Behind His Eyes:Convicted:The Missing Years(10)

By: Aleatha Romig


“There, there…” Emily cooed, as she wrapped her niece in John’s coat. Looking up to Phil, she asked, “Do you know the last time she ate?”

Phil shook his head. “Claire just brought her here minutes before this all got out of hand. She’s, umm…” his cheeks uncustomarily reddened, “…not fed with a bottle.”

“Oh,” Emily responded. “Then I guess we need to get her to Claire at the hospital.” Again to Phil, “Do you know what happened inside?”

“I wasn’t there for all of it. But I have a good idea—”

John interrupted. “It was Anthony, wasn’t it? That’s who Claire was trying to shoot?”

Emily nodded as her husband spoke.

“No.” Phil answered definitively. “No, she wasn’t trying to shoot anyone. She was trying to save Nichol from Ms. London.”

Emily’s head shook. “I don’t believe you. Claire never said anything but good things about Catherine.”

“You’re defending the woman who had you locked in a suite, instead of the man who saved you?” Phil retorted.

John’s brows cocked. “How do you know that? How do you know where we were? Maybe you’re working for Anthony and he was the one—”

Phil glared. “I’ll give my official statement to the police. I assure you, though, that you’re mistaken.” Despite being muffled by John’s coat, Nichol’s cries called out. “But before we argue this point, you need to get Nichol to Claire.”

Emily’s eyes widened. “Nichol? My niece is named Nichol Nichols?”

“Nichol Courtney Rawlings.” Phil stated matter-of-factly.

Emily’s green eyes glared. “What do you mean Rawlings? Did Claire agree to that?”

Phil’s tone deepened. “Mrs. Vandersol, you’ll need to speak with your sister. But I’ll tell you that she and Mr. Rawlings remarried. They were married when Nichol was born. Just let your sister explain it to you.”

John spoke as they made their way toward the cars. “You know he’s a wanted man. Did you know where he was? How can we trust you?”

“You can’t. However, things are different when it comes to Mrs. Rawlings. I wouldn’t do anything to harm her or allow her to be harmed. She really is the one you should be talking to.”

“So,” Emily pushed, “she wanted you with her because she was afraid of him harming her again?”

“Mrs. Vandersol, you are misinterpreting—” Phil’s explanation was cut short as an Iowa City policeman reached for his arm.

“Sir, we need to ask you a few questions. You were in the office at the time of the shooting…”

Phil replied to the officer as John and Emily carried Nichol away. Unexpectedly, John turned around and walked back. “Is there an infant car seat?”

The officer nodded as Phil took John to the car Claire had driven, the one belonging to Courtney Simmons. Phil wished with all his might that he could keep Claire’s friend out of the turmoil that would come from helping Tony and Claire. He might have been able to, had Claire not driven Courtney’s car. His mind spun. As soon as John walked away, the policeman asked, “Whose car is this?”

“It belongs to another of my employers. He allowed me to use it.”

“You? You drove Miss Nichols here?”

“Her name is Rawlings. She and Mr. Rawlings were remarried, and I believe I should have an attorney present before I divulge any more information.”

That became Phil’s answer to each question. He’d already said more to the Vandersols than he should have. He wanted them to know, however, that despite Claire and Tony’s past they were raising Nichol together. Undoubtedly, all of the hiding from the FBI would come back to haunt Rawlings, but Phil hoped Claire’s family would understand. Both Rawlings and Claire would need their support.

Finally, the officer became bored with Phil’s response, or lack of one. “Mr. Roach, what do you do and who do you work for?”

“I’m an independent contractor. I do many things and work for many people.”

“Maybe we should take a drive downtown and check your résumé a little closer.”