Read The Longest Winter Online
Authors: Harrison Drake
He nodded but I could feel him shaking his head as he cried.
“How did you boys get out?” Yuri said.
“I’ll show you,” said David. He wiped his eyes and nose with the back of his hand leaving a mess of mucus on one side and wing sauce on the other. They led us into the room that they had been trapped in, one complete with barred windows, ropes and buckets that had served as bathrooms. I hated imagining what those boys had been through and it reminded me that even though Kat’s imprisonment was longer, the conditions she had been forced to live in were easier. Not that it made it any better, of course, but I saw the strength in those two boys and I had never been so proud of someone else’s children. They were smart, strong, and calm under pressure. Calm enough to sit and have a meal and something to drink while they waited for their rescue.
“Jacques used a belt buckle to get this piece of wood up and then we used it to cut through the rope.” David went on and on regaling us with the details of their escape, from cutting through the ropes to breaking through the walls. They had broken the window and screamed until they couldn’t scream anymore, but no one heard them. The house was too far removed from the rest of the world.
“We heard the sirens when you got here,” Jacques said. “But we weren’t sure what to do. So we just waited.”
There came a knock at the door behind us and I turned around to see Kara standing with the paramedics. “We should get these boys to the hospital,” Kara said. I nodded and moved out of the way to let the medics in.
They started checking the boys over and dressed their wounds. Jacques had more injuries, both from taking the beatings for Claude and David and from their escape. He looked awful, a mess of cuts and bruises, but the smile on his face was unmistakable. He was going home and he knew it. Everything he had been through, every scar he would have to bear, they didn’t matter anymore. He was free and he would be seeing his brother again.
David on the other hand looked confused. I could see the joy in his eyes but there was concern in his face that seemed to amplify when he looked at Jacques. It was fear, I realized, fear that the bond they had formed was broken. It hadn’t been long, but I was sure that David had come to see Jacques as a friend or even as a brother and now, as happy as he was to be returning home, there was a feeling of loss as well.
“Try to get these guys rooms next door to each other in the hospital, if you can,” I said, hoping the paramedics spoke English.
,” one said and gave a nod. It was enough for me.
David seemed to perk up a little with that. “We’ll need to talk to their parents about letting the boys visit each other,” I said to Kara, just above a whisper. “I think David is going to need it.”
“Yeah, it’ll be harder on him.” Kara took out her phone. “I’m going to step out and call Jacques’s parents. I’ll get Yuri to call David’s… I never met them.”
“Nope. Too busy being trapped in an upside-down car covered in snow.”
I smiled. “Right, forgot about that.”
“I can jog your memory if you’d like.” She held up her casted arm.
“And risk wrecking the cast? You’d have to get Yuri to sign it again. Maybe put a little heart over the ‘i’ the second time around?”
Kara blushed and confirmed my suspicions. “You’re really tempting me to hit you.”
“I know,” I said. “I’m happy for you.”
“Nothing’s happened. Not yet, anyway. He just brought it up today. I told him when this was all over we could grab coffee or something.”
“He seems like a good guy. Quiet though.”
“He is, but a lot of it makes sense now.”
“I’ll let Kat fill you in on that one,” Kara said. She smiled as a look of pure confusion crossed my face. “It’s all good, don’t worry. Let’s just say he has a pretty good idea of what Kat has gone through.”
“Yeah. I just found out today.”
I looked over and saw the paramedics getting the boys ready to head out. “All done?” I said.
Jacques nodded. “Are our parents going to be at the hospital?”
“They will be soon,” I said. Kara slipped out ahead of them with her phone in her hand.
“Thank you for finding us,” Jacques said as he hugged me again. He walked out and David came up next, hugging me as well. He didn’t say anything, he just looked into my eyes and gave me a smile that could melt the coldest heart. I smiled back then watched them both walk out the door, their heads held high.
They were survivors.
aughter filled the room as the wine bottles made their way around the table and the courses of food kept coming. We had rented a room in a Chinese restaurant, a private room far from the prying eyes and ears of the other patrons. It gave us room to talk, and it gave Kat room to breathe.
“You pushed her in the water on your first case together?” Yuri said, smiling.
“She had a bathing suit on. It’s not like she was in full uniform or anything.”
“The water was freezing,” Kara said, waving her fork in my direction.
I threw my hands up in mock defeat. “Welcome to working with me. With any luck, Yuri, this will be the only case we work on together.”
“Yeah, he has a tendency to get people shot.”
“Never going to let that go, are you Chen?”
“Probably not,” he said. “Still not sure how Kara made it through that one unscathed.”
“I was the best at dodgeball in my eighth grade gym class,” she said then took a bite of
“Kids,” I said, looking at Link and Kasia. “Being good at dodgeball does not mean you can dodge bullets.”
“We know, Dad,” Link said. “But that would be awesome.”
“Yes, yes it would.”
I slid my hand over onto Kat’s leg and waited for her hand to meet mine. “How you doing?” I asked, quietly.
“I’m good. It’s so nice to have everyone together. Even if it is a lot of people. I’m just glad this is all over.”
I knew Yuri hadn’t heard us, but his next question came right on queue. “So, where is everyone heading now that this is done?”
“I’m flying out tomorrow,” Chen said, his hand raised in the air.
Kara looked at Yuri. “Guess it depends on what head office has in mind for me. I’m starting to like Luxembourg though.”
“No plans on heading back to Canada?” I said.
“Not yet. Eventually. It’s been nice to see some more of the world though.”
Kat squeezed my hand gently. “I’m happy anywhere as long as my family is there.”
“Your mother and I have been talking about that.” Kris was sitting opposite to Kat with Agnes at his side. They had tried to get out of coming but we wanted them there as well. Yuri and Sophie were new additions, but everyone else, one way or another, was family. It wouldn’t have been right without them there. “Wherever you want to go, we’re coming too.”
“Really?” Kat said. “I thought you never wanted to leave Warsaw.”
“It’s been nice having Link and Kasia around so much. And having you back, we want to keep it that way.”
Kat smiled and I saw tears in her eyes. “Thank you,” she said. “Right now, Poland sounds nice. But I do want to go back to Canada again.”
“One condition,” Kris said. “We’re living with you.”
The look on my face must have been priceless. Kris and Agnes both started laughing. “Oh, Lincoln,” Agnes said. “We’re kidding… but we will be next door.”
I smiled an awkward smile, unsure if she was serious or not. My phone rang and saved me from the situation.
I looked at the display. “I need to take this one,” I said, as I excused myself from the table.
“Eddie, how have you been?”
“Good, Lincoln, really good. We were in Costa Rica for the last two weeks, just got back and saw the news. We’re so happy for you. You found her.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I did. I know you never stopped trying on your end, so thank you.”
“No problem. I did what anyone would have. Just wish I could’ve helped more.”
I knew that Eddie’s methods had probably been completely and inexplicably illegal and it made me love the guy even more. If it hadn’t been for him and his methods, we may never have caught Crawford in the first place. The man was a genius with a computer.
“How’s Najat?” I knew she was doing well professionally. She’d finished her Ph.D. in Anthropology shortly after returning from helping us with Crawford. She had changed her thesis, written about her work on the murder victims and finished a new thesis in an unbelievably short time.
“Doing very well. Just before we left she found out she got hired at Western teaching part-time. And with the OPP calling her in as required, it should be enough to pay for the wedding.”
Eddie laughed. “Yep, proposed on the trip.”
“And she actually said ‘yes’?”
“Believe it or not. We’re looking at August, Lincoln. Any chance you guys will be back by then?”
“If not, we’ll make it back.”
“Awesome. Anyway, I’ll let you go. Sounds like a party in the background.”
“Celebrating. We just wrapped a case.”
“Well, say ‘hi’ to everyone for me.”
“Will do. And give my congratulations to Najat.”
“You got it.”
I hung up the phone and returned to the table. “Eddie says ‘hi’ and he expects us all at the wedding.”
“Well, well,” Kat said. “You should moo
nlight as a matchmaker.” She smiled as she looked across the table to Yuri and Kara sitting beside each other and having their own conversation. I stood up, raised my glass and looked over the table.
“To friends and family.”
As always, I have many people I need to thank. Of course, I can’t name them. You know who you are and how grateful I am for everything you do.
There is one person I can thank: Rhelda Gautreau. This journey has been a fascinating one, and I have met some great people along the way. Rhelda came to me as a reader with a knack for editing and graciously volunteered to lend her time to help make this newest book a reality. I can’t thank you enough for your time, energy and passion.
Other Books By Harrison Drake
Detective Lincoln Munroe
A Dream of Death
Death By Degrees
The Homicide Files (Detective Lincoln Munroe Novellas)
Full Fathom Five
The Purest Treasure
My Life in Darkness
About The Author
Harrison Drake is the pseudonym of a Canadian writer and career police officer who has chosen anonymity in order to protect a safe, secure and quiet lifestyle for his family.
The author is hard at work on numerous other writing projects in numerous other genres. If he can’t be found at home, playing with his children or sitting in his lonely writer’s garret, he’ll be outside, gazing up at the night sky and searching for answers.