Home > Golden in Death (In Death #50)(4)

Golden in Death (In Death #50)(4)
Author: J.D. Robb

Brendina’s face went sheet white under the rosy. “Joshua!”

“No, ma’am.” Peabody spoke quickly. “It’s not about your son. Mrs. Coffman’s son Joshua’s on the job,” Peabody told Eve. “It’s not about Sergeant Coffman, ma’am.”

“Okay. Okay. What is it then?”

“If we could come in for a moment,” Eve began.

“We’re leaving—if Roscoe ever finishes primping.”

“We’ll try not to take much of your time.”

With a nod, Brendina stepped back to let them straight into a tidy living area. So tidy, Eve thought, dust motes must run in fear. The furniture was old, like owned since their marriage began, and polished to within an inch of its life. A half dozen fancy pillows smothered the sofa.

A small piano against one wall with family photos crowded over it.

The air smelled of lemon.

“Is that your needlepoint, ma’am?” A craftsman to the bone, Peabody admired the pillows. “It’s beautiful work.”

“My daughter-in-law got me into it, and now I can’t stop. What is this about?”

“Mrs. Coffman, did you overnight a package to a Kent Abner, for delivery this morning?”

“Why would I? I don’t know any Kent Abner.”

“Your credit account was charged for the shipment.”

“I don’t see how when I didn’t send it.”

“Maybe you’d like to check on that, while we’re here.”

“Fine, fine. Roscoe, we’re going to be late again. Been waiting for that man for decades. He never can get anywhere on time. It’s our daughter’s twenty-fourth wedding anniversary,” she said as she walked to a—very tidy—little desk and sat down at the mini-comp on it. “Married a Catholic. I never figured it to last, but Frank’s a good man, good father, and he’s given her a happy life. So we’re— Well, son of a bitch!”

And there you have it, Eve thought as Brendina turned.

“I’ve been charged for that shipment. That’s a mistake—it says my account was charged at ten last night. I was sitting in bed watching Junkpile on-screen at ten—or trying, as Roscoe snores like a freight train. I keep good records, so I know what I spend and how I spend it. I was a bookkeeper for more years than either of you have been alive!”

“We don’t doubt any of that, Mrs. Coffman.”

But Brendina’s ire hadn’t yet peaked.

“Well, GP&P is going to hear from me, you better believe.” She fisted her hands on her hips, her eyes shooting daggers at Eve as if she’d been responsible. “And they’d better make this good. I’d like to know how somebody got my information, if that’s what happened, or if some careless finger at GP&P hit the wrong key.”

“We believe it’s the former, ma’am.”

“I’ll be changing my codes asap, you can be sure of that! And I’m going to have my boy look into this. He’s a police officer.”

“Yes, ma’am. You can have your son contact me, Lieutenant Dallas at Cop Central. In the meantime, can you tell me who would have access to your account?”

Brendina stabbed a finger in the air, then tapped it between her breasts. “Me, that’s who. And Roscoe, but he has his own, and only has my codes in case something was to happen. Same as I have his. Roscoe!”

“Stop yelling, stop yelling. Heavens to Murgatroyd, Brendi, I’m coming, aren’t I?”

When he came out, dapper was the word that sprang to Eve’s mind. He wore a pale blue suit chalked with white stripes, a white shirt, and a bright red bow tie with a matching pocket square. His hair, candlestick silver, was slicked back and shined like moonlight on water. His silver moustache was perfectly trimmed and groomed.

His eyes matched his suit.

“You didn’t say we had company.” He beamed at them.

“Not company, cops.”

“Friends of Joshua’s?”

“No, sir,” Eve said. “We’re here about a package that was delivered this morning. The shipment was charged to your wife’s account.”

“What did you send, Brendi?”

“Nothing! Somebody got into my account.”

He looked at her with affection, and mild surprise. “How’d they do that?”

“I don’t know, do I?”

“Ms. Coffman, do you have your ’link?”

“Of course I have my ’link. I was just changing purses when you buzzed.”

She marched into what Eve assumed was the bedroom, marched back out with a gargantuan shoulder bag in vivid purple and an oversize evening purse in glittery red—to match Roscoe’s tie, Eve assumed.

“I was just taking out what I need for tonight,” she said, and dug in.

Her annoyed expression changed to alarm. Now she marched to the coffee table, dumped the contents of the shoulder bag.

Eve decided if the woman ever faced an apocalypse with that bag in tow, she’d survive just fine.

“It’s gone! Oh my God, my ’link’s not here.”

“Where is it, Brendi?”

“For God’s sake, Roscoe!”

“Don’t worry now. I’ll help you look for it.”

Brendina’s expression softened. “No, honey, it’s gone. Somebody must’ve taken it out of my bag.”

“When’s the last time you used it?” Eve asked.

“Just yesterday—we were all out shopping. My girls and I—my daughters-in-law, my daughter. Marion wanted new shoes for tonight, and she needed to pick up the wrist unit she got for Frank—she had it engraved. And— God, we were all over. Had a late lunch. I used it to call my sister, to tell her we were changing our lunch reservation to two-thirty because everything was taking so long. She was meeting us, and she gets cranky if she has to wait.”

“Where did you use it?”

“Ah…” She pressed a hand to her forehead. “On Chambers and Broadway—I’m nearly certain. We’d only just left the jewelry store, and it’s right there.”

“As far as you remember you didn’t use your ’link since that point?”

“No. I know I didn’t. We went shopping some more, met my sister for lunch. We had a long lunch, and Marion insisted Rachel—my sister—and I take a car home. She called for one and paid for it—insisted. I came home, took a nap. Long day. Roscoe and I had dinner, watched some screen. I didn’t go out today. I needed to clean the house, then get ready for tonight.

“I only keep one account on my ’link: my shopping and household account. But—”

“It’s all right, Brendi.” Roscoe put an arm around her. “I’ll help you. And it’s time you had a new ’link.”

Sighing, she leaned into him. “Let me use yours, Roscoe, so I can deal with all this. We really are going to be late.”

“Peabody, why don’t you leave the Coffmans our cards? You can have your son contact us.”

“Yes, fine, thank you. I really need to deal with this. You can talk to Joshua. He’s a police officer.”




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