Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 5

Hollis looked at her partner almost blindly. “How can you be so calm about it? You know what’s going to happen to her. We both know. We both know how it feels. The helpless terror, the agony-”

“Hollis.” Isabel’s voice was still quiet, but something in it caused her partner to blink and stiffen in her chair.

“I’m sorry,” Hollis said. She pressed her fingertips briefly to her closed eyes, then looked at them again. “It’s just that-” This time, no one interrupted her.

But something did.

She turned her head abruptly as if someone had called her name, staring toward the closed door of the room. Her eyes dilated until only a thin rim of blue circled the enormous pupils.

Rafe sent a quick glance toward Isabel and found her watching her partner intently, eyes narrowed. When he looked back at Hollis, he saw that she was even more pale than she had been before, and trembling visibly.

“Why are you here?” she whispered, looking at nothing the others could see. “Wait, I can’t hear you. I want to. I want to help you. But-”

Softly, Isabel said, “Who is it, Hollis? Who do you see?”

“I can’t hear her. She’s trying to tell me something, but I can’t hear her.”

“Listen. Concentrate.”

“I’m trying. I see her, but… She’s shaking her head. She’s giving up. No, wait-”

Rafe was a bit startled to feel his ears pop just an instant before Hollis slumped in her chair. He told himself it was his imagination, even as he heard himself ask, “Who was it? Who did you see?”

Hollis looked at him blankly for a moment, then past him at the bulletin board where they had posted photos and other information about the victims.

“Her. The first victim. Jamie Brower.”


Friday, June 13, 2:30 PM

EMILY BROWER WOULDN’T HAVE admitted it to a soul, but she was a horrible person. A horrible daughter. A really horrible sister. People kept coming up to her with shocked eyes and hushed voices, telling her how sorry they were about Jamie, asking her how she was holding up.

“Fine, I’m fine,” Emily always replied.

Fine. Doing okay. Holding up. Getting on with her life.

“I’m okay, really.”

Being there for her grieving parents. Allowing people she barely knew or didn’t know at all to hug her while they whispered their condolences. Writing all the thank-you cards to people for their cards and flowers, because her mother couldn’t do anything except cry. Dealing with all the phone calls from Jamie’s college friends as the news rippled out.

“I’m getting through it.”

I’m a hypocrite.

They had never been close, she and Jamie, but they had been sisters. So Emily knew she should feel something about Jamie being dead, being horribly murdered, something besides this slightly impatient resentment.

She didn’t.

“I don’t know what she was doing those last few weeks,” Emily told Detective Mallory Beck in response to the question she’d asked. “Jamie had her own place, a job that kept her busy, and she liked to travel. She came to Sunday dinner a couple of times a month, but other than that…”

“You didn’t see much of her.”

“No. She was six years older. We didn’t really have anything in common.” Emily tried not to sound as impatient as she felt, even as she stole glances at the tall blond FBI agent who was across the living room standing before the shrine.

“So you don’t know who she might have been dating?”

“No, I already told you that.” Emily wondered what the FBI agent found so fascinating in all the photos and trophies and awards littering the built-in shelves on either side of the fireplace. Hadn’t she ever seen a shrine before?

“Do you know if she had an address book?”

Emily frowned at Detective Beck. “Everybody has an address book.”

“We didn’t find one in her apartment.”

“Then she must have kept it at her work.”

“The one in her office held business information and contacts only.”

“Well, then I don’t know.”

“She had a good memory,” Agent Adams said suddenly. She looked back over her shoulder and smiled at Emily. “There are awards here for spelling and science-chemistry. Jamie didn’t have to write things down, did she?”

“Not usually,” Emily admitted grudgingly. “Especially numbers. Phone numbers. And math. She was good at math.”

Agent Adams chuckled. “One of those, huh? My sister was good at math. I hated it. Used to turn numbers into little cartoons. My teachers were never amused by that.”

Emily couldn’t help but laugh. “I always tried to make faces out of the numbers. My teachers didn’t like it either.”

“Ah, well, I’ve found there are numbers people and words people. Not a lot who do well with both.” She reached out and lightly touched a framed certificate that was part of the shrine. “Looks like Jamie was one of the rare ones, though. Here’s an award for a short story she wrote in college.”

“She liked telling stories,” Emily said. “Made-up ones, but stuff that happened to her too.”

“You said she traveled; did she tell you any stories about that?”

“She talked about it sometimes at Sunday dinner. But with Mom and Dad there, she only talked about the boring parts. Museums, shows, sightseeing.”

“Never talked about any of the men she met?”

“Nah, to hear her tell it she was a nun.”

“But you knew the truth, naturally. Was she seeing anybody, locally?”

“She didn’t talk to me about her private life.”

Agent Adams smiled again at Emily. “Sisters don’t have to talk to know, do they? Sisters always see what’s there, far more than anybody else ever does.”

Emily wavered for a moment, but that understanding, conspiratorial smile combined with the stresses and strains of the last few weeks finally caused her resentment to escape.

“Everybody thought she was so perfect, you know? It all came so easy to her. She was good at everything she tried, everybody loved her, she made loads of money. But underneath all that, she was scared. It really showed in the last few weeks before she died. To me, anyway. Nervous, jumpy, rushing around like she had too much to do and not enough time. She was scared shitless.”

“Why?” Detective Beck asked quietly.

“Because of her big secret. Because she knew how upset and disappointed our parents would be, other people would be, how horrified. It’s just not something you do in a little town like Hastings, not something people could accept. And she was always scared they’d find out. Always.”

“Scared they’d find what out, Emily?” Agent Adams asked.

“That she was gay.” Emily laughed. “A lesbian. But not just any sort of lesbian, mind you, that’s not the part she was terrified people would find out. Lovely, sweet, talented, good-at-anything-and-everything Jamie was a dominatrix. She dressed in shiny black leather and stiletto heels with fishnet stockings, and she made other women crawl and fawn and do whatever she wanted them to.”

Agent Adams didn’t seem in the least surprised. “Are you sure about that, Emily?”

“You bet I’m sure. I’ve got pictures.”

As they got into Mallory’s Jeep a few minutes later, she said, “Did you know about Jamie Brower going in or pick up something there in the room?”

“Picked it up while I was there. That house was practically screaming at me.”

“Really? Amazing how much people can keep hidden. Because we didn’t get any of this before, and both Rafe and I talked to Emily several times. And Jamie’s parents, friends, coworkers. Not so much as a hint that Jamie led any kind of unconventional life sexually.”

“Yeah, I read the statements you guys collected. Jamie even dated local men, and at least two claimed fairly recent sexual relationships.”

Mallory started the Jeep but didn’t put it in gear, turning her head to frown at Isabel. “They weren’t lying about that. I’d bet my pension on it.”

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