Vendetta in Death (In Death #49)

“As for the rest of him, I found him despicable. Both women who finally came to me claimed he pressured them, used his position, and one of them believed he’d given her something, roofied her. He denied all this, of course, when I went at him, but he was lying. I could see it. And he agreed to the terms I gave him.”

“I appreciate your candor. Can you give me your whereabouts last night, particularly between the hours of nine P.M. and four A.M.?”

“Oh, but, Lieutenant, you can’t—”

“Shh.” Sylvia shook a finger at Po. “She needs to know. I left here shortly after Nigel, met my husband, our older son, and his fiancée for dinner at Opa. We had seven o’clock reservations. I think we left about ten. Ray and I took a cab home. I’d say we were both in bed and asleep before midnight, and I left this morning about six-forty-five to hit the gym, and was in the office by eight-forty.

“We do have security on our building,” she added. “You would see Ray and me get in last night, and you’d see me leave this morning. I found Nigel despicable in many ways,” she said again, “but my heart breaks for his children. They’ve lost their father, and however I felt, those kids need their daddy.”

“All right. Would Jasmine Quirk and Leah Lester be the women who reported the harassment to you, and accepted the settlement?” Dallas asked.

“They would, yes.”

“I’m sorry, Sylvia, I—”

“Don’t be a boob, Lance, this is a murder investigation. You tell the truth, you say what you know. I demanded he pay each of them a hundred thousand, USD, provide each of them with solid references, and have no other contact with them. If he balked on any of it, I’d follow through. Both women agreed to those terms as well, or it would’ve been a different matter. They just wanted out.”

“A hundred thousand seems a small payment for rape,” Eve commented.

Sylvia’s lips flattened. “And I agree. They couldn’t prove it, either of them. They couldn’t even be absolutely sure of it, either of them. Jasmine, in particular, felt she’d participated, felt she’d done something wrong, and wanted to forget it. She relocated to Chicago, where she had some family. Leah was angry, understandably, but refused to give me any solid details. She’s still in New York as far as I know, working in international finance. It may be I should have gone to the partners, or even the police, but all I had was the word of two women who both wanted to move on.”

She pinched the bridge of her nose. “I thought I did what was best for them at the time. I don’t know. I just don’t know.”

“Do you know who’ll inherit his percentage of the company?”

“I …His wife and daughters, I imagine. I honestly don’t know. Geena and the girls are away. God, what a mess.”

“Do you know of any other women he harassed?”

“Once I knew about Leah and Jasmine, I suspected there had been more, but no. No one else came to me or filed a complaint. And, believe me, since then I’ve kept my eyes and ears open. I feel certain Nigel knew I’d take action if he played among the office staff again.”

“All right, Ms. Brant. We’re going to need to go through his office, and we’ll need to have any and all of his electronics taken in to EDD.”

“God, the client files. So much confidential data.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “I’m going to clear you through, save us all time, but I’m going to ask you to cover all our asses and get a warrant. I have to inform the partners.”

“We’ll also need to speak with them.”

“Of course. I can, if you like, arrange a ’link or holo-conference. Neither partner is in New York. However I felt about him, Lieutenant, Nigel was my employer, he had a family I’m very fond of, and I’ll see that everyone in his office gives you every cooperation. His family will need closure. They won’t have it until you find who took him from them.”

“I’ll let you know about the conference. I appreciate your time and cooperation, Ms. Brant. I’m going to have Mr. Po take us to Mr. McEnroy’s office. EDD will arrange for the transport of the electronics. I’ll secure the warrant.”

They left her to walk down the corridor to the impressive double doors of McEnroy’s office.

It made two of Brant’s, with Po’s adjoining office a kind of afterthought. It boasted a full adjoining bath, an entertainment nook, with an AutoChef, a friggie, a bar. And a snazzier yet view of the city.

“I don’t have the passcode to his private files, or the locked drawer,” Po began.

“We’ll take care of it.”

“I can get you into the company files, e-mails, and so on. I have those codes, if it helps.”

“It does. Peabody, tag Reo for the warrant, then EDD.”

“On that.”

“If you need me to explain any of the data …”

“Getting us in’s enough for now. We’re going to need your office electronics, too.”

“Oh boy. I could open them if you want.”

“Appreciate it. Once you open things up, why don’t you take a break? If we need you, we’ll let you know.”

“He’s better busy,” Schupp commented.

“Yeah, I am. Wes knows me. I could maybe help Sylvia, keep busy and out of your way.”

“Go ahead. You’ve been a big help, Mr. Po, both you and Mr. Schupp.”

“It doesn’t really seem real,” Po murmured, as he efficiently opened the office comp, a memo book, a calendar. “Not all the way real. I guess it will.”

As he moved off to do the same in his office, Eve eyed the locked drawer. Then pulled out her signaling ’link to read a text.

Come up and see me. I can give you some data on your victim.

Of course he could, Eve thought. Roarke would know she’d entered the building almost as soon as she had—and would by now have gathered up whatever data there was to gather up on his dead tenant.

It would be worth a stop.

Got a few things yet to do down here—including picking a lock. We’ll come up after.

Need a hand with the lock?

Maybe, she thought, but answered: Don’t insult me.

As it was now a matter of pride, she settled down, got to work.

“Warrant’s in the works,” Peabody told her. “McNab’s heading over. He reports McEnroy didn’t return to the apartment until around midnight—that’s night before last. And he didn’t return alone.”

Eve glanced up from the lock. “A woman?”

“A duet. Two redheads, and McNab says they both looked seriously wasted. Drunk or high or both. They left looking pretty much the same about oh four hundred.”

“Didn’t waste any time once the wife left, did he?”

Unsurprised, Eve went back to the very stubborn lock.

“The guy was a dick who thought with his dick. Anyway, EDD’s sending a transport for what’s tagged from the residence, then from here.”



“Not you. The lock. I thought I had it. He’s got a second layer on it.”

Curious, Peabody moved over to watch. “A second layer on a desk drawer? Must be some goodies inside.”

“I’ve already deduced.” And she already felt the first trickles of sweat forming at the base of her spine. “Go take a look at Po’s stuff instead of breathing down my neck.”

“Sure, but McNab’s on his way, and he could …”

The low growl had Peabody moving quickly to the next office.

Eve felt more sweat pop out on the back of her neck—which only pissed her off. She could open a damn drawer. She would open the damn drawer.

Kept shit here, she calculated as she struggled, because his wife would never fiddle around in his office. Because his admin was as trustworthy as they came. Because he was the boss and assumed—very likely correctly—no one would dare try to compromise anything he’d locked away.

Now being dead, all bets were off.

“Son of a bitching bitch.”

“That bad, is it now?”

She looked up, and there he was.

She should’ve figured.

Roarke stood in the doorway, tall and lean in the ruler-of-the-business-world suit—the darkest of charcoals without being black—a shirt so sharp it could have sliced bread in a palest of pale gray hue, with a craftily knotted tie that added thin hits of burgundy to a medium gray field.

His black hair swept thick and silky around a face that might have been formed with angel kisses—with a few taps of devil to add to the appeal. And those impossibly blue eyes smiled, just for her.

The whisper of Ireland in his voice just capped the package.

She shot a finger at him, said, “No,” very decisively.

So he leaned on the jamb, a man at his ease, waited.

Having him show up—and knowing how easily he could show her up with a lock—had her doubling down. Maybe some of that sweat slid down the back of her spine, but she finally opened the stupid lock.


“And good for you, Lieutenant.”

“He had two layers on it.”

“Is that a fact?” Brows lifted, he wandered in. “And what is it the head of headhunting kept so secret?”

“Police business.”

He only smiled, then bent down to brush those perfectly carved lips over the top of her head.

“That police business might include my data if you want it. The media hasn’t yet released any salient information on his death, but as you’re here, it’s murder.”

“It’s murder, and it’s nasty.” She took two ’links, a memo book, and a few discs out of the drawer. “Close the door, ace.”

He walked back, did so, and paused in the adjoining doorway. “Good morning, Peabody.”

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