Dark Need
Page 22

 Lynn Viehl

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She might just shoot him to make the world a better place. "I remember what you did."
Dwyer stared at her chest. "Are you wearing a wire today, Sam? Did Captain Garcia ask you to?"
"No and no."
"Like my new suit?" He tugged at the lapel. "Brooks Brothers. I got it cheap from the last DEA auction."
Only a man like Dwyer would buy clothing confiscated from drug dealers. "Good for you," Sam said, mouth-breathing to avoid the smell of musk cologne. "I'm on duty. Excuse me." She didn't make the mistake of trying to go around him, knowing Dwyer would use the opportunity to put his hands on her, and then she would fire her revolver into his face.
"No. I haven't excused you, Brown," Dwyer said in a very low voice. "I will never excuse you."
The door to the restroom slammed open, and Harry stepped between them. "Sam, Dispatch has another body for us." He took hold of her arm and deliberately knocked into Dwyer with his shoulder as he guided her past him.
"You're a brave old fart, Quinn," Dwyer called after them.
"You're not, you pervert." Harry lifted his fist over his head and extended his middle finger.
Sam concentrated on breathing, and walking, and not puking all over the hallway floor.
When the door closed on Dwyer, Harry took out his inhaler and gave himself a double shot. "If you gotta pee, Sam, from now on we'll stop at McDonald's. All right?"
Sam nodded, still seeing Dwyer's wet lips and perfect small teeth, knowing it was not all right, and that nothing would ever be that way again until one of them was dead. For a moment she wished she were Lucan's lover. He'd tear someone like Dwyer to pieces.
Which is why he's a suspect, idiot, her conscience snapped. And you're a cop.
But then, so was Dwyer.
From the window in Homicide, Adam Suarez observed Harry Quinn leading Samantha Brown away from the lavatory. A few moments passed, and then Wesley Dwyer emerged. He looked as if he meant to follow them, and then abruptly changed direction and walked down to the corridor that led to Central Dispatch.
Ernesto Garcia joined Suarez. They had known each other for many more years than anyone in the department suspected, but they had never had reason to work together until now. Adam wished the circumstances could be different, for he relied on Ernesto as an adviser as well as a compatriot, but there was no choice.
With all that had changed, from now on there never would be.
"What do you think?" Garcia asked in their native language.
"He is a hyena. He will do nothing serious until he can separate her from the old man. We have a few more days to carry out our orders." He looked down at the envelope Garcia was holding out to him. "What is this?"
"Surveillance photographs."
Adam opened the envelope and took out the prints, which showed passengers disembarking in an airport terminal, a man walking toward a building, and two men walking together. They were taken from a distance, but the quality of the camera was such that the subjects in them could readily be identified.
For a moment he couldn't speak, such was his incredulity. Of all the things to happen now… "How long ago were these taken?"
"The day before yesterday."
Adam placed them back in the envelope and handed it back to Garcia. "Hold these for now. I will tell you when to deliver them to him."
The captain nodded. "Will we have to kill them, too?"
"That depends," Adam said. "He may wish to do it himself."
Chapter 10
Sam showed her badge to the uniform guarding the gate leading into the yard behind the big white house. "Who found the body?"
"FP and L meter reader," the patrolman told her. "After we got his statement, we had a unit transport him over to North Broward General for assessment and observation." He tapped his chest. "Shock like that does nothing good to a bad heart."
Harry went up on tiptoe to admire a huge boat docked at the short pier at the edge of the property. "Is that a yacht I see, and did someone leave the keys in the ignition?"
"The owners live in New York. The yacht belongs to a neighbor; they let him use their slip when they're not in town." The uniform stiffened. "Excuse me, Detective. Hey. You two. Park it right there." He strode forward to intercept a couple of interested-looking teens who were trying to get a look over the fence.
Sam walked with Harry back to a neglected garden filled with old statues and a reflecting pool in bad condition. She smelled the filthy water from thirty yards away.
"Snowbirds," Harry said with the heartfelt disgust of a native. "You'd think they'd know enough to keep it drained and covered off-season."
The victim had been left on one of the marble benches surrounding the pool. Sam sucked in a breath as she saw the thick legs, pudgy arms, and rounded chest, all of which were soaked with blood. The only other unusual thing about the body was that it was missing some parts.
"Harry?" Sam said, unable to look away. "You ever see one like this before?"
"Kid, I've seen three-week floaters, chain-saw dismemberments, and what happens when you piss off Colombian drug dealers," he assured her in a voice that shook. "But this one tops my gruesome list."
She tore her gaze away and tried to scan the surrounding area. "Where's the rest of him?"
"Some over there," Harry said, pointing to the other side of the reflecting pool.
Sam looked and saw the body's missing head staring back at her from a bench opposite the one the body had been posed on. She circled around the pool and saw that the head was also wet, but with what appeared to be water from the pool, not blood. A puddle of murky fluid surrounded the ragged-edged base of the head. "No hand."
"Killer might have taken it with him." Her partner took another drag off his inhaler before eyeing her. "You need him, ah, all put back together to do your thing?"
The state in which the body had been left had no effect on her "thing," as her partner called it. "It's okay. There's plenty of blood this time."
She went over to the bench to crouch in front of the victim's torso. She had seen only one other headless body before today: that of a biker who had been caught in the middle of a nightmarish three-car smashup while she had been a patrol officer.
A victim of decapitation looked more horrific and unnatural than a corpse in any other condition, but Sam knew few modern murderers chose to cut off their victim's head. It was a near-impossible wound to inflict, for one thing, and one of the messiest ways to kill someone. Unless the murderer had a specific motive involving that kind of mutilation, it was simply less time-consuming to strangle, shoot, or stab the victim.
Harry stepped to the side, blocking the view of Sam from the gate. "You're clear," he said in a low voice.
She took a deep breath, and laid her scarred hand on top of the victim's arm.
I'm sorry, Sam silently apologized to the dead man as she kept the scar that crossed her palm from coming into contact with the blood for a moment. If there were any other way I could do this, I would.
She pressed her hand into the victim's blood.
Her "thing" had no official name that she knew of, but since the time that Sam had figured out what was happening to her she had thought of it as blood-reading. It wasn't some sort of mystical ability; she didn't have to close her eyes or mutter incantations. If the victim had been dead too long or she didn't concentrate, it wouldn't even work.
She cleared her mind and focused on the heat spreading over her palm. If she thought anything, it was, Show me what happened.
The effect was a little like watching a movie that had been chopped up and spliced back together wrong—a movie that no one could see but Sam. There was no screen inside her head, only flashes of light and color that made brief, disjointed pictures with no sound; glimpses of life through the victim's eyes. Sometimes if there were strong odors, she would pick those up as well.
The gleam of a long, broad blade, like the swords actors used in pirate movies. Two statues that seemed to bounce. Another statue. A short, smug-looking man standing in the shadows. The taint of stagnant water. The sword again, held, slashing down. The blade cutting into a thick wrist.
"Hurry up, kid," she heard Harry say as if from a distance.
The sword kept returning to her mind. She had never encountered such a strong image; it was as if the old blade had meant everything to the victim in his. last minutes of life.
Sam ignored the wasplike burn of the blood on her skin and the growing stench of stagnant water as she read further.
Traffic. A crowded parking lot. Unlocking the door to an SUV. The scent of drying seaweed, salt, and suntan lotion. The beachfront. A sidewalk filled with people waiting for admittance to a building. Women's perfume, men's cologne. Neon-lit signs flickering on.
Although touching the blood of the dead gave her only images and scents without sound or much coherence, Sam found herself thinking, Tell me. Tell me who did this to you.
She didn't have much time; not only because they wouldn't be left alone long with the body, but because she could read the blood of a victim for only two or three hours after death. If she waited any longer than that, nothing would happen.
Darkness. Tight buttocks under a short black skirt. Little red eyes in the darkness. The sharp odor of hard liquor. A men's room. A measuring tape. Body odor mixed with the smells of pine cleaner over urine and feces. A clipboard with a form on it. An elevator door closing. A tall, broad-shouldered man with silvered fair hair stepping into the elevator. Night-blooming jasmine—
The images vanished as something pulled her hand away from the victim's arm.
"Sam." Harry hauled her to her feet and held her until she was steady. "Sorry, but the photographer's here."
She couldn't speak of what she had seen in front of the other officers and technicians processing the scene, so she gestured toward the water. "Down there." She glanced down at her sore, scarred hand. It was always a little uncomfortable after she read a victim. This time, however, touching the blood had burned so much she expected to see smoke rolling off her scar.