Home > Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42)(11)

Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42)(11)
J.D. Robb

“The attack came at Dennis from behind.”

She nodded, sampled the wine again. “Took some care he didn’t see the attacker. Now, cold-blooded? Why not give him another whack or two, take him out, and use the violence to scare the piss out of Edward. But, no. He wasn’t on the agenda.”

“Which tells you there is an agenda.”

“Take a look at this.” She shifted in her chair. “The attacker walks in the house with him. That says to me, he doesn’t know this person, not as a threat. Or does, again, not as a threat. The Realtor ploy—or the attacker is a Realtor, and that helped set the trap. Without the vic around to tell us, or his body to tell us, we don’t know if the attacker stunned him, lured him, forced him into the study. And we don’t know why they chose that spot—whether it’s significant—for the tuning up. Mr. Mira doesn’t think his cousin was restrained in the chair, and I didn’t see any signs of it on scene. So I think at least two people. One to hold a weapon on the vic, the other to smack him around.”

“If he owed money, which I hope to find out, they might have been a couple of spine-crackers. But the ploy to get him to that location seems a bit sophisticated and unnecessary.”

“Exactly. And why then take him instead of just breaking his legs? Maybe there will be a ransom demand, but without one, I don’t think this is about money. Not in the usual sense. We need to cross it off, but I don’t feel that.”

“Sex follows next.”

“Yeah. Sex makes people crazy. Mean, vindictive, violent.”

“Promise?” he said and made her choke on her wine.

“Such a pervert.”

“Card-carrying. But you’re talking the nonentertaining and nonconsensual crazy. And I agree. But . . .” He tore a breadstick in half, offered her a share. “If beating him to death over an affair, or a thwarted affair, why take him?”

“Mr. Mira.”

Roarke nodded. “The unexpected, perhaps some panic. But not enough to rush the beating. Take him elsewhere.”

“That’s the one I like. Shit, what do we do now? Let’s get out of here—take him with us.” She gestured with the breadstick, bit in. “Five gets you ten we find the body within the next twenty-four.”

“I feel, even for us, such a bet would be in poor taste.”

“Yeah.” As she ate, she wondered who’d come up with the concept of a ball of meat, and if they’d been properly compensated. “Anyway, I’m going to approach it as a murder—let Missing Persons handle it as a missing. But if a body turns up, I’ll have a jump on it. It’ll be hard on Mr. Mira, even though he and his cousin weren’t what you’d call friendly.”

“Family’s often a different kettle, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it is, and I guess the whole cousin thing can get unwieldy. Still, when you hear McNab or Peabody talk about their cousins—then there’s your whole Irish cousins thing—there’s a lot of ties, a lot of . . . liking. But with this cousin and his fuckhead of a wife, it’s not just a lack of liking or ignoring of ties, it’s . . .”

“Contempt,” Roarke said, and she jabbed her fork at him in agreement.

“That’s the exact word. And anybody who has contempt for somebody like Mr. Mira has to be an asshole.”

“So you are expecting the dead body of an asshole within the next twenty-four.”

She nodded, ate one last bite. “Yeah. Doesn’t mean we don’t do the job. We should add that as like an addendum to the banner the bullpen made. You know, ‘No matter your race, creed, blah blah, we protect and serve, because you could get dead.’ We should put one of those . . .”

She squiggled a shape with a finger in the air, making him smile because he understood her so easily. “Asterisk.”

“Yeah, that thing. And add: ‘Even if you’re an asshole.’”

“Past tense might be more applicable, being Homicide. ‘Even if you were an asshole.’”

“Hmm. Good point. And I’d better get started. You’ll take the financials.”

“With considerable delight.”

They walked out together. “I’m going to send Peabody a report, bring her up to speed. I’ll copy Mira on it. It shook her up. You don’t see her shaken very often, but it really shook her, seeing he’d been hurt.”

“Love makes us vulnerable.”

“He soothed her. He’s got this way. I know he was upset, and he took a hell of a knock, so he was hurt, but he soothed her.”

“And love makes us strong. That’s its wonder.”

“I don’t know if many people are born kind. Like it’s just part of their DNA. I think Mr. Mira was. So I really wish I’d punched the Mandy-Bitch.”

“You have your visual of exploding blood.” Roarke patted her shoulder. “Let that be enough.”

“It’ll have to be.”

They split off, her to her office, Roarke toward his that adjoined it. The cat opted to stick with Eve, and trotted directly to her sleep chair, leaped up, circled, circled, circled, and collapsed as if he’d run a marathon.

She went to her desk first, sat, and saw from her incomings the sweepers had taken her rush-it order to heart.

The blood on the desk chair was Edward Mira’s. Floorboards, Dennis Mira. The only prints in the study, entranceway, doors, belonged to: Dennis and Edward Mira; Sila Robarts; Frankie Trent, Sila’s mother; and Dara Robarts, Sila’s daughter—the housekeepers.

So the suspects sealed up, she concluded. They’d had a plan.

She began to construct a report, with the sweeper’s early results attached. Then deciding it best to also copy her commander, cleaned it up a little. She considered whatever hit she’d take over the “kiss my ass” comment worth it.

With the book already begun with the reports, her notes, she set up her board. Pretty thin so far, she thought, circling in and studying Edward Mira’s ID shot. But still ahead of the game when the body showed up.

She started back to her desk intending to start deeper runs on all connected parties, and Roarke stepped in.

“That fast?” she commented.

“Initially. I can tell you the senator could very much use a large influx of cash.”

“Gambling?”

“Not particularly, no. Lifestyle. And the Mira Institute isn’t yet self-sustaining. He pumped a lot of money into it, and it continues to drain his resources. Basically, they spend a great deal. Security, entertaining, travel. They have the penthouse here in the city, another home in East Hampton, a pied-à-terre in East Washington. And memberships at very exclusive country clubs in each location. The Institute also rents a suite at my Palace Hotel, as well as carrying a substantial payroll, and very high operating expenses.”

He wandered over, helped himself to the coffee she had on her desk. “He’s made some poorly considered investments in the last two or three years, and that’s depleted some of the income. There has been sporadic income from the sale of some antiques and collectibles.”

“From the grandfather’s estate.”

“Yes, indeed. But they’ll have to begin to cut a few corners, or sell off one of their properties, unless they have a serious increase in cash flow. This includes his two buried accounts, and her one.”

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