“You’re quite right,” he said. “I’ll never know how my parents would have felt about my life.”
He held out his hand. She took it and he bent down so that his face was next to her ear. He could feel her silken hair on his cheek and smell her scent of Chanel No. 5 and baby powder.
“But I know my parents loved me,” he whispered, then pulled back so that his eyes locked on to hers. “Does Peter?”
Gamache straightened up, nodded to Monsieur Finney, and walked back down the dark corridor to the front door.
The Chief paused at the door and turned to see Finney hobbling toward him.
“You’re worried about Peter, aren’t you?” the older man said.
Gamache studied him, then nodded. “Was there a place he went to as a child? A place that might have been special? A favorite place?” He thought for a moment. “A safe place?”
“You mean a real place?”
“Well, yes. When people are in turmoil they sometimes go back to a place where they were once happy.”
“And Peter’s in turmoil, you think?”
Finney thought, then shook his head. “I’m sorry but nothing comes to mind.”
“Merci,” Gamache said. He shook hands with Finney, then left, trying to keep his pace measured. Trying not to speed up. Speed up. Speed away from this house. He could almost hear Emily Carr and A. Y. Jackson and Clarence Gagnon calling him back. Begging to be taken with him. Begging to be appreciated, and not valued simply for their appreciation.
Once in his car, Gamache took a deep breath, then pulled out his phone and found a message from Beauvoir. Jean-Guy had come into Montréal with him, and Gamache had dropped him at SQ headquarters.
Lunch? the text asked.
Mai Xiang Yuan, Chinatown, Gamache wrote back.
Within moments his device trilled. Jean-Guy would meet him there.
A short while later, over dumplings, they compared notes.
Jean-Guy Beauvoir tore a small hole in the top of a dumpling and dripped in tamari sauce. Then, using a spoon, he put the whole thing in his mouth.
Gamache watched, pleased to see Jean-Guy’s appetite so strong.
Then he picked up a round shrimp and cilantro dumpling with his chopsticks and ate it.
Beauvoir watched and noted that the Chief’s hand didn’t tremble. Not much. Not anymore.
The hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Chinatown was filling with customers.
“Some din,” said Jean-Guy, raising his voice over the lunch noise.
Beauvoir wiped his chin with a thin paper napkin and looked over at his notebook, splayed open on the laminate table beside his bowl.
“Okay, here’s the thing,” he said. “I did a quick search on Peter’s credit cards and his bank card. When he left Clara, he stayed in a hotel in Montréal for a week or so. A suite at the Crystal.”
“A suite?” asked Gamache.
“Not the largest one, though.”
“So he packed his hair shirt after all,” said Gamache.
“Well, yes. Is cashmere considered hair?”
Gamache smiled. By Morrow standards the elegant Hotel Le Crystal was probably the equivalent of the rack. It wasn’t the Ritz.
“And then?” asked Gamache.
“Air Canada to Paris. A geographical?” asked Beauvoir.
The Chief thought about that. “Perhaps.”
The investigators knew that people who took off were running from unhappiness. Loneliness. Failure. They ran, thinking the problem was one of location. They thought they could start fresh somewhere else.
It rarely worked. The problem was not geographical.
“Where did he stay in Paris?”
“The Hotel Auriane. In the 15th arrondissement.”
“Vraiment?” asked Gamache, a little surprised. He knew Paris well. Their son Daniel, his wife, Roslyn, and their grandchildren lived in Paris, in the 6th arrondissement in an apartment the size of a pie plate.
“Not what you expected, patron?” asked Jean-Guy, who, at dinner parties, pretended to know Paris, but didn’t. He also pretended not to know east-end Montréal. But did.
With Gamache he’d long since given up the pretense.
“Well, the 15th is nice,” said Gamache, thinking about it. “Residential. Lots of families.”
“Not exactly the artistic hub.”
“No,” said Gamache. “How long did he stay?”
Beauvoir consulted his notes. “At the hotel? A few days. Then he rented a furnished apartment, for four months. He left just before his lease was up.”