Dallas was never allowed to go on vacation again. They had holo tech in that big frosty house, right? They could go to the beach and get naked right there, and then Dallas would be there when the next call came in. “Which is the whole point of going away on vacation,” Peabody muttered to herself. And it wasn’t like Dallas hadn’t told Peabody to take the time, too, but she was scheduled to take some time next month for her nephew’s graduation, and she was saving her time and money … “And here I am, all alone with a dead body,” she concluded, staring at the door to the morgue.
“You’re never alone with the dead, not here.” A cherry fizzy appeared in front of Peabody, attached to Morris’s hand. “I expected Baxter and Trueheart.”
She shrugged as she accepted the drink. “They’ve taken two other cases since Dallas left. I’ve run out of old paperwork to clean up. I’m a perfectly competent detective, I should be able to work a case without supervision.”
She was absolutely not going to admit that she’d wanted an excuse to come down to the morgue. And it definitely wasn’t for the dead bodies.
“Absolutely.” Morris gestured towards the door. “Shall we meet your current concern?”
“We’re already acquainted, unfortunately.” Peabody grimaced when they entered the room - the woman was already on the table closest to them, the wound in her head still as garish as it had looked in the early morning light. Thankfully, Morris had already finished with his work, and the incisions were sewn up tight. “Abra Cannon, mixed race female, approximately 45 years old, found in Central Park this morning by a jogger. Who jogs in the Park in February?”
“Training for a triathlon, as it turns out. My legs hurt just thinking about it.” Peabody shuddered. “But at least his dedication put him in the right place and the right time, If my estimates were right, she was found less than an hour after time of death.”
“Correct. I’d put TOD at approximately 5:45 this morning. Early to be in Central Park, unless you’re the sort to do nocturnal business there.”
“She’s not a street LC, and she doesn’t seem like a junkie or a dealer. Single, works in accounting for a construction business in Queens. No cohab, two very nice, living parents whose lives I just got done ruining.” Morris put his hand on her shoulder; he was close enough to her that she could feel the heat from his body. Or was that just the warmth she felt any time Morris was around? She was blushing, she knew it. Still, she didn’t move away - what the hell, she might as well enjoy what little contact she could get. “Part of the job. My least favorite. Next least favorite is having to look at things like this.” Still, she stepped closer to the body without retching, which she figured was a win. The whole left side of Abra Cannon’s head looked more like raw meat than a human skull. “I don’t have to be Dallas to know there’s anger in that.”
“Indeed. You don’t need me to tell you that’s the cause of death, but I will. No other signs of injury, other than seriously scraped knees, which are also recent.”
“She probably went down hard on concrete when she was attacked - which, since she was found well off the road, means she was moved. Which I already knew, thanks to the lack of blood at the scene. And somebody seriously trampled the snow around her body, so I have no real idea what direction they came from or where they went.” She sighed. “And you don’t care about that part, sorry.”
“No, go on.” He gestured around the room, which was surprisingly empty, given how many bodies Peabody usually saw in here. “We’re having a slow day so far. I don’t know if that gives me hope, or if New York is just waking up and discovering its dead slowly today. Either way,” Morris continued, “if you need an ear …”
I need more than your ear. Thankfully, that was only her private voice. Not bad self control for waking up at five in the morning. “Well, part of me wonders if they brought the body by water - or, well, ice. She was found only a few steps from one of the lakes, a hundred yards or so away from the boathouse. Like I said, the prints are obscured, but the placement made me think that the murderer would either have to come from the part of the path closest to the body, or from the lake. The path would be the most logical choice, but … I don’t know. I have a hunch.”
“Then follow it. Your instincts are good, Peabody.”
She smiled. “I’m working on believing that.”
“Keep working. Because it’s true.”
His faith warmed her heart - and her cheeks, even more than they already were. And the way he was looking at her, with that small, fond smile and a twinkle in his eyes, was was enough to make her heart pound. It felt so loud, he could probably hear it.
Peabody heard the door open outside, and the telltale sound of a gurney being wheeled toward the morgue. She cleared her throat and looked away. “Sounds like the city is waking up.”
“Indeed.” Morris straightened the cuffs of his immaculate wine-colored suit. “We both serve the dead in our own ways.”
“And it’s time for me to go serve Abra Cannon, which means I need to go back to Central Park.” But she hesitated. Oh, what the hell, Delia, you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t go for it. “Hey, Morris, what are you doing tonight?”
“Tonight? Nothing, presuming the killers of New York don’t force me to work late.”
“Likewise. I mean, that is …” Peabody took a deep breath. “You want to get dinner? If we’re able to leave work at a reasonable hour, that is.”
A slow smile spread across his face. “I’d love to. Actually, there’s a great trio playing at one of the jazz clubs I frequent. Their chef makes a mean chicken cordon bleu.”
A jazz club with Morris? Peabody resisted the urge to pinch herself. “That sounds perfect. I’ll tag you when I’m leaving?”
“Please do.” Morris put a hand on her arm, squeezing lightly. “I’ll look forward to it.”
As she walked out of the morgue, Peabody started humming. Now, all she had to do was catch a murderer, and her day would be totally perfect. And hey - murder investigations were easy compared to dealing with her love life. Everything was downhill from here.