"Did she have enemies?"
I looked at him. "Monica?"
Ruth Heller stepped forward. "I think that might be enough for now."
"What happened to Monica?" I asked.
Dr. Heller met up with Detective Regan, standing shoulder to shoulder. Both looked at me. Heller started to protest again, but I stopped her.
"Don't give me this protect-the-patient crap,"
I tried to shout, fear and fury battling against whatever had put my brain in this fuzz. "Tell me what happened to my wife."
"She's dead," Detective Regan said.
Just like that. Dead. My wife. Monica. It was as if I hadn't heard him. The word couldn't reach me.
"When the police broke into your home, you had both been shot. They were able to save you. But it was too late for your wife. I'm sorry."
There was another quick flash now - Monica at Martha's Vineyard, on the beach, tan bathing suit, that black hair whipping across those cheekbones, giving me the razor-sharp smile. I blinked it away.
Regan began with a quick throat-clear. He looked at his pad again, but I don't think he planned on writing anything down. "She was home that morning, correct? I mean, at the time of the incident?"
"Yes, of course. Where is she?"
Regan closed the pad with a snap. "She was not at the scene when we arrived."
My lungs turned to stone.
"I don't understand."
"We originally hoped that maybe she was in the care of a family member or friend. A baby-sitter even, but..." His voice faded.
"Are you telling me you don't know where Tara is?"
There was no hesitation this time. "Yes, that's correct."
It felt as if a giant hand were pushing down on my chest. I squeezed my eyes shut and fell back.
"How long?" I asked.
"Has she been missing?"
Dr. Heller started speaking too quickly.
"You have to understand. You were very seriously injured. We were not optimistic you would survive. You were on a respirator. A lung collapsed. You also contracted sepsis. You're a doctor, so I know I don't have to explain to you how serious that is. We tried to slow down the meds, help you wake up"
"How long?" I asked again.
She and Regan exchanged another glance, and then Heller said something that ripped the air out of me all over again.
"You've been out for twelve days."
Reprinted from No Second Chance by Harlan Coban by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 2003, Harlan Coban. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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