"I hate rain." Lieutenant Eve Dallas muttered while looking outside of their bedroom windows.
She was holding her second mug of coffee as she leaned on the sill. Her husband Roarke, who was busy scanning on the stock reports and daily news on his monitor screen, glanced at her.
She was wearing a white tee and a black trouser that matches her leather belt and dark boots. Her weapon was already holstered on her shoulders as if she was ready for combat.
My beautiful warrior, he thought as he reclined his back and watched his wife's indifferent attitude towards the weather.
"And what did the rain do to make you hate it?"
"Well." she shrugged her shoulders, "Rain can make people gloomy. When they're gloomy, they will feel depressed. When they're depressed, they will think of whacky things. Once they began to think of whacky things, they will kill people. Now if they are going to kill, they might do it outside. Then what do you think will happen to the crime scene? Destroyed!"
"Darling Eve, I have no idea that desk-works made you this miserable enough to think of outdoor mass killings. I never thought that you would succumb to your boredom and jinx everything that you have maintained these past few weeks. You were the one to blame for your causes, you know." he mused.
Eve shot him a beady look. With his Celtic blue eyes and long mane hair, it was a miracle that she was able to control herself not to feel gooey all the time.
He was in his dark suit like always, probably cost more than her monthly cop's salary, which only added to his powerful and dangerous demeanor.
He's mine, she said proudly in her thoughts.
"Cops should be chasing criminals and throwing them to their miserable cages, not doing liquidations and filing documents! It's excruciating, painful and...boring!"
Roarke went near to her then ran his hands over her arms. After she solved her previous case, she was always moody. It was her fault, she admitted, why she has several file backlogs and crime reports that were piled on her desk unattended – thanks to her hot cases. But it was unexpected that the Records division could suspend her by filing a petition on her and forcing Commander Whitney to put her into 'drone work'. She was told that her punishment was a means of 'disciplinary action' from the Records and for her to be set as the best example for every cop in every division.
Thus, everybody in Central was suffering from Paper Epidemic.
"Even so, Eve, it's relaxing to know that you'll be avoiding some dangers for a while. Besides, consider it as a training ground in case you will advance your brass."
Eve only sighed as she leaned her head on Roarke's shoulder. Even though he didn't say it, she knew he was pissed when she declined the Captaincy. Not only him but also those people whom she shared about it.
They couldn't blame her, really. They knew that she needs time to think.
She didn't marry Roarke out of whim anyway.
"Don't forget Wednesday." Roarke reminded her.
"Huh? What – ah, yeah right. The consulate party." she said while rolling her eyes. This made Roarke bit her ear lightly.
"Don't ever make some reasons to ditch it out. We all know that your 'punishment' will not be lifted until you're done with your paperwork, and it will be a miracle if you're able to file them on Friday."
"Okay, okay I get it. All I need to do is to listen to their boring stories, right?"
"You will not be bored, I promise.", he said as he pecked a kiss on her lips. "Besides, I made a commitment to Harminian royalty that I'll be bringing the hero behind the Icove's Agenda."
"Ah, the princess you've been bragging about...", Eve trailed off then gave him a narrowed look.
"How many princesses have you banged in a lifetime?"
This time Roarke frowned and gave her a narrowed look.
"I find it inappropriate for you to interrogate me about my previous love life considering what we just did a few minutes ago. And to answer your question, it is no, as I never indulged in affairs that could lead to a national scandal or could tie me up to an obligation. I haven't banged this Harminian princess you believed I bragged as I haven't met her personally. And as to why I bragged her, it was the other way around. She was the one who was bragging me as the husband of the Icove's cop she idolized. What a cute turn of events, eh?"
"You're slick. You're slick as ever.", she grumbled.
"I'm just brutally honest with myself, Darling Eve. And don't worry.", he whispered as she deepened his kiss. "I don't do it with princesses. I only do it with a Queen, and that is you, Eve."
They both stayed nuzzling for a while until the rain began to dissipate. She pulled her leather jacket on then bid Roarke a kiss goodbye.
"Take care of my gazillionaire."
"Take care of my cop."
When she stepped outside the foyer, her DLE was already parked at the entrance with its muffled engine roared on.
She knew that their bony majordomo, Summerset, arranged it there before she went downstairs. Just before she could buckle her seat, her link' beeped. It was her Commander.
"Commander.", she answered.
"Lieutenant. Are you on your way to Central?"
"No sir, I'm about to leave the house at the moment."
"Good. Don't proceed to the Central. There's an incident at the Pearl Skyline Hotel, Fifty-eighth floor. You're the primary."
Hope bloomed in her chest but decided to feign her expression.
"Commander, I am under the jurisdiction of not accepting case orders unless I finished with the Records."
"That's why don't proceed to the Central. You have an override. Now proceed to the scene of the incident. This is Code Five."
"Yes, sir.", she said as his Commander's face flashed off the screen.
Code Five means Sensitive Case. Regretting that she won't be able to tag her partner Peabody or shared the information to Roarke, she drove to the opposite direction of her usual route where the crime scene is located.
Getting to the Pearl Skyline was too breezy for the DLE since the traffic was forming on the routes going to the downtown areas. Eve immediately pulled the vehicle over to the entrance of the hotel. It was nearly as decent as The Palace, she mused, a five-star hotel owned by Roarke.
As she swung and went outside, the bellboy immediately approached her.
"I'm sorry ma'am, but the Valet parking is on the other side – "
"Lieutenant Dallas.", Eve immediately flashed her badge to the bellboy's face. His face became serious in an instant recognition then gave a whistled signal to his companion.
"Park that official issue for me as I will lead the Lieutenant to the location," he said when his companion walked towards him, in which he obliged without any questions.
"Come with me, please." the bellboy gestured to Eve as they went inside.
The interiors were polished with white marbles and beige floorings, matching the oriental upholsteries and decors. Eve spotted some tourists and locals that come and go to the reception and hall areas, while others were being assisted by the hotel staffs upstairs.
"Still business as usual.", Eve commented.
"As long as the area will be preserved for the authorities, we can't compromise to close the operation.", the bellboy answered in a muffled tone.
Eve might not be wearing a uniform or tucking her badge outside, but the staffs could sense her as a cop through her flat serious eyes. She was able to notice their stiffed expressions as if they've been busted for illegals.
The bellboy led her to an employee-accessed elevator and punched the 58th button on the panels as they went inside. The glide upstairs was brief, and when it opened, a uniformed officer posted on the entrance greeted them. There was a recognition on the uniform's eyes but Eve still flashed her badge.
"Which way is the scene?", she asked the bellboy.
"On the right side, the last hall room door. You can ring us in the intercom for further assistance.", he answered then entered in the elevator again and went downstairs.
Very cooperative, Eve thought.
"Fill me in, Officer.", she prompted on her another companion as she marched towards the location and adjusted her recorder.
"Yes, sir. We received a dispatch call around 0530 as a homicide, and a Code Five mark just as we arrived here."
"Who gave you that information?"
"I have no idea, sir. But a transmit instruction from Central said to preserve the scene for Homicide. Whatever happened inside was kept there. Somebody was already waiting for you inside, sir.
It was a wide corridor with gray carpet floors and muted white wallpapers. She spotted the door that the bellboy mentioned due to the police compu-seal on the knobs, and used her master key to bypass.
"Stand back, Officer, and return to your post. Record on, Dallas, Lieutenant Eve, entering the premises.", she recited as she entered the hall.
Everything was a mess. The glass chandelier was scattered on the floor, the wooden chairs were destroyed, the heavy curtains have slashes and spills of blood, and on the center of it was a gruesome corpse slumped on a long table with its arms wide-opened.
"Dallas.", a male voice greeted her.
When she turned around, she saw her old mentor and usual Captain pal Ryan Feeney, who led the EDD division.
"I've heard this one was tagged for Homicide. How come the honcho of the EDD geeks is here?"
"I've been asking that same question thirty minutes ago.", he said with a smile. He was kneeling on another corpse as he examined it with his droopy eyes. She went near to him and did the same observation.
"Her name's Mathilde Kenwood, fifty-eight, working in the Skyline as an attendant for two years. Widowed, with one child who died in an accident five years ago. TOD is 0450.", Feeney explained as she sealed her hands and examined the victim.
She was slumped on the corner with her back on the wall. A deep cut slashed from her right shoulder down to her lower torso that almost spilled her intestine was convincing enough as her COD. Of course, Eve was not cynical enough to stick to that theory.
When she moved on the other corpse, it has the same slash marks on Mathilde, only with an addition slash on his throat across to his left pelvis. His eyes were wide open, most likely due to the shock from his killer.
"He must have seen his killer and it scared him to death.", she commented.
"I agree. Name's Armir Howe, mixed race, forty-five, Consulate of the US for Harminian affairs. TOD 0448. It was a swift kill for a couple of seconds."
She cursed under her breath. "Shit, Feeney. Roarke knows this guy."
"Roarke? Oh, hell.", he empathized as he scratched his cheek.
"Dammit. He was so eager for the consulate party this Wednesday and it seems like I jinxed everything."
"You didn't wish this guy to be dead, did you? Then why are you blaming yourself?"
"Because I tend to jinx everything.", she huffed for her childish reasons. "It's all because of the Paper Epidemic."
Feeney just shrugged his shoulders.
"I have your sympathies there, Dallas. Without you, everybody in the Central will have an immediate suspension."
"Damn Records, I became their sacrificial cow for all of you."
"It should be the sacrificial lamb, but since it was a meek idiom for your streak, any animal is acceptable."
An intercom beeped. Feeney went to the corner and read the information that was transmitted. Eve went to the billowing curtains and observed the damaged window.
"You came from the outside, and then break the windows to surprise everybody here. You must be wearing some protective gear for the shards."
As she trailed the possible movement from the crashed windows from the inside, she noticed two iron balls rolled beneath the tumbled chair. She crept down, reached it, and then weighed in her hands
"Smoke bomb.", she commented as she sniffed the nozzles.
The perpetrator must have thrown these before he lounges himself inside. Why would he do that? Eve thought. Both the victims have clean cuts and quite defenseless to struggle, so attacking them head-on was enough. And triggering a smoke bomb could activate the sprinkler alarm, yet it did not happen.
"You must have known the interior of this room, to cage your prey without failure. But why doubling your precautionary measures?"
She roamed her eyes around the room and visibly noticed the damage was severe. The victims showed no struggles, but the area said differently.
"We have a missing third victim here, Feeney.", she declared.
She started to study the blood trails on the carpet. Sweepers would have an overnight study for this, with an addition to the several marks that she spotted on the walls. She would flag it as a top priority to Dickhead and the corpses for Morris.
All her thoughts began to focus when she noticed a spot near the door. One, two, three drops of blood trails and then vanished in the outside. She also noticed the scratches on the knobs inside.
"Whether you are the third victim or the killer himself, I'm going to find you.", Eve muttered as she stared at the new evidence.
Feeney went to her side.
"I have checked the surveillance camera. All disks were stolen."
"Unbelievable, but true. Not only this premise but also the other irrelevant areas as well. The surveillance guard was found to be conked by some tranqs, rushed to the Doctor's Hospital. That's how this area was discovered."
"Tells me our killer is a low-grade E-man but with a cunning personality."
Feeney was silent for a moment then continued.
"This conference hall was booked yesterday night. I have double verified it to make it sure, but it's still the same. Roarke did it."
Eve left the room to call the officer but paused when she saw a tall woman in sixties chatting audibly on him. Both of them stopped their conversation as she approached them.
"Lieutenant, this is Mrs. Dwight, the hotel manager.", the officer said.
"I want to know the timeframe of your investigations here, Lieutenant, to know as to when we are going to close this floor to the public."
"We'll get into that, Mrs. Dwight. Officer, did you contain the witness who discovered the bodies?"
"Bo - bodies?! Oh, my God, I didn't know – ", Mrs. Dwight trailed off and almost collapsed on the floor if not for the officer who immediately caught her.
"I only see one – "
"Mrs. Dwight, calm down. How did you discover the incident?", Eve interrogated as they sat on the floor.
"Di - discovered?! Ah, no, I just received a call from Afef about an emergency on this hall. My sleeping quarter was only five floors above this one so I was able to rush in here. I noticed the knobs were damaged and when I opened the door I saw – "
Mrs. Dwight shuddered as she wiped her tears with a handkerchief.
"Where is this Afef?"
"Afef? He's in the Royal Highness' suite. 88th floor. He's her butler."
"And how come this butler was here and has an access to you?", Eve asked. The word butler rang violently in her ears, good thing she was able to control her screams and managed it in her thoughts. What did the butler do in this area?
"Ah, the owner Mr. Ahmed instructed me to have a personal interaction with Afef, that if the Harminian royalty will have some concerns, they must contact me immediately."
Eve felt tightness in her chest. She was cynical enough to believe in coincidences.
"What did you do after discovering the incident?", she asked.
"I – I did not enter the room, I swear! I just saw the destruction of the chairs inside and a man sprawling on the table. So I ran away when my insides churned then called our security to contact the police."
"You did not call 911 immediately?"
"No, Lieutenant. If I did, there might be a commotion as to why there's a police visibility here. It's not because of public discretion but because I want professionalism to avoid panics. A similar incident happened in my previous employment before, so I learned it from experience."
"That was a good call, Mrs. Dwight.", the officer assured her.
"Thank you, lad. Anyways, we isolated this floor and since this one was for a smaller conference and function activities, no mass evacuatation was needed. But you said there are two persons inside..."
"How did you know Mathilde Kenwood?", Eve asked her again.
"Matty? She's...oh my God, oh my God! Not our Matty! No!"
Mrs. Dwight bawled upon her realization. Eve does not have enough patience to wait for an incoherent witness.
"Are there any kins of Mathilde here?"
"Oh, no, no Lieutenant. Matty is alone in this world now. Her husband died decades ago, and she's still on the healing process when her son died in a car crash five years ago. Her only family is us. She's ours."
And now she's mine too, Eve thought.
When she was contentedly done with Mrs. Dwight, she stood up to receive a message from the hotel intercom that Afef was waiting on her downstairs. Feeney just left the crime scene and went to Eve.
"Dallas – "
"Don't talk to me, Fenney. Don't you fucking talk to me or I'll slug you."
"You fucking listen to me, kid.", he snapped and gripped Eve's shoulder. It forced her to look at his bleary eyes.
"Nobody is accusing Roarke of murder here. His name appeared as the one who reserved that hall, that's all."
"That's not all, Feeney. I haven't dug yet into this mess, and God knows who's name might pop if I ask that goddamn butler. He's tightly alibied, you heard that? For the whole night, he was in the house and neither of us walked outside."
To be specific, none of them was incoherent and able to walk or even stood up for the whole night. Both of them were busy sprawling and banging each other mercilessly.
"Do what you EDD supposed to do and I'll do what a Homicide supposed to do.", she said then walked out. While entering the elevator, she opened her PPC to read some salients about Afef.
Spotting Afef was not difficult for Eve. He was sitting solemnly on the corner wearing a white chino and dark pants. The man slowly stood up as if acknowledging her presence, and that time she was able to analyze his dark eyes, white hair, and bony structured body.
Like somebody I used to know, she bemused.
He might be sensible and controlled but Eve saw the different emotions swirling in his eyes. At first, there was a shock, followed by amazement, until it flickered to indifference.
"Lieutenant Eve Dallas-Roarke.", he greeted with a very thick accent.
It was a bit rare for her to be called using her complete name. Since she deemed it useless to flash her badge to the man, she decided to sit on the chair facing him then placed her recorder visibly on the coffee table.
He gave it a side eye. "I am not obliged to follow your country rules here, Lieutenant."
"I never recited a Revised Miranda on you, and I am not dim-witted not to know some international laws, Afef."
His lips pursed when she went on a first-name basis. He knew it was her usual tactic of intimidation.
Eve was fuming that his pruned face reminded her of him.
"You are a witness to a crime in New York so no matter who you are or what planet you came from, you have to abide the rules for civil liability. Why are you on that floor, Afef?"
"Mr. Howe informed me that he will be on the premise for a short meeting. It was none in importance so I prioritized Royal Highness' necessities first before I addressed his request. When I walked in there, I immediately saw the grotesque scene. So I called Mrs. Dwight about it."
"Did you enter the room?"
"I don't think so. Possible. I forgot."
"You don't strike me as a forgetful type."
"I am only but a mere human, Lieutenant. I may be conserved but I do have flaws."
"I don't think you're here to discuss such mundane matters."
He was right.
"What did you see inside the room?" she asked, trying to gain the momentum of their conversation.
"Mr. Howe and the lady Mathilde. We stayed here for almost a week, just enough for me to have interactions with these pleasant attendants. I did not touch their bodies."
All of his answers were delivered in a calm and concise manner, and Eve didn't like it.
"So you didn't enter the room then."
"Perhaps yes. When they called the police, I retired to my bed and took a soother to ease my mind. I let myself open for communications in case there will be a need for my statement, which I believe, is what I am doing right now."
She stood up. "Okay then. I will need your Royal Highness' statement."
Before she could retrieve her recorder from the table, an ebony hand stopped her.
"I will never allow it!" he fumed. "You're an impertinent to our Royalty for accusing her of some blasphemy!"
"I never said that you did." she wrung her hand away as she grabbed the recorder. " Do you know what an alibi is, Afef? It is essential to know whether you are lying or not."
Eve moved closer until her face hovered over his. "You might pull some piece of shit you call sovereignty to me but I will do everything, anything to tear it off like a piece of junk. Two of New York's citizen have been killed with a missing one yet to be discovered, and it's an insult to my profession to allow that son of a bitch escape. I might be a lowly Homicide, but the red tapes on this? It can cause media and federal frenzy. You don't like that, do you?"
The fear was evident on his ashen face. "Is this - is this a tip-off?"
"Tip-off?" she scoffed indignantly. "Ha. I'm busy now so why don't you pull that stick out from your ass and use it to hit your head eh?"
She hastily left him for another prey.
Three middle-aged women were inside the security personnel area. They were visibly shaken when Eve showed up for an interview.
"Who among you here was assigned to the reception area yesterday around 1900?"
Woman One and Woman Two turned their heads to their left and pointed Woman Three who merely raised her trembling hand. She flinched when the Lieutenant gave her dead-set eyes.
"Did you book the reservation on the 58th via call?"
Woman Three shuddered and broke heavy tears. "I-I-I did not book it, Ma'am – er, Lieutenant! I-I-I don't have me-memory reten-retention bu-but I am familiar wi-with the-the things I-I have bo-booked!"
"Are you telling me that it popped like magic?!" Eve wasn't aware that she was snarling. "Your name was logged in the encoder system and God-forsaken knows if someone overwrites it externally."
"I-I swear to my father's grave I'm innocent!" Woman Three defended fervently, and when she eyed her companions for help they simply averted her gaze.
Feeney was hunching on the corner, furiously shaking his head while fiddling on the monitor screens and memory boxes. The Go-cup that the security personnel drank was still there untouched, so Eve bagged it immediately for possible fingerprints.
She patted the Captain's back. "You might grab those cameras on the crime scene, maybe we can retrieve some images as well as the surveillance within seventy-two hours."
"I know what to do," he grumbled without sparing her a glance.
"Get the blueprint of the hotel, especially their sprinkler system will you? Especially the units in the reception area - maybe there's a mild tampering."
"I said I know what to do!" he lashed out and met her burning rage.
Eve left him without saying a word.
She went to her vehicle that was parked in the VIP slot then poured her anger by kicking its rear several times. Though it took her a while to calm herself down, she was still not ready to deliver the bad news.
She pulled out the data of Amir Howe's next kin and felt like the whole world collapsed.
She immediately dialed Louise Dimatto, the best physician she knew. Her link suddenly filled with Louise's image as she answered her link'.
"What can I do to the city of New York, Dallas?" she greeted.
"Very much. You might be hailed as a hero and have your own bust in the Greenpeace Park after this. Listen, can you go to a certain location that I am going to transmit to you and be there in thirty? I'll be on my way to meet you there."
As Louise read the transmission, Eve told her about the situation.
"That's so horrible. Awful." was the doctor's reply.
"That's how I uphold my world-renowned title. Bitch cop."
"I feel so sorry for this, Dallas. I'll meet you there.", Louise said then hang up.
Both arrived on time. When Eve pushed the buzzer, an old lady slightly opened the door.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I'm Lieutenant Dallas and this is my consultant, Dr. Louise Dimatto. We are here for Mrs. Howe.", Eve introduced as she showed her the badge. After scanning and verifying it, they were admitted inside and led to an anteroom filled with pastel-colored decors.
Eve gulped loudly when Lianna Howe went downstairs. Her right hand was on her back while the other was on her basketball-sized stomach.
"You're Roarke's cop! Oh my, it's my pleasure to meet you finally!"
Before Eve could react, Lianna cupped her head and kissed both of her cheeks. She wasn't aware how the cop stilled when her stomach brushed her torso.
"Isn't it funny that our husbands are having their early meeting today? My Amir told me proudly how he conned Roarke to abide his biddings, and of course, your husband had to treat his sore spot. He can easily get his losses with a snap so there's no reason for him to be pissed off. Besides, it's a win-win dealing! Oh, and they have a 'secret' agenda for the approval! Did Roarke tell you about that?"
"Erm, Mrs. Howe, I –"
Eve was about to say something but Lianna bombarded her again.
"Oh gosh, you never told me you have a companion! Risa, Risa! Could you prepare some refreshments for us here?"
"It's fine, Mrs. Howe," Louise interjected with a smile. "The Lieutenant has something to say for you."
Eve was used to having Peabody fill that role so she was very thankful that the doctor fits the bill.
Lianna gaped and stared at them in disbelief when Eve told her about Amir's death. She didn't believe them at first, but when she confirmed the information and received a deafening silence, the pregnant widow wailed and cried like an injured animal.
Eve almost fainted on the spot and felt queasy when Risa rushed to her mistress' side. The maid whispered sweet nothings on her while Louise injected something that calmed Lianna down.
The last thing Eve wanted to see that day was a popping baby.
She remained on the couch unmoved when Risa and Louise ushered Lianna to her room. It was then that prompted her to bolt out and emptied her stomach on a nearby sink.
"Premature labor shook you terribly, Eve. Are you alright? You're white as a sheet."
"Nah, I'm fine. Just a little dizzy but it'll pass."
She turned around with her butt rested on the sink tile and her hands supported her body. Louise offered her some blockers but she obligingly took it after knowing that it was safe.
"It slapped me really hard to give that kind of news to a fellow...wife.", Eve was about to say something but stopped herself. She might run a test first before she could ask some professional help.
"Do all knock-ups have some episodes of hyperactivity like they just took up Zoner?"
"It depends on their hormones. Others tend to have temper tantrums. You don't have any plans to tell me about what happened."
Eve sighed exasperatedly. "Code Five, Louise, and in a few hours the media will sniff on this."
She bet that her other friend, Nadine would hunt her on this. She was looking forward to the kind of bribe she would offer in exchange for a scoop.
Louise chose to stay on Howe's and called Lianna's ob/gyn on her personal link'. When everything was settled, Eve decided to leave the house. She was just outside the gate when her link' beeped.
"Lieutenant. Be here at Central and report to my office 1200 immediately for a briefing.", Commander Whitney's image filled in her screen.
"Sir, I appealed to make it 1300 instead. I have to conduct one interview before I can swing there."
"Will it make a difference if you skip that one?"
The question hovered in the air for a while before Eve could answer.
"Well then, I'll inform them of the changes." he prompted before he disconnected the call.
When Eve curbed her way towards the intimidating skyline of Roarke Industries' headquarters, a beaming smile from the security greeted her.
"Good morning, Lieutenant. I'll park your vehicle in the slot and return it here when you're about to leave.", the security said as she gave her codes to him.
"Uh, thanks.", she said then went inside. The receptionist showed the same level of enthusiasm as she led her to the glides going to the top floor. She wanted to stall for a while, so she struck a conversation.
"How long have you been working with Roarke?"
"Almost three years now, Lieutenant.", the receptionist answered with confidence.
"I see. Any complications on the job?"
"None at all, Lieutenant. Roarke gave us higher incentives and benefits than any regular jobs out there. I really enjoyed working here"
"Good to hear that. I'll let him know about you."
When the glide doors swung open, Caro, Roarke's loyal secretary, was waiting for her.
"It's a pleasure to see you here, Lieutenant.", Caro said as Eve went outside the car. She might be looking ahead of her but the Lieutenant saw the gleaming tears from the young receptionist's eyes as the glide's door closed.
"Likewise, Caro. Is Roarke available?"
"Just finished another set of meeting and on his lunch break. Would like me to prepare something for you, Lieutenant?"
"Don't bother. I'll let Roarke know."
Ever since Eve solved her daughter Reva's case, her relationship with Caro turned warmer. The secretary left her when she reached the door to Roarke's office.
"Eve, it's a pleasure to see you here.", Roarke said as he swiveled his chair and looked at his wife.
"You're the fourth person who told me that.", she answered as she walked towards him.
He knew her quite well, not only her gestures but also her tone of her voice.
"Have you eaten yet, Darling? I'll send some of your favorites."
"No, Roarke, I did not come here to have some lunch.", she quipped. Hell, she had lost all of her appetites and no doubt, his might follow afterward.
She set her recorder on the table between them. His eyes hovered there for a moment then flickered towards her dangerously.
"Don't say a word, Roarke. I am here to read your rights."
Roarke reclined his back. "What's the meaning of this Eve? Am I a suspect?"
"I have to Mirandized you before I – "
"Answer my bloody question before I break that recorder of yours and shove it outside." he snapped coolly. "Now, am I a suspect?"
His whiplashed anger lanced her heart yet she couldn't blame him for that. Fisting her hand, she stared at him with her straight cop-like eyes. "Do I look like I have some choice here? I'm just following the procedures."
"Fuck your procedures, Eve."
The last time they had this tension was during DeBlass' case.
Back then, they barely knew each other, and unbeknownst to him, she was struggling her best to clear his name. He felt remorse how he hurt her afterward. And with their current state, despite the similarities, was a vital difference – and that was time.
For Roarke, no matter how time had passed, Eve will always be Eve.
So he relaxed on his chair with a resigned thought that this time, he would trust her.
Seeing her husband's cooperation, she activated her recorder and began to recite a Revised Miranda.
"Do you understand your rights and obligation?"
"Yes." was his prompt reply.
Eve successfully battled her emotions when he showed no resistance. "How well do you know Armir Howe?"
"A good associate, and as a US consul to Harmin, a good investor. Eve...", he trailed off upon his realization. "Did Lianna know?"
Eve gave a nod. This made Roarke cursed under his breath.
"When was the last time you talked to him?"
"Yesterday afternoon, around 1500, here in the office. The security will give you the surveillance discs later."
"Appreciate that. What did you talk about?"
"An investment of sorts. There were plans for developing the nation's international airport to accommodate more airline investors and have various direct flights instead of connecting across the borders. He wanted Roarke Airlines to be one of them, and since it was just a plan with no solid activities, I considered it as a bad move. But Armir kept pestering me for a year now, so I resigned and decided to accept his proposal."
So this was what Lianna meant of Roarke being conned, she thought. She never thought that there was someone who could bend Roarke to follow their rules. It was unfortunate that the person died.
"Did you two have scheduled appointments today?"
"No, and it should be tomorrow noon here, and another on Wednesday for the consulate party. From the looks of it, I believe I'm going to cancel them," he answered sadly.
"Did you make a reservation in Pearl Skyline yesterday around 1900 for a small conference today at 0400?"
His brows rose up. "Why would I schedule a conference room in a second-rate hotel if I can set it on my Palace, which is the best?"
Eve thought of that too. It was unusual for him but she wanted to hear him declare it by himself – that he was innocent enough and unaware of what happened. She wanted to clear his name before she indulged herself in the case more.
Roarke was no fool; he has been a cop's spouse for years and participated in several ops enough to read between the lines.
"You mentioned that you don't want Roarke Airlines to be invested, but you did. Why is that?" she asked.
"Well, Armir told me that there's a new discovery of amber mines in the place, and since he had heard my upcoming line of perfumery in the market, he proposed for a tie-up with Harmin. Not only that it could lead to more work opportunities for the citizens there, it would also grant me few legal paper immunities in case I wanted to indulge myself for another investment."
Her husband might have explained it with his cool, business-like tone, but only Eve could see the slight stumbles.
There was something in there, she thought.
"If you would like to know if I have a motive to kill him, my obvious answer is no. My perfume project was barely in its first phase and there are still legal discussions on my airline, so his loss could lead to some jeopardy on my end."
"But in the game of business, there will always be a replacement."
"I agree, but only I could hope that the next one would be as accommodating and wise as his predecessor. Oh, Eve, that's not what I meant.", he said then reached her hands when he saw how her emotions shifted drastically. "I am a businessman and I hate to lose my investment, especially my perfumery since I already released a lot of it."
"Why is that investment so important to you?"
He was stunned. By God, his hands started to get clammy. Roarke never gets scared but this was the only exception. Eve was the last person he wanted to know about it. But after seeing her fighting her emotions for his sake was very painful so much that he would do a suicide gamble.
"It will be a top of the line perfume, hypoallergenic with all-natural ingredients and medicinal benefits. The target for its launch will be next year, the same date as my wedding anniversary, as a gift for my wife." He made an audible gulp. "The brand name is Eve."
If eyeballs could pop, Eve's certainly did. She was beyond shock that her mind was uncharacteristically gone blank.
Roarke, on the other hand, dipped his hands into his pocket. He was blushing profusely he could almost feel his blood spilling on his ears.
The couple went to a dead silence for a minute.
And by God help him, his wife broke a fit of laughter.
"Oh Roarke, I really have no idea what to do to you, whether to punch you because of embarrassment or punch you because of anger. Either way, you deserved it and...and...Oh, shit." she stuttered then pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes.
Roarke immediately moved and cradled her.
"I'm so sorry." she croaked as tears began to leak on her lashes.
"Hush baby, I understand. You're just doing your job.", he said then kissed her brows as he wiped the wetness. "You know, your recorder is still on."
"Interview end. Record off.", she recited then emptied her feelings on his warm embrace.
She left his office after she recovered her bearings without telling Roarke about the case. If during DeBlass' case she was able to spill some to Roarke, this time will be different. She was not the same Eve back then.
When she marched through her bullpen and headed to her commander's office, all cops on her division, including Peabody, darted her some beady looks.
It was obvious that the news about the only two cops in Central that received Paper Epidemic immunity was spreading around.
Feeney was already in Commander Whitney's office, as well as Chief Tibble accompanied by a dark-suited man.
"Dallas, this is Mr. Balam Peters, acting secretary for Harminian consular affairs." Tibble introduced.
Mr. Peters was a small man, almost frail-looking with his puffy red eyes. She was baffled when the secretary moved and hugged her after they shook hands.
"I am so thankful that Armir was under Roarke's cop. I will personally request you if ever the police handed it to somebody else."
"I am everybody's cop, same as all cops in New York, but thank you for the confidence."
When everyone has settled on their seats, Eve remained standing to report her progress.
"Armir Howe, a hotel attendant named Mathilde Kenwood, and an anonymous person have been assaulted between 0430 to 0510 which led to their murder. Before that timeframe, the suspect slipped a heavy dosage of tranquilizers to Lewis Remington, a security personnel assigned in the surveillance room, stole all discs and disabled all sprinkler system, then locked the room from the outside. The Harminian butler named Afef who knows about Howe's agenda went to the said floor and witnessed the aftermath. He called the hotel manager Alice Dwight who then took an action to call the security. When they discovered Remington, they immediately rushed him to the hospital. All bodies were tagged for autopsies to Morris and the crime evidence to Dickie that will be flagged as a top priority."
She took a deep breath then continued.
"Howe has a mid-morning conference with the third victim on the Skyline's conference that was booked under Roarke's name. I have conducted an interview with Roarke today, and he said that he knew the victim personally but he was innocent about the reservations. He has a tight alibi during the assault, Sir."
"How did he take it?" Whitney asked.
"Roarke understood and followed the rules of the law."
When Eve was finished, Feeney stood up to report his findings. All of it was reflected on her timeframe, and with the investigations of the booking, it was revealed that there was no external tapping but internal. The unit was now forwarded to the crime lab for fingerprint scans.
"Thank you for the progress. Both of you are the best under my command, that's why I entrusted you two with this mess. The reason why I called you both is because, in a few hours time, this mess will be sniffed. I want you to prepare yourselves for the worst."
"Feds, spooks or red tape?" Feeney bemused.
"Probably a combination of those three now that the royalty is concerned," Tibble explained. "In seven days, a wedding between the 35th Harminian princess Petun and the magnate Stefanos Levinski will take place here in New York, and with the murder of a Harminian consul in the hotel where the royalty resides, we'll be dealing not only the international media frenzy but also the diplomatic ones."
"Permission to speak, Sir," Dallas asked Whitney
"Permission granted, Dallas."
"The hell with them.", she scoffed indignantly. "Just because we're city cops these people have the right to steal this case. I don't care if I have to butt heads with the President or a King, I will stand as a Primary on this and nobody will ever take it away from me. Armir Howe is mine. Mathilde Kenwood is mine. And the third victim, whoever he or she is, is mine."
"Amen to that." Feeney placed a hand on Eve's shoulder.
Whitney looked at his two subordinates with pride then glanced at Tibble and Peters who happened to share the same impression.
"In behalf of the consulate affairs, you have my whole cooperation. All I want is a full disclosure, and if possible, I want to avoid some troubles on the upcoming celebration." Peters said then looked at Eve. "I'll be replacing Armir's place in introducing the royalty, and I believe Roarke got the invitation."
"Yes, and he's quite excited.", she confessed. She wasn't sure if Roarke's enthusiasm didn't dwindle down after the event.
Whitney folded his hands. "It's a favor on our side, Dallas."
"I have some request, Commander."
"I want to form a task force for this." she went on. "With its sensitivity, we have to cover several bases. We also have a missing person, still undetermined whether alive or dead. This person might be the answer to our motive."
"What if there's no third victim here?" Tibble asked.
"It would conflict with our crime scene, Chief. Two victims showed no struggles, and I believe the autopsy will favor my DOS theory."
"It will be granted.", the commander said as he began to brainstorm some briberies that he could use to the Records Division. If he was able to pull the root out, then why not the branches?
"Thank you, Commander. My partner, Detective Peabody will be on this sir, same with Detective Baxter and his partner Detective Trueheart. Feeney might need some aid as well such as Detective McNab and our Expert, Civilian Consultant. I'll be tagging Dr. Mira as well for profiling our perpetrator once I got the result."
"So be it. Now that our meeting has adjourned, both of you are dismissed."