Home > Left to Envy (Adele Sharp #6)(3)

Left to Envy (Adele Sharp #6)(3)
Author: Blake Pierce

“What?” she said.

“Hello, Adele,” said a familiar voice.

She sighed softly now. “Hey, Robert.”

Her old mentor and friend was just another one of the dishes waiting to be served from the back burner of calamity. Terminally ill. Yet he’d gone back to work during treatments. A few months left, perhaps a year? Maybe more.

She sighed as another jolt of sheer despair rattled her dwindling form.

“My dear, how are you?”

“I’m fine—how are you?”

“Marvelous. I have a job for you.”

Adele blinked. Frowned. Then cursed, loud. “Damn it, Robert. Did Foucault put you up to this?”

Her mentor cleared his throat delicately on the other side. “No, dear. No, of course not. It was a… mutual consideration.” Then, in a gentler, more personable tone, he said, “You can’t tell me you don’t want to get out of the house, dear. It’s been a week. Your father called Agent Renee yesterday. Said he was worried. Said you’ve been cooped up—”

“He did what?” she said, finding some of the anxiety in her chest replaced by a surge of fury. “Damn it. How does he even have John’s number?”

“I don’t know, dear,” Robert said in a tone suggesting he would have patted her cheek if they’d been in the same room.

“Damn it. Foucault knows I’m on leave.”

Robert swallowed delicately. “He seemed to believe that if I called, you might be more willing to listen.”

“A job? It’s not—”

“No! Not that one, of course not. Foucault is industrious, not cruel. No. A different job.”

“Robert, no. No—I’m sorry, I can’t.”

“Adele, they’re asking for you specifically.”

“And I’m refusing, specifically.”

Robert huffed in frustration on the other end. For the normally even-tempered Frenchman this was as good as a scream. “This is a career-maker, Adele. They’re asking for you specifically. Understand? The others involved are in over their heads.”

“A career-maker? Sounds like more stress, Robert. I don’t think—”

“Adele, you’re a hunter. Hunters need to hunt. Not hunting isn’t going to stress you out less—it’ll make things worse. Do what you were made to do! Not in France,” he added quickly. “I understand. But… But they’re asking for you, Adele. Do you know how rare that is?”

She sighed, gnawing on her lip. All sorts of thoughts flashed through her mind. Robert was ill. Did she really want to disappoint him? Besides, her career mattered to her. It mattered to her family’s legacy. It mattered for more reasons than she even could properly articulate.

In a numb, quiet voice, she murmured, “Where is it?”

“You’re interested.”

“Tell me where first.”

“The Sistine Chapel.”

Adele hesitated, her eyebrows inching closer for a moment. Now, a niggling in her mind arose over the other emotions. A feeling recently foreign but which she recognized now as burgeoning curiosity. Even a bloodhound with a cold still yearned for a scent to chase. This wasn’t the same as the case in France, was it? This case would be in the Vatican, far away from the prying eyes of DGSI employees. Far away from it all. Practically a vacation. She winced. What could it hurt to hear Robert out? Just to listen, that was all. She didn’t have to take the case.

Adele breathed softly, and then, with a roll of her eyes, she said, “I’m not agreeing. No, don’t smile. I can hear you smiling. Just tell me about the case.”

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

 

Adele felt the cool glass of the phone against her cheek and closed her eyes in her dark, dingy upstairs room. She exhaled slowly. “I read about this one,” she said. “Details were scant. But was the victim on hooks? Dangling from the ceiling.”

“Just so. Hooks in flesh, but a noose around the neck,” said Robert on the other line. He spoke softly, but she detected a hint of zeal in his tone. Much like a fisherman, he seemed to realize she’d taken the bait. Her old mentor knew her well enough that if one thing could override despair, at least temporarily, it would be her own natural curiosity and desire for justice.

“I read about another one a few days ago—that one at Notre Dame. Connected?”

“We believe so. Same sort of thing. Body suspended from the ceiling by hooks. Also hung. There was a riddle.”

“Hang on, a riddle?”

“The killer left a clue in Notre Dame where he would strike next. Did the same in the Sistine Chapel.”

“And the clue is a riddle?”

“I’ll send them to you with the case files.”

Adele sighed. “He’s playing a game, then? Notre Dame, and then the Sistine Chapel? How’s he getting in?”

“Not sure yet. They’re calling him the Tourist, some of them are calling him the Monument Killer. No name has quite stuck yet.”

“Yuck.”

“Precisely.”

“Well… haven’t been to Italy in a while.”

Robert chuckled on the other end, but then burst into a round of coughing. Adele felt a flash of pain in her heart at the mere sound.

“Are you okay?” she said, reflexively.

He quickly covered, though, by muting his microphone and then, a few moments later, his voice weaker, he said, “Fine, fine. Look, Adele, I’m glad you’re on board.” He paused. “You are on board, aren’t you?”

She murmured a quiet oath, but then nodded in her empty room. “I guess. This once.”

“Excellente! I’ll send the case files over immediately.”

“Tickets already booked?”

“You know they are.”

Adele rolled her eyes. “Thanks, Robert. Talk to you later.”

He bid farewell and then they hung up. For a moment, Adele stood next to the chest at the foot of her bed, listening to the creaking house. She could hear her father from below, humming softly through the floorboards—likely near the kitchen by the sound of things. She glanced at the light switch on her wall. Her father had insisted she turn off the lights to conserve electricity. But even the Sergeant had eased up a little. At least this time he didn’t ask her to squeegee the shower door after use.

Still, it would be nice to leave Germany. Leave a house full of memories. Then again, most of her memories would come with her, carry-on. This new case, though, hopefully it would distract.

She waited for her phone to buzz, glanced at the flight itinerary, and then began moving around the room, packing the few items she’d brought with her.

 

***

 

Adele had the whole row to herself as she leaned back in the economy seat, and her eyes scanned her laptop. Normally, her partner-in-crime, John Renee, would be seated next to her, likely scarfing peanuts or snoring so loudly she couldn’t focus. Now, though, the seats next to her felt conspicuously… empty.

The crime scene photos were horrific enough. As Robert had described, the victims had been hung by a noose—wrapped around a column in one instance and through an ornamental slot in an arch in another. Hooks also stretched from the rope, looped through the victims’ flesh. The hooks seemed used to put the victims’ bodies in strange poses. Like the figure of Christ, the Sistine Chapel victim had his arms stretched out, the hooks gouged through his palms, holding his hands aloft. But the first victim, at Notre Dame—the hooks had been used to clasp the man’s hands together beneath his chin, as if in the prayers of a silent corpse.

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