Shell Shaker Chapters 15–17 Summary
by LeAnne Howe

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Chapters 15–17 Summary

Chapter 15: Heart of the Panther

September 26, 1991: Adair jerks awake from a dream to find herself in a first-class airline cabin on the way to New York with Gore. She hears her father’s voice telling her she is the “true hunter in the family.” Beside her, Gore is typing on his laptop. He laughs to himself, saying Indians aren’t capitalists and must trade for what they want. Adair thinks this is a strange remark; she asks him why he hasn’t mentioned their first meeting, and he tells her he was waiting for her to mention it. He then says he never called because their timing was poor—he was still in law school then, and she was so successful. He got married shortly after they met, but it didn’t work out. Gore kisses Adair briefly, then says that over the past three days, it has become clear that they’re still crazy about each other. Susan has even welcomed him to the family.

Gore then asks Adair to marry him. At first, she hesitates, feeling guilty for feeling “so happy while her family is being put through hell”; Gore coaxes her, asking her to “trade hearts” with him, like an old Indian treaty between tribes. She agrees.

When they reach their hotel, they make love. Adair stays up late to write a priority list, which includes retrieving the package from Tema’s agent, finding James Joyce, and employing a hacker to download the tribal bank files. She is leaving a message with Tema’s agent when Gore gets up and asks why she’s still awake. Adair says she wants to show her mother that she, too, can be dependable. Gore tells her he will call a friend in DC tomorrow, an employee in the attorney general’s office who will be able to help them.

When Adair wakes again at five, she sees a panther on the sofa and knows from its facial scars that it is her father. He promises her that Auda is being watched over and that James Joyce will be waiting for her at a restaurant, Harry’s, in New York. She must hurry to meet him.

Adair is woken by Gore at nine forty-five and explains her vision. Then, the phone rings: Tema’s agent says she has the package for Adair and that James Joyce has been trying to contact Tema, saying he is leaving town today. Adair tries to call her mother’s house before they leave to find James Joyce, but she cannot get through.

At Harry’s, Adair and Gore are escorted to a small table. James Joyce, a man in an overcoat, approaches her. He gives her a large manila envelope, then sits. He expresses sympathy for the loss of McAlester, but then says that they are all “plutocratic terrorists,” with their money never going where the chief wanted it to go. He says he did what McAlester asked.

Gore is confused by what Joyce is saying. He continues to ramble, saying that independence was no good for either the Irish or the Indians. Adair cuts him off, telling him that Auda is in a coma and asking him what happened to the money McAlester gave the Irish Republican Army, why Joyce was involved with McAlester to begin with, and why Joyce left a message with Tema’s agent. Gore interrupts to say that Joyce has already answered these questions: the envelope contains the evidence they need.

Joyce gets up and leaves. Gore opens the envelope and finds the wire transfer reports from the bank, proving Auda’s story. Gore says that what Joyce meant was that he is going to disappear; Joyce is upset that the money funneled to the Irish Republican Army was mostly lost in bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, in Durant, Tema will not leave Auda, who is still in a coma. She misses Borden. She is going to call him when the house creaks, suggesting someone has arrived. She hears footsteps but cannot see anyone. She remembers a story about Choctaw warriors launching surprise attacks and tries to become such a warrior herself. She takes off her boots and slides across the wooden floor. When she sees a stranger with a gun starting down the back stairs, she bolts, knocking him down the stairs. This breaks his neck.

Later, the police...

(The entire section is 1,647 words.)