Anger flared in his belly, and he welcomed its steadying heat. Better pissed off than pissed on, as his first sergeant used to say. “What can you tell me about their murders?”
McNamara leaned back in his chair and studied Grant’s face for a minute. “Are you sure you want to do this now?”
“Yes. I only have thirty days.” Time was ticking away. His leave had started the moment he’d stepped off the military transport in Texas that morning. Besides, he was never going to want to do it anyway. “When we spoke on the phone, you said they’d been robbed.”
“Robbery is one of our working theories.” McNamara shifted forward and planted his forearms on the edge of his desk. “A resident called the police to report a woman screaming. A patrol unit was dispatched. Lee and Kate were found on a side street around the corner from an Italian restaurant in town. The restaurant staff said your brother and his wife had finished dinner roughly ten minutes before the call came in. It appears they were walking from the restaurant to their car when someone intercepted them. The cause of death for both was a single shot to the head. Your brother’s wallet and keys were missing, and so was Kate’s purse. Their car was stolen.” The cop hesitated.
“But that’s not all?” Grant asked. McNamara’s body language projected dissatisfaction. “What else?”
McNamara tossed the pen onto the blotter. His mouth thinned. “Your sister-in-law was still wearing her engagement ring.”
Grant followed the cop’s logic. “An experienced robber would have looked for obvious jewelry.”
“Maybe. Kate was wearing gloves, so I’m not going to make any assumptions at this time. We’re still investigating.” The cop rubbed his chin. “Who benefits from their deaths? I didn’t see a will in the house. Do you know if they had one?”
“I would imagine he did. He was a lawyer. Dotting i’s and crossing t’s was his profession.” Grant should have expected the police to search the house for clues. His brother had been murdered. Dead people didn’t have expectations of privacy, but the thought of McNamara or anyone else rifling through Lee and Kate’s personal belongings, discovering intimate secrets about the couple, sparked Grant’s fury. This should not have happened.
“The house is big and old. We could have missed something. If you find a safe deposit box key or a will, we’d like to know.” McNamara interlaced his fingers. “Both of their phones were stolen, but we recovered their call, contact, and calendar data from the cell phone company. We’re still reviewing the information, but we might have some questions regarding abbreviations and notations. Your brother’s firm has been less than cooperative about giving us access to his work computer and office. I’ve asked for a warrant, but they’re fighting it, citing client confidentiality.”
“Of course.” Grant drank more water, the cold liquid settling in his belly and chilling him from the inside out. “I’ll call you if I find anything.”
“Can you think of another motive for the attack?” McNamara asked. “Did your brother have any enemies?”
Grant shook his head. “My brother was a suburban lawyer and a family man. I can’t think of anyone who would want to hurt him.”
“But you’ve been overseas for ten months.” McNamara met his gaze.
“Right.” Grant shoved his guilt away. Combat had taught him to compartmentalize, to put grief in the backseat until the mission was complete, but that was easier said than done when it was his brother who was dead. “I can’t believe someone killed Lee and Kate for their car or wallet. It doesn’t make sense. Why kill them? Why risk a murder charge?”
McNamara sighed. “I have no idea. Maybe he resisted.” But the cop’s eyes weren’t satisfied with his own argument. Grant could feel discontent rolling off the detective in waves.
“That doesn’t sound like Lee. He wouldn’t have taken any chances with Kate’s life.” Grant screwed the bottle cap on too tightly, cracking it.
“Criminals are scumbags. Some of them get their rocks off killing people. Drugs make people do crazy things, and addicts will do anything to get money to buy more drugs.”
Grant leaned forward, resting his elbows on his thighs and holding the water bottle between his hands. He met McNamara’s level brown gaze head-on. “Drug addicts are sloppy. Lee’s murder sounds . . . efficient.”
“Do you have any evidence at all?” Grant asked. It had been three days since Lee and Kate were killed. “Murder weapon? Fingerprints? Surveillance video? Anything? Did anyone hear the shots?”
“Unfortunately, there aren’t any surveillance cameras in that area. It’s a quiet side street.” McNamara shook his head. “Their credit cards haven’t been used, and we can’t pick up a signal on their cell phones, which means the batteries were removed or destroyed. The car’s GPS isn’t transmitting, so it was likely disabled. I’ll try to keep you as informed as possible.” The cop stood, signaling their conversation was at an end. “When you decide on a funeral home, you can call the medical examiner’s office. They’ll call you when your brother and sister-in-law are ready to be released.”
Which meant the medical examiner wasn’t finished with the autopsies, something else Grant didn’t want to think about right now. He was going to have to plan his brother’s funeral, and that was bad enough without constantly visualizing the insult to Lee’s and Kate’s bodies. But how many mental pictures could he suppress? His brain was under a barrage of violent images. He pressed his sweating palms against his jeans. His lungs felt inelastic, each breath painful to draw.
McNamara squinted at him, obviously concerned. “Is there anyone else to help you with all this, Major?”
“My sister should be in town in the next day or so.” But until then, Grant was on his own. Kate never spoke about her family, and Lee had mentioned more than once that she and her parents were estranged. How could Grant contact them? Should he even try?
“You should also be aware that the perpetrators likely have a key to your brother’s house and the address.”
“Right. Changing the locks goes on the top of my list.” Grant shook the cop’s hand. He needed to get out of there. His body’s thermostat was off, and feverish heat was building under his jacket.
McNamara ushered him out to the parking lot. The damp night air coated his skin with moisture.
Grant slid into the driver’s seat of the rental car. He started the engine and checked his phone. No return calls from Hannah or Mac. Grant had been playing phone tag with his sister, who was en route to New York from Jakarta. But where the hell was Mac?
He drove down the main street and headed toward Lee’s house. His hometown of Scarlet Falls was a small suburban community in upstate New York, about an hour north of the state capitol in Albany. With the Appalachian Mountains to the west and Hudson Valley to the east, the town was picturesque, but the economy had been limping along since Grant was a kid. The region wasn’t thriving but it wasn’t going bankrupt either.
It was, in a word: average.
But in this ordinary slice of American suburbia, Lee and Kate had been brutally murdered. Had it been robbery? Or something even more sinister?
Ten minutes outside of town, Grant entered Lee’s neighborhood. For the most part, the residences were large, old homes on oversize lots. No cookie-cutter tract house for Lee. No, a year and a half before, he’d sold the small starter home and moved up to a more prestigious address. Lee must have been doing well at the firm. He’d leased a BMW at about the same time.
Grant turned onto the right street. In the sparse light of the occasional streetlamp, the neighborhood looked barren. When he’d been here last May, the valley had been gleaming green. Shrubs had been trimmed and fronted with flowers. Kids rode bikes and played hockey in the street. Moms pushed strollers to the playground on the corner. Now, warming temps had muddied the landscape, thawing in the daytime and refreezing at night. Moonlight gleamed on the layer of frozen muck. Grant hadn’t spent much time here since high school. The dreary vista was more depressing than the images in his memory. As a teen, he couldn’t wait to get out of town, as if staying here would make him stagnate.
Lee and Kate’s old Victorian sat behind a long, narrow front lawn. The Cape Cod–style house on the right was dark, but lights still burned in the two-story Colonial on the left. Streetlights were few and far between out here. Grant turned at the mailbox and parked at the head of the driveway. The big house was dark, almost forbidding. Trees loomed over the roof and cut off any light from the moon. Grant’s headlights cut a swath of clarity through the gloom and illuminated the front porch.
He got out of the car and stared up at the house, suddenly realizing he didn’t have a key. How was he going to get in? With a sigh, Grant trudged around the property, checking first-floor doors and windows in case one was left unlocked. No luck. He might need to go to a hotel after all, which meant a drive back out to the interstate, but at this point, sleeping in the car was looking good, despite the damp cold. The front seat of a sedan certainly wouldn’t be the worst place he’d spent the night. At least Scarlet Falls didn’t have enemy forces trying to kill him. He went back to the rental car. His truck, parked in a base storage facility in Texas, had a toolbox and flashlight in the back. Not this vehicle.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com