Last Breath

Free Last Breath by Rachel Lee

Book: Last Breath by Rachel Lee Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rachel Lee
Tags: FIC022000
short. She liked the way chilly air invigorated her.
    Side by side they walked to Matt's nondescript sedan, a beige, slightly older model that wouldn't be noticed anywhere it went.
    He leaned back against the car and folded his arms.
    “Well,” she said finally, giving him what he wanted, her impatience.
    “The kid probably was killed Thursday night.”
    A shiver of surprise went through her. She'd been assuming, as had they all, probably, that he'd died on Friday night.
    “Yeah,” he said, as if he shared her shock. “I wasn't expecting that.” He rubbed his chin and stared off into space. “Bullet to the base of the brain. Death was instantaneous. Decay leads the coroner to think the vie was dead at least twenty-four hours.”
    “But he's not sure?”
    “Not yet, but he's pretty good at these things. So someone had to have come back and crucified the guy on Saturday morning.”
    Chloe looked at him. “Why?”
    “Because he couldn't have been there that long before he was found. I mean …”
    Chloe interrupted him with a shake of her head. “Here's a little quid for your quo. That cross was shrouded Friday morning. It's routine. Steve could have been hung there anytime after three-thirty or so in the afternoon, and before the seven-thirty service began, as well as later at night. Although given the number of people who drift in and out of the church on Good Friday, I’d bet he couldn't have been put up there before nine-thirty on Friday night. After the Stations of The Cross. But that's still a thirteen-hour window.” But what if Steve
had
been hanging there during the Good Friday services? She wanted to shudder at the thought. “And nobody that I can find has seen Steve since Thursday night.”
    “You've been calling around?”
    “Of course.” She stuffed her hands into the pockets of her suit jacket. “What do you think I’ve been doing? The last anybody at church knows, he offered to stay late to clean up the parish hall. End of trail.”
    “And he doesn't have a roommate or anything.”
    “In retrospect, it's odd nobody missed him at Good Friday services.” Then she shrugged. “But it's a busy time, and people don't always show up for these things, even wanna-be priests. He might have had to work, he might have been a little sick. Nobody would really remark on it.”
    “Except maybe a certain priest everybody said the kid was so close to.”
    Chloe kept her face expressionless. “Do you have any idea how busy a priest is at this time of year? There could have been a lot of reasons Steve didn't show up on Friday evening. He might have gone to another church. It's not a required service anyway. Given all the pressures Brendan's under during this season, and given all the reasons Steve might not be there, it probably didn't even cross his mind to wonder.”
    “Thus speaks the defense attorney.” He cocked a brow at her. “So tell me, Chloe. Why'd you go from being a cop to a criminal defense attorney?”
    She looked him dead in the eye. “Because I worked with cops and prosecutors.”
    He astonished her then with a hearty laugh, one of those belly laughs of good humor that she still remembered from the old days. “Touché,” he said, letting the insult pass.
    But then, why wouldn't he? She knew all too well the time he had stood up against corruption. She supposed she ought to give thanks that Matt Diel was heading this investigation.
    “Okay,” he said presently, “what've we got? We got a kid who was shot, then crucified, probably sometime early on Friday morning. He may or may not have been on the cross most of the time in between then and Saturday morning. Nobody had seen him since late Thursday.”
    “What else did the M.E. note?” Past experience had taught her that more had been discovered in today's autopsy. She wondered why Matt was making her drag it out of him.
    Matt shrugged. “Well, he wasn't killed in the church. There was grass and dirt in his mouth, under his nails, and

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