Home > Calculated in Death (In Death #36)(5)

Calculated in Death (In Death #36)(5)
J.D. Robb

“Mr. Dickenson, I regret to inform you your wife was killed. We’re very sorry for your loss.”

“Marta. Marta. Marta.” He said it like a chant, like a prayer.

“Can we call someone for you?” Peabody asked gently. “Your sister? A neighbor?”

“How? How?”

“Let’s go sit down,” Eve told him, and offered her hand.

He stared at it, then put his, trembling, into it. He was a tall man, well-built. It took both of them to pull him to his feet where he swayed like a drunk.

“I can’t . . . What?”

“We’re going to go sit down.” As she spoke, Peabody guided him into a spacious living area full of color, of comfort and the clutter of family with kids and a monster dog. “I’m going to get you some water, all right?” Peabody continued. “Do you want me to contact your sister?”

“Genny? Yes. Genny.”

“All right. Sit right here.”

He eased down, and the dog immediately planted its massive paws on his legs, laid its enormous head in his lap. As Peabody went off to find the kitchen, Dickenson turned to Eve. Tears continued to stream out of his eyes but they’d cleared of the initial shock.

“Marta. Where’s Marta?”

“She’s with the medical examiner.” She saw Dickenson jerk, but pushed on. “He’ll take care of her. We’ll take care of her. I know this is difficult, Mr. Dickenson, but I have to ask you some questions.”

“Tell me how. You have to tell me what happened. She didn’t come home. Why didn’t she come home?”

“That’s what we need to find out. When was your last contact with your wife?”

“We spoke at about ten. She was working late, and she called as she was leaving the office. I said, get a car, Marta, get the car service, and she called me a worrywart, but I didn’t want her walking to the subway or trying to hail a cab. It’s so cold tonight.”

“Did she arrange for a car service?”

“No. She just laughed. She said the walk to the subway would do her good. She’d been chained to her computer most of the day, and she—she—she wanted to lose five pounds. Oh my God. Oh God. What happened? Was there an accident? No,” he said with a shake of his head. “Murder cop. You’re Homicide. Somebody killed Marta. Somebody killed my wife, my Marta. Why? Why?”

“Do you know of anyone who’d want to harm her?”

“No. Absolutely not. No one. No. She doesn’t have an enemy in the world.”

Peabody came back in with a glass of water. “Your sister and her husband are on their way.”

“Thank you. Was it a mugging? I don’t understand. If someone had wanted her bag, her jewelry, she’d have given it to them. We made a promise to each other when we decided to stay in the city. We wouldn’t take stupid chances. We have children.” The hand holding the water began to shake again. “The children. What am I going to tell our kids? How can I tell our kids?”

“Are your children home?” Eve asked him.

“Yes, of course. They’re sleeping. They’ll expect her to be here when they get up for school. She’s always here when they get up for school.”

“Mr. Dickenson, I have to ask. Were there any problems in your marriage?”

“No. I’m a lawyer. My sister’s a criminal court judge. I know you have to look at me. So look,” he said with eyes welling again. “Look. Get it done. But tell me what happened to my wife. You tell me what happened to Marta.”

Fast, Eve knew. Fast and brief. “Her body was found shortly after two this morning at the base of an exterior stairway of a building approximately eight blocks from her office. Her neck was broken.”

His breath came out, tore, sucked back again. “She wouldn’t have walked that far, not at night, not alone. And she didn’t fall or you wouldn’t be here. Was she—was she raped?”

“There was no indication of sexual assault from the initial examination. Mr. Dickenson, did you attempt to contact your wife between your last call and our arrival here?”

“I’ve been calling her ’link every few minutes. I started around ten-thirty, I think, but she didn’t answer. She’d never have let me worry like this, all this time. I knew . . . I need a minute.” He got shakily to his feet. “I need a minute,” he repeated and rushed out of the room.

The dog looked after him, then walked cautiously to Peabody, lifted a paw to her knee.

“Sometimes it’s worse than others,” Peabody murmured, and gave the dog what comfort she could.

2

EVE SHOVED TO HER FEET, TOOK A TURN around the room as much to release tension as get a more solid feel for the Dickenson household.

Framed photos scattered around—family shots for the most part showing the victim in much happier days with her husband, with the kids. Other shots of the kids—a girl of serious beauty still on the innocent side of puberty and a boy with an infectious cuteness that matched the voice on security.

Art tended toward landscapes, waterscapes, all in soft, pretty colors. The kind of art people could actually understand, Eve mused. Nothing splashy or pompous, not in the art, not in the furnishings. They’d gone for comfort and what Eve supposed was kid-friendly. Maybe dog-friendly. Family-friendly.

But there was serious money here. The real estate alone spoke of it in quiet, discreet tones.

The fireplace—shown in one of the photos with Christmas stockings and kids and the big red flowers people decided they had to have at Christmas—still simmered. Real fireplace with real wood. He’d kept the home fires burning, Eve thought with another stab of pity that she reminded herself did neither victim or survivor any good.

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