Home > In Death #28 - Promises in Death(6)

In Death #28 - Promises in Death(6)
Author: J.D. Robb

“What about on the personal front? Exes?”

“We started seeing each other shortly after she transferred here from Atlanta. And while we were taking it slow, letting it all . . . unfold, neither of us was seeing anyone else. She had a serious relationship in college. It lasted over two years. She was involved with another cop for a while, but said she preferred the casual dating scene as a rule. That I was breaking her rule. I know there was someone else, someone serious, and that ended before she transferred to New York.”

“Any complaints about any neighbors, anyone in the building hassling her?”

“No. She loved that little apartment of hers. Dallas, she has family back in Atlanta.”

“I know. I’ll notify them. Can I contact anyone for you?”

“No. Thank you.”

“I didn’t bring a grief counselor because—”

“I don’t want a grief counselor.” He pressed his fingers to his eyes. “I have a key for her apartment. You’ll want that.”

“Yeah.”

She waited while he went up the silver stairs, and paced around his living space until he came back with a key card. “Did she have one to this place?”

“Yes.”

“Change your codes.”

He drew a breath. “Yes, all right. I need you to keep me informed. I need to be involved in this.”

“I’ll keep you informed.”

“I need to be part of it. I need that.”

“Let me work on that. I’ll contact you. If you need to talk to me, I’m available for you twenty-four/seven. But I’ve got to get back to this, back to her.”

“Tell Ty . . . Tell him to play Eric Clapton for her. Any of the discs in my collection. She particularly liked his music.” He moved to the elevator, opened the grille.

“I wish sorry meant something. Peabody . . . she told me to tell you the same.” She stepped in, kept her eyes on his as the grille closed and until the doors shut.

On the drive back, she tagged Peabody. “Did the sweepers find the weapon?”

“That’s a negative.”

“Damn it. I’m heading back to the scene. Contact the morgue. Chief Medical Examiner Morris assigns ME Ty Clipper to this matter. He requests the ME play Eric Clapton during autopsy.”

“Oh, man. How is he? How—”

“He’s holding up. Make sure they understand these are Morris’s directives. I’m on my way back. You and I are going to go through her apartment, inch by inch.”

“I was about to start on that. I talked to Burnbaum and his kid. Nothing more there. The knock-on-doors hasn’t turned up anything. Security—”

“Fill me in when I get there. Ten minutes.”

She clicked off. She wanted silence. Just silence until the emotional knots loosened. She’d be no good to Amaryllis Coltraine if she let herself stay twisted up over the grief in a friend’s eyes.

At the apartment, she waited until the morgue team carried the body out. “She goes straight to ME Clipper,” Eve snapped. “She’s a cop. She gets priority.”

“We know who she is.” One of the team turned after the body was loaded in the wagon. “She’s not only a cop, she was Morris’s lady. We’ll take good care of her, Lieutenant.”

Satisfied, she went inside, took the stairs to Coltraine’s apartment. Using the key card Morris had given her, she found Peabody inside.

“It was hard,” Peabody said after one look. “It shows.”

“Then I’d better get over it. Security?”

“I took a quick scan. Nothing on the rear door. He had to come in that way, jam the camera. EDD’s on it. Front door cam ran the whole time. I’ve got her coming in about sixteen hundred, carrying a file bag—which is still here—and a take-out bag. She didn’t go out again, not by the front. Stairway has cams, and they were compromised. Both the rear and stairway cams shut down from about twenty-two thirty to about twenty-four hundred. Elevator has cams, and they ran through. She didn’t take the elevator. Neighbor confirms she used the stairs, habitually.”

“The killer had to know her, know her routine. Had to take her in the stairway.”

“I’ve got a team of sweepers in there now, going top to bottom.”

“Taking her that quick, that clean, the killer had to know she was going out. So either that was another habit, or he lured her out. We’ll check her transmissions, but if that’s how it went down, he used her pocket ’link, then took it with him. Someone she knew. A friend, an ex, one of her weasels, someone in the building or close by. Someone she’d let get the drop on her.”

Eve glanced around the apartment. “Impressions?”

“I don’t think she left under any kind of duress. Everything’s just too tidy for that, and that droid kitten?” When Peabody gestured, Eve frowned at the snoozing ball of fur. “I checked its readout. She set it to sleep mode at twenty-three eighteen. It doesn’t seem like something you’d do if you were in trouble.”

Eve studied the room as she wandered it. It had a female feel, a fussy woman’s order to it. “The killer contacts her, via her pocket ’link. Come out, meet me for a drink, or I had a terrible fight with my boyfriend, come over so I can boo-hoo all over you. No, no.” Eve shook her head, wandered into the small bedroom with its mountain of pillows on its neatly made bed. “She had her clutch piece. Most cops are going to carry a weapon, but I don’t see her strapping on a clutch to go have a drink.”

“One of her weasels. Meet me here, at such and such time. I got some good shit.”

“Yeah, yeah, that could work. We’ll talk to her boss, her partner, her unit, see what she was into. She could’ve been meeting another kind of source, or just meeting someone she didn’t completely trust. A little extra insurance with the clutch piece. And still he got the drop on her, took her down without a struggle.”

“She wouldn’t have been expecting to see him in her stairway. Her guard’s down, and that’s that.”

Eve said nothing. She needed to turn it over awhile, walk it through. “Let’s see what we can find here.”

They got to work, searching through drawers, in closets, through clothes, in pockets. The dead had no privacy, and Eve thought as a cop; Coltraine would have known and accepted that.

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