She waited a moment while letting McCaleb consider all of this. He understood the bureau's philosophy. It was a form of triage.
"I don't mind waiting a month or so until Maggie or somebody else over there can work something up for me, but my gut on this one tells me time is a consideration, Terry. If it is a serial, a month may be too long to wait. That's why I thought of coming to you. I am banging my head on the wall on this one and you might be our last best hope of coming up with something to move on now. I still remember the Cemetery Man and the Code Killer. I know what you can do with a murder book and some crime scene tape."
The last few lines were gratuitous and her only false move so far, McCaleb thought. Otherwise he believed she was sincere in the expression of her belief that the killer she was looking for might strike again.
"It's been a long time for me, Jaye," McCaleb began.
"Other than that thing with Graciela's sister, I haven't been involved in"
"Come on, Terry, don't bullshit me, okay? You can sit here with a baby in your lap every day of the week and it still won't erase what you were and what you did. I know you. We haven't seen each other or talked in a long time but I know you. And I know that not a day goes by that you don't think about cases. Not a day."
She paused and stared at him.
"When they took out your heart, they didn't take out what makes you tick, know what I mean?"
McCaleb looked away from her and back down at his boat. Buddy was now sitting in the main fighting chair, his feet up on the transom. McCaleb assumed he had a beer in his hand but it was too far to see that.
"If you're so good at reading people, what do you need me for?"
"I may be good but you're the best I ever knew. Hell, even if they weren't backed up till Easter in Quantico, I'd take you over any of those profilers. I mean that. You were "
"Okay, Jaye, we don't need a sales pitch, okay? My ego is doing okay without all the "
"Then what do you need?"
He looked back at her.
"Just some time. I need to think about this."
"I'm here because my gut says I don't have much time."
McCaleb got up and walked to the railing. His gaze was out to the sea. A Catalina Express ferry was coming in. He knew it would be almost empty. The winter months brought few visitors.
"The boat's coming in," he said. "It's the winter schedule, Jaye. You better catch it going back or you'll be here all night."
"I'll have dispatch send a chopper for me if I have to. Terry, all I need from you is one day at the most. One night, even. Tonight. You sit down, read the book, look at the tape and then call me in the morning, tell me what you see. Maybe it's nothing or at least nothing that's new. But maybe you'll see something we've missed or you'll get an idea we haven't come up with yet. That's all I'm asking. I don't think it's a lot."
McCaleb looked away from the incoming boat and turned so his back leaned against the rail.
"It doesn't seem like a lot to you because you're in the life. I'm not. I'm out of it, Jaye. Even going back into it for a day is going to change things. I moved out here to start over and to forget all the stuff I was good at. To get good at being something else. At being a father and a husband, for starters."
Winston got up and walked to the railing. She stood next to him but looked out at the view while he remained facing his home. She spoke in a low voice. If Graciela was listening from somewhere inside, she could not hear this.
"Remember with Graciela's sister what you told me?
You told me you got a second shot at life and that there had to be a reason for it. Now you've built this life with her sister and her son and now even your own child. That's wonderful, Terry, I really think so. But that can't be the reason you were looking for. You might think it is but it's not. Deep down you know it. You were good at catching these people. Next to that, what is catching fish?"
Copyright © 2001 Hieronymus, Inc. Excerpt used with permission from Time Warner Bookmark.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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