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Authors: Hilary Norman

Caged (24 page)

BOOK: Caged
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Sam liked the way she used his first name, the way it seemed to resonate with care and respect, made Martinez more of an individual than just another case.
‘He has a lot of people in his corner,’ he told the doctor.
‘We’ve noticed,’ Dr Friedman said.
‘Whatever he needs,’ Sam said.
‘Let’s get him through first,’ the doc said, and went on her way.
‘No match on the Hallandale sand,’ Riley told him an hour later.
Which shifted both the Christous down the list and pushed Moore to the very top – which, to Sam’s mind, did not say much for their list.
‘I’ve located one of her art teachers,’ Riley said, ‘who keeps photographic records of her students’ more significant works. She’s already sent me over a copy of the painting Moore exhibited at the Spring Show.’
‘I thought we saw that one.’ Sam sat down at his desk, wishing he felt less tired. ‘
Erebus
, right?’
‘We did.’ Riley looked fresh-faced. ‘I was about to check with the FBI field office, ask if they could have someone look at it, but now I’m thinking maybe Grace might be willing to bring her psychologist’s eye to it.’
‘I’m sure she’d be willing,’ Sam said, ‘but she’s no art psychologist.’
‘I’ll bet she sometimes looks at kids’ paintings with a view to analysis.’ Riley wasn’t giving up on the idea.
‘It isn’t one of her diagnostic tools, so far as I know,’ Sam said, ‘but I’ve heard her say it’s an important form of expression.’ He shrugged. ‘Presumably that goes for adults as well as children and adolescents.’
‘So you’ll ask her?’
‘Sure,’ he said. ‘This evening OK?’
Riley grinned. ‘I also nailed one of Moore’s posters – you were right about it being by Goya. It’s called
Witches in the Air
.’
Maybe it was Riley’s energy, but something was starting to bring Sam back up too. ‘You’re thinking that sketch of Beatty – if it was him – was about something maybe darker than sex.’
‘I don’t know much about it,’ Riley said, ‘but I gather there’s a lot of sex stuff in witchcraft rituals.’
Sam thought some more about the young woman he and Martinez had first encountered on day one of the investigation: efficient, pleasant, compassionate about the victims.
But she’d shown that
edgier
quality a few times since.
And she’d known about the domed plastic cover, had almost certainly lied about having heard one of the techs talking about it.
‘When Al and I first met her,’ he said now, ‘she said she’d always found the old gallery “spooky”.’
‘And now “spooky” seems to be exactly what she thrives on,’ Riley said.
‘We need to get going on those alibi checks,’ Sam said.
Mildred had been at the house since eight, doing an hour’s work in Grace’s office before minding Joshua while Grace saw her two morning patients, then offering to stay with him while his mom did some essential shopping.
‘Are you really sure this is OK?’ Grace double-checked before leaving.
‘No place I’d rather be,’ Mildred said. ‘No child I’d rather mind.’
Still out in the Toyota an hour later, her shopping all on board, Grace dropped in at the Opera Café with a bunch of flowers to say another thank-you for last week’s dinner. Cathy had just come in to work the lunch shift, and Simone was getting ready to leave for her mother’s nursing home, looking tired and drained though the day was still young.
‘Could I offer you a ride?’ Grace asked.
‘It’s kind of you,’ Simone said, ‘but there’s no need.’
‘Isn’t your car still at the workshop?’ Cathy butted in, then added to Grace: ‘Simone’s been walking or taking buses, and I know she has a migraine starting, so of course she’d like a ride.’
‘It’s out of your mother’s way,’ Simone scolded.
‘You told me it’s just off Indian Creek Drive,’ Cathy told Grace. ‘Only a few blocks south.’
‘Your daughter,’ Simone said, ‘is getting very pushy.’
Grace smiled. ‘Will you please let me drive you there? It would be my pleasure, and quite frankly, it’s the least I can do.’
At the James L. Burridge Care Home on 33rd Street, Grace insisted on walking Simone through the Spanish-tiled lobby to the reception desk, to be sure that a cab could be arranged for her after her visit, since otherwise she would wait.
‘It’s unnecessary,’ Simone protested.
‘More to pacify Cathy than me,’ Grace told her.
‘It’ll be my pleasure to help Ms Regan,’ the woman at the desk, name-tagged Alice, told Grace. ‘She’s one of our special ladies.’
‘Oh, Alice,’ Simone said.
The older woman went on regardless. ‘Always spending time with her mother when many daughters would have stopped bothering long ago because, sad as it is to say, it can be very unrewarding.’
‘I don’t think it is.’ Simone cast a weary glance at Grace.
‘But that’s because your visits really do make a difference to your mom,’ the woman said, ‘even if it is just for a moment or two. And you recognize that, hon, which is why I say you’re special.’
‘I wish you’d stop that, Alice.’ Simone managed a smile. ‘You’re embarrassing me.’
‘You need to learn to take praise, my dear,’ the older woman told her.
Her cab ride home assured, Simone walked Grace back to the entrance. ‘You’re a lucky woman, you know, Grace, having a daughter like Cathy.’
‘I know it,’ Grace said.
‘I want you to know that Matt and I meant what we said the other night about Cathy moving on. I can tell she’s the kind of young person who might let loyalty get in her way. She needs to feel free to find her path, not bother about us.’
Grace glanced back at the desk. ‘Alice is right about you being special, Simone. And Matt, too, of course.’
Simone’s green eyes were softer than ever. ‘The truth is I think we’ll miss her terribly when she does leave, and I doubt we’ll ever find another Cathy, but we will find someone to help – and to be honest, when my mother does go, I figure I’m going to need my work at the café to lean on.’
SEVENTY-SEVEN
E
arly afternoon, Sam and Riley were back in Larry Beatty’s office.
‘This is just routine,’ Sam had told him right away.
Beatty had managed a smile. ‘More routine.’
‘It goes on and on,’ Sam said. ‘We’re running checks now on the whereabouts of everyone with connections to any of the homicides, and we’d appreciate as much chapter and verse as you can give us regarding all your movements on the possible days and nights concerned.’
‘More elimination,’ Beatty said.
‘That’s right, sir,’ Riley said.
He offered them seats and refreshments, poured himself a Diet Coke from a small refrigerator near his desk, then settled down in his chair.
‘Last time we met, you seemed more interested in Allison than me, but right this minute I have to say I’m beginning to feel just a little persecuted.’ His tone and expression remained light. ‘Should I be?’
‘Absolutely not,’ Riley told him.
‘If you have your calendar to hand,’ Sam said, ‘that should help.’
‘Of course,’ he said.
They got to work, one time frame to the next, covering the periods during which it seemed likely the Eastermans had been taken, held, killed and dumped, then going through the same process for the two young lawyers and, finally, the Resslers. Beatty had plenty of appointments and meetings logged to account for his working days, but less information for evenings and weekends.
‘Do you have a personal calendar, sir?’ Riley asked when they’d been at it for the best part of an hour.
‘I’m afraid I don’t have that hectic a social life,’ Beatty said affably.
‘Then you should be able to remember the highlights,’ Riley said.
‘Not many of those, detective,’ he said.
Affability wearing just a little thinner, Sam thought.
‘Perhaps if we take it a day at a time,’ he said.
‘Fine,’ Beatty said with a sigh. ‘Though I have to say I’m starting to feel uncomfortable again.’
‘Why’s that?’ Sam asked.
‘I’d think that was obvious,’ Beatty said. ‘You’re making me feel like a suspect.’
‘Everyone feels that way, sir,’ Riley said. ‘You have plenty of company.’
They went back to the beginning, to the evening of the first Thursday of the month, the day on which Mayumi Santos had last seen her employers alive.
‘I can’t remember,’ Beatty said.
‘You have no idea what you were doing that evening?’ Sam asked.
The other man shook his head.
‘What do you usually do on Thursdays after work?’ Riley asked.
‘I don’t have regular arrangements,’ Beatty said. ‘I’m not the kind of guy who has a weekly card game or goes to visit his sister.’
‘Do you have family in Miami, sir?’ Sam asked.
‘My family are all in South Carolina,’ Beatty said. ‘Which I imagine you already know.’
They went on to Friday the fifth, which Beatty thought might possibly have been the night he rented a movie from Blockbuster.
‘Which branch?’ Riley asked.
‘The one on Collins and 65th,’ Beatty said. ‘It was a French movie. One of those big eighties hits –
Jean de Florette.
I rented that one, and its sequel too.’
Sam couldn’t fault his taste in movies.
‘Did you watch them both?’
‘I did,’ Beatty said. ‘Though I’d seen them before.’
Sam watched Riley make a note to check out the rental – though she knew as well as he did that unless the Blockbuster branch had been over on the West Coast, Beatty having taken out two movies meant zilch so far as his having been available to abduct and murder the Eastermans was concerned.
‘It might have been that Friday,’ Beatty said, ‘or maybe the one after. One week seems to blur into the next, don’t you think?’
Sam didn’t answer.
‘Let’s go back to Saturday the sixth,’ he said.
They waited until Beatty had given them all he seemed likely to remember – or choose to remember – and then they changed tack again.
‘You told us,’ Sam said, ‘that your only relationship with Allison Moore is as a business colleague.’
‘Except for an occasional drink or lunch,’ Riley added. ‘And you said that was just another form of meeting.’
‘That’s right,’ Beatty said.
‘You said you like to think all your close colleagues are friends,’ Sam said.
‘I do,’ Beatty said. ‘Absolutely.’ His jaw tensed. ‘If this is about—’
‘Have you ever posed as a subject for Ms Moore?’ asked Sam.
‘No, I have not.’ He looked astonished.
‘Are you aware,’ Sam said, ‘that she has painted, or rather drawn, at least one picture of you?’
‘No,’ Beatty said. ‘I’m not aware of that.’
‘Then you’re not aware either that it’s a nude sketch,’ Riley said.
‘God.’ Beatty looked appalled. ‘No.’
Sam and Riley exchanged looks.

No.
’ A protest. ‘I mean it.’ Beatty stared at them. ‘For God’s sakes, I told you myself about what happened at TVW, but I guess—’
‘This has nothing do with the past,’ Sam stopped him.
‘We’re just asking you about Ms Moore’s sketch,’ Riley said. ‘That’s all.’
Beatty took a moment to compose himself again. ‘I guess anything’s possible,’ he said. ‘Artists do that kind of thing, don’t they – paint people without their knowing.’ He shook his head. ‘It certainly doesn’t mean I posed for her, because I did not.’
‘OK,’ Riley said, easily.
‘How did I look?’ It was an effort for him to appear relaxed.
‘Naked.’ Riley smiled at him. ‘And a little devilish, I thought. Didn’t you think that, Detective Becket?’
‘Maybe, just a little,’ Sam said. ‘Though maybe that’s just Ms Moore’s style, don’t you think, Mr Beatty?’
‘I wouldn’t know,’ Beatty said.
Sam held up a hand. ‘I forgot, I’m sorry. You don’t really know her work.’
‘That’s right.’
‘You don’t even remember the painting of hers that was exhibited last year.’
‘Even though you went to the exhibition,’ Riley said, harder now.
They both saw it again. It was the second time they’d observed that flutter of something in Beatty’s eyes when they’d addressed the dark quality of Moore’s art – almost a flicker of panic this time.
‘OK,’ Sam said, and stood up.
‘Thank you, Mr Beatty.’ Riley was up too.
He looked uncertain. ‘I don’t know what to tell you.’
‘You’ve been very helpful,’ Sam said.
‘That’s it?’ Beatty said.
‘Absolutely,’ Sam said.
‘For now,’ Riley added.
‘Something there for sure,’ Riley said out on the street.
Beatty had told them Moore was out checking a property over on Byron Avenue, and without a warrant they knew they couldn’t go looking through her calendar.
‘I wonder how much of that he’ll be telling her,’ Sam said.
‘Depends on what the relationship really is now,’ Riley said.
‘You’re right though,’ Sam said. ‘We got something with these two.’
Though whether or not it had anything to do with the slayings was still impossible to say.
SEVENTY-EIGHT

T
hey’ve taken him off the critical list!’
Jess saw Sam coming down the hallway and ran to him, throwing her arms around him. ‘He’s going to be OK!’
‘Thank God!’ Sam returned her hug, relief flowing through him.
‘I’ve been so scared.’
‘I know you have, Jess.’
It happened so damned fast. He’d just started to pull away from her, but Jess was on tiptoe, and suddenly her hands fastened around the back of his head, tugging him down, and then she was kissing him on the mouth . . .
‘Hey!’ He yanked away from her. ‘What the
hell
?!’
‘Oh, my God!’ Jess’s cheeks were flaming. ‘Oh, my God, Sam, I’m so sorry.’
BOOK: Caged
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