Calculated in Death

By: J. D. Robb

“You can’t help him, Mr. Pope. Your company is going to need help, and a lot of it. Your mother helped build that company. Maybe the thing you can do is look after it now, fix what’s wrong.”

“He didn’t need the money. He didn’t need it. He didn’t need to do any of this.”

“Sometimes it’s not about need, and all about want. I’m sorry for your trouble, Mr. Pope. Go home. Go home to your family. It’s the best thing you can do right now.”

“Yes. You’ll need to talk to me again.”

“I will, and the feds will. But not tonight.”

“All right. All right. I’ll go home. But . . . if he changes his mind. If he asks for me . . .”

“We’ll let you know.”

Eve watched him go, weighed down by sorrow.

“It’s a sad thing.” Roarke stood just inside the bullpen. “He’s loyal to something that doesn’t exist. And he knows it, but he can’t not be loyal.”

“I hope he gets over it. His worthless, greedy, murderous half brother is going away, far and long.”

“Did you get what you needed from Frye?”

“All of it, after he decided to talk. He’s . . . a little off. Maybe too many hits on the field, or maybe he’s just wired wrong. His ex-coach said he got so he couldn’t follow the plays, couldn’t or didn’t listen to them. They cut him loose. But he knows right and wrong, he knows what he did, and he’s proud he thought of how to do it in each case, how he negotiated the fee. He’s not crazy, not mentally defective. He’s just mostly empty.”

He stepped to her, gently touched his lips to her injured eye. “Let’s put some ice on that.”

“It’s not that bad.”

“Let’s see.” He brought out his PPC, keyed in. “Here’s something that’s making the media and Internet rounds.” He turned it around so on screen she saw herself, eye already going purple, smiling at Roarke as he smiled down at her, hand on her cheek, knuckles raw.

“Damn it. They took pictures? They’re taking pictures when we’re dragging a killer away?”

“I like it.”

She started to sneer, took another look. “You know what? You’re right. It’s us. Absolutely us, and I like it, too. I want a copy. I want to put it in a frame for my desk.”

“Do you now?”

“Home office,” she qualified. “But yeah. It’s us. It’s who we are, and I like who we are.”

“So do I. Ice for the eye.”

“And the knuckles.”

“And,” he agreed. “We’ll tend each other in the car. Is it for home then, or the party?”

She thought about her bruised eye, the lateness of the hour. Thought of the picture of the two of them. Who they were.

“Fuck it. Let’s party.”

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