Home > Dark in Death (In Death #46)(5)

Dark in Death (In Death #46)(5)
Author: J.D. Robb

“Do you know anyone who’d want to hurt her?”

“I promise you I don’t.”

“Someone she was involved with, romantically, sexually?”

“She had many romances. She brought joy there, too. Lightly,” Annalisa added. “Her work was first. No one serious, no one angry.”

“Competitors, in her work.”

“Ah, there is drama and strife and camaraderie and even a little madness in such work. But I know of no one. She was talented and worked hard, but not destined to be a star. That takes more. She was happy to have what she had, to do work that satisfied and fed her, to make a living doing what brought her joy and gave it. Some are more ruthless, yes? Some don’t have a care for bruising feelings or crushing opportunities. She didn’t have that quality. I think this must have been a madman, and someone who didn’t know her.”

“Maybe you noticed someone who paid too much attention to her, who came in, watched her.”

“The tourists come and go, though some come back when they visit New York again. We have regulars, and family groups who often come to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. I noticed nothing like this. If one of the others had, I would have been told. Family,” she reminded Eve. “And family looks out for each other. I want to help, but there’s no one I know who would have hurt her.”

“That helps.”


“It tells me you feel it’s very unlikely someone who works here or comes in on a regular basis would have done this.”

“I believe it absolutely.”

“Who on your staff was she most friendly with?”

“Ah, we all work together, perform together. We are a company, too. But I would say Micha—on the bar. They sometimes … dated. Lightly, for both. And Teresa, one of our sous chefs. They were friendly, and also dated lightly. And Eliza, a waitress. Sometimes they were up for the same part, and would support each other. Often they would run lines together.

“You will need to speak to them?”


“I will arrange it. But Teresa? She has this night off.”

“If you’d give us her contact information, we’ll take care of that.”

“I will. I will tell you as well both Eliza and Micha have been here since four-thirty. We have a short rehearsal before we open, and there is restaurant business as well.”

“That’s also helpful, thank you.”

“I’ll bring Eliza back first. I have to arrange for someone to take the bar for Micha. May I bring you wine?”

“Appreciate it, but we’re not allowed. On duty.”

“That’s very much too bad, but I’ll bring you cappuccino. We make very excellent cappuccino.”

Eve drummed her fingers on her thigh when Annalisa stepped out. “I think, if her killer stalked her here, he was subtle about it, careful about it. That’s a woman who’d notice, or would be told if anybody gave the wrong vibe. Both she and the roommate insist the vic had no angry or disgruntled exes. But some can play that game and seethe inside.”

Rising, Eve wandered the little room. “But it strikes as less personal than an ex or a rival. We’ll talk to these two, just to wind it up, then unless something pops out, call it. I’ll put together the book and board at home. We’ll hit the morgue first thing in the morning, see if there’s anything we missed about the body.”

“Homicide,” Peabody intoned. “Our day starts and ends with death.”

“That’s why we get the shitty bucks, Peabody.”

Eve drove through the gates of home for the second time that night. She wanted that glass of wine Annalisa had offered—though the cappuccino hadn’t sucked. And she wanted something, anything, that tasted even half as good as the air in Broadway Babies.

But wants took second place to needs, she thought. She needed to set up her murder board and book, and to think about Chanel Rylan.

Lights sparkled in the windows of the big house, lending it that castle-in-a-fairy-tale air. Low-lying clouds, shadows in the night sky, floated over turrets and towers. She caught a hint, just a hint, of the moon behind those blanketing clouds.

The wind, quieter than it had been, still bit, so little felt better than escaping it and letting the warmth inside envelop.

Once again, she tossed her coat and scarf on the newel post. This time no cat waited. She’d find him, she knew, with the master of the house.

Book and board first, she thought, then she’d catch up with them. But when she walked into her office, she found them both stretched out on a sofa, the fire snapping. The man held a book in his hand, had a glass of wine on the table. The fat lump of a cat sprawled across Roarke’s knees.

“And there she is.”

“I figured you’d be in your office, or watching a vid.”

“Work’s done for the day—for me, in any case. And watching a vid’s more fun with you. Reading’s a nice solitary choice.”

He gave the cat a nudge that had Galahad rolling over on his back. “You’ve work yet.”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

He got up, setting the book aside, walked to her. “You’ll tell me about it.”

She moved into him, wrapped her arms around him, just held there. “Sometimes it hits me especially.”

“What does?”

“That I have this to come home to.”

She’d tell him about it, she thought, knowing from experience that it would help line up her thoughts.

“I’ll wager you haven’t eaten.”

“You’d win that bet. It has to be Italian. The last interviews were in an Italian restaurant and it smelled like heaven coated in red sauce.”

“I can take care of that. Pour yourself a glass of that wine,” he advised as he eased back. “It’s exceptional. Then you can tell me about it while we eat.”

“ ‘We’? Didn’t you eat already?”

“I did some work, I did some reading. It’s not that late,” he added and started toward the kitchen. “Especially for an Italian meal.”

She poured the wine. He was right, as usual. Exceptional. And while he programmed the meal, she started on her murder board.

“Your victim?” He glanced at the ID shot on the board as he carried domed plates to the table by the window. “She was lovely.”

“Yeah. An actress—theater—doubled as a waitress at Broadway Babies.”

“Ah, the place where they sing while they dish up the pasta.” He went back into the kitchen, came out with salad, bread.

“That’s the one. Weird, but people sure looked happy.”

He glanced back at the board after he set the rest on the table. “Psycho? Was she hacked to death in the shower?”

“No, but that’s what she was watching when somebody jabbed a thin, sharp blade into the base of her skull. That smells really good.”

She stepped over. She could work her way through a salad if the reward was pasta.

“One of the vid palaces in Times Square,” she said as she sat. “Early evening show in the classic vid theater. Her name was Chanel Rylan.”

And she told him of murder and misery while they ate.

He listened, with little comment, until Eve cleared the salad bowls and he lifted the domes on one of his wife’s personal favorites. Spaghetti and meatballs.

As he knew her body language intimately, he noted she relaxed by a few degrees even before she wound the first forkful of pasta.

“Your conclusion would be a target-specific victim, with the emergency call to the friend the cap on that stone.”

“Bogus emergency,” Eve said with a mouthful of pasta. “Pretty exquisite timing.”

“It is.” Watching her relax with the meal made him glad he’d waited for her. “And the choice of that timing. The shower scene—the shocker, the murder of what the unsuspecting audience believes is the central character—thirty minutes into the vid. That forty-five seconds of stunning violence.”

“How do you know that?” She poked her fork in the air before stabbing a meatball. “Thirty minutes in, forty-five seconds.”

“It’s one of those things you pick up. I have no doubt that in the single viewing you had of the vid with me a year or so ago, your cop brain would have estimated that timing very precisely.”

“You’re not a cop, as you like to remind me.”

“Happily. But I live with one, and would make another wager. She’s already concluding the purpose of that exquisite timing.”

“Rich guy always making sure bets.” She ate more pasta. “Forty-five seconds, during which anybody who had an ass in a chair would be completely focused on the screen. Or have their hand slapped over their eyes, like Peabody on her first viewing. The timing, the method say target specific. The victim herself …” With a shake of her head, Eve picked up her wine.

“Tell me about her.”

“Happy, hardworking, talented. Three of the top words her friend, her parents, her employer, her coworkers all used to describe her. Sexually she batted for both teams, but didn’t take the game too seriously. The only long-term ex moved to Canada years ago—career deal. No big drama, according to her friend, and he’d have no motive to come back and stab her to death.”

“But you’ll look at him.”

“You’ve got to look. She was up for a part—a bigger one than usual—so I’ll look at whoever else is up for it.”

He knew her—the tone, the body language, the look in those cop’s eyes. “But?”

“Okay, it’s target specific. You can’t discount that bullshit dog emergency that had the person sitting beside her leaving the theater for several minutes. The timing of that, the fact the killer sat right behind her, which indicates he either followed her there or knew she’d be there. That’s no random stab in the dark. Literally.”

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