All Rights Reserved, 2014
Z. M. Dawson
“Shewwww!! What do you suppose one family does with this much house?” Emma said in amazement when Bea pulled her sedan to a stop behind the Mercedes SLK350 Roadster. “Look at that car, how much do you think they spent on that beauty?” Emma undid her seatbelt and started to get out of the car. Bea’s hand stopped her. “What?”
“I don’t think it will make the impression we are after if you get out of the car and ogle their car.” Bea checked her reflection in the mirror, making sure her hair was in place; satisfied she turned back to Emma. “I priced a sedan and with all the trimmings, it was around $83,000. This model with all the trimmings is around $73,000.” Bea undid her seatbelt and began to open her door.
“You would spend that much money on a car? Even as part of the persona you’ve adopted for this life that is just ridiculous. A car gets you from point A to point B. One like that is a work of art, but the headaches that come with that much car, are just not worth it, no matter how much money you have to burn.” Emma opened her door and got out.
“Fine art is always worth the hassles that come with owning it.” Bea smiled as she joined Emma on the cobblestone driveway. “Remember, I do the talking. We don’t need any hassles from the deputy mayor.”
“Yes, Mom.” Emma said as she innocently put her hands in her pockets.
Bea laughed. Emma was a handful, but she couldn’t imagine a more perfect partner.
They both rolled their eyes when the doorbell played the open strains of the “Moonlight Sonata”. A uniformed maid with gently graying chestnut hair pulled back into a severe bun opened the door.
“Yes?” She said in a lightly accented contralto voice. She looked Emma over from head to toe, and then wrinkled her nose like she smelled something unpleasant. “What do you need? The family is currently in mourning and not receiving visitors.”
Bea and Emma both showed her their shields. “I am Detective Sargent Bea Huntley and this is my partner, Detective Sargent Emma Mercer.” Bea glanced at Emma. “The Peters are expecting us, concerning the death of their daughter.”
The maid obviously approved of Bea, she smiled what was probably her most professional smile and opened the door to allow them entry. “The Peters are indisposed at the moment but if you will follow me, I will show you were you can wait for them.”
Emma started to say something about being kept waiting and Bea bumped her shoulder. “Thank you.” She said hiding her amusement at the situation.
The maid showed them to a large sitting room all done in pale, southwestern hues. When they started across the deep, light turquoise sea of carpet, the maid turned and disappeared down the hall. Emma went to look out the window at the spectacular view of the mountains and Bea stood in front of Kandinsky’s “Zunehmen”. “I have always loved this painting, I have no idea why.” Bea turned to find Emma gazing at the mountains. “They are beautiful, but look so foreign, almost alien, that they are unsettling at the same time.”
“That is why I love them. Their beauty is unpredictable. And they do no emit grandeur and peace, like most of the mountains across this country, they seem to promise that they are beauty with fangs.” Emma smiled at Bea. “That is how I prefer my beauty.”
“And that is why I worry about you.” Bea smiled back.
They moved over and sat in the chairs across a wide, gleaming piñon wood coffee table from a cream-colored overstuffed sofa; when they heard footsteps coming down the hall.
Emma’s heart softened when Ian Peters entered the room. His red hair, which was the same color as his daughter’s was disheveled from where he had been running his fingers through it, and his brown eyes were red and swollen from crying. Leaning heavily against him was Karen, his wife; her big blue eyes had the glassy look of someone who was sedated but fighting off sleep. They made their way slowly to the sofa and Ian lowered Karen to it. He remained standing so he could greet them.
Emma and Bea both stood and walked to the grieving man. “I am so sorry for your loss, Mr. and Mrs. Peters. I am Detective Sargent Bea Huntley and this is my partner, Detective Sargent Mercer. We are with the Albuquerque Police Department.” He extended his hand and briefly shook both of theirs, he gestured them back to the chairs. They sat down and Emma nodded at Bea to go ahead.
“I cannot begin to imagine the pain you are in right now.” Mrs. Peters started to cry silently. “I only know that the sooner we speak about what happened to Suzanne, the higher the chances are that we will find the person who took her from you.”
Ian Peters cleared his throat and swallowed twice before he could speak. “I don’t know anyone who want to hurt Suze like this. She was always a joy, full of life, laughing, kind.” He clasped his wife’s hand. “She was like a bright, sparkling light. She left people happy wherever she went.”
Emma leaned forward in her chair and carefully watched both parents’ faces. “Mr. and Mrs. Peters, do you know of anyone who would want to hurt either of you?” she asked softly.
Mrs. Peters looked up for the first time, her eyes going wide with shock. “You think someone hated one of us enough to kill our Suze?” She gripped her husband’s hand so tightly that his knuckles turned white. “I am a pediatrician in a private general practice. I chose general practice because you usually treat colds, give shots, get them through measles. No one usually dies in general practice. I chose it because it was safe. I have never even had any complaints, let alone someone hate me enough to steal my baby from me, to end her life.”
“I am sorry, Mrs. Peters. I have to ask. It is possible that if your daughter had no enemies, then… well… we find the next logical possibility is revenge on one of you.” Emma knew in this case, they would find nothing but they had to ask the questions, go through the motions.
Karen Peters dissolved into wrenching sobs. Her husband put his arm around her shoulders and pushed a button on a small device on the end table beside him. Within seconds the maid appeared.
“Greta would you please take my wife up to her room?” He kissed Karen’s forehead.
“Of course, Mr. Peters.” She helped the sobbing woman to her feet, taking most of her weight, and took her from the room, her sobbing got further and further away and then stopped with the soft echo of a door closing, somewhere in the huge house.
Emma apologized. This once she hadn’t meant to push to hard. She looked at the father, who was wringing his hands together.
“I am sorry, detectives. Karen had an argument with Suze the last time they spoke, which was earlier in the day, yesterday. This would be hard to handle under any circumstances, but my wife is having a hard time dealing with the last words she spoke to her only child being words of anger.” He cleared his throat. “I doubt there would be anyone from Karen’s work who would be interested in harming her or her family in any way. However, the pharmaceutical industry is very competitive and becoming the CEO of Titan was not always a smooth road. I, unfortunately, have made quite a few enemies. However, I can think of none that would not come after me directly. We have no major lawsuits against us, we have not had any recalls, we have made no large settlements; so I can not see anyone who has used our products or a loved one of anyone who has used our products wanting to strike out at me.” He looked out the window, then turned his eyes back to Emma. “The commissioner told me a few of the details of what was done to my child. I know this is not a revenge killing or even personal to Suze. I have one question Detective, has this animal done this before or was my daughter the first time? Did some other police force fail to stop him before he came here and destroyed our lives?” His red eyes were full of a father’s rage.
“Mr. Peters, we came straight here from the scene. As of this morning, we have found no other like crimes. I do not know for certain that your daughter was this killer’s first crime, but I will investigate it to the best of my ability. And my partner and I will do everything we can to make sure that he is stopped.”
“That is all I can ask of you. I am not naïve enough to believe my daughter will be the last, but please, try to make sure that it ends here, in Albuquerque, that he is stopped.”
Bea cleared her throat to stop Emma from making a promise she might not be able to keep. “We will do everything we can to insure that he is stopped, Mr. Peters. If we have any news we will contact you.” She stood and Emma stood with her. “Thank you for speaking with us.” He started to stand. “Mr. Peters, please. We can show ourselves out.”
“Thank you for coming.”
“Please try to get some rest, Mr. Peters.” Bea said, but he was already staring out the window.
Emma and Bea didn’t say anything until they were back inside Bea’s car and heading back to the main street.
“I am sorry I cut you off, Em. But you were about to promise him we would catch the person responsible for this. We cannot promise that. We have to worry about Bradbury finding us and sometimes serial killers are not found for years, sometimes they just stop killing.”
“I was expecting them to be bothered by the inconvenience of losing a child on a work day. It knocked me off my stride when they turned out to be human… grieving.” Emma shook her shaggy head to clear it, she didn’t normally let people inside like that.
“You were linked with him, weren’t you?”
“I just wanted to make sure that he didn’t lie about people wanting to hurt him by killing his child. I didn’t want us chasing our tails, when we should be looking around him.”
“Emma. You know how much you suffer when you link with the survivors. Why?”
“With Bradbury already looking, I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t something simple like revenge. This is looking like a serial and that means using our gifts to stop the killer. Which means we might pop onto the radar for Bradbury.” Emma sighed. “It would be so much simpler if we could just kill them all and be done.”
“You know the snake would just grow a new head and come hunting us. We would have to spend a lifetime on the run, at war, or in cages. Killing them is just not an option. We have to outlast them.”
“I know. I don’t have to like it, but I know.” Emma glared out the window. “It goes against my nature to hide from my enemies.”
“I know, my brave warrior. This time it is all we can do.” Bea squeezed Emma’s hand.