Home > Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42)(3)

Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42)(3)
J.D. Robb

“No double vision, no dizziness or nausea,” he assured her. “Maybe a little headache.”

“If, after we get home and I give you a thorough exam—”

This time he turned around, wiggled his eyebrows, and grinned in a way that had Eve swallowing an embarrassed laugh of her own.

“Dennis.” Mira sighed, and cupping his face in her hands, kissed him so softly, so tenderly, that Eve had to look away.

“Ah, maybe you could tell me where to find the study—where you last saw your cousin.”

“I’ll take you back.”

“You’re going to sit right here and behave until I’m finished,” Mira told him. “It’s straight back, Eve, and then on the left. Lots of wood, a big desk and chair, leather-bound books on shelves.”

“I’ll find it.”

She could see where more art had been removed, more furniture—in fact, she found a room empty but for stacks of packing boxes. Yet she didn’t see a single mote of dust, and caught the light scent of lemon as if someone had crushed their blossoms with the air.

She found the study, and at a glance decided nothing—or nothing much—had been taken out of this space.

Organized, attractive with its heavy wood trim, its sturdy masculine furniture and deep tones.

Burgundy and forest, she mused, taking a long look from the doorway. Family photos in black or silver frames, polished plaques from various charitable organizations.

The desk itself still held a coffee-colored leather blotter, matching accessories, and a slick little data and communication center.

Beside the fireplace with its thick mantel stood a bar—small, old, certainly valuable. On it sat two crystal decanters, half full of amber liquid, with silver labels. Whiskey. Brandy.

She moved from the wood floor to the rug stretched on it. The softly faded pattern told her it was likely old and valuable like the bar, like the crystal, like the pocket watch on display under a glass dome.

She saw no sign of struggle, no indication anything had been stolen. But when she crouched down, examined the space before the fringe of the rug brushed over wood, she saw a few drops of blood.

She circled the room slowly, carefully, touching nothing as yet. But she began to see . . . maybe.

She started back, paused at the doorway of the living room to see Mira competently applying ointment to her husband’s temple.

“Don’t go in there yet,” Eve said. “I’m just going out for my field kit.”

“Oh, it’s nasty out. Let me get that for you.”

“I’ve got it,” she said quickly when Dennis started to rise. “Just give me a minute.”

She went back into the icy rain, got her field kit out of the trunk. As she went back she studied the neighboring houses, and pulled out her own ’link to send Roarke a quick text.

Got hung up. Will explain when I get home.

And considered she’d obeyed the Marriage Rules.

When she came back in, she set the kit down to take off her coat, scarf, hat. “Okay, let’s take this by the numbers. Have you tried to contact your cousin?”

“Oh, yes. I did that right away. He didn’t answer his ’link. I did try him at home as well, and reached his wife. I didn’t want to alarm her,” Dennis added, “so I didn’t mention any of this. She told me he wasn’t home, and would probably be running late. She may not know about his appointment here, but if she did, she wouldn’t tell me.”

“Appointment?”

“Oh, I am sorry. I haven’t explained any of this.” He gave Mira one of his absent smiles. “I tried to reach him earlier today, to see if the two of us could just . . . sit down and discuss our differences about the house. I got an assistant who seemed a little harried at the time. Otherwise she might not have mentioned he had an appointment here with a Realtor to assess the house for sale. It . . . Well, it set me right off. He shouldn’t have done that behind my back.”

Eve nodded, opened her kit to take out a can of Seal-It. “Pissed you off.”

“Eve,” Mira began, but Dennis patted her hand.

“Truth is best, Charlie. I was very upset. He wouldn’t answer his personal ’link, so when I finished my last class, I came here. Terrible traffic conditions. Something should be done.”

“Yeah, I think that all the time. When did you get here, Mr. Mira?”

“Oh, I’m not at all sure. Let me see. I finished my last class . . . it must have been about four-thirty. My TA and a couple of students had questions, so that took a bit of time. Then I had to get my papers together, and it may have been five or so before I left. Then getting here.” He added that sweet, vague smile, but his eyes, that dreamy green, held worry. “I couldn’t really say exactly.”

“Good enough,” Eve told him, as clearly trying to determine the timing distressed him. “There’s security on the house. Was it active?”

“It was. I have the passcode, and a swipe. My palm print is authorized.”

“There’s a cam.”

“Yes!” The idea obviously delighted him. “Of course there is! It would show my arrival—and Edward. I never thought of it.”

“Why don’t we take a look at that first? Do you know where the security station is?”

“Yes, of course. I’ll show you. Never thought of it,” he said again, shaking his head as he rose. “If I’d just looked for myself, I’d have seen Edward coming and going. You relieve my mind, Eve.”

“Mr. Mira, you were attacked.”

He stopped, blinked. “I suppose I was. That’s very upsetting. Who would have done that?”

“Let’s see if we can find out.”

He led her back, made a turn, then showed her a large, modern kitchen with some old-fashioned touches that suited the house.

It all looked . . . comfortable, and reminded her in some ways of the Miras’ house uptown.

“There are viewing stations in several rooms,” Dennis explained as he opened a door off the kitchen. “So my grandparents or the staff could see who was at the door. But this is the main hub.”

He looked at it, gave everything a vague glance. “I’m afraid I’m not very good with complex electronics.”

“Me, either.” But she walked over to where she was damn sure a component should be. “But I can tell you somebody took the whole damn deal—the drive or whatever the hell it is, the discs.”

“Oh dear.”

“Yeah. Who else has access to the house?”

“Besides Edward and myself? The housekeeper—her mother worked for my grandparents for decades, and she’s helped us out for several years. She would never—”

“Understood, but I’m going to want her name so I can talk to her.”

“Is it all right if I make tea?” Dr. Mira asked.

“Sure, go ahead. Mr. Mira, I want you to walk me through exactly what happened. The cab dropped you off?”

“Yes. Right out front. I left my briefcase—so careless—but the driver called me back for it. I was angry and upset. I let myself in. It’s a push-pull coming here. The memories are strong and good, but it’s hard to know it’s not the same, and can’t be. I set my briefcase down, and I heard voices.”

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