Authors: Ann Bruce
Nick saw the color seep from her face and the shiver that ran through her, and he hoped again that she wasn’t one hell of an actress.
Ethan continued with the questioning. “What did he do while he was here?”
“For the most part, he sat on the sofa in the living room upstairs while I graded papers on the floor.”
“What did you talk about?”
“Nothing. Nothing important.”
“Does he do that often?” Ethan asked. “Come here and do nothing?”
“No. He usually brings work with him or he watches television, news or hockey. That night, he had his briefcase with him, but he never opened it. He wouldn’t talk about what was bothering him. I thought he would tell me about it eventually, if it was important. He left early that night—at around 9:30.”
“And you didn’t see him after that.”
“Did he call you or try to contact you in any way?”
Another negative answer.
Nicked lean forward slightly in his chair as Ethan leaned back in his.
“Do you still have a key to the condo, Dr. Langan?”
“I…ah, yes. Drew insisted upon it.” She shrugged, the movement almost jerky. “Just in case, he said.”
“Just in case of what?” asked Nick?
Her mouth tightened. “I’m not quite sure, Detective. You’ll have to ask…” She slowly, quietly blew out a breath. “I don’t know. I guess Drew wanted me to know that I still had a place to go to if I needed it.”
“Do you also have a key for the building’s service entrance?”
“No,” she told Nick, before shifting her gaze to Ethan. “Detective Murtagh, you know the building residents don’t have a key for that door.”
Ethan shrugged. “I thought with your husband owning and renting out half the building, it might’ve been different.” He tilted his head to one side. “I didn’t think you recognized me.”
“I ran into your wife a few times in the lobby and on the elevator,” she explained.
Nick decided to get things back on track. “Where were you two nights ago between midnight and 1:30 a.m., Dr. Langan?”
The curve to her lips wasn’t a smile. “I was in bed, Detective, like most people.”
Before he could ask the next logical question, she added, “And no, I don’t have an alibi. I went to bed alone, but you only have my word for that, don’t you?”
He gave a small nod.
“Is there anything else, Detective?”
“What happens now that your husband’s dead before the divorce’s finalized?”
Her eyes gave off sparks. “Be specific, Detective.”
“Are you the primary beneficiary?”
Her knuckles whitened before she hid them in her lap. “I really don’t know. You’ll have to ask Drew’s lawyer, Peter Donovan.”
Nick smiled, but it was little more than a baring of his teeth. “We will.”
Ethan cleared his throat. Loudly. “Did Drew have any rivals, enemies, anyone who would want him dead?”
“He was the CEO and executive chairman of LSI. He had a number of business rivals, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call any of them enemies. He was very well respected and liked. No one would’ve wanted…” She broke off, eyes moist, and blinked rapidly. “Nobody who knows—knew—Drew would’ve wanted him dead.”
She took a breath. “Have you reviewed the surveillance tapes?”
“They’re missing,” said Ethan.
Even though she didn’t move, she seemed to shrink in the chair. “Then it wasn’t a random burglary gone wrong.” She shook her head slowly. It wasn’t a question, and neither Nick nor Ethan responded.
“We can’t share that information,” Ethan explained, tone almost gentle.
She closed her eyes briefly, shoulders slumping. “Is that all?”
“Two more questions,” said Nick. “Do you own a firearm?”
“No,” she replied swiftly, as if the mere question offended. “I don’t believe in them.”
“Did Drew own a firearm?”
“Not that I know of.”
“That’s it for now, then,” Ethan said, pushing his chair back and rising to his full height. He reached down to turn off the tape recorder and replace it in his jacket.
Augusta stood. “Th—”
The sound of the front door being unlocked and opened cut off her words. Her eyes widened, and Nick saw the flash of fear. Instinct kicked in and he moved in front of her, shielding her with his body as he faced the door, firearm in hand.
“Augusta?” a male voice called out. Nick recognized it, and so did the woman behind him. She skirted around him and hurried into the foyer, and Nick didn’t stop her. A tall, dark-suited figure was closing the front door behind him. He saw them and paused momentarily. Then, to Augusta, he said, “You know.”
Augusta nodded and walked into his open arms that wrapped around her tightly. Irritation flicked through Nick, making him wish he didn’t play bad cop so well.
Nick shut the door of the unmarked four-door sedan harder than necessary, earning an amused look from his partner.
“Something bothering you?”
“Then why can’t you get the key in the ignition?”
Nick tossed Ethan a dark scowl. Ethan’s eyes were shut, but the smirk on his face made Nick’s hand ball into a fist. Instead, he started the sedan.
“So,” Ethan began, all mirth gone, “what do you think?”
“Langan’s entire family seems to think she did it.”
family,” Ethan said. “His brother doesn’t think so. And his version of their marriage is different from hers.”
Nick grunted. They had questioned Adam Langan that morning at the attorney’s office.
My brother was in love with Augusta…from the moment they met. He was more angry with himself for cheating on her than she was. He was dead set against the divorce, but then Augusta moved out and she refused to talk to him unless it was through their attorneys. She was more stubborn than him for once.
“How could she have pushed him over the terrace?” Ethan asked. “If it was only a ledge, sure, but not over the railing. He was twice her size.”
“Adam Langan has a possible motive,” said Nick. He checked his side mirror before steering the car onto the quiet street. “The CEO and chairman position just opened.”
Nick couldn’t help but wonder what other capacities Adam Langan would fill now that his older brother was gone. That he was thinking about Augusta Langan and her bed ticked him off. He had just met the woman, for Christ’s sake. To make matters worse, she was his best suspect in her wealthy, would-have-been ex-husband’s murder.
. He always did have great taste when it came to women. And this one wasn’t especially fond of him. Poison had dripped from her words when she had assured him she wouldn’t be leaving town any time soon. She hadn’t wanted to take the business card containing Manhattan’s Nineteenth Precinct’s address and his phone number. Adam Langan had been the one to take the card, promising to call if either of them could think of anything that might aid in solving his brother’s murder. That had been proprietary on Adam Langan’s part, Nick thought, glaring at the road behind his dark sunglasses.
“She’s not what I was expecting,” said Nick.
Ethan made a sound that earned him another glare.
“What now?” asked Ethan.
“You said you wanted to pick up your car at the station, remember?”
“Hmm. We still on for that appointment with Andrew Langan’s attorney?”
“Yeah. It’s at two o’clock.”
Ethan grimaced. “Great. That’s what I want to do right after lunch.”
“Suck it up, princess.”
* * * * *
Augusta took comfort in the hand pressed against the small of her back. Adam’s visit had been twofold. He wanted to check up on her and he was also under orders from Peter Donovan, the Langan family’s attorney, to bring her to the attorney’s downtown office.
She looked up at Adam Langan. He was Drew’s younger brother in every way. They both had the same auburn hair and green eyes. But the similarities ended there. The lines of their faces were similar, but where Drew had been solid and muscled, Adam was two inches taller and slender. When Drew entered a room, he dominated it with his presence, whereas Adam preferred to be lost in the crowd. Then again, Drew had been born, bred and groomed to be a captain of industry, and Adam had seemed content to be in his older brother’s shadow.
“You know,” she began, “you don’t have to be here to hold my hand.”
“I’ve got nothing better to do.” One corner of his mouth quirked upwards. “Besides, have you ever stopped to think that maybe I need
She returned his half grin with a full-fledged one of her own. “Liar. But thank you, anyway.”
She smoothed the front of her slim, silvery gray suit to give her restless hands something to do. He captured her fingers and squeezed. She returned the squeeze, needing the comfort.
Before they reached Peter Donovan’s secretary’s desk, his office door opened and out stepped the walking cliché of a police detective, Nick Markov. Behind him was his partner. Augusta imagined she could hear her shields sliding up and snapping into place. She met Markov’s blue eyes from across the room, and she had to force herself to keep from pressing against Adam for protection from the hard, almost accusing gaze. That, however, didn’t stop the somersaults in her tummy as she took in the long legs encased in blue jeans and the broad shoulders that stretched the dark polo shirt. Her gaze rose, saw the blue eyes darken and wondered if it was too late to turn and run.
Adam Langan greeted them. Nick acknowledged him with a brief nod, but he couldn’t look away from the woman at Langan’s side. He raked her from head to toe. Gone was the worn, red-eyed woman he had woken up earlier today. Replacing her was a chic woman in a suit that probably cost more than he made in a month on a cop’s salary. But it was worth it, he thought, as he once more followed every gentle rise and dip of her small, slender body. Her skirt ended an inch above her knee. His eyes dipped lower, then traveled back up.
Realizing his line of thought, Nick gave his head a mental shake. The heated sensation clenching and churning in his stomach was out of place, and he couldn’t give into the impulse to jerk her from Langan’s side. Jealousy.
It was Peter Donovan, a stout, balding man in his late fifties, who cleared his throat loudly enough to break the staring contest between Nick and Augusta.
“Adam, Augusta. Would you like to come into the office so we can get started?”
Nick watched the couple follow the attorney through the door and found himself paying too much attention to the hand low on Augusta’s back.
Ethan cleared his throat. “Markov, snap out of it.”
Nick made an incoherent sound that only men understood and glanced at his partner, noting the frown.
“We have to get back to the paperwork piled on our desks.”
“You go on ahead,” said Nick.
Ethan’s eyes narrowed. “And what’re you going to do?” He sighed, long and low. “Or do I need to ask? Nick, don’t do anything rash or stupid.”
“Have you ever known me to?”
Ethan’s expression remained troubled. “Yeah, well, I’ve never seen you like this over a nice pair of legs before either.”
* * * * *
Augusta’s body was canted forward at the waist, as if the extra bit of distance closer to Peter Donovan help her comprehension.
“Are you certain about that?” she asked.
“Quite certain. Drew was very explicit in his instructions.” The attorney glanced down at the papers spread out in front of him on the desk. “You’re still his main beneficiary. He had no intention of changing his will after the divorce.”
Augusta couldn’t stay in the chair one moment longer. She got to her feet and paced across the room, coming to a stop in front of the glass wall that, with the heavy blinds open, offered a dizzying view of Manhattan. Burberry raincoats and furs that would enrage animal rights activists everywhere mingled with tattered blue jeans and equally tattered leather jackets on the sidewalks. The streets were a slow moving mass of steel dotted with yellow taxi cabs. For once, Augusta longed to be outside with the suffocating mass of humanity that was New York City. It was preferable to being inside Peter Donovan’s plush, quietly handsome office discussing Drew’s final will and testament. Peter was under Drew’s orders to go over the will with her before dropping the bomb that it was on the rest of his family, namely Drew’s aunt, Phyllis Langan. Of Drew’s family, Phyllis was the most vehement and verbal in her disapproval of her nephew’s marriage to “that scheming opportunist.”
“Phyllis is going to hit the roof when she finds out,” she murmured.