“Where’s Lex?” Myron asked.
Muse folded her arms across her chest. “Are you really going to hold out on me?”
“It’s probably nothing. Is he with the baby?”
She frowned, waited.
“Plus I can’t say anything,” Myron said. “At least not right now.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m an attorney, Muse. I work for both Lex and Suzze.”
“You’re an agent.”
“I’m also an attorney.”
“Oh no. You’re not going to pull out your Harvard JD on me. Not now. Not after I let you come in here and see the body.”
“My hands are tied, Muse. I need to speak with my client.”
“Your client?” Muse got up in his face and pointed at Suzze’s corpse. “Go right ahead, but I’m not sure she’ll hear you.”
“Don’t be cute. Where’s Lex?”
“You were the one who suggested I may be looking at a homicide here,” Muse said. “So answer this for me: If indeed Suzze was murdered, who’s my prime suspect?”
Myron didn’t say anything. Muse cupped her hand around her ear. “I can’t hear you, big boy. Come on, you know the answer because in these cases it’s always the same: the husband. The husband is always the prime suspect. So what then, Myron? What if one of your clients killed another?”
Myron took one more glance down at Suzze. Dead. He felt so numb, as though his blood had stopped flowing. Suzze, dead. It was beyond his comprehension. He wanted to collapse now and pound on the floor and cry. He left the room and followed the signs for the nursery. Muse followed him.
“What were you saying about a Facebook post?” she asked.
“Not now, Muse.”
He followed the arrow left. The nursery was on the left. He turned and looked through the window. There was a line of six newborns in those rolling acrylic cribs, all wearing a baby beanie and swaddled in a white blanket with pink and aqua stripes. The newborns were lined up as if for inspection. They’d all been immediately catalogued with an index card, either blue or pink, with name and time of birth.
Divided off from the nursery by more Plexiglas was the neonatal intensive care unit. There was only one parent with one child in there now. Lex sat in a rocking chair, but the chair didn’t move. He wore a yellow smock. He cupped his son’s head with his left hand, cradling the child on his right forearm. Tears lined his face. For a long moment, Myron just stood and watched him. Muse joined him.
“What the hell is going on here, Myron?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“Do you have any idea what the media is going to be like on this?”
Like he cared. He started for the door. A nurse stopped him and made him wash his hands. Then she put a yellow surgical smock and matching mask on him. Myron pushed open the door with his back. Lex did not look up.
“I think we should talk.”
Lex finally looked up. His eyes were bloodshot. When he spoke now, his voice was soft. “I asked you to leave it alone, didn’t I?”
Silence. Later, Myron was sure, the words would sting. Later, when he settled down and tried to sleep, the guilt would reach into his chest and crush his heart like a Styrofoam cup. “I saw her tattoo,” Myron said. “It was in that post.”
He closed his eyes. “Suzze was the only woman I ever loved. And now she’s gone. I mean, forever. I will never see Suzze again. I will never hold her. This boy—your godson—will never know his mother.”
Myron said nothing. He felt a tremor start in his chest.
“We have to talk, Lex.”
“Not tonight.” His voice was surprisingly gentle now. “Tonight I just want to sit here and protect my son.”
“Protect him from what?”
He didn’t respond. Myron felt his phone buzz. He took a surreptitious glance and saw that the call was coming from his father. He stepped out of the room and put the phone to his ear. “Dad?”
“I heard about Suzze on the radio. Is it true?”
“Yes. I’m at the hospital now.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Thanks. I’m kind of busy here. . . .”
“When you’re done, do you think you could swing by the house?”
“Is something wrong?”
“I just need to talk to you about something,” Dad said. “Don’t worry how late. I’ll be awake.”
Before leaving the hospital, Myron played lawyer and warned Loren Muse not to speak to his client Lex Ryder without legal counsel. She responded that he should be fruitful and multiply, but not in those exact words. Win and Esperanza arrived. Win filled him in on his prison encounter with Frank Ache. Myron wasn’t sure what to make of it.
“Perhaps,” Win said, “we should meet with Herman Ache.”
“Perhaps,” Myron said, “we should meet with Gabriel Wire.” He turned to Esperanza. “Let’s also check on our favorite French teacher, see where Crush was at the time of Suzze’s death.”
“Okay,” Esperanza said.
“I can drive you home,” Win said.
But Myron shook him off. He needed the downtime. He needed to take a step back. Maybe Muse was right. Maybe it was a drug overdose. Last night, on that balcony overlooking Manhattan, all that talk about secrets, all that guilt about Kitty and the past—maybe it summoned up old demons. Maybe the answer would be as simple as that.
Myron got into his car and headed back to his home in Livingston. He called Dad to let him know that he was on his way. “Drive safely,” his father said. Myron hoped that maybe his father would offer up a clue about what they needed to discuss, but he didn’t. AM radio was already reporting the death of “former troubled tennis sensation Suzze T,” and Myron again wondered about the inept shortcutting of the media.
It was dark by the time Myron pulled up to his familiar abode. The light in the upstairs bedroom—the one he had shared with Brad when they were both very young—was on, and Myron looked up at it. He could see the outline of the long-faded Tot Finder sticker, something the Livingston Fire Department had handed out during the early Carter administration. The image on the sticker was dramatic, a brave fireman, his chin up, carrying a limp, long-haired child to safety. Now the room was a home office.