Vendetta in Death (In Death #49)

“This moment.”

She laughed, tossed her hair. “Then we should savor it, and the moments yet to come. Tonight I come here to …yes, divest—it is to divest the day and the things that must and needs be done. So to do what pleases instead. A night for me, yes?”

“Yes. This is also the same for me. Another commonality.”

“So …” She opened her evening purse, took out a tiny compact. “Tonight we are creatures of the moment. Together.”

He started to lean toward her, and the drink slot signaled, opened.

“We should toast the moment.”

As he turned to retrieve the martini glasses, she tossed her purse to the floor. He set the drinks on the table, bent to pick up her purse.

As he did, she spilled the contents of the vial in the compact into his drink.

“Merci.” She took the purse, slipped the compact back inside. She accepted the glass, tapped it lightly to his. “To the moment,” she said.

“And the many pleasures.”

Her eyes glittered at him over the rim of her glass. “And tell me one of the many pleasures you seek.”

“A beautiful woman who wants what I want.”

Watching him drink, she laid a hand on his thigh, trailed her fingers teasingly toward the bulge in his crotch. “But how can you seek what you have found?” When he leaned toward her, she brought the hand up to his chest. “Mais non. We drink first, to this moment, the savoring, and the anticipation of pleasures to come. See them beyond the curtain, moving, touching, a ritual of mating, yes? And some may while some may not. And we, we could do what we like here, unseen.”

“Titillating,” he said, and felt oddly light-headed.

“Finish the drink and come with me. I have a place that is more so. A place of many pleasures.”

Eager, he downed the rest, took the hand she offered when she rose. “My flat’s close,” he began.

“I have a place,” she repeated.

He thought it was like moving through a silver-edged fog, and never saw her tap her wrist unit to signal the droid, barely heard the music as she led him down to the first level, out into the night.

She nudged him into a car, and inside he groped for her breasts as his mouth sought hers.

He thought she said, “Straight home, Wilford,” in a different voice, but he was sinking, sinking into her, into pleasures.

Into the dark.

He woke with his head banging, his throat burning dry. When he tried to move, the muscles of his arms screamed. He blinked his aching eyes open, winced against the light.

He saw a large room, counters, monitors, screens, a massive workstation. None of it made sense.

It took him nearly a full minute to come around enough to realize he was naked, his hands cuffed over his head to a chain that hung from the ceiling. His feet barely made it to the floor.

Kidnapped? Drugged? He twisted against the restraints, but it hurt.

No, no, the club. He’d gone to the club. The Frenchwoman. Solange. He remembered, but it blurred, and when he fought to think it through, his head screamed.

No windows, he thought as fear popped cold sweat over his skin. He saw stairs leading up and, if he craned his throbbing head enough, a door at the top.

He tried to call for help; his voice came out in a croak.

Pleasures—he remembered that.

They’d talked of pleasures, and she …

He sensed movement behind him, felt a terrible, shocking pain. His cry started as a croak, broke into a scream.

And she stepped into view.

Not the Frenchwoman.

Who was this woman, this creature smiling at him who wore a silver mask, with dark hair edged with silver spilling around her face, with her body curving in black?

She wore silver boots and a kind of—good God—breastplate in black leather with the letters LJ emblazoned on it in silver, like the boots.

“Who are you? What do you want?”

“I want my many moments of pleasure.”

He felt a thin thread of relief weave through the fear. “Solange? Don’t—”

“Do I look like Solange?” Snarling, she tapped the electric prod a bare inch above his penis, had him convulsing with pain as the burn seared across, spiked down. “I’m Lady Justice, you adulterous prick. And Nigel B. McEnroy, this is your time of reckoning.”

“Stop, stop, don’t. I can pay. Whatever you want, I can pay.”

“Oh, believe me, you will. For your wife.” She slapped the prod over his belly. “For your daughters.” His chest. “For every woman you’ve raped.” His buttocks.

His screams bounced off the walls. “No, no, no. I haven’t raped anyone. You’ve made a terrible mistake.”

“Have I? Have I, Nigel?” She gave him a little lick of shock across the balls, and imagined only dogs could have heard the high pitch of his scream from that one.

Each time she said a name—one of his victims—she shocked him again.

He gibbered, went limp, but she was patient.

After snapping a vial under his nose to revive him, she started again.

He begged—oh, how he begged—he cursed her, he wept and screamed and pissed himself.

And oh, oh, oh, those moments of pleasure.

“Why, why are you doing this?”

“For all the women you’ve betrayed, humiliated, abused. Confess, confess, Nigel, to your crimes.”

“I never hurt anyone!”

She slapped the electric rod hard over his buttocks. When he could speak again, he sobbed out the words. “I love my wife, I love my wife, but I need more. I’m sorry. It was only sex. Please, please.”

“You drugged women.”

“I didn’t— Yes, yes!” He shrieked it to hold off the pain. “Not always, but I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

“You used your position to intimidate, to pressure women who wanted work to have sex.”

“No— Yes—yes! I have needs. Please.”

“Your needs?” She picked up a sap, slapped it across his face. Shattered his cheekbone. “Your needs were more important than their free will, than their wishes, their needs? Than your vows to your wife?”

“No, no. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I—I need help. I’ll get help. I’ll confess. I’ll go to prison. I’ll do whatever you say.”

“Say my name.”

“I don’t know who you are. Please.”

“I told you!” She shocked him again, knew by the way he convulsed that she was nearing the end. “I’m Lady Justice. Say my name!”

“Lady Justice,” he mumbled, barely conscious.

“And justice will be served.”

She had the bucket and the blade ready, brought them over. She set the bucket between his legs.

“What’s that for? What are you doing? I confessed. I’m sorry. Oh my God, oh God, please, no!”

“It’s all right, Nigel.” She smiled into his watering, horrified eyes. “I’m going to take care of your needs. For the last time.”

She kept him alive as long as she could, and when it was done, when he hung limp and silent, she let out a long sigh.

“So. Justice is served.”

As dawn broke over the city, Lieutenant Eve Dallas stood over the naked, mutilated body. The early breeze frisked through her choppy cap of hair, flapped at her long leather coat as she read the bold, computer-generated print on the sign tacked securely where the victim’s genitals had been.

He broke his vows of marriage,

and woman he disparaged.

His life he built on wealth and power,

to lure the helpless to his tower.

He raped for fun,

and now he’s done.

LADY JUSTICE



Eve shifted her field kit, turned to the uniformed officer, the first on scene. “What do you know?”

The beetle-browed, mixed-race female snapped to. “The nine-one-one came in at oh-four-thirty-eight. A limo dropped off a female, one Tisha Feinstein, on the corner of West Eighty-eighth and Columbus. Feinstein states that after attending her bachelorette party with fourteen friends, she wanted to walk, catch some air. Catching said air, she walked the three blocks uptown to Ninety-first, saw the body laid out across the sidewalk here. She ran into the building—this is her residence, Lieutenant—woke her fiancé, one Clipper Vance. He came out, saw the body, called it in.

“My partner and I responded, arrived on scene at oh-four-forty, secured the scene, called for a pair of beat droids to help with that. Officer Rigby is inside with the wits.”

“All right, Officer, stand by.”

After sealing up, she crouched by the body, opened her field kit. Then, pressing the victim’s thumb to her Identi-pad, she read out for the record:

“Victim is identified as Nigel B. McEnroy, Caucasian, age forty-three, British citizen. His several listed residences include an apartment at 145 West Ninety-first, New York City. That would be the same building as Tisha Feinstein, who discovered the body.”

Eve scanned the face. “Hardly a surprise she didn’t recognize him if she’d known him. Severe bruising and burn marks, most likely electrical, on the face, the body, ligature marks, deep, both wrists, indicate the victim was bound during torture and struggled during same.”

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