Home > Golden in Death (In Death #50)(7)

Golden in Death (In Death #50)(7)
Author: J.D. Robb

No bitching, no guilt trips, just wine and welcome. And a fat cat. So she’d sit for a minute, because he didn’t just bring trips to Italy, real coffee, superior sex, and all manner of things into her life.

He brought this, the balance.

She gave the cat some strokes, a belly scratch when he stirred himself to roll over. And took the wine.

“They cleared me right at the scene.”

“So you told me.” Still those wildly, gloriously blue eyes studied her face before he lifted her hand, kissed it. “Have they identified the toxin?”

“I need to check, but not since I checked an hour ago. The body wasn’t discovered until after sixteen hundred when the spouse got home from work. They wouldn’t have started the process until … probably an hour ago. Protocols to follow, and all that.”

“You won’t have eaten.”

“We were pretty busy.”

“I imagine. Let’s have a meal now, and you can tell me about all this.”

“‘Let’s’? Haven’t you had dinner already?”

“I haven’t, no.” He gave her hand a squeeze. “There was worry.”

“Wait.” She tightened her grip on his hands. “I’m going to promise you that I won’t lie or downplay something that happens, if I’m in trouble or something’s really wrong. I’ll be straight with you.”

“All right then.”

She studied that amazing face of his. “And you’ll worry anyway.”

“Yes, of course. But that’s appreciated. Now, I made a bargain with myself—or fate—to your benefit. That when you came home to me, there would be pepperoni pizza.”

She brightened right up. “Really?”

“Such is the depth of my love I’m not insisting you eat a side of good vegetables.”

“If you asked me to, right now, I’d eat them. So, same goes.”

“You could have them on the pizza.”

She shot him a—sincere—horrified look. “You’d ruin a perfectly good pizza?”

“I don’t know what I was thinking.”

He rose, strolled into the kitchen, so she sat another moment indulging the cat before taking their glasses, the bottle of wine over to the table.

She looked out through the glass doors to the little balcony and beyond. And the scent of pizza hit her empty stomach like a fever dream.

“I know if there was only pizza, I’d get tired of it,” she decided. “But it would probably take a couple decades.”

She sat with him, grabbed a slice. “Pretty soon it’ll be warm enough to open those doors when we eat. It’ll be nice.”

Her ’link signaled. “Sorry. Reo?”

“Warrant’s coming through—restricted. No medical records at this time. Is that pizza? Damn it, now I want pizza.”

“Get your own. Thanks for the quick work.”

Eve put her ’link away.

“Your victim was a doctor, I hear,” Roarke said.

“Pediatrician. Married for nearly forty years. His husband found him. Private school headmaster. They’ve got kids, grandkids.”

She picked up her wine. “Messed up my crime scene. He tried to revive him. The victim had been dead since morning, and he didn’t die pretty, but the husband tried to bring him back before he called for help.”

“Would you blame him?”

“No.” She looked up, into that face carved by clever angels on a particularly generous day, into those magic blue eyes. “Maybe I would have a few years ago. Not now. They loved each other. You could see it, all over the house, see it in the survivor’s grief. You have to step back from it. It can still put a crack in your heart, but you’ve got to step back.”

“How was it delivered? The toxin.”

“Global Post and Packages, overnight A.M.”

“A package? That’s … bold. You have the delivery person?”

“She’s not in it. She’s clean, and she liked them. That came across. Their neighbors liked them. The canvass turned up nothing except some shock, some fear, some grief. Everything so far points to the victim being a nice man, a good neighbor, somebody who kept fit—he ran, lifted—and was apparently on his way out when the package came. So he took it inside, back in the kitchen, opened it.”

“There had to be a container. Even bold wouldn’t risk an uncontained toxic in a shipping box.”

She polished off her first slice. “It’s looking like two—a container in a container. A cheap fake wood box with interior padding was on the counter, so considering the rest of the house that was likely in the shipping box. And there were shards and pieces of some sort of small container. Looked like hard plastic—cheap, likely gold outside, white inside. Whatever killed him must have been in there. He opened that, whatever it was hit the air, or had something he ingested, something that went through his pores when he touched it. He had burns on his thumbs,” she remembered, then shrugged. “I don’t know yet.”

“You’ll see Morris, and your friends at the lab as well tomorrow.”

“Yeah.” Since it was right there, she decided on a second slice. “We called in the hazmat team—no trace in the air by that time. In or on me or the spouse—we both handled the body. It was enough to kill Abner within minutes, and dissipated before anyone else came into the house.”

“Addressed—the package—to the victim, I take it?”

“Yeah. From a bogus place, bogus return address. Dropped off at an after-hours kiosk. Jammed the camera while he did that, so he’s got a jammer or he’s got enough skill to make one.”

“At a kiosk?” He let out a quick laugh. “Darling, a ten-year-old could manage that. I’d be more interested in how it got through the scans.”

“Yeah, they’re looking at that. A container within a container within a container.” She shrugged again. “And likely a small amount of whatever it is. Just enough to kill one person.”

She glanced over as Summerset came to the doorway. She frowned over another bite of pizza. “We didn’t call the morgue, did we?”

“You’ll excuse me.” Summerset kept his dignified nose in the air. “Dr. Dimatto and Mr. Monroe are downstairs. They’d very much like to speak with the lieutenant.”

“Ask them to come up,” Roarke said before Eve could get to her feet. “The lieutenant’s just having dinner. I’ll get some more glasses,” he added as Summerset melted away.

Dr. Dimatto, Eve thought. Dr. Abner.

Did Louise know the victim? Long odds, of course, given there were countless doctors in the city. But then again, Charles and Louise lived only a few blocks from the crime scene.

“They’re going to know each other.”

“Hmm?”

Roarke brought over two more wineglasses.

“Louise, the victim. That’s why they’re here. And how the hell do I handle this?”

She figured she’d find out when Louise—delicate blonde—and Charles—tall, dark, and handsome—came in.

The fiercely dedicated doctor and former licensed companion made a striking couple, and another one that seemed to work really well.

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