Kindred in Death:In Death 29

By: J. D. Robb

And still his teenage daughter was dead inside.

You could never cover all the bases.

She took her badge out of her pocket to flash the uniform at the door, then hooked it to her waistband.

“They’re waiting for you inside, Lieutenant.”

“Are you first on scene?”

“No, sir. First on scene’s inside, along with the commander and the captain and his wife. My partner and I were called in by the commander. My partner’s on the rear.”

“Okay. My partner will be arriving shortly. Peabody, Detective.”

“I’ve been apprised, Lieutenant. I’ll pass her through.”

Not a rookie, Eve thought as she waited for him to pass her in. The uniform was both seasoned and tough. Had Whitney called him in, or the captain?

She glanced to the left, to the right, and imagined people in the neighboring houses who were awake and at home keeping watch, but too polite—or too intimidated—to come out and play obvious lo okie-loos.

She stepped in to a cool, wide foyer with a central staircase. Flowers on the table, she noted, very fresh. Only a day, maybe two old. A little bowl that held some sort of colored mints. Everything in soft, warm colors. No clutter, but a pair of glossy purple sandals—one under, one beside a high-backed chair.

Whitney stepped out of a doorway to the left. He filled it, she thought, with the bulk of his body. His dark face was lined with concern, and she caught the glint of sorrow in his eyes.

And still his voice was neutral when he spoke. Years of being a cop held him straight.

“Lieutenant, we’re in here. If you’d take a moment before going up to the scene.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Before you do, I’ll thank you for agreeing to take this case.” When she hesitated, he nearly smiled. “If I didn’t put it to you as your choice, I should have.”

“There’s no question, Commander. The captain wants me, he’s got me.”

With a nod, he stepped back to lead her into the room.

There was a little jolt, she could admit it, when she saw Mrs. Whitney. The commander’s wife tended to intimidate her with her starched manner, cool delivery, and blue blood. But at the moment, she appeared to be fully focused on comforting the woman beside her on a small sofa in a pretty parlor.

Carol MacMasters, Eve concluded, a small, dark-haired beauty to contrast Anna Whitney’s blonde elegance. In her drenched black eyes, Eve read both devastation and confusion. Her slight shoulders shivered as if she sat naked in ice.

MacMasters rose as she came in. She judged him at about six-four, and lean to the point of gangly. His casual dress of jeans and T-shirt coincided with returning from a brief holiday. His hair, dark like his wife’s, had a tight curl and remained full and thick around a lean face with deep cheek grooves that may have been dimples in his youth. His eyes, a pale, almost misty green, met hers levelly. In them she saw grief and shock, and anger.

He moved to her, held out a hand. “Thank you. Lieutenant . . .” He seemed to run out of words.

“Captain, I’m very sorry, very sorry for your loss.”

“She’s the one?” Carol struggled up even as tears spilled down her cheeks. “You’re Lieutenant Dallas?”

“Yes, ma’am. Mrs. MacMasters—”

“Jonah said it had to be you. You’re the best there is. You’ll find out who . . . how . . . But she’ll still be gone. My baby will still be gone. She’s upstairs. She’s up there, and I can’t be with her.” Her voice pitched from raw grief toward hysteria. “They won’t let me go be with her. She’s dead. Our Deena’s dead.”

“Here now, Carol, you have to let the lieutenant do what she can.” Mrs. Whitney stood up to drape an arm around Carol.

“Can’t I just sit with her? Can’t I just—”

“Soon.” Mrs. Whitney crooned it. “Soon. I’ll stay with you now. The lieutenant is going to take good care of Deena. She’ll take good care.”

“I’m going to take you up,” Whitney said. “Anna.”

Mrs. Whitney nodded.

Starched and intimidating, Eve thought, but she would handle a grieving mother and a devastated father.

“You need to stay down here, Jonah. I’ll be down shortly. Lieutenant.”

“You’re friends with the victim’s parents off the job?” Eve asked.

“Yes. Anna and Carol serve on some committees together, and often spend time with each other. We socialize. I brought my wife as a friend of the victim’s mother.”

“Yes, sir. I believe she’ll be a great help in that area.”

“This is hard, Dallas.” His voice leaden, he started up the steps. “We’ve known Deena since she was a little girl. I can tell you she was the light of their hearts. A bright, lovely girl.”

“The house has excellent security from my eyeball of it. Do you know if it was activated when the MacMasters returned this morning?”

“The locks were. Jonah found the cameras had been deactivated, and the discs for the last two days removed. He touched nothing,” Whitney added, turning left at the top of the stairs. “Allowed Carol to touch nothing—but the girl. And he prevented his wife from moving the body or disturbing the scene. I’m sure we can all understand there were a few moments of shock.”

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