Home > In Death #37.5 - Taken in Death

In Death #37.5 - Taken in Death
Author: J.D. Robb


J.D. Robb - In Death #37.5 - Taken in Death

Taken in Death (In Death #37.5)
J.D. Robb

mystery/romance/sf/thriller/fantasy

 

PROLOGUE

The evil witch killed Darcia. Henry knew it because he’d seen Darcia on the floor, and all the blood. He’d wanted to shout and cry and run. He’d wanted to fight, a brave warrior, a knight in battle, like the hero in his favorite stories. But he couldn’t. Everything felt funny and sleepy and wrong. He knew he was under a spell. The evil witch’s magic spell.

And when he looked at Gala, his twin sister, her eyes were like the blue glass in the vase with white flowers on the table.

The evil witch had cast a spell on them so they were like the zombies in his vid game, so he and Gala just shuffled along and the words he wanted to say came out like low, creepy moans.

The spell made his head feel thick and too big. And under the spell he was really scared.

She made them wait, the evil witch, while she packed stuff in their special going-on-a-trip bags. Waiting, he thought the spell started to lift. Though his head still felt big and thick, he remembered the secret in his pocket.

The witch took them out of the house, and told them to get in the back of the car, to lie down, to sleep.

He wanted to run away, to grab Gala’s hand and run, but the spell made him get in the car. They lay down together, Henry and Gala, and shivering, held each other close.

Maybe the witch would take them to a dungeon or a tower and lock them up. But he didn’t sleep because he had the secret, and something he could do. If he could just say the words.

When the witch said, “We’re going to have such fun! We’re going to live in a special place made of sugar plums and chocolate icing,” he didn’t believe her.

He saw a tear slide down Gala’s cheek, and he tried to comfort her inside their minds.

I’ll protect you, Gala. I won’t let anything bad happen to you.

We’ll protect each other, her mind said to his.

He wanted to cry, too, but he had to be brave. He had to take care of his sister, and find the way home again.

Because evil witches lied. Even when they looked like Mommy.

CHAPTER ONE

In her long leather coat, her choppy brown hair wind-blown, Lieutenant Eve Dallas stood in the sprawling living space of a three-story town house on the upper-crust of the East Side. The dead woman wore blood-soaked pajamas covered with dancing puppy dogs. She lay on her back, one arm flung overhead. The blood trail and spatter told the tale, clearly.

But for now Dallas gave the uniform standing by the go-ahead.

“The nine-one-one caller states she’s a friend of the victim. She identifies same as Darcia Jordan. The wit—Elena Cortez—and the vic are nannies. The vic’s employers—”

“If she’s a nanny, where are the kids? Is this her residence or place of employment?”

“Ah, both, sir. She works for Ross and Tosha MacDermit, who own the place. We did a search through, didn’t find any kids. No sign of struggle or disturbance anywhere but here. But there is indication some clothes and toys were packed up, taken out. Two kids, one male, one female. Twins, age seven.”

“Peabody.” Dallas turned to her partner. “Get their names, descriptions, photos out now. Get the Amber Alert out, now.”

“Lieutenant, the parents are, according to the wit, on vacation. We haven’t been able to contact them, so it’s possible the kids are with them. It didn’t seem like—”

“I don’t care what it seems like or doesn’t to you, Officer. The nanny’s dead and the kids are unaccounted for.”

“But protocol—” The cold fire on her face had him dropping that ball.

“They’ve got a security cam on the door. I want the disc. Keep the witness close. I’ll speak to her shortly.” Turning her back, Eve stepped to the body. Opening her field kit, she verified identification first.

“Victim is identified as Jordan, Darcia, age twenty-nine. Single, no offspring. Employed by Ross and Tosha MacDermit, as Parental Assistant. Is that the new term for nanny? The victim has multiple stab wounds. Throat, right shoulder, chest. Defensive wounds on the palm of the right hand, on the right forearm.”

Frowning, she eased the neck of the ruined pajama top down slightly. “Hell. There’s a small pentagram carved just above her heart. Shallow cuts, but a clear pattern. Possible ritual slaying.”

She used her gauge to determine time of death. “TOD, straight-up midnight.”

“Alert’s out.”

Eve nodded at Peabody. “Take a look.”

Bending down, Peabody studied the occult symbol. “Crap. You think ritual?”

“I think the killer took the time to cut this into the vic.”

Peabody, her square face full of worry, glanced toward the stairs. “I’m going to do another search. Kids hide.”

“Go ahead. Closets, cabinets, under beds.” And remembering another young survivor, added, “Bathtubs, showers.” Standing again, she scanned the area.

“A lot of valuables, electronics, easily portable. Check for jewelry, cash,” she called out to Peabody, then took the disc the uniform brought her.

She popped it into the living area’s wall screen. “Run disc,” she ordered, “begin twenty-three thirty. Scanning speed.”

All quiet, she thought, studying the camera view of the entrance, the sidewalk and street beyond. Just an ordinary fall evening heading to the end of 2060 in an upper-class East Side neighborhood.

At time stamp twenty-three fifty-four, she saw the late-model, black, four-door sedan slide to the curb.

“Freeze image, enhance. Run that plate,” she snapped to the uniform. “Continue, standard speed.”

She watched the woman—tall, curvy, blonde, late thirties, long black coat, high boots—get out of the car, cross the sidewalk to the entrance door.

She flicked a glance up, toward the camera, smiled—slyly. And rang the bell.

“Lieutenant—”

Eve held up a finger to silence the uniform, watched the woman speak. A lip reader might get the words, even though the woman turned her face. Then she smiled again, stepped forward out of range.

“Scanning speed.”

In her mind, Eve saw what happened inside, away from the camera. A strike out with the knife, catching the throat. A step or stumble back, a hand thrown up. Another strike with the knife, cutting the hand, the arm, the shoulder, driving the victim back. Two hacks into the chest, and the coup de grace, the second, killing slice of the throat.

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