Home > In Death #28 - Promises in Death(3)

In Death #28 - Promises in Death(3)
Author: J.D. Robb

Eve circled the body, crouched. Something set off a low alarm in her brain, a kind of sick dread in her gut. She lifted the curtain of hair.

For an instant, one sharp instant, everything in her went cold. “Goddamn it. Goddamn it. She’s one of us.”

The cop who’d stayed with her stepped forward. “She’s a cop?”

“Yeah. Coltraine, Amaryllis. Run it, run it now. Get me an address. Detective Coltraine. Son of a bitch.”

Morris, she thought. Oh, f**king hell.

“This is her place, Lieutenant. She’s got four-oh-five, this building.”

She ran the prints because it had to be done, had to be official. The sick dread rose to a cold rage. “Victim is identified as Coltraine, Detective Amaryllis. NYPSD. This address, apartment four-oh-five.”

She flipped back the light jacket. “Where’s your piece, Coltraine? Where’s your goddamn piece? Did they use it on you? Do you with your own weapon? No visible defensive wounds, clothes appear undisturbed. No signs of violence on the body but for the stunner burns on the throat. He held your own piece to your throat, didn’t he? On full.”

She heard the clang on the stairs, looked up as her partner came down.

Peabody looked spring fresh. Her hair flipped at her neck, dark sass around her square face. She wore a pink blazer and pink skids—a color choice Eve would have made numerous pithy comments on under any other circumstances.

“Nice of them to wait until we were almost officially on shift,” Peabody said cheerfully. “What’ve we got?”

“It’s Coltraine, Peabody.”

“Who?” Peabody walked over, looked down, and all the rosy color drained out of her cheeks. “Oh my God. Oh God. It’s Morris’s . . . Oh. No.”

“She isn’t wearing her weapon. It may be the murder weapon. If it’s here, we have to find it.”

“Dallas.”

Tears swam in Peabody’s eyes. Eve understood them, felt them in her own throat. But shook her head. “Later for that. Later. Officer, I want you to take a man and check her apartment, make sure it’s clear. I want to know either way. Now.”

“Yes, sir.” She heard it in his voice—not the tears, but the simmering rage. The same that rolled in her gut.

“Dallas. Dallas, how are we going to tell him?”

“Work the scene. This is now. That’s later.” And she didn’t have the answer. “Look for her weapon, her holster, anything else that might be hers. Work the scene, Peabody. I’ll take the body.”

Her hands were steady as she got out her gauges, went to work. And she froze the question out of her mind. The question of how she would tell the chief medical examiner, tell her friend, that the woman who’d put stars in his eyes was dead.

“Time of death twenty-three forty.”

When she’d done all she could do, Eve straightened. “Any luck?” she said to Peabody.

“No. All these lockers. If the killer wanted to leave the weapon and hide it, there are a lot of places.”

“We’ll put Crime Scene on it.” Eve rubbed the space between her eyes. “We have to talk to the guy who called it in, and his son, and take her apartment. We can’t have her taken in until Morris knows. He can’t find out that way.”

“No. God, no.”

“Let me think.” Eve stared hard at the wall. “Find out what shift he’s on. We don’t let the morgue unit have her until . . .”

“The uniforms know a cop went down, Dallas. It’s going to start spreading. Cop. Female. This address, or just this area. If Morris gets wind—”

“Shit. You’re right. You’re right. You take over here. The uniforms are sitting on Terrance Burnbaum and his boy in six-oh-two. Talk to them first. Don’t let them take her off scene, Peabody.”

“I won’t.” Peabody scanned the text on her PPC. “One thing good, Morris is working a noon to eight. He wouldn’t be at the morgue this early.”

“I’ll go to his place. I’ll do it.”

“Jesus, Dallas.” The words trembled. “Jesus.”

“If you finish in six-oh-two before I get back, start on her apartment. Fine-tooth, Peabody.” Steps, Eve reminded herself. Take all the steps. Think about the misery later. “Contact EDD, but give me a head start. All her communications, all her data. Uniforms are finding the super, so confiscate the security discs. Don’t—”

“Dallas.” Peabody spoke gently. “I know what to do. You taught me what to do. I’ll take care of her. You can trust me.”

“I know. I know.” Eve struggled to let out a breath that wanted to stick in her throat. “I don’t know what I’m going to say to him. How to say it.”

“There’s no easy way.”

Couldn’t be, Eve thought. Shouldn’t be.

“I’ll tag you when I . . . when it’s done.”

“Dallas.” Peabody reached out, clasped Eve’s hand. “Tell him—if it seems right—tell him I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

With a nod, Eve started up. The killer had gone this way, she thought. Only way out. Up these same stairs, through this same door. She reopened her kit, unsure if she was stalling or just doing her job. But she took out the minigoggles, studied the lock, the jamb, and found no sign of force.

Could’ve used Coltraine’s key card, Eve thought. Unless he was in first, jumped her when she came down.

Damn it, damn it, she couldn’t see it. Couldn’t clear her mind to see. She went up to the next level, repeated the process on the back door of the building with the same results.

A tenant, someone let in by a tenant—including the victim—someone with a master or superior skills at picking locks.

She studied the security cam over the rear door. Then shut the door, secured it as one of the uniforms jogged down to her.

“Apartment’s clear, Lieutenant. Bed’s made, no dishes around. It’s neat and tidy. Lights were on dim. She, ah, had this droid pet—little cat. It was set to sleep mode.”

“Did you see her weapon, her badge?”

His jaw tightened. “No, sir. We found a lockbox in her bedroom closet. Space for her sidearm and a clutch piece, holsters for both. None of them were there. Box wasn’t locked. I didn’t see her badge, Lieutenant. We didn’t search, but—”

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