The superintendent, a frown winkling his jowls, unlocked the apartment and then moved aside as Michelle batted away the yellow crime scene tape. Before she had a chance to step inside, fingers bit into her shoulder. She jerked around and turned an icy stare on the small-statured man “What…?”
“Yeah….” Tony stepped forward and peered down his nose. “Keep your hands to yourself, Bernie.”
Deeper ruts furrowed the super’s already craggy brow. His flushed cheeks puffed out with a mock smile. “Sorry, but I need to know how much longer you cops plan to be poking around here? Every day this apartment goes without a tenant, I lose money.”
“Really?” Michelle’s mouth gaped. “That’s your biggest worry? A young woman in the prime of her life was murdered in your building, and all you can think about is money?” She
shook her head and pointed down the corridor. “Get out of my sight before I order the whole place locked down until we find out exactly what happened.”
The plump, ugly little man scurried away without another word.
“Can you really do that?” Tony’s brow arched.
“Do what?” She stepped inside, Tony following close behind.
“Shut down the entire building?”
She smiled over her shoulder. “Probably not, but he doesn’t know that.”
Tony laughed. “Well, you sure scared the crap out of him. Did you see how fast he moved?”
“Yeah.” She sighed. “I wish it was that easy to take care of all pests.” She paused for a moment and then cocked her head toward her partner. “Bernie?”
“Yeah, his name is Bernard Goldman.”
Michelle moved to the bed, noting the indention in the pillow upon which the victim had breathed her last breath. Haunting visions of the woman’s face while struggling with her attacker crept into Shell’s head. How the poor woman’s neck veins bulged as her very last gasp of air was denied her—the twisted agony shadowed the sky blue eyes that once sparkled. A shudder crept along Michelle’s spine. Why was the message delivered to her so incomplete? Why show her what was happening as the crime unfolded and never give details of how the information was supposed to help her save anyone if she couldn’t get there beforehand? All her visions did were taunt her and point out how helpless she really was.
“What are you staring at?” Tony nudged her, while pulling on his gloves.
“Just thinking. If the guys didn’t find any prints or clues to the murderer, we’re going to have to rely on asking lots of questions and delving into the victim’s background. Who had a grudge against her? Who hated her enough to kill her? Who did she trust enough to let inside?”
Michelle bent and examined the linens but still glove free, allowed only her gaze to wander the crumpled sheets and blanket. Visually, nary a stray hair or stain gave any promise of gathering the perp’s DNA. Of course, if there had been anything worth checking, the CSI guys would have found it.
She straightened, tamping back the longing to make the bed—wanting to hide the obvious and make the world right again—to deny what really happened. She may have failed to prevent Cara’s murder, but standing there, looking at the very spot where the dead woman heaved her last breath, Michelle vowed to find the person responsible and make them pay.
“Hey, Meesh.” Tony appeared from the bathroom, tugging off his blue plastic gloves. “I can’t find anything. There’s only the usual stuff in the medicine chest. Evidently, she took pride in her appearance. I found tons of hair care products, skin creams and make-up, but nothing out of the ordinary not even a prescription drug.”
Shell wandered the room not bothering the gaping bureau drawers the police already rifled through or daring venture into the closets they’d searched. The small desk beneath the window displayed a dusty outline of where a laptop had been, and the drawer handles and edges around the oaken surface still bore the powder left from fingerprinting. Atop a stack of papers lay a recently dated paycheck. Drawn on a corporate name she didn’t recognize, the only thing she made out from the scribbled signature was someone’s first name and last initial: “C”.