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   Chapter 48 No.48

My Sister's Keeper By Bill Benners Characters: 12127

Updated: 2018-05-28 11:26


A MISTY RAIN WAS FALLING as Ashleigh crossed from the parking garage to the lobby of Duke Medical Center in Durham. A clock high on a wall read 7:39 a.m. Collapsing her umbrella, she stepped to the main information desk where an elderly woman stared at a computer monitor.

"Could you tell me which room David Matthews is in, please?" Ashleigh asked.

Leaning forward, the woman clicked a few keys on her keyboard and squinted at the monitor. "Let's see… Hmm. Is he a patient here?"

"He was in surgery all day yesterday."

"Matthews…Matthews…Okay, here he is. Are you family?"

"Sister."

"Well, he spent the night in Intensive Care, but he's being moved to another room right now and I don't have that number yet. Give me your name and I'll page you when I have it."

"How long is that going to take?"

"I don't know, honey. Usually not more than half an hour. I'll keep checking and will call for you when I get it."

Ashleigh gave the woman her name and stepped into the almost-empty waiting room. Picking up a recent issue of People Magazine, she settled into a padded chair. A TV on the wall above her softly chattered with Good Morning America. During the next fifteen minutes, visitors began lining up for passes and the waiting room filled with spouses, parents, and noisy children. As two women across from Ashleigh exchanged graphic details of their recent hysterectomies, a well-mannered, well-groomed eight-year-old boy sitting next to the women, placed his feet together on the floor, folded his hands in his lap, and stared at Ashleigh. Ashleigh checked the time and turned her attention back to the magazine.

"Look, Mama, " the well-manner boy whispered loudly. "It's the woman on TV." Ashleigh felt a change in the mood around her. Looking up, she realized that the entire section was staring at her. On another TV screen across the room she saw her own driver's license photograph.

"Miss Matthews, " the receptionist called.

Ashleigh dropped the magazine in the seat next to hers, rose, and marched quickly out the front door slapping her sunglasses on as she left the building. Outside, she raised the umbrella and ran through the light rain toward the parking garage.

AS THE SOFT GRAY LIGHT of a rainy morning filtered into Martha's bedroom, Sydney opened her eyes and gazed into mine. I brushed a lock of hair off her forehead. "Good morning."

She smiled and tucked her face a bit lower into the covers. "Good morning."

"You look beautiful."

"Did we just spend our first night together?"

"Looks that way."

Sydney rose on an elbow. "I don't think I should be here when your mother comes down. Could you run me home?"

"Can I trust you to take my car and not wreck it?"

She smiled sheepishly. "What time do I need to be back?"

"I'll ride with Mom today if you'll promise to bring it back tonight."

She smiled. "Okay."

We kissed and just when things seemed headed toward a repeat of the night before, we heard mother stirring upstairs. Sydney jumped out of bed, dressed, took the keys to my car, and kissed me goodbye.

After she'd gone, the house felt hard and empty. My footsteps echoed off the walls and I became acutely aware of the pain in my swollen ankle as I limped upstairs to check on Mom. Through the door, I could hear her crying and it crushed my heart. I knocked twice, but after hearing no response opened the door ajar and looked in. Mom was seated at a window in her robe with her head down on a table. I pushed the door back and entered.

"You okay, Mom?"

She raised her head, covered her eyes with a hand, and sobbed. I dragged a stool

smiled. "That's—by far—the best sailboat he ever built."

"Is it?"

"Oh, yes. It is. And I should know. I take them all out for their maiden voyages and I took yours up the river a couple of Saturdays back. It handles like a dream. Best boat I ever sailed."

"That's good to know. I'm taking it out for my first run today."

"God, I'd love to go with you. I'd rather be sailing than anything." She leaned closer and whispered. "Especially this."

The fragrance of her perfume filled his head. "I know exactly what you mean, Miss Walker?"

She nudged him with her shoulder and winked. "You can call me Tiffany."

A thin smile cut across his face. "Tiffany. I like that. How old are you, Tiffany?"

"Old enough to handle that big toy of yours." She cut her eyes at him, flipped her hair back, and inserted the keys into a pair of locks high on the wall. His eyes roamed to her breasts then to the back of her skirt as she reached up with both hands, turned the keys together, and withdrew a large safety deposit box from its vault. "Hey, this is heavy, " she groaned. "What've you got in here? Gold bars?" He smiled in spite of the pain that shot up his left arm when the box pressed against an open wound under his sleeve. "Take your time, Mr. McGillikin. Just let me know when you're finished. And if you ever need anyone to crew with you, just give me a call."

"Thanks. I'll do that."

When she'd gone, he carried the box into a private chamber, set it next to his briefcase, and locked the door. From the box he removed three passports—each with his photograph, but a different name—a Beretta 9mm semi-automatic pistol with a silencer, a full box of ammunition, and close to two hundred thousand dollars in cash. He stuffed it all into his briefcase on top of a photograph of Ashleigh Matthews, the one person to have pulled one over on him—a score he intended to settle if it took him the rest of his life.

He locked the briefcase, signaled Tiffany that he'd finished, and crossed the street to another bank where he transferred $2 million dollars from his clients' trust accounts to an offshore account in the Cayman Islands along with several million more from his lucrative Internet porn business.

He returned to the first bank, asked Miss Walker if she'd like to join him on a year-long cruise to Central and South America, and waited as she grabbed her purse and walked out on her job.

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