Home > Shadows in Death (In Death #51)

Shadows in Death (In Death #51)
Author: J.D. Robb

1


As it often did since he’d married a cop, murder interrupted more pleasant activities. Then again, Roarke supposed, the woman lying in a pool of her own blood a few steps inside the arch in Washington Square Park had a heftier complaint.

After all, he’d known what he, a former criminal (no convictions), was getting into when he fell for the cop. He doubted the woman in fashionable athletic wear had expected to end the pretty spring night with her belly sliced open.

He and his cop might have missed the last scene of an entertaining play, but the woman missed the rest of her life.

And here, on a balmy May night, in the blooming spring of 2061, he watched another kind of play.

His cop and the victim held center stage under the hard crime-scene lights. Together they made a sad silhouette against the thin curtain meant to shield the dead from the prying eyes of onlookers.

Uniforms had barriers up to separate the rest of the audience. The vendors, the lovers, the strollers and tourists, the buskers and dog walkers goggled at death.

He kept out of the way as the lead—Lieutenant Eve Dallas—performed her duties in this tale of morality and mortality.

She crouched beside the body, lean and tough in her leather jacket and boots, her field kit open beside her, her short brown hair shining under the lights.

“Victim is identified as Galla Modesto, age thirty-three, residence on Prince.”

“Galla Modesto.”

When Roarke spoke, Eve lifted her head, narrowed those whiskey-colored cop’s eyes. “You know her?”

“No. Her brother a bit. Modesto Wine and Spirits. She’d be one of the heirs—third generation, I’d think. International, family-owned company, with their home base in Tuscany.”

“Interesting. Married—Jorge Tween—six years. One offspring, a son, age four.” She took out a gauge. “TOD, twenty-two-eighteen. COD, from on-site observation, would be the eight-inch vertical slice through her abdomen.”

Now with microgoggles in place, she leaned closer to the gaping wound. “It looks like a deep stab into her lower abdomen, with an upward thrust to open her up. ME to confirm.”

Still crouched, she shifted a little. “No visible defensive or other offensive wounds. No handbag recovered, but the vic’s dressed for a run or the gym. She’s wearing a good-size diamond and diamond-encrusted ring on her left hand, what look like diamond stud earrings—two in the left, one in the right. And a sport-style wrist unit.

“No evidence this was a mugging.”

Eve opened the zippered pocket of the woman’s warm-up jacket. “ ’Link.” She bagged it, then reached into the pocket in the running pants. “ID.”

Rising, she moved around to the other side of the body, opened the other pocket. “Panic button. Obviously didn’t panic in time.”

“Here’s our Peabody,” Roarke told her, “with McNab.”

Eve’s partner hurried toward the barricades with her main man, EDD detective Ian McNab.

Since Peabody wore a dress—one covered with pink tulips under her pink coat—and McNab wore his version of party wear in pink baggies, airboots so violently green they glowed, and a shirt with jags and jigs of both colors, Roarke deduced they’d been out when the call came through.

They both badged the uniforms, moved into the cordoned-off area. Peabody, still sporting red streaks in the dark hair she’d styled in festive curls, went straight to Eve and the body.

“Sorry, Dallas, we were at a club on the East Side, got delayed getting here.”

Eve gave Peabody’s outfit—including the skinny-heeled party shoes—a flick of a glance. “Officers Frist and Nadir first on scene. Talk to them, start interviewing any potential wits.” She glanced back. “McNab can see about any security feed since he’s here.”

“Got it.”

“Seal up and help me turn her first. Vic’s Galla Modesto,” she began, and gave Peabody the main points as they worked.

With the body turned, Eve saw no more wounds or marks—and found another small pocket in the back of the running pants. “Key swipe,” she said for the recording. “Body and Mind Fitness Center,” she read, then bagged it into evidence.

She closed her field kit, took out her comm to contact the sweepers and the morgue.

When she turned, Roarke held out a go-cup of black coffee.

“Where’d you get this?”

“An enterprising vendor. I suspect it’s somewhere between cop coffee and palatable.”

She drank, shrugged. “Somewhere between. Thanks. You should head out. I need to talk to witnesses, talk to her husband, go by the gym she used.”

“I’m having your car sent down—and arranged my own transportation.”

She drank more—barely—palatable coffee, and looked at him.

That face, that face. One of life’s serious miracles, and sure as hell one of hers. Eyes, boldly blue with lashes as silky as the black hair that fell nearly to his shoulders, looked into hers. He had a mouth creative angels sculpted on a particularly generous day. The planes, the angles combined in a result somewhere between the romance of a poet and the sexuality of one of those angels defiantly taking the fall.

Add the music of Ireland in his voice, and you had an exceptional package.

“Always handy.”

And that perfect mouth curved. “We all do our part. I’ll just stay handy until the transpo gets here.” Absently, he scanned the crowd behind the barricades. “McNab should be back shortly with the security feed so …”

She saw his eyes narrow, saw something dark come into them.

“What?” She shifted instantly to look in the same direction. “What did you see?”

“Someone I used to know.”

Before she could speak again, he walked away, quick and smooth.

“Well, shit.” She gestured a uniform over to stay with the body, started to go after him when Peabody hurried back.

“We’ve got a few witnesses who saw her go down, and we have one who didn’t but claims she was coming here to meet him. He’s wrecked, so I’m thinking there might have been some hanky in the panky.”

“Let’s take him first.”

What the hell was Roarke doing? she wondered.

He cut through the crowd. He knew how to move fast, sliding through. Once upon a time he’d have come out the other side with pockets full from pockets he’d picked.

But though he moved fast, eyes scanning, instincts alert, he didn’t see the face again.

That bloody shadow from his past, Roarke thought as he looked beyond the lights, the crowds, the sparkle of the fountain, the empty benches, had shown himself deliberately.

A taunt. A kind of flipped middle finger, as he’d been—again deliberately—far enough away to easily melt out of sight and vanish again.

Well then, if the fecking bastard wanted to come out and play, he’d be more than willing for the game.

“We’re a long way from the alleys of Dublin now, boyo,” he muttered, and made his way back again.

Since the wit, Marlon Stowe, was shaking, with tears streaming, Eve took him to one of the benches.

Mid-thirties, she judged, about five-ten, a lot of thick, sandy hair, brown eyes, and a stubbly goatee.

“You were meeting Ms. Modesto here?”

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