Read Innocent in Death Online

Authors: J. D. Robb

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Women Sleuths, #Crime, #Crime & mystery, #Thrillers & Mystery

Innocent in Death (34 page)

BOOK: Innocent in Death
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“Sue me.” Eve reached for the door.

“I killed the first time when I was only seven.”

Eve stopped, turned, leaned back on the door. “Bullshit.”

“If you curse at me, I won’t tell you how I killed my baby brother.”

“He fell down the steps. I read the investigator reports, the notes. All the files.”

“They were stupid, too.”

“You expect me to believe you pulled that off, and nobody knows?”

“I can do anything I want. I got him up early, early. I had to put my hand over his mouth when he giggled. But he listened to me, he always listened to me. He loved me.”

“I bet he did,” Eve said, and almost lost her ability to sound mildly interested.

“And he was quiet, just like I told him to be. I said we were going to go down and see the toys, and maybe even Santa. He believed in Santa. He was a
joke
. It was their fault, anyway.”

“Whose?”

“My parents’, for God’s sake. They should never have had him in the first place. He was always in the way, and they were always spending time with him when they should have spent it with me. I was the first.”

“You pushed him down the steps?”

“It was easy.” Rayleen executed a small leap, then picked up her drink again. “Just one shove and he went tumble, tumble, tumble. Snap! And that was that.” On a giggle, she drank—and Eve’s stomach churned.

“Things were the way they were supposed to be. I got
all
the toys that Christmas. All I had to do was cry when Daddy started to put the ones for Trev away. I got them all, and now I always get them all.”

She did another pirouette, followed it with a grand plié, then a long deep bow. “I bet you’ve never been beaten by a kid before. I’m better than any of the rest. Than anyone. Say it. Say that Rayleen is better and smarter than anyone you’ve ever met.”

“Hold that thought,” Eve suggested at the knock on the door. She opened it to Peabody, who handed Eve Rayleen’s diary. “Well, well, what have we here?”

“Where did you get that! That’s
mine
!” The smirking child was gone, and it was an enraged killer who charged at Eve. “Give that to me. Now!”

Eve took the vicious shove, even the clawing hands as she held the diary out of reach. “Well, now, that’s what we call assaulting an officer. Rayleen Straffo, you’re under arrest for—”

“You shut up. You’d better shut up right now, or you’re going to be sorry. That’s my diary and I want it back! My father’s going to make you pay.”

Eve tossed the diary to Peabody, then gripped Rayleen’s arms, spun her around. She clamped on restraints while Rayleen screamed and cried and kicked. “You’re the one who’s going to pay, for all of it. You were right, Ray. I can lie during interviews. I wasn’t wired, but the room was.”

“You didn’t read me my rights.”

“True. But I don’t need anything you told me in there. I’ve already got it. From the diary we pulled out of the recycler yesterday, from the clerk who sold you the engraved go-cup you used to replace Craig Foster’s, from your mother, who told us—before you tried to kill her—that she knew you’d been up earlier on Christmas.”

“No one’s going to believe you.” Rayleen’s face was wildly red with rage, and not a hint of fear. “My daddy will fix it all.”

“Wrong again.” Eve took a firm hold of Rayleen’s arm while Peabody took the other.

A few feet away, Straffo stood staring at his daughter like a man still gripped in a nightmare. “Rayleen.”

“Daddy! Daddy! They’re hurting me! Stop them.”

He took two lurching steps toward her. “He was just a baby. He was just a little boy. He loved you so much. How could you do that, Rayleen, to people who loved you so much?”

“It’s lies, Daddy. She’s lying to you. I’m your best girl. I’m…Mommy did it! I saw her do it, Daddy. She pushed Trev, and then she killed Mr. Foster and Mr. Williams. I didn’t want to tell on her, Daddy. I didn’t want them to take her away from us. I—”

“Stop. Oh, God.” He covered his face with his hands. “Oh, God.”

“Take her, Peabody. Take her, Mira, and the CP agent to Central. I’ll follow as soon as I can.”

“You’ll pay,” Rayleen said to Eve under her breath as Peabody signaled a uniform to help her. “You’ll pay, just like the others. I’ll enjoy you the most.”

“Spoiled brats don’t scare me. Read her her rights, Peabody, and book her, three counts murder one, one attempted murder. We’ll add on Adele Versy when we have that locked in.”

“Daddy! Don’t let them take me away from you! Daddy!”

Eve turned away and walked toward Straffo without looking back. “Let’s go sit down, Oliver.”

“I have nothing left. I have nothing. That’s my child. She…I made her.”

“You didn’t. Sometimes the unspeakable can come from the decent. And sometimes, it’s possible to make yourself decent out of the unspeakable. I know about this.”

Eve put her hand on his arm, then stood where she was as she saw Louise coming toward them.

“Mr. Straffo.”

He looked at Louise. “She’s dead. Allika.”

“No, she’s conscious. She isn’t lucid, not yet, and I can’t make you any promises. But she needs you with her now. She’s confused and disoriented, and she needs you. Let me take you to her now.”

“Allika.” He turned desperate, streaming eyes to Eve. “Rayleen.”

“How much do you love your wife, Oliver? How much do you love your son?”

Weeping, nodding, he let Louise lead him away.

EPILOGUE

AFTER THE LONG, MISERABLE PROCESS, EVE WALKED BACK TO her office.

And there was Roarke, sitting at her desk, working on her comp.

“Police property, pal.”

“Mmm-hmm. Just passing the time with a little work, which is now on its way to my home unit.” He swiveled around. “You’ve had a rough one, Lieutenant.”

“I’ve had rougher, that’s what I keep telling myself. You should’ve gone home.”

“And I told myself you might need me.” He rose, wrapped his arms around her. “Do you?”

“Oh, yeah.” She let out a long sigh. “I thought, hoped I’d feel better after this part was done. When I got the answers, tied it up, got her booked, and started the process, I’d feel better. Satisfied. I can’t figure out, not exactly, how I do feel.”

“Sorry for Oliver and Allika Straffo, sick to think of some poor, innocent little boy, some old woman, or a good man, a good teacher who died because of a selfish child’s ego. And sorry for the wife who will grieve for him.”

“I got in touch with her, Foster’s wife, told her we’d closed the case and I was coming by to explain it to her. Jesus.” She shut her eyes. “You should go home.”

“No, what I’ll do is go with you.”

“Yeah.” Now she sighed. “That would help. She used tears on the CP agent. They’re working. They’re not working on Mira. The arraignment’s set for tomorrow. Meanwhile, due to the heinous nature of the crimes, and with no parental dissent, she’s being held in adult lockup—separated from the general population. You heard it, didn’t you? All of it.”

“I did, yes. And in my life I don’t believe I’ve heard anything quite so chilling.”

Roarke pressed his lips to Eve’s hair because he thought they both needed it. “No one spoke in the control area. There was none of the asides or bad jokes you often hear during the e-part of any op. No one said a bloody thing while you worked her, while she bragged to you about what she’d done. Straffo sat like a ghost through it, like a man who’d already had the guts and heart ripped out of him.”

“She’s got a PD now. Her father may decide he’s obliged to secure her other counsel. It won’t matter. I can’t use her confession, but I have everything else. And you know what? I’ll get it out of her again, on record.”

“How?”

“The ego. Think of it: Ray, you’re the best. Not only the best, but you’re unique. You’re going to be famous, the only one of your kind.”

“And you say I’m scary.” He kissed her brow. “It’s you who are one of a kind. And you’re all mine.”

“I’m not going to let myself stay sick about this one. I’m not going to keep asking myself how this could all be. There are some questions that don’t have answers. You’ve got to let them be.”

“Allika Straffo’s been moved up to guarded condition. I spoke with Louise.”

“Well, that’s something anyway, and I’ll interview her as soon as she’s able to talk to me. Once I’ve done what I have to do today, let’s just go home. Let’s open the champagne. In fact, let’s open one bottle for each of us, get a little drunk—maybe very—and do whatever comes next.”

“An excellent plan.” He retrieved her coat, brought it to her. “I’ve a number of ideas on whatever comes next.”

“Yeah, you’re always full of ideas.” She took his hand. “And you’re all mine.”

There would be sanity again, Eve thought, and a little peace, and the unity she’d come to depend on. It would all be there, with him, with whatever happened next.

BOOK: Innocent in Death
12.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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