Kindred in Death:In Death 29

By: J. D. Robb


“The ones in the foyer? No, blue skids.”

“Okay.”

“Dallas, the other thing. The control room? It’s passcoded. No signs of tampering there I can see either. Either she did the shutting down, or she gave him the code. Or he’s really damn good with bypassing.”

“She’d have told him anything if he said he’d stop. But we’ll have the experts check for tampering.”

“There was one glass on the kitchen counter. I bagged it. Everything else is put away, so it struck me as off. Plus, I ran the log for the AutoChef. She ordered two single pizzas at eighteen-thirty last night. One veggie, one meat. She had company, Dallas.”

“Yeah, she had company. I’m going to talk to MacMasters and his wife. The sweepers should be coming in any minute. Ride herd on that, will you?”

Eve went back to the parlor. Anna Whitney sat beside Carol, an elegant guard dog. MacMasters sat at her other side, kept her hand clutched in his. Whitney stood, staring out the front window.

Mrs. Whitney looked over first and Eve saw, briefly, the guard dog unguarded. Abject grief burned in her eyes, and with it a plea Eve read clearly.

Help us.

MacMasters straightened when Eve came in, going ramrod straight.

“I’m sorry to intrude. I know this is a very difficult time.”

“Do you have children?” Carol asked dully.

“No, ma’am.”

“Then you can’t know, can you?”

“Carol.” MacMasters murmured it.

“You’re right,” Eve said as she sat across from the trio on the couch. “I can’t. But I know this, Mrs. MacMasters. I’ll do everything in my power to find the person responsible for what happened to your daughter. I’ll see to it that everything that can be done is done. I’ll take care of her, I promise you.”

“We left her alone, don’t you see? We left her.”

“You called her twice. You made sure she was as safe as it’s possible to make her,” Eve said even as Anna drew breath to speak. “It’s my job to observe and analyze, and from my observations at this point, you’re good and loving parents. You’re not responsible for this. I’m going to find the one who is. You can help me now by answering some questions.”

“We came back early. We were going to surprise her and all go out to a big holiday brunch, then to a matinee. She loved to go to the theater. We were going to surprise her.”

“When were you due home?”

“We’d originally planned to get home late this afternoon,” MacMasters answered. “We left Friday afternoon, took a shuttle to Inter lude, an inn in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Carol and I were taking a quiet weekend to celebrate my promotion.” He cleared his throat. “I made the reservations ten days ago. We’d been there as a family before, but . . .”

“Deena wanted us to have the trip by ourselves,” Carol managed. “We usually go together, but this time . . . We should have insisted she stay with the Jenningses. But, she’s almost seventeen, and so responsible. She’ll be going to college next year, so we thought, we just thought—”

“Are the Jenningses family friends?”

“Yes. Arthur and Melissa. Their daughter, Jo, is Deena’s best friend.” As she answered, Carol’s lips trembled. “Deena wanted to stay on her own, and we thought, we both thought we should respect that, trust her, allow her that independence. If—”

“Can you tell me the names of her other friends?”

Carol drew in a shuddering breath. “Jo, and Hilly Rowe, Libby Grogh from school. They’re the closest. And Jamie, Jamie Lingstrom.”

Eve went on alert. “The late DS Frank Wojinksi’s grandson?”

“Yes.” MacMasters nodded. “I was friendly with Frank, and Jamie and Deena have been friends for years.”

“Boyfriends?”

“Deena wasn’t interested in boys, not in that way, as yet.”

As MacMasters spoke, Eve caught the look in his wife’s eye. “Ma’am?”

“She was shy around boys, but interested. I think there was one in particular she liked.”

“Who?”

“She never said, not directly. But in the last couple of months she took more interest in how she looked, and . . . I’m not sure I can explain it, but I knew there was a boy who’d caught her eye and interest. Enough so that I had another talk with her about sex.”

MacMasters frowned at his wife, a look of bafflement more than annoyance. “You never said.”

She glanced at her husband, and her trembling lips tried to curve. “Some things are private, Jonah, and just between girls. She hadn’t been with a boy yet. I’d have known. And she’d have told me. We discussed birth control and safety. She knew I was ready to take her to the clinic should she want to choose a birth control method.”

“Do you know if she kept a diary?”

“More a journal or a notebook. She’d record thoughts, or observations, complaints, I imagine, sometimes bits of poetry or song lyrics.” As her eyes continued to stream, Carol dug for another tissue. “She loves music. She keeps it in her purse, always.”

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