The Obsession Page 24

She kept them inside, where they crawled through her like fiery ants, and went to the restaurant.

They’d closed for the day to hold the memorial. Harry had done most of the work—insisted on it. Putting out flowers and photos, choosing music, preparing food.

Her grandparents came. She and Mason saw them several times a year since they’d moved out of Pine Meadows, and it hadn’t taken long to understand that all the hard things their father had said about their mother’s parents had been more lies.

They were kind and loving—forgiving, she thought. They’d forgiven the daughter who’d cut them out of her life and kept their only grandchildren from them. They’d paid for all the therapy, and never—at least not in her hearing—said an unkind word about their daughter.

They never spoke of Thomas David Bowes.

Everyone who worked at the restaurant came, and so many of Seth’s and Harry’s friends. Some of her teachers, some of Mason’s came. Some parents brought some of their friends, at least for a short time.

And Detective Rossini came.

“I didn’t know the police came to funerals like this.”

“I wanted to pay my respects. And to see how you were doing.”

“I’m all right. It’s hardest, I think, on my uncle. Even harder than it is on my grandparents. He thought he could save her. He thought he had. He tried, every day. Harry, he tried, too. But right now he’s mostly worried about his Seth. About Mason and me, too, but mostly about his Seth. Harry worked hard to put all this together, to make it look so nice, to try to make it that celebration of life people talk about. But she didn’t have much of a life to celebrate.”

“I think you’re wrong. She had you and Mason, and that’s a celebration.”

“That’s a nice thing to say.”

“It’s a true thing. Did you take that picture?”

Naomi glanced at the photo of her mother dancing with Seth. “How did you know?”

“I’m the police.” Rossini smiled a little. “It’s a happy moment, and you knew how to capture it. But that’s my favorite.”

Rossini stepped over to the photo Naomi had taken with a timer. Her mother flanked by her children. Harry had set it in front of a big vase of pink roses, because her mother had favored pink.

“You can see she was proud of you and your brother.”

“Is that what you see?”

“Yes. Cops are good listeners, and they’re trained observers. She was proud. Hold on to that. I have to get back to work.”

“Thank you for coming,” Naomi said, as she’d said to everyone.

Surprised, she stood where she was as Mark Ryder came up to her.

“Hey,” he said.


He was tall, great-looking with big brown eyes, glossy hair that curled just the right amount at the ends.

“I’m really sorry about your mom and all.”

“Thanks. It’s nice you came. It’s nice.”

“I’m sorry, you know? My mom died when I was a baby.”

“But . . . I met your mom.”

“My dad married her when I was about three. She’s great—and she’s, like Mom, but my, you know, mom died.”

“I didn’t know. I’m sorry, Mark.”

“Yeah, well, it’s hard, you know, and I wanted to say I’m sorry.”

Touched, she stepped closer, hugged him. Realized the mistake when he hugged her back—with a hand sliding down to her butt.

She pulled back. “It’s my mother’s memorial.”

“Yeah, yeah, sorry. I just thought . . .” He shrugged, managed a half laugh. “Whatever.”

“Thanks for coming,” she told him. “You can get a soft drink at the bar, if you want.”

“Yeah, maybe. See you around.”

Alone, Naomi turned. She could sneak into the storeroom, get some quiet, get some time alone before anyone noticed she wasn’t there.

But she nearly walked into Anson Chaffins.

“Um. Hey.” He shoved up his glasses, then stuck his hands in his pockets. “I guess it’s weird but I was, like, you know, there, so I thought I should come and say . . . whatever.”

“Let’s go sit over there. People won’t bug me if I’m sitting down with somebody.”

“I saw some of the guys from school. But I kind of hung back until they went off. It’s weird, like I said. People want to know, you know, what it was like, and don’t want to ask you. Well, plus, you haven’t been back to school. Are you coming back?”

“Yeah, next week.”

“It’ll be weird.”

She gave a half laugh—he wrote better than he talked, she thought. “I need to keep up my grades—Mason, too. We have to think about getting into college.”

“I’m heading to Columbia next fall.”

“You got in?”

“It looks good for it. I got a couple backups, but it looks good. I’m going to study journalism.”

“You’ll be good at it.”

“Yeah.” He shifted. “So. I heard a couple of the cops talking. You know they had to take my statement and all that? And I heard a couple of them talking about Bowes. Your mother being his wife. Thomas David Bowes.”

Naomi clutched her hands together in her lap, said nothing.

“I knew the name, because of the movie. And I read the book, too. You’re that Naomi.”

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