Promise Not to Tell(5)

By: Jayne Ann Krentz

On the surface his tone was devoid of all inflection. Anson wondered if Virginia heard the echoes of the nightmares that moved in the depths.

“And I remember you,” Virginia said. Her voice was equally neutral. “You were the one who told the rest of us to go low to avoid the smoke.”

Oh, yeah, Anson thought. She had sensed the bad stuff, all right. He could hear the same grim echoes in her words.

“I assume you’re here because of what happened that night,” Cabot said.

That was Cabot for you, Anson thought. He had the gift—or the curse, depending on your point of view—of being able to put a couple of stray facts together and add them up in a hurry.

“How did you know?” Virginia asked. Curious, but not surprised.

“No other reason you would show up now, after all this time,” Cabot said.

“No, I suppose not,” Virginia agreed. “I was just telling Mr. Salinas—”

“Anson,” Anson said.

She dipped her head slightly in acknowledgment of the invitation to use his first name.

“I was just telling Anson that my grandparents encouraged me to put the past behind me,” she said. “I have tried to do that.”

“Didn’t work, though, did it?” Cabot said.

Some people would have been offended by the observation. Virginia gave Cabot a wry smile.

“No,” she said. “Did it work for you?”

“No,” Cabot said. “Gave up trying a long time ago. Makes more sense to acknowledge the power at the core and channel it.”

Virginia studied him intently for a moment and then she nodded. “I see.”

“Don’t mind him,” Anson said. “He says things like that from time to time. It’s martial arts crap—I mean, philosophy.”

“Sort of like saying that ‘some things are best appreciated in their purest, most essential forms,’” Cabot said, deadpan.

Anson groaned. But Virginia did not miss a beat. To his amazement, a smile came and went in her cool green-and-gold eyes.

“I see that martial artists and art gallery owners have a few things in common,” she said. “We both get to say pretentious stuff that sounds way more insightful than it actually is.”

Cabot looked intrigued by the concept that they might have something in common. “Do you say pretentious stuff a lot?”

“Mostly just when I’m trying to sell some art. You?”

“Mostly just when I’m trying to sound like I’m a hotshot private investigator.”

Time to move on, Anson decided. He sat forward and clasped his hands on his desk. “Virginia owns an art gallery here in Seattle. She wants us to investigate the death of one of her artists who was living on an island in the San Juans. Says the local authorities are calling it suicide. She has her doubts.”

“What does this have to do with the past?” Cabot asked.

“If I’m right,” Virginia said, “if Hannah Brewster was murdered, then I think we have to consider the possibility that Quinton Zane is still alive.”


She had their full attention now.

Virginia watched the expressions on the men’s faces with a sense of relief. She had hoped that they would at least listen to her wild theory, but Anson Salinas and Cabot Sutter were doing a whole lot more than just hearing her out. They were one hundred percent focused, a couple of natural-born hunters who had just sensed prey. She reminded herself that they were both ex-cops.

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” she said, “but I have the impression that you’re not altogether surprised to hear me say that Zane might still be alive.”

“Anson and my brothers and I have never found hard proof that he’s dead,” Cabot said. “Until we get solid evidence, we’re working on the theory that he’s alive.”

“I don’t remember you having brothers at Zane’s compound,” she said.

This time Anson responded. “Max Cutler and Jack Lancaster. After the fire they didn’t have much in the way of family. They came to live with me. I did the foster parent thing.”

Paternal pride was infused in Anson’s voice.

“So I’ve got brothers,” Cabot said. “And a dad.”

“I understand,” Virginia said. “All of you have questioned Zane’s death?”

“Over the years we’ve chased down every rumor—every hint—that he might still be out there somewhere,” Cabot said, “but if he is, we’re almost certain he’s operating outside the country these days.”

“A few years ago there was a pyramid scheme in New York that looked like it had his fingerprints all over it,” Anson said. “But by the time it came to our attention, whoever was running the scam had vanished.”