CAITLIN SPED TOWARD HER MEETING WITH STEFAN POLICH, passing the meshed cars in the other lanes. The list of two thousand in her hand, she finally had evidence, weak as it might be, to show him. He’d agreed to meet her. It was only two o’clock, and he couldn’t meet her until five, the bastard, but better to wait for him downtown than risk being late, especially in this rain.
The list was no proof, but in Caitlin’s mind, it was the last, damning clue. The evidence that had begun with Jess’s words: It’s our chance to get it right this time. Without the dreds pulling us down, diluting the good stock. I hate what’s coming. We all hate it. It’s our home. Gone, just like that.
On her way to meeting Stefan, she ran over in her mind the way she’d approach the bizarre topic of what Lamar was up to at Hanford. For starters, she’d show him the list. Maybe he wouldn’t believe her. That’s why Rob would take a copy to Minerva’s competitors: EoSap and TidalSphere. But it was Stefan Polich on whom her hopes rested. There were Minerva names on that list. Plus, he and Caitlin knew each other. She was the sister of the man he depended upon for benefits from the Entire. Stefan would have to listen to her.
Oh Titus, she thought. Come home, my dear. Now, more than ever, you must come home.
As she drove, her thoughts for some reason went to Johanna. The woman’s ghost seemed to touch her for a moment. Oh, Johanna, to have died so young. And Titus loved you so. What was that like, to have had such a man? In the end, was the marriage like most—comfortable and plain?
No, Caitlin decided. It was good, it was very good.
She thought that Johanna was very near to her, and why that should be, was both strange and comforting.
I envied you, Johanna, but it didn’t stop me from liking you. I hoped you were alive, but I feared it wasn’t so. You know that, don’t you?
I can’t help but love him.
Yes. It’s what we can’t have that we always want.
Lamar drove through the light rain, feeling half dead, unsure that after today, he could stand himself. It didn’t help to think that she was going to die anyway. He wouldn’t think about it. It had to be done; if he didn’t do it, Alex Nourse would step in.
Coming up the on-ramp, he put his hand on the small box next to him on the seat. Don’t think about it. Oh, Caitlin.
At least they hadn’t asked him to kill the children. They were sequestered somewhere. Until the end came. Oh, Caitlin, like a daughter to me.
He found the blip on I-5. To his dismay, he found that by kicking up his speed to 75, he was gaining on her. What was he doing? Lamar, you evil son-of-a-bitch. What was he involved with, anyway, that he should be sent onto this freeway to . . .
Don’t think about it. It’s all dying, it’ll make no difference. But somehow, it did matter, and it was breaking his heart. He urged her to pull off, abandon the car, take a cab. Run, Caitlin.
The mapping on his dashCom showed the blip, the target, practically next to him. She must be close enough to see. He felt relief that he didn’t.
But then, in the next lane, he did see the blue Mercedes.
God in heaven. He slacked off, letting some distance come between them, so that when the explosion happened, he would be well clear. No, that didn’t make sense. He’d be driving into mayhem. He needed to pass her.
Speeding up, he sped past her car, gripping the wheel like death, driving with one hand, putting his free hand on the box, looking in the rearview mirror. Just enough room.
He pushed the button. And sped away, hearing the explosion like a brief, ugly cough, like the preview of the detonation to come. Smoke billowed behind; cars skidded, rammed into each other.
Pieces of her car floated on fire and smoke, spiraling away, adding brilliance to the rain-soaked day.