Home > Obsession in Death (In Death #40)(7)

Obsession in Death (In Death #40)(7)
J.D. Robb

She had spoken complete truth.

Any one of them. Every one of them, from Jenkinson slurping bad coffee while scowling at his desk screen, to Baxter, his glossy, expensive shoes propped on his desk as he talked on his ’link. Carmichael and Santiago, heads together at her desk, arguing in undertones.

They still had the holiday decorations up, the ridiculous and scrawny tree, the odd assembly of symbolism from Kwanzaa corn to the dented menorah to the creepily amusing zombie Santa.

And the sign that hung now – and as far as she was concerned would always hang – over the break-room door.

NO MATTER YOUR RACE, CREED, SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR POLITICAL AFFILIATION, WE PROTECT AND SERVE. BECAUSE YOU COULD GET DEAD.

That’s just the way it was, she thought as Reineke came out of the break room with more bad coffee.

She went back to her office, where she had really good coffee. She considered, as she never had, that she could install Roarke’s real and excellent blend in the break room. But then she rejected the notion as temporarily sentimental.

You just didn’t go around breaking tradition of bad cop break-room coffee because you felt good about having good cops under your command.

Besides, they’d lose the fun of sneaking in and stealing it from her AutoChef. Who was she to spoil their good time?

So she took off her coat, programmed her really good coffee, and sat to start her murder book and board.

Her vic deserved the routine, the procedure – and she’d work better when that routine and procedure were in place.

Once they were, she and Peabody would start the interviews at the law offices, connect with Morris at the morgue. She’d personally hound the sweepers and the lab.

And she’d carve out enough time, sometime, to follow orders and connect with Kyung.

Nadine, she thought, rubbing absently at the back of her neck. Nadine Furst – ace on-air reporter, and the best-selling writer of The Icove Agenda. She’d need to talk to Nadine.

If someone did their research – and Eve was confident the killer had – they’d know she and Nadine were personal friends. They might see Nadine as a conduit – the public figure, the on-air personality, and fierce reporter as an avenue to the cop.

In any case, when the lid tipped a fraction loose on the details at the crime scene, Nadine Furst would scent out the story like a cat scented a mouse.

Smarter to bring her in first.

Even as she considered the best approach, Eve heard the click of heels on their way to her office. Thinking Nadine, she started to get up, cover her murder board.

Mira walked in.

It wasn’t usual for Mira to come to her, or to walk into Eve’s office and close the door behind her.

“Sit,” Mira ordered.

More surprised than annoyed, Eve gestured to her desk chair. “Take this one.”

“Sit,” Mira snapped, and deliberately took Eve’s miserably uncomfortable visitor’s chair. “You’re a smart woman,” Mira began, “an exceptional cop. As both, you know you should pass this investigation on.”

“I’m a smart woman,” Eve agreed, “and an exceptional cop. As both, I’ll be damned if I’ll pass it on because someone’s using me as an excuse to kill.”

“That makes it personal.”

Eve sat, breathed. “They’re all personal,” she tossed back, and had the dignified Mira scowling. “Murder is as personal as it gets. A good cop knows how to be objective about the personal.”

“Eve.” Mira stopped, patted a hand in the air to indicate she was taking a moment.

Eve gave it to her.

Mira wore a deep brick-red rather than her more customary soft colors, but the suit was – as always – perfection. Her sable hair – color and texture – swung in a bob, her newest do, around her lovely face, made her quiet blue eyes seem just a little deeper.

Or maybe that was just annoyance, Eve considered.

Now, as if drawing herself in, Mira sat back – winced as the chair likely pinched her ass – then crossed excellent legs.

“It’s personal for the killer – to you. This person sees himself – we’ll use the male pronoun for simplicity – as your friend, more your champion. He has fantasized a relationship with you, which has only become deeper to him now that he’s killed for you. He gave you a gift. At some point he’ll expect your appreciation.”

“He’ll be disappointed.”

“And when disappointed, he will strike out.”

“If I passed it on, if I said – essentially – this one’s not worth my time and effort? What then? Wouldn’t he have to kill again, do better, find someone I’d feel more worth my time and effort?”

Mira tapped the toe of her brick-red heel. “An exceptional cop,” she muttered. “Yes, that’s possible. What is clear is you are his focus.”

“I don’t know that’s clear – I say yeah, most likely. But it’s also possible this was really about Bastwick. I need to do my job, determine that or disprove that. It seems to me the question we should be asking – profiler-wise – is, Why am I the focus? Where did this fantasy friendship come from? How do I exploit it to stop him? Help me do that.”

On a long sigh, Mira glanced toward the AutoChef.

“You want some of that tea you like? I think I have some.”

“I would, actually. I’m upset. You matter.”

Eve rose, programmed the tea. “You can’t let this be personal.”

“It’s always personal,” Mira countered, then smiled when Eve glanced back. “A good psychiatrist, like a good cop, knows how to be objective about the personal. This person, Eve, has idealized you, and that’s very dangerous.”

“Why?” Eve handed Mira the tea. “Not why it’s dangerous, I get that. Why has he idealized me?”

“You’re a strong woman in a dangerous career. One who has risen in that career.”

“Plenty of female cops,” Eve pointed out. “Plenty of them with rank.”

“Added to that, many of your cases garner considerable media attention. You’re married to an important, highly successful man of some mystery who also garners considerable media attention.”

She sipped some tea while Eve brooded over that one.

“You were spotlighted in a successful book, portrayed in a successful and critically acclaimed vid,” Mira continued. “You risk your life to protect and serve, when you’re in the position where you could simply travel, live a rich and privileged life. Instead of living that privileged life, you work long, sometimes impossible hours, taking those risks to do a job, to pursue justice.”

“Following that, why kill Bastwick? Anybody? I’m doing the job.”

“But not serving justice as this person sees it,” Mira pointed out. “How can you? You are the ideal, but also hampered by the rules of your job. So this person will seek justice for you.”

“But Bastwick? She didn’t matter.”

“Not to you, not particularly, but to this person she represented all her defendants, all you work against. All who have shown you disrespect, who haven’t properly paid you homage.”

“Well, Christ.” She looked back at her board, at Leanore Bastwick. Alive and dead. “But Bastwick and I hardly had any dealings with each other. And the ones we did, the bulk of them, were a couple years ago.”

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