The Body in the Pool
Book One of the Dismember Killer Series
When Spence got to the lobby, Tess was leaning against the wall next to the elevator. “No stairs for me.” She popped the button and waved at the desk sergeant.
Spence nodded to him as well. “Is everything okay?”
“You didn’t get my text?”
“It’s been a little mad. What’s up?”
“I’ll tell you upstairs. You need to thank Tom pronto.” Tess saw the flash of pain on Spence’s face. “What happened to Tom?”
“Let’s go up.” Spence guided her through the elevator doors which had opened behind them. He waited until the doors closed and he hit the four button. “Tom got suspended this morning.”
“Because he texted me?” anguish rang in Tess’s voice.
Spence smiled and kissed his wife. “No, honey. He talked to a reporter.”
“Oh, that’s bad.”
As soon as they entered the office Melanie descended on Tess with a hug. “You look amazing.”
“Magda told me I looked as big as a house today.”
“You might. I know I looked like an apartment block by the time I was this far along.”
“What brings you by?” Melanie sat on the edge of the work table.
“Tom texted me yesterday and today I had lunch with an old friend. Magda. Sugden. As in Matt Sugden’s wife.”
“Oh shit.” Melanie’s mouth dropped open.
“After a couple of martinis Magda gushed about her husband’s latest work problem. It seems he has a client who thinks some money went missing. And the guy they think took it was murdered recently.” Tess grinned as she looked around the room. If astonished silence was her aim, she hit the mark. “Did you guys already know that?”
“Definitely not,” said Spence.
“So I helped?”
“You helped. You did babe.” Spence rubbed her back.
“Really? I think she totally wants to show me their house. I could do a little snooping while I was there. Maybe happen to wander into Matt’s office,” Tess said eagerly.
Melanie’s eye went wide and she spoke quickly before Spence stuck his foot in his mouth. “We would have trouble getting anything you found admitted into evidence if this comes to trial.”
“Oh. I suppose I hadn’t thought of that. Will what Magda told me today be an issue?”
“Magda knows your husband is a cop, right? Plus we had already warranted and received access to the Paulson financials. No harm, no foul. You helped us pinpoint what we are looking for though.”
Tess nodded, “What are we going to do next?”
“You, my love, are going home. Aren’t you about at your limit for time spent not resting?”
“There speaks my jailer.” Tess laughed. “I’m going.” She leaned in to kiss Spence on the cheek.
“I’ll walk you.”
When Spence returned Melanie and Barnes were eyeballs deep in their computer screens. Melanie spoke up the minute Spence entered the room. “Well it’s hard to track…there seem to be deposits into various accounts where the timing doesn’t line up with any billing cycles.”
“Corporate billing isn’t as straightforward as your monthly gas bill. How can you even track that out?”
“I’m still waiting on the report from the forensic accountant on Harold’s business account. These are transfers into to his personal accounts.”
“Okay, what are we talking about then?”
“Look at these three transfers in. They came from the corporation. They’re random amounts at random times and huge. I don’t think this is a standard payday on the 3rd, the 11th, and the 22nd. Most of the money went right back out again.”
“Can you show me the money?” Spence laughed self-consciously and then leaned in to take a better look at Melanie’s computer. “We need to to dig into those three transactions. Where did that money go?”
“This isn’t looking good as a Dismember case, is it?”
“No. We can only follow the evidence where it leads. Even if it leads away from where we thought it might go.”
Melanie nodded. “Sounds like we really need to get into Paulson. Barnes and I will drive back out to that community today. See who’s about and who might want to chit chat.”
“I’ll head out there after I talk to the lieu. Let her know we’re not sure this is Dismember. She may want to pull us.”
“Let us know.”
“I’ll catch up with you in Shadow Brook.”
After Melanie and Barnes departed, Spence headed to see the lieu. With a loud rap on her open door he waited to be invited in.
“Thomas.” The lieu nodded her approval.
“I wanted to talk to you about Harding.”
Raising an eyebrow, the lieutenant leaned back in her chair and waited.
“I know you’re thinking about assigning me a new partner.”
“It’s protocol and you know that.”
“I want you to wait. A partnership can’t be replaced with any old detective.”
“There are days when I wish I had gone with the rotation model.”
Spence laughed. “We both know fixed partners provides better results overall.”
“And bigger problems overall,” she snapped back.
Spence knew better than to respond. His boss was thinking things over and he needed to allow her the space to do that.
“The team is a man down and you caught another murder related to your serial killer. You need manpower.”
Spence quickly debated with himself. “We aren’t altogether sure this is a Dismember killing.”
“Based on what?”
“There are slight variances in the profile of this victim compared to the others. And there are irregularities in the information we have been turning up. This might be a copycat.”
Removing her glasses, the lieu rubbed her temples. “Damn Stephanie Lewis.”
“I don’t want to cloud the issue but the article did come out after the murder.” Spence waited for the lieutenant to consider this.
When she spoke, she ignored his input. “I’m assigning you another detective, not a new partner.” She held up her hand to forestall any arguement Spence might launch. “Consider this a helping hand. And I’ll wait until the outcome of the other investigation before I assign you a new partner.”
Spence couldn’t argue with that. It was a generous offer. The best he was going to get under the circumstances.
“As usual, we are undermanned and overworked. It might be a bit before I can reassign anyone.”
“Thanks.” Spence headed for the door while the going was still good.
“Spence, one more thing.” It was never a good sign when the lieu used your first name. “I know you want to protect Harding, keep it clean.”
With a brief nod he left her office and went to attend to the job he said he would do.