Albert Sr. stopped pacing the moment Moody walked into the study. “Well?” he said to him.
Eva sat at the conference table, Junior across from her, the awkwardness between them evaporated by the family crisis. As they waited for Moody to speak, the tension in their faces was palpable.
Moody went to Albert Sr. and gently placed his hand on the man’s shoulder. “The news isn’t good,” he said.
Albert Sr. sucked in air. “She’s not … not . . .”
Moody shook his head. “I don’t know about that,” he said. “I’m talking about Duffy. He refuses to send men to the Blanco’s’ compound.”
“God-dammit!” yelled Albert Sr.
“You told him they have Denise?” said Junior, incredulous.
“I told him,” said Moody. “I pleaded with him. The son-of-bitch dug in his heels. He said there was no evidence linking the kidnapping to the Blanco’s. He had no warrant authorizing him to search the Blanco’s’ compound.”
“That’s bullshit,” said Albert Sr., pounding his fist into the palm of his hand.
“He’s scared for his job,” said Moody. “Obviously, our asshole governor has not cancelled the Blanco’s’ protection.”
“I guess I wasn’t convincing enough,” Eva said dejectedly.
“Dammit it, Eva,” yelled Albert Sr., “stop blaming yourself for everything!”
“I’m sorry,” she said, glancing at Junior with a question mark on her face.
“And stop apologizing!” he yelled again, louder. “It drives me up the wall and it doesn’t do a damn bit of good!”
Collective strain gripped them. Eva glanced at Junior and looked quickly away; he did the same. John Moody shoved his hands into his pockets and stared at the carpet. Albert Sr. resumed pacing.
“Dad,” said Junior, after a few quiet moments, “Gardner has that fund-raising dinner tonight at the Freemont, doesn’t he?
“Yes,” he answered, stopping in his tracks. He looked at his son as if hopeful that the boy might be hatching a plan.
“Can’t we just go there and demand that he order the state police to search the compound?” Junior asked expectantly.
“We could,” Albert Sr. responded cautiously. “And, he could have us thrown out on our asses too. But, I guess we’ve got nothing to lose, have we? It couldn’t put Denny in any worse danger, could it?” He looked at each of them, his face uncertain. “Could it?” he repeated.
“I don’t think you should go, Albert,” Eva said.
“Why the hell not?” he said, his face turning red. “She’s my daughter for Christ’s sake!”
“First,” she said. “If you lose your temper—which is almost a certainty—he will just throw us out. Second,” she raised her palm to silence his objection, “if the Blanco’s call with instructions on a swap, you need to be here to talk with them. They won’t talk to anyone else. Isn’t that right, John?”
Moody nodded reluctantly. “That was the last instruction,” he admitted.
“So,” said Albert Sr., “you’re suggesting Junior should go to the fund-raiser in my place?”
“I’m suggesting,” said Eva, “that Junior and I should both go to the fund-raiser while you and John wait here for a phone call.”
“You,” he said, his voice tinged with uncertainty, “what could you do?”
Eva raised both eyebrows imposingly. “Are you suggesting, Albert dear, that I can’t be persuasive with a man? Especially a man as horny as Jack Gardner. I’m insulted.”
All three men looked at one another. “John, do you have that little tape recorder you were planning to give me in the club?” she asked.
“Not with me,” he said, “but I could get it pretty quick.”
“Good,” said Eva nodding shrewdly. “Please do that.” She smiled at them. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were cunning.