Home > Golden in Death (In Death #50)(8)

Golden in Death (In Death #50)(8)
Author: J.D. Robb

“I’m so sorry.” Louise led with an apology. “For just coming over this way, interrupting your dinner. I—”

“It’s pizza, nothing interrupts pizza. How did you know Kent Abner?” Eve asked.

“How did you know…” Louise closed her eyes. “He walked into my clinic the week I opened it. He volunteered twenty hours a month. Just like that. That’s the sort of man, the sort of doctor he was.”

Tears trembled, spilled. “I’m sorry,” she said again. “I’m having a hard time with this. I needed to come. I just needed to talk to you.”

“Sit down.” Roarke pulled out his chair for her. “You sit, have some wine. Could you eat?”

“He likes feeding people,” Eve said, hoping to stem the worst of the tears.

“No, thanks, no on the food. I’ll have the wine.”

Roarke gestured to Charles, and the two of them brought over more chairs. They sat; Roarke poured the wine.

“I won’t fall apart. Or not much,” Louise qualified.

“Good. Now tell me what you know about Kent Abner, personally, professionally, and anything else.”

Louise nodded, then, struggling a little, looked at Charles.

“I’ll start,” Charles said.

 

 

3


“We got to be friends,” Charles told them. “Good friends. I met them through Louise after Kent started volunteering at the clinic. They invited us over for drinks, and we all, well, hit it off.”

“I don’t remember seeing or meeting them at your wedding,” Eve pointed out.

“They were in Africa. Martin took a month’s sabbatical because Kent wanted to join a medical group there for a couple weeks. They had a working vacation, you could say, and it conflicted with the wedding. They actually had a little neighborhood party for us when we got back from our honeymoon.”

“They’re lovely people,” Louise added. “Lovely together. Both devoted to their work, but not to the exclusion of the rest. They liked to entertain, loved their family, liked the theater, the arts. Kent would nag Martin about exercise—saying it wasn’t just for the mind. And Martin would tease Kent because Kent knew nothing whatsoever—and didn’t care whatsoever—about any kind of sport. Those would be the level of disagreements I witnessed, ever, between them. They were sweet together, Dallas, the way you hope you’ll be sweet together after nearly four decades.”

Charles reached over, laid a hand over hers. “We asked ourselves, since we were good friends, if there was anything, anyone, any reason for what happened. There’s just nothing. Are you sure what happened wasn’t some sort of accident or mistake?”

“Yes.” And that, Eve thought, was that. “Since he worked at the clinic regularly, there would be records.”

Dr. Dimatto came out, front and center. “Patients’ records—”

Eve just waved that away. “Blah blah, and I can get to them if I need to. But for now, as the owner of the clinic, you can get to them. You can read through them. And you’d know if anything seemed off. Outside of patient records, there’d be correspondence, memos, interstaff dynamics.”

“You can interview everyone who works or volunteers at the clinic. I can tell you, without hesitation, no one who does would wish harm to Kent. He was valued, respected, and liked.”

“Okay. How about someone who liked him too much?”

“I don’t … Oh.” Brow furrowed, Louise sipped some wine. “I don’t see that. We have some parents who’d request him specifically, who’d wait, barring emergency, for his hours. But I never noticed that kind of vibe. Some jokes, sure. Like Hella—she’s one of the nurses who volunteers, and she’s still stinging from her second divorce. I heard her tell Kent it was just her bad luck he had to be gay and married, and why couldn’t she find a straight, single guy just like him.”

“How did he respond?”

“He said he’d keep his eye open for her. You know, Dallas, he’d bring flowers in sometimes because he said they brightened things up for us and the patients. Or he’d bring in a box of pastries. He was considerate and generous, and I’m sick about what happened.”

“We haven’t contacted Martin,” Charles said, “because we don’t want to intrude. But we thought if we could, maybe tomorrow, contact their son or daughter. Just to see if there’s anything … There’s never really anything.”

“Can you tell us what happened? At least something that makes sense?”

Eve studied Louise—dry-eyed now, but barely. She’d tell them what they’d hear on the morning reports—and maybe just a bit more. “I can tell you the package containing the substance was addressed to Dr. Kent Abner. I can tell you the person who delivered it was just doing her job, and isn’t a suspect. She shares your view of the victim. She liked him, liked them both, and in a way was victimized by the killer. She’ll carry the weight for a while.

“We’ll know more when we ID the substance, how it got into his system but, from the timeline, it only took minutes.”

“You’re sure of that?” Louise pressed.

“Absolutely.”

“I’m not an expert, but I know something about poisons, toxins, exposure. If I knew his symptoms—”

“That’s for Morris.”

But Louise, in professional mode, didn’t shake off easily. “You don’t know if it was something he touched, ingested, inhaled?”

“That’s for Morris and the lab.”

“Fast-acting, very fast,” Louise murmured. “Not ingested.”

“Why?”

“A fastidious man, a little bit of a health nut? I don’t see Kent popping something that came in the mail into his mouth right off. Well, maybe if he knew who sent it, or if he was expecting…”

“Bogus name and address.”

“Then he didn’t know the sender, he wasn’t expecting a package. I don’t see him eating or drinking something from a package without checking it first. And you said minutes.”

“About seven from delivery to death.”

“God.” But she breathed that out, went back to doctor mode. “By touch then, especially if there’s a cut or puncture. Or inhalation.” Gray eyes narrowing with a frown, she shook her head slowly.

“But Martin’s all right, he wasn’t affected? The report said he found the body.”

“He’s clear. We’re all clear.”

“So the toxicity dissipated. Were there windows open?”

“No, but yes, it dissipated or disbursed or faded. How were they financially?”

“Martin and Kent? I’d say very comfortable.”

“And Kent’s practice? Successful? Lucrative?”

“God, it must be dark in a cop’s world.” Louise sighed again. “You have to think maybe someone killed Kent for money. It certainly wouldn’t be Martin, whom I’d assume would benefit most there. Or their kids. Lissa—that’s Melissa Rendi—worked with him, as the practice needed two doctors. She strikes me as a good doctor, but she wouldn’t gain monetarily that I know of.”

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