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Authors: C J Box

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Blue Heaven

BOOK: Blue Heaven
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Copyright

First published in the United States of America in 2008 by Minotaur Books, New York.

This edition first published in Great Britain in 2010 by Corvus, an imprint of Grove Atlantic Ltd.

Copyright © C.J. Box 2008. All rights reserved.

The moral right of C.J. Box to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents act of 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

First eBook Edition: January 2010

ISBN: 978-1-848-87995-9

Corvus

An imprint of Grove Atlantic Ltd

Ormond House

26-27 Boswell Street

London WC1N 3JZ

www.corvus-books.co.uk

For Ann Rittenberg
…and Laurie, always

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The author would like to acknowledge the fine people of Sandpoint, Idaho, who provided background and hospitality, including Marianne Love and Roley and Janice Schoonover. Thanks to Mark Whitworth in L.A., who first mentioned a place called Blue Heaven.

Sincere appreciation to Ben Sevier and Jennifer Enderlin, who brought this baby home.

This novel would not exist without the patience and perseverance of Ann Rittenberg.

Contents

Cover

Copyright

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

DAY ONE: Friday

Friday, 4:28 P.M.

Friday, 4:40 P.M.

Friday, 4:45 P.M.

Friday, 5:30 P.M.

Friday, 6:15 P.M.

Friday, 10:30 P.M.

DAY TWO: saturday

Saturday, 8:45 A.M.

Saturday, 9:14 A.M.

Saturday, 10:14 A.M.

Saturday, 10:45 A.M.

Saturday, 12:20 P.M.

Saturday, 2:50 P.M.

Saturday, 5:34 P.M.

Saturday, 6:18 P.M.

Saturday, 6:20 P.M.

Saturday, 7:45 P.M.

Saturday, 10:23 P.M.

DAY THREE: sunday

Sunday, 2:18 A.M.

Sunday, 3:15 A.M.

Sunday, 7:05 A.M.

Sunday, 9:55 A.M.

Sunday, 10:15 A.M.

Sunday, 10:17 A.M.

Sunday, 11:40 A.M.

Sunday, 11:41 A.M.

Sunday, 12:59 P.M.

Sunday, 1:04 P.M.

Sunday, 4:03 P.M.

Sunday, 5:15 P.M.

Sunday, 5:30 P.M

Sunday, 5:49 P.M.

Sunday, 6:25 P.M.

Sunday, 6:56 P.M.

Sunday, 7:16 P.M.

Sunday, 8:21 P.M.

Sunday, 8:32 P.M.

Sunday, 9:36 P.M.

Sunday, 10:01 P.M.

Sunday, 10:32 P.M.

Sunday, 10:55 P.M.

Sunday, 11:17 P.M.

Sunday, 11:59 P.M.

DAY FOUR: monday

Monday, 1:24 A.M.

Monday, 2:30 A.M.

Monday, 2:41 A.M.

Monday, 4:08 A.M.

Monday, 4:55 A.M.

Monday, 5:10 A.M.

may

DAY ONE

Friday

In countries where associations are free, secret societies are unknown. In America there are factions, but no conspiracies.

—Alexis de Tocqueville,
Democracy in America
, 1835

WELCOME TO THE INLAND NORTHWEST

—sign greeting arrivals at Spokane Airport

Friday, 4:28
P.M.

I
F TWELVE-YEAR-OLD Annie Taylor had not chosen to take her little brother William fishing on that particular Friday afternoon in April during the wet North Idaho spring, she never would have seen the execution or looked straight into the eyes of the executioners. But she was angry with her mother.

Before they witnessed the killing, they were pushing through the still-wet willows near Sand Creek, wearing plastic garbage bags to keep their clothes dry. Upturned alder leaves cupped pools of rainwater from that morning, and beaded spiderwebs sagged between branches. When the gray-black fists of storm clouds pushed across the sun, the light muted in the forest and erased the defining edges of the shadows, and the forest plunged into a dispiriting murk. The ground was black, spongy in the forest and sloppy on the trail. Their shoes made sucking sounds as they slogged upstream.

Annie and William had left their home on the edge of town, hitched a ride for a few miles with Fiona, the mail lady, and had been hiking for nearly two hours, looking in vain for calm water.

“Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea,” ten-year-old William said,
raising his voice over the liquid roar of the creek, which was angry and swollen with runoff.

Annie stopped and turned to William, looking him over. A long fly rod poked out from beneath the plastic he wore. He had snagged the tip several times in the branches, and a sprig of pine needles was wedged into one of the line guides.

“You said you wanted to go fishing, so I’m taking you fishing.” “

But you don’t know anything about it,” William said, his eyes widening and his lower lip trembling, which always happened before he began to cry.

“William …”

“We should go back.”

“William, don’t cry.”

He looked away. She knew he was trying to stanch it, she could tell by the way he set his mouth. He hated that he cried so easily, so often, that his emotions were so close to the surface. Annie didn’t have that problem.

“How many times did Tom tell you he was going to take you fishing?” Annie asked.

William wouldn’t meet her eyes. “A bunch,” he said.

“How many times has he taken you?”

He said sullenly, “You know.”

“Yes, I know.”

“I sort of like him,” William said.

Annie said, “I sort of don’t.”

“You don’t like anybody.”

Annie started to argue, but didn’t, thinking:
He may be right.
“I like
you
enough to take you fishing even though I don’t know how to fish. Besides, how hard can it be if Tom can do it?”

An impudent smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “Yeah, I guess,” he said.

“Look,” she said, raising her plastic bag to show him she was wearing Tom’s fishing vest. She had taken it without asking off a peg in their house. “This thing is filled with lures and flies and whatever. We’ll just tie them to the end of your line and throw ’em out there. The fish can’t be much smarter than Tom, so how hard can it be?”

“… if Tom can do it,” he said, his smile more pronounced.

That was when they heard a motor rev and die, the sound muffled by the roar of the foamy water.

THE BETRAYAL occurred that morning when Tom came downstairs, asked, “What’s for breakfast?” Annie and William were at the table dressed for school eating cereal—Sugar Pops for William, Frosted Mini-Wheats for her. Tom asked his question as if it were the most natural thing in the world, but it wasn’t. Tom had never been in their home for breakfast before, had never stayed the night. He was wearing the same wrinkled clothes from the night before when he’d shown up after dinner to see their mom, what he called his fishing clothes—baggy trousers that zipped off at the thigh, a loose-fitting shirt with lots of pockets. This was new territory for Annie, and she didn’t want to explore it.

Instead, she found herself staring at his large, white bare feet. They looked waxy and pale, like the feet of a corpse, but his toes had little tufts of black hair on their tops, which both fascinated and disgusted her. He slapped them wetly across the linoleum floor.

“Where’s your mom keep the coffee?” he asked.

William was frozen to his chair, his eyes wide and unblinking, his spoon poised an inch from his mouth, Sugar Pops bobbing in the milk. William said, “On the counter, in that canister thing.”

Tom repeated “canister thing” to himself with good humor and set about making a pot of coffee. Annie bored holes into the back of his fishing shirt with her eyes. Tom was big, buff, always fake-friendly, she thought. He rarely showed up at their house without a gift for them, usually something lame and last-minute like a Slim-Jim meat stick or a yo-yo he bought at the convenience store at the end of the street. But she’d never seen him like this—disheveled, sleepy, sloppy, talking to the two of them for the very first time like they were real people who knew where the coffee was.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

He turned his head. His eyes were unfocused, bleary. “Making coffee.”

“No. I mean in my house.”

William finally let the spoon continue its path. His eyes never left Tom’s back. A drip of milk snaked down from the corner of his mouth and sat on his chin like a bead of white glue.

Tom said, “Your house? I thought it was your mother’s house.”
All jolly he is
, she thought angrily.

“Is this
it
for breakfast?” Tom asked, holding up the cereal boxes and raising his eyebrows.

“There’s toast,” William said, his mouth full. “Mom makes eggs sometimes. And pancakes.”

Annie glared at her brother with snake eyes.

“Maybe I’ll ask Monica to make me some eggs,” Tom mumbled, as much to himself as to them. He poured a cup of coffee before it filled the carafe. Errant drips sizzled on the hot plate.

So it was
Monica
, not
your mother
, Annie thought.

He came to the table, his feet making kissing sounds on the floor, pulled out a chair, and sat down. She could smell her mother on him, which made her feel sick inside.

“That’s Mom’s chair,” she said.

“She won’t mind,” he said, flashing his false, condescending smile. To him they were children again, although she got the feeling Tom was just a little scared of her. Maybe he realized now what he’d done. Maybe not. He pointedly ignored Annie, who glared at him, and turned to William.

BOOK: Blue Heaven
4.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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