Home > Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42)(10)

Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42)(10)
J.D. Robb

“I’ll take care of it.”

“Hey, no. I don’t want you to—”

“I’ll take care of it, Eve. I insist. Expect an apology.”

“I don’t want her to—”

“Don’t argue with me on this.”

Eve started to do just that, but saw the fatigue, the strain. “Okay, fine. How’s Mr. Mira?”

“He’s all right. No worrying symptoms. I’ll keep an eye on him tonight, but I truly believe he’s fine. Worried about Edward, of course.”

“Let him know we’re working on it, and I’ll be in touch if and when.”

She clicked off before Mira could thank her again, and considered investigative approaches as they turned through the gates, and toward home.

Lights gleamed welcome in the dozens and dozens of windows, glowing against the dignified stone, even in the fanciful turrets.

She considered coming home to such a wonder after an endless day her personal miracle.

They got out opposite sides of the car, circled around.

“How long did it take you to design the house—the whole elegant fortress with a touch of castle?”

“Oh, I spent years building it in my head as a boy. Every time I went to bed hungry or bruised, it got bigger.”

Since his childhood had been as much a nightmare as her own, it surprised her he’d restrained himself to just huge.

“I pulled it in a bit,” he said, taking her hand again as they approached the door. “Eliminated the guard towers, the moat, and accepted that the catapults of my fancy had no practical purpose.”

“I don’t know. Catapults would be pretty frosty.”

When they stepped inside, she saw the first thing she’d have loaded into one: Roarke’s majordomo.

Summerset stood in his habitual black suit—the living corpse who haunted the house. The fat cat gave one of Summerset’s bony legs a rub, then jogged over to twine through Eve’s, Roarke’s, in a kind of pudgy feline ballet.

Eve waited a beat for the expected sneering remark on how late they’d come home, or some other insult. But he only said:

“Mr. Mira?”

“He’s right enough,” Roarke said, shrugging out of his coat. “Eve’s just spoken with Dr. Mira.”

“I’m glad to hear it. If there’s anything I can do, you’ve only to let me know.”

He drifted away in that nearly silent way of his, leaving Eve frowning after him.

“After a day like this, I don’t even get to take a shot at him?”

“You told a former senator’s wife to kiss your ass.” He slipped off Eve’s coat. “Be satisfied with that.”

“That was a professional kiss my ass.”

Roarke gave Galahad a quick rub before starting up the steps. “There’s always tomorrow.”

Since that would have to be good enough, Eve went up with him, and the cat thumped up the steps behind them.

“Dinner first,” he insisted. “We’ll have it in the bedroom with the fire, and the wine.”

She could live with that. After, she’d set up a board in her office, do some runs, harangue the detective in Missing Persons she’d alerted. Roarke could check finances, which would entertain him. She could—

“I’ll deal with the fire and the wine,” Roarke said. “You deal with the pasta.”

“Right. Okay. I’m going to contact his two kids, just see if they have any information. I can hit this brain trust of his in the morning if nothing’s turned up.”

“You mean a body. You think like a murder cop, don’t you?”

“I am a murder cop. A body, because if this was kidnapping, a straight deal, there’d have been a demand for ransom. If someone just hauled him off to get something out of him, maybe they let him go after.”

“But why?”

She programmed the spaghetti, added the herbed breadsticks they both liked. “Yeah, why? Unless it’s some deal where he’d have to keep it zipped or be in worse. I don’t know enough about him yet to get a solid handle. Instinct says we’ll find the body, but that’s maybe knee-jerk.”

“His wife doesn’t love him.”

The cop she’d been would have reached that conclusion, but the cop she’d become, the one who knew love, was certain of it. “Not even in the general vicinity of love. But she’s territorial, protective of their status. I don’t see her setting this up. Maybe I find something that swings it that way. Mira said he played around, but the wife didn’t care. Maybe she started to care for some reason—threat of divorce and loss of status.”

She brought plates with generous portions to the table in the sitting area of the bedroom. Now the fire crackled, and Roarke poured deep red wine into glasses.

And the cat watched avidly.

“Summerset would’ve fed him, right?” Eve said.

“Oh, of course.”

“Crap.” She went back to the AutoChef, programmed a small dish of salmon. “He’ll give us the beady eye while we eat otherwise,” she claimed when Roarke lifted an eyebrow.

When Galahad pounced like a starving thing on the fish, she went back to sit, picked up the wine.

“This was supposed to happen hours ago.” She took a deep drink.

“And still, here we are. It’s a nice thing, however delayed, to share a meal in front of the fire on an ugly winter’s night.”

She twirled spaghetti around her fork, sampled. “It seriously doesn’t suck. The Realtor.” She twirled up another bite. “I need the Realtor. Either he—or she—is in on it, or got called off. In on it is most probable.”

She forked off a bite of meatball. “It’s not about selling the house.” She shook her head. “Mr. Mira’s the wedge there. Maybe it’s politics, maybe it’s personal. Maybe he owes somebody a bunch of money. But they got him into that house—meaning they knew about that house—where they assumed they’d have plenty of time and privacy. Mr. Mira screwed that up.”

“So while Dennis is unconscious, they spirit Edward Mira away. And that requires a vehicle.”

“Yeah, so it’s most likely, having that handy, he/she/they planned to haul him off all along. Tune him up some first. Goes back to why it sounds personal. Or it’s about money, which is pretty personal to a lot of people. Still . . .”

“If it were money, he’s pushing to sell a valuable property, which would cover all but the most insane of debts.”

“Exactly. So again, if it’s money, the sensible thing is to go after the obstacle, and that’s Mr. Mira. But they don’t. Odds are on personal.”

“Someone he judged, sentenced,” Roarke suggested. “A relation or loved one of someone he sentenced. Someone he twisted the wrong way while in Congress, or someone he passed over for a position.” Roarke lifted a shoulder. “A man who’s had those careers makes enemies.”

“A man who cats around makes them, too. A woman he dumped, the husband or lover of someone he had an affair with. A lot of ground on personal.”

Nodding, Roarke twirled some pasta of his own. “Why not just finish him where he sat?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” She continued to eat while it stewed around in her brain. “That’s why I figured kidnapping at first. But it’s been hours, and no ransom demand. So . . . Wanted more time to play with him—which again leans toward getting information or just making him suffer more.”

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