Leverage in Death (In Death, Book 47)(3)

By: J. D. Robb


Eve stood tall and lean in the long leather coat. Her hair, short, choppy and brown, haloed a face of angles, with a shallow dent in the chin. Her eyes, brown, sharp, and all cop, swept the room again.

“You handle your end, I’ll handle mine. Let’s see where we end up.”

“Works for me.” Salazar pulled out her signaling communicator. “Salazar.”

“Lieutenant, neither Cecily Greenspan nor Melody Rogan showed up at the school this morning where the kid attends and the mother is assistant principal. The mother texted in that the kid wasn’t feeling well. They don’t answer their ’links.”

Salazar’s brows lifted, and Eve gave her the nod.

“Officer, I’m passing you to the primary in charge. Lieutenant Dallas.”

Eve took the comm. “Get to the residence. If there’s no response, you have probable cause to enter.”

“‘Probable cause’?” Salazar said as Eve passed the comm back.

“Eleven dead, nine wounded, and a missing wife and daughter. That’s more than probable for me. I’ll let you get back to what you do. I’ll start doing what I do.”

Eve walked to the doorway. “Peabody!”

Her partner hustled down the ruined corridor in pink cowboy boots. “This is ours. Treat it as a homicide until it looks otherwise. Bomber, deceased, was Paul Rogan—do a run. Officers are en route to his residence to locate his wife and daughter—neither of which is where they should be this morning.”

“Devoted family man.” As she looked into the conference room, Peabody blew out a breath. “According to one of the wits who survived that. A Sandy Plank, another VP, minor injuries, treated on-site. Hardworking, loyal, smart, and crazy in love with his wife and daughter, is how she describes Rogan.”

“The loyal don’t generally blow up their boss and coworkers,” Eve pointed out.

“Yeah. She’s a mess—Plank, I mean. She states he didn’t look well, and she heard him mumbling to himself. She thought he said: There needs to be or has to be another way. And when his boss and Willimina Karson—head of EconoLift—came into the meeting, Rogan walked over to them. Plank said she was watching Rogan because she thought he must have been feeling ill. She heard him say he didn’t have a choice. He said he was sorry. He was, according to her, crying. Then he opened his suit jacket. Boom.”

“Run him, and let’s find out what this meeting was about. Details. Any idea where his office is?”

“Down and left, second right. Salazar put a man on the door.”

“I’ll take it.” She started down, stopped. “Pearson, deceased, was top dog. Let’s find out who’s top dog now.”

Eve made her way to Rogan’s office, badged the officer on the door. Inside she closed the door, stood, scanned.

Big window due to VP status, she mused, and a refreshment station with AutoChef. Curious, she checked the AC for previous orders.

Nothing since Friday at 16:22. A tube of ginger ale.

The desk was angled, giving Rogan the window and the door view. A good desk chair, two sturdy visitors’ chairs, club style in a smooth coffee-brown leather. A sofa—navy-blue gel—with a long table. Walls, light brown decorated with aeronautic art.

An evolution of air travel, she realized—from those early deals that made Eve wonder how anyone had had the balls to jump into, up to sleek shuttles. With them, a child’s drawing in bright primary colors of a plane flying in a sky with white clouds and a yellow circle of sun.

The artist had signed it in careful block letters. MELODY.

The daughter. Devoted family man, Eve thought, who framed his kid’s drawing and hung it on his office wall.

On the desk in addition to a top-grade data and communication center, a brightly painted cup held a bouquet of paper flowers, all clearly handmade. Eve lifted the cup, looked at the bottom.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DADDY

LOVE,

MELODY

JANUARY 18, 2061



The desk held a triple frame, an attractive mixed-race female, late thirties, and a seriously beautiful girl—Melody, no doubt—with mad toffee-colored curls, laughing eyes of pale green, and a joyful smile that showed the gap where she’d lost a couple of baby teeth. They flanked one of the family, the child cuddled between Rogan and his wife.