Home > Obsession in Death (In Death #40)(4)

Obsession in Death (In Death #40)(4)
J.D. Robb

“We’ll take care of it,” Eve told him. “If you think of anything else, let us know.”

“I will, of course. I want to ask, for my own peace of mind. Would it have been quick?”

“I think it would have.”

“I hope she didn’t suffer.”

While Peabody guided him out, Eve returned to the dressing room.

“He was sweet under the stuffy,” Peabody commented when she came in. “And I think he really liked her.”

“He’d be one,” Eve said. “She was a hard-ass, cold-blooded and snotty with it. I don’t think she’ll have a long list of actual friends, but there’ll be plenty of acquaintances, clients, associates. There’s a safe here, as I figured. It doesn’t look like it’s been tampered with, but we’ll want EDD in here to get it open, check it out. We’ll want to talk to her insurance people, cross-check valuables. Just cover the bets, Peabody, on the very slim chance the message is a herring.”

“A red herring?”

“Why are they red, and what the hell does that expression really mean anyway? It’s annoying.”

Eve took a moment, pressed her fingers to her eyes.

YOUR TRUE AND LOYAL FRIEND.

The last words of the message played around and around in her head. She had to push them out. For now.

“Okay, this is going to be a freaking shitstorm. We need to do the family notifications right away as this is going to leak fast. We need to get the PA to cover us on getting copies of whatever we can get. The threats, her client list, case files. Her firm’s going to make the usual noises, and maybe louder than usual. The media’s going to start salivating as soon as this message crap gets out, and it will.”

“Who’d kill for you?” Peabody waited until Eve lowered her hands. “I mean who’d kill because somebody was rude to you, or, well, snotty?”

“Nobody leaps to mind. I tend to avoid relationships with the homicidal.”

“I don’t mean a specific name, Dallas. A type, a category even. Like someone you helped, someone you maybe saved from harm. Or someone close to someone you helped or saved. That’s a possibility. Someone who’s followed your career is another. A wannabe. You get a lot of media, Dallas, whether you like it or not. And it’s ‘or not,’ I get that. But you get a lot of media. You’ve closed a lot of big cases.”

“We’ve closed.”

“Yeah, but I’m not married to the kick-your-ass-sideways gorgeous Irish guy with more money than God. Who gets plenty of media, too. Add in all the buzz from the Icove case, Nadine’s book on it, the major success of the vid.”

“Fuck.” Frustrated, a little headachy, Eve shoved her fingers through her hair. “That’s going to hound me forever. But you’ve got some clear thinking here, and it’s the sort of direction we need to pursue. Someone who feels like they owe me, and twist. A wannabe who figures they’ll defend me by doing what I can’t. Kill off enemies, or someone perceived to be. Because screw it, Peabody, I haven’t given Bastwick a thought since Barrow lost his appeal, more than a year ago.”

She stepped back into the bedroom, read the message again. “She didn’t show me respect,” Eve murmured. “Let’s hope that’s not the thrust of the motive, because there’s a list that could circle the damn planet of people who haven’t shown me respect. I’m a goddamn cop. Her life was a lie; her death our truth. Our? Does he have a partner? Is he talking about me – him and me?”

“It follows a theme, doesn’t it? It’s for you, and for justice. Bastwick, criminal defense attorney, you the cop. Plus, somebody knows grammar and so on. The semicolon. How many killers do we know who’d use a semicolon?”

“Huh. That’s a point. Okay, we’re going to have to look at the cop, justice, disrespect deal, at the big, wide picture, but right now, let’s focus in on the vic, and why her, specifically. High-profile, rich, attractive, with plenty of enemies.”

“Sounds like you,” Peabody said quietly. The concern that pressed on her chest showed in her dark eyes. “Maybe that’s another connection.”

“I’m not rich. Roarke’s rich, and I don’t deck myself out like she did every day.”

“You look good.”

“Gee, thanks, Peabody.”

“Look, you’re tall, skinny, got the cheekbones and the dent in the chin going. You look good, and you look good on camera. Tough, and okay, you come off as a cop even if you’re decked out for one of Roarke’s deals. Maybe it’s a guy with some lust going, and this is his way of, you know, wooing you.”

“Screw it again.” Because that idea made her a little bit sick. “Let’s review the discs instead of speculating. And let’s go ahead and call in the sweepers and the morgue.” Eve glanced back at the body. “She needs to be taken care of.”

“The killer?” Peabody jutted a chin toward the note before she picked up her coat. “He doesn’t get that. Doesn’t get that at all.”

2

Eve inserted the security disc, exterior, into her PPC and, weighing the odds, zipped through to an hour before TOD.

“Killer could live in the building, or could have come in at any time, but we’ll go with most likely for this pass.”

She watched people go in, go out. Hauling shopping bags, she noted. Did people never stop shopping? What could they possibly do with all the stuff? It baffled her.

“Cutting it close now,” Peabody commented, “unless my gauges are off, we’re down to about fifteen minutes before TOD. Maybe it is somebody who lives in the building or —”

“Here. Here we go.”

With Peabody, Eve watched a delivery person – gender undetermined – step up to the main door and the security panel.

“Pause run. Look he – or maybe she – holds the big box up on the shoulder, blocking the face from the cameras. Big brown coat, brown pants, laced boots, brown gloves, dark ski cap pulled over the hair, scarf wrapped around the neck and lower face. You don’t even get a solid confirmation of race.”

“The way he’s angled, you can’t really see which buzzer he’s pushing. EDD may be able to enhance, but it has to be the vic’s. He looks like he’s solidly built, but —”

“Big bulky coat. Can’t get build. We can get approximate height. Goes right in. We switch to interior. Straight to the elevator,” Eve said a moment later. “Knows where the cameras are. The fucker’s been here before, or got hands on the security schematics. Keeps the box angled just right. Into the elevator… What have we got, what have we got? Hands. They don’t look like big hands. Could be a man, could be a woman. We’ve got hands, feet, height. We can do an analysis there. Goddamn it, walks right out, re-angles the box, and straight to the vic’s door.”

“She opened it for him – or her – just like you said. And… he’s reaching in his pocket. Dallas —”

“Yeah, I see. Moves quick. She opens the door. ‘Ms. Bastwick, Leanore Bastwick, got a delivery for you. It’s pretty heavy, miss, let me set it inside for you.’ Yeah, she opens the door a little more, shifts back – out of camera range. And he moves in, pulling something. Goddamn it again, just out of range. And kicks the door closed behind him. Smooth, fast. Fuck.”

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