Kindred in Death:In Death 29

By: J. D. Robb

“And she has a PPC, a ’link?”

“Yes. They’d be in her purse, too.”

“She has a white straw bag, with silver buckles.”

“Her new summer bag. We bought it last month. It’s her new fa vorite.”

“Where does she keep it when she’s not using it?”

“In her room, on the hook on the inside of the closet door.”

The empty hook, Eve thought. Her killer had taken it, and everything in it.

“I have to ask. Did Deena use illegals?”

“She did not. I don’t say that with absolute certainty simply because she was my daughter and due to my position.” MacMasters kept his gaze steady on Eve’s. “I know all the signs, Lieutenant. And I’m well aware of how susceptible a girl of Deena’s age can be to peer pressure or the urge to experiment. She was strongly opposed to illegals, not just because they’re against the law but because she had a deep respect for her body, her health.”

“She’s very aware of nutrition,” Carol added. “In fact, I often felt guilty for drinking coffee or indulging in junk food. She works out six days a week—yoga, jogging, resistance training.”

“What gym did she use?”

“She doesn’t like gyms. We have a little area on the lower level. And if she wants to jog outside, she uses the park. The secured trails. She carries a panic button, and knows self-defense. Jonah saw to that. She’s been using the park more recently, with the good weather. Illegals would never be a choice for her. She respects herself and her father too much.”

Present tense, Eve thought, all present tense. Deena was still alive for her. Would it be another nightmare when reality fully set it?

She hesitated, trying to find the right tone to direct toward the father without hastening the nightmare for the mother. That flicker translated itself to the other cops in the room.

“Carol.” MacMasters tightened his grip briefly on his wife’s hand. “Could you and Anna make some coffee? I think we could all use some.”

“I’d appreciate that,” Whitney said.

“Of course we can.” Obviously understanding the ploy, Anna rose, held a hand out for Carol. “I’d love some coffee.”

“Yes, all right. I should have offered . . .”

“We’ll take care of it.” Anna firmly led Carol from the room.

“You want to know if there’ve been any threats against me or my family,” MacMasters began. “Anything from the job that might have led to this. There’s always a chemi-head who mouths off, a dealer who tries to toss his weight around, save face. I have a file of what I consider the more serious threats. We took down a major operation two months ago. The moneyman, Juan Garcia, made bail.” His face shifted into a look of disgust. “Shark lawyer, a pile of money. He’s wearing a bracelet, but it wouldn’t stop him.”

“We’ll check him out.”

“Yeah. Yeah. But . . . this isn’t his style.” MacMasters rubbed his hands over his face. “He’d go for me, or the other cops on the bust. He’d slit my throat, or have it slit in a blink if he thought he could get away with it, but I don’t see him doing this, or ordering it. Plus, if he went for my family, he’d want me to know who did it.”

“We’ll check it out anyway, and look into the rest of your file. I’ll need a copy.”

“You’ll have it. I know we can never be sure—” He broke off a moment, seemed to struggle. “Never sure if or when something might come back on our family through the job, but I know I haven’t been tailed. This is a good neighborhood, and we’ve kept everything in Carol’s name, on public records. Word gets out, I know, but the house is secured, and we’ve drummed safety and awareness into Deena since she was a toddler.”

“Something closer to home?” Eve suggested. “An argument or dispute with a neighbor?”

“No. Nothing.” MacMasters spread his hands. “Everyone gets along. Deena, especially Deena, was well liked. She—she ran errands for Mrs. Cohen down the block when she was laid up with a broken ankle. She fed the Rileys’ cat when they went on vacation. She . . .”

“You haven’t noticed anyone unfamiliar hanging around the area?”

“No. No. In any case, she’d never open the door for a stranger, especially when alone in the house. I looked—while I was waiting for the uniforms. I couldn’t find any sign of break-in. There’s nothing missing or disturbed. It wasn’t a burglary gone wrong. It was direct and deliberate against my girl. And it was someone she knew.”

“At this point in the investigation I agree with you, Captain. We’ll still cover all the ground. I’m going to talk to her friends. If there was a boy who caught her eye,” Eve continued, using Carol’s phrase, “she may have been more forthcoming with them.”

“It wasn’t a . . . a date gone wrong. It wasn’t an impulse.”

“No, sir, I don’t believe it was.”

“Then tell me what you believe.”

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