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“Jerome Myers, William Young, Andrea Jacobs, Tina Cobb. Their deaths can never be resolved, only the investigation into those deaths can be resolved. It’s the best we can do. Whatever they did, whoever they were, their lives were taken, and there’s never a resolution to murder. The officers in this room-Commander Whitney; Captain Feeney; Detectives Baxter, McNab, Peabody; Officer Trueheart-have done what can be done to resolve the case and find justice for the dead. That’s our job and our duty. The civilians here-the Gannons, the Whittiers, Roarke-have given time, cooperation and expertise. Because of that, it’s done, and we move on.”

She took the bulldozer from the box she’d unsealed. It had been scanned, of course. She’d already seen what was in it on screen. But this, she knew, was personal.

“Or in this case, we move back. Mr. Whittier, for the record. This object has been determined to be your property. You’ve given written permission for it to be dismantled. Is that correct?”


“And you’ve agreed to do this dismantling yourself at this time.”

“Yes. Before I… I’d like to say, to apologize for-”

“It isn’t necessary, Steven.” Laine spoke quietly, her hand still caught in Max’s. “Lieutenant Dallas is right. Some things can never be resolved, so we can only do our best.”

Saying nothing, he nodded and picked up the tools on the conference table. While he worked, Laine spoke again. Her voice was lighter now, as if she’d determined to lift the mood.

“Do you remember, Max, sitting at the kitchen table with that silly ceramic dog?”

“I do.” He brought their joined hands to his lips. “And that damn piggy bank. All it took was a couple whacks with a hammer. Lot more work involved here.” He patted Steve’s shoulder.

“You were a cop before,” Eve put in.

“Before the turn of the century, then I went private. Don’t imagine it’s all that different. You got slicker toys and tools, but the job’s always been the job. If I was born a few decades later, I’d’ve been an e-man.” He grinned at Feeney. “Love to see your setup here.”

“I’d be glad to give you a personal tour. You’re still working private, aren’t you?”

“When a case interests me.”

“They almost always do,” Laine put in. “Once a cop,” she said with a laugh.

“Tell me about it,” Roarke agreed.

Metal pieces clattered to the table and cut off conversation.

“There’s padding inside.” Steve cleared his throat. “It’s clear enough to get it out.” But he pushed away from the table. “I don’t want to do it. Mrs. Gannon?”

“No. We’ve done our part. All of us. It’s police business now, isn’t it? It’s for Lieutenant Dallas now. But I hope you’ll do it fast, so I can breathe again.”

To solve the matter, Eve lifted the detached body of the truck, reached in to tug out the padding. She laid it on the table, pulled it apart and picked up the pouch nested inside.

She opened the pouch and poured the stones into her hand.

“I didn’t really believe it.” Samantha let out a trapped breath. “Even after all this, I didn’t really believe it. And there they are.”

“After all this time.” Laine watched as Eve dripped the glittering diamonds onto the pouch. “My father would have laughed and laughed. Then tried to figure how he could palm a couple of them on his way out the door.”

Peabody edged in, and Eve gave her a moment to goggle before she elbowed her back. “They’ll need to be verified, authenticated and appraised, but-”

“Mind?” Without waiting, Roarke plucked one up, drew a loupe out of his pocket. “Mmm, spectacular. First water, full-cut, about seven carats. Probably worth twice what it was when it was tucked away. There’ll be all sorts of interesting and complicated maneuvers, I imagine, between the insurance company and the heirs of the original owners.”

“That’s not our problem. Put it back.”

“Of course, Lieutenant.” He laid it with the others.

It took Eve more than an hour to get through the feeding frenzy of the media. But it didn’t surprise her to find Roarke in her office when it was done. He was kicked back in her chair, his elegantly shod feet on her desk while he fiddled with his PPC.

“You have an office of your own,” she reminded him.

“I do, yes, and it has a great deal more ambiance than yours. Then again, a condemned subway car has more ambiance than yours. I watched your media bout,” he added. “Nice job, Lieutenant.”

“My ears are ringing. And the only feet that are supposed to be on my desk are mine.” But she left his there, sat on the corner.

“This is tough on the Whittiers,” he commented.

“Yeah. It’s a hard line they’ve drawn. I guess it’s not easy, whatever the circumstances, to turn your back on your son. Junior’s not going to sponge off Mom and Dad for his legal fees. He’s going down, all the way down, and they have to watch it.”

“They loved him, gave him a good home, and he wasted it. His choice.”

“Yeah.” The images of Andrea Jacobs and Tina Cobb held in her head a moment, then she put them away. “Just answer one question, no bullshit. You didn’t switch that diamond, did you?”

“You wired?” he said with a grin.

“Damn it, Roarke.”

“No, I didn’t switch the diamond. Could have-just for fun, of course, but you get so cross about that sort of thing. I think I’ll buy you a couple of them though.”

“I don’t need-”

“Yammer, yammer, yammer,” he said with a wave of his hand, and had her eyes going huge. “Come sit on my lap.”

“If you think that’s even a remote possibility, you need immediate professional help.”

“Ah well. I’m going to buy some of those diamonds,” he continued. “They need the blood washed from them, Eve. They may only be things, as Laine Gannon said, but they’re symbols, and they should be clean ones. You can’t resolve death, as you said. You do what you can. And when you wear the stones that cost all those lives, they’ll be clean again. They’ll be a kind of badge that says someone stood for the victims. Someone always will. And whenever you wear them, you’ll remember that.”

She stared at him. “God, you get me. You get right to the core of me.”

“When I see you wear them, I’ll remember it, too. And know that someone is you.” He laid a hand over hers. “Do you know what I want from you, darling Eve?”

“Sweet-talk all you want, I’m still not sitting in your lap in Central. Ever.”

He laughed. “Another fantasy shattered. What I want from you is the fifty years and more I saw between the Gannons today. The love and understanding, the memories of a lifetime. I want that from you.”

“We’ve got one year in. Second one’s going pretty well so far.”

“No complaints.”

“I’m going to clock out. Why don’t we both ditch work for the rest of the day-”

“It’s already half-six, Lieutenant. Your shift’s over anyway.”

She frowned at her wrist unit and saw he was right. “It’s the thought that counts. Let’s go home, put a little more time into year two.”

He took her hand as they walked out together. “What’s done with the diamonds until they’re turned over to whoever might be the legal owner?”

“Sealed, logged, scanned and locked in an evidence box that is locked in one of the evidence vaults in the bowels of this place.” She slanted him a look. “Good thing you don’t steal anymore.”

“Isn’t it?” He slung a friendly arm around her shoulders as they took the glide. “Isn’t it just?”

And deep, deep under the streets of the city, in the cool, quiet dark, the diamonds waited to shine again.

J. D. Robb