Died to Match

Died to Match by DEBORAH DONNELLY Read Free Book Online

Book: Died to Match by DEBORAH DONNELLY Read Free Book Online
there drugs in her system?”
    As before, he ignored me. “You said the two of you talked a bit. What about, exactly?”
    I was dreading this question. I’d deliberately glossed over the conversation in my step-by-step account. Mercedes had confided in me—I thought of her now as one of my brides— and it seemed cruel to expose her private life. But facts are facts. And murder is murder.
    “She told me she was engaged to be married. To Roger Talbot.”
    Graham was startled, though he hid it well, merely elevating one eyebrow a millimeter or two. His voice stayed level. “That’s… quite a piece of news.”
    “She said it was a secret, no one knew about it yet.”
    “Did you believe her?”
    “Well, I didn’t think she bought that ring herself.”
    “Which ring? She was wearing several.”
    “That was all costume jewelry. She had a diamond ring on a long chain around her neck. She waved it at me and then hid it down her blouse….”
    Lightning struck both of us at once. Graham leaned forward. “There was no diamond ring on the corpse.”
    “Oh, my God.” I pictured again the bloody rent in Mercedes’ skull, the vulnerable nape of her neck. “No. No, it was gone. I should have realized that last night—”
    “Never mind. Can you describe it?”
    I closed my eyes and took a breath to steady myself. “A marquise diamond, between two and three-quarter and three carats. Six-prong setting. Pear-cut side stones. Platinum band engraved with leaves. I’m not sure of the size on the side stones, maybe half a carat apiece.”
    “Ginny call that in. And find out if Talbot’s in his office today.” She went to the window and spoke quietly into her cell phone. Graham was looking at me curiously. “She waved it at you and you saw all that?”
    I shrugged. “It’s my business.”
    “Really. And you didn’t see any sign of it when you found her? No ring, no gold chain?”
    “No. But maybe if you search the exhibit—”
    “Ms. Kincaid, we are sifting the goddamn sand, grain by grain. Excuse my French.” He sighed heavily. “So she asked you to plan her wedding. Was she happy about this secret engagement? Any anger at Talbot for keeping it secret?”
    “She seemed fine with it, as far as I could tell. She was kind of… excitable.”
    “Excitable. What was she excited about?” Graham’s tired brown eyes were expressionless, but I could sense the active intelligence behind them as he weighed my words.
    “Well, about Talbot’s running for mayor, and about their wedding. She was very insistent that I agree to work for her. She even gave me some cash as a deposit.”
    This brought both eyebrows up. “Cash? How much cash?”
    “I don’t really know. I didn’t want to take it out and count it during the party, and then after I found her I forgot all about it. It’s still in the pocket of my costume.”
    Another sigh. First the ring, now this. I was definitely flunking Witness 101. “Ms. Kincaid, we’ll need to take the money in as evidence. You’ll be given a receipt. All right?”
    “Of course.” But still, she meant to hire me. She meant to be my bride.
    “Let’s go back to Mr. Barry. Tell me again what he said.”
    I shifted in my chair. Wicker’s not that comfortable. “Tommy said ‘Stop it.’ I think he said that twice. And then he said ‘You’re killing her!’”
    “So he believed that you had killed Ms. Montoya?”
    “Is that what he told you? Lieutenant, Tommy couldn’t even focus his eyes at that point, he was dead drunk! I think he must have been repeating something he’d said earlier, during the murder.”
    “And yet if he had spoken out earlier, the killer would hardly have left him alive as a witness.”
    “Well maybe he didn’t say it out loud, except later, to me, only he didn’t know it was me, he was just raving! Look, I know you’re supposed to be cagey about testimony, but please tell me, who did Tommy see? Did he recognize the murderer?”
    Graham stood up.

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