Home > Obsession in Death (In Death #40)(3)

Obsession in Death (In Death #40)(3)
J.D. Robb

“Can’t argue there.” Eve sat back. “Take me through it. When did you become concerned about Ms. Bastwick, and what did you do?”

“I became concerned, very concerned, this morning. I arrive at the offices at eight-fifteen, routinely. This provides me time to check any messages, the daily schedule, prepare any necessary notes or documents for the morning appointments. Unless Ms. Bastwick is in court or has an early outside appointment, she arrives between eight-thirty and eight-forty. When I arrived this morning, there was a message from Misters Chance Warren and Zane Quirk. Ms. Bastwick had a dinner meeting with them last night, eight o’clock at Monique’s on Park. The message came in at nine-oh-three last evening. The clients were somewhat irritated that Ms. Bastwick hadn’t arrived.”

“They contacted the office – after hours?”

“Yes, exactly. In the message, Mr. Warren stated that they’d tried to reach Ms. Bastwick on her pocket ’link – the business number she’d given them as she does all clients. Failing to reach her, they tried the office, left a message.”

He paused, cleared his throat. “As this is not at all characteristic, I was concerned enough to try to contact Ms. Bastwick via ’link, but was only able to leave a voice mail, which I did on both of her numbers. I then contacted Mr. Warren, and discovered Ms. Bastwick had never arrived at the restaurant, and he and Mr. Quirk had dinner, remained there until after ten.”

When he paused, cleared his throat again, Peabody interrupted. “Can I get you some water, Mr. Haversham?”

“Oh, I don’t want to be any trouble.”

“It’s no trouble. We appreciate your cooperation,” she said as she rose.

“Very kind.” He brushed his finger over the knot of his tie. “I had expected Ms. Bastwick’s arrival at eight-twenty this morning as, per her request, I had scheduled an early meeting at the offices. She didn’t arrive, and I rescheduled with the client, again tried her ’link. I confess, Lieutenant – Oh, thank you, Detective,” he said when Peabody brought him a tall glass of water. He sipped delicately, let out a long breath.

“As I was saying, I confess I was deeply concerned at this point. I worried Ms. Bastwick had taken ill or met with an accident. I made the decision to come here, in case she was ill and unable to reach the ’link. As I explained to the officer, I have her codes as I tend to her plants and other business whenever she’s out of town. When she didn’t answer the buzzer, I took it upon myself to use the codes and enter the apartment. I understand that might seem forward, an invasion of privacy, but I was genuinely worried.”

“It seems sensible to me.”

“Thank you.” He took another delicate sip. “I called out for her, and as I heard voices – I realized after a moment it was the entertainment screen in the bedroom – I called out again. Very concerned now as she didn’t respond, I went directly to her bedroom. I called out once again, in case she was indisposed, then I went to the door.”

“Was it open or closed?”

“Oh, open. I saw her immediately. I saw… I started in, somehow thinking I could help. Then I stopped myself, just before I reached the foot of the bed, as it was all too clear I could be of no help to her. I was very shaken. I… I might have shouted, I’m not sure. I got out my ’link. My hands trembled so I nearly dropped it. I contacted nine-one-one. The operator, who was very calming and kind, I’d like to add, instructed me not to touch anything, and to wait for the police. I did touch the front door upon entering, and again when I admitted the officers. And I may have touched the doorjamb of the bedroom. I can’t quite remember.”

“It’s okay.”

“I saw what was written on the wall. I couldn’t not see it. But I don’t understand it.”

“In the file of threats you have, do you remember any that involved me? Anyone threatening her in connection with the Jess Barrow matter?”

“I don’t. I came on after the Barrow case, though I’m familiar with it.”

“As a matter of procedure, can you tell us where you were last night, between five and eight P.M.?”

“Oh my.” Now he took a deeper drink of water. “Well, yes, of course. I left the office at five-oh-five. My wife had plans to have dinner with her sister as it was my turn to host my chess club. Marion isn’t particularly interested in chess. I arrived home about five-twenty, and began preparations for dinner. Marion left about five-forty-five, to meet her sister for drinks, and the first of the club arrived at six, precisely. We had a light meal, and played until… I believe it was about nine-thirty. The last of our club would have left just before ten, shortly after Marion returned home. There are eight of us. I can provide you with their names.”

“We’d appreciate that. It’s routine.”

“I understand. Ms. Bastwick was an exacting employer. I prefer that as I do my best when I have tasks and goals, and challenges. I believe we suited each other very well. I also understand some found her difficult. I did not.”

For the first time he looked away, his eyes moist. Eve said nothing as he visibly struggled to compose himself again.

“I’m sorry. I’m very distressed.”

“Take your time.”

“Yes, thank you. I didn’t find Ms. Bastwick difficult. Even if I had I would say what I say to you now. Anything I can do to assist you in finding who took her life, you have only to ask.”

“You’ve been really helpful,” Peabody told him. “Maybe you could give us a sense of how Ms. Bastwick got along with her partners, her colleagues, the people at your firm.”

“Oh, well, there would be some friction now and then, as you’d expect. A great deal of competition. But I will say she was valued, and respected. I… my own assistant has tried to contact me several times. The officer asked I not answer my ’link, so I’ve switched it off. But I should go back to the offices when it’s permitted. There are so many things that need to be done, need to be seen to.”

“Just one more thing,” Eve said. “Was she working on anything big right now, anything hot?”

“I suppose Misters Warren and Quirk would qualify. They are accused of embezzlement and fraud, from their own financial consulting firm. The matter will go to the courts next week. Ms. Bastwick was very confident she would get a not-guilty verdict on all charges. She was a fierce litigator, as you know.”

“Yeah. Is there anyone we can contact for you, Mr. Haversham?”

“For me?” He looked blank for a moment. “No, no, but thank you. I’ll go back to the office, do what needs to be done.”

“We’d appreciate copies of those threats.”

“Yes, I’ll speak to Mr. Stern right away.”

“We can arrange for one of the officers to drive you back to the office,” Peabody offered.

“So kind. But it’s not far, and I believe I’d like to walk. I believe it would help if I could walk and sort through my thoughts.”

He rose as Eve did. “Her family. I just thought. She has parents and a sister. Her parents live in Palm Beach, and her sister…” He paused a moment, rubbed at his temple. “She lives with her family in East Washington. Should I contact them?”

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