Home > Devoted in Death (In Death #41)(11)

Devoted in Death (In Death #41)(11)
J.D. Robb

Eve said nothing until she’d pulled into the garage at Central, parked in her spot. “People defile and despoil what’s good and pure and special every single fucking day. We see it, we know it, we deal with it.”

“I know, but —”

“Shut up. You think about this. When some sick fuck uses what’s good and pure and special in his sick-fuck way, it just makes the symbol stronger and more important. It doesn’t lessen it one damn bit, unless you let it.”

Because she had blubbered a little, Peabody scrubbed her hands over her face. “You’re right. You’re so completely right. I just let it get to me.”

“It was nice,” Eve said as they got out of the car. “What your parents did, it was nice.”

She glanced over at the quick click of heels, saw Mira cutting toward the elevator from her own space.

Eve thought the color of the coat that skimmed to the knees of Dr. Charlotte Mira’s excellent legs might be called aquamarine. The heels were certainly emerald as was the hint of the dress under the coat. A sassy beret of rich sapphire blue perched on her smooth bob of mink-colored hair. She carried a purse of the same color as the beret and a shoulder-strap briefcase of supple bronze leather.

“Well, good morning. Are you just coming in, or… Peabody, are you all right?”

Instinctively, Peabody scrubbed at her face again. “Oh yeah. I just had a moment, that’s all. And I just tagged your admin to see if you could squeeze Dallas in for a consult.”

“So you’re just getting in, but not just coming on.” Mira turned her quiet blue eyes to Eve. “I’m actually not due in for another twenty minutes. I left early as I wasn’t sure how traffic would be once the snow started. I can come up with you to your office now, if you have the time.”

“I’ll make it.”

When she could grab time with the department’s top shrink and profiler, she grabbed it.

“A new case? You’ve just gotten back from holiday.”

“We got back yesterday afternoon. We caught the case about four this morning when a beat droid found the body.”

Seeing no point in wasting time, Eve started the rundown as they got on the elevator.

“Dennis and I went to the Met with friends, saw Giselle just last weekend. Your victim must have been playing.” Mira shifted as the elevator shuddered to a stop on nearly every floor and more cops piled on. “Held and tortured for two days. Sexual component?”

“None that shows. The killer used a precise flame – probably a hand torch – to inflict small burns on the genitals.”

Every male cop on the crowded car shifted, and Eve imagined cop balls shrinking up in sympathy and defense.

“No mutilation?”

“Not your standard. Broken bones, burns, cuts, bruises. Primarily torso, abdomen, limbs, broken and crushed fingers. Hacked his hair off, left insulting little tufts of it. He had a lot of thick, shiny hair.”

“Humiliation. But the face, nearly unmarked, no mutilation of the genitals. It doesn’t feel personal.”

“Somebody takes a torch to my balls, I’m taking it personal,” one of the cops said. Mira smiled at him.

“Burns heal, Officer, given the time. Personal would be slicing them up or off.”

“Acid.” Eve spoke casually. “I caught one once where the girlfriend got pissed, and when the guy was crashed on Zoner, poured acid on his balls.”

Grateful when the elevator stopped on Homicide level, Eve pushed her way through cops, did her best to make a hole for Mira and Peabody.

“Everyone with balls on that car is going to check his own, first chance,” she said, and made Mira laugh.

“I think that’s an accurate analysis.”

When they turned into Homicide, Eve saw Detective Baxter start to stand up, as if he’d been watching for her. But he settled back again.

“Hey, Dr. Mira. Looking good.”

“As do you, Detective. Always.” Mira glanced toward the corner where they’d had the perfectly pathetic holiday tree. And where Eve, Baxter and nearly every cop currently in the room had come far too close to death on the last day of 2060.

“I’ll miss your very eclectic and inclusive holiday decorations,” she said. “Maybe you can do something for Valentine’s Day.”

“Not ever.” Eve said it definitely in case anybody got some weird ideas. “Peabody, start arranging the interviews. Dr. Mira, why don’t you go into my office? I’m right behind you.” But she crossed to Baxter first.

“Something hot?”

“No, nothing hot, boss.” He shrugged shoulders that filled out a smart, perfectly cut suit. “Just something I wanted to touch base with you on when you get a minute.”

“After I talk to Mira.” She looked across the room, studied Jenkinson’s tie. Today’s had white snowflakes swirling against a blue so bold and lively Eve thought it might have a pulse.

“That’s never going to stop, is it?”

Baxter grinned, shook his head. “It’s now a Homicide Division tradition. Reineke told me Jenkinson’s found a street vendor who’ll sell them to him at a discount when he buys five at a go.”

“God help us all,” Eve muttered, and walked away to join Mira.

4

In Eve’s office with its single skinny window, Mira sat in the ass-biting visitor’s chair – as close to its edge as she could manage without tipping over.

“Let me get this set up, then you can take the desk chair.” Eve frowned at the ugly, miserable excuse for a chair she’d had since she’d had the office. “I guess I should probably requisition a new visitor’s chair.”

“Which you haven’t done before because you’d prefer not to have visitors in here.”

“It’s getting hard to keep them out. I didn’t mean you.”

Understanding perfectly, Mira pulled off her beret, fluffed her rich brown hair. “Not today at any rate.”

“You want some of that tea? I’ve got some.”

“Actually¸ at this time of the day I wouldn’t mind some of your superior coffee.”

Eve walked to the AutoChef – every bit as ancient as the chair – programmed two coffees. “I want to get the board up. It’ll be easier to show you.” With the coffee at her elbow, Eve sat at the desk to get it started. After interfacing her recorder, she ordered the crime scene shots she wanted.

“I’ll have a report written up, and a copy of Morris’s findings within the hour,” she began. “Next of kin – vic’s mother – has been notified and interviewed. Other than the vic’s doorman, we haven’t talked to anyone else. Peabody and I went through his residence, tagged electronics for EDD, but there’s nothing in there to indicate he had trouble. The picture coming through,” she continued as she transferred images to her board, “is of a successful, talented man who had a wide group of friends. That included Morris, as a kind of acquaintance.”

“Morris knew the victim?”

“The vic routinely dropped into jazz and blues clubs, jammed with other musicians. He had a range of musical talent and interests.”

“As does Morris,” Mira said with a nod.

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