Low Midnight Page 20

“It’s fate, you know. Fate that I’d run into Douglas Bennett’s kid, right here and now.”

Second time in as many days someone evoked fate at him. He didn’t think much of fate’s judgment.

“I’ve heard my dad’s name more in the last hour than I have in the last ten years.”

“He’s a legend, you know that.”

Yes, he did. But only in circles like this. The man had died more than half Cormac’s lifetime ago. There’d been a time all he wanted in life was to make the man proud. He’d been desperate to make his dead father proud, and horrified to think Douglas Bennett would be disappointed instead. Every time Cormac missed a shot, he imagined his father was looking down on him, shaking his head.

At some point—maybe in prison—Cormac was able to look back and think maybe his father didn’t matter so much. He’d been a man, he’d made mistakes. He’d been single minded, obsessive. He’d died young, violently, like Cormac assumed would happen to him. Until he decided that maybe it didn’t have to go that way, and that maybe Douglas Bennett had been wrong about the monsters.

“That was a long time ago,” he said. He’d only gotten halfway through the beer and didn’t plan on finishing. The stuff tasted warm and musty. He pushed the bottle away.

Layne said, “We’re all getting together in a couple of days—I could really use your help. You want to know more, come out to my place. Give me your number, I’ll call you.”

It was ominous, but it was a lead. Cormac gave his number, and Layne entered it into his phone.

He didn’t feel the need to keep being chummy with the group, so he pushed off from the table. “I’d better get going. Leave you boys to it. Interesting running into you.”

“I’ll be in touch.”

Cormac gave a sloppy wave in reply. He needed to keep track of Layne. Just to keep an eye on these guys.

He threw open the bar’s front door and marched into the parking lot, more distracted than he should have been because he almost ran into a woman who was coming the other way. They stopped, stared at each other for a moment, blinking. She was in her thirties, brown hair in a short ponytail, dressed in practical jeans and blue winter coat. Tired around the eyes, minimal makeup.

He didn’t even have to think about it to remember her name, it just popped out. “Mollie. Mollie Layne.”

She smiled and might even have looked pleased. “Cormac Bennett! Oh my God, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it? And it’s Mollie Cramer now. And for the last fifteen years.” She shrugged as if apologizing.

It had been close to twenty years since he’d seen her. Had it been that long? He didn’t have a clue she’d gotten married—why should he? “Sure. Well, a late congratulations, I guess.”

“Yeah—and divorced now. Two kids, single mom, the works.Who’d have thunk?”

Christ, he was eighteen and awkward all over again. Fifteen years—more than enough time for a marriage, divorce, and two kids. She might have been about twenty pounds heavier, but he recognized the teenage girl he’d known in the woman she’d turned into. The big smile, the fall of brown hair. But he didn’t know what to say to her.

“What’ve you been up to?” she asked.

He shoved his hands into his jacket pocket. “This and that, I guess. Just passing through. Funny, running into you.”

“Yeah—but good, you know? I figured the way you were going back in the day you’d end up doing yourself in in a blaze of glory. I’m glad you didn’t.”


“Is my brother in there?”

“Anderson? Yeah. I ran into him up on the mountain. It’s a day for reunions, I guess.”

She rolled her eyes. “The kids are with their dad this week; I’m supposed to head down to his house and help him clean but he hasn’t given me a key. Now there’s someone who has not gotten his shit together.”

They spent another long moment studying each other. He sorted through a bunch of memories he hadn’t thought about in a long time, and wasn’t sure what to think about them now.

“Well, I’d better get going, I guess,” she said, skirting around him to continue on to the door.

“Yeah, me too. Good running into you.” He even meant it. She shoved Layne and his schemes and every other problem he had to solve straight out of his mind.

“Yeah. I like the mustache, Cormac. It’s all Marlboro Man. Kinda cool.”

“See you, Mollie.” And that was that, she was inside, the door closing behind her.

He sat in his Jeep for a good minute, just taking it in, but then hurried to start the engine and peel back onto the highway before she came back out to the parking lot and he had to figure out what else to say.

And what was all that about? Amelia had been very quiet through the encounter.

“That was Mollie.”

And who is Mollie?

Amelia caught a whole tumble of images and memories that Cormac couldn’t lock up fast enough. You had carnal relations with her! She sounded scandalized.

Not just that, she’d been the first girl Cormac ever slept with. They’d been seventeen, both of them virgins fumbling in the loft of the O’Farrell’s main barn when the adults were off at some event or other. But they’d managed and carried on for a few months after that. He couldn’t remember anymore who’d broken up with whom. They’d graduated and gone their separate ways. He seemed to think that maybe he’d stopped calling her before she’d stopped calling him. But he couldn’t think of why. He couldn’t see inside that screwed-up kid’s head anymore. Just as well.

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