Home > Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42)(7)

Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42)(7)
J.D. Robb

“It’s Dallas and Roarke.”

“Dallas and . . . somebody’s dead.”

“A lot of people are dead,” Eve pointed out. “But none of them are Charlotte and/or Dennis Mira.”

“I got scared, that’s all.” Sila sniffled. “I got so scared. They’re family.”

“Then understand they’re mine, too.”

“Mr. Dennis speaks highly of you. He came by when I was cleaning the big house, and listening to the book. The Icove book. I asked if he knew you, seeing as you worked with Miss Charlotte, and he said he did, and you were good, caring people. And courageous. I just love that man.”

“Okay.” Eve could relate. “He’s okay.”

“I’m going to get you a glass of wine,” Mel said to his wife. “I can get you some wine,” he added to Eve and Roarke.

“Thanks, but on duty.”

“I’m not,” Roarke said cheerfully, “and I’d love a glass of wine.”

“I can get you something else, Miss Dallas. Coffee, tea maybe. Got Pepsi.”

“Pepsi?” Sila narrowed her still damp eyes. “Melville Robarts, you said you were cutting that out.”

The big man hunched his shoulders like a small boy caught swiping cookies. “Maybe there’s a stray tube or two around.”

“I’ll take it,” Eve said to settle the matter. “It’s Lieutenant. You work for Dennis Mira, clean his grandfather’s house.”

“Yeah, that’s right. Look, let’s sit down, like you said.”

Sila moved off into the living area, a comfortable space and so clean it nearly sparkled, sank into a high-backed chair of bold blue.

“My mama did for Judge Mira and Miss Gwen almost as long as I can remember. When I got old enough, I’d help out sometimes. Miss Gwen, she passed. So sudden, too, and the judge, he just lost his heart, and he passed some months after. My mama still misses them. So do I.”

“Me, too.” Mel came in with a tray holding three glasses of red wine and one of iced Pepsi. “I did work for them around the house when they needed. That’s how I first met Sila—we were sixteen. Is there trouble, Miss—Lieutenant Dallas?”

“There’s trouble. Mr. Mira is fine,” she said again, “but he was attacked earlier this evening, in his grandfather’s house.”

“Attacked? In the house?” Once again those dark eyes narrowed. “The senator went at him, didn’t he? Couldn’t push Mr. Dennis around with words, so he went at him. Senator Edward Mira. He’s Mr. Dennis’s cousin, though you wouldn’t know they shared blood. Different as wet to dry.”

“Why would you think Edward Mira would attack Mr. Mira?”

“Because that man wants his own way, in everything. Nothing but a bully, and always was, if you ask me. I don’t think much of him or his snooty wife. They have nice kids, though. Good people, and the kids’ kids are as sweet as cherry pie. Did you arrest him?”

“No. He didn’t attack Mr. Mira, and was, in fact, attacked himself. And he’s missing.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Mr. Mira walked in on the attack and was knocked unconscious. When he came to, Edward Mira was gone, as were the attackers.”

Sila took a gulp of wine, breathed out hard. “I’m sorry for what I said about him—it’s the truth, but I’m sorry. Was someone trying to rob them? They’ve got really good security on that house. I never worried a minute about being there alone or with Mama or my girl.”

“When were you there last?”

“Just today, from about seven-thirty to about two-thirty. My daughter and I cleaned there today, and my mama came, too. She can’t clean like she used to, but she loves that house. We went over bright an’ early, gave it top to bottom—that’s once a month rotation. I swear to you, we set the alarms and the locks when we finished up.”

“Did anyone come to the door?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Have you noticed anyone, today or otherwise, who shouldn’t be in the neighborhood? You know what I mean.”

“Yes, I do, and no, I haven’t. It’s a nice neighborhood. A few retired folks like the judge, and professionals, mostly. Doctors and lawyers and the like. Mr. Dennis came by every few weeks, just to say hello and spend some time in the house.”

“How about the senator?”

Her nose wrinkled. “More lately, with dollar signs in his eyes.”

“Sila.”

“I can’t help it. He took some of the furniture—had it taken,” she corrected, “but Mr. Dennis said it was left to him and it was all right. I didn’t tell Mr. Dennis how I overheard the senator talking on his ’link about appraisals for the pieces he took. It would have hurt Mr. Dennis’s feelings to know what his grandparents loved was being sold to strangers.”

Eve asked more questions, digging into what she already sensed was fallow ground. When they rose to leave, Sila touched her arm.

“I want to contact Mr. Dennis, just want to hear his voice. I don’t think I can settle down until I do. Is that all right?”

“Sure.” Eve hesitated. “Give this about a week, but if you get a chance, maybe you could go back over there, clean the study. Crime Scene leaves dust.”

“You can bet I will.”

Eve brooded on their way uptown, then turned to Roarke.

“Selling furniture, wanting to sell the house. Some people are just greedy, but maybe you can take a good look at his finances. It could be gambling debts, blackmail over an affair. Maybe he doesn’t just want to sell. Maybe he needs to sell.”

“Permission to wiggle my fingers in someone else’s finances is always delightful. Permission in this case, a veritable treat.”

“You really don’t like him.”

“Not in the least.”

“Could he force Mr. Mira to sell?”

Smoothly, Roarke maneuvered around a mini, fishtailing on the slick streets. “I don’t know the particulars, but if they own equal shares, I think it would be a considerable battle. Dennis could buy Edward out.”

“Sure, if he has ten million lying around gathering dust.”

“Ten million doesn’t gather dust, it—if used well—makes more millions. We could easily lend him what he’d need. Family,” Roarke added when Eve stared at him.

She took his hand. “I really was going to do the dinner thing. And I was thinking about a swim with pool sex, and maybe a vid.”

He gave her a slow, easy grin. “All that?”

“I was working out the details. I’m really sorry I didn’t get a chance to pull it off.”

“We’re young yet.”

Roarke pulled the DLE to the curb in front of a gleaming silver building. Eve smirked when the doorman, who looked like a formal polar bear in white livery with gold braiding, hustled through the icy rain to scowl at them.

“You own this place?”

“No. Why don’t we go in, see if we want to.”

“I get to intimidate the doorman,” she said before they got out. “Do not bribe him.”

“And spoil your fun? What do you take me for?”

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