Loyalty in Death:In Death 09

By: J. D. Robb

“NJPSD came through with—” She broke off, scowled. “What do you want, McNab?”

“Multiple orgasms, but you guys copped that one out of the goodie bag.”

A laugh tried to bubble into her throat, but Peabody controlled it. “The lieutenant doesn’t have time for your pitiful jokes.”

“Actually, the lieutenant kind of liked that one,” Eve said, then rolled her eyes when Peabody glared at her. “Take off, McNab, play period’s over.”

“Just thought you’d be interested,” he continued, “that in running the ’links and memo books of the deceased, no calls, incoming and outgoing, were transmitted to a female other than his assailant or his office staff. No records of appointments appear in his log for liaisons,” he said, rolling out the word with a smirk for Peabody, “other than those involving Lisbeth Cooke—who he often refers to as Lissy my love.”

“No record of another woman?” Eve pursed her lips. “What about another guy?”

“Nope, no dates either way, and no indication of bisexuality.”

“Interesting. Run the office logs, McNab. I wonder if Lissy my love was lying about her motive, and if so, why she killed him.”

“I’m on it.” As he strolled out, he paused just long enough to throw Peabody a loud, exaggerated kiss.

“He is such a complete asshole.”

“Maybe he irritates you, Peabody—”

“There’s no maybe involved.”

“But he was smart enough to see that his report might change a few angles on this case.”

The idea of McNab dipping his toe into one of her cases, again, had Peabody bristling. “But the Cooke case is closed. The perpetrator confessed, has been charged, booked, and bonded.”

“She got man two. If it wasn’t a crime of passion, maybe we get more. It’s worth finding out if Branson was bouncing on somebody on the side or if she made that up to cover another motive. We’ll take a run over to his office later today, ask some questions. Meanwhile . . .” She wagged her curled fingers toward the disc Peabody still held.

“Detective Sally’s primary,” Peabody began as she handed Eve the disc. “He’s got no problem cooperating. Basically because he’s got nothing. The body’d been in the river at least thirty-six hours before discovery. He’s got no witnesses. The victim wasn’t carrying any cash or credits, but he did have ID and credit cards. He was wearing a wrist unit—Cartier knockoff but a good one—so Sally ruled out a standard mugging, especially when the autopsy didn’t turn up a tongue.”

“There’s a clue,” Eve muttered and slid the disc into a slot on her unit.

“ME’s report indicates the tongue was severed with a serrated blade, premortem. However, lacerations and bruising at the back of the neck, and the lack of defensive indicate the victim was probably knocked unconscious before the impromptu surgery, then dumped in the river. They strapped his hands and feet before giving him the toss. Drowning’s down as cause of death.”

Eve tapped her fingers. “Any reason I should bother reading this report?” she asked and earned a grin.

“Detective Sally was talkative. I don’t think he’d struggle if you wanted to take the case. He pointed out that since the victim lived in New York, it’s a toss-up right now if he was killed here or on the other side of the river.”

“I’m not taking the case, I’m just looking at it. You run Arlington?”

“Everything that popped is on side B of the disc.”

“Fine. I’ll skim through, then we’ll head over to Branson’s office.”

Eve narrowed her eyes as a tall, gangly man in worn jeans and an ancient parka hesitated at her doorway. Early twenties, she judged, with a look of such open innocence in eyes of dreamy gray she could already hear the street thieves and hustlers lining up to pluck his pockets clean.

He had the thin, bony face she associated with martyrs or scholars, and brown hair worn in a smooth tail and liberally streaked from the sun.

His smile was slow and shy.

“Looking for someone?” Eve began. At the question, Peabody turned, gaped, then let out what could only be called a squeal.

“Hey, Dee.” His voice creaked, as if he used it rarely.

“Zeke! Oh wow, Zeke!” She took one vaulting leap and jumped into long, welcoming arms.

The sight of Peabody in her ruthlessly pressed uniform with her regulation shoes dangling inches off the floor while she giggled—it was the only word to describe the sound—and pressed cheerful kisses onto the long face of the man who held her had Eve slowly rising to her feet.

“What are you doing here?” Peabody demanded. “When did you get here? Oh, it’s so good to see you. How long can you stay?”

“Dee,” was all he said, and hauled her up another inch to press his lips to her cheek.

“Excuse me.” Well aware how quickly tongues could wag in the unit, Eve stepped forward. “Officer Peabody, I suggest you have this little reunion   on your personal time.”