Loyalty in Death:In Death 09

By: J. D. Robb


The New York section was filled with replicas—the key chains, the pens, the dash figures, the magnets and trinket boxes that crowded the stores and stands for eager tourists.

The Empire State Building, the Pleasure Dome, the UN building, the Statue of Liberty. Madison Square, the Plaza Hotel, she noted, frowning at the detailed reproduction of the hotel inside a water globe. Lift it, shake it, and glitter rained like confetti on New Year’s Eve.

Good business, she wondered, or irony?

“I bet that kind of thing is going to sell like crazy now.” Peabody scowled at the globe when Eve replaced it. “Hot ticket item.”

“People are sick,” Eve decided. “Let’s do the house.” Her eyes were feeling gritty now from lack of sleep. “Got any Alert-All in your bag?”

“Yeah, I’ve got the official limit.”

“Give me one, will you? I hate that stuff, makes me edgy. But I’m losing focus.”

She swallowed the pill Peabody handed her, knowing the false energy would annoy her.

“When’s the last time you caught some shut-eye?”

“I forget. You drive,” Eve ordered. God, she hated to give up the control, but it was Peabody or auto. “Until this crap kicks in.”

She slid into the passenger seat, let her head fall back, her body relax. Within five minutes, her system was on the gallop. “Man.” Her eyes popped open. “I’m awake now.”

“It’ll give you a good four hours—maybe six—then, if you don’t get horizontal, you’ll crash hard. Go down like a tree after ‘timber.” ’

“If we don’t close up some of these holes in four to six, I might as well crash.” Revved now, she contacted McNab at EDD. “Did you get the ’link from Maine?”

“Working on it now. She had a class-A jammer on it, but we’re getting there.”

“Bring everything you get to my home office. Bring the whole ’link if you don’t have clear data by five. Save me a call and tell Feeney I’ve sent him Branson’s personal. It’s been wiped, but he might jiggle something.”

“If there’s anything, we’ll jiggle it.”

She put the next call through to Whitney. “Commander, I’ve finished at Branson T and T and am en route to his residence.”

“Progress?”

“Nothing solid at this point. However, I suggest steps be taken to scan and secure the UN building.” She thought of the pretty, pricey souveniers. “Apollo’s next hit was the Pentagon. If Cassandra continues to follow the theme, that location is the logical choice. Time-wise there would be a lag of several weeks, but we can’t risk them sticking to the schedule set by Apollo.”

“Agreed. We’ll take all necessary steps.”

“Do you think they’ll make contact again?” Peabody asked when Eve broke transmission.

“I’m not counting on it.” She made one last call, to Mira.

“Question,” she began as soon as Mira’s face came on-screen. “Given the tone of the demands, the fact that those demands have not been met. Adding on that the targets were not destroyed and loss of life was kept minimal, will Cassandra contact me again to play guess what’s next?”

“Doubtful. You haven’t won the battles, but neither have you lost. Their goals have not been accomplished, while yours have come closer to the mark in each instance. According to your report, which I’ve just finished reading, you believe they are now aware of your line of investigation. Aware that you know their identities and their pattern.”

“And their response to that would be . . . ?”

“Anger, a need to win. A desire to thumb a total victory under your nose. I don’t believe they’ll feel compelled to issue any sort of warning or jeer the next time. The rules of war, Eve, are, there are no rules.”

“Agreed. I have a favor to ask.”

Mira tried to hide her surprise. Eve rarely asked for anything. “Of course.”

“Zeke’s been informed of the setup, Clarissa’s part in it.”

“I see. This will be difficult for him.”

“Yeah, he’s not taking it well. I’ve got him at my place. Mavis is with him, but I think he could use some counseling. If you’ve got time for a house call.”

“I’ll make time.”

“Thanks.”

“Are unnecessary,” Mira said. “Good-bye, Eve.”

Satisfied, Eve ended the call, and glanced over to see that they’d arrived at the Branson townhouse. Peabody had already parked. “Let’s get started.” Then she saw that Peabody was clutching the wheel, and tears were swimming in her eyes. “Don’t even think about doing that,” Eve snapped. “Dry it up.”

“I don’t know how to thank you. For thinking of him. After he acted that way, with all that’s going on, for thinking of him.”

“I’m thinking of me.” Eve shoved her door open. “I can’t afford to have my aide’s concentration split because she’s worried about a family member.”

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