The Fake
CHAPTER
40
Leaving New York
Grayson
My new room was less than half the size of the one I’d had in our old house, but as a bonus, it was on the ground floor with my mother and sister’s rooms right beside it. What am I saying? Bonus? Hardly. But, it felt more like a home than that museum in New York had.
Our apartment and new lifestyle could hardly be more different. For one thing, it was in Los Angeles instead of New York, and there were hundreds of other apartments in our building. Mom had family on the west coast, something she’d never had on the east, and that might prove the best thing of all. While Mom learned how to be part of her family again, Edie and I could learn how to be Puerto Rican.
No more classy private school, either. Dad’s secret fund had been enough to get us to L.A. and set up, nothing more. I didn’t mind going to public school for senior year. In fact, it felt great. It felt like freedom, somehow.
Freedom. A nice word, that one. It belonged to me, but not to my father. Not to Gallo either. Gallo was in jail waiting for his trial. Marda hadn’t been to court, yet, but when she did, she probably wouldn’t get much more than a suspended sentence.
But there was still all that artwork.
Claire hadn’t been happy to make the copy. It took fast-setting oil paints, heat lamps, and days without sleep. More importantly, it went against everything she promised herself when she finished the collection for her father. But she knew the alternative was to risk losing the painting and her father being hurt—more than he already had been.
Now the real Garden Valley would be safe. At least I had a hand in that.
The phone rang as I tossed the last of my socks into the set of drawers that doubled as a nightstand beside my bed.
“Hello?”
“Grayson, it’s Detective Bennet here. How are you settling in over there on the west coast?”
I grinned to myself. “Very well, thank you, sir. The weather is amazing.”
“I just bet it is.” The detective let out a jealous sigh. He was a short, pasty man, who looked like he hadn’t spent a day in the sun in years. “How would you like a bit of an update?”
“Very much.”
“I thought you’d like to know that we have a very solid lead on the whereabouts of the collection, thanks to you and your little trick with the mini GPS tracker. I’m expecting to hear we have it back any minute, in fact. We’re closing in on your father and Mr. Lin, too. I know that part has to be bittersweet for you, son, but for what it’s worth, I think most fathers would be proud to have a kid like you. Y’hear me?”
I laughed because I heard it, and because I’d never believe it. “That’s kind of you to say. Thank you.”
It puzzled me, the pang I felt when I thought of my father. The best he had to look forward to, now, was a life spent on the move, keeping away from the authorities. That sort of freedom hardly seemed worth it.
The usually gruff detective’s voice softened a little. “I know you found your way to doing the right thing by a round-about route, but you got there. Just try and use your superpowers for the good of mankind in the future.”
I laughed again, and this time I think I even meant it. “Absolutely, sir.”
I could hear him smiling down the phone. “Good. The department could use a man like you, if you’re ever looking for a way to make yourself useful and can keep out of trouble in the meantime. Just sayin’.”
Something sounded appealing about that. An invitation into a world where I didn’t need anyone else to be proud of me, I could be proud of myself. “You know, I think I’d like that.”
I stared at the phone in my hand for a while after he hung up.
Now, Only one thing still needed to be put right.
My plan had worked. It looked like the Fosters would have their collection back. I’d erased the worst of the damage I inflicted on their lives. All the risk, all the hurt, the chance I could have ended up in prison too—all of that was worth it, especially if it brought me back to Claire in the end. I had to admit I’d taken the scenic route, though.
Claire. The most important thing of all, and the one thing I still had to put properly right.
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