Loyalty in Death:In Death 09

By: J. D. Robb

She drew in a breath, leaned back again, very nearly smiled. “Now he’s dead.”

“Yeah, we got that part.” Eve heard the ugly suck and scrape as the team struggled to remove the long steel spike from flesh and bone. “Did you bring the drill with you, Ms. Cooke, with the intention of using it as a weapon?”

“No, it’s J. C.’s. He putters occasionally. He must have been puttering,” she mused with a casual glance toward the body the crime scene team was now removing from the wall in a ghastly ballet of movements. “I saw it there, on the table, and thought, well, that’s just perfect, isn’t it? So I picked it up, flicked it on. And used it.”

It didn’t get much simpler, Eve mused, and rose. “Ms. Cooke, these officers will take you down to Cop Central. I’ll have some more questions for you.”

Obligingly, Lisbeth swallowed the last of the claret, then set the glass aside. “I’ll just get my coat.”

Peabody shook her head as Lisbeth tossed a full-length black mink over her bloody silks and swept out between two uniforms with all the panache of a woman heading out to the next heady social engagement.

“Man, it takes all kinds. She drills the guy, then hands us the case on a platter.”

Eve shrugged into her leather jacket, picked up her field kit. Thoughtfully, she used solvent to clean the blood and Seal-It from her hands. The sweepers would finish up, then secure the scene. “We’ll never get her on murder one. That’s just what it was, but I’ll lay odds it’s pleaded down to manslaughter within forty-eight hours.”

“Manslaughter?” Genuinely shocked, Peabody gaped at Eve as they stepped into the tiled elevator for the trip down to the lobby level. “Come on, Dallas. No way.”

“Here’s the way.” Eve looked into Peabody’s dark, earnest eyes, studied her square, no-nonsense face under its bowl-cut hair and police-issue hat. And was nearly sorry to cut into that unswerving belief in the system. “If the drill proves to be the victim’s, she didn’t bring a weapon with her. That cuts down on premeditation. Pride’s got her now, and a good dose of mad, but after a few hours in a cell, if not before, survival instinct will kick in, and she’ll lawyer up. She’s smart, so she’ll lawyer smart.”

“Yeah, but we’ve got intent. We’ve got malice. She just made a statement for the record.”

That was the book. As much as Eve believed in the book, she knew the pages often became blurred. “And she doesn’t have to renege on it, just embellish it. They argued. She was devastated, upset. Maybe he threatened her. In a moment of passion—or possibly fear—she grabbed the drill.”

Eve stepped off the elevator, crossed the wide lobby with its pink marble columns and glossy ornamental trees. “Temporary diminished capacity,” she continued. “Possibly an argument for self-defense, though it’s bullshit. But Branson was about six-two, two-twenty, and she’s five-four, maybe one-fifteen. They could make that work. Then, in shock, she contacts the police immediately. She doesn’t attempt to run or to deny what she did. She takes responsibility, which would earn points with a jury if it comes down to it. The PA knows that, so he’ll plead it down.”

“That really bites.”

“She’ll do time,” Eve said as they stepped outside into a cold as bitter as the scorned lover now in custody. “She’ll lose her job, spend a hefty chunk of credits on her lawyer. You take what you can get.”

Peabody glanced over at the morgue wagon. “This one should be so easy.”

“Lots of times the easy ones have the most angles.” Eve smiled a little as she opened the door of her vehicle. “Cheer up, Peabody. We’ll close the case, and she won’t walk. Sometimes that’s as good as it gets.”

“It wasn’t like she loved him.” At Eve’s arched brow, Peabody shrugged. “You could tell. She was just pissed because he’d screwed around on her.”

“Yeah, so she screwed him—literally. So remember, loyalty counts.” The car ’link beeped just as she started the engine. “Dallas.”

“Hey, Dallas, hey. It’s Ratso.”

Eve looked at the ferret face and beady blue eyes on-screen. “I’d never have guessed.”

He gave the wheezy inhale that passed for a laugh. “Yeah, right. Yeah. So listen, Dallas, I got something for you. How ’bout you meet me and we’ll deal. Okay? Right?”

“I’m heading into Central. I’ve got business. And my shift’s over ten minutes ago, so—”

“I got something for you. Good data. Worth something.”

“Yeah, that’s what you always say. Don’t waste my time, Ratso.”

“It’s good shit.” The blue eyes skittered like marbles in his skinny face. “I can be at The Brew in ten.”

“I’ll give you five minutes, Ratso. Practice being coherent.”

She broke the connection, swung away from the curb, and headed downtown.

“I remember him from your files,” Peabody commented. “One of your weasels.”

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