Naked in Death:In Death 01By: J. D. Robb
She woke in the dark. Through the slats on the window shades, the first murky hint of dawn slipped, slanting shadowy bars over the bed. It was like waking in a cell.
For a moment she simply lay there, shuddering, imprisoned, while the dream faded. After ten years on the force, Eve still had dreams.
Six hours before, she’d killed a man, had watched death creep into his eyes. It wasn’t the first time she’d exercised maximum force, or dreamed. She’d learned to accept the action and the consequences.
But it was the child that haunted her. The child she hadn’t been in time to save. The child whose screams had echoed in the dreams with her own.
All the blood, Eve thought, scrubbing sweat from her face with her hands. Such a small little girl to have had so much blood in her. And she knew it was vital that she push it aside.
Standard departmental procedure meant that she would spend the morning in Testing. Any officer whose discharge of weapon resulted in termination of life was required to undergo emotional and psychiatric clearance before resuming duty. Eve considered the tests a mild pain in the ass.
She would beat them, as she’d beaten them before.
When she rose, the overheads went automatically to low setting, lighting her way into the bath. She winced once at her reflection. Her eyes were swollen from lack of sleep, her skin nearly as pale as the corpses she’d delegated to the ME.
Rather than dwell on it, she stepped into the shower, yawning.
“Give me one oh one degrees, full force,” she said and shifted so that the shower spray hit her straight in the face.
She let it steam, lathered listlessly while she played through the events of the night before. She wasn’t due in Testing until nine, and would use the next three hours to settle and let the dream fade away completely.
Small doubts and little regrets were often detected and could mean a second and more intense round with the machines and the owl-eyed technicians who ran them.
Eve didn’t intend to be off the streets longer than twenty-four hours.
After pulling on a robe, she walked into the kitchen and programmed her AutoChef for coffee, black; toast, light. Through her window she could hear the heavy hum of air traffic carrying early commuters to offices, late ones home. She’d chosen the apartment years before because it was in a heavy ground and air pattern, and she liked the noise and crowds. On another yawn, she glanced out the window, followed the rattling journey of an aging airbus hauling laborers not fortunate enough to work in the city or by home-links.
She brought the New York Times up on her monitor and scanned the headlines while the faux caffeine bolstered her system. The AutoChef had burned her toast again, but she ate it anyway, with a vague thought of springing for a replacement unit.
She was frowning over an article on a mass recall of droid cocker spaniels when her tele-link blipped. Eve shifted to communications and watched her commanding officer flash onto the screen.
“Lieutenant.” He gave her a brisk nod, noted the still wet hair and sleepy eyes. “Incident at Twenty-seven West Broadway, eighteenth floor. You’re primary.”
Eve lifted a brow. “I’m on Testing. Subject terminated at twenty-two thirty-five.”
“We have override,” he said, without inflection. “Pick up your shield and weapon on the way to the incident. Code Five, lieutenant.”
“Yes, sir.” His face flashed off even as she pushed back from the screen. Code Five meant she would report directly to her commander, and there would be no unsealed interdepartmental reports and no cooperation with the press.
In essence, it meant she was on her own.
Broadway was noisy and crowded, a party where rowdy guests never left. Street, pedestrian, and sky traffic were miserable, choking the air with bodies and vehicles. In her old days in uniform she remembered it as a hot spot for wrecks and crushed tourists who were too busy gaping at the show to get out of the way.
Even at this hour there was steam rising from the stationary and portable food stands that offered everything from rice noodles to soydogs for the teeming crowds. She had to swerve to avoid an eager merchant on his smoking Glida-Grill, and took his flipped middle finger as a matter of course.
Eve double-parked and, skirting a man who smelled worse than his bottle of brew, stepped onto the sidewalk. She scanned the building first, fifty floors of gleaming metal that knifed into the sky from a hilt of concrete. She was propositioned twice before she reached the door.
Since this five-block area of Broadway was affectionately termed Prostitute’s Walk, she wasn’t surprised. She flashed her badge for the uniform guarding the entrance.
“Yes, sir.” He skimmed his official compu-seal over the door to keep out the curious, then led the way to the bank of elevators. “Eighteenth floor,” he said when the doors swished shut behind them.
“Fill me in, officer.” Eve switched on her recorder and waited.
“I wasn’t first on the scene, lieutenant. Whatever happened upstairs is being kept upstairs. There’s a badge inside waiting for you. We have a Homicide, and a Code Five in number Eighteen-oh-three.”