Tired and sweaty from his three-mile run at dawn, Bannon walked the last hundred feet to his condo. The big tomcat waited for him at the door, sprawled across the mat, looking all smug and satisfied. â€œBack from your midnight wanderings, I see.â€ Bannon dug the key from his pocket and inserted it in the lock. â€œWho was she this time? The cute little calico on the next block or the fluffy white angora from Unit Nine?â€ At the click of the lock, Babaloo rose and stretched with a muscled ease that Bannon envied greatly at that moment. He gave the door an inward push and the cat strolled through the opening ahead of him. â€œWise cat.â€ Bannon followed him inside. â€œItâ€™s never smart to kiss and tell.â€ Crossing the kitchen, he threw a glance at the clock and stripped off his damp sweatshirt. He paused in the living room long enough to turn on the television and switch to the local news. Kelly Johns smiled back at him, her brown eyes gleaming with intelligence, the curving sweep of her blond hair brushing the top of her shoulders. Her ever-so-subtle tan gave her a healthylooking golden glow. â€œWeâ€™ll be right back with Ron and his forecast for this weekâ€™s weather.â€ Her voice had a well-mouthed tone, pitched neither too low nor too high. In short, it was perfect for television, like everything else about her. Bannon punched the Mute button and headed straight for the shower. By the time he shed the rest of his running clothes, the water was hot and he stepped under its pummeling jets, letting them beat the ache from his muscles. After about five minutes under the invigorating spray, he felt half-human again, killed the jets and toweled himself mostly dry, then used a corner of the cloth to wipe off the moisture steaming the mirror. He ran a skimming glance over his own reflection, absently noting the dark brown hair, hazel eyes, strong chin, and the crooked line of his nose from a previous break. A razor made short work of the dark stubble shadowing his lean cheeks. Finished, he splashed on some after-shave lotion and winced at its sting, then headed into the bedroom. He dressed less casually than usual for Kellyâ€™s benefit, pairing jeans and a crisp striped shirt with a camel sports jacket. With his cell phone, wallet, keys, and loose change stuffed in various pockets, Bannon backtracked to the living room. He verified the local news was still on, switched off the television, and headed for the door. Babaloo snaked outside first and trotted off. â€œNo â€˜have a great day,â€™ â€˜good luck,â€™ nothing?â€ Bannon challenged as he locked the door behind him. The tiger-striped cat spared him a look and issued an indifferent â€œMeow.â€ â€œSo glad you care,â€ Bannon murmured dryly and struck out for his car. After reversing out of the parking slot, he pulled onto the street and took aim on the downtown area. The first of the morning rush had just started, filling the lanes without slowing speed yet. His cell phone rang, drawing a half-smothered sigh of irritation from him. He slipped it from his pocket, noticed the caller ID was blocked, and flipped it open. â€œBannon,â€ he offered in clipped greeting. â€œRJ, itâ€™s Doris.â€ A car in the next lane honked impatiently at a less-than-alert driver slow to accelerate when the light turned green. â€œWhere are you?â€ â€œIn traffic. Canâ€™t you tell?â€ â€œI wasnâ€™t paying that much attention,â€ she admitted. â€œWhere are you going? Do you have a minute?â€ The anxious and slightly harried note in her voice warned Bannon that this conversation wasnâ€™t likely to be a short one. He started looking for a place to pull over. With the traffic thickening, he didnâ€™t want his attention divided. â€œI was on my way to Kellyâ€™s favorite espresso bar.â€ â€œDo you have a meeting with her?â€ â€œNot yet. . . .â€ He pulled into the lot of a combination gas station and quick mart. â€œYou mean you havenâ€™t talked to her? I thought youâ€™d call her last night.â€ â€œWhat is this? The second degree?â€ Bannon challenged, then muttered, â€œYou sound like my mother.â€ â€œWhat did you say? Iâ€™m sorry, I didnâ€™t catch that.â€ â€œI was just saying that I was busy with other things last night.â€ Namely, the Montgomery files. â€œYou obviously called me for a reason, Doris. What is it?â€ â€œIâ€”Iâ€™ve got a call coming in. Hang on. I have to take it.â€ For an eon of seconds he watched the vehicles rolling by on the street and waited until she came back on the line. â€œIâ€™m back. Are you there?â€ â€œStill here.â€ â€œThat was a friend of mine at the bank. Montgomery just filed the paperwork to have the monies held in trust for the reward revert to him.â€ â€œA friend, you say. Can you get her to refund my bounced check fees?â€ â€œNo, she canâ€™t, and I would never ask her. Now, be serious. We have something to talk about.â€ Bannon stifled another sigh. â€œWeâ€™ve already been over this. Montgomery funded the trust. Therefore, he can dissolve it.â€ â€œEven though his daughter was never officially declared dead?â€ â€œIâ€™m not a lawyer, so I donâ€™t know whether it matters that he never petitioned the courts to have her declared dead. My gut says that it probably doesnâ€™t.â€ â€œBut why is he doing it now, after all these years?â€ â€œWell, from what I read last night, I got the impression Montgomeryâ€™s had some financial difficulties. At the least, a cash flow problem.â€ He checked his watch. â€œLook, Iâ€™d love to go into it with you, Doris, but if Kelly sticks to her usual pattern, sheâ€™ll be popping into the espresso bar sometime between ten and twenty after. Iâ€™d like to be there ahead of her, which only gives me ten minutes.â€ â€œHow can you be sure sheâ€™ll even go there?â€ Doris protested. â€œI know youâ€™re trying to be subtle in your
approach, but you could have done it all with a phone call.â€ â€œMaybe so, but only an earth-shattering news story would stop Kelly from grabbing her morning jolt of java.â€ He shifted the car in reverse and glanced into the rearview mirror. â€œWeâ€™ll talk later.â€ As Bannon started to lower the cell phone, Doris shouted, â€œDonâ€™t hang up! I havenâ€™t told you the most important thing.â€ Something in her voice made him ask, â€œWhatâ€™s that?â€ â€œI found the master list for the files. The Montgomery evidence folder is gone.â€ Bannon frowned. â€œBut you said there wasnâ€™t one.â€ â€œRJ, I said there wasnâ€™t any evidence to speak of. But that doesnâ€™t mean there wasnâ€™t a file for it. There wasâ€”I mean there isâ€”and Hoebel signed it out. The question is, whatâ€™s in it?â€ â€œI see what youâ€™re getting at.â€ He nodded, considering this new wrinkle. â€œWhy would he do something like that, RJ?â€ â€œHow should I know?â€ A thought occurred to him. â€œDoes Hoebel know Montgomery?â€ Part of her reply dissolved in a crackle of static. â€œ. . . I was thinking the same thing . . . reopen the case.â€ He held the phone away from his ear, not sure if heâ€™d heard her right. What the hell was going on at headquarters? â€œDo you actually have some dirt on Hoebel? Mr. Rules and Regulations himself?â€ Bannon strained to hear her reply. â€œNo, but there has to be a connection. Get thisâ€”the Montgomery evidence file was the only old case that the chief signed out. All the others were current ones.â€ â€œInteresting,â€ Bannon said slowly. â€œThereâ€™s more. This missing one apparently has letters, along with fill-in-the-blank reports. Or so said the master list.â€ â€œBig deal.â€ Bannon shrugged it off. â€œKidnapping cases generate a ton of mail. Mostly from cranks.â€ â€œI know that. But the list specified a letter from someone calling herself Annâ€™s new mother, quote unquote, to Montgomery himself. So that got my attention.â€ New mother. The phrase opened up a whole other aspect to the case that he hadnâ€™t previously considered. â€œThere was never any ransom demand made, was there?â€ he recalled. â€œNot that I ever heard about, and there wasnâ€™t any mention of one in the evidence master list.â€ Subconsciously he must have registered the lack of reference to one, Bannon realized. Without it, he had automatically jumped to the assumption that the little girl had been taken by some perverted child molester. In those instances, a child rarely lived longer than a matter of days. But if she had been taken by someone seeking to fill a void in his or her own lifeâ€”for the first time Bannon thought there might be a real chance Ann Montgomery was still alive. â€œWas that letter dated, Doris?â€ â€œThe master list didnâ€™t say. But what with the chief signing out the file and not returning itâ€”and Montgomery trying to dissolve the trustâ€”well, I donâ€™t know about you but I want to know whatâ€™s in that letter.â€ â€œMe too.â€ â€œAnd I want to know why that file got sent to storage ahead of all the other Ms.â€ â€œIt may not be in storage, Doris.â€ It crossed his mind that it could be smoke wafting out of an incinerator by now. â€œIâ€™m going to call in sick and drive down to the warehouse where the first batch of cold case files were stored. I could be gone a couple of days.â€ â€œYouâ€™re running the risk that somebody there could call Hoebel,â€ Bannon warned. â€œIâ€™ve been to the place before. The staff sleeps sitting up when theyâ€™re not watching TV. Itâ€™s not like the files are trying to escape. In the meantime,â€ Doris added, â€œwe have to keep Montgomery on a short leash. The best way to do that is by going public. Heâ€™s less likely to grab back that two million dollars if he thinks it will make him look bad.â€ â€œAgreed. Thatâ€™s where Kelly comes in.â€ â€œ. . . Iâ€™m gone.â€ The connection was broken. With a smiling shake of his head, Bannon flipped the cell phone and returned it to his pocket. Seconds later he was back in the flow of traffic and headed for his â€œcoincidentalâ€ rendezvous with Kelly Johns. Due in no small part to the green lights that met him at every intersection, Bannon pulled into the espresso barâ€™s parking lot in eight minutes flat. As he stepped out of the car he caught the back view of a slender blonde in a belted lightweight coat and high heels just entering the coffee shop. Though he couldnâ€™t swear to it, he was certain it was Kelly Johns. Two steps inside the door and his suspicion was confirmed. It was Kelly there at the counter, standing in profile, still in television makeup, a pair of designer sunglasses resting atop her head. As luck would have it, there was no one in the line ahead of him and he walked up behind her. â€œLet me guess.â€ He peered over her left shoulder at the capped cup the attendant pushed across the counter toward her. â€œDouble shot latte with skim milk and drizzles of caramel.â€ She turned with a small start, her dark eyes lighting up with recognition at the sight of him. â€œBannon. This is a surprise. And more of a surprise that you remembered this.â€ She picked up the cup and gave it an indicating lift. â€œRemembering details is my business,â€ Bannon reminded her and ordered a regular coffee. â€œSometimes the seemingly minor ones turn out to be important.â€ â€œIâ€™d ask how you are, but you look so strong and fit, the answer seems obvious.â€ She waited next to him while his coffee was poured. â€œAre you back on duty?â€ â€œNot yet. Which is probably just as well since theyâ€™d more than likely restrict me to desk duty and Iâ€™d hate it.â€ With his coffee delivered, he gestured to an empty table. â€œDo you have time to sit and drink that?â€ After the smallest of hesitations, she smiled easily. â€œI can steal a few minutes.â€ â€œGood.â€ He guided her to the table. Once seated, she ran a thoughtful look over his face. â€œI donâ€™t know if anyone told you or not, but I went to the hospital to see you a day or two after the shooting. But at the time, they were only allowing immediate family members in to see you. I stopped again a week or so later, and youâ€™d already been released.â€ â€œIâ€™m sure someone mentioned it to me, but as drugged as I was, I donâ€™t even remember my family being there.â€
â€œI understand. Iâ€™m just glad that youâ€™ve fully recoveredâ€”or almost.â€ She meant that. Bannon could tell. And he also believed that she had come to see him back then out of genuine concern for his wellbeing. But he also knew sheâ€™d probably been hoping she could talk him into an exclusive interview. While wasting a couple of minutes on idle chitchat, Bannon acknowledged to himself that she was still beautiful, intelligent, and very easy to talk toâ€”all things that had originally drawn him to ask her out those many months ago. But when he compared her with Erin, even though he had just met her, Kelly came up lacking on many levels. It was an observation he wanted to explore. Then he caught her glance at her wristwatch and knew he was running out of time. â€œSo, what story are you heading off to track down this morning?â€ he asked, then held up a silencing hand. â€œIâ€™ll bet youâ€™re going to try to dig up a fresh angle on the Montgomery case.â€ â€œMontgomery. You meanâ€”Hugh Montgomery?â€ He could almost see all her antennae go out, and worked to hide a satisfied smile. â€œThe one and only.â€ â€œOh. Right. Just to be sure weâ€™re on the same page, which case are you talking about? His nameâ€™s been mentioned in a couple of financial investigations that didnâ€™t go anywhere.â€ She was careful to show only a mild interest. â€œHis daughterâ€™s abduction. Either this week or next, it will be twenty-odd years ago that it happened. I just assumed your station would run a feature on it to mark the occasion. After all, it has all the hooksâ€”a wealthy old Virginia family, beautiful little daughter missing, a two-million-dollar reward for her safe return.â€ â€œOf course. You know we will,â€ Kelly assured him. â€œA juicy cold case report always boosts the ratings. We run them on our website for days sometimes.â€ She pausedâ€”deliberately, Bannon thought. â€œIt was before my time, but we recycle a lot of stories. Iâ€™m trying to remember.â€ A thoughtful little crease marred her smooth forehead. â€œThe police never had much to go on, did they? No blood-soaked little dress or anything like that?â€ â€œNot that I know about.â€ â€œToo bad. I know it sounds sick, but our viewers seem to like those gory visuals.â€ â€œNot surprising when you consider the popularity of horror movies. Anywayâ€”â€ Bannon gave a small shrug. â€œIâ€™m sure you can dig up a ton of still pictures of the little girl and old footage out of the stationâ€™s image bank. Combine that with a computer-generated picture of what the girl might look like today, and youâ€™d have a good feature.â€ â€œMmmm.â€ She made a vaguely agreeing sound that sounded far from happy. â€œBut that wouldnâ€™t be much different from any other station. Unlessâ€”â€ She stared at him for a long second. â€œI have an idea. Excuse me, I need to make a quick phone call. Donâ€™t go. Just stay right there.â€ Clearly hot to pursue this idea, Kelly was out of the chair with her cell phone in hand before she ever finished talking. Amused by her avidity, Bannon sat back in his chair and sipped at his coffee to disguise his study of her. After taking a few steps away from him for privacy, she partially turned her back to the table, punched a couple of keys on the cell phone pad, and raised the phone to her ear. The connection was almost instant as she started talking in quick, hushed tones. As conversations went, it was short, but television news had a reputation for brevity. Judging by the Cheshire catâ€“like uplift to the corners of her mouth when she walked back to the table, Bannon guessed that she had been successful. â€œThat was my producer I called.â€ Resuming her seat, she reached for her cup. â€œShe liked my idea.â€ â€œGood.â€ Her dark eyes danced with amusement as she smiled at him over the rim of her cup. â€œYou might not think so when you hear what it is.â€ â€œWhy?â€ What is it?â€ he asked, suddenly on guard. â€œFor an interview with you to be part of the piece.â€ â€œMe?â€ he blurted in stunned disbelief. â€œRemember that weekend we spent at Virginia Beach?â€ â€œWhat about it?â€ Caution was in the flatness of his voice. â€œI donâ€™t think I ever showed you the picture I took.â€ Kelly rolled the cup between her hands and studied him with suppressed amusement. â€œI know youâ€™re not conceited, but youâ€™re very photogenic. In the interview youâ€™re going to come across as tough and sexy. And that sells just as well as blood and guts.â€ â€œYeah, wellâ€”you know that I canâ€™t divulge any specific information. About all I could do is comment on police procedure in cold cases such as this.â€ â€œNo problem.â€ A shoulder lifted in an eloquent shrug. â€œDo you agree to the interview?â€ The wheels had already been turning, so his hesitation was minimal. â€œOn one condition.â€ Kelly cocked her head, intrigued by his response. â€œWhatâ€™s that?â€ â€œThat Iâ€™m guaranteed to get a look at the viewer responses you receive.â€ Her interest sharpened, all her reporter instincts surfacing with a rush. â€œAre you going after the reward, Bannon?â€ Was he? After his conversation with Doris, Bannon admitted to himself that the reward was not entirely out of reach. â€œLetâ€™s just say Iâ€™m curious.â€ He could tell that Kelly didnâ€™t buy his answer. She paused fractionally, then gave him a decisive nod. â€œAll right then. Youâ€™ve got a deal.â€ â€œGood.â€ Something told him that she hoped to extract a price for this favor later on. â€œAre you free to do the interview this morning?â€ It was Bannonâ€™s turn to shrug. â€œWhy not?â€ Now that heâ€™d agreed to it, he was eager to get it over with. â€œThen letâ€™s go.â€ Kelly rose. The local television station was two blocks from the espresso bar. Kelly led him into its dim and cool inner sanctum and handed him over to her producer, a fortysomething, no-nonsense woman by the name of Carla Frazier. With a smile and a wave Kelly was gone. The producer motioned to a chair in front of her desk. Bannon sat down as he made his usual visual survey of his surroundings. There on the monitor screen was a photograph of a little girl. Bannon recognized it immediately as being identical to one heâ€™d seen in the Ann Montgomery file. Carla Frazier hadnâ€™t wasted any time retrieving information about the case following Kellyâ€™s phone call. â€œItâ€™ll be a few minutes before theyâ€™re ready for you in the studio,â€ she informed him. â€œThe questions are all
scripted. Try to keep your answers short.â€ â€œNo problem.â€ Bannon had testified in enough court cases to know that you never gave a five-word answer when no would doâ€”and you never volunteered information. â€œMight as well get the releases handled while weâ€™re waiting.â€ She opened a drawer and pulled out several forms, then slid them across her desk toward him. â€œSign here and here.â€ She stabbed the paper with the tip of her pen before handing it to him. â€œBasically it says that we have the right to edit your interview for content and length. And no, you donâ€™t have prior approval of what goes on the air.â€ â€œWhat a surprise,â€ he muttered under his breath and scratched his signature across the appropriate blanks. â€œYeah, well, not everybody gets their fifteen minutes of fame.â€ She gathered up the releases in a neat stack and sized him up with one glance. â€œKelly thinks the cameraâ€™s going to love you. If it does, so much the better. If not, weâ€™ll do the story with our anchor and the visuals weâ€™ll create.â€ â€œMy feelings wonâ€™t be hurt if I end up on the cutting-room floor,â€ Bannon assured her. She shot him a skeptical look, but said nothing. Â An hour later, he found himself in a small, soundproof chamber with a photographic blow-up on one wall that looked vaguely like a city at night. There was one chair, for him. He felt like a perp in an interrogation room. Everything happened fast. A skinny kid clipped a tiny mike to his shirt and a tech told him to look directly into the camera lens when he spoke, pointing to where it came through the other wall. A young woman came in to take the shine off his face with a powder-laden brush and frowned at his hair but left it alone. Bannon was grateful. He didnâ€™t want to be gelled, thank you very much. She was replaced by a man who didnâ€™t give his name but squatted out of camera range, giving a countdown and then reading the scripted questions aloud in a monotone. Not ones Bannon was expecting, but they got what they wanted in two takes. The whole business was about as exciting as waiting for a bus. He wasnâ€™t expecting much . . . when and if the segment appeared on TV. Â Two days later, a production assistant left Bannon a message on his cell phone, telling him the piece would air on the evening news slot. But Bannon didnâ€™t pick the message up in time. He missed the broadcast and forgot about looking for it on the station website. RJ opened the door of his fridge and heard the cat come running on soft paws. The suck of the rubber seal got Babalooâ€™s attention every time. Too bad there was nothing on the shelves worth eating for either of them. His cell phone buzzed in his jeans pocket. â€œSorry, pal. That has to be Doris. Iâ€™ll make a supermarket run after I hang up.â€ The cat sauntered away as RJ extracted the phone from his pocket, flipping it open without looking at the screen to see who it was. â€œHey,â€ he said. â€œAre you all right?â€ â€œAm I speaking to RJ Bannon?â€ The male voice was cordial, but not remotely familiar. â€œWho is this?â€ â€œOlliver Duncan. Senior partner at Duncan, Hobert, and Giles. You donâ€™t know meâ€”â€ â€œLetâ€™s keep it that way,â€ Bannon said, cupping the phone in his hand to flip it shut. He stopped when he heard the manâ€™s faint reply. â€œI represent Hugh Montgomery.â€ Bannon brought the phone back to his ear. â€œAnd . . . ?â€ â€œWe saw the segment on Annâ€™s kidnapping on the news today.â€ â€œYouâ€™re one up on me. I didnâ€™t.â€ â€œI see.â€ There was an infinitesimal pause. â€œMr. Montgomery and I would like to talk to you about that and some other things. At your convenience, of course.â€ Frowning, Bannon considered the unexpected request. But there was only one way to find out what was behind it. â€œWhere and when?â€ he asked. Olliver Duncan gave the address of his law firm. â€œWould one oâ€™clock tomorrow work?â€ â€œFine.â€ Bannon flipped the phone shut and let his mind sift through the possibilities. Â The glass doors of Duncan, Hobert & Giles were immaculately clean. Either they werenâ€™t doing much business or they had a guy with a squirt bottle of glass cleaner who did nothing but run out and eradicate every fingerprint an instant after a client arrived. It fit. Bannon had done his homework on Olliver Duncan. He had started out in criminal law, but he only represented white-collar crooks who stole millions with the stroke of a pen. No riffraff for him. Duncan had made a fortune and moved on. The clients on his current roster were generally respectable. And filthy rich. The thought made Bannon smile grimly as he pushed one door open. He softened the smile when the young receptionist looked up. â€œMr. Bannon?â€ she said eagerly. â€œThatâ€™s right. I have a one oâ€™clock meeting withâ€”â€ â€œMr. Duncan,â€ she finished for him. â€œYouâ€™re early. Heâ€™s not back from lunch yet.â€ She tapped the eraser end of a pencil on the large appointment book spread open on her desk. â€œI knew it was you the second I saw you open the door. I recognized you from the cold case segment on the news last night.â€ She gazed at him as if he was a movie star. â€œSorry, I havenâ€™t seen it myself.â€ She darted a quick look over her shoulder. There was no one there. â€œReally? But wasnâ€™t it taped?â€ â€œYes.â€ He offered no further explanation. â€œIf you want, I could show it to you on my monitor. Iâ€™ll keep the sound down low. Itâ€™s only a few minutes long.â€ Without waiting for his answer, she clicked away on her mouse, looking for the video clip online. Then she turned the screen around and tipped it up, beaming around the side of it at him.
He watched himself. It was excruciating. The thoughtful answers he had given sounded wrong, mainly because the smoothtalking anchor had changed the questions to suit his on-air persona. He emphasized the outstanding reward, directing viewers to the station website for details. Bannon winced. The guy was putting a spin on the facts that made him want to punch something. The short segment concluded with the software-generated image of Ann Montgomery as she might be now, done by the stationâ€™s graphics department. His eyes widened when he saw it. Theyâ€™d blown that too. The features were just too perfect and the hair color was pale blond. Theyâ€™d made her look like a glamorous model, not a real young woman. â€œThis is . . . Ann Montgomery,â€ he heard the anchorman say in a deep, phony voice. â€œMissing for over twenty-five years in the most sensational kidnapping in Virginia. But she may be alive. Have you seen her?â€ The image of Ann faded away as the anchor came back on. He stared intently into the camera as if he, not Bannon, was on the case. â€œContact us at . . .â€ The receptionist heard someone coming and hastily turned the monitor back around, clicking out of the website and pretending to work. An older woman whom Bannon took for the office manager appeared. â€œPut these in order for filing, please,â€ she said as she handed the girl a sheaf of papers, then surveyed him. â€œAnd you are . . . ?â€ â€œThis is Mr. Bannon,â€ the receptionist said innocently. â€œHe has a meeting with Mr. Duncan at one oâ€™clock.â€ â€œI see.â€ The older woman looked him up and down in a scornful way before going back to the inner offices. No offer of a cup of coffee or other friendly overture for the likes of him. He figured that her low opinion of him was the official one. So much for the adoring young receptionist. Bannon headed for a maroon leather sofa, its heavy walnut frame outlined with bronze studs. It was a huge piece of furniture designed to impress legal clientsâ€”or intimidate the opposition. He stretched out his long legs and waited, but there was no getting comfortable on this thing. He looked around at the tasteful, nondescript framed art on the paneled walls and the potted palm, its luxuriant fronds as well-groomed as everything else. The atmosphere of affluence and privilege was almost suffocating. The glass doors swung open behind him. Two men walked by and Bannon had a chance to scope both of them out for a few seconds. One was tall and powerfully built for an older man. Hugh Montgomery. The otherâ€”the short oneâ€”Bannon pegged instantly for a lawyer. He had on an Armani suit and a gold watch so heavy Bannon was surprised he could lift his hand to wave to the receptionist. â€œHello, Mary. Any calls for me?â€ She tore off message slips from a spiral-bound book and kept the carbon copies underneath. â€œHere you are, sir. Your one oâ€™clock is here.â€ She nodded in Bannonâ€™s direction. He was already standing when both men turned around. He met the gaze of the taller man. Hugh Montgomery was older and balder than the photos Bannon had seen of him, but he still possessed a masterful air. He looked the part of a modern-day Virginia aristocrat. Old school. Wealthy. The kind of man who appeared in the winnerâ€™s circle at major horse races or profiles in upscale magazines. His eyes held a fierceness that Bannon had somehow expected to see. â€œHello.â€ Montgomery extended a hand and Bannon had to shake it. The attorney was next, coming over to where he was and clapping him on the shoulder. â€œMr. Bannon, you are punctual. My apologies. This is Hugh Montgomery, of course. First names, everyone? Hugh, RJ. Were you waiting long? Come into my office, gentlemen. Mary, hold my calls.â€ Bannon went with him, keeping exactly to the side of Hugh Montgomery. He didnâ€™t want those eyes boring into the back of his head. They reached Olliverâ€™s private office, which at least looked like a working office, although it was about the same square footage as Bannonâ€™s condo. The vast desk was piled high with stapled documents and other paperwork. More stacks were on the floor. But there was a cleared-off table in one corner and armchairs arranged around it. Maroon leather, of course. â€œMake yourselves at home, you two,â€ Olliver said. â€œBe right there. Sara!â€ he called through the open door, then turned to them. â€œAnyone besides me want coffee? Thereâ€™s tea too. Or bourbon, if you prefer.â€ â€œNothing for me, thanks,â€ Bannon said. Montgomery echoed his words. His voice was deep, with a weary edge. He rested a large hand on the table. Bannon got the impression of controlled powerâ€”barely controlled. The older man was drumming his fingers on the surface. The lawyer came back with a cup of coffee that the office manager handed through the door. He set it on the table and took the chair between them. â€œSo why am I here?â€ Bannon decided he might as well get to the point. Olliver stirred his coffee with a spoon. â€œWe saw the segment after it aired. Actually, a colleague alerted us. My client wanted to know more. Needless to say, he has a few questions for you.â€ â€œGo ahead.â€ The lawyer set the spoon to one side. â€œI should explain that he wanted me to be present. Itâ€™s been yearsâ€”you understand.â€ Bannon didnâ€™t. But he followed Montgomeryâ€™s lead and let the lawyer do the talking. Olliver was getting paid for his time, no doubt. Bannon wasnâ€™t. â€œNo adversarial intent. This isnâ€™t a deposition or anything, you know. Just a friendly chat.â€ One with sharp teeth, Bannon thought, catching a glimpse of the shark behind the lawyerâ€™s affable smile. â€œOkay.â€ â€œWe wanted to know, first of all, if you were officially reopening the case.â€ The case. Neither man had mentioned who was at the heart of the case: Montgomeryâ€™s missing daughter. Bannon glanced at the stern, deeply carved face of the older man, not seeing little Annâ€™s delicate features in him at all. â€œI really canâ€™t say.â€ â€œAll right.â€ Olliver nodded. â€œWere you speaking on behalf of the Wainsville Police Department?â€ Bannon shrugged. â€œYou could find that out with one phone call.â€ â€œWell, we did make a few inquiries. I was curious to hear what you had to say. I take it your answer is no.â€