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Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 3

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“And you read her diary.”

“She didn’t keep one. Most of the artists I know don’t. Something about images as opposed to words, I guess.”

“Are you going to tell me how you know what you know?”

“I thought you didn’t want to talk to me, Mr. Powell.”

His mouth tightened. “What I think is that alienating me is not at all a good idea, Agent Templeton.”

“It’s a risk,” she admitted, not noticeably disturbed by that. “But one I’m willing to take if I have to. You’re smart, Mr. Powell. You’re very, very smart. Too smart to play dumb games. And at the end of the day I’d really rather not have you as an enemy, never mind the fact that you know all the legal angles and could keep us at arm’s length for a long time.”

“You think I’d do that? Potentially put other lives in danger by withholding information?”

“You tell me.”

After a moment, Caleb crossed the few feet separating them and sat down in the second chair at her table. “No. I wouldn’t. And not only because I’m an officer of the court. But I don’t know anything that could help you find this killer.”

“How can you be so sure of that? You don’t even know what questions we want to ask you.” She shook her head slightly. “You aren’t a suspect. According to Chief Sullivan’s report, you have a verifiable alibi for the twenty-four hours surrounding Tricia Kane’s murder.”

“What the thrillers like to call a cast-iron alibi. I spent the weekend in New Orleans for a family wedding and didn’t fly back here until Monday afternoon. I got the news about Tricia when Rafe called me at my hotel around noon.”

“And a companion places you in your hotel room from just before midnight until after eight that morning,” Hollis said matter-of-factly. “She’s positive you never left the room.”

Without at all planning to, Caleb heard himself say, “A former girlfriend.”

“Former?” Her voice was wry.

A bit defensive despite himself, he said, “We also happen to be old friends, what my father used to call scratch-and-sniff buddies. We see each other, we end up in bed. Happens about twice a year, since she lives in New Orleans. Where we both grew up, and where she practices law, which makes her highly unlikely to perjure herself. Any other nuggets you want to mine from my personal life, Agent Templeton?”

“Not at the moment.”

“Too kind.”

She didn’t react to his sarcasm except with another of those little smiles as she said, “About Tricia Kane. Do you think her ex-boyfriend might have wanted to hurt her?”

“I doubt it. She never said he was violent or in any way abusive, and I never saw any signs of it. Besides, unless he slipped back into town in the last three weeks, he’s out of the picture. They broke up because he thought his pretty face could earn him screen time in Hollywood and he didn’t want Tricia along for what he was convinced was going to be a wild and award-winning ride.”

“Sounds painful for her.”

“It was. Emotionally. She went home for lunch that day and found him packing to leave. That’s when he told her he was going. Until that moment, she’d believed they would end up married.”

“Since then had she ever talked about a particular man?”

“I don’t think she was even dating. If so, she never mentioned it. She was concentrating on her painting when she wasn’t at the office.”

“Do you know if anything unusual had happened lately? Strange phone calls or messages, someone she’d noticed turning up wherever she went, that sort of thing?”

“No. She seemed fine. Not worried, not stressed, not upset by anything. She seemed fine.”

“There was nothing you could have done,” Hollis said.

Caleb drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Oh, I have no illusions, Agent Templeton. I know how quickly random acts of violence can snuff out lives, no matter how careful we think we are. But those acts tend to be committed by stupid or brutal people, for stupid and brutal reasons. This is different. This bastard is pure evil.”

“I know.”

“Do you?”

She smiled an odd, twisted smile, and her blue eyes had an equally strange, flat shine to them that made Caleb feel suddenly uneasy. “I know all about evil, Mr. Powell, believe me. I met it up close and personal.”

Thursday, 3:30 PM

Isabel stood gazing around the clearing where Tricia Kane’s body had been found. It was mostly in shade now that the sun was no longer directly overhead, which she appreciated since the day was hot and humid. She was conscious of Rafe Sullivan’s scrutiny, but she had been at this too long to allow him to distract her.

Much.

Both the blood and the chalk used to mark body position and location had been washed away by the rain, but she didn’t need either to know exactly where Tricia Kane had suffered and died. She looked down just inches from her feet, her gaze absently tracing the shape of something-someone-that was no longer there.

She had been here, in this sort of place, so many times, Isabel thought. But it never got any easier. Never.

“He got her in the back,” she said, “then jerked her around by the wrist and began driving the knife into her chest. The first blow to her chest staggered her backward, the second put her on the ground. She was losing blood so fast she didn’t have the strength to fight him off. She was all but gone when he began stabbing her in the genital area. And either her skirt came up when she fell, or else he jerked it out of the way when he began stabbing her, since the material wasn’t slashed. He pulled the skirt back down when he was done. Odd, that. Protecting her modesty, or veiling his own desires and needs?”

Rafe was frowning. “The ME says she died too fast to leave any bruises, but he told me privately he felt she’d been jerked around and held by one wrist. It wasn’t in his report.”

Isabel looked at him, weighing him for a moment, then smiled. “I get hunches.”

“Yeah?” He crossed powerful arms over his chest and lifted both eyebrows inquiringly.

“Okay, they’re a little more than hunches.”

“Is this where the special in Special Crimes Unit comes in?”

“Sort of. You read the Bureau’s brief on our unit, right?”

“I did. It was nicely murky, but the gist I got is that the unit is called in when a judgment is made that the crimes committed are unusually challenging for local law enforcement. That SCU agents use traditional as well as intuitive investigative methods to solve said crimes. By intuitive I gather they mean these hunches of yours?”

“Well, they couldn’t very well announce that the SCU is made up mostly of psychics. Wouldn’t go over very well with the majority of cops, considering how… um… levelheaded you guys tend to be. We’ve discovered through bitter experience that proving what we can do is a lot more effective with you guys than just claiming our abilities are real.”

“So why’re you telling me?”

“I thought you could take it.” She lifted an eyebrow at him. “Was I wrong?”

“I’ll let you know when I make up my mind.”

“Fair enough.”

“So I gather you don’t normally inform local law enforcement of this?”

“Depends. It’s pretty much left up to our judgment. The assigned team, I mean. Bishop says you can’t plan some things in advance, and whether or not to spill the beans-and when-is one of them. I’ve been on assignments where the local cops didn’t have a clue, and others where they were convinced, by the time we left, that it was some kind of magic.”

“But it isn’t.” He didn’t quite make it a question.

“Oh, no. Perfectly human abilities that simply don’t happen to be shared by everyone. It’s like math.”

“Math?”

“Yeah. I don’t get math. Never have. Balancing my checkbook stresses me out like you wouldn’t believe. But I always liked science, history, English. Those I was good at. I bet you’re good at math.”

“It doesn’t stress me out,” he admitted.

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