Outbreak by Robin Cook. Part six

He had a broad, masculine face with a well-trimmed mustache and sad eyes, as if he’d seen more of life than he cared to know. He looked down at Marissa with a smile. It was obvious from his expression that he had no idea who she was.

“May I speak to you in private?” asked Marissa.

Tieman glanced at his assistant, who was just approaching. “I’ll see you in the OR,” Tieman said, leading Marissa away.

He took her to one of the dictation cubicles separated from the lounge by two swinging doors. There was one chair, and Dr. Tieman turned it around, gesturing for Marissa to sit. He leaned against a counter, holding his coffee in his right hand.

Acutely conscious of her short stature and its psychological handicap, Marissa pushed the chair back to him, insisting that he sit since he’d been standing in surgery since early that morning.

“Okay, okay,” he said with a short laugh. “I’m sitting. Now what can I do for you?”

“I’m surprised you don’t recognize my name,” said Marissa, watching the man’s eyes. They were still questioning, still friendly.

“I’m sorry,” said Dr. Tieman. He laughed again, but with a tinge of embarrassment. He was studying Marissa’s face. “I do meet a lot of people . .

“Hasn’t Dr. Jack Krause called you about me?” asked Marissa.

“I’m not even sure I know a Dr. Krause,” said Dr. Tieman, directing his attention to his coffee.

The first lie, thought Marissa. Taking a deep breath, she told the doctor exactly what she’d told Krause. From the moment she mentioned the L.A. Ebola outbreak, he never lifted his eyes. She could tell that he was nervous. The surface of the coffee shook slightly in the cup in his hand, and Marissa was suddenly glad she was not the man’s next patient.

“I haven’t the slightest idea why you are telling me this,” said Dr. Tieman, starting to rise. “And unfortunately I have another case.”

With uncharacteristic forwardness, Marissa gently touched his chest, forcing him back in his seat. “I’m not finished,” she said, “and whether you realize it or not, you are intimately involved. I have evidence that Ebola is being deliberately spread by the Physicians’ Action Congress. You are their treasurer, and I’m shocked that a man of your reputation could be connected to such a sordid affair.”

“You’re shocked,” countered Dr. Tieman, finally rising to his feet and towering over her. “I’m amazed that you have the nerve to make such irresponsible allegations.”

“Save your breath,” said Marissa. “It’s public knowledge that you are an officer of PAC as well as a limited partner in one of the only labs in the country equipped to handle viruses like Ebola.”

“I hope you have plenty of insurance,” warned Dr. Tieman, his voice rising. “You’ll be hearing from my lawyer.”

“Good,” said Marissa, ignoring the threat. “Maybe he will persuade you that your best course is to cooperate with the authorities.” She stepped back and looked directly up at his face. “Having met you, I cannot believe you approved the idea of spreading a deadly disease. It will be a double tragedy for you to lose everything you’ve worked for because of someone else’s poor judgment. Think about it, Dr. Tieman. You don’t have a lot of time.”

Pushing through the swinging doors, Marissa left a stunned doctor desperately heading for the phone. She realized she had forgotten to tell Tieman that she was planning to visit the other PAC officers, but she decided it didn’t matter. The man was terrified enough.

“There’s the girl!” yelled Al, slapping Jake on the shoulder. They were parked across the street from the main entrance to the hospital. George waited behind them in the second car. When Al turned to look at him, George gave a thumbs-up sign, meaning that he’d also seen Marissa.

“She won’t get away today,” said Al.

Jake started the car and, as Marissa got into a cab, he pulled out into the street, heading back into town. Al watched as Marissa’s cab

pulled out behind them, followed neatly by George. Now things were working as they should.

“She must have seen Tieman if she’s leaving,” said Jake.

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Categories: Cook, Robin