Home > In Death #28 - Promises in Death(4)

In Death #28 - Promises in Death(4)
Author: J.D. Robb

“What do you do with your badge when you’re off duty for the night, Officer . . . Jonas?”

“Put it on my dresser.”

“Yeah. Lock up the weapon, leave the badge on the dresser. Maybe on top of the lockbox, but easy access. Detective Peabody’s in charge here now. I don’t want her name out, do you hear me? I don’t want a leak on this. You keep it contained here until I clear it. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That’s one of us down there. She’ll have that respect.”

“Yes, sir.”

She strode out, then stood on the sidewalk and breathed. Just let herself breathe. She looked up, watched clouds crawl over the sky. Gray over blue. It was only right, she thought. It was only right.

She walked to her vehicle, keyed it open. Trapped behind it, a driver leaned his head out of his car window, shook his fist at her.

“Fucking cops!” he shouted. “Think you own the streets, or what?”

She imagined herself going up to the window, plowing her fist into his face. Because one of the cops he cursed was lying dead on a concrete floor in a windowless basement.

Some of it may have showed on her face, in the cold hard stare. He pulled his head back in, brought up his window, hit the locks.

Eve stared another moment, watched him shrink behind the wheel. Then she got in her car, flipped off her light, and pulled away.

She had to look up Morris’s address, and used the in-dash computer. Strange, she thought. She’d never been to his place. She considered him a friend, a good one—not just a work acquaintance or connection. But they rarely socialized outside the job. Why was that?

Maybe because she resisted socializing like she would a tooth extraction? Could be it.

She knew he liked music, and was especially fond of jazz and blues. He played the saxophone, dressed like an uptown rock star, had a mind full of interesting, often incomprehensible trivia.

He had humor and depth. And great respect for the dead. Great compassion for those left behind by death.

Now it was a woman he’d . . . had he loved her? Eve wondered. Maybe, maybe. He’d certainly cared deeply for the woman, the cop, who was dead. And now it was he who was left behind.

The clouds brought a thin spring rain, the kind that spat rather than plopped on the windshield. If it lasted or increased, vendors would poof up with stands of umbrellas. The magic of New York commerce. Vehicle traffic would slow; pedestrian traffic would speed up. And for a while, the streets would gleam, shining like black mirrors. Illegals dealers would pull up their hoods and get on with business or huddle in doorways until the storm passed. More than an hour of rain? You could find a diamond on the sidewalk easier than finding an unoccupied cab.

God bless New York, she thought, until it ate you alive.

Morris lived in Soho. She should’ve guessed it. There was something bohemian, exotic, artistic about the man who’d chosen to doctor the dead.

He had a Grim Reaper tattoo, she remembered, which she’d seen inadvertently when she’d called him in the middle of the night, and he hadn’t bothered to block video. Though he’d been in bed and barely covered by the sheet.

The man was hot. No wonder Coltraine had . . .

Oh God. Oh God.

She stalled, couldn’t help herself, by searching out a parking spot along the street. Artists tented their wares or grabbed them from the little stalls to dash with them out of the rain. Those too iced to settle for trendy shops lived here, among the lofts and varied restaurants, the in-groove clubs and nightspots.

She found a spot, three blocks from Morris’s place. And she walked through the rain while others dashed and darted around her, seeking shelter from the wet.

She climbed to the main door, started to push his buzzer. Couldn’t. He’d see her through his screen, and it would give him too much time to think, or he’d ask, and she couldn’t answer. Instead, she violated his privacy and used her master to gain entrance to the tiny lobby shared by the other lofts.

She took the stairs, gained herself a little more time, and circled around to his door. What would she say?

It couldn’t be the standard here. It couldn’t be the standby: I regret to inform you . . . I’m sorry for your loss. Not here, not with Morris. Praying it would come to her, it would somehow be the right way, she pressed the bell.

In the time that passed, her skin chilled. Her heart thudded. She heard the locks give, watched his lock light go from red to green.

He opened the door and smiled at her.

His hair was loose. She’d never seen it loose, raining down his back rather than braided. He wore black pants, a black tee. His exotic almond eyes looked a little sleepy. She heard the sleep in his voice when he greeted her.

“Dallas. The unexpected on my doorstep on a rainy morning.”

She saw curiosity. No alarm, no worry. She knew her face showed him nothing. Not yet. Another second or two, she thought. Just another few seconds before she broke his heart.

“Can I come in?”

2

ART RADIATED FROM THE WALLS IN AN ECLECtic mix from bold, bright colors and odd shapes to elegant pencil drawings of naked women in various stages of undress.

It was an open space with the kitchen in black and silver flowing into a dining area in strong red, which curved into the living area. Open silver stairs ribboned their way up to the second floor, again open and ringed by a shining rail.

There was a sense of movement in the space, maybe from the energy of all the color, she thought, or all the pieces of him and his interests displayed there.

Bowls, bottles, stones, photographs jockeyed for position with books—no wonder Morris and Roarke hit it off—and musical instruments, sculptures of dragons, a small brass gong, and what she thought was an actual human skull.

Watching her face, Morris gestured to the long, armless couch. “Why don’t you sit down? I can offer you passable coffee. Nothing as prime as you’re used to.”

“No, that’s okay.” But she thought, yes, let’s sit, have coffee. Let’s just not do this thing.

He took her hand. “Who’s dead? It’s one of us.” His fingers tightened on hers. “Peabody—”

“No. Peabody’s . . . no.” Only making it worse, she thought. “Morris, it’s Detective Coltraine.”

She could see by his face he didn’t understand, he didn’t connect his question with her answer. She did the only thing she could do. She plunged the knife in his heart.

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