Apprentice in Death (In Death #43)(11)

He reached over, covered her hand with his. “I would.”

“Yeah, but you’re rich, and soft on me. I’m hoping Lowenbaum can help narrow down the area, but even then . . .”

She shook her head, ate. The stew tasted every bit as good as it smelled. “The girl? Nineteen, lived at home. Solid middle class. No current boyfriend. Ex is in college in Florida. No animosity between them. In fact, they tried the long-distance thing for almost a year before they drifted apart. Still friendly. She dates a little, but nothing serious. Skates for the joy of it, hoping to join a troupe—started when she was about eight, and fell in love. She’s a regular at the rink, so I have to consider her as a specific target.”

“She stood out,” Roarke said. “Her grace, the look of her.”

“Yeah, she did. Can’t say the same about the first male: Brent Michaelson. Ordinary-looking guy, nothing flashy. But he’s another regular. Not as often as the girl, but regular, routine. Divorced, but years ago. Civil relationship with the ex-wife. Tight with the daughter, enough that they’d all get together for dinner at the ex-wife’s for birthdays and holidays—no drama. He liked to take his grandkids skating now and then. He’s skated for years, nothing fancy. Said it helped him keep in shape, helped reduce stress.”

“And the last?” Roarke said. “The one who was killed while holding his wife’s hand.”

“Yeah. You pay attention. Today’s their anniversary. Five years. They were re-creating their first date. Some people knew they were going to the rink, but from what I can gather not many—it was more a personal thing. And what time they’d be there wasn’t laid out.”

“You see him as random. They all may be, but you’re more certain he was. If one of the others was specific, then potentially two of them were no more than cover, so all would appear random.”

“I think all or two out of three. I have to hope for two out of three, because then it’s done. Or probably done. Like Lowenbaum said, the shooter’s feeling pretty fine. More, if one is target specific, I’ll damn well find out who and why. But if all three were pulled out of a damn hat . . .”

“If it was all random, why the rink?”

He thought like a cop, but since he was being so helpful, she wouldn’t insult him by mentioning it. “Public, big impact. Media frenzy. That would be a high motive for an LDSK. Maybe he has a problem with the rink itself. Maybe his wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever, dumped him there. Maybe he used to skate but sustained an injury so he’s pissed at skaters.”

She brooded over it—so many maybes. “She’s pregnant. The wife of the third vic. She just found out, hadn’t even told him yet. Was going to tell him over the first-date lunch re-creation.”

Roarke let out a sigh. “The ripples go on and on, don’t they? It’s never just the victim, just the dead, you stand over. It’s also those they leave behind.”

“Her father’s Irish—a little more of an accent than you, but just a little. I think he and the ex have the civil, but I doubt they have holiday meals together, you know? But they were a unit around the daughter. And he—the father—stayed back with me for a minute, talked about his son-in-law. You could see he loved him.

“It matters,” she said, reaching for her water, “because I think he’s going to be the least of it. If one of the others was target specific, he’ll be the least. An afterthought.”

“Not for you, Eve.”

“She was first. The girl in red. Couldn’t miss her, like Lowenbaum said. Wouldn’t you take out the target first, make sure you did the job? Part of me leans there. But then, I think, how cocky are you, you bastard? And it seems to me somebody who can do this, who does this, that’s plenty cocky.”

“So you bookend the target—one before, one after.”

“Just another maybe.”

“How can I help?”

She looked over at him. “You were working when I got home.”

“No, actually, I’d just finished what I was doing when those designs came through. I was looking at them a second time when you came home. I’ve nothing I need to do.”

He took her hand again. “I’m sorry for the wife, the parents, and all the other ripples. But it’s the girl, that girl in red, who’ll haunt me for a while. She had such joy on her face, such freedom in her movements. He ended that. I’d like to help you find who ended that.”

Home, she thought again. Him. Where she could lean and not lose who and what she was.

“Collectors. Of the tactical, since Lowenbaum figures most likely there, but of anything that could make those strikes from outside the park.”

“That’s easy enough. Give me something a bit more challenging.”

“Okay. Buildings, east of the park, let’s say between Fifty-Seventh and Sixty-First. All the way back to the river. We’ll eliminate any with solid screening. It’s going to be a long enough list. And Lowenbaum said above, so buildings over four floors. We can jog that up or down if they can pinpoint angles more closely.”

She ate more stew, cocked her head. “How many of them do you figure you own?”

He picked up his wine, smiled. “Won’t it be interesting to find out?”

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