I was feeling grubby. I had not showered for two days, and the only sleep I had had in those days was a much broken nap on last night’s train.
I sat on the arm of the sofa. If I sank into its overstuffed embrace, I might never get up again. The blonde gestured toward the bar and said, “You want a drink?” I probably looked like I needed one.
“Do you have coffee?”
He spoke into the phone briefly, paused to look at me and asked, “Food, too?” I nodded.
Then I waited.
A couple of minutes later, the phone rang. The blonde answered, covered the receiver, and shouted, “Senator? California.” Daniel Cabral came out of the back room to take the call.
His white shirt was open at the neck and his necktie hung loosely. He was lean and athletic, about five ten with black hair swept back, and blow dried. Dark skinned, of course, but not so dark as many Mexican-Americans. More cafe-au-lait, like Raven. I knew he was over fifty, but I would have guessed his age at ten years younger.
While he talked, I revised my first impression of the blonde. He was no hired bodyguard. His attention was on the wrong things. He was a partner of some kind.
Room service came. I took coffee with sugar and cream, wolfed a croissant and began to nibble on a second. Finally the senator finished his phone call and turned to me. He had a politician’s handshake, a quick and vigorous double pump. Take command, impress, release, and be ready for the next voter in line.
He sank into one of the chairs, regarding me. “I owe you a debt, it seems,” he said, “for saving my daughter’s life. But it also seems that you took her into new danger and then abandoned her.”
“No? Explain, please.”
“I took her out of danger, and was protecting her by keeping her hidden when she abandoned me.”
“Why what? Why did I take her away, or why did she abandon me?”
I sighed. The tension of the last days was draining away, leaving me numb. How to explain a relationship that I did not understand myself? Simply would be best. Tell the core and let the details follow.
“I took her with me because I loved her, and she finally left me because she did not love me. Or at least, not enough to tolerate my feelings for her.”
Cabral’s eyes were riveted on me, but now there was some sympathy in them. And some old pain. “In what manner, exactly,” he asked, clipping off the words, “did she abandon you?”
“I woke up one morning to find her gone.”
The eyes never wavered. He said, “Go on.”
“She is my daughter, Mr. Gunn. I know her well. Tell the rest.”
“She was gone with another man named Eric Sangøy.”
Cabral closed his eyes then and sighed. Then he opened them again and made a pushing-away gesture. Set that aside. He said, “According to what you told Mr. Hayden, this happened thirteen days ago.”
“That seems right. I’d have to count up the days to be sure. I’ve been searching for her since then.”
“With some female who claims to be my secretary? That’s what Hayden said.”
“She called herself Susyn Fletcher.”
Cabral slowly shook his head. “I don’t know her.” more tomorrow