and forth in the living room. _I don_t understand why they haven_t found any evidence of an intruder. It doesn_t make sense. Does that make sense to you?_ She stops pacing and adds, _Except for the loosened lightbulb in the motion detector. That_s obviously evidence that there was an intruder._ Marco looks up at her. _They think we loosened the lightbulb ourselves._ She stares at him. _That_s ridiculous!_ There is a note of hysteria in her voice. _It wasn_t us. We know that,_ Marco says fiercely. He runs his hands nervously up and down his thighs on his jeans, a new habit. _The detective is right about one thing_it looks planned. Somebody didn_t just walk by, see the door open, and go in and take her. But if she was taken for ransom, why wouldn_t the kidnapper have left a note? Shouldn_t we have heard from them by now?_ He checks his watch. _It_s almost three o_clock! She_s been gone over twelve hours already,_ he says, his voice breaking. That_s what Anne thinks, too. Surely they should have heard from someone by now. What was normal in cases of kidnapping? When she_d asked Detective Rasbach, he_d said, _There is no normal in a kidnapping. They_re all unique. If ransom is demanded, it can be within hours_or days. But generally kidnappers don_t want to be holding on to the victim for any longer than they have to. The risks go up over time._ The police have put a wiretap on their phone to record any potential conversations with the kidnapper. But so far no one claiming to have Cora has called. _What if it_s someone who knows your parents?_ Marco suggests. _Maybe one of your parents_ acquaintances?_ _You_d like to blame this on them, wouldn_t you?_ Anne snaps, walking back and forth in front of him with her arms crossed. _Hang on,_ Marco says. _I_m not blaming this on them, but think about it for a minute! The only ones with real money around here are your parents. So it has to be somebody who knows them and knows they_ve got money. We don_t have the kind of money a kidnapper would be after, obviously._ _Maybe they should be monitoring my parents_ calls,_ Anne says. Marco looks up at her and says, _Maybe we need to be more creative with the reward._ _What do you mean? We already offered a reward. Fifty thousand dollars._ _Yes, but fifty thousand dollars for information leading to our getting Cora back_how much is that going to help if nobody saw anything? If anybody actually saw something, don_t you think they would have told the police by now?_ He waits while Anne considers this. _We have to get things moving,_ Marco says urgently. _The longer they have Cora, the greater the chance they_ll harm her._ _They think I did it,_ Anne says suddenly. _They think I killed her._ Her eyes are wild. _I can tell from the way that detective looks at me that he_s already made his mind up about me. He_s probably just trying to decide how much you had to do with it!_ Marco jumps up off the sofa and tries to embrace her. _Shhhh,_ he says. _They don_t think that._ But he_s worried that that is exactly what they think. The postpartum depression, the antidepressants, the psychiatrist. He doesn_t know what to say to her to soothe her. He can feel her agitation building and wants to prevent a crisis. _What if they go see Dr. Lumsden?_ Anne says. Of course they_ll go see Dr. Lumsden, Marco thinks. How could she imagine for a moment that they wouldn_t visit her psychiatrist? _They probably will,_ Marco says, his voice deliberately calm, even matter-of-fact. _But so what? Because you had nothing to do with Cora_s disappearance, and we both know it._ _But she_ll tell them things,_ Anne says, clearly frightened. _No she won_t,_ Marco says. _She_s a doctor. She can_t tell them anything you told her. Doctor-patient privilege. There_s no way they can get your doctor to tell them anything you talked to her about._ Anne starts to pace up and down the living room again, wringing her hands. Then she stops and says, _Right. You_re right._ She takes some deep breaths. And then she remembers. _Dr. Lumsden_s away. She_s gone to Europe for a couple of weeks._ _That_s right,_ Marco says. _You told me._ He places his hands on both her shoulders and presses down on her firmly, anchors her with his eyes. _Anne, I don_t want you to worry about that,_ he says resolutely. _You have nothing to be afraid of. Nothing to hide. So they find out you_ve had some problems with depression_even before the baby_so what? Half the people out there are probably depressed. That fucking detective is probably depressed himself._ He fixes her with his eyes until her breathing returns to normal and she nods. Marco drops his arms. _We need to focus on getting Cora back._ He flops down on the sofa, exhausted. _But how?_ Anne says. She is wringing her hands again. Marco says, _What I was starting to say before, about the reward. Maybe we_re going about this the wrong way. Maybe we should try to deal directly with whoever has her_maybe we offer a lot of money for her and see if he calls us._ Anne thinks for a minute. _But if a kidnapper has her, why hasn_t he made a ransom demand?_ _I don_t know! Maybe he panicked. Which scares the hell out of me, because then maybe he_ll kill Cora and dump her somewhere!_ Anne asks, _How do we start negotiating with the kidnapper if he_s not even in touch with us?_ Marco looks up. _Through the media._ Anne nods, thinking. _How much do you think it would take, to get her back?_ Marco shakes his head in despair. _I have no idea. But we only get one shot at this, so we have to make it worthwhile. Maybe two or three million?_ Anne doesn_t even flinch. _My parents adore Cora. I_m sure they_ll pay. Let_s get them back here, and Detective Rasbach, too._ _ _ _ Rasbach returns hurriedly to the Contis_ house, summoned by Marco on his cell phone. Both Marco and Anne are standing in the living room. They have freshly tearstained faces, but they look resolved. For a brief moment, Rasbach thinks they are about to confess. Anne is watching for her parents at the front window. At that moment Richard and Alice arrive and come swiftly up the steps past the reporters, somehow maintaining their dignity in spite of the flash of cameras around them. Anne lets them in, careful to remain unseen behind the door. _What_s happened?_ Richard says, alarmed, looking at his daughter, at the detective. _Did you find her?_ Alice_s sharp eyes try to take everything in at once. She seems both hopeful and frightened. _No,_ Anne says. _But we need your help._ Rasbach watches all of them closely. Marco says nothing. Anne speaks. _Marco and I think we should offer money directly to the kidnapper. A significant amount. Whoever_s got her, maybe if we offer enough money and promise not to prosecute, he_ll give her back._ She turns to her parents. Marco stands beside her. _We have to do something,_ she says piteously. _We can_t just sit here and wait for him to kill her!_ Her eyes desperately search her parents_ faces. _We need your help._ Alice and Richard regard each other very briefly. Then Alice says, _Of course, Anne. We_ll do anything to get Cora back._ _Of course,_ Richard agrees, nodding emphatically. _How much do you need?_ Alice asks. _What do you think?_ Anne says, turning to Detective Rasbach. _How much would be enough to get someone to give her up?_ Rasbach considers the question carefully before answering. If you_re innocent, it would be natural to want to throw money, any amount of money, at the person who has your child. And this family appears to have almost unlimited funds. It_s certainly worth a try. The parents may not be involved at all. And time is running out. _What were you thinking, in terms of amount?_ Rasbach asks. Anne looks uncomfortable, as if she_s embarrassed to put a price tag on her child. She has no idea, really. How much is too much? How much is too little? _Marco and I were thinking maybe a couple million, maybe more?_ Her uncertainty is obvious. She looks at her mother and father uneasily. Is she asking too much of them? _Of course, Anne,_ Alice says. _Whatever you need._ _We_ll need some time to get it,_ Richard says, _but we_ll do anything for Cora. And for you, too, Anne. You know that._ Anne nods tearfully. She hugs her mother first, then goes over and puts her arms around her father, who hugs her back. He holds her while her shoulders shake with sobs. For a brief moment, Rasbach thinks about how much easier life is for the wealthy. Rasbach watches Richard look over his daughter_s head at his son-in-law, who says nothing at all. NINE T hey settle on three million dollars. It_s a lot of money, but it won_t ruin Richard and Alice Dries. The couple has millions more. They can afford it. Less than twenty-four hours after they first reported their baby missing, early Saturday evening, Anne and Marco face the media again. They have not spoken to the press since seven o_clock that morning. Once again they have carefully crafted a message at their coffee table with the help of Detective Rasbach and then gone out onto the front steps to give a statement. This time Anne has changed into a simple but chic black dress. No jewelry, save pearl earrings. She has showered, washed her hair, even applied a small amount of makeup, trying to put on a brave face. Marco has also showered and shaved and changed into a white shirt and clean jeans. They look like an attractive, professional couple in their thirties, blindsided by tragedy. When they step out onto the small porch, just before the six-o_clock newscasts, the cameras flash as before. Interest in the case has built throughout the day. Marco waits for the hubbub to die down and then addresses the reporters. _We would like to make another statement,_ he says loudly, but he is immediately interrupted before he can begin. _How do you explain the mix-up in what the baby was wearing?_ someone asks from the sidewalk below them. _How could you make a mistake like that?_ another voice demands. Marco glances at Rasbach and then answers, not bothering to hide his annoyance. _I believe the police already issued a statement about that earlier, but I_ll tell you again._ He takes a deep breath. _We put Cora down earlier in the evening in the pink onesie. When my wife fed her at eleven o_clock, the baby spit up on her sleeper. My wife changed her into a different one, a mint green onesie, in the dark, but then in all the distress of her being taken we simply forgot that._ Marco_s manner is cold. The crowd of reporters is silent at this, digesting it. Suspicious. Marco takes advantage of the silence and reads from his prepared text. _Anne and I love Cora. We will do anything to get her back. We beg whoever took her to return her to us. We are able to offer the sum of three million dollars._ There is a gasp from the crowd, and Marco waits. _We are able to offer three million dollars to whoever has our baby. I_m speaking to you, to whoever has Cora_call us and we will talk. I know you are probably watching. Please contact us, and we will find a way to get the money to you in exchange for our daughter_s safe return._ Then Marco lifts his head and says directly to the cameras, _I say to the person who has her, I promise you there will be no charges. We just want her back._ He has gone off the prepared script with this last bit, and Detective Rasbach_s right eyebrow rises slightly. _That_s all._ The bulbs flash furiously as Marco lowers the piece of paper in his hand. The reporters pepper him with questions, but he turns his back on them and helps Anne into the house. Detectives Rasbach and Jennings follow them inside. Rasbach knows that regardless of Marco_s message, the kidnapper, whoever he or she is, will not be immune from prosecution. The parents don_t get to make that call. The kidnapper no doubt knows it as well. If this is in fact a kidnapping for ransom, the trick is to get the money into the hands of the person who has the baby and get the baby back unharmed without anybody panicking and doing something stupid. But the crime of kidnapping is a serious one, so for a kidnapper, if things go south, the temptation to kill the victim and dump the body to avoid being caught is strong. Back inside the house, Rasbach says, _Now we wait._ _ _ _ Marco is finally able to persuade Anne to go upstairs and try to get some rest. She_s had some soup and crackers_all she_s had to eat all day. She_s had to pump her breast milk periodically, retreating to the baby_s room to do this in privacy. But pumping is not as effective as nursing a suckling baby, and now she is engorged, her breasts swollen, hot to the touch, and sore. Before she tries to nap, she must pump again. She sits in her nursing chair and is overwhelmed with tears. How is it possible that she is sitting in this chair and instead of looking down at her baby girl at her breast_opening and closing her little fists and staring up at her mother with those big round blue eyes, those long lashes_she is pumping out her milk by hand into a plastic container to be dumped down the bathroom drain? It takes a long time. First one breast, then the other. How is it that she can_t remember changing the baby out of the pink onesie? What else can she not remember about that night? It_s shock, she_s sure. That_s all it is. Finally she is done. She rearranges her clothing and gets up out of the nursing chair and makes her way to the bathroom at the top of the stairs. As she dumps the breast milk into the sink, she stares at herself in the fractured mirror. _ _ _ Rasbach walks a few blocks from the Contis_ home to a street of fashionable shops, galleries, and restaurants. It is another hot, humid summer evening. He stops for a quick meal and reviews what he knows. The babysitter unexpectedly canceled at 6:00 p.m._he has to assume the baby was alive at that time. The Contis were at the neighbors_ by seven o_clock, probably giving them insufficient time to kill and dispose of the baby between the call from the babysitter and going next door. Also, no one appears to have seen either of them leave the house between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. the day before, with or without the baby. Both Marco and Anne say that Marco had checked on the baby_using their back door_at twelve thirty. Marco claims that the motion detector was working at that time. Forensics has found fresh tire tracks in the garage that don_t match the Contis_ car. Paula Dempsey witnessed a car without headlights going quietly down the lane away from the Contis_ house at 12:35 a.m. The lightbulb in the motion detector had obviously been loosened. Which means either the kidnapper struck after twelve thirty_sometime between when Marco checked on the baby and when the couple returned home_and the car Paula Dempsey saw was irrelevant, or Marco was lying and had disabled the light himself and taken the baby out to the waiting car. The baby didn_t fly to the garage. Someone carried her, and the only footprints in the yard belong to Marco and Anne. The driver, or accomplice, if there had been one, likely never got out of the car. Then Marco returned to the party and sat casually smoking cigarettes in the neighbors_ backyard and flirting with the neighbor_s wife. There_s one problem: the babysitter. Marco could not have known that the babysitter would cancel. The fact that there was supposed to be a babysitter in the home argues against this being a carefully planned kidnapping for ransom. But_he might be looking at something more spontaneous. Had the husband or wife killed the baby accidentally, in a fit of anger perhaps, either between six and seven_perhaps the baby was harmed during their argument_or at some time when they were checking on her through the night? If something like that had happened, had they then hurriedly arranged for someone to help them dispose of the baby in the early hours of the morning? It bothers him, the pink onesie. The mother says she tossed it in the laundry hamper beside the changing table. But it was found hidden underneath the pad of the changing table. Why? Perhaps she was sufficiently drunk that she hadn_t stuffed the soiled sleeper into the laundry hamper but instead shoved it underneath the pad. If she was drunk enough to think she_d put the onesie in the hamper when she hadn_t, was she drunk enough to drop the baby? Maybe she dropped her, and the baby struck her head and died. Maybe the mother smothered her. If that_s what happened, how had the parents arranged so quickly for someone to take the baby away? Who would they call? He has to find the possible accomplice. He will get the Contis_ home- and cell-phone records and find out whether either of them called anyone between six and twelve thirty on the night in question. If the baby hadn_t been killed, either accidentally or deliberately by either one of the parents, would they stage a kidnapping? Rasbach can guess why they might. There_s three million dollars to be had. Possibly more. Motivation enough for almost anybody. The ease with which the child_s grandparents offered the money to the distressed parents was telling. Rasbach will soon know as much as it is possible to know about Anne and Marco Conti. Now it_s time to interview the neighbors. TEN R asbach stops by the Contis_ house and picks up Jennings. When the detectives arrive, watched by reporters, at the neighbors_ door, they find that the husband, Graham Stillwell, is not at home. Rasbach had already met the couple, briefly, in the middle of the previous night, when the child had first been reported missing. Cynthia and Graham Stillwell had been shocked into speechlessness by the abduction of the baby next door. At that time Rasbach had focused his attention on the backyard, the fence, and the passageway between the two houses. But now he wants to talk to Cynthia, the hostess of the dinner party, to see what light, if any, she can shed on the couple next door. She is a beautiful woman. Early thirties, long black hair, large blue eyes. She has the kind of figure that stops traffic. She is also fully aware of her own attractiveness, and she makes it difficult for anyone else not to be aware of it, too. She is wearing a blouse, deeply unbuttoned, flattering linen trousers, and high-heeled sandals. She is perfectly made up, even though someone stole her guests_ baby while they were at her house late the night before. But beneath the perfect makeup, she is obviously tired, as if she has slept poorly, or not at all. _Have you found out anything?_ Cynthia Stillwell asks once she_s invited them in. Rasbach is struck by the similarities with the house next door. The layout is the same, and the carved wooden staircase curving to the upper floor, the marble fireplace, and the front window are identical. But each home has the unmistakable stamp of its own occupants. The Contis_ home is done in subdued colors and filled with antiques and art; the Stillwells_ has more modern leather furniture_white_glass-and-chrome tables, and punches of bright color. Cynthia takes the chair in front of the fireplace and elegantly crosses one leg over the other, dangling a sandaled foot featuring perfectly painted scarlet toenails. As he and Jennings seat themselves on the sleek leather sofa, Rasbach smiles regretfully and says, _I_m afraid we_re not at liberty to discuss details._ The woman across from him seems nervous. He wishes to put her at ease. _What do you do, Mrs. Stillwell?_ he asks. _I_m a professional photographer,_ she says. _Freelance, mostly._ _I see,_ he says, flicking his eyes to the walls, which display several nicely framed black-and-white photos. _Yours?_ _Yes, actually._ She gives a small smile. _It_s a terrible thing, the baby being taken,_ Rasbach says. _It must be very unsettling for you._ _I can_t stop thinking about it,_ she says, in evident distress. She furrows her brow. _I mean, they were here when it was happening. Here we all were, having a good time, oblivious. I feel awful._ She licks her lips. _Can you tell me about the evening?_ Rasbach asks. _Just tell me about it in your own words._ _Okay._ She takes a deep breath. _I had planned a party for Graham_s fortieth birthday. He just wanted something small. So I invited Marco and Anne for dinner because we sometimes have dinner together and we_re all good friends. We used to have dinner together a lot before the baby, not so much after. We hadn_t seen much of them for a while._ _Did you suggest that they leave the baby at home?_ Rasbach asks. She flushes. _I didn_t know they couldn_t get a sitter._ _My understanding is that they had a sitter but she canceled at the last minute._ She nods. _Right. But I would never have said they couldn_t bring the baby, if they didn_t have a sitter. They showed up with the baby monitor and said the sitter had canceled and they would just plug the monitor in and check on her a lot._ _And what did you think of that?_ _What did I think of it?_ she asks, raising her eyebrows in surprise. Rasbach nods and waits. _I didn_t think anything of it. I_m not a parent. I assumed they knew what they were doing. They seemed fine with it. I was too busy getting the dinner prepared to give it much thought._ She adds, _To be honest, with one of them leaving every half hour to check on her, it would probably have been less disruptive just to have the baby here._ Cynthia pauses. _On the other hand, she_s a pretty fussy baby._ _And Anne and Marco_you say they went next door to check on the baby every half hour?_ _Oh, yes. They were rigid about it. The perfect parents._ _How long would they be gone when they checked on her?_ Rasbach asks. _It varied._ _How do you mean?_ She tosses her black hair over her shoulder and straightens her back. _Well, when Marco went, he_d be pretty quick. Like five minutes or less. But Anne would stay away longer. I remember I joked with Marco at one point that maybe she wasn_t coming back._ _When was this?_ Rasbach leans forward slightly, fastening his eyes on hers. _I think around eleven. She was gone a long time. When she did come back, I asked her if everything was all right. She said everything was fine, she_d just had to feed the baby._ Cynthia nodded firmly. _That_s right, it was eleven, because she said she always feeds the baby at eleven, and then the baby sleeps through till about five._ Cynthia suddenly looks uncertain and adds, _When she came back after the eleven-o_clock feeding, it looked like she_d been crying._ _Crying? Are you sure?_ _That_s how it looked to me. She_d washed her face after, I think. Marco looked at her like he was worried. I remember thinking it must be a bore having to worry about Anne all the time._ _Why do you think Marco was concerned?_ Cynthia shrugs. _Anne can be moody. I think she_s finding motherhood harder than she expected._ She flushes, realizing the awkwardness of what she_s just said, given the circumstances. _I mean, motherhood has changed her._ _Changed her how?_ Cynthia takes a deep breath and settles more into her chair. _Anne and I used to be better friends. We used to have coffee, go shopping, talk. We actually had a lot in common. I_m a photographer, and she worked in an art gallery downtown. She_s mad about abstract art_at least she used to be. She was damn good at that gallery_a good curator, good at sales. She has an eye for quality and for what will sell._ She pauses, remembering. _Yes?_ Rasbach prompts. Cynthia continues. _Then she got pregnant, and it seemed like all she could think about was babies. She only wanted to shop for baby things._ Cynthia gives a little laugh. _Sorry, but I found it a bit tedious after a while. I think she was hurt that I wasn_t that interested in her pregnancy. We had less in common. Then, when the baby was born, it took up all her time. I understand that_she was exhausted_but she became less interesting, if you know what I mean._ Cynthia pauses and crosses her long legs. _I think she should have gone back to work after the baby was a few months old, but she didn_t want to. I think she felt she had to be the perfect mother._ _Has Marco changed much since the baby came?_ Rasbach asks. She tilts her head, thinking about it. _Not really, no, but then we haven_t seen much of him. He seems the same to me, but I think Anne_s been bringing him down a bit. He still likes to have fun._ Rasbach asks, _Did Anne and Marco speak privately after she returned from checking the baby?_ _What do you mean?_ _Did you and your husband go into the kitchen to clean up or anything and leave them alone together at all during the evening? Did they sit together in a corner or anything?_ _I don_t know. I don_t think so. Marco was mostly hanging out with me, because you could tell that Anne wasn_t in too cheerful a mood._ _So you don_t remember them conferring together throughout the evening?_ She shakes her head. _No, why?_ Rasbach ignores her question. _Describe how the rest of the evening went, if you don_t mind._ _We were sitting around in the dining room mostly, because it_s air-conditioned, and it was such a hot night. Marco and I were doing most of the talking. My husband is generally pretty quiet, sort of an intellectual. He and Anne are alike that way. They get along._ _And you and Marco get along?_ _Marco and I are more extroverted, for sure. I liven up my husband, and Marco livens up Anne. Opposites attract, I guess._ Rasbach waits, letting silence fill the room. Then he asks, _When Anne came back after the eleven-o_clock feeding, besides looking like she might have been crying, did she seem different in any way?_ _Not that I noticed. She just seemed tired_but that_s the way she is these days._ _Who checked on the baby next?_ Cynthia thinks. _Well, Anne got back around eleven thirty, I think, so Marco didn_t go. He was going on the half hour, and she was going on the hour_that_s the arrangement they had. So Anne went again at midnight, and then Marco went at twelve thirty._ _How long was Anne gone when she went to check the baby at midnight?_ Rasbach asks. _Oh, not long, a couple of minutes._ _And then Marco went at twelve thirty._ _Yes. I was in the kitchen, clearing up a bit. He slipped out the back door saying he was going to pop out and check the baby and he_d be right back. He winked at me._ _He winked at you?_ _Yes. He_d been drinking quite a lot. We all had._ _And how long was he gone?_ Rasbach asks. _Not long, two or three minutes. Maybe five._ Cynthia shifts in her seat, recrosses her legs. _When he got back, we went outside to the patio for a cigarette._ _Just the two of you?_ _Yes._ _What did you two talk about?_ Rasbach asks. He remembers the way Marco flushed when he mentioned having the cigarette with Cynthia, remembers how angry Anne had been about her husband flirting with the woman sitting across from him. Cynthia says, _Not much. He lit me a cigarette._ Rasbach waits, saying nothing. _He began stroking my legs. I was wearing a dress with a slit up the side._ She looks uncomfortable. _I don_t think any of this is relevant, do you? What does this have to do with the baby being kidnapped?_ _Just tell us what happened, if you don_t mind._ _He was stroking my legs. And then he got all hot and pulled me onto his lap. He kissed me._ _Go on,_ Rasbach says. _Well . . . he got pretty excited. We both got a little carried away. It was dark, we were drunk._ _How long did this go on?_ Rasbach asks. _I don_t know, a few minutes._ _Were you not worried about your husband or Anne coming out and finding you and Marco . . . embracing?_ _To be honest, I don_t think we were thinking too clearly. As I said, we_d had a lot to drink._ _So nobody came and found you._ _No. I eventually pushed him off me, but I was nice about it. It wasn_t easy, because he was all over me. Persistent._ _Are you and Marco having an affair?_ Rasbach asks bluntly. _What? No. We_re not having an affair. I thought it was just a harmless flirtation. He_s never touched me before. We_d had too much to drink._ _After you pushed him away, then what happened?_ _We straightened ourselves out and went back inside._ _What time was it then?_ _It was almost one, I think. Anne wanted to leave. She didn_t like that Marco had been with me out on the back patio._ I bet, Rasbach thinks. _Were you out on the patio anytime earlier in the evening?_ She shakes her head. _No. Why?_ _I_m wondering if you had an opportunity to notice whether the motion-detector light went on when Marco went into the house anytime earlier in the evening?_ _Oh. I don_t know. I didn_t see him go over there._ _Other than you and your husband_and Marco and Anne, of course_do you know if anyone else knew that the baby was alone next door?_ _Not that I_m aware of._ She shrugs her elegant shoulders. _I mean, who else would know?_ _Is there anything you can add, Mrs. Stillwell?_ She shakes her head. _Sorry, I_m afraid not. It seemed like a normal night to me. How could anyone imagine something like this happening? I wish they_d just brought the baby with them._ _Thank you for your time,_ Rasbach says, and rises to go. Jennings stands up beside him. Rasbach hands her his card. _If you remember anything else, anything at all, please give me a call._ _Of course,_ she says. Rasbach looks out the front window. The reporters are milling around, waiting for them to emerge. _Do you mind if we slip out the back?_ he says. _Not at all,_ Cynthia says. _The garage is open._ The detectives slip out the sliding glass doors in the kitchen and make their way across the backyard and through the Stillwells_ garage. They stand in the lane, unseen from the street. Jennings looks sidelong at Rasbach and raises his eyebrows. _Do you believe her?_ Rasbach asks him. _About what, exactly?_ the other man asks. The two detectives speak in low voices. _About the hanky-panky in the backyard._ _I don_t know. Why would she lie? And she is pretty hot._ _People lie all the time, in my experience,_ Rasbach says. _Do you think she was lying?_ _No. But something about her is off, and I don_t know what it is. She seemed nervous, like she was holding something back or hiding something,_ Rasbach says. _The question is, assuming she_s telling the truth, why was Marco making a pass at her shortly after twelve thirty? Was he able to do that because he had no idea that his baby was being taken at roughly that time, or did he do it because he_d just handed the baby off to an accomplice and had to look like he didn_t have a care in the world?_ _Or maybe he_s a sociopath,_ Jennings offers. _Maybe he handed the baby off to an accomplice and it didn_t bother him at all._ Rasbach shakes his head. _I don_t think so._ Virtually all the sociopaths Rasbach has come across_and after decades on the force he_s come across a few_have had an air of confidence, even grandiosity, about them. Marco looks like he_s about to crack under the strain. ELEVEN A nne and Marco wait in the living room by the phone. If the kidnapper calls, Rasbach_or if Rasbach isn_t there, someone else from the police_will be present to coach Marco through the call. But there is no call from the kidnapper. Family and friends have called, reporters, cranks, but no one claiming to be the kidnapper. Marco is the one answering the phone. If the kidnapper does call, Marco will do the talking. Anne doesn_t think she can hold it together; nobody thinks Anne can hold it together. The police don_t trust Anne to keep a cool head and follow instructions. She is too emotional; she has moments approaching hysteria. Marco is more rational, but he is certainly jumpy. Around 10:00 p.m. the phone rings. Marco reaches for it. Everyone can see that his hand is shaking. _Hello?_ he says. There is nothing on the other end but breathing. _Hello,_ Marco says, more loudly, his eyes shifting quickly to Rasbach. _Who is this?_ The caller hangs up. _What did I do wrong?_ Marco says, panicked. Rasbach is by his side instantly. _You didn_t do anything wrong._ Marco gets up and starts pacing the living room. _If that was the kidnapper, he_ll call back,_ Rasbach says evenly. _He_s nervous, too._ Detective Rasbach watches Marco closely. Marco is clearly agitated, which is understandable. He is under a lot of pressure. If this is all an act, Rasbach thinks, he is a very good actor. Anne is crying quietly on the sofa, periodically wiping her eyes with a tissue. Careful police work has determined that nobody with a garage opening onto the lane was driving down the lane at 12:35 a.m. the night before. Of course, the lane is also used by others, not just those with garages there_it opens out to side streets at each end, and drivers use it to get around the problem of the one-way streets. The police are trying desperately hard to find the driver of that vehicle. Paula Dempsey is the only one they_ve found who saw the car at that time. If there is a kidnapper, Rasbach thinks, they would probably have heard from him by now. Perhaps there will never be any call from a kidnapper. Maybe the parents killed the baby and got help disposing of the body and this is all an elaborate charade to divert suspicion of murder from them. The problem is, Rasbach has pulled their cell-phone records and their home-phone records, and there were no calls made by either of them to anyone after six o_clock the previous night, except the emergency call to 911. Which means that if they did it, it might not have been spontaneous. Perhaps it was planned all along and they prearranged to have somebody waiting in the garage. Or maybe one of them has an untraceable, prepaid cell phone that was used. The police haven_t found one, but that doesn_t mean it didn_t exist. If they got help disposing of the body, they must have called someone. The phone rings several more times. They have been told that they are murderers and to stop fucking the police around. They have been told to pray. They have been offered psychic services_for a fee. But no one claiming to be the kidnapper has called. Finally Anne and Marco go upstairs to bed. Neither of them has slept in the last twenty-four hours, and for the day before that. Anne has tried to lie down, but she_s been unable to sleep. Instead she sees Cora in her mind_s eye and can_t believe that she is unable to touch her, that she doesn_t know where her baby is or if she_s okay. Anne and Marco lie down on the bed together in their clothes, ready to jump up if the phone rings. They hold each other and whisper. _I wish I could see Dr. Lumsden,_ Anne says. Marco pulls her close. He doesn_t know what to say. Dr. Lumsden is away in Europe somewhere, for the next couple of weeks. Anne_s appointments have been canceled. _I know,_ Marco whispers. Anne whispers back, _She said I could see the doctor who_s covering for her if I needed to. Maybe I should._ Marco considers. He_s worried about her. He worries that if this goes on too long, it will truly damage her. She has always been fragile when stressed. _I don_t know, baby,_ Marco says. _With all those reporters out there, how would you go to the doctor_s?_ _I don_t know,_ Anne whispers bleakly. She doesn_t want the reporters following her to a psychiatrist_s office either. She is worried about the press learning of her postpartum depression. She saw what they were like about the mistake with the onesie. So far the only ones who know about her depression are Marco and her mother, her doctor and her pharmacist. And the police, of course, who went through their house right after the baby was taken and found her medication. If she hadn_t been in treatment by a psychiatrist, would the police be circling them now like wolves? Maybe not. It_s her fault they_re under suspicion. The police have no reason to suspect them otherwise. Unless it_s because they left the baby in the house alone. That was Marco_s fault. So they_re both to blame. Anne lies in bed remembering what it felt like to hold her baby against her own body, to feel the warmth of her pudgy little infant daughter in her arms, wearing only a diaper, her skin smelling of baby and bath time. She remembers Cora_s beautiful smile and the curl in the middle of her forehead_like the little girl in the nursery rhyme. She and Marco have often joked about it. There was a little girl, and she had a little curl, Right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good, she was very, very good, And when she was bad, she was horrid. As broken as she feels_what kind of mother feels depressed after the gift of a perfect baby?_Anne loves her daughter desperately. But the exhaustion had been overwhelming. Cora was a fussy, colicky baby, more demanding than most. When Marco had gone back to work, the days had begun to feel unbearably long. Anne filled the hours as best she could, but it was lonely. All the days began to seem the same. She couldn_t imagine them ever being any different. In her fog of sleep deprivation, she couldn_t remember the woman she used to be when she worked at the art gallery_could hardly remember how it felt to help clients add pieces to their collections or the thrill of finding a promising new artist. In fact, she could hardly remember what she was like before she_d had the baby and stayed home to care for her. Anne didn_t like to ask her mother to come and help_she was busy with her friends and the country club and her charities. None of Anne_s own friends were staying home with babies at the same time. Anne struggled. She felt ashamed that she wasn_t coping well. Marco suggested hiring someone to help, but that made her feel inadequate. The only relief was her moms_ group, which met for three hours once a week, on Wednesday mornings. But she hadn_t really connected with any of the other moms sufficiently to share her feelings. They all seemed genuinely happy, and more competent at motherhood than she was, even though it was the first baby for each of them. And there was the one session a week in the early evening with Dr. Lumsden, while Marco watched Cora. All Anne wants now is to go back twenty-four hours. She looks at the digital clock on her bedside table_11:31. Twenty-four hours ago, she was just leaving Cora in her crib to return to the party. None of this had happened; everything was fine. If only she could turn the clock back. If she could have her baby back, she would be so grateful, she would be so happy, she didn_t think she would ever be depressed again. She would cherish every minute with her daughter. She would never complain about anything, ever again. Lying in bed, Anne makes a private deal with God, even though she does not believe in God, and weeps into her pillow. _ _ _ Eventually Anne falls asleep, but Marco lies awake beside her for a long time. He cannot stop the buzzing in his brain. He looks over at his wife, sleeping restlessly on her side, her back to him. It is her first sleep in more than thirty-six hours. He knows she needs to sleep if she is to cope with this. He stares at her back and thinks about how much she has changed since the baby was born. It was entirely unexpected. They_d looked forward to the baby so much together_decorating the nursery, shopping for baby things, attending the birth-preparation classes, feeling the baby kick in her tummy. They had been some of the happiest months of his life. It had never occurred to him that it would be hard afterward. He hadn_t seen it coming. Her labor had been long and difficult; they hadn_t been prepared for that either. Nobody ever tells you about that in birthing classes_everything that can go wrong. In the end Cora had been born by emergency C-section, but she was fine. She was perfect. Mother and baby were both fine, and they came home from the hospital to a new life. The recovery, too, had taken longer and been more difficult for Anne because of the C-section. She seemed disappointed that she hadn_t had a normal birth. Marco had tried to talk her out of it. It wasn_t what he_d imagined, either, but it hadn_t seemed like a big deal to him. Cora was perfect, Anne was healthy, and that was all that mattered. Anne had trouble breast-feeding in the beginning, getting the baby to latch on. They_d had to get professional help. Anne_s own mother had been of no use_she_d bottle-fed her baby. Marco wants to reach out and lightly stroke Anne_s back, but he_s afraid of waking her. She has always been emotional, sensitive. She is one of the most refined women he_s ever met. He used to love dropping in on her at the gallery. Sometimes he would surprise her there at lunchtime, or after work, just because he wanted to see her. He got a kick out of watching her with clients, the way she lit up when talking about a painting or a new artist. He_d think, I can_t believe she_s mine. Whenever there was an opening for a new show, she would invite him; there would be champagne and hors d_oeuvres, women in smart dresses and men in well-cut suits. Anne would circulate around the room, stopping to talk with the people clustered in front of the paintings_wild, abstract splashes of color or more somber, tonal works. Marco didn_t understand any of it. The most beautiful, the most arresting thing in the room, for him, would always be Anne. He would stay out of her way, stand over by the bar eating cheese, or off to the side, and watch her do her thing. She had been trained for it, getting her degree in art history and modern art, but more than that, she had an instinct for it, a passion. Marco had not grown up with art, but it was part of her life, and he loved her for it. For their wedding he_d bought her a painting in the gallery that she fervently desired but that she said they could never afford_a very large, moody abstract work by an up-and-coming painter she greatly admired. It hangs over their mantelpiece in the living room. But she no longer even looks at it. Marco rolls onto his back and stares at the ceiling, his eyes burning. He needs her to keep it together. He can_t have the police suspecting her, suspecting them, any more than they do already. What she said about Dr. Lumsden disturbed him. The fear in her eyes. Had she said something to the doctor about wishing to harm the baby? That_s what women with postpartum depression sometimes thought about. Jesus. Jesus. Fuck. His computer at the office. He_d Googled Filteredpartum depression_ and followed the links to Filteredpartum psychosis,_ read those horrible stories about women who_d murdered their babies. The woman who had smothered her two kids. The woman who_d drowned her five children in the bathtub. The one who had driven her kids into a lake. Jesus fucking Christ. If the police look at his computer at the office, they_ll find all that. Marco starts to sweat just lying in bed. He feels clammy, sick. What would the police make of that if they found it? Do they already think that Anne killed Cora? Do they think he helped her cover it up? If they saw his browser history, would they think he_d been worried for weeks about Anne? He lies there flat on his back, eyes wide open. Should he tell the police about it, before they find it themselves? He doesn_t want to look like he_s hiding anything. They_ll wonder why he researched it at work, instead of using his home computer. His heart is racing now, as he gets up. He makes his way downstairs in the dark, leaving Anne snoring lightly behind him. Detective Rasbach is in the chair in their living room that he seems to have chosen as his favorite, doing something on his laptop. Marco wonders if the detective ever sleeps, wonders when he_s going to leave their house. He and Anne can_t exactly kick him out, although they would both like to. Detective Rasbach looks up as Marco comes into the room. _I can_t sleep,_ Marco mumbles. He sits down on the sofa, tries to think of how to begin. He can feel the detective_s eyes on him. Should he tell or not? Have they been to his office yet? Have they looked at his computer? Have they found out the mess his business is in? Do they know that he_s at risk of losing his company? If they don_t yet, they soon will. He knows they_re suspicious of him, that they_re looking into his background. But having financial problems doesn_t make you a criminal. _There_s something I_d like to tell you,_ Marco says nervously. Rasbach looks at him calmly and puts his laptop aside. _I don_t want you to misconstrue this,_ Marco says. _Okay,_ Detective Rasbach says. Marco takes a deep breath before he begins. _When Anne was diagnosed with postpartum depression a few months ago, it really kind of freaked me out._ Rasbach nods. _That_s understandable._ _I mean, I had no experience with this kind of thing. She was getting very depressed, you know, crying a lot. She seemed listless. I was worried about her, but I thought she was just exhausted, that it was temporary. I thought she_d get over it when the baby started sleeping through the night. I even suggested that maybe she should go back to work part-time, because she loved her job at the gallery and I thought it would give her a break. But she didn_t want to do that. She looked at me like I thought she was a failure as a mother._ Marco shakes his head. _Of course I didn_t think that! I suggested she get a bit of help during the day, maybe get a girl in so she could nap, but she wouldn_t hear of it._ Rasbach nods again, listening intently. Marco continues, feels himself getting more nervous. _When she told me her doctor said she had postpartum depression, I didn_t want to make it into a big deal, you know? I wanted to be supportive. But I was worried, and she wasn_t telling me much._ He starts rubbing his hands on his thighs. _So I looked it up online, but not here at home, because I didn_t want her to know I was worried. So I used my computer at the office._ He feels himself flushing. This is coming out all wrong. He sounds as if he suspects Anne, as if he doesn_t trust her. It sounds like they_re keeping secrets from each other. Rasbach stares back at him, inscrutable. Marco can_t make out what the detective is thinking. It_s unnerving. _So I just wanted you to know, if you check my computer at work, why I was looking at those sites about postpartum depression. I was trying to understand what she was going through. I wanted to help._ _I see._ Rasbach nods as if he completely understands. But Marco can_t tell what he_s really thinking. _Why do you want to tell me that you were researching postpartum depression at your office? It seems a natural enough thing to do, in your situation,_ Rasbach says. Marco feels a chill. Has he just made things worse? Has he just made them want to examine his office computer? Should he explain further about following the links to the murders or just leave things as is? For a moment he panics, unsure of what to do. He decides he has already screwed up enough. _I just thought I should tell you, that_s all,_ Marco says gruffly, and gets up to go, angry with himself. _Wait,_ the detective says. _Do you mind if I ask you something?_ Marco sits back down. _Go ahead._ He crosses his arms in front of him. _It_s about last night, when you went back to the neighbors_ house after checking on the baby at twelve thirty._ _What about it?_ _What were you and Cynthia talking about out there?_ The question makes Marco feel uncomfortable. What had they talked about? Why is he asking? _Why do you want to know what we were talking about?_ _Do you remember?_ Rasbach asks. Marco can_t remember. He doesn_t remember talking much at all. _I don_t know. Just trivial stuff. Chitchat. Nothing important._ _She_s a very attractive woman, wouldn_t you agree?_ Marco is silent. _Wouldn_t you agree?_ Rasbach repeats. _I guess,_ Marco says. _You say that you don_t remember seeing or hearing anything when you were out back last night between shortly after twelve thirty and just before one a.m., when the two of you returned inside._ Marco hangs his head, doesn_t look at the detective. He knows where this is going. He starts to sweat. _You said__and here the detective flips back through his notebook for a bit__you said you _weren_t paying attention._ Why were you not paying attention?_ What the hell should he do here? He knows what the detective is getting at. Like a coward, Marco says nothing. But he feels the pulse in the vein at his temple, wonders if the detective notices. _Cynthia says that you came on to her, that you made sexual advances to her out on the patio._ _What? No I didn_t._ Marco lifts his head sharply and looks at the detective. The detective consults his notes again, flips some pages. _She says you ran your hand up her legs, that you kissed her, pulled her onto your lap. She says you were quite persistent, that you got carried away._ _That_s not true!_ _It_s not true? You didn_t kiss her? And get carried away?_ _No! I mean_I didn_t come on to her, she came on to me._ Marco can feel himself blush deeply and is furious with himself. The detective says nothing. Marco fumbles over the words in his haste to defend himself, all the while thinking, That lying bitch. _That_s not how it happened,_ Marco insists. _She started it._ He cringes at how that sounds, how juvenile. He takes a steadying breath. _She came on to me. I remember, she came and sat on my lap. I told her she shouldn_t be on my lap and tried to nudge her off. But she took my hand and placed it inside her skirt. She was wearing this long dress with a slit up the side._ Marco is really sweating now, thinking how this must sound. He tries to relax. Tells himself no matter how much of a heel the detective must think him, there_s no reason for him to think this has anything to do with Cora. _She kissed me._ Marco stops, colors again. He can tell that Rasbach doesn_t believe a word of it. _I kept protesting, and telling her we shouldn_t, but she wouldn_t get off my lap. She got my fly down. I was afraid someone would see us._ Rasbach says, _You had a lot to drink. How reliable is your memory of what happened?_ _I was drunk, but I wasn_t that drunk. I know what happened. I didn_t start anything with her. She practically threw herself at me._ _Why would she lie?_ Rasbach asks simply. Why would she lie? Marco is asking himself the same question. Why would Cynthia screw him over like this? Was she pissed that he told her no? _Maybe she_s mad because I turned her down._ The detective purses his lips as he looks at Marco. Desperately, Marco says, _She_s lying._ _Well, one of you is lying,_ Rasbach says. _Why would I lie about something like that?_ Marco says stupidly. _You can_t arrest me for kissing another woman._ _No,_ the detective says. He waits a moment or two and says, _Tell me the truth, Marco. Are you and Cynthia having an affair?_ _No! Absolutely not. I love my wife. I wouldn_t do that, I swear._ Marco glares at the detective. _Is that what Cynthia says? Did she tell you we_re having an affair? That_s absolute bullshit._ _No, she didn_t say that._ _ _ _ Anne, sitting in the dark at the top of the stairs, hears it all. She goes cold all over. She now knows that last night, when their baby was being taken, her husband was kissing and fondling Cynthia next door. She doesn_t know who started it_from what she_d observed the night before, it could have been either one of them. They were both guilty. She feels sick to her stomach, betrayed. _Are we done here?_ Marco says. _Yeah, sure,_ the detective answers. Anne scrambles quickly to her feet at the top of the stairs and, barefoot, pads quickly back to their bedroom. She_s shaking. She climbs into the bed under the duvet and pretends to sleep but fears that her ragged breathing will give her away. Marco comes into the bedroom, his footsteps heavy. He sits down on the edge of the bed, facing away from her, looks at the wall. She opens her eyes slightly and stares at his back. She pictures him making out with Cynthia on the patio chair while she was bored out of her mind with Graham in the dining room. And while he had his hand in Cynthia_s panties and Anne was pretending to listen to Graham, someone was taking Cora. She will never be able to trust him again. Never. She turns over and pulls the covers higher, while silent tears roll down her face and pool around her neck. _ _ _ Cynthia and Graham are in their bedroom next door, having a heated argument. Even so, they are careful to keep their voices quiet. They don_t want to be overheard. There is a laptop open on their queen-size bed. _No,_ Graham says. _We should just go to the police._ _And say what?_ Cynthia asks. _A little late for that, don_t you think? They were already over here, questioning me, while you were out._ _It_s not that late,_ Graham counters. _We tell them we had a camera on the backyard. We don_t have to say any more than that. They don_t have to know why we put it up there._ _Right. And how do we explain, exactly, why we haven_t mentioned it up till this point?_ _We can say we forgot about it._ Graham is leaning up against the headboard, looking worried. Cynthia laughs, but there_s no humor in it. _Really. The police were swarming all over the place because a baby has been kidnapped, and we forgot that we have a pinhole camera trained on our backyard._ She gets up and starts taking off her earrings. _They_re never going to believe that._ _Why not? We can say that we never check it, or that we thought it was broken, or that the battery was dead. We can say we thought it didn_t work and it was just for show._ _Just for show_to scare thieves away. When it_s so well hidden that the police didn_t even see it._ She drops an earring into a mirrored jewelry box on her dressing table. She shoots him an annoyed look and mutters, _You and your fucking cameras._ _You enjoy watching the films, too,_ Graham says. Cynthia doesn_t correct him. Yes, she enjoys watching the films, too. She enjoys watching herself having sex with other men. She likes the way it turns her husband on to see her with them. But what she enjoys even more is that it gives her permission to flirt with and have sex with other men. Men more attractive and more exciting than her husband, who has proved to be a bit of a disappointment lately. But she didn_t get very far with Marco. Graham had hoped she would be able to give Marco a proper blow job, or that he would lift up her skirt and fuck her from behind. Cynthia knew exactly how the camera was positioned to get the best angle. Graham_s job was to keep the wife occupied. That was always his job. It was tedious for him, but it was worth it. Except now they have a problem. TWELVE I t is Sunday afternoon. There have been no new leads. No one has called claiming to have Cora. The case appears to be at an impasse, but Cora is still out there somewhere. Where is she? Anne walks over to the living-room window. The curtains are drawn shut for privacy, filtering the room_s light. She stands to the side and holds the curtain open a little to peek out. There are a lot of reporters on the sidewalk, spilling over onto the street. She is living in a fishbowl, everyone tapping on the glass. Already there are indications that the Contis aren_t turning out to be the media darlings the press had hoped for. Anne and Marco haven_t welcomed the media; they clearly see the reporters as an intrusion, a necessary evil. They are not particularly photogenic either, even though Marco is handsome and Anne was pretty enough, before. But it_s not enough to be handsome_one should preferably have charisma, or at least warmth. There is nothing charismatic about Marco now. He looks like a shattered ghost. They both look guilty, beaten down by shame. Marco has been cold in his interactions with the media; Anne has said nothing at all. They have not been warm to the press, and so the press has not warmed to them. This is, Anne realizes, probably a tactical mistake, one they may live to regret. The problem is that they had not been home. It has come out that they were next door when Cora was taken from her crib. Anne was horrified when she saw that morning_s headlines: COUPLE NOT HOME WHEN BABY TAKEN, STOLEN BABY WAS LEFT ALONE. If they_d been sound asleep in their own house while their child was kidnapped from her room, there would have been a much greater outpouring of sympathy, from the press and from the public. The fact that they were attending a party next door has scalded them. And of course the postpartum depression has also been made public. Anne doesn_t know how these things happen. She certainly didn_t tell the press. She suspects Cynthia might have been the source of the leak about their leaving the baby alone in the house, but she doesn_t know how the media found out about her depression. Surely the police would not have leaked her private medical information. She has even asked them, and they say it didn_t come from them. But Anne doesn_t trust the police. Whoever is responsible for the leaks, they have only damaged Anne further in the eyes of everyone_the public, the press, her parents, her friends, everyone. She has been publicly shamed. Anne turns to look at the steadily increasing pile of toys and other colorful debris collecting on the sidewalk at the bottom of their front steps. There are bouquets of wilted flowers, stuffed animals of all colors and sizes_she can see teddy bears, even an outsize giraffe_with notes and cards stuck on them. A mountain of clich?. Such an outpouring of sympathy. And of hate. Earlier that day Marco had gone out and brought an armful of the toys and notes in to her, to cheer her up. That was a mistake he won_t make again. Many of the notes were venomous, even shocking. She read a few of them, gasped, balled them up, and threw them to the floor. She twitches the curtains with her fingers and looks out again. This time a thrill of horror slides down her back. She recognizes the women coming single file down the sidewalk toward the house, pushing their baby strollers: it is three_no_four women from her moms_ group. The reporters fall away to let them through, sensing impending drama. Anne watches in disbelief. Surely, she thinks, they have not come to visit her with their babies. She sees the one in front, Amalia_mother of cute, brown-eyed Theo_reach beneath her stroller and grab what looks like a large container of prepared food. The other women behind her do the same thing, applying the brakes to their strollers, reaching for covered dishes in the baskets beneath the seats. Such kindness, and such thoughtless cruelty. She can_t bear it. A sob escapes Anne as she turns abruptly from the window. _What is it?_ Marco says, alarmed, coming up to her. He pushes the curtain aside and looks out the window at the sidewalk. Filtered rid of them!_ Anne whispers. _Please._ _ _ _ On Monday morning at nine o_clock, Detective Rasbach requests that Marco and Anne come to the police station for formal questioning. _You are not under arrest,_ he assures them as they stare back at him, dumbstruck. _We would like to take a statement from each of you and ask a few more questions._ _Why can_t you do that here?_ Anne asks, in obvious distress. _Like you_ve been doing?_ _Why do we have to go to the station?_ Marco echoes, looking appalled. _It_s standard procedure,_ Rasbach says. _Would you like some time to freshen up first?_ he suggests. Anne shakes her head, as if she doesn_t care what she looks like. Marco does nothing at all, just stares at his feet. _Okay, then, let_s go,_ Rasbach says, and leads the way. When he opens the front door, there is a flurry of activity. The reporters cluster around the front steps, cameras flashing. _Are they under arrest?_ someone calls out. Rasbach answers no questions and remains stonily silent as he steers Marco and Anne through the crush to the police cruiser parked in front of the house. He opens the rear door, and Anne goes in first and slides across the backseat. Marco steps in after her. No one speaks, except the reporters, who clamor after them with their questions. Rasbach climbs into the passenger seat, and the car pulls away. The photographers run after them, taking pictures. Anne stares out the window. Marco tries to hold her hand, but she pulls it away. She watches the familiar city pass by the window_the produce stand on the corner, the park where she and Cora sit on a blanket in the shade and watch children splash in the wading pool. They cross the city_now they are not far from the art gallery where she used to work, close to the river. Then they are going past the Art Deco building where Marco has his office, and then suddenly they are out of downtown. It all looks very different from the back of a police cruiser, on the way to be questioned in the disappearance of your own child. When they arrive at the police station, a modern building of concrete and glass, the cruiser stops at the front doors and Rasbach shepherds them in. There are no reporters here_there had been no advance warning that Anne and Marco would be taken in for questioning. When they walk into the station, a uniformed officer at a circular front desk glances up with interest. Rasbach hands Anne over to a female officer. _Take her to Interview Room Three,_ Rasbach tells her. Anne looks at Marco in alarm. _Wait. I want to be with Marco. Can_t we be together?_ Anne asks. _Why are you separating us?_ Marco says, _It_s okay, Anne. Don_t worry. Everything_s going to be okay. We haven_t done anything. They just want to ask us some questions, and then they_re going to let us go, isn_t that right?_ he says to Rasbach, a hint of challenge in his voice. _That_s right,_ the detective says smoothly. _As I said, you are not under arrest. You are here voluntarily. You are free to leave at any time._ Marco stands still and watches Anne go down the hall with the female officer. She turns and looks back at him. She_s terrified. _Come with me,_ Rasbach says. He takes Marco into an interview room at the end of the hall. Detective Jennings is already there. The room contains a metal table with a single chair on one side and two chairs on the other side for the detectives. Marco doesn_t trust himself to make any sense, to keep things straight. He can feel the exhaustion hitting him. He tells himself to talk slowly, to think before he answers. Rasbach is wearing a clean suit and a fresh shirt and tie. He is newly shaven. Jennings is, too. Marco is wearing old jeans and a wrinkled T-shirt that he hauled out of his drawer that morning. He hadn_t known he was going to be brought down to the station. He realizes now that he should have taken advantage of the detective_s offer to shower, shave, change clothes. He would have felt more alert, more in control. And he would have looked less like a criminal on the permanent recording of this interview; he has just realized that he is probably going to be videotaped. Marco sits down and nervously watches the two detectives standing across the table from him. It_s different being here, instead of in his own home. It_s frightening. He feels the shift of control. _If it_s okay with you, we_re going to videotape this interview,_ Rasbach says. He gestures to a camera positioned just below the ceiling, pointing toward them at the table. Marco has no idea if he really has a choice. He hesitates for a fraction of a second, then says, _Yeah, sure, no problem._ _Would you like some coffee?_ Rasbach offers. _Yeah, sure, thanks,_ Marco says. He tries to relax. He reminds himself he is here to help the police find out who has taken his child. Rasbach and Jennings go out to get coffee, leaving Marco alone to fret. When the two detectives return, Rasbach places Marco_s paper cup on the table in front of him. Marco sees that he has brought him two sugars and one cream_Rasbach has remembered how Marco takes his coffee. As Marco fumbles with the sugar packets, his hands are trembling. They all notice. _Please state your name and today_s date,_ Rasbach says, and they begin. The detective leads him through a series of straightforward questions that establish Marco_s version of what happened on the night of the kidnapping. It is a rehash of what has gone before, nothing new. Marco can feel himself relaxing as the interview progresses. Finally he thinks they_re finished, that they_re about to let him go. His relief is enormous, although he_s careful not to show it. He has time then to wonder how it_s going in the other room, with Anne. _Good, thank you,_ Rasbach says when they_ve taken his statement. _Now, if you don_t mind, I just have a few more questions._ Marco, who had started to rise out of his metal chair, sits back down. _Tell us about your company, Conti Software Design._ _Why?_ Marco asks. _What has my company got to do with anything?_ He stares at Rasbach, trying to hide his dismay. But he knows what they_re getting at. They_ve been looking into him; of course they have. _You started your company about five years ago?_ Rasbach prompts. _Yes,_ Marco says. _I have degrees in business and computer science. I_d always wanted to go into business for myself. I saw an opportunity in software design_specifically, in designing user interfaces for medical software. So I started my own company. I_ve got some key clients. A small staff of software-design professionals, all working remotely. Mostly we visit clients on site, so I travel a fair bit on business. I keep an office downtown myself. We_ve been quite successful._ _Yes, you have done very well,_ Rasbach agrees. _Impressive. It can_t have been easy. Is it expensive? To start a company like that?_ _It depends. I started out very small, just me and a couple of clients. I was the only designer in the beginning_I worked from home and put in very long hours. My plan was to build the business gradually._ _Go on,_ Rasbach says. _The company became very successful, very quickly. It grew fast. I needed to hire more designers to keep up with demand, and to take the business to the next level. So I expanded. The time was right. There were bigger costs then. Equipment, staff, office space. You need money to grow._ _And where did that money come from, to expand your business?_ the detective asks. Marco looks at him, annoyed. _I don_t see why it matters to you, but I got a loan from my in-laws, Anne_s parents._ _I see._ _What do you see?_ Marco says irritably. He has to remain calm. He can_t afford to get ruffled. Rasbach is probably doing this just to piss him off. _I didn_t mean anything by it,_ the detective says mildly. _How much money did you get from your wife_s parents?_ _Are you asking me, or do you know already?_ Marco says. _I don_t know. I_m asking._ _Five hundred thousand,_ Marco says. _That_s a lot of money._ _Yes, it is,_ Marco agrees. Rasbach is baiting him. He can_t rise to it. _And has the business been profitable?_ _For the most part. We have good years and not-so-good years, like anybody else._ _What about this year? Would you say it_s been a good year or a not-so-good year?_ _It_s been a rather shitty year, since you ask,_ Marco says. _I_m sorry to hear that,_ Rasbach says. And waits. _We_ve had some setbacks,_ Marco says finally. _But I_m confident things will get on track. Business is always up and down. You can_t just throw in the towel when you have a bad year. You have to tough it out._ Rasbach nods thoughtfully. _How would you describe your relationship with your wife_s parents?_ Marco knows that the detective has seen him and his father-in-law in the same room. There is no point in lying. _We don_t like each other._ _And yet they still loaned you five hundred thousand dollars?_ The detective_s eyebrows have gone up. _Her mother and father together loaned it to us. They have the money. They love their daughter. They want her to have a good life. My business plan was sound. It was a solid business investment for them. And an investment in their daughter_s future. It_s been a satisfactory arrangement for all concerned._ _But isn_t it the case that your business desperately needs a cash infusion?_ Rasbach asks. _Every business these days could use a cash infusion,_ Marco says, almost bitterly. _Are you on the verge of losing the company you_ve worked so hard to build?_ Rasbach says, leaning forward slightly. _I don_t think so, no,_ Marco says. He is not going to let himself be intimidated. _You don_t think so?_ _No._ Marco wonders where the detective has gotten his information. His business is in trouble. But as far as he knows, they didn_t have a warrant to go through his business or bank records. Is Rasbach guessing? Who has he spoken to? _Does your wife know about your business troubles?_ _Not entirely._ Marco squirms in his seat. _What do you mean?_ the detective asks. _She knows that business hasn_t been great lately,_ Marco admits. _I haven_t burdened her with the details._ _Why_s that?_ _We have a new baby, for Christ_s sake!_ Marco snaps, raising his voice. _She_s been depressed, as you know. Why would I tell her the business is in trouble?_ He runs his hand through his hair, which falls back haphazardly into his eyes. _I understand,_ Rasbach says. _Have you approached your in-laws for help?_ Marco sidesteps the question. _I think things will turn around._ Rasbach lets it go. _Let_s talk about your wife for a moment,_ he says. _You say that she_s been depressed. You told me earlier that she was diagnosed with postpartum depression by her doctor. Her psychiatrist. A doctor . . ._ He consults his notes. _Lumsden._ He lifts his eyes. _Who is currently away._ _Yes, you know that,_ Marco says. _How many times do we have to go over this?_ _Can you describe her symptoms for me?_ Marco moves restlessly in the uncomfortable metal chair. He feels like a worm pinned to a board. _As I_ve told you before, she was sad, crying a lot, listless. She seemed overwhelmed at times. She wasn_t getting enough sleep. Cora_s a pretty fussy baby._ When he says this, he remembers that she is gone and has to pause a moment to regain his self-control. _I suggested she get someone to help her with the baby, so that she could take a nap during the day, but she wouldn_t. I think she felt she should be able to manage on her own, without help._ _Your wife has a history of mental illness?_ Marco looks up, startled. _What? No. She has a bit of a history of depression, like a million other people._ His voice is firm. _Mental illness, no._ Marco doesn_t like what the detective is suggesting. He braces himself for what_s coming next. Filteredpartum depression is considered a mental illness, but let_s not quibble._ Rasbach leans back in his chair and looks at Marco as if to say, Can we speak frankly? _Did you ever worry that Anne might harm the baby? Or harm herself?_ _No, never._ _Even though you looked up postpartum psychosis on the Internet?_ So they have been through his computer. They_ve seen what he_s looked at, the stories about women murdering their children. Marco can feel the sweat break out in tiny beads on his forehead. He moves around in his chair. _No. I told you about that. . . . When Anne was diagnosed, I wanted to know more about it, so I did some searches on postpartum depression. You know what it_s like on the Internet, one thing leads to another. You follow the links. I was just curious. I didn_t read those stories about women who went crazy and killed their kids because I was worried about Anne. No way._ Rasbach stares at him without saying anything. _Look, if I was worried that Anne might harm our baby, I wouldn_t have left her home alone with the baby all day, would I?_ _I don_t know. Would you?_ The gloves have come off. Rasbach looks at him, waiting. Marco glares back. _Are you going to charge us with something?_ Marco asks. _No, not at this time,_ the detective says. _You_re free to go._ Marco stands up slowly, pushing his chair back. He wants to run the hell out of there, but he_s going to take his time, he_s going to look like he_s in control, even if it isn_t true. _Just one more thing,_ Rasbach says. _Do you know anyone with an electric car, or possibly a hybrid?_ Marco hesitates. _I don_t think so,_ he says. _That_s all,_ the detective says, rising from his chair. _Thanks for coming in._ Marco wants to get right in Rasbach_s face and snarl, Why don_t you do your goddamned job and find our baby? But instead he strides, too quickly, out of the room. Once outside the door, he realizes he doesn_t know where Anne is. He cannot leave without her. Rasbach comes up behind him. _If you_d like to wait for your wife, we shouldn_t be too long,_ he says, and goes down the corridor and opens a door into another room, where, Marco presumes, his wife sits waiting. THIRTEEN A nne sits in the cool interview room and shivers. She is wearing jeans and only a thin T-shirt. The room is over-air-conditioned. The woman officer stands by the door, discreetly watching her. They told Anne that she_s here voluntarily, that she_s free to go at any time, but it feels like she_s a prisoner. Anne wonders what is going on in the other room, where they_re interviewing Marco. It is a stratagem, to separate them. It makes her nervous and unsure of herself. The police obviously suspect them. They are going to try to set Anne and Marco against each other. Anne needs to prepare herself for what_s coming, but she doesn_t know how. She considers telling them that she wants to speak to a lawyer but fears that will make her look guilty. Her parents could afford to get her the best criminal lawyer in the city, but she_s afraid to ask them. What would they think if she asked them to get her a lawyer? And what about Marco? Do they each need a separate lawyer? It infuriates her, because she knows they did not harm their baby; the police are wasting their time. And meanwhile Cora is alone somewhere, terrified, abused, or_ Anne feels like she_s going to be sick. To stop herself from throwing up, she thinks instead about Marco. But then she sees it again in her mind, him kissing Cynthia, his hands on her body_the body that is so much more desirable than her own. She tells herself that he was drunk, that Cynthia probably came on to him, just like he said, rather than the other way around. She_d watched Cynthia come on to Marco all night. Still, Marco went out back with her for a cigarette. He was just as much to blame. They both denied they were having an affair, but she doesn_t know what to believe. The door opens, making her jump in her seat. Detective Rasbach enters, followed by Detective Jennings. _Where_s Marco?_ Anne asks, her voice shaky. _He_s waiting for you in the lobby,_ Rasbach says, and smiles briefly. _We won_t be long,_ he says gently. _Please relax._ She smiles weakly back at him. Rasbach points to a camera mounted near the ceiling. _We_ll be videotaping this interview._ Anne glances at the camera, dismayed. _Do we have to do this on camera?_ she asks. Then she looks nervously at the two detectives. _We record all our interviews,_ Rasbach tells her. _It_s to protect everyone concerned._ Anne straightens her hair nervously, tries to sit up taller in her chair. The woman officer remains stationed at the door, as if they_re afraid she_ll make a run for it. _Can I get you anything?_ Rasbach asks. _Coffee? Water?_ _No, thank you._ Rasbach says, _Okay, then, let_s get started. Please state your name and today_s date._ The detective leads her carefully through the events of the night the baby went missing. _When you saw that she wasn_t in the crib, what did you do?_ Rasbach asks. His voice is kind, encouraging. _I told you. I think I screamed. I threw up. Then I called 911._ Rasbach nods. _What did your husband do?_ _He looked around the upstairs while I was calling 911._ Rasbach looks more sharply at her, his eyes on hers. _How did he seem?_ _He seemed shocked, horrified, like me._ _You found nothing out of place, nothing disturbed, other than that the baby was gone?_ _That_s right. We searched the house before the police arrived, but we didn_t notice anything. The only thing different or odd_other than that she wasn_t there and that her blanket was gone_was that the front door was open._ _What did you think when you found the crib empty?_ _I thought someone had taken her,_ Anne whispers, looking down at the table. _You told us that you smashed the bathroom mirror after finding the baby gone, before the police arrived. Why did you smash the bathroom mirror?_ Rasbach asks. Anne takes a deep breath before answering. _I was angry. I was angry because we had left her at home alone. It was our fault._ Her voice is dry; her lower lip trembles. _Actually, could I have some water?_ she asks, looking up. _I_ll get it,_ Jennings offers, and he leaves the room, soon returning with a bottle of water that he places on the table in front of Anne. Gratefully, she twists off the cap and takes a drink. Rasbach resumes his questioning. _You said you_d had some wine. You_re also on antidepressant medication, the effects of which are increased with the use of alcohol. Do you think your memories of what happened that night are reliable?_ _Yes._ Her voice is firm. The water seems to have revived her. _You are certain of your version of events?_ Rasbach asks. _I_m certain,_ she says. _How do you explain the pink onesie that was found underneath the pad on the changing table?_ Rasbach_s voice is not so gentle now. Anne feels her composure deserting her. _I . . . I thought I put it in the hamper, but I was very tired. It must have gotten shoved under there somehow._ _But you can_t explain how?_ Anne knows what he_s driving at. How much can he trust her version of events when she can_t explain something as simple as how the onesie, which she said she remembered putting into the laundry hamper, was underneath the pad on the changing table? _No. I don_t know._ She begins to wring her hands in her lap beneath the table. _Is there any possibility that you might have dropped the baby?_ _What?_ Her eyes snap up to meet the detective_s. His eyes are unnerving; she feels they can see right through her. _Is there any possibility that you might have accidentally dropped the baby, that she was harmed in some way?_ _No. Absolutely not. I would remember that._ Rasbach is not so friendly now. He leans back in his chair and cocks his head at her, as if he doesn_t believe her. _Perhaps you dropped her earlier in the evening and she hit her head, or perhaps you shook her and when you came back to see her, she wasn_t breathing?_ _No! That didn_t happen,_ Anne says desperately. _She was fine when I left her at midnight. She was fine when Marco checked her at twelve thirty._ _You don_t actually know if she was fine when Marco checked on her at twelve thirty. You weren_t there, in the baby_s room. You only have your husband_s word for it,_ Rasbach points out. _He wouldn_t lie,_ Anne says anxiously, continuing to wring her hands. Rasbach lets silence fill the room. Then, leaning forward, he says, _How much do you trust your husband, Mrs. Conti?_ _I trust him. He wouldn_t lie about that._ _No? What if he went to check on the baby and found she wasn_t breathing? What if he thought you had harmed her_hurt her by accident or held a pillow over her face? And he arranged for someone to take the body away because he was trying to protect you?_ _No! What are you saying? That I killed her? Is that what you really think?_ She looks from Rasbach to Jennings to the woman officer at the door, then back at the detective. _Your neighbor, Cynthia, says that when you returned to the party after you fed the baby at eleven, you looked like you_d been crying and that you_d washed your face._ Anne colors. This is a detail she_d forgotten. She had cried. She_d fed Cora in her chair in the dark at eleven with tears running down her face. Because she was depressed, because she was fat and unattractive, because Cynthia was tempting her husband in a way that she could no longer tempt him, and she felt useless and hopeless and overwhelmed. Trust Cynthia to notice_and to tell the police. _You are under the care of a psychiatrist, you said. A Dr. Lumsden?_ Rasbach sits up straight now and picks up a file from the table. Opens it and looks inside. _I already told you about Dr. Lumsden,_ Anne says, wondering what he_s looking at. _I am seeing her for mild postpartum depression, as you know. She prescribed an antidepressant that_s safe while breast-feeding. I have never thought about harming my child. I didn_t shake her or smother her or hurt her in any way. I didn_t drop her by accident either. I wasn_t that drunk. I was crying when I fed her because I was sad about being fat and unattractive, and Cynthia_who is supposed to be a friend_had been flirting with my husband all evening._ Anne draws strength from the anger she feels, remembering this. She sits up straighter and looks the detective in the eye. _Maybe you should become a little better informed about postpartum depression, Detective. Postpartum depression is not the same thing as postpartum psychosis. I am clearly not psychotic, Detective._ _Fair enough,_ Rasbach says. He pauses, puts down the file and asks, _Would you describe your marriage as a happy one?_ _Yes,_ Anne says. _We have some issues, like most couples, but we work them out._ _What kinds of issues?_ _Is this really relevant? How is this helping to find Cora?_ She moves restlessly in her chair. Detective Rasbach says, _We have every available person working on finding Cora. We are doing everything we can to find her._ Then he adds, _Maybe you can help us._ She slumps, discouraged. _I don_t see how._ _What sorts of issues come up in your marriage? Money? That_s a big one for most couples._ _No,_ Anne says tiredly. _We don_t fight about money. The only thing we ever fight about is my parents._ _Your parents?_ _They don_t like one another, my parents and Marco. My parents never approved of him. They think he_s not good enough for me. But he is. He_s perfect for me. They can_t see any good in him because they don_t want to. That_s just the way they are. They never liked anyone I dated. No one was ever good enough. But they hate him because I fell in love with him and married him._ _Surely they don_t hate him,_ Rasbach says. _It seems that way sometimes,_ Anne says. She looks down at the table. _My mother doesn_t think he_s good enough for me, basically because he_s not from a wealthy family, but my father really seems to hate him. He baits him all the time. I can_t understand why._ _They have no particular reason to dislike him?_ _No, not at all. Marco_s never done anything wrong._ She sighs unhappily. _My parents are very hard to please, and they_re very controlling. They gave us money when we were starting out, and now they think they own us._ _They gave you money?_ _For the house._ She flushes. _You mean, as a gift?_ She nods. _Yes, it was a wedding gift, so we could buy a house. We couldn_t afford one on our own, without help. Houses are so expensive, at least nice ones in good neighborhoods are._ _I see._ _I love the house,_ Anne admits. _But Marco hates feeling beholden to them. He didn_t want to accept the wedding gift. He would rather have made it all on his own_he_s proud that way. He let them help us for me. He knew I wanted the house. He would have been happy to start out in a crappy little apartment. Sometimes I think I made a mistake._ She_s wringing her hands in her lap. _Maybe we should have refused their wedding gift, started out in some shabby place, like most couples. We might still be there, but we might be happier._ She starts to cry. _And now they think it_s his fault that Cora_s gone, because it was his idea to leave her at home alone. They won_t stop reminding me about it._ Rasbach slides the tissue box on the table to within Anne_s reach. Anne takes a tissue and dabs her eyes. _And really, what can I say? I try to defend him to them, but it was his idea to leave her at home. I didn_t like it. I still can_t believe I agreed to it. I_ll never forgive myself._ _What do you suspect happened to Cora, Anne?_ Detective Rasbach asks. She looks away from him and stares at the wall, unseeing. _I don_t know. I keep thinking about it and thinking about it. I was hoping that someone took her for ransom, because my parents are rich, but no one has been in touch with us, so . . . I don_t know, it_s hard to stay positive. That_s what Marco thought at first. But he_s losing hope, too._ She looks back at him, her face bleak. _What if she_s dead? What if our baby is already dead?_ She breaks down and sobs. _What if we never find her?_ FOURTEEN R asbach had gone through Marco_s office computer. No wonder Marco was worried about that. While it was understandable that a man in Marco_s position might Google postpartum depression, his browser history showed that he_d strayed quite far into postpartum psychosis. He_d read about the woman found guilty of drowning her five children in a bathtub in Texas. He_d read about the mother who_d killed her children by driving her car into a lake, the woman in England who had strangled her two young children in a closet. He_d read about other women who had drowned, stabbed, smothered, and throttled their own children. Which meant, to the detective_s mind, that either Marco was afraid his wife might become psychotic or he was interested in that information for some other reason. It occurs to Rasbach that Marco may be setting his wife up to take a big fall. The baby might just be collateral damage. Does he simply want out? But this isn_t his favorite theory. As Anne pointed out, she is not psychotic. These women who killed their babies were clearly in the throes of psychosis. If she killed the baby, it was probably accidentally. No, his favorite theory is that Marco arranged the kidnapping to get the badly needed ransom money_despite what Marco said about things turning around, his business is clearly in serious trouble. They haven_t been able to account for the car. No one has come forward to acknowledge driving down the lane at 12:35 on the night of the kidnapping. The police have sought the public_s help in the matter of the mystery car. If anyone in the area had been driving innocently down the lane at the relevant time, given all the newspaper and TV coverage, that person would in all likelihood have come forward. But no one had come forward_probably because whoever it was was an accomplice to the crime. Detective Rasbach believes that the person in that car took the baby away. Rasbach thinks the child was either killed accidentally by the parents and the body taken away by an accomplice or that this is a staged kidnapping and the baby was handed off by Marco to someone who has lost his nerve and hasn_t made the expected arrangements to receive the ransom money and return the baby. If so, the wife may or may not be in on it; Rasbach needs to look closely at her. If what Rasbach suspects is true, Marco must be going out of his mind. But the babysitter is troubling him. Would Marco have staged a kidnapping if there was going to be a babysitter in the house? Rasbach sees no point in having a police officer sitting around the Contis_ house waiting for a ransom call that will probably never come. He makes a strategic decision. They will retreat; he will get the police out of the house and see what happens when the two of them are alone. If he is right, and something has gone wrong, if he is to find out what it is, he must take a step back and give Marco enough rope to hang himself. And the baby? Rasbach wonders if even Marco knows whether the missing child is still alive. Rasbach remembers the famous Lindbergh kidnapping case, where it looked as if the baby died accidentally, either during or soon after the kidnapping. Maybe that_s what happened here. He can almost feel sorry for Marco. Almost. _ _ _ It is Tuesday morning, the fourth day since Cora went missing. Now the last police officer is leaving. Anne can_t believe that they are to be left all alone. _But what if the kidnapper calls?_ she protests to Rasbach in disbelief. Marco says nothing. It seems obvious to him that the kidnapper is not going to call. It seems equally obvious to him that the police don_t believe there is a kidnapper. Rasbach says, _You_ll be fine. Marco can handle it._ She gives him a doubtful look. _Maybe our being here is scaring him off_maybe if we leave, he_ll call._ He turns to Marco. _If anyone claiming to have Cora calls, remain calm, try to get instructions, and keep him talking as much as possible. The more you can get him to reveal, the better. We still have the wiretap on, so it will be taped. But it is very unlikely that we would be able to trace the call. Everyone these days uses untraceable prepaid cell phones. Makes our job much harder._ Then Rasbach leaves. Marco, for one, is glad to see him go. Now Anne and Marco are alone in the house. The number of reporters outside on the street has dwindled as well. With no developments the media have little to report_they are losing enthusiasm. The pile of wilted flowers and teddy bears is not growing any larger. _They think I killed her,_ Anne says, _and that you covered it up._ _They can_t think that,_ Marco says, trying to reassure her. There isn_t much else he can say. What_s he going to tell her? Either that or they think I took her and faked the kidnapping for the ransom money. But he doesn_t want her to know how bad their financial situation really is. Marco goes upstairs to lie down. He is exhausted. His grief and distress are such that he can hardly bear to look at his wife. Anne putters around the house, somewhat relieved to be rid of the police after all, tidying up. She moves in a sleep-deprived fog, putting things away, washing coffee cups. The kitchen phone rings, and she stops. She looks at the caller ID. It_s her mother. Anne hesitates, not sure she wants to speak to her. Finally, on the third ring, she picks up the phone. _Anne,_ her mother says. Anne immediately feels her heart sink. Why did she answer? She can_t deal with her mother right now. She sees Marco coming quickly down the stairs, his eyes alert. She mouths My mother at him and waves him away. He turns and goes back upstairs. _Hi, Mother._ _I_m so worried about you, Anne. How are you doing?_ _How do you think?_ Anne holds the phone to her ear, walks to the rear of the kitchen, and looks out the window to the backyard. Her mother is quiet for a moment. _I just want to help._ _I know, Mom._ _I can_t imagine what you_re going through. Your father and I are hurting, too, but it must be nothing compared to what you_re feeling._ Anne starts to cry, the tears rolling silently down her cheeks. Her mother says, _Your father is still very upset about the police taking you in for questioning yesterday._ _I know, you told me that yesterday,_ Anne says wearily. _I know, but he won_t stop talking about it. He says they should be focusing on finding Cora, not harassing you._ _They say they_re just doing their job._ _I don_t like that detective,_ her mother says uneasily. Anne sinks into one of the kitchen chairs. Her mother says, _I think I should come over and you and I should have some tea and a private talk. Just the two of us, without your father. Is Marco home?_ _No, Mom,_ Anne says. Anxiety rises in her throat. _I can_t today. I_m too tired._ Her mother sighs. _You know your father is very protective of you,_ she says. She pauses, then adds tentatively, _Sometimes I wonder if it was right for us to keep things from him when you were younger._ Anne freezes. Then she says, _I have to go,_ and hangs up the phone. She stands by the window looking out at the backyard, trembling, for a long time. _ _ _ Detectives Rasbach and Jennings are in a police cruiser, Jennings behind the wheel. It is hot in the cruiser, and Rasbach adjusts the air-conditioning. They soon arrive at St. Mildred_s School, an exclusive private school in the northwest part of the city for girls from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Anne Conti spent her entire academic life here before college, so they ought to know something about her. Unfortunately for the detectives, it is the middle of the summer holidays, but Rasbach called beforehand and made an appointment with a Ms. Beck, the headmistress, who apparently has plenty of work to do, even in the summer. Jennings parks in the empty lot. The school is a lovely old stone building that looks a bit like a castle, surrounded by greenery. The place oozes money. Rasbach imagines all the luxury cars driving up and disgorging privileged girls in uniform at the front doors. But at the moment it is dead quiet, except for the sound of a man on a riding mower cutting the grass. Rasbach and Jennings walk up the shallow stone steps and press the buzzer to get in. The glass door opens with a loud click, and the two detectives enter and follow the signs down a wide hall to the main office, their shoes squeaking on the glossy floors. Rasbach can smell wax and polish. _I don_t miss school, do you?_ Jennings says. _Not a bit._ They arrive at the office, where Ms. Beck greets them. Rasbach is immediately disappointed to see that she is relatively young, in her early forties. The chances of her having been at St. Mildred_s during Anne Conti_s years there are remote. But Rasbach is hoping there might still be some staff around who_d remember her. _How can I help you, Detectives?_ Ms. Beck asks as she conducts them into her spacious inner office. Rasbach and Jennings sit in the comfortable chairs in front of her desk as she positions herself behind it. _We_re interested in one of your former students,_ Rasbach says. _Who is that?_ she asks. _Anne Conti. But when she was a student here, her name would have been Anne Dries._ Ms. Beck pauses, then gives a small nod. _I see._ _I imagine you weren_t here yourself when she was a student here,_ Rasbach says. _No, that would have been before my time, I_m afraid. The poor woman. I saw her on TV. How old is she?_ _Thirty-two,_ Rasbach says. _She was at St. Mildred_s from kindergarten to twelfth grade, apparently._ Ms. Beck smiles. _Many of our girls start here in kindergarten and don_t leave until they attend a good college. We have an excellent retention rate._ Rasbach smiles back at her. _We_d like to look through her file, ideally speak to some people who knew her while she was here._ _Let me see what I can do,_ Ms. Beck says, and exits the room. She returns a few minutes later holding a buff-colored file. _She was here, as you say, from K to twelve. She was an excellent student. Went on to Cornell._ Most of the woman_s job is PR, Rasbach imagines as he reaches for the file. Jennings leans in to look at it with him. Rasbach is sure that she wishes the now possibly notorious Anne Conti had never graced the halls of St. Mildred_s. He and Jennings review the file silently while Ms. Beck fidgets at her desk. There is not much there except solidly excellent report cards. Certainly nothing leaps out at them. _Do any of her former teachers still teach here?_ Rasbach asks. Ms. Beck considers. Finally she says, _Most of them have moved on, but Ms. Bleeker just retired last year. I saw in the file that she was Anne_s English teacher for several years in the later grades. You could talk to her. She lives not too far from here._ She writes down the name and address on a piece of paper. Rasbach takes the paper and says, _Thank you for your time._ He and Jennings get back into the sweltering car. Rasbach says, _Let_s go see Bleeker. We_ll grab a sandwich on the way._ _What do you expect to find out?_ Jennings asks. _Never expect, Jennings._ FIFTEEN W hen they arrive at the retired teacher_s house, they are met by a woman with a straight back and sharp eyes. She looks just the way a retired English teacher from a private girls_ school would look, Rasbach thinks. Ms. Bleeker studies their badges closely and then sizes up the two detectives themselves before she opens her door. _You can_t be too careful,_ she says. Jennings gives Rasbach a look as she leads them down a narrow hall and into her front room. _Please be seated,_ she says. Rasbach and Jennings promptly take seats in two upholstered armchairs. She settles down slowly on the couch opposite. There_s a thick novel_a Penguin Classics edition of Trollope_s Barchester Towers_on the coffee table and an iPad beside it. _What can I do for you gentlemen?_ she asks, and then adds, _Although I think I can guess why you_re here._ Rasbach gives her his most disarming smile. _Why do you think we_re here, Ms. Bleeker?_ _You want to talk about Anne. I recognized her. She_s all over the news._ Rasbach and Jennings exchange a quick glance. _She was Anne Dries when I taught her._ _Yes,_ Rasbach says, _we want to talk to you about Anne._ _It_s a terrible thing. I was very sad when I saw it on TV._ She sighs deeply. _I don_t know what I can tell you about what happened back then, because I don_t know anything. I tried to find out, but nobody would tell me anything._ Rasbach feels excitement prickle at his neck. _Why don_t you start at the beginning,_ he says patiently. She nods. _I liked Anne. She was a good English student. Not inspired, but hardworking. Serious. She was pretty quiet. It was difficult to know what was going on in her head. She liked to draw. I knew that the other girls were picking on her. I tried to put a stop to it._ _Picking on her how?_ _The usual spoiled-rich-girl stuff. Kids with more money than brains. They told her she was fat. She wasn_t, of course. The other girls were rail thin. Unhealthy._ _When was this?_ _Probably when she was in about tenth or eleventh grade. There were three girls_thought they were God_s gift. The three prettiest girls in school found one another and formed a private club that no one else could join._ _Do you remember their names? _Of course. Debbie Renzetti, Janice Foegle, and Susan Givens._ Jennings writes the names in his notebook. _I won_t forget those three._ _And what happened?_ _I don_t know. One day the three pretty girls were hassling Anne, as usual, and the next thing you know, one was in the hospital and the other two were giving Anne a very wide berth. Susan missed school for a couple of weeks. The story was that she fell off her bike and got a concussion._ Rasbach leans forward slightly. _But you don_t believe the story, do you? What do you think actually happened?_ _I don_t know, exactly. There were some closed-door meetings with the parents. It was all hushed up. But I_m betting Anne had had enough._ _ _ _ Back at the station, Rasbach and Jennings do some digging and learn that two of the girls mentioned by the retired English teacher, Debbie Renzetti and Susan Givens, had moved away with their families by the end of high school. Janice Foegle, as luck would have it, still lives in the city. When Rasbach calls her, his luck holds_she_s home and she_s willing to come in to the station and talk to them that afternoon. Rasbach is called to the front desk when Janice Foegle arrives, right on time. He goes out to meet her. He knows what to expect, but still, she is a striking woman. What must it have been like, Rasbach wonders, to possess that kind of beauty in high school, when most of the other kids are struggling to come to terms with their own unsatisfactory appearance? He wonders how it has shaped her. He is reminded, fleetingly, of Cynthia Stillwell. _Ms. Foegle,_ Rasbach says. _I_m Detective Rasbach. This is Detective Jennings. Thank you for coming in. We have a few questions for you, if you wouldn_t mind._ She gives him a resigned frown. _To be honest, I_ve been expecting someone to call me,_ she says. They take her to one of the interview rooms. She looks tense when they mention the video camera, but she doesn_t complain. _You knew Anne Conti in high school_she was Anne Dries then_when you were at St. Mildred_s,_ Rasbach begins, once the preliminaries are out of the way. _Yes._ Her voice is quiet. _What was she like?_ Janice pauses, as if unsure of what to say. _She was nice._ _Nice?_ Rasbach waits for more. Suddenly her face crumples and she begins to cry. Rasbach gently pushes the tissue box within her reach and waits. _The truth is, she was a nice girl and I was a total bitch. Me and Susan and Debbie, we were awful girls. I_m ashamed of it now. I look back at what I was like and I just can_t believe it. We were so mean to her, for no reason._ _Mean to her how?_ Janice looks away and blows her nose delicately. Then she looks up at the ceiling and tries to compose herself. _We teased her. About her looks, about her clothes. We thought we were above her_above everyone, really._ She gives him a wry look. _We were fifteen. Not that that excuses anything._ _So what happened?_ _This went on for months, and she just took it. She was always nice back to us and pretended it didn_t bother her, but we thought she was just pathetic. Actually, I thought it was a kind of strength, being able to pretend you_re not bothered, day after day, when she obviously was, but I kept that to myself._ Rasbach nods, encouraging her to continue. She looks down at the tissue in her hands, sighs heavily, and looks back up at Rasbach. _One day she just lost it. The three of us_Debbie, Susan, and I_we_d stayed late after school for some reason. We were in the girls_ bathroom, and Anne walked in. She saw us and froze. Then she said hi and gave a little wave and went into one of the stalls to pee. That took a certain amount of guts, I have to admit._ She pauses, then continues. _Anyway, we started saying some things._ She stops. _What kinds of things?_ Rasbach asks. _I_m ashamed to say. Things like _How is your diet coming along? Because you look like you_ve gained weight__things like that. We were pretty awful to her. She came out of the stall and went right for Susan. None of us were expecting it. Anne grabbed her by the throat and slammed her against the wall. It was one of those cement walls, painted a glossy cream, and Susan hit it hard with her head. She just kind of slid down. There was a big smear of blood all down the wall._ Janice_s face twists, as if she is back in that school bathroom seeing her friend crumpled on the floor, the blood smeared on the wall. _I thought Anne had killed her._ _Go on,_ Rasbach encourages. _Debbie and I were screaming, but Anne was completely silent. Debbie was closer to the door, so she ran for help. I was terrified to be left alone with Anne, but she was between me and the door and I was too scared to move. Anne looked at me, but her eyes were blank. Like she wasn_t really there. I didn_t know if she was even seeing me. It was creepy. Finally one of the teachers came, and then the headmistress. They called an ambulance._ Janice falls silent. _Did anyone call the police?_ _Are you kidding?_ She looks at him in surprise. _That_s not the way things are done in private schools. The headmistress was all damage control. I know they worked something out. Anne_s mother came in, and our parents, and it was all just . . . handled. You see, we had it coming, and everybody knew it._ Rasbach says gently, _What happened after they called the ambulance?_ _When it arrived, they put Susan on a stretcher and took her down to the ambulance. Debbie and I and the other teacher followed Susan. Debbie and I were crying, hysterical. The headmistress took Anne to her office to wait for her mother. The ambulance took Susan away, and Debbie and I waited in the parking lot with the other teacher for our parents to come._ _Do you remember anything else?_ Rasbach asks. She nods. _Before the headmistress took Anne away, Anne looked at me, like she was completely normal, and said, _What happened?__ Rasbach says, _What did you think when she said that?_ _I thought she was crazy._ _ _ _ The mailman is outside the front door trying to push the volumes of mail through the slot in the door. Anne stands in the kitchen and watches. She could open the door and take it from him, to make his job easier, but she doesn_t want to. She knows all that hate mail is for her. He looks up then, through the window, and sees her. Their eyes meet for just a second, and then he looks down and works on pushing more envelopes through the slot. She and this same mailman used to exchange pleasantries, less than a week ago. But everything is different now. The letters have dropped onto the floor by the door in a jumbled pile. He_s struggling to push a large, thick envelope through the slot, but it won_t go. He pushes it halfway in and then turns and goes back down the walk and on to the next house. Anne stands staring at the pile on the floor, at the package stuffed in the slot. The package is holding the slot open. She goes to the door and tries to pull it through. It_s one of those bubble envelopes. It_s stuck, and she can_t unwedge it. She will have to open the door and grab it from the outside. She peers through the window to see if anyone is out there. The reporters who were there earlier in the morning while the police were packing up have cleared off. Anne opens the door and yanks the package out of the slot, quickly slips back inside, closes the door, and relocks it. Without thinking, she opens the package. There_s a mint green onesie inside. SIXTEEN A nne screams. Marco hears her scream and bolts downstairs from the bedroom. He sees her standing by the front door, a pile of unopened mail at her feet, a package in her hand. He can see the green onesie peeking out of the package. She turns to him, her face white. _This just came in the mail,_ she says, her voice strange and hollow. Marco approaches her, and she holds the package out to him. They look down at it together, almost afraid to touch it. What if it_s a prank? What if someone thought it would be funny to send a mint green onesie to the awful couple who left their baby home alone? Marco takes the package from Anne and gently opens it further. He draws out the onesie. It looks right. He turns it over. There_s the embroidered bunny on the front. _Oh, God,_ Anne gasps, and bursts into tears, her hands up to her face. _It_s hers,_ Marco says, his voice harsh. _It_s Cora_s._ Anne nods but can_t speak. There_s a note pinned to the inside of the little outfit. It_s typewritten, in a small font. The baby is fine. Ransom is five million dollars. Do NOT tell the police. Bring the money on Thursday at 2 pm. Any sign of police you will never see her again. There is a detailed map at the bottom of the note. _We_re going to get her back, Anne!_ Marco cries. Anne feels as though she might faint. After all they_ve been through, it seems too good to be true. She takes the onesie from him and holds it to her face and breathes in. She can smell her baby. She can smell her. It is overwhelming. She breathes in again, and her knees weaken. _We_ll do exactly what it says,_ Marco says. _Shouldn_t we tell the police?_ _No! It says not to tell them. We can_t risk screwing this up. Don_t you see? It_s too risky to involve the police. If he thinks he_s going to get caught, he might just kill Cora and get rid of her! We have to do it his way. No police._ Anne nods. It scares her, doing this on their own. But Marco is right. What have the police done for them? Nothing. All the police have done is suspect them. The police are not their friends. They will have to get Cora back on their own. _Five million,_ Marco says, his voice tense. He looks up at her, suddenly worried. _Do you think your parents will be okay with five million?_ _I don_t know._ She bites her lip anxiously. _They have to be._ _We don_t have a lot of time. Two days,_ Marco says. _We have to ask your parents. They have to start getting the money together._ _I_ll call them._ She moves toward the phone in the kitchen. _Use your cell phone. And, Anne, tell them right up front_no police. No one can know._ She nods and reaches for her cell. _ _ _ They sit on the sofa in the living room, Anne and Marco, side by side. Anne_s mother perches elegantly on the edge of the armchair while Anne_s father paces the floor of the living room between the front window and the sofa. They all watch him. _You_re sure that_s the right outfit?_ he says again, pausing in his pacing. _Yes,_ Anne says sharply. _Why don_t you believe me?_ _We just need to be sure. Five million dollars is a lot of money._ He sounds petulant. _We have to be sure we_re dealing with the person who actually has Cora. This has been all over the papers. Somebody could take advantage._ _It_s Cora_s sleeper,_ Marco says firmly. _We recognize it._ _Can you get us the money or not?_ Anne asks, her voice strident. She looks anxiously at her mother. Just when she was getting her hopes up again, this might all fall apart. How could her father be doing this to her? _Of course we can get the money,_ her mother says firmly. _I didn_t say we couldn_t get the money,_ her father answers. _I said it might be difficult. But if I have to move mountains, then I_ll move mountains._ Marco watches his father-in-law, trying to keep his dislike from showing itself on his face. They all know it_s mostly Anne_s mother_s money, but he has to act like it_s all his. Like he earned it all himself. What a jerk. _Two days isn_t much time to raise that much money. We_ll have to cash in some investments,_ Richard says self-importantly. _That_s not a problem,_ Anne_s mother says. She looks at her daughter. _Don_t worry about the money, Anne._ _Can you do it quietly, without anyone knowing?_ Marco asks. Richard Dries exhales loudly, thinking. _We_ll talk to our lawyer about how to handle it. We_ll figure it out._ _Thank God,_ Anne says in relief. _How exactly is this going to work?_ Richard asks. Marco says, _Just like the note says. No police. I_ll go, with the money. I give them the money, and they give me Cora._ _Maybe I should come with you, so you don_t screw it up,_ Anne_s father says. Marco regards him with open malice. _No._ He adds, _If they see someone else, they might not go through with it._ They stare at each other. _I_m the one with the big checkbook,_ Richard says. _Actually, I_m the one with the big checkbook,_ Alice says sharply. _Dad, please,_ Anne says, terrified that her father is going to ruin everything. Her glance darts anxiously from him to her mother. _We have no proof that Cora is even alive,_ Richard says. _It could be a trick._ _If Cora isn_t there, I won_t leave the money,_ Marco says, watching Richard continue to pace in front of the window. _I don_t like it,_ Richard says. _We should tell the police._ _No!_ Marco says. The two men glare at each other. Richard looks away first. _What choice do we have?_ Anne asks, her voice shrill. _I still don_t like it,_ Richard says. _We will do exactly what the note says,_ Anne_s mother says firmly, giving her husband a sharp glance. Anne_s father looks at her and says, _I_m sorry, Anne. You_re right. We don_t have a choice. Your mother and I had better get started on the money._ _ _ _ Marco watches his father- and mother-in-law get into their Mercedes and drive off. He_s barely eaten since this all started. His jeans hang loose on his body. It was an awful moment when Richard was being difficult about raising the money. But he_d just been grandstanding. He had to make sure everybody knew what a great guy he was. Had to make sure everybody appreciated how important he was. _I knew they would come through for us,_ Anne says, suddenly beside Marco. How did she always manage to say exactly the wrong thing? At least when it came to her parents. How could she not see her father for what he was? Couldn_t she see how manipulative he was? But Marco is silent. _It_s going to be okay,_ Anne says, taking Marco_s hand in hers. _We_re going to get her back. And then everyone will see that we were the victims here._ She squeezes his hand. _And then we should make the damn police apologize._ _Your father will never let us forget that they bailed us out._ _He won_t see it that way! He_ll see it as saving Cora, I_m sure of it! They won_t hold it over us._ His wife can be so na?ve. Marco gives her hand a squeeze back. _Why don_t you lie down and try to get some rest? I_m going to go out for a bit._ _I doubt I_ll be able to sleep, but I_ll try. Where are you going?_ _I_m going to pop into the office and check on a few things. I haven_t been there since . . . since Cora was taken._ _Okay._ Marco puts his arms around Anne and gives her a hug. _I can_t wait to see her again, Anne,_ he whispers. She nods against his shoulder. He lets her go. Marco watches her walk up the stairs. Then he grabs his car keys from the bowl on the table in the front hall and heads out. _ _ _ Anne intends to lie down. She_s too keyed up, though_almost daring to hope she might get her baby back soon, yet still terrified that it might all go horribly wrong. As her father said, they have no proof that Cora is even still alive. But she refuses to believe that Cora is dead. She carries the green onesie with her, holding it to her face and breathing in the scent of her baby. She misses her so much it physically hurts. Her breasts ache. In the upstairs hall, she stops, leans against the wall, and slides down to the floor outside the baby_s room. If she closes her eyes and presses the onesie to her face, she can pretend that Cora is still here, in the house, just across the hall. For a few moments, she lets herself pretend. But then she opens her eyes. Whoever sent them the onesie has demanded five million dollars. Whoever it is knows that their little girl is worth five million dollars to them and obviously has a pretty good idea that Anne and Marco can get the money. Perhaps it is someone they know, if only slightly. She gets to her feet slowly, pauses on her way into their bedroom. Perhaps it is even someone they know fairly well, someone who knows they have access to money. When this is all over, she thinks, after they get Cora back, she will devote her life to her child_and to finding the person who took her. Maybe she will never stop looking at people they know, wondering if that person is the one who took their baby_or knows who did. She suddenly realizes she probably shouldn_t be handling the onesie like this. If it all goes wrong and they don_t get Cora back, they will have to turn the onesie_and the note_over to the police, as evidence and to convince them of their innocence. Surely the police will no longer suspect them now. But any evidence that the outfit might have offered up has probably been ruined by the way she has been touching it and breathing on it and even wiping her tears with it. She puts it down on her dresser in the bedroom and lays it flat. She looks at it, forlorn, on the dresser. She leaves it there, with the note pinned to it containing their instructions. They cannot afford to make a mistake. It_s the first time she_s been alone in the house, she realizes, since midnight on the night Cora was taken. If only she could go back in time. The last few days have been a blur, of fear and grief and horror and despair_and betrayal. She told the police that she trusted Marco, but she lied. She doesn_t trust him with Cynthia. She thinks that he might have other secrets from her. After all, she has secrets from him. She wanders from her dresser over to Marco_s and pulls open the top drawer. Aimlessly, she rummages through his socks and underwear. When she has finished with the top drawer, she opens the second. She doesn_t know what she_s looking for, but she_ll know when she finds it. SEVENTEEN M arco gets into the Audi and drives. But not to the office. Instead he takes the nearest exit and drives out of the city. He weaves in and around traffic; the Audi is responsive to his touch. After about twenty minutes, he turns off onto a smaller highway. Soon he reaches a familiar dirt road that leads to a fairly secluded lake. He pulls in to a graveled parking area in front of the lake. There is a small, stony beach with some old, weathered picnic tables, which he has rarely seen anyone use. A long dock projects out into the lake, but no one launches boats from here anymore. Marco has been coming here for years. He comes here alone, whenever he needs to think. He parks the car under the shade of a tree, facing the lake, and gets out. It_s hot and sunny, but there_s a breeze coming off the lake. He sits on the hood of the car and looks out at the water. There is no one else here; the place is deserted. He tells himself that everything will be all right. Cora is fine; she has to be. Anne_s parents will get the money. His father-in-law would never pass up an opportunity to be a hero or a big shot, even if it cost him a small fortune. Especially if it looks like he_s bailing Marco out. They won_t even miss the money, Marco thinks. He takes a deep breath of the lake air and expels it, trying to calm himself. He can smell dead fish, but no matter. He has to get air into his lungs. The last few days have been a living hell. Marco isn_t made for this. His nerves are shot. He has regrets now, but it will all be worth it. When he gets Cora back and he has the money, everything will be okay. They_ll have their daughter. And he_ll have two and a half million dollars to get his business on track again. The thought of taking money from his father-in-law makes Marco smile. He hates the bastard. With this money he_ll be able to sort out his cash-flow problems and take his business to the next level. It will have to be funneled into the business through a silent, anonymous investor, by way of Bermuda. No one will ever know. His accomplice, Bruce Neeland, will get his half share, go away, and keep his mouth shut. Marco almost hadn_t gone through with it. When the babysitter canceled at the last minute, he_d panicked. He_d almost called the whole thing off. He knew Katerina always fell asleep with her earbuds in when she was babysitting. Twice they_d come home before midnight and surprised her dead to the world on the living-room sofa. She wasn_t that easy to wake up either. Anne didn_t like it. She thought Katerina wasn_t a very good babysitter, but it was hard to get a sitter at all, since there were so many young children in the neighborhood. The plan had been for Marco to go out for a smoke at twelve thirty, let himself into the house quietly, grab the sleeping baby, and take her out through the back while Katerina slept. If she_d woken up and seen him come in, he would have told her he_d come to check on the baby, since they were just next door. If she_d woken up and seen him carrying the baby out, he would have told her he was going to take Cora next door for a minute to show her off. In either case he would have aborted the whole thing. If he_d pulled it off, the story would have been about a child abducted from her bedroom while the babysitter was downstairs. But then she canceled. Marco was desperate, so he_d had to improvise. He persuaded Anne to leave Cora at home with the proviso that they_d check on her every half hour. It wouldn_t have been possible if the video on the baby monitor had still been working, but with just the audio, he thought it would be all right. He would take Cora out the back to the waiting car when he checked on her. He knew it would make him and Anne look bad, leaving the baby home alone, but he thought it could work. Had he felt there was any actual risk to Cora at all, he never would have done it. Not for any amount of money. It_s been brutally hard these last few days, not seeing his daughter. Not being able to hold her, to kiss the top of her head, to smell her skin. Not being able to call and check on her and make sure she_s all right. Not knowing what the hell is going on. Marco tells himself again that Cora is fine. He just has to hang on. It will all be over soon. They_ll have Cora back and the money. He especially regrets how hard this is on Anne, but he tells himself that she_ll be so happy to have Cora back that maybe it will give her some perspective. It has been fucking awful the last few months, dealing with his own financial problems and watching his wife slip away from him, lost in her own downward spiral. It_s all been much more difficult than expected. When Bruce Neeland hadn_t called within the first twelve hours, Marco had been frantic. They_d agreed on no more than twelve hours before first contact. When he hadn_t heard from Bruce by Saturday afternoon, Marco was afraid that Bruce had lost his nerve. The case had received a lot of attention. Even worse_Bruce wasn_t answering the cell phone Marco was to call in an emergency. And Marco had no other way to reach him. Marco had handed his baby over to a co-conspirator who hadn_t followed the plan and whom he couldn_t get hold of. He was going out of his mind with worry. Surely Bruce wouldn_t harm her? Marco had toyed with the idea of confessing everything to the police, telling them what he knew about Bruce Neeland, in the hopes that they might be able to track him and Cora down. But he thought the risk to Cora was too great. So he_d bided his time. And then the onesie had arrived in the mail. The relief he_d felt when they received the onesie had been incredible. He figured Bruce must have lost his nerve about calling the house as planned, even with the untraceable, prepaid cell phone. He must have been worried about the police. So he_d found another way. Another two days and it will all be over. Marco will take the money to the rendezvous point_one they previously picked out together_and get Cora back. And when it is all over, he_ll call the police and tell them. He_ll give them a false description of Bruce and the car he_ll be driving. If there was an easier way to raise a couple million dollars quickly, he couldn_t think of it. God knows he_d tried. _ _ _ Anne_s parents come over Thursday morning with the money. Bundles of hundreds. Five million dollars in unmarked bills. The banks have used machines to count it all. They had to scramble to get the cash at such short notice; it was difficult. Richard makes sure they know it. It takes up a surprising amount of room. Richard has packed it all into three large gym bags. Marco keeps a worried eye on his wife. Anne and her mother are sitting on the sofa together, Anne sheltering under her mother_s protective wing. Anne looks small and vulnerable. Marco wants Anne to be strong. He needs her to be strong. He reminds himself that she is under enormous strain. More than he is, if that_s even possible. He is almost cracking from the stress of it all, and he knows what_s going on. She doesn_t. She doesn_t know that they_re going to get Cora back today; she has only her hope. He, on the other hand, knows that Cora will be back in their house within the next two or three hours. Soon all of this will be over. Bruce will deposit Marco_s share of the money into the offshore account as they planned. They will never have any contact with each other again. There will be nothing to link the two of them. Marco will be in the clear. He_ll have his baby back, plus the cash he needs. Suddenly Anne thrusts her mother_s arm off her and stands up. _I want to come with you,_ she says. Marco looks at her, startled. Her eyes are glassy, and her entire body is trembling. The queer way she_s looking at him_for just a second he wonders if she has figured it out. Impossible. _No, Anne,_ he says. _I_m going alone._ He adds firmly, _We already talked about this. We can_t be changing plans now._ He needs her to stay behind. _I can stay in the car,_ she says. He hugs her tight, whispers into her ear. _Shhhhh . . . it_s going to be all right. I_ll come back with Cora, I promise._ _You can_t promise. You can_t!_ Her voice rises shrilly. Marco, Alice, and Richard look at her with alarm. He holds her until she calms down, and for once her parents stand back and let him be a husband. Finally he releases her, looks into her eyes, and says, _Anne, I_ve got to go now. It will take me about an hour to get out there. I_ll call you on my cell as soon as I have her, okay?_ Anne, calmer now, nods, her face tight with tension. Richard goes with Marco to load the money into the car, which is parked in the garage. They take the bags through the back door, put them in the trunk of Marco_s Audi, and lock it. _Good luck,_ Richard says, looking tense. He adds, _Don_t hand over the money until you get the baby. It_s the only leverage we_ve got._ Marco nods and gets into the car. He looks up at Richard and says, _Remember, no police until you hear from me._ _Gotcha._ Marco doesn_t trust Richard. He_s afraid that Richard will call the police as soon as Marco has left. He has instructed Anne to keep Richard in her sight at all times_he whispered a reminder in her ear just now_and not to let him call the police until she hears that Marco has Cora. By the time he calls, Bruce will be long gone. But Marco is still worried. Anne doesn_t look like she_s functioning properly; he can_t rely on her. Richard could go to the kitchen and make the call on his cell, and she might not even notice. Or Richard might just call the police in front of her once he_s out of the house, Marco thinks uneasily. She wouldn_t be able to stop him. Marco pulls the car out of the garage and down the lane and begins the long drive to the rendezvous point. He_s approaching the ramp for the highway when he goes cold. He_s been incredibly stupid. Richard could already have told the police about the exchange. They could be watching the whole thing. They could all be in on it except Anne and him. Would Alice allow that? Would Richard even tell her? Marco_s hands start to sweat on the wheel. His heart is pounding as he tries to think. Richard had argued to have the police involved. They_d overruled him. When has Richard ever allowed himself to be overruled in his life? Richard wants Cora back, but he_s the kind of man who hedges his bets. He_d want the possibility of recovering his money, too. Marco feels sick. What should he do? He can_t call Bruce. He has no way to do that, since Bruce isn_t answering his cell. Now he_s probably dragging Bruce right into a trap. Marco_s shirt is already sticking to his back as he hits the highway. EIGHTEEN M arco tries to calm himself, breathing deeply as he drives, his knuckles white on the steering wheel. He could take his chances and go to the exchange as planned. Maybe Richard hasn_t told the police. Cora will be sitting inside the abandoned garage in an infant car seat. He will grab her, leave the money, and run. But if Richard has alerted the police, then what? Then, as soon as Marco grabs Cora, drops the money, and flees, Bruce will show up for the money and the police will grab him. What if Bruce talks? Marco will go to jail for a very long time. He could abort. He could turn around and not show up at the exchange at all and hope Bruce sends him another message through the mail. But how would he explain that to the police? How could he not show up as arranged to pick up his own kidnapped baby? He could have car trouble, he could get there too late, miss the window. Then, if Bruce got in touch again, Marco could try again and not tell Richard the details. But there was no way Richard would let Marco keep all that cash with him in the meantime. Fuck. He couldn_t do anything without his father-in-law knowing about it, because Alice lets him control the money. No, he has to get Cora today. He has to go and get her. He can_t let this drag out any longer, no matter what. With his mind spinning, a half hour has sped by. He is halfway there. He has to make a decision. He checks the time, gets off the highway at the next exit. He pulls over to the side of the road, puts his flashers on, and picks up his cell, his hands shaking. He calls Anne_s cell. She answers immediately. _Do you have her?_ Anne asks anxiously. _No, not yet, it isn_t time yet,_ Marco says. _I want you to ask your father if he_s told the police about this._ _He wouldn_t do that,_ Anne says. _Ask him._ Marco hears voices in the background, and then Anne comes back on the line. _He says he didn_t tell anyone. He didn_t tell the police. Why?_ Should he believe Richard? _Put your father on the phone,_ Marco says. _What_s going on?_ Richard says into the cell. _I need to be able to trust you,_ Marco says. _I need to know you didn_t alert the police._ _I didn_t. I said I wouldn_t._ _Tell me the truth. If the police are watching, I_m not going. I can_t take the risk that he might smell a trap and kill Cora._ _I swear, I didn_t tell them. Just go get her, for Christ_s sake!_ Richard sounds almost as panicked as Marco feels. Marco hangs up the phone and drives. _ _ _ Richard Dries paces his daughter_s living room, his heart knocking against his ribs. He glances at his wife and daughter, hunched together on the couch, and quickly looks away again. He is on edge and intensely frustrated with his son-in-law. He has never liked Marco. And now_for Christ_s sake_how could Marco even think about not going to the rendezvous? He could blow everything! Richard takes another worried look at his wife and daughter and keeps pacing. He can at least understand why Marco might think Richard has called the police. From the beginning, when Marco insisted they not tell the cops, Richard had taken the opposite stand_he_d argued for telling them about the exchange, but he_d been overruled. He'd told them that five million dollars is a lot of money, even for them. He_d told them that he wasn_t convinced that Cora was still alive. But he_d also said that he wouldn_t tell the police, and he has not. He hadn_t expected Marco to doubt him at the last minute and put everything at risk by not going to the exchange. He_d better fucking show up. There is too much at stake here for Marco to lose his nerve. _ _ _ Thirty minutes later Marco arrives at the designated spot. It_s a half hour outside the city by highway, and almost another thirty minutes northwest, up a smaller highway and then off a desolate rural road. They_d chosen an abandoned farm property with an old garage at the end of the long driveway. Marco drives up to the garage and parks the car in front of it. The garage door is closed. The place appears to be deserted, but Bruce must be somewhere nearby, watching. Cora will be in the garage. Marco feels light-headed_this nightmare is almost over. Marco gets out of the car. He leaves the money in the trunk and walks up to the garage door. He grabs the handle. It_s stiff, but he gives it a good tug. The door goes up with a loud rumble. It_s dim inside, especially after coming in from the bright sunlight. He listens intently. Nothing. Maybe Cora is asleep. Then he sees an infant car seat resting on the dirt floor in the far corner with a white blanket draped over the handle. He recognizes the blanket as Cora_s. He rushes over to the car seat, reaches down, and pulls off the blanket. The seat is empty. He stands up in horror, staggering backward. He feels as though the breath has been knocked out of him. The car seat is here, her blanket is here, but Cora is not. Is this some kind of sick joke? Or a double cross? Marco_s heart is pounding in his ears. He hears a noise behind him and whirls around, but he_s not fast enough. He feels a sharp pain in his head and falls heavily to the floor of the garage. When Marco comes to a few minutes later_he doesn_t know how many_he rises slowly to his hands and knees, then to his feet. He_s groggy and dizzy, and his head is thumping with pain. He stumbles outside. His car is still there, in front of the garage, the trunk open. He staggers over to look inside. The money_five million dollars_is gone. Of course. Marco is left behind with an empty car seat and Cora_s baby blanket. No Cora. His cell phone is in the car, on the front seat, but he can_t bear to call Anne. He should call the police, but he doesn_t want to do that either. He is a fool. He gives a bellow of pain and sinks to the ground. _ _ _ Anne waits in a fever of impatience. She shrugs her mother off, wringing her hands in anxiety. What is going on? What is taking so long? They should have heard from Marco twenty minutes ago. Something must be wrong. Her parents are agitated as well. _What the hell is he doing?_ Richard growls. _If he didn_t go get her because he_s afraid I sent the police, I_ll throttle him with my own hands._ _Should we call his cell?_ Anne says. _I don_t know,_ Richard says. _Let_s give it a few more minutes._ Five minutes later no one can stand the suspense any longer. _I_m going to call him,_ Anne says. _He was supposed to get her half an hour ago. What if something went wrong? He would call if he could. What if they killed him! Something terrible has happened!_ Anne_s mother jumps up and tries to put her arms around her daughter, but Anne pushes her away almost violently. _I_m calling him,_ she says, and hits Marco_s number on speed dial. Marco_s cell phone rings and rings. It goes to voice mail. Anne is too stunned to do anything but stare straight ahead of her. _He_s not answering._ Her whole body is shaking. _We have to call the police now,_ Richard says, looking stricken. _No matter what Marco said. Marco could be in trouble._ He pulls out his own cell and calls Detective Rasbach from his list of contacts. Rasbach picks up on the second ring. _Rasbach,_ he says. _It_s Richard Dries. My son-in-law has gone to make an exchange with the kidnappers. He was supposed to call us at least a half hour ago. And he_s not answering his cell. We_re afraid something has gone wrong._ _Jesus, why weren_t we told about this?_ Rasbach says. _Never mind. Just give me the details._ Richard quickly fills him in and gives him the location of the exchange. They_ve kept the original ransom note. Marco had taken a photocopy to guide him. _I_m on my way. In the meantime we_ll have local police get there ASAP,_ Rasbach says. _We_ll be in touch._ Then he hangs up. _The police are on their way out there,_ Anne_s father tells her. _All we can do is wait._ _I_m not waiting. You take us, in your car,_ Anne says. _ _ _ Marco is still sitting in the dirt, slumped against one of the Audi_s front tires, when the police cruiser pulls up. He doesn_t even lift his head. It_s all over now. Cora must be dead. He has been double-crossed. Whoever has her has the money; there_s no reason to keep her alive now. How could he have been so stupid? Why had he trusted Bruce Neeland? He can_t remember now why he had trusted him_his mind has shut down in his grief and fear. There_s nothing to do now but confess. Anne will hate him. He is so sorry. For Cora, for Anne, what he_s done to them. The two people he most loves in the world. He had been greedy. He_d persuaded himself that it wasn_t stealing if it was Anne_s parents_ money_Anne would inherit it all eventually anyway, but they needed some of it now. No one was supposed to get hurt. When he and Bruce had planned it, it had never occurred to Marco that Cora would be in any actual danger. It was supposed to be a victimless crime. But now Cora is gone. He doesn_t know what Bruce has done with her. And he doesn_t know how to find her. Two uniformed officers get slowly out of the police car. They walk over to where Marco is slumped against the Audi. _Marco Conti?_ one of the officers asks. Marco doesn_t respond. _Are you alone?_ Marco ignores him. The officer pulls his radio to his mouth as his partner squats beside Marco. He asks, _Are you hurt?_ But Marco has gone into shock. He says nothing. He has obviously been weeping. The officer standing beside him puts his radio away, draws his weapon, and goes into the garage, fearing the worst. He sees the infant car seat, the white blanket thrown on the dirt floor in front of it, but no baby. He comes back out quickly. But Marco still isn_t speaking. Soon other police cars converge, lights flashing. An ambulance arrives on the scene, and the medics treat Marco for shock. A short time later, Detective Rasbach_s car pulls up the long drive. He gets out in a rush and speaks to the officer in charge. _What happened?_ _We don_t know for sure. He isn_t talking. But there_s an infant car seat in the garage and no sign of a baby. The trunk is open, empty._ Rasbach takes in the scene and mutters, _Jesus Christ._ He follows the other officer into the garage and sees the car seat, the little blanket on the floor. His immediate reaction is to feel terribly sorry for the man sitting on the ground outside, guilty or not. He clearly expected to get his child back. If the man is a criminal, he_s an amateur. Rasbach goes outside into the sunlight, squats down, and tries to look Marco in the face. But Marco won_t raise his eyes. _Marco,_ Rasbach says urgently. _What happened?_ But Marco won_t even look at him. Rasbach has a pretty good idea what happened anyway. It looks like Marco got out of his car, went into the garage expecting to get the baby, and the kidnapper, who never had any intention of returning the child, knocked him out and took the money, leaving Marco alone with his grief. The baby was probably dead. Rasbach stands up, gets out his cell, and reluctantly calls Anne on her cell. _I_m sorry,_ he says. _Your husband is fine, but the baby is not here._ He hears her gasp turn into hysterical sobs on the other end of the line. _Meet us at the station,_ he tells her. Sometimes he hates his job. NINETEEN M arco is at the police station, in the same interview room as before, in the same chair. Rasbach is sitting across from him, just as he was when Marco gave his statement a few days ago, with Jennings beside him. The video camera is recording him, just like last time. The press had somehow already gotten the news of the failed exchange. There had been a mob of reporters waiting outside the station when they brought Marco in. Cameras flashed and microphones were pushed in front of his face. They hadn_t handcuffed him. Marco was surprised that they hadn_t, because in his head he had already confessed. He felt so guilty he didn_t know how they couldn_t see it. He thought it was a mere courtesy that they hadn_t restrained him, or it was simply deemed unnecessary. After all, there was obviously no fight left in him. He was a beaten man. He was not going to run. Where could he go? Wherever he went, his guilt and grief would go with him. They let him see Anne before they brought him into the interview room. She and her parents were already at the station. Marco was badly shaken when he saw her. Her face showed that she had lost all hope. When she saw him, she threw her arms around him and sobbed into his neck as if he were the last thing in the world she could cling to, as if he were all she had left. They held on to each other, weeping. Two shattered people, one of them a liar. Then they had taken him into the interview room to get his statement. _I_m sorry,_ Rasbach begins. And he genuinely is. Marco lifts his head in spite of himself. _The car seat and blanket have gone in for forensic testing. Maybe we_ll get something useful._ Marco remains silent, slumped in his chair. Rasbach leans forward. _Marco, why don_t you tell us what_s going on?_ Marco regards the detective, who has always annoyed him. Looking at Rasbach, he feels his desire to confess dissolve. He sits up straighter in his chair. _I brought the money. Cora wasn_t there. Someone attacked me when I was in the garage and took the money from the trunk._ Being questioned by Rasbach in this room, the feeling of playing cat and mouse, has sharpened Marco_s mind. He is thinking more clearly now than he was after things went so terribly wrong an hour or so ago. Adrenaline is coursing through his system. Suddenly he_s thinking about survival. He realizes that if he tells the truth, it will utterly destroy not just him but Anne as well. She could never withstand the betrayal. He must maintain the fiction of his innocence. They have nothing on him, no proof. Rasbach obviously has his suspicions, but that_s all they are. _Did you get a look at the man who hit you?_ Rasbach asks. He is tapping his pen lightly against his hand, a sign of impatience that Marco has not seen before. _No. He hit me from behind. I didn_t see anything._ _Just one person?_ _I think so._ Marco pauses. _I don_t know._ _Can you tell me anything else? Did he say anything?_ Rasbach is clearly frustrated with him. Marco shakes his head. _No, nothing._ Rasbach pushes his chair away from the table and stands up. He walks around the room, rubbing the back of his neck, as if it_s stiff. He turns and faces Marco from across the room. _It looks like another car was parked in the weeds behind the garage, out of sight. Did you see it or hear it?_ Marco shakes his head. Rasbach walks back to the table, puts his hands on it, leans forward, and looks Marco in the eye. _I have to tell you, Marco,_ Rasbach says, _I think the baby is dead._ Marco hangs his head. The tears start to come. _And I think you_re responsible._ Marco snaps his head back up. _I had nothing to do with it!_ Rasbach says nothing. He waits. _What makes you think I had anything to do with it?_ Marco asks. _My baby is gone._ He starts to sob. He doesn_t have to fake it. His grief is all too real. _It_s the timing, Marco,_ Rasbach says. _You checked on the baby at twelve thirty. Everyone agrees that you did._ _So?_ Marco says. _So I have tire-track evidence that a strange car was recently in your garage. And I have a witness who saw a car going down your back lane, away from your garage, at twelve thirty-five a.m._ _But why do you think that_s got anything to do with me?_ Marco says. _You don_t know that that car had anything to do with whoever took Cora. She could just as easily have been taken out the front door, at one o_clock._ But Marco knows it hasn_t done him any good, leaving the front door ajar; it hadn_t fooled the detective. If only he hadn_t forgotten to screw the motion-detector light back in. Rasbach pushes himself away from the table and stands looking down at Marco. _The motion detector in the back was disabled. You were in the house at twelve thirty. A car drove away from the direction of your garage at twelve thirty-five. With its headlights off._ _So what? Is that all you_ve got?_ _There_s no physical evidence whatsoever of an intruder in the house or the backyard. If a stranger had come into your backyard to get her, we would have some tracks, something. But we don_t. The only footprints in the backyard, Marco, are yours._ He leans on the table again for emphasis. _I think you carried the baby out of the house to the car in the garage._ Marco says nothing. _We know that your business is in trouble._ _I admit that! You think that_s reason enough to kidnap my own baby?_ Marco says desperately. _People have kidnapped for less,_ the detective says. _Well, let me tell you something,_ Marco says, leaning forward, looking up into Rasbach_s eyes. _I love my daughter more than anything in this world. I love my wife, and I am extremely concerned for the well-being of both of them._ He sits back in his chair. He thinks carefully for a moment before he adds, _And I have very wealthy in-laws who_ve been very generous. They would probably give us whatever money we needed if Anne asked them for it. So why the hell would I kidnap my own baby?_ Rasbach watches him, his eyes narrowing. _I will be questioning your in-laws. And your wife. And anyone who ever knew you._ _Knock yourself out,_ Marco says. He knows that he_s not handling this well, but he can_t help it. _Am I free to go?_ _Yes, you are free to go,_ the detective says. _For now._ _Should I get a lawyer?_ Marco asks. _That_s entirely up to you,_ the detective says. _ _ _ Detective Rasbach heads back to his own office to think. If this was a fake kidnapping, staged by Marco, he has clearly fallen in with some real criminals who_ve taken advantage of him. Rasbach can almost feel sorry for him. He certainly feels sorry for his distraught wife. If Marco did set this up, and has been duped, his baby is probably now dead, the money is gone, and the police suspect him of kidnapping. How he_s holding it together at all is a mystery. But the detective is troubled. There_s the babysitter, a problem that_s been niggling at him. And there_s this commonsense question: Why would someone who could probably get money easily enough just by asking risk it all with something as stupid, as fraught with risk, as a kidnapping? And there_s that disturbing information about Anne, about her propensity for violence, that has recently come to light. The more he gets involved in this case, the more complicated it seems. Rasbach has to know the truth. It_s time to question Anne_s parents. And he will talk to Anne herself again in the morning. Rasbach will figure it out. The truth is there. It_s always there. It simply needs to be uncovered. _ _ _ Anne and Marco are at home, alone. The house is empty but for the two of them and their horror and grief and dark imaginings. It would be hard to say who of the two is more damaged. Both are haunted by not knowing what has happened to their baby. They each hope desperately that she_s still alive, but there is so little to sustain that hope. Each tries to pretend for the other. And Marco has additional reasons to pretend. Anne doesn_t know why she doesn_t blame Marco more than she does. When it first happened, when their baby was taken, she blamed him in her heart, because he was the one who persuaded her to leave Cora at home alone. If they had taken the baby next door with them, none of this ever would have happened. She_s told herself that if Cora didn_t come home unharmed, she would never forgive him. Yet here they are. She doesn_t know why she clings to him, but she does. Perhaps because she has nothing else to cling to. She can_t even tell if she loves him anymore. She will never forgive him for Cynthia either. Perhaps she clings to him because no one else can share or understand her pain. Or perhaps because he, at least, believes her. He knows she didn_t kill their baby. Even her mother suspected her until the onesie arrived in the mail. She_s sure of it. They go to bed and lie awake for a long time. Finally Marco gives in to a troubled sleep. But Anne is too agitated for sleep to come. Eventually she gets out of bed, goes downstairs, and roams the house, growing increasingly restless. She begins combing the house, but she doesn_t know what she_s looking for and gets more and more upset. She is moving and thinking faster and faster. She_s looking for something that incriminates her unfaithful husband, but she is also looking for her baby. She feels lines blurring. Her thoughts speed up and become less rational; her mind makes fantastic leaps. It_s not that things don_t make sense to her when she_s like this_sometimes they make more sense. They make sense the way dreams do. It_s only when the dream is over that you see how odd it all was, how it actually didn_t make sense at all. She hasn_t found any letters, or any e-mails from Cynthia on Marco_s laptop, or strange women_s underwear in the house. She hasn_t found any receipts for hotel rooms or hidden matchbooks from bars. She_s found some worrying financial information, but that doesn_t interest her right now. She wants to know what_s going on between Marco and Cynthia and what that has to do with Cora_s disappearance. Did Cynthia take Cora? The more Anne turns this over in her mind in her frenzied state, the more it seems to make sense to her. Cynthia dislikes children. Cynthia is the kind of person who would harm a child. She is cold. And she doesn_t like Anne anymore. She wants to hurt her. Cynthia wants to take Anne_s husband and her child away and see what that does to her, because she can. Eventually Anne works herself into an exhausted stupor and falls asleep on the sofa in the living room. _ _ _ The next morning, early, she wakes and showers before Marco realizes she_s spent the night on the sofa. She pulls on black leggings and a tunic as if in a trance, filled with dread. She feels paralyzed when she thinks of the police, of being interrogated by Rasbach again. He has no idea where their baby is, but he seems to think that they do. He asked her yesterday, after taking Marco_s statement, to come in this morning. She doesn_t want to go. She doesn_t know why he wants to talk to her again. What_s to be gained from going through the same things over and over? From his place in the bed, propped up against the pillows, Marco watches her getting dressed, his face expressionless. _Do I have to go?_ she asks him. She would avoid it if she could. She doesn_t know what her rights are. Should she refuse? _I don_t think you have to,_ Marco says. _I don_t know. Maybe it_s time we spoke to a lawyer._ _But that will look bad,_ Anne says worriedly. _Won_t it?_ _I don_t know,_ Marco says tonelessly. _We look bad already._ She approaches the bed, looks down at him. Seeing him like this, so plainly wretched, would break her heart if it weren_t broken already. _Maybe I should speak to my parents. They could get us a good lawyer. Although it seems ridiculous to think we even need one._ _It might be a good idea,_ Marco says uneasily. _Like I told you last night, Rasbach still seems to suspect us. He seems to believe we staged the whole thing._ _How can he think that now_after yesterday?_ Anne asks, her voice becoming agitated. _Why would he? Just because there was a car going down the lane at the same time you checked on Cora?_ _That seems to be the gist of it._ _I_ll go in,_ Anne says finally. _He wants me there for ten o_clock._ Marco nods tiredly. _I_ll come with you._ _You don_t have to,_ Anne says, without conviction. _I could call my mother._ _Of course I_ll come. You can_t face that mob out there alone. Let me put some clothes on, and I_ll take you,_ Marco says, getting out of bed. Anne watches him walk to his dresser in his boxers. How much thinner he looks_she can see the outline of his ribs. She is grateful that he_s coming to the station with her. She doesn_t want to call her mother, and she doesn_t think she can do this on her own. Also, she thinks it_s important that she and Marco be seen together, to appear united. There are more reporters outside their house again now after yesterday_s fiasco. Anne and Marco have to fight them off to get to their cab_the police have the Audi for the time being_and there are no police officers here to help them. Finally they make it to the taxi on the street. Once inside the car, Anne quickly locks the doors. She feels trapped_all those jabbering faces crowding in on them through the windows. She recoils but stares back at them. Marco swears under his breath. Anne looks silently out the window as the mob falls away. She can_t understand how the reporters can be so cruel. Are none of them parents? Can they not imagine, for one moment, what it_s like not knowing where your baby is? To lie awake at night missing your child, seeing her little body, still, dead, behind your closed eyelids? They head downtown along the river until they reach the police station. As soon as Anne sees the building, she feels herself tensing up inside. She wants to run away. But Marco is beside her. He helps her out of the cab and into the station, his hand on her elbow. As they wait at the front desk, Marco speaks quietly into her ear. _It_s all right. They may try to rattle you, but you know we haven_t done anything wrong. I_ll be out here waiting for you._ He gives her a small, encouraging smile. She nods at him. He rests his hands gently on her shoulders, looks into her eyes. _They might try to turn us against each other, Anne. They may say things about me, bad things._ _What bad things?_ He shrugs, averts his eyes. _I don_t know. Just be careful. Don_t let them get to you._ She nods, but she is more worried now, not less. At that moment Detective Rasbach approaches them. He doesn_t smile. _Thank you for coming. This way, please._ He leads Anne to a different interview room this time, the one they_ve been using for Marco. They leave Marco alone in the waiting area. Anne stops at the door of the interview room and turns to look back at him. He smiles at her, a nervous smile. She goes in. TWENTY A nne sits down in the seat offered to her. As she sinks into it, she can feel her knees give way. Jennings offers her a cup of coffee, but she shakes her head no, because she doesn_t trust herself not to spill it. She is more anxious this time than the last time she was interviewed. She wonders about the police, why they_re so suspicious of her and Marco. If anything, the police should be less suspicious of them after they received the onesie in the mail, and after the money had been taken. Obviously, someone else has their baby. The detectives take their seats across from her. _I_m so sorry,_ Detective Rasbach begins, _about yesterday._ She says nothing. Her mouth is dry. She clasps her hands in her lap. _Please relax,_ Rasbach says gently. She nods nervously, but she cannot relax. She doesn_t trust him. _I just have a few questions, about what happened yesterday,_ he tells her. She nods again, licks her lips. _Why didn_t you call us when you got the package in the mail?_ the detective asks. His tone is friendly enough. _We thought it was too risky,_ Anne says. Her voice is unsteady. She clears her throat. _The note said no police._ She reaches for the bottle of water that has been placed on the table for her. She fumbles with the cap. Her hand is shaking slightly as she moves the bottle to her lips. _Is that what you thought?_ Rasbach asks. _Or is that what Marco thought?_ _We both thought so._ _Why did you handle the onesie so much? Any evidence it might have offered us has been contaminated, unfortunately._ _Yes, I know, I_m sorry. I wasn_t thinking. I could smell Cora on it, so I carried it around with me, to have her near me._ She begins to cry. _It brought her back to me. It was like I could almost pretend she was in her crib, sleeping. That none of this ever happened._ Rasbach nods and says, _I understand. We_ll run whatever tests we can on the garment and the note._ _You think she_s dead, don_t you?_ Anne says woodenly, looking him directly in the eye. Rasbach returns her look. _I don_t know. She may still be alive. We will not stop searching for her._ Anne takes a tissue from the box on the table and presses it against her eyes. _I_ve been wondering,_ Rasbach says, leaning back casually in his chair, _about your babysitter._ _Our babysitter? Why?_ Anne asks, startled. _She didn_t even come that night._ _I know. I_m just curious. Is she a good babysitter?_ Anne shrugs, not knowing where this is going. _She_s good with Cora. She obviously likes babies_and a lot of girls don_t really. They just babysit for the money._ She thinks about Katerina. _She_s usually reliable. You can_t blame her that her grandmother died. Although_if only she hadn_t, we might still have Cora._ _Let me ask you this: If someone wanted to know whether you_d recommend her, would you?_ Rasbach asks. Anne bites her lip. _No, I don_t think so. She tends to fall asleep with her earbuds in, listening to music. When we get home, we have to wake her. So no, I wouldn_t recommend her._ Rasbach nods, makes a note. Then he looks up and says, _Tell me about your husband._ _What about my husband?_ _What kind of man is he?_ _He_s a good man,_ Anne says firmly, sitting up straighter in her chair. _He_s loving and kind. He_s smart and thoughtful and hardworking._ She pauses, then says in a rush, _He_s the best thing that ever happened to me, other than Cora._ _Is he a good provider?_ _Yes._ _Why do you say that?_ _Because it_s true,_ Anne snaps. _But isn_t it also true that it was your parents who set your husband up in business? And you told me yourself that your parents paid for your house._ _Just a minute,_ Anne says. _My parents did not _set my husband up in business,_ as you put it. Marco has degrees in computer science and business. He started his own company, and he was very successful on his own. My parents just invested in it, later on. He was already doing very well. You can_t fault Marco as a businessman._ Even as she says this, Anne is faintly aware of the financial information she came across on Marco_s computer the other day. She hadn_t looked deeply into it at the time, and she hasn_t asked Marco about it; now she wonders if she_s just lied to the police. _Do you believe your husband is honest with you?_ Anne blushes. And then hates it that she_s given herself away. She takes her time answering. _Yes. I believe he is honest with me__she falters__most of the time._ _Most of the time? Shouldn_t honesty be an _all of the time_ thing?_ Rasbach asks, leaning forward slightly. _I heard you,_ Anne confesses suddenly. _The night after the kidnapping. I was at the top of the stairs. I heard you accusing Marco of making out with Cynthia. She said Marco came on to her, and he denied it._ _I_m sorry, I wasn_t aware that you were listening._ _I_m sorry, too. I wish I didn_t know about it._ She looks down at her hands in her lap, clutching the bunched-up tissue. _Do you think he made sexual advances toward Cynthia, or do you think it was the other way around, as Marco says?_ Anne twists the tissue in her hands. _I don_t know. They_re both at fault._ She looks up at him. _I_ll never forgive either one of them,_ she says rashly. _Let_s go back,_ Rasbach prompts. _You say your husband is a good provider. Does he share with you how his business is doing?_ She shreds the tissue into small pieces. _I haven_t taken a lot of interest in the business these days,_ Anne says. _I_ve been absorbed with the baby._ _He hasn_t been telling you how the business is going?_ _Not recently, no._ _Don_t you think that_s a bit odd?_ Rasbach asks. _Not at all,_ Anne says, thinking as she does that it is odd. _I_ve been really busy with the baby._ Her voice breaks. _The tire tracks in your garage_they don_t match your car,_ Rasbach says. _Someone used your garage shortly before the kidnapping. You saw the baby in her crib at midnight. Marco was in your house with the baby at twelve thirty. We have a witness who saw a car driving down the lane away from the direction of your garage at twelve thirty-five a.m. There_s no evidence that anyone else was inside the house or yard. Perhaps at twelve thirty Marco took the baby out to an accomplice who was waiting in a car in your garage._ _That_s ridiculous!_ Anne says, her voice rising. _Do you have any idea who that accomplice might be?_ Rasbach persists. _You_re wrong,_ Anne says. _Am I?_ _Yes. Marco didn_t take Cora._ _Let me tell you something,_ Rasbach says, leaning forward. _Your husband_s business is in trouble. Deep trouble._ Anne feels herself go paler. _It is?_ she says. _I_m afraid so._ _To be honest, Detective, I don_t really care if the business is in trouble. Our baby is gone. What does either of us care now about money?_ _It_s just that . . ._ Rasbach pauses, as if changing his mind about what he_s going to say. He looks at Jennings. _What?_ Anne glances nervously back and forth between the two detectives. _It_s just that I see things in your husband that you may not see,_ Rasbach says. Anne does not want to take the bait. But the detective waits, letting the silence expand. She has no choice. _Like what?_ Rasbach asks, _Don_t you think it_s a bit manipulative of him not to be honest with you about the business?_ _No, not if I didn_t show any interest. He was probably trying to protect me, because I_ve been depressed._ Rasbach says nothing, just regards her with his sharp blue eyes. _Marco is not manipulative,_ Anne insists. _What about the relationship between Marco and your parents? Marco and your father?_ Rasbach says. _I told you, they don_t like each other. They tolerate each other, for me. But that_s my parents_ fault. No matter what Marco does, it_s never good enough. I could have married anyone, and it would have been the same._ _Why do you think that is?_ _I don_t know. That_s just the way they are. They_re overprotective and hard to please. Maybe it_s because I_m an only child._ She has reduced the tissue in her lap to crumbs. _Anyway, it doesn_t matter about the business, not really. My parents have a lot of money. They could always help us if we needed it._ _But would they?_ _Of course they would. All I_d have to do is ask. My parents have never denied me anything. They came up with five million dollars just like that for Cora._ _Yes, they did._ The detective pauses, then says, _I tried to see Dr. Lumsden, but apparently she_s away._ Anne feels the blood drain from her face but forces herself to sit up straight. She knows he can_t have talked to Dr. Lumsden. Even after she returns, there is no way Dr. Lumsden will talk to the detective about her. _She won_t tell you anything about me,_ Anne says. _She can_t. She_s my doctor, and you know it. Why are you toying with me this way?_ _You_re right. I can_t get your doctor to breach doctor-patient privilege._ Anne leans back in her chair and gives the detective an annoyed look. _Is there anything you_d like to tell me, though?_ the detective asks. _Why would I talk to you about my sessions with my psychiatrist? It_s none of your goddamned business,_ Anne says bitterly. _I have mild postpartum depression like lots of other new mothers. It doesn_t mean I harmed my baby. I want nothing more than to get her back._ _I can_t help thinking it_s possible that Marco might have had the baby taken away to cover up for you, if you killed her._ _That_s crazy! Then how do you explain our getting the onesie in the mail and the ransom money being taken?_ _Marco might have faked the kidnapping, after the baby was already dead. And the empty car seat, the hit on the head_maybe that was all for show._ She gives him a disbelieving stare. _That_s absurd. And I did not harm my baby, Detective._ Rasbach fiddles with his pen, watching her. _I had your mother in for an interview earlier this morning._ Anne feels the room begin to spin. TWENTY-ONE R asbach watches Anne carefully, fears she might faint. He waits while she reaches for the bottle of water, waits for her color to return. There is nothing he can do about the psychiatrist. His hands are tied. He hadn_t gotten any further with the mother, but Anne is obviously afraid that she_d said something. Rasbach is pretty sure he knows what she_s afraid of. _What do you think your mother told me?_ Rasbach asks. _I don_t think she told you anything,_ Anne says sharply. _There_s nothing to tell._ He considers her for a few moments. Thinks how different she is from her mother_a very composed woman, busy with her social committees and charities and much more canny than her daughter. Certainly less emotional, with a clearer head. Alice Dries had come into the interview room, smiled icily, stated her name, and then told him she had nothing to say to him. It was a very short interview. _She didn_t tell me she was coming in this morning,_ Anne says. _Didn_t she?_ _What did she say?_ Anne asks. _You_re right, she didn_t say anything,_ Rasbach admits. Anne smiles for the first time in the interview, but it_s a bitter smile. _I have, however, spoken to one of your old schoolmates. A Janice Foegle._ Anne goes completely still, like an animal in the wild sensing a predator. Then she stands up abruptly, her chair scraping the floor behind her, taking Rasbach and Jennings by surprise. _I have nothing more to say,_ she tells them. Anne joins Marco in the lobby. Marco notices her distress, and puts his arm protectively around her. Anne can feel Rasbach_s eyes on them, watching as they leave. She says nothing as she and Marco walk out of the station. Once they_re on the street and hailing a cab, she says, _I think it_s time we got a lawyer._ _ _ _ Rasbach is putting pressure on them, and it doesn_t look as if he_s going to let up. It has come to the point that even though they haven_t been charged, they know they_re being treated like suspects. Marco is anxious about what happened in the interview between Anne and Detective Rasbach. There was panic in her eyes when she came out. Something in that interview had rattled her enough to make her want to get a lawyer as soon as possible. He tried to find out what it was, but she was vague, evasive. What is she not telling him? It_s putting him even more on edge. When they arrive home and have fought their way past the reporters into the house, Anne suggests they invite her parents over to discuss hiring a lawyer. _Why do we need to have your parents over?_ Marco says. _We can find a lawyer without their help._ _A good lawyer will expect a hefty retainer,_ Anne points out. Marco shrugs, and she calls her parents. Richard and Alice arrive soon after. It comes as no great surprise that they_ve already been looking into the best lawyers money can buy. _I_m sorry it_s come to this, Anne,_ her father says. They are sitting around the kitchen table, the early-afternoon sunlight slanting through the kitchen window and falling across the wooden table. Anne has made a pot of coffee. _We think it_s a good idea to get a lawyer, too,_ Alice says. _You can_t trust the police._ Anne looks at her. _Why didn_t you tell me they had you in for questioning this morning?_ _There was no need, and I didn_t want to worry you,_ Alice says, reaching out and patting Anne_s hand. _All I told them was my name, and that I had nothing to say. I_m not going to let them push me around,_ she says. _I was only in there for about five minutes._ _They questioned me, too,_ Richard says. _They didn_t get anything from me either._ He turns his eyes on Marco. _I mean, what can I possibly tell them?_ Marco feels a jolt of fear. He doesn_t trust Richard. But would Richard say anything to the police to stab him in the back? Richard tells Anne, _They haven_t charged you with anything, and I don_t think they will_I don_t see how they can. But I agree with your mother_if you_re represented by a top defense lawyer, maybe they_ll stop pushing you around and calling you in for questioning all the time and start focusing on who really took Cora._ Throughout this entire meeting at the kitchen table, Richard has been colder than usual to Marco. Richard barely looks at him. They have all noticed it. No one has made more careful note of it than Marco. How stoic he_s being, Marco thinks, about my losing their five million dollars. He hasn_t mentioned it once. He doesn_t have to. But Marco knows what Richard is thinking: My useless son-in-law screwed up again. Marco imagines Richard sitting around in the lounge at the country club, drinking expensive liquor, telling his rich friends all about it. About what a fuckup his son-in-law is. How Richard has lost his beloved only grandchild and five million of his hard-earned dollars, all because of Marco. And what_s worse, Marco knows that this time it_s true. _In fact,_ Richard says, _we_ve taken the liberty of putting one on retainer, as of this morning._ _Who?_ Anne asks. _Aubrey West._ Marco looks up, clearly unhappy. _Really?_ _He_s one of the best goddamned criminal lawyers in the country,_ Richard says, his voice rising a notch. _And we_re paying. Do you have a problem with that?_ Anne is looking at Marco, pleading with him silently to let it go, to accept the gift. _Maybe,_ Marco says. _What_s wrong with having the best lawyer we can get?_ Anne asks. _Don_t worry about the money, Marco._ Marco says, _It_s not the expense I_m worried about. It just looks like overkill to me. Like we_re guilty and we need a lawyer who_s famous for big, high-profile murder cases. Doesn_t that lump us in with his other clients? Make us look bad?_ There_s silence around the table as they consider this. Anne looks worried. She hadn_t thought of it that way. _He gets a lot of guilty people off_so what? That_s his job,_ Richard counters. _What do you mean by that?_ Marco says, slightly menacing. Anne looks like she_s going to be sick. _Do you think we did this?_ _Don_t be absurd,_ Richard says, reddening. _I_m just being practical here. You might as well avail yourself of the best lawyer you can get. The police aren_t doing you any favors._ _Of course we don_t think you had anything to do with Cora_s disappearance,_ Alice says, looking at her husband instead of either of them. _But you_re being vilified in the press. This lawyer may be able to put a stop to that. And I think you_re being persecuted by the police, who haven_t charged you and keep bringing you in under the guise of voluntary questioning_it_s got to stop. It_s harassment._ Richard adds, _The police haven_t got anything on you, so maybe they_ll start to back off. But he_s there if you need him._ Anne turns to Marco. _I think we should keep him._ _Fine,_ Marco says. _Whatever._ _ _ _ Cynthia and Graham have been arguing for days. It_s been a week since the fateful dinner party, and they_re still arguing. Graham wants to do nothing, pretend the video doesn_t exist or, better yet, destroy it. It_s the safest thing to do. Yet he_s troubled, because he knows the right thing to do is to go to the police with the video. But it_s not legal to film people having sex without their knowledge, and that_s what they_ve been doing. The video shows Cynthia on Marco_s lap, and they_re enjoying themselves. If Graham and Cynthia were charged, it would be catastrophic to his career. He_s a comptroller for a very large, very conservative company. If this gets out, his career would be finished. Cynthia isn_t interested in doing what_s right. What matters to her is that the video shows Marco going into his house at 12:31 a.m. the night of the kidnapping and coming out the back door of his house at 12:33 a.m., carrying the baby in his arms and into the garage. He_s in the garage for about a minute, and then he comes back into view and into the Stillwells_ yard. Shortly after that the soft-core porn starts. Graham was horrified that the man had taken his own child, but he_d been indecisive, he_d dithered. He wanted to do the right thing, but he didn_t want to get into trouble. And now it is too late to approach the police. They would ask why it had taken them so long. He and Cynthia would be in even deeper trouble than they would have been for simply using a hidden camera to secretly film sex acts_they could now be charged with hiding evidence in a kidnapping or obstructing the law or something. So Graham wants to pretend that the video doesn_t exist. He wants to destroy it. Cynthia has reasons of her own not to go to the police with the video. She has something on Marco, and it_s got to be worth something. She will tell Marco about the video. She is sure that he will pay her handsomely for it. No need to mention it to Graham. It_s a heartless thing to do, but what kind of man kidnaps his own child? He has it coming.

  • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days /  .   (by Jeff Kinney, 2010) -   The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog
  • Toy Story 3 /   3 (Disney, 2012)    Toy Story 3 /
  • The Wheel of Time /   (Robert Jordan) -   The Wheel of Time /

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