Home > In Death #28 - Promises in Death(2)

In Death #28 - Promises in Death(2)
Author: J.D. Robb

“I was thinking four.”

“Four? Four weeks? That’s a month.”

His eyes laughed over the rim of his cup. “Is it now? I believe you’re right.”

“I can’t take a month off. A month is like . . . a month.”

“As opposed to what? A chicken?”

“Ha. Look, maybe I could stretch it to ten days, but—”

“Three weeks.”

Her forehead furrowed.

“We had to cancel plans for a quick weekend away twice this year. Once for your work, once for mine. Three weeks.”

“I couldn’t take more than two, even—”

“Two and a half. We split the difference.” He handed her a fork.

She frowned at it. “You were always going for the two and a half.”

He took her hand, kissed it. “Don’t let your eggs get cold.”

She’d squeezed confessions out of stone killers, browbeaten information out of slimy weasels, but she would never come out a hundred percent on top with Roarke in a negotiation. “Where would we go during this famous two and a half weeks?”

“Where would you like to go?”

Now she smiled. Who needed a hundred percent? “I’ll think about it.”

She ate, dressed, happy that she’d left herself enough time to take her time. As she strapped on her weapon harness, she considered indulging in one more cup of coffee before she headed downtown to Cop Central.

Her communicator signaled. She drew it out of her pocket, and seeing “Dispatch” on the readout, went straight to full cop mode.

He watched it happen. It always fascinated him how those whiskey-colored eyes could go from easy, even laughing, to flat and empty. She stood straight now, her tall, lanky body braced, long legs spread, boots planted. Her face, all those delightful angles of it, showed no expression. The generous mouth that had been curved moments before, set.

“Dallas.”

Dispatch, Dallas, Lieutenant Eve. See the officers, 525 West Twenty-third Street. Basement of residential apartment building. Possible homicide, female.

“Acknowledged. On my way. Contact Peabody, Detective Delia. I’ll meet her on scene.”

“Well, you had breakfast first,” Roarke commented when she pocketed the communicator. He traced a finger, lightly, down the shallow dent in her chin.

“Yeah. I won’t be getting that last cup of coffee. Then again, the female on West Twenty-third won’t be getting any either.”

Traffic clogged the streets. Spring, Eve thought, as she bullied her way through it, time for daffodils and fresh tourists. She carved her way over to Seventh, where she caught a break for a solid ten blocks. With her windows down she let the city-scented air blow over her and send her short, chopped-up brown hair flying.

Egg pockets and sludge coffee emanated from the glide-carts, stone dust kicked up from the crew that attacked a wide chunk of sidewalk with airjacks. The sound of them, the symphony of horns as she hit another snarl, the clatter of feet on pavement as pedestrians surged over a crosswalk, created the urban music she understood.

She watched street vendors, who may or may not hold licenses, pop their tables up in hopes of catching the early commuters or tourists up and about for breakfast. Ball caps and T-shirts replaced the winter’s heavy scarves and gloves. Markets, open for business, displayed crates of fruit or flowers, colorful arrays to feed body and soul.

A transvestite, who easily topped six and a half feet, toddled along on skinny blue heels. She shook back her golden waterfall of hair as she delicately tested a melon for ripeness. As she waited out the light, Eve watched a tiny woman, well past her century mark, bump up in her seated scooter. The tranny and centurian seemed to chat amiably while they selected fruit.

You had to love New York, Eve thought when the light changed. Or stay the hell out of it.

She shoved her way into Chelsea, absolutely in tune with her city.

At 525, she double-parked and, flipping on her On Duty light, ignored the bitter curses and rude gestures tossed at her by her fellow New Yorkers. Life and death in the city, she thought, was rarely a smooth ride.

She hooked her badge on her jacket, grabbed her field kit out of the trunk, then approached the uniform at the main door.

“What’ve we got?”

“DB in the basement, female, round about thirty. No ID, no jewelry, no purse or nothing. Still dressed, so it doesn’t look like a sex crime.” He led her in as he spoke. “Tenant and his kid found her when they came down to get the kid’s bike outta the storage locker. Kid’s been grounded or something. Anyway, they called it in. Guy thinks maybe she lives here, or around. Maybe he’s seen her before, but he ain’t sure. He got the kid out pretty quick and didn’t take a good look.”

They headed down a stairway, boots and cop shoes clanging on metal. “Didn’t see a weapon, but she’s got burns here.” He tapped fingers on his carotid. “Looks like she got zapped.”

“I want two officers knocking on doors. Who saw what when. See the tenant and his boy are secured. Names?”

“Burnbaum, Terrance. Kid’s Jay. We’re sitting on them in six-oh-two.”

She nodded at the two officers securing the scene, engaged her recorder. “Dallas, Lieutenant Eve, on scene at five twenty-five West Twenty-third. My partner’s on her way. Find out if the building’s got a super or manager on-site. If so, I want to see him.”

She scanned the area first. Concrete floor, caged lockers, pipes, spiderwebs. No windows, no doors. No security cameras.

“I’m going to want any security discs from the entrances, and from the stairwells. Find the super.”

Lured her down here, Eve thought as she opened her kit for her can of Seal-It. Or forced her down. Maybe she came down for something and got jumped. No way out.

She studied the body from where she stood, coating her hands and boots with sealant. Slim build, but didn’t look soft. The head was turned away, with long blond hair curtaining the face. The hair had a shine to it, and the clothes were good quality.

Not from the streets, she thought. Not with that hair, those clothes, the nicely manicured fingers on the hand she could see.

“The victim is lying on her left side, back to the stairs. No visible prints on the concrete floor. It looks clean. Did Burnbaum move the body?”

“He says no. Says he went over, took her wrist. Said it was cold, got no pulse, and he knew. He just got his kid out.”

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