The Ghost

Free The Ghost by Robert Harris

Book: The Ghost by Robert Harris Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Harris
pulled back her hood and took a deep breath. She was better looking in the flesh than she was on television. The camera hated her almost as much as it loved her husband. It didn’t catch her amused alertness, the animation of her face. “God, I miss home,” she said. “Even though the kids are away at university. I keep telling him it’s like being married to Napoleon on Saint Helena.”
    “Then why don’t you go back to London?”
    She didn’t say anything for a while, just stared at the ocean, biting her lip. Then she looked at me, sizing me up. “You did sign that confidentiality agreement?”
    “Of course.”
    “You’re sure?”
    “Check with Sid Kroll’s office.”
    “Because I don’t want to read about this in some gossip column next week, or in some cheap little kiss-and-tell book of your own a year from now.”
    “Whoa,” I said, taken aback by her venom. “I thought you just said I was your idea. I didn’t ask to come here. And I haven’t kissed anyone.”
    She nodded. “All right then. I’ll tell you why I can’t go home, between you and me. Because there’s something not quite right with him at the moment, and I’m a bit afraid to leave him.”
    Boy, I thought. This just gets better and better.
    “Yes,” I replied diplomatically. “Amelia told me he was very upset by Mike’s death.”
    “Oh, did she? Quite when Mrs. Bly became such an expert in my husband’s emotional state I’m not sure.” If she had hissed and sprung claws she couldn’t have made her feelings plainer. “Losing Mike certainly made it worse, but it isn’t just that. It’s losing power—that’s the real trouble. Losing power, and now having to sit down and relive everything, year by year. While all the time the press are going on and on about what he did and didn’t do. He can’t get free of the past, you see. He can’t move on.” She gestured helplessly at the sea, the sand, the dunes. “He’s stuck. We’re both stuck.”
    As we walked back to the house, she put her arm through mine. “Oh, dear,” she said. “You must be starting to wonder what you’ve let yourself in for.”
    THERE WAS A LOT more activity in the compound when we got back. A dark green Jaguar limousine with a Washington license plate was parked at the entrance, and a black minivan with darkened windows was drawn up behind it. As the front door opened, I could hear several telephones ringing at once. A genial gray-haired man in a cheap brown suit was sitting just inside, drinking a cup of tea, talking to one of the police guards. He jumped up smartly when he saw Ruth Lang. They were all quite scared of her, I noticed.
    “Afternoon, ma’am.”
    “Hello, Jeff. How was New York?”
    “Bloody chaos, as usual. Like Piccadilly Circus in the rush hour.” He had a crafty London accent. “Thought for a while I wouldn’t get back in time.”
    Ruth turned to me. “They like to have the car ready in position when Adam lands.” She began the long process of wriggling out of her windbreaker just as Amelia Bly came round the corner, a cell phone wedged between her elegant shoulder and her sculpted chin, her nimble fingers zipping up an attaché case. “That’s fine, that’s fine. I’ll tell him.” She nodded to Ruth and carried on speaking—“On Thursday he’s in Chicago”—then looked at Jeff and tapped her wristwatch.
    “Actually, I think I’ll go to the airport,” said Ruth, suddenly pulling her windbreaker back down. “Amelia can stay here and polish her nails or something. Why don’t you come?” she added to me. “He’s keen to meet you.”
    Score one to the wife, I thought. But no: in the finest traditions of the British civil service, Amelia bounced off the ropes and came back punching. “Then I’ll travel in the backup car,” she said, snapping her cell phone shut and smiling sweetly. “I can do my nails in there.”
    Jeff opened one of the Jaguar’s rear doors for Ruth, while I went round and nearly

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