Home > Calculated in Death (In Death #36)(4)

Calculated in Death (In Death #36)(4)
J.D. Robb

She pushed a hand through her hair, recalculated. She’d intended to go by the victim’s office building, retracing the likely route, getting a feel for the area. Then backtracking before continuing to the victim’s residence, gauging the ground, figuring the timing, the direction. But now—”

“The husband’s been pacing the floor for hours by now. Let’s go give him the bad news.”

“I hate this part,” Peabody murmured.

“When you don’t, it’s time to find another line of work.”

• • •

The Dickensons rated one of the four penthouse condos with roof garden atop one of the Upper East Side’s dignified buildings. All elegant gray stone and glass, it rose and rounded above a neighborhood where nannies and dog walkers ruled the sidewalks and parks.

Night security required clearance, which equaled, to Eve, a pain in the ass.

“Dallas, Lieutenant Eve, and Peabody, Detective Delia.” She held her badge up to the security screen. “We need to speak with Denzel Dickenson. Penthouse B.”

Please state the nature of your business, the butter-smooth computerized voice intoned.

“That would come under the heading of none of yours. Scan the badges and authorize access.”

I’m sorry, Penthouse B is secured for the night. Access to the building and any unit therein requires clearance from the manager, an authorized tenant, or notification of emergency status.

“Listen to me, you half-ass, chip-brained dipshit, this is official police business. Scan the badges and clear access. Otherwise I’ll have warrants issued immediately for the arrest of the building manager, the head of security, and the owners on the charge of obstruction of justice. And you’ll be in a junk pile by dawn.”

Inappropriate language is in violation of—

“Inappropriate language? Oh, I’ve got plenty more inappropriate language for you. Peabody, contact APA Cher Reo and begin processing warrants for all appropriate parties. Let’s see how they like getting dragged out of bed at this hour, cuffed, and transported to Central because this computerized tin god refuses access to police officers.”

“All over that, Lieutenant.”

Please submit your badges for scan, and place your palm on the palm plate for verification.

Eve held up her badge with one hand, slapped her other on the palm plate. “Clear the locks. Now.”

Identification is verified. Access granted.

Eve shoved through the door, strode across the black marble lobby floor to the glossy white elevator doors flanked by two man-sized urns exploding with red spiky flowers.

Please wait here until Mr. and/or Mrs. Dickenson is notified of your arrival.

“Can it, compu-jerk.” She walked straight into the elevator, Peabody scurrying after her. “Penthouse B,” she ordered. “Give me any shit, I swear to God I’ll stun your motherboard.”

As the elevator began its smooth climb, Peabody let out a sigh of pleasure. “That was fun.”

“I hate getting dicked around by electronics.”

“Well, actually you’re getting dicked around by the programmer.”

“You’re right.” Eve’s eyes narrowed. “You’re f**king-A right. Make a note to do a search and scan. I want to find out who programmed that officious bastard.”

“That could be even more fun.” Peabody’s cheerful smile faded when the elevator stopped. “This won’t be.”

They walked to Penthouse B. More security, Eve noted, and damn good at that. Palm plate, peep, camera. She pressed the buzzer to alert the system.


A kid, Eve thought, momentarily confused.

We’re the Dickensons. Voices changed—male, female, young girl, young boy as they sounded off roll call. Denzel, Marta, Annabelle, Zack. Then a dog barked.

And that’s Cody, the boy’s voice continued. Who are you?

“Ah . . .” At a loss, Eve held up her badge to the camera.

She watched the red line scan. A beat later a more traditional computerized voice answered.

Identification scanned and verified. One moment please.

It took hardly more than that before Eve saw the security light blink from red to green.

The man who wrenched open the door wore navy sweatpants with a gray sweatshirt and well-worn running shoes. His close-cropped hair showed a hint of curl above a dark, exhausted face. His eyes, the color of bitter chocolate, widened for one heartbeat, then filled with fear. Before Eve could speak, grief buried even the fear.

“No. No. No.” He went straight down to his knees, clutching at his belly as if she’d kicked it.

Peabody immediately lowered to him. “Mr. Dickenson.”

“No,” he repeated as a dog the size of a Shetland pony trotted in. The dog looked at Eve. Eve considered her stunner. But the dog only whined and bellied over to Dickenson.

“Mr. Dickenson,” Peabody all but crooned. “Let me help you up. Let me help you to a chair.”

“Marta. No. I know who you are. I know you. Dallas. Murder cop. No.”

Because pity outweighed her distrust of a giant dog, Eve crouched down. “Mr. Dickenson, we need to talk.”

“Don’t say it. Don’t.” He lifted his head, looked desperately into Eve’s eyes. “Please don’t say it.”

“I’m sorry.”

He wept. Wrapping his arms around the dog, swaying and rocking on his knees, he wept.

It had to be said. Even when it was known, it had to be said, for the record, and Eve knew, for the man.

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