Every Last Fear Page 2

“We understand they were on vacation.”

“Uh-huh, spring break for my little sister and brother.” The words caught in his throat. “They decided to go at the last minute. My break didn’t match up, so I couldn’t…” He stopped, fighting back tears.

“When’s the last time you heard from them?”

Matt thought about this. “My mom sent a text from the airport the day they left. Maggie sent one a few days ago.” He felt a stab of guilt. He hadn’t read, much less responded to, his little sister’s text.

“How about your father?”

He shook his head, every part of him numb. They hadn’t spoken since their fight over Christmas break. His heart sank. The last thing Matt had said to him—

“For the timeline—to help us understand things—it’s important that we see those texts. If you don’t mind?”

“Yeah, sure. But my phone, it’s in my coat, which I left somewhere last night.”

“Do you know where?” the agent asked. She was sympathetic, but Matt could tell she was getting impatient.

“I think it’s at the bar.” He’d grabbed the tiny mountain of his clothes before slinking out of the girl’s dorm, so it had to be the bar.

The agent nodded. “I can take you there.”

“I don’t think they’ll be open this early.”

“What’s it called?”

“Purple Haze, on East Thirteenth.”

The agent pulled out her phone and walked to the far end of the room. She looked out the rain-speckled window, murmuring commands to someone. “I don’t care. Just tell them to get somebody there now,” she said, making her way back over to Matt.

“You up to going to the bar with me?” The agent took a few steps toward the door.

Trancelike, Matt nodded.

“You want to get a jacket or umbrella? It’s raining.”

Matt shook his head and followed her out.

A small crowd had gathered in the hallway, gawking students. Matt didn’t know if word had spread about his family or if they thought he was being arrested for something.

The agent—he still couldn’t conjure her name—pushed ahead to the elevator. Inside, Matt said, “Has the media got this yet?”

The agent gave him a knowing look. “It hit the wire, but they haven’t released your last name. They wait a little while to allow time to notify the family.”

“You know what’s gonna happen when they find out, right?” Matt shook his head in disgust. That goddamn Netflix documentary.

The agent nodded.

The elevator doors spread open and they were met by a mob of reporters and blinding camera flashes.


The ride to the bar was a blur. Matt sat in the back seat in the stop-and-go traffic of Greenwich Village feeling punch-drunk from the news and from the paparazzi hurling questions at him: Why weren’t you in Mexico with your family? How do you feel? Do you think it was really an accident? Does your brother know?

The agent had just plowed through the crowd, grabbing Matt’s wrist and dragging him in her wake. When a guy with a camera stepped in front of them on the way to the car, she’d calmly flashed her badge and looked him up and down. He’d cowered away. New York paparazzi weren’t timid souls, so the guy must have sensed that she wasn’t one to trifle with.

Now, Matt stared out the window, the wet road smeared with red taillights. His thoughts skipped again to the reporters. Does your brother know?

Danny had no television, internet, or phone, of course. But Matt’s dad always said that news—particularly bad news—had a way of penetrating prison walls at light speed. And with Danny’s celebrity status from the documentary, he’d hear soon enough.

The car pulled in front of Purple Haze. The place looked grimier in the daylight, the roll-up metal security doors covered in graffiti. Trash bags puddled with rainwater piled on the sidewalk. A man in a tracksuit was bouncing on his feet under the awning. He peered into the car like he was expecting them, and walked over.

“You with the Feds?” he said, stooping so he could see inside the car. He was heavyset and balding. Sweat beaded on his forehead, even in the chill.

“Special Agent Keller,” she said, all business. Matt finally had a name.

“I got a call about a problem at the club,” the man said in a Brooklyn accent. “We run a clean operation, so I don’t—”

“I don’t care what kind of operation you run,” Keller said. There were no niceties. No bedside manner. Keller gestured to Matt in the back seat. “He left his coat in there last night. His phone’s in the pocket. We need you to let us inside.”

The club owner hesitated. Bunched his lips. “Well, you, ah, got a warrant?”

Keller glowered at him. “You really want me to get one? I might have to come back with a team of agents at, say, eleven tonight. Who knows what we’ll find.”

The owner held up his hands in retreat. “Look, I’d get his stuff if it was there,” he said. “But my bouncer, I let him take whatever’s left behind after closing.”

“Wonderful,” Agent Keller said, letting out a breath. “I need his name and address.”

“I’m not sure I have—”

“Name and address, or I’m back to us having a problem.”

“All right, all right. Give me a minute.”

Agent Keller nodded, and the owner disappeared inside. He returned with a Post-it note scrawled with the information. Keller plucked it from his hand, then lurched from the curb.

Twenty minutes later they were in front of a towering glass building in Tribeca. Keller turned into the mouth of a garage and stopped at a checkpoint. A guard examined her credentials then waved her inside.

“The bouncer lives here?” Matt asked as they circled down the basement lot. It was a high-end building in a high-end neighborhood, not somewhere you’d expect club muscle to live.

“No. I sent some agents to track him down.”

“So what’s here?”

Keller pulled the car into a spot next to a line of identical dark sedans. “Someone needs to tell your brother.”

“Wait, what?” Matt said. He tried to unpack what she was saying. Then: “No.”

There was a long pause while Keller searched his eyes. “I know this is a lot,” she said. “And I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through. But I spoke to your aunt and she said your parents would’ve wanted it to come from you.”

The hair on Matt’s arms rose.

“He’s here?” Matt asked, knowing that didn’t make sense.

“Not quite. We need to head up to the roof.”

* * *

The first helicopter ride of Matt’s life and he couldn’t tell if the floating in his gut was from being airborne or the surrealness of the day. The water of the Hudson was choppy, the sky a dreary gray. Agent Keller sat next to him with her back straight, her face expressionless.

She wasn’t chatty. And not one to multitask. There was no staring at her phone, no reading the newspaper. Her job was to escort him to Fishkill Correctional upstate, and that’s what she did. Matt never understood why Danny, convicted of killing his girlfriend in Nebraska, was incarcerated in New York. It was his third prison in seven years.

When the chopper hit a patch of rough air, Matt thought about Tommy. On family trips, while everyone else was white-knuckled gripping the airplane armrest with even the slightest bit of turbulence, his little brother would giggle with delight. Not an ounce of fear. He would’ve loved this ride.

Matt swallowed a sob, picturing Tommy on the plane to Mexico with no idea it would be the last flight of his life.

The helicopter touched down at a small airfield in a rural area. Matt removed his seat harness and headset and followed Agent Keller out. The propellers whirled, and he ducked down in a reflexive action he’d seen a million times in the movies. Keller walked upright.

She spoke to a man in a stiff suit next to a black SUV waiting for them at the edge of the tarmac. It wasn’t her partner from earlier, but they looked similar. Dark suit, sunglasses, blank expression. Neo from The Matrix. Keller and Matt climbed in back, and the vehicle made its way along country roads until the cement fortress came into view.

By now Matt’s palms were sweating, his head pounding. The reality was sinking in.

They’re really gone.

And soon he’d have to take away almost everything that his older brother had left in this world.




“Evan, I’m so glad you made it.” Dr. Silverstein gestured for him to take a seat across from her on the leather couch.

Evan’s eyes drifted around the office. The framed diplomas, the neat desk, the grandfather clock that was out of place in the charmless no-frills office complex.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call last week,” Evan said. “You can charge me for missing our—”

“Don’t be silly. I saw the news about your son on TV. I’m so sorry, Evan.”

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