Home > In Death #28 - Promises in Death(5)

In Death #28 - Promises in Death(5)
Author: J.D. Robb

“She was killed last night. She’s dead, Morris. She’s gone. I’m sorry.”

He released her hand, stepped back from her. As if, she knew, breaking contact would stop it. Just stop it all. “Ammy? You’re talking about Amaryllis?”

“Yes.”

“But—” He stopped himself for making the denial. She knew the first questions in his head—was she sure? Could there be a mistake? There must be a mistake. But he knew her, and didn’t waste the words. “How?”

“We’re going to sit down.”

“Tell me how.”

“She was murdered. It’s looking like her own weapon was used on her. Both her weapons are missing. We’re looking. Morris—”

“No. Not yet.” His face had gone blank and smooth, a mask carved from one of his own polished stones. “Just tell me what you know.”

“I don’t have much yet. She was found this morning, in the basement of her building, by a neighbor and his son. Her time of death was about twenty-three forty last night. There aren’t any signs of a struggle at the scene, or in her apartment. No visible wounds on her, but for the stunner burns on her throat. She had no ID on her, no jewelry, no bag, no badge, no weapon. She was fully dressed.”

She saw something flicker over his face at that, a ripple over the stone, and understood. Rape always made murder worse. “I haven’t looked at the security discs yet, because I needed to tell you. Peabody’s on scene.”

“I have to change. I have to change and go in. Go in and see to her.”

“No, you won’t. You tell me who you trust the most, who you want, and we’ll arrange for them to do the autopsy. You’re not doing it.”

“It’s not for you to say. I’m chief medical examiner.”

“I’m primary. And you and I both know that your relationship with the”—she swallowed the word victim—“with Detective Coltraine means you have to step back from this part. Take a minute, take as many minutes as you need to come down to that. You can’t work on her, Morris, for your own sake and for hers.”

“You think I’ll do nothing? That I’ll stand by and let someone else touch her?”

“I’m not asking you to do nothing. But I’m telling you you won’t do this.” When he turned, started for the stairs, she simply took his arm.

“I’ll stop you.” She spoke quietly, felt the muscles in his arm vibrate. “Take a swing at me, yell, throw something, whatever you need. But I’ll stop you. She’s mine now, too.”

The rage showed in his eyes, burned them black. She braced for a blow, she’d give him that. But the rage melted into grief. This time when he turned, she let him go.

He walked to the long, wide window that looked out on the buzz and vibrancy of Soho. He laid his hands on the shelf of the sill, leaned so his arms could hold some of the weight his legs couldn’t.

“Clipper.” Now his voice was as raw as his eyes had been. “Ty Clipper. I want him to take care of her.”

“I’ll see to it.”

“She wore, always wore a ring on the middle finger of her right hand. A square-cut pink tourmaline, flanked by small green tourmaline baguettes. A silver band. Her parents gave it to her on her twenty-first birthday.”

“Okay.”

“You said the basement of her building. She’d have no reason to go down there.”

“There are storage lockers.”

“She didn’t keep one. She told me once they charged a ridiculous price for little cages down there. I offered to store anything she needed stored, but she said she hadn’t accumulated so much, yet, that she needed spillover space. Why was she there?”

“I’ll find out. I promise you. Morris, I promise you I’ll find out who did this, and why.”

He nodded, but didn’t turn, only stared out at the movement, the color, the life. “There’s a place inside, when you’re connected to cops—as friends, as lovers, even as associates—that knows the risk of that connection, of involvement. I’ve worked on enough dead cops to know those risks. But you have to put it aside, lock it away, because you have to keep that connection. It’s what you do, who you are. But you know, you always know, and still when it happens, it seems impossible.

“Who knows death better than I? Than we,” he said, turning now. “And yet, it seems impossible. She was so alive. And now she isn’t.”

“Someone took the life from her. I’ll find them.”

He nodded again, managed to get to the couch, sink down. “I was falling in love with her. I felt it happening—that long, slow drop. We wanted to take it slow, enjoy it. We were still discovering each other. Still at the stage where when she walked into the room, or I heard her voice, smelled her skin, everything inside me sang.”

He dropped his head into his hands.

Comfort wasn’t her finest skill. Peabody, Eve thought, would have the right words, the right tone. All she could do was follow instinct. She moved to the couch, sat beside him.

“Tell me what to do for you, and I’ll do it. Tell me what you need, and I’ll get it. Li—”

Maybe it was the use of his first name, something she never used, but he turned to her. When he turned, she held him. He didn’t break, not yet, but kept his cheek pressed to hers.

“I need to see her.”

“I know. Give me some time first. We’ll take care of her for you.”

He eased back. “You need to ask. Turn on your recorder and ask.”

“Okay.” Routine, she thought. Wasn’t that a kind of comfort? “Tell me where you were last night between twenty-one and twenty-four hundred.”

“I worked until nearly midnight, clocking some extra hours, clearing up some paperwork. Ammy and I planned to go away for a few days next week. Take a long weekend. Memphis. We booked this old inn. We were going to take a garden tour, see Graceland, listen to music. I spoke to several people on the night shift. I can give you names.”

“I don’t need them. I’ll check it out, and we’ll move on. Did she tell you anything about her caseload? About anyone she had concerns about?”

“No. We didn’t talk shop a great deal. She was a good cop. She liked to find answers, and she was organized and precise. But she didn’t live the job. She wasn’t like you. The job was what she did, not what she was. But she was smart and capable. Whenever we had our jobs intersect, that came across.”

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