Home > Leverage in Death (In Death #47)(6)

Leverage in Death (In Death #47)(6)
Author: J.D. Robb

She wandered into the master bath, out again.

“Patient, focused, purposeful.” As she spoke, she went out, found her way to Melody’s room. Girlie, but not obsessively, Eve thought. Neat—except for the broken glass, the scattered solar system—but not regimented.

“Did he forget to strap her back to the bed, to bind her ankles, or did he want her to be able to get up? Kept her hands tied,” Eve mused.

“Just a kid. He wasn’t worried about her, that’s how I see it. Once they had what they wanted, this one just wasn’t worried about the kid. Not in charge.”

Nodding, Eve turned to Peabody again. “I agree. The one in charge of her wasn’t and isn’t the leader. This one left a loose thread. He loosened her ties—maybe a soft spot for kids. Only a kid, but not an idiot, and strong and smart enough to figure out how to get attention. Maybe it didn’t matter to them we found them so fast. We’d have found them in short order anyway. But it might’ve taken another hour. Didn’t matter.”

She walked over to the broken window. “Really didn’t. Long gone by then. Off to Fat City.”

“Which is not an overweight urban area,” Peabody put in.

“How does blowing up a marketing exec, a meeting, a merger, and/or the head of Quantum lead to Fat City?”

“Sounds like a Roarke question.”

“Yeah, it does. Here come the sweepers,” Eve said as she saw two vans pull up. “Let’s get them started.”


As the domestic lived in a building within easy walking distance of the Rogan/Greenspan home, Eve decided to have a talk with Iris Kelly before moving on to the injured. Eve mastered them inside, stepped across the small lobby.

One of the two elevators let out a pair of women speaking rapid Spanish, both carting handbags the size of baby elephants. The younger pushed a thumb-sucking baby in a stroller with little animals dangling—including a baby elephant. The kid’s eyes looked glassy with pleasure as it snacked on its own thumb.

“What do they get out of that?” Eve wondered as they stepped into the vacated elevator. “How good could your own thumb taste?”

“It’s not the taste, it’s the sucking action. Oral satisfaction and comfort.”

“So, basically, they’re giving themselves a blow job?”

For a couple of seconds, Peabody’s mouth worked silently. “I . . . I can’t possibly answer that without feeling really dirty and weirded.”

With a shrug, Eve rode up to the fourth floor. Decent building, Eve thought, decent security. Solid working class with residents who took enough pride of place not to litter up the lobby, elevators, hallways.

She pressed the buzzer on Kelly’s door, waited.

The intercom hummed as it engaged. “Yes?”

“Lieutenant Dallas, Detective Peabody.” Eve held up her badge. “NYPSD. We’d like to speak to you, ma’am.”

Locks clicked, the door opened, and Eve saw Iris had already gotten the news. Sky-blue eyes, swollen and red-rimmed, dominated a face the color of Irish cream. Sunshine hair was sleeked back in a long tail. She wore straight-legged black pants, a shirt shades quieter than her eyes and a simple black cardigan.

“On the screen. I heard the report on the screen. Paul . . . I can’t reach Cecily. I can’t reach her. Please.”

“Can we come in, Ms. Kelly?” Eve asked.

“I’m sorry. Yes. I slept late,” she continued as she stepped back. “It’s a day off. I slept late. I turned the screen on for company while I did some chores before I went out to run errands. I can’t reach Cecily. Melly. Oh God, please.”

“Ms. Greenspan and Melody are on their way to Ms. Greenspan’s mother in New Rochelle.”

“Oh. Oh.” Iris sank into a chair in the living area, covered her face, burst into tears. “Thank God. I thought . . . I was afraid . . . It’s all craziness. They’re saying Paul killed himself and all those other people at his office. He never would, never, but they keep saying it and saying it. And I couldn’t reach Cecily.”

“Why don’t I get you some water?” Peabody suggested.

“Thank you. Thank you. I don’t understand why they’re saying Paul did something like this. He’d never hurt anyone. Please, he’s a good man.”

“We believe Mr. Rogan was coerced.”

“‘Coerced,’” Iris repeated slowly.

“Ms. Kelly, has anyone approached you, asking questions about the family, their home, Mr. Rogan’s work?”

“No. No. I mean to say, I talk about the family the way you do, with my husband or friends, my own family. Except they’re family, too. They made me family.”

As she swiped at tears, she rocked herself for comfort. “I was there when they brought Melly home for the first time, just a little pink bundle. I’ll share things, like how well Melly’s doing in school or her dance recital, or something funny Paul said—he likes to joke—or something Cecily and I did. Just casual talk.”

“Someone outside your friends and family,” Eve pushed as Peabody brought Iris a glass of water. “Someone making a delivery to the house when Melody was in school and her parents were at work. Or a repairman. Anyone.”

“No, I promise you. I might talk to the people who run the market when I do the marketing. They might ask how I am doing, and how the family is doing. I might brag about Melly now and then. She’s next to my own. I might say how well she did in school—she, she wants to be an astronomer. I might speak to one of the mothers or nannies if I went to the school to get her. Sometimes Cecily had to stay for meetings, and I pick Melly up and take her home.”

“Did anyone make you uncomfortable? Anyone you spoke to, anyone you saw around the neighborhood?”

“I can’t think of anyone. I know some of the neighbors, and the people who work for them. You chat sometimes. I met my Johnny when he was working on the house next door. He redid the kitchen for the Spacers, and we chatted.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Nearly four years.”

“You have the security code to the residence.”

“Yes.” Her streaming eyes went wild. “Yes, I—”

“Have you given it to anyone?”

“Oh no, no one. Not even Johnny. You can’t break trust.”

“Do you have it written down?”


“How do you remember it?”

“It’s easy. It’s all the initials of our first names, in order of age. PCIM—the numbers of the alphabet for them. So it’s sixteen—one-six, that is—three, nine, thirteen. I don’t understand. Did something happen at the house?”

That part of the report hadn’t hit the media, Eve thought—or it hit after Iris turned off the screen. “Two men broke in—got through security. At this time we don’t believe they knew the code.”

Her breath started to hitch. “You said Cecily and Melly were all right. You said—”

“They will be. Ms. Greenspan was hurt, but her injuries aren’t critical. You can contact her through her mother when we’re done here.”

“Melly?” Rocking faster, Iris fisted both hands over her heart. “Did they hurt Melly?”

“Nothing serious. Do you answer the ’link when you’re working?”

“Yes. Please, I just need to talk to them.”

“Melly threw Jupiter out her window to get the cops’ attention.” Peabody added a smile to her soothing voice. “She’s smart, brave, and she’s fine.”

“She is smart. She is.” More tear swiping. “Okay. They’re okay.”

“Have there been any contacts,” Eve continued, “repeat contacts you don’t know personally, surveys asking questions, anything like that in the last six months?”

“Nothing I can think of.”

“Think back to December. What was going on?”

“Oh, the holiday prep. Melly was so excited as we counted down to Christmas, even though she doesn’t believe in Santa anymore. I helped with the decorating, as I always do. We make a party of it. There’s extra marketing and shopping. I’d pick up things for both Paul and Cecily. Paul especially this year as he was already working hard on a campaign. And of course, Melly and I would go out to shop—our secret shopping and wrapping. For her parents, and a few of her girlfriends, her grandparents.”

“Nothing unusual.”

“I can’t think of . . . Well, unusual for me, but I don’t see—”


“I had my ’link and wallet lifted, right out of my purse. And I know better. Born and raised in New York, so I know how to be careful, and still.”

“How, when?”

“We’d been shopping, Melly and I, hours of it, and had lunch out. A busy Saturday. I don’t work Saturdays as a rule, not for a couple years now, except sometimes over busy times and in the summer break. We were loaded down, and I was a little tired. I got careless. We were on the subway platform, crowded, noisy, and Melly was so excited. I had her hand, firm grip. And there was some jostling as the train came in. That had to be when it happened as I’d just used my ’link to scan us through the turnstiles. And when we were on the train, and I went to get it out—just to let Johnny know I’d pick up a curry on the way home—my ’link and my wallet weren’t in my purse.”

“Did you report it?”

“I did, only because Paul and Cecily insisted. Who would find them? I couldn’t say who took them, only when I thought. I had to cancel the debit card I carry, and the other apps on my ’link and so on. I hadn’t had but a little cash. Well under a hundred dollars, but I had photos in my wallet that meant something to me.”

“But not the codes for the security system?”

“No. Detective—I’ve already forgotten your name.”

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