Vendetta in Death (In Death #49)

They went outside, where life in New York hit full churn. Ad blimps blasting, traffic snarling, pedestrians surging. No body lay over the sidewalk now, and no sign remained that it had.

Inside the building was a different story. She had uniforms knocking on doors, sweepers spreading over a family home, an EDD geek who’d dig through what that family had documented, what they’d talked about on their ’links, what they’d keyboarded, what photos they’d saved on any device.

Death unearthed secrets.

When Eve slid behind the wheel, Peabody gave her the admin’s address. “It’s going to be a hard trip home for his wife and kids,” she commented.

“Yeah. Did she know?” Eve wondered. “Maybe, maybe she didn’t know about what he kept locked in a cabinet, but how could she not know about the cheating? A guy doesn’t have that kind of sex supply—out of the bedroom he shares with his spouse—and not cheat as a matter of habit. How could she not know?”

“Some women just believe, and some guys are really good at covering.”

Eve shook her head. “Nobody’s that good.”

She punched out, muscled her way into the snarling traffic.

Po and his husband lived in a Midtown unit over a Greek restaurant. A reasonable walk to work, if Po was inclined, Eve calculated. She buzzed in at the street-level door, and in seconds got a cheerful “Hey, yo!” through the intercom.

“Lieutenant Dallas, Detective Peabody, NYPSD. We need to speak to Mr. Po.”

“Yeah, right, and Roarke’s up here having a bagel. Is that you, Carrie?”

“Lieutenant Dallas. Am I speaking to Lance Po?”

“Well, yeah. Come on, seriously?”

“Seriously. We need to come up.”

Eve heard some cross talk, a laugh. “Says she’s Eve Dallas. It’s gotta be Carrie.”

But the buzzer sounded, the locks clicked open.

The tiny hallway held a skinny elevator Eve wouldn’t have trusted if Po had lived a mile up, and an equally skinny set of stairs.

As they climbed up, she heard the door open above. “You sounded pretty kick-ass, Carrie, but—”

The man in the doorway broke off.

He hit about five-eight of trim, slim, mixed-race Asian. He looked younger than his thirty-eight years in a natty metallic-blue suit, a red-and-blue-dotted tie, and with raven black hair in short, curly dreads tipped in gold.

His eyes, nearly as gold as the tips, popped wide.

“Holy shit! Holy shit, Wes! It’s fucking Eve Dallas.”

“Get real, Lance.” The second man, with a muscular, shaved head, black skin covered in faded jeans and a long-sleeved red T-shirt, stepped out. He blinked, laid a hand on Po’s shoulder, said, “Well, son of a bitch.”

Then he blinked again, and his dark eyes filled with worry. “Jesus, somebody’s dead.”

“Oh God. God. Is somebody dead?”

“Can we come in?”

“My mom. My mom—”

“It’s not about your mother, Mr. Po, or any family member. We’re here about your boss.”

“Sylvia?” He reached up, grabbed his partner’s hand.

“No, Nigel McEnroy.”

“Mr. McEnroy’s dead?”

“We’d like to come inside.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He stepped back. “Yes, please. I was—we were—just thrown off. We’re big fans, of both of you. Not just the book and vid, though totally mag there. But we’ve been following you since you and Roarke—big fans there, too—and it’s your work, and the fashion, and the no-prisoners interviews when they get you on camera. We’re just—”

“You’re babbling, honey.” Schupp nudged Po aside, reached for Eve’s hand, then Peabody’s. “Please, sit down. We don’t have your coffee, but—”

“We’re fine.”

The living space, though small, struck Eve as a lot more friendly and comfortable than the McEnroys’. A high-backed navy sofa ranged along one wall, topped with a long, interesting pencil sketch of the city. It faced a couple of easy chairs in bold, multicolored stripes. A bench padded with fake leather added more seating, and a jog to the left opened into a smart-looking little kitchen and eating area.

“I’m going to tag in, get a sub. I teach art and coach football,” Schupp explained. “High school. How about I make you some tea, Lance?”

“That’d be great. I’m just …It wasn’t an accident. Like I said, we’re fans, so I know you’re with Homicide. Was it a mugging?”

He gestured to a chair as he spoke, so Eve took one, Peabody the other, while Po lowered to the sofa.

“No. You were Mr. McEnroy’s admin?”

“Yeah. Yes. He travels a lot, and when he’s not in New York, which is about half the year, really, Sylvia Brant runs things. I mean, Mr. McEnroy and his partners run everything, but Sylvia’s like captain of the ship when he’s not here. Should I tell her?”

“We’ll take care of that. Do you know Mr. McEnroy’s schedule?”

“Sure. Absolutely. A ten o’clock this morning with the leading candidate for the VP of marketing position at Grange United, New York office. Eleven with—”

“How about yesterday’s?”

“Right, sorry.”

Po rattled off names, times, purposes like a computer while Schupp brought him a pretty cup of tea. The cup, the floral smell, made Eve think of Mira.

She imagined she’d be talking this case through with the department’s top profiler and shrink before too long.

“So, no dinner meetings, no evening appointments?”

“No, he finished at the office just before six. His wife and kids are on spring break, in Tahiti. Oh Jesus, Wes, those sweet little girls.”

Schupp took Po’s free hand, gave it a squeeze. “Can you tell us what happened?”

“Mr. McEnroy was killed early this morning. The evidence so far indicates he left his residence just after nine P.M. He was killed at another location before his body was dumped outside his residence.”

She gauged her witness. “There are also indications the murderer was female, or purports to represent females Mr. McEnroy may have …misused.”

Po exchanged a look with his partner.

“You don’t seem surprised by that,” Eve commented. “Tell us why.”





3


“You always said,” Po murmured.

“Call ’em like I see ’em. He had a vibe—a player, a hard type of player,” Schupp told Eve. “I only met him a few times, but he had a vibe. Tell them, Lance.”

“Well, it’s just feelings or observations mostly. Except I know damn well he hit on a couple of the lower-level staff. One of them complained to HR, and boom, she was gone. Word was he paid her off. And Sylvia—he was always respectful of her, but …see, she’s older and she’d kick his ass if he tried anything. Anyway, she reamed him over it, threatened to file a complaint. They really went at it—about a year ago. He was pretty steamed—I could see it—but he stopped fishing in the company pool, if you get me.”

“I get you. Why didn’t Sylvia file a complaint?”

“I think, mostly, because of his wife and kids. She would have if he didn’t straighten up. But …”

“You’re not being disloyal, Mr. Po,” Peabody put in. “His behavior and habits very likely led to his death. His family needs to know who caused that death, and what you tell us helps us.”

“I didn’t like him,” Po said abruptly. “But I loved the work, and Sylvia, and the others I work with. And he wasn’t here half the time, anyway. He treated me well, I don’t mean to say otherwise.”

“You were an asset, honey. You’re the best admin going.”

“A little prejudiced.” Po managed a smile. “I am good at my job, and I like the job. He, Mr. McEnroy, just didn’t strike as a good husband. He loved the girls, that was clear and real. I think in his way he loved his wife. But he had that vibe, like Wes said. And, well, plenty of mornings when he came in—and his family wasn’t in New York—he had that I-got-laid look on him. He didn’t trouble to hide it.”

“Did anyone make threats?”

“You mean, like to hurt him? No. Unless it was on his private line or e-mail. I see everything else. Honestly, I don’t think he felt threatened. He always looked …smug, satisfied. The only time I saw him steamed was that time with Sylvia. I swear she’d never hurt anybody. She’d have roasted him professionally, but he laid off because, I think, he knew she would.”

“Would you know any of the venues he might have frequented after work?”

“Maybe.” He shifted, clearly uncomfortable. “It’s part of my job to keep things organized—when he’s in New York and when he’s not. Some clubs have little trinkets or amenities, especially when you spring for a privacy or VIP booth. He had swag from a few in a drawer in his desk.”

“We’d like the names, if you remember.”

“Lola’s Lair, Seekers, This Place, Fernando’s. Those were the usual as far as I know. There could be more, and he didn’t keep the souvies.”

“That’s very helpful.”

“I don’t know what I should do.” Po lifted his hands, then used them to grip his elbows. “Should I go to work?”

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