The In Death Collection 06-10 (6 page)

BOOK: The In Death Collection 06-10
13.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“A fish.” She closed her eyes now. “A symbol of the Church. Will you call Katherine now, please? I don’t want to be here anymore.”

“Right away. Just sit and try to rest a minute.”

Eve rushed through the call to Katherine Hastings, offering little explanation. She was skimming her hard copy of the pub list as she did so. She had no Penny Pig, no Four-Leaf Clover, nothing with fish or church. But she had three locations with Shamrock in the name.

She snagged her communicator. “Peabody, concentrate on locations with Shamrock in the name.”

“Shamrock, Lieutenant?”

“It’s a hunch. Just do it.”

 

Eve walked into the Green Shamrock at three
P
.
M
. She’d missed the lunch crowd—if there’d been one—and found the small, dark pub nearly deserted. A couple of sad-looking customers sat huddled over thickly foamed beers at a back table while they played a desultory game of gin. Though she saw no on-site gambling license displayed, she ignored the piles of credits beside the mugs of beer.

A young woman with a white apron and rosy cheeks was whistling as she wiped tables. She smiled at Eve, and when she spoke Eve heard that lovely lilt of Roarke’s native land.

“Good afternoon to you, miss. Can I get you a menu? It’s just sandwiches this time of day, I’m afraid.”

“No, thanks.” There was no one manning the bar, but Eve slid onto a stool before pulling out her badge. She saw the young waitress’s eyes widen.

“I haven’t done anything. I’m legal. I have papers.”

“I’m not with Immigration.” From the hasty relief on the girl’s face, Eve imagined the papers were still wet, and
likely fake. “Are there rooms for rent on the premises? Do any of the employees, or the owner, live on-site?”

“Yes, ma’am. There are three rooms. One in the back and two upstairs. I have one upstairs myself. It’s up to code.”

“Who else lives here—what’s your name?”

“I’m Maureen Mulligan.”

“Who else lives on-site, Maureen?”

“Well, Bob McBride did until last month when the boss fired him for laziness. Bob had a hard time lifting a pint, you see, unless it was up to his own lips.” She smiled again and began to scrub at the bar industriously. “And now there’s Shawn Conroy who takes the back room.”

“Would he be back there now?”

“I just looked a bit ago, and he wasn’t about. He should be in here now, half hour ago his shift started.”

“You want to show me his room, Maureen?”

“He’s not in any trouble, is he? Shawn drinks a bit, but he’s a good worker and does his best.”

“I want to make sure he’s not in trouble. You can call your boss, Maureen, and clear showing me in the back.”

Maureen bit her lip, shifted from foot to foot. “Well, then I’d have to say as how Shawn’s not in for his shift, and there’d be hell to pay then, wouldn’t there? I’ll show you the room if you want to see it. Shawn doesn’t do illegals, Lieutenant,” she continued as she led the way through a door beside the laminated bar. “The boss, he’s strong against illegals and sloth. There’s not much more will get you the ax around here, but either of those’ll do it in a wink.”

She unlocked the door with an old-fashioned key from a chain at her waist.

It wasn’t much, just a bunk-style bed, a cheap dresser, and a streaked mirror. But it was surprisingly neat. A quick
look in the closet assured Eve that the absent Shawn hadn’t packed up and left.

She walked to the dresser, idly opened a drawer. Shawn had one pair of clean underwear and two mismatched socks. “How long has he been in the U.S.?”

“Shawn, why, two or three years at least, I’m thinking. He talks about going back to Dublin, but—”

“That’s where he’s from?” Eve asked sharply. “He’s from Dublin?”

“Yes, he says he was born and raised there and came to America to make his fortune. Not much of a fortune yet for Shawn,” she continued with a sunny smile. Her gaze shifted to the empty bottle of brew on the nightstand. “That’s probably why. He likes the drink a bit more than it likes him.”

“Yeah.” Eve glanced at the bottle as well, then her gaze sharpened on what sat beside it. Her muscled tensed as she picked up the enameled token. “What’s this, Maureen?”

“I don’t know.” Maureen angled her head and studied the green shamrock on the white background. And on the back, the fish. “A lucky piece, I suppose.”

“Have you seen it before?”

“No. Looks new, doesn’t it? It’s so shiny. Shawn must have just picked it up. Always looking for luck, Shawn is.”

“Yeah.” Eve closed her fist around the token. She was very much afraid luck had run out.

chapter four

“I need you to think, Maureen. I need you to be calm and clear.”

Huddled in a neatly patched chair in her own little room above the Green Shamrock, Maureen wet her lips. “I’m not going to go to jail or be deported?”

“You’re not in any kind of trouble. I promise you.” Eve edged forward in her chair. “Help me out here, Maureen, help Shawn out, and I’ll pull some strings and get you real papers. You won’t have to worry about Immigration ever again.”

“I don’t want anything to happen to Shawn, truly I don’t. He was never anything but nice to me.” Her eyes darted over to where Peabody stood by the door. “I’m a little nervous, you see. Cops make me a little nervous.”

“Peabody’s a pussycat. Aren’t you, Peabody?”

“Tame as a tabby, Lieutenant.”

“Help us out here now, and think back. When did you last see Shawn?”

“I’m thinking it must have been last evening when I went off my shift. You see, as a rule, Shawn comes on midday like. I’m on from eleven—that’s when we open—until eight. I have two thirty-minute breaks. Shawn he
works through till half ten most nights. Then he comes back on at one and works the after-hours—”

She shut up like a clam in seawater.

“Maureen,” Eve began with straining patience. “I’m not worried about the after-hours business. It’s no concern of mine if the bar stays open past its licensing limit.”

“Well, we do a bit of after-hours business now and again.” She began to wring her hands. “I’ll be fired for sure if the boss finds I’ve told a cop such a thing.”

“Not if he doesn’t get any heat from it. Now you saw Shawn last night, before you went off shift at eight.”

“I did, yes. When I finished up, he was behind the bar and he said something like, ‘Maureen, me darling, don’t you be letting that young buck steal any of my kisses.” ’

At Eve’s lifted brow, Maureen flushed. “Oh, he didn’t mean anything by it, Lieutenant. He was just joking like. Shawn, he’s was forty years old or more, and there isn’t anything like that between us. I have a sort of young man. I mean . . .” She fumbled again, looked nervously at the silent Peabody. “He is a man, a young man, and I’m seeing him lately. We’re getting to know each other, and Shawn, he knew I had a date last night, so he was just teasing me.”

“All right, so you saw Shawn when you left at eight. Then—”

“Oh wait!” Maureen threw up her hands. “I saw him again. I’d forgotten. Well, not ‘saw’ so much. I heard him when I got in from seeing Mike—my young man—that is, the young man I’m seeing lately. I heard Shawn talking when I came in, you see.”

She beamed, pleased as a pup who’d done its master’s bidding.

“Who was he talking to?”

“I don’t know. You see, I have to pass his room to get to the steps to come up to mine. It would have been right about midnight, and Shawn would have been on his break
before the after-hours shift. The building’s old, you see, so the walls and doors aren’t really thick or soundproofed well. So I heard him and another man talking in Shawn’s room.”

“Did you hear what they said?”

“Not really. I was just passing, but I remember being glad that Shawn sounded happy. He was laughing and he said something about something being a fine idea and he’d be there for certain.”

“Are you sure he was talking to a man?”

Maureen furrowed her brow. “It was more an impression. I didn’t hear the words from the other, just a rumble of voice. But deep, like a man’s. I didn’t hear more than that because I came up here to get ready for bed. But I know it was Shawn talking. It was his laugh. He has a big laugh, does Shawn.”

“Okay, who covers the tables after your shift?”

“Oh, that’s Sinead. She comes on at six and we work the two hours together, then she handles the tables alone until closing. Sinead Duggin, and she lives only a couple blocks over on Eighty-third, I think. And the barkeep who works the busy time with Shawn is a droid. The boss, he only uses the droid for the busy times. They’re costly to maintain.”

“All right, Maureen, have you noticed anyone new coming into the bar over the last week or two, striking up a conversation with Shawn?”

“We get new people in from time to time, and some come back. Some of them talk and some don’t. Most will talk a bit to Shawn because he makes a friendly drink, you see. But I don’t recall anybody in particular.”

“Okay, you can go on back to work. I may have to talk to you again. If you remember anything, anything at all, or anyone, you’ll get in touch with me.”

“I will, yes. But Shawn can’t have done anything really
wrong, Lieutenant,” she added as she rose. “He’s not a bad sort, just a bit foolish.”

“Foolish,” Eve mused, turning the token in her fingers as Maureen hurried out. “And unlucky. Let’s get a uniform to stake out the bar just in case we’re wrong and Shawn’s been out all day wheeling a deal or making love to a woman. We’ll go see if Sinead Duggin is any more observant than Maureen.”

“The riddle guy, he said you had until tomorrow morning.”

Eve rose, tucking the token away. “I think we can safely assume he cheats.”

 

Sinead Duggin lighted a skinny silver cigarette, narrowed hard green eyes, and blew jasmine-scented smoke in Eve’s face. “I don’t like talking to cops.”

“I don’t like talking to assholes,” Eve said mildly, “but I spend half my life doing it. Here or at Cop Central, Sinead. Up to you.”

Sinead shrugged thin shoulders, the movement nudging apart the poppy-strewn robe she wore. Absently she tugged it tight and, turning, padded barefoot into her cramped one-room apartment.

It wasn’t cramped with furniture. There was the Murphy bed, open and unmade, that she’d crawled out of when Eve had battered at the door. Two small chairs, two narrow tables. But every surface, window sills included, was jammed with things.

Obviously, Sinead liked things. Colorful things. Bowls and plates and statues of fuzzy little dogs and cats. The tassels of the two floor lamps were heavy with dust. Scatter rugs were piled like jigsaw puzzles over the floor. Sinead sat cross-legged on the bed, hefted up an enormous glass ashtray that would have made a fine blunt instrument, and yawned hugely.

“So?”

“I’m looking for Shawn Conroy. When did you see him last?”

“Last night. I work nights.” She scratched the instep of her left foot. “I sleep days.”

“Who did he talk to? Did you see him with anyone in particular?”

“Just the usual. People come in looking for a bottle or a glass. Shawn and I oblige them. It’s honest work.”

Eve dumped a week’s worth of clothes off a chair and sat. “Peabody, open those blinds. Let’s get some light in here.”

“Oh, Jesus.” Sinead covered her eyes, hissing when the blinds zipped up and sun shot in. “That stuff’ll kill ya.” Then she let out a long sigh. “Look, cop, Shawn’s a drunk right enough. But if that’s the worst you can say about a body, it’s a fine life after all.”

“He went back to his room on his break. Who went with him?”

“I didn’t see anyone go with him. I was working. I tend my business. Why do you care?” Her eyes cleared slowly as she lowered her hand. “Why do you care?” she repeated. “Something happen to Shawn?”

“That’s what I’m trying to find out.”

“Well, he was right as rain last night, I can tell you that. Cheerful enough. Said something about an outside gig in the offing. Money heading his way.”

“What kind of gig?”

“Private parties, classy stuff. Shawn had a yen for classy stuff.” Sinead tapped out her cigarette then immediately lighted another. “He came back from his break grinning like a cat with a bowl full of canaries. Said he’d put in a word for me if I was interested.”

“A word where, with who?”

“I wasn’t paying attention. Shawn’s always talking big.
He was going to be tending bar, serving the finest wines and such at a party for some high flyer.”

“Give me a name, Sinead. He was bragging, full of himself. What name did he drop?”

“Well, hell.” Irritated, but caught up, Sinead rubbed her forehead with her fingers. “An old mate, he said. Someone from Dublin who’d made it big. Roarke,” she said, jabbing with the smoldering cigarette. “Of course. That’s why I thought it was just Shawn bullshitting as usual. What would a man like Roarke be wanting with the likes of Shawn?”

It took all Eve’s control not to leap up from the chair. “He said he’d talked to Roarke?”

“Christ, my mind’s not awake.” She yawned again when an airbus with a faulty exhaust farted outside the window. “No, I think he said . . . yeah, he was saying how Roarke sent his man to do the deal. And the pay was fine. He’d be out of the Shamrock and into the high life before long. Take me along for the ride if I wanted. Shawn and me, we bumped together a few times when the mood struck. Nothing serious.”

“What time did you close up the Shamrock?” As Sinead’s gaze slid away, Eve ground her teeth. “I don’t give a shit about the after-hours license. I need the time you last saw Shawn, and where he went.”

“It was about four this morning, and he said he was going to bed. He was to meet the man himself today and needed to look presentable.”

 

“He’s playing with me.” Eve slammed into her vehicle, rapped a fist against the wheel. “That’s what the bastard’s doing, playing with me. Throwing Roarke’s name into the mix. Goddamn it.”

She held up a hand before Peabody could speak, then simply stood staring out the window. She knew what she
had to do. There was no choice for any of them. She snatched up the car ’link and called home.

“Roarke residence,” Summerset said in smooth tones, then his face went stony. “Lieutenant.”

“Put him on,” she demanded.

“Roarke is engaged on another call at the moment.”

“Put him on, you skinny, frog-faced son of a bitch. Now.”

The screen switched to the pale blue holding mode. Twenty seconds later, Roarke was on. “Eve.” Though his mouth curved, the smile didn’t touch his eyes. “Problem?”

“Do you know a Shawn Conroy?” She saw it in his face before he answered, just a flicker in those dark blue eyes.

“I did, years ago in Dublin. Why?”

“Have you had any contact with him here in New York?”

“No. I haven’t seen or spoken to him in about eight years.”

Eve took a calming breath. “Tell me you don’t own a bar called the Green Shamrock.”

“All right. I don’t own a bar called the Green Shamrock.” Now he did smile. “Really, Eve, would I own something quite so clichéd?”

Relief had the weight dropping out of her stomach. “Guess not. Ever been there?”

“Not that I recall.”

“Planning any parties?”

He angled his head. “Not at the moment. Eve, is Shawn dead?”

“I don’t know. I need a list of your New York properties.”

He blinked. “All?”

“Shit.” She pinched her nose, struggling to think clearly. “Start with the private residences, currently, unoccupied.”

“That should be simple enough. Five minutes,” Roarke promised and ended transmission.

“Why private residences?” Peabody wanted to know.

“Because he wants me to find it. He wants me there. He’s moved quickly on this one. Why hassle with a lot of security, cameras, people. You get a private home, empty. You get in, do your work, get out.”

She flipped her ’link to transmit when it beeped.

“Only three unoccupied at the moment,” Roarke told her. “The first is on Greenpeace Park Drive. Number eighty-two. I’ll meet you there.”

“Just stay where you are.”

“I’ll meet you there,” he repeated, and broke transmission.

Eve didn’t bother swearing at him, but swung the car away from the curb. She beat him there by thirty seconds, not quite enough time for her to bypass the locks with her master code.

The long black coat he wore against the bite of wind flowed like water, snapped like a whip. He laid a hand on her shoulder, and despite her scowl kissed her lightly. “I have the code,” he said and plugged it in.

The house was tall and narrow to fit the skinny lot. The ceiling soared. The windows were treated to ensure privacy and block UV rays. At the moment, security bars covered them so that the sunlight shot individual cells onto the polished tile floors.

Eve drew her weapon, gestured Peabody to the left. “You’re with me,” she told Roarke, and started up the curving flow of the staircase. “We’re going to talk about this later.”

“Of course we are.” And he wouldn’t mention, now or then, the illegal nine-millimeter automatic he had in his pocket. Why distress the woman you loved with minor details?

But he kept a hand in that pocket, firm over the grip as he watched her search each room, watched those cool eyes scan corner to corner.

“Why is a place like this empty?” she wanted to know after she’d assured herself it was indeed empty.

“It won’t be next week. We’re renting it, furnished, primarily on the short term to off-planet businesses who don’t care to have their high execs in hotels. We’ll furnish staff, droid or human.”

“Classy.”

BOOK: The In Death Collection 06-10
13.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Listener by Christina Dodd
Forty Candles by Virginia Nelson
Elysia by Brian Lumley
Demon Within by Nicholls, Julie
Dog Eat Dog by Edward Bunker
The Chop Shop by Heffernan, Christopher
My Earl the Spy by Audrey Harrison
Abahn Sabana David by Marguerite Duras
Pure Dead Wicked by Debi Gliori