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Authors: Mary Higgins Clark

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I had been planning what I would say to him and rushed now to make him hear me out before he hung up. “Mack, I'm going to find you,” I said. “The cops tried and failed. So did the private investigator. But I won't fail. I
swear
I won't.” My voice had been quiet and firm, as I had planned, but then the sound of my mother crying sent me over the edge. “I'm going to track you down, you lowlife,” I shrieked, “and you'd better have an awfully good reason for torturing us like this.”

I heard a click and knew that he had disconnected. I could have bitten my tongue off to take back the name I had called him, but, of course, it was too late.

Knowing what I was facing, that Mom would be furious at me for the way I had screamed at Mack, I put on a robe and went down the hall to the suite that she and Dad had shared.

Sutton Place is an upscale Manhattan neighborhood of town houses and apartment buildings overlooking the East River. My father bought this place after putting himself through Fordham Law School at night and working his way up to partner in a corporate law firm. Our privileged childhood was the result of his brains and the hard work ethic that was instilled in him by his widowed Scotch-Irish mother. He never allowed a nickel of the money my mother inherited to affect our lives.

I tapped on the door and pushed it open. She was standing
at the panoramic window that overlooked the East River. She did not turn, even though she knew I was there. It was a clear night, and to the left I could see the lights of the Queensboro Bridge. Even in this predawn hour, there was a steady stream of cars going back and forth across it. The fanciful thought crossed my mind that maybe Mack was in one of those cars and, having made his annual call, was now on his way to a distant destination.

Mack had always loved travel; it was in his veins.
My mother's father, Liam O'Connell, was born in Dublin, educated at Trinity College, and came to the United States, smart, well-educated, and broke. Within five years he was buying potato fields in Long Island that eventually became the Hamptons, property in Palm Beach County, property on Third Avenue when it was still a dirty, dark street in the shadow of the elevated train track that hovered over it. That was when he sent for and married my grandmother, the English girl he had met at Trinity.

My mother, Olivia, is a genuine English beauty, tall, still slender as a reed at sixty-two, with silver hair, blue-gray eyes, and classic features. In appearance, Mack was practically her clone.

I inherited my father's reddish brown hair, hazel eyes, and stubborn jaw. When my mother wore heels, she was a shade taller than Dad, and, like him, I'm just average height. I found myself yearning for him as I walked across the room and put my arm around my mother.

She spun around, and I could feel the anger radiating from her. “Carolyn, how
could
you talk to Mack like that?” she snapped, her arms wrapped tightly across her
chest. “Can't you understand that there must be some terrible problem that is keeping him from us? Can't you understand that he must be feeling frightened and helpless and that this call is a cry for understanding?”

Before my father died, they often used to have emotional conversations like this. Mom, always protective of Mack, my father getting to the point where he was ready to wash his hands of it all and stop worrying. “For the love of God, Liv,” he would snap at Mom, “he sounds all right. Maybe he's involved with some woman and doesn't want to bring her around. Maybe he's trying to be an actor. He wanted to be one when he was a kid. Maybe I was too tough on him, making him have summer jobs. Who knows?”

They would end up apologizing to each other, Mom crying, Dad anguished and angry at himself for upsetting her.

I wasn't going to make a second mistake by trying to justify myself. Instead I said, “Mom, listen to me. Since we haven't found Mack by now, he's not worrying about my threat. Look at it this way. You've heard from him. You know he's alive. He sounds downright upbeat. I know you hate sleeping pills, but I also know your doctor gave you a prescription. So take one now and get some rest.”

I didn't wait for her to answer me. I knew I couldn't do any good by staying with her any longer because I was angry, too. Angry at her for railing at me, angry at Mack, angry at the fact that this ten-room duplex apartment was too big for Mom to live in alone, too filled with memories. She won't sell it because she doesn't trust that Mack's
annual telephone call would be bounced to a new location, and of course she reminds me that he had said one day he would turn the key in the lock and be home . . . Home.
Here.

I got back into bed, but sleep was a long way off. I started planning how I would begin to look for Mack. I thought about going to Lucas Reeves, the private investigator whom Dad hired, but then changed my mind. I was going to treat Mack's disappearance as if it had happened yesterday. The first thing Dad did when we became alarmed about Mack was call the police and report him missing. I'd begin at the beginning.

I knew people down at the courthouse, which also houses the District Attorney's office. I decided that my search would begin there.

Finally I drifted off and began to dream of following a shadowy figure who was walking across a bridge. Try as I would to keep him in sight, he was too fast for me, and when we reached land, I didn't know which way to turn. But then I heard him calling me, his voice mournful and troubled.
Carolyn, stay back, stay back
.

“I can't, Mack,” I said aloud as I awakened. “I can't.”

2

M
onsignor Devon MacKenzie ruefully commented to visitors that his beloved St. Francis de Sales Church was located so close to the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine that it was almost invisible.

A dozen years ago, Devon had expected to hear that St. Francis would be closed, and he could not in honesty have contested the decision. After all, it had been built in the nineteenth century and needed major repairs. Then, as more apartment buildings went up in the area and older walk-ups were renovated, he had been gratified to see the faces of new parishioners at Sunday Masses.

The growing congregation meant that in the past five years he had been able to carry out some of those repairs. The stained-glass windows were cleaned; years of built-up soil removed from the murals; the wooden pews sanded and refinished, the kneeling benches covered with soft new carpeting.

Then, when Pope Benedict decreed that individual pastors could decide to offer a Tridentine Mass, Devon, who was proficient in Latin, announced that henceforth
the eleven o'clock Sunday Mass would be celebrated in the ancient tongue of the Church.

The response stunned him. That Mass was now filled to overflowing, not only with senior citizens but teenagers and young adults who reverently responded
“Deo gratias”
in place of “Thanks be to God,” and prayed
“Pater Noster”
instead of “Our Father.”

Devon was sixty-eight, two years younger than the brother he had lost on 9/11, and uncle and godfather of the nephew who had disappeared. At Mass, when he invited the congregation to silently offer their own petitions, his first prayer was always for Mack and that one day he would come home.

On Mother's Day, that prayer was always especially fervent. Today, when he returned to the rectory, there was a message waiting for him on the answering machine from Carolyn. “Uncle Dev—he called at five of three this morning. Sounded fine. Hung up fast. See you tonight.”

Monsignor Devon could hear the strain in his niece's voice. His relief that his nephew had called was mixed with sharp anger. Damn you, Mack, he thought. Haven't you any idea what you're doing to us? As he tugged off his Roman collar, Devon reached for the phone to call Carolyn back. Before he could begin to dial, the doorbell rang.

It was his boyhood friend, Frank Lennon, a retired software executive, who served as head usher on Sundays and who counted, itemized, and deposited the Sunday collections.

Devon had long since learned to read people's faces and
to know instantly if there was a genuine problem. That was what he was reading in Lennon's weathered face. “What's up, Frank?” he asked.

“Mack was at the eleven, Dev,” Lennon said flatly. “He dropped a note for you in the basket. It was folded inside a twenty-dollar bill.”

Monsignor Devon MacKenzie grabbed the scrap of paper, read the ten words printed on it, then, not trusting what he was seeing, read them again. “UNCLE DEVON, TELL CAROLYN SHE MUST NOT LOOK FOR ME.”

3

E
very year for the past nine years, Aaron Klein had made the long drive from Manhattan to the cemetery in Bridgehampton, to place a stone on the grave of his mother, Esther Klein. She had been a lively fifty-four-year-old divorcee, who died at the hands of a mugger as she was on her daily run early one morning near the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Aaron had been twenty-eight then, newly married, comfortably secure in his upward climb at Wallace and Madison Investment Bankers. Now he was the father of two sons, Eli and Gabriel, and a small daughter, Danielle, who bore a heartbreaking resemblance to her late grandmother. Aaron never visited the cemetery without once again experiencing anger and frustration at the fact that his mother's murderer was still walking the streets, a free man.

She had been struck in the back of the head with a heavy object. Her cell phone was on the ground beside her. Had she sensed danger and taken it out of her pocket to try to dial 911? That possibility was the only one that made sense.

She had to have been attempting to call. The records the police obtained showed she had neither made nor received a call at that time.

The cops thought it was a random mugging. Her watch, the only jewelry that she ever wore at that time of day, was missing, as was her house key. “Why take her house key if whoever killed her didn't know who she was and where she lived?” he had asked the cops. They hadn't had an answer to that one.

Her apartment had its own street-level entrance around the corner from the doorman-monitored main entrance of the building, but as the detectives who worked on the case pointed out, there was nothing missing from it. Her wallet, containing several hundred dollars, was in her pocketbook. Her jewelry box, open on the dresser, held the few pieces of valuable jewelry he knew her to own.

The intermittent rain began to fall again as Aaron knelt down and touched the grass over his mother's grave. His knees sank into the muddy ground as he placed the stone, and whispered, “Mom, I so wish you had lived to see the kids. The boys are finishing the first grade and kindergarten. Danielle is a little actress already. I can just see her in a dozen years auditioning for one of the plays you'd be directing at Columbia.”

He smiled, thinking of what his mother's response would be. “Aaron, you're a dreamer. Do your math. By the time Danielle is in college, I'd have been seventy-five years old.”

“You'd still be teaching and directing and you'd still be full of spunk,” he said aloud.

4

BOOK: Where Are You Now?
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