Chapter 41: The Woods
Corrie stared at Paul in complete disbelief. She’d saved that argument for last, and if he wouldn’t respond to it, she had absolutely no idea what to do. Of course, she had never intended to get back together with him—and maybe she wasn’t the best liar—but she thought that, after all the time and effort he’d spent trying to get her to do that exact thing, maybe he would at least respond to it.
Then again… he had responded, hadn’t he? He hadn’t agreed to tell her what she wanted to know, but at least he wasn’t sitting there being stubbornly silent as he had all night. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself and control her expression, hoping that he hadn’t recognized the shock and frustration on her face. Her only chance now, she was pretty sure, was to convince him that she was telling the truth.
She just hoped she hadn’t confused the cops, Edie, and Professor Lal too much. There hadn’t been much of a chance to tell them about her plan—and she hadn’t really made a plan before coming in here, anyway. She’d tried, but she couldn’t concentrate and it was only when she was actually in the room with Paul that her thoughts started coming to the surface, maybe knowing that they were needed. And she was pretty sure Professor Lal had been putting thoughts into her head earlier, but she couldn’t seem to send thoughts the other direction.
Well, she would have to worry about that later. For now, she concentrated on Paul. “What do you mean, no?” she asked, frowning. “I thought you were the one who always wanted that. I understand now, Paul. I know how much you love me. We can be a couple again.”
He was still glaring at her, his face just emerging from under his hood. She tried not to show how much it unnerved her. “I don’t believe you,” he said.
She swallowed. “Why not?”
“Because you’ve been telling me for months that it’s over and we can’t get back together! You never wanted to do that. You just wanted to hurt me.”
She shook her head, feeling legitimately sad for the first time. “I never wanted to hurt you, Paul. Believe me, that’s the last thing I want.”
He shook his head. “No. I don’t believe you.”
“Then please explain it to me.” She squeezed her hands together, controlling their trembling. “If you didn’t want to get back together with me, then why did you attack my friend with that knife?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I had to—” He suddenly cut himself off, clamping his lips shut and drawing back slightly, so his head retreated further into his hood.
“You had to do what, Paul?” asked Officer Pell from the corner. Corrie had almost forgotten she was there. “Did someone make you do that?”
They both waited for an answer, but Paul did not respond. There was no sound except for a faint electronic whine coming from the lights and whatever other equipment was in the room.
“Did someone make you attack Dawn?” Corrie asked. Maybe he only wanted to talk to her.
“No,” he said, with a touch of what might have been pride in his voice. “It was my idea.”
“Who did you tell that idea to?”
“No one,” he whispered.
Corrie lifted her hands and pressed one finger to a spot between her eyes that had started to ache. At least she was getting some answers out of him, she told herself, even if it was slow and painful. “Did you talk to someone about that idea?”
“No one,” he repeated.
“Where did you talk about that idea?”
His eyebrows rose slightly. “The woods.”
Okay. That was progress. “Did you get any other ideas in the woods?”
“What about anything else? Did you get anything in the woods?”
He shifted, making his handcuffs rattle slightly. “No. I didn’t… I didn’t get anything.”
“Did someone sell you a knife in the woods?” said Officer Pell.
Paul didn’t respond, which didn’t surprise Corrie. Besides, even if he’d been willing to say anything to Officer Pell, he probably hadn’t paid for the knife. At least, not with money. “Was it the market in the woods? The one with all the interesting things?”
His eyebrows pulled together. “I didn’t see a market.”
Maybe not, then. “How did you get the knife? You found it in the woods? Or someone gave it to you?”
“No. It’s mine. My knife.”
Something was definitely wrong with him. He’d always been smart and eloquent—one of the biggest things that had attracted Corrie to him—and now his speech was all choppy and confused. “Where is the knife? Do you still have it?”
His handcuffs rattled again. His eyes went wide and he sucked in a deep, rattling breath. “No. Where’s my knife?” He began to jerk back and forth in his chair. “Where’s my knife?”