Today's Reading

"Dallas, you touched him—"

"I was sealed," Eve reminded her. "His spouse, the MTs touched him, too. Whatever killed him, it's done its work. It's finished."

She stood a moment, a tall, lanky woman with a choppy cap of brown hair, brown cop's eyes, wearing a bronze leather jacket, good brown boots.

Basic precautions, she told herself.

"I'm going to scrub up, just to cover protocol. When I have, we'll talk to the spouse. We're going to want whatever he was wearing when he touched the vic bagged for the hazmat team."

She grabbed her field kit, started off to find a powder room or bathroom. "Contact the shipping company first. We need to talk to the delivery person."

Going to be late, she thought as she used the scrub in her kit in a stylish powder room with maroon walls.

According to the Marriage Rules—self-written and enforced—she needed to let her own spouse know. Roarke understood the job's screwy hours, but you had to follow the rules.

Peabody stepped up to the door. "Carmichael and Shelby are on their way to GP&P, and I have the name of the delivery person for this route. Lydia Merchant. She clocked out at her usual time, but I have contact info on her."

"Let's run her in the meantime. Seems long odds she'd make the delivery if she decided to poison a customer, but people can be stupid." Eve waited for the special team, tolerated the scan to make certain she hadn't contracted some toxicity from the body—wanted to balk when the lead tech insisted on drawing some blood to test on the spot.

But figured not only better safe than sorry, but quicker to deal with it and move on.

Cleared, she and Peabody headed upstairs to talk to the spouse. "Lydia Merchant, age twenty-seven," Peabody began on the walk

upstairs. "Employed by GP&P for six years. Clean employment record, clear on criminal."

"We talk to her anyway."

Rufty's clothes had already been bagged and sealed. In gray sweatpants and a navy sweatshirt with TAG in gold across the chest, he sat, shocked and grieving, on a curvy love seat in a sitting area of a bedroom done in rusty reds and old gold.

He had a neat brown goatee streaked with blond to match a shaggy mop of hair. A tall, gangly man, he had a long, thin face, dark, currently watery brown eyes.

He wore, as the victim did, a white gold band on the third finger of his left hand. And his hands stayed clutched together as if they alone kept him from shattering into pieces.

Eve signaled to the uniform who sat with him.

"Start the canvass with your partner. Anyone who saw anything, I hear about it. If you touched the body or anything in or around the crime scene, the hazmat unit needs to clear you."

"Yes, sir." He glanced back at Rufty. "He wants to call their kids, but I've held him off. He for sure touched the body, sir."

"We'll get to that. Take the bagged clothes down with you, give them to hazmat. Have one of them come up to scan and clear him."

She moved to Rufty, sat on the deep red chair facing him. "Dr. Rufty, I'm Lieutenant Dallas. This is Detective Peabody. We're very sorry for your loss."

"I—I need to talk to the kids. Our children. I need—"

"We'll let you do that very soon. I know this is a difficult time for you, but we need to ask you some questions."

"I—I came home. I called out: 'Jesus, Kent, what a day. Let's have a really big drink.'?" He covered his long, thin face with his long, thin hands. "And I walked back to the kitchen, and—Kent. Kent. He was on the floor. He was... I tried to... I couldn't. He was..."

Peabody leaned over, took his hand in hers. "We're very sorry, Dr. Rufty. There was nothing you could do."

"But..." He turned to her, and the look, Eve thought, said: Help me. Explain. Make it stop.

"I don't understand. He's so healthy. He's always nagging me to exercise more, eat better. He's so fit and strong. I don't understand. He was going for a run this morning. He always goes for a run on his day off, and on his lunch hour if he can squeeze it in during office hours. He was going to finish the crossword and go for a run."

"Dr. Rufty." Eve waited until those shattered brown eyes focused on her. "Were you expecting a package today? A delivery?"

"I—I don't know. I can't think of anything."

"Have you ever ordered from an outlet called All That Glitters?"

"I don't think so."

"You get deliveries from Global Post and Packages?"
...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...