Kindred in Death:In Death 29

By: J. D. Robb


Shy, Eve thought, using Peabody’s impressions to help her form a picture of the dead. Idealistic, serious about education.

“And I remember,” Peabody continued, “when we met at this cyber joint for the research, McNab hooked up with me at the end. She was really shy with him—flushy again. I guess she was shy around guys yet. Some girls are.”

“Okay. Go get started on the rest. I’ll finish here.”

Shy around boys, Eve thought. Parents away for the weekend. Idealistic often went along with naive, especially in the young.

Maybe take the leap, let boy/man in. She studied the ruined clothes again.

Pretty skirt, nice top. Could be the victim dressed up a little just for herself, but wasn’t it likely she’d gone to the trouble for a date? Earrings, bracelet—that must have added yet more pain rubbing against the restraints. Painted toenails and fingernails. Facial enhancements, Eve noted after slipping on microgoggles and peering closely into the face. Smudged from tears, the struggle, the pressure of the pillow.

Did young girls paint up their faces for an evening at home?

Had she gone out, brought someone home with her—date or pickup gone wrong?

“Let him in or came home with him. No sign of any cozying up down in the parlor, but maybe elsewhere. You wouldn’t have been able to tidy up. Came in, kicked off your purple sandals, at some point in the day or evening. Maybe he tidied up downstairs. Did you bring him up here, Deena? Up to your bedroom. Doesn’t quite fit the sexually inexperienced teenager, but there’s always a first time. No signs of struggle here either, outside the bed—and even that’s consistent with struggle after bondage. Did he tidy up here, too? Why would he? No, he brought you up. No,” she said slowly. “No, you didn’t kick off your shoes. You’re too inherently tidy. They fell off, came off when he forced you—or carried you—upstairs. Flag tox screen and expedite.”

She took another breath. It was easier now, she thought, easier after dealing with Peabody, after finding the right corner inside herself to bury the past, again.

She turned away from the body, and began to search the room.

Good clothes, she noted, good fabrics and the usual baffling—to Eve—collection of shoes. An even larger collection of books on disc—fiction and nonfiction. An enormous collection of music discs, and a quick flip through the menu of a purple Tunes revealed countless music downloads.

No secret diary hidden away from parental eyes and no personal PC. Or ’link.

She replayed the last communication on the desk ’link and listened through a chatty conversation between the victim and a girl she called Jo about shopping plans, music, Jo’s annoying younger brother. Not a word about boys. Didn’t teenage girls obsess about boys?

And no discussion about plans for Saturday night.

The bathroom continued the violet and white theme and the order and tidiness. She found the enhancements—many, many tubes of lip dye partially used. No condoms or birth control of any kind hidden away. No sign the victim had been contemplating engaging in sex.

And still, Eve thought, she’d let her killer in or brought him home.

She started out, paused once more by the side of the bed. “Victim to be bagged and tagged and transported to the morgue.” After she left the room she assigned one of the uniforms to stand outside it until the sweepers and dead wagon arrived.

She took her time assessing the other rooms on the second floor. The master had soft, soothing colors, a large bed with cushioned headboard. Two overnight cases lay beside a deep, scooped chair as if they’d been dropped or knocked over.

MacMasters likely brought them up, she thought, while the wife walked toward the daughter’s room to check in. Scream, shout, MacMasters drops the bags and runs to his daughter’s room.

None of the other rooms—two home offices, a casual media room, two more baths, and what she took for a guest room—appeared to have been disturbed.

Downstairs, she set a marker by the sandals, then sought out Peabody.

“The way I read it,” Peabody said, “the security and locks were disengaged from inside. There’s no sign of tampering. EDD may find otherwise, but it looks like they were re-engaged again from the inside, then the cameras shut down right at the source. The last disc there is from Saturday. I ran it back on my PPC. It shows the victim coming home, alone, at just after eighteen hundred. She had a pair of shopping bags, both from Girlfriends. It’s a high-end boutique, focused on teens and the college crowd. It’s on Fifth at Fifty-eighth.”

“We’ll check it out, see what she bought, and if she shopped alone. She had arrangements to hook up with a friend for Saturday shopping. I haven’t found her personal ’link or PC, and no coms on her desk unit other than one with a girlfriend, two from her parents over the last forty-eight. I found eight handbags all empty.”

“She was carrying a white straw French strap with silver buckles on the disc.”

“I didn’t see anything like that in her room. Check communal closets and storage. These are tidy people. Maybe they have a spot for that kind of thing. Was she wearing purple sandals?”

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