Sylvie sat huddled in the back seat, sobbing inconsolably.  She frantically looked out the window.  The forest sped past at a dizzying pace, a mottle of undulating greens and browns, punctuated by splotches of yellow sunlight.  She was leaving.  He was sending her away.  Throwing her out like yesterday’s garbage.

He’d been sequestered in the conference room all yesterday afternoon with the detectives.  She could hear them arguing from her office.  She’d toyed with the idea of switching on the intercom and listening in to what was being said, but in the end had chickened out.  She feared it might be against the law to eavesdrop on an ongoing criminal investigation.  She heard them leave at about seven o’clock.  When she finally got up the nerve to go looking for Connor, he was nowhere to be found.  At first she was worried that they might have arrested him.  But Brady assured her that they hadn’t.  She was told he’d gone out for a drive to clear his head.  But that was unlike him.  Connor was a workaholic.  Most times you couldn’t pry him loose from his desk with a crowbar.  He wasn’t in the habit of taking off and not telling his staff where he was going.

Sylvie had texted him twenty times last night.  She’d waited dinner for him until 10 PM.  But when he didn’t answer her texts or calls, starving, she finally gave up and ate alone.  When he hadn’t shown up by midnight she’d really begun to panic.  Imagining him bleeding to death in some ditch.  She was nearly hysterical at 1:00 AM when she confronted Brady and told him to turn on the ‘fucking’ GPS tracking device on the Maserati and find out ‘where the hell’ Connor was.  But Brady wouldn’t do it.  He insisted that ‘Mr. Hudson is incommunicado tonight and doesn’t want to be disturbed!’  It was nearly 4:00 AM when she finally fell asleep, but he still hadn’t come home.  At least he never came to bed.

She awoke at 9 AM to find Mrs. Cosgrove in Connor’s bedroom, pulling her clothes from the closets and emptying her things from the drawers.

That’s when her life became a shambles.  ‘What are you doing?’  Sylvie asked in alarm.

‘I’ve been told to pack up all your things.  You’re going to New York.’  The words were halting and uncertain, as though she was loathe to speak them.

Sylvie looked at her quizzically.  ‘What’s going on?’  This didn’t make any sense.  The first book in the trilogy was almost done.  Only two more chapters to go.  Hardly the best time to be taking a holiday.  Connor had bitched and moaned about letting work slide so they could attend her Dad’s wedding.  It seemed unlikely he’d put the book on hold now, at least not of his own volition.  She suspected this had something to do with the investigation.

‘I have no idea,’ Mrs. Cosgrove informed her.  ‘I just do what I’m told.’  There was a note of sadness in her voice.

‘When are we leaving?’

‘You’re leaving on the 1:40 train.’  Mrs. Cosgrove told her.

‘I don’t understand,’ Sylvie voiced her confusion and disbelief.  ‘Connor’s not going with me?  Seriously?’

She couldn’t even look at Sylvie, averting her eyes when she delivered the bad news.  ‘No.  Mr. Hudson isn’t going to New York.’

Sylvie couldn’t believe her ears.  She’d just stared at the woman in shock.  ‘Did I do something wrong?  Did I get fired?’

‘No, nothing like that,’ Mrs. Cosgrove tried to reassure her.  ‘I was told you’ll be working out of the New York office from now on.’

‘But why?’

‘I have no idea.  I was just told to make sure you were packed up and ready to go before noon.’

‘Who told you to do that?  Mr. Hudson?’ she asked, baffled as to why he’d do such a thing without even consulting her.

Mrs. Cosgrove nodded.

‘Well, we’ll just see about that!’  Sylvie was incensed.  She didn’t appreciate being cast aside like this.  The more she thought about it, the angrier she got.  Who did he think he was?  She wasn’t a piece on a chess board he could move around at will?  He was kicking her out and he didn’t even have the balls to tell her himself?  She grabbed her cell off the nightstand and pecked in a number.  She sat fidgeting while it rang and rang before switching over to his voicemail.  Damn him!  She redialed with the same results.  Refusing to give up, she sent him a text: ‘What the fuck is going on?  I need to talk to you ASAP.’  She waited, but there was no answer.  Why wasn’t he responding?  ‘Where the hell is he?’ she screeched, turning on Mrs. Cosgrove in a rage.  ‘I’ve been calling and texting him all night.  I was out of my mind with worry wondering where he was.  If he was alive or dead.  I had visions of him driving through the mountains like a maniac, taking hairpin turns at breakneck speed, and winding up broken and bleeding at the bottom of some ravine.  I was frantic and he didn’t even have the courtesy to respond to my texts.  And now I find out that he called you and told you to tell me I have to move out?  He doesn’t even have the decency to do it himself?  Did he at least tell you how long I’m supposed to be away?  Did he tell you that?’

Mrs. Cosgrove shook her head looking mortified.  ‘I have no idea,’ she apologized.  ‘I was stunned when he called.  This is so unlike Mr. Hudson.’

‘Since when has being an asshole been out of character for Connor Hudson?’ she asked disdainfully.  ‘Is he breaking up with me?’ she demanded to know, tears welling up in her eyes.  ‘Is that what he’s doing?’

Mrs. Cosgrove took a deep breath, then looking at the distraught girl answered.  ‘I don’t know Sylvie.  I just don’t know.’

Sylvie felt helpless, unable to get her bearings.

Stipes packed up her office things.  He put her work laptop, thumb drives, external hard drive, her iPhone, Android, and all their assorted paraphernalia in an expensive looking leather shoulder bag.  He put her ereader and personal laptop in there as well.

At 11:50 AM when Brady started loading up the car, Sylvie confronted him again.  She refused to leave unless she talked to Connor.  Short of picking her up and bodily throwing her into the car by force, he had no choice.  Brady walked a short distance away and dialed a number.  She watched him intently.  The ensuing conversation appeared both animated and heated.  Brady kept shaking his head and clenching his jaw.  He looked angry and embarrassed as his eyes darted to Sylvie again and again.  A minute later, looking resigned; he strode over to her and held the phone to her ear.  The voice on the other end was definitely Connor’s.  Before she could open her mouth to speak, she heard the words that would bring her world crashing down around her shoulders.  ‘Get her the hell out of here!’ he yelled.  Then the line went dead.

Sylvie stared at the phone in disbelief.  What had come over him?  How could he do this to her?  She loved him!

She was distraught, dazed, and disoriented as Brady and Stipes helped her into the car.  As the Bentley pulled away from the house Sylvie began sobbing.

She’d spent the hour and a half it took to reach Westport trying to figure out what she’d done wrong.  Why he wanted to get rid of her.  Did he think she was disloyal?  That she’d believed the awful things the policemen had accused him off?  Because she didn’t!  She couldn’t!  Connor might be a callous bastard at times, but he wasn’t a murderer.  She could never believe that of him.  He was a victim in this just like those women were, just like his parents.  If it wasn’t that, then what?

Connor was a man of secrets.  He shied away from any questions about his past.  Perhaps he didn’t want his life laid bare, especially not to Sylvie.

She sensed from the way he spoke about the victims that Connor had deep feelings for Marisol, Tara, Callie, and Ariel.  Had remembering them, remembering all they’d shared, all they’d meant to him, made him realize he could never feel that way about Sylvie?  Had he compared her to his former lovers and found her wanting?

Her heart was breaking!

She started when the car came to an abrupt stop in front of the train station.  They were here.

She tried to wipe the tears away as Stipes helped her out of the car.  She caught a glimpse of herself in the side mirror.  She was a mess.  Her eyes were red and puffy.  Her mascara had smudged from all the crying, making her look like a sad, pink-eyed raccoon.  Her nose was swollen and dripping snot.  How humiliating!

Brady grabbed her luggage from the trunk just as the train pulled into the station.

Shaking, she stumbled along behind them as they led her to the last car in the train.  Stipes steadied her as he helped her up the stairs and into the nearly empty car.  There were only four people in the car.  All men.  Two were in their thirties and casually dressed.  One had steel gray hair and was wearing a suit.  The one at the front of the car she couldn’t see that well.  All she saw was the backward facing baseball cap.  He was very tall, just like the rest of them.  Sylvie tried to take a seat at the back of the train, but Stipes steered her to one in the middle of the car.  Brady put her suitcases and laptops in the overhead rack above her seat, then handed her an envelope with her ticket.  There was an awkward silence as she looked around the car, her bottom lip trembling.  She was trying to control herself, but she couldn’t.  The tears sprang from her eyes in a torrent of pain and anguish.

She grabbed Brady’s hand as though reaching for a lifeline.  But nothing could save her; she was being cast aside.  Confused and afraid, her world falling apart, she clutched at his hand, eyes desperate as she looked up into his.  ‘Where do I go?  What do I do?’

He felt like a cad for his part in this.  He looked sheepish as he tried to reassure her.  ‘There’ll be somebody meeting you at Penn Station to take you to the apartment.  You’ll be fine.’

Sylvie nodded, but she didn’t believe him.  Not for a minute.

The conductor yelled ‘All aboard!’ and Brady and Stipes quickly exited the car.  Only to reappear outside her window.  She gave them a doleful, half-hearted wave as the train pulled away from the station.  Then she buried her face in her hands and began weeping.  She didn’t catch the looks and nods exchanged between Brady and the men on the train.  She lifted her head to take a last look at the station.  This was where it had all begun; and sadly, this was where it was ending.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode