Ceremony in Death
say, happened all too often. And so, Eve thought, did murder. All too often.
    “You’ve had a long night, Peabody. You’re off duty.”
    “I would prefer to stay on, Lieutenant, and see this through.”
    “You won’t help her or me unless you can see it through objectively.”
    “I can do my job, sir. My feelings are my own business.”
    Eve hitched up her field kit, took a long look at her aide. “Yes, they are. Just don’t let them get in my way.” She took her recorder out of her kit, held it out to Peabody. “On record, Officer. We’ll examine the subject’s residence.”
    “Do you intend to notify the next of kin? Sir?”
    “When we’re done here.”
    They headed east, back to Alice’s building. She hadn’t gotten far, Eve thought, barely a block. What had driven her back out? And what had driven her into the path of the cab?
    The building was a pretty, restored brownstone of three stories. The entrance doors sported beveled glass with an etched design of peacocks. The security camera was in full repair, and the locks coded for palm prints. Eve disarmed them with a master code and entered a small, well-scrubbed foyer with faux marble floors. The elevator had a mirrored bronze sheen and ran with silent efficiency.
    Alice, she thought, had had taste and the financial resources to indulge it. There were three apartments on the third floor, and again Eve used her master to gain entrance.
    “Dallas, Lieutenant Eve, and aide, Peabody, Officer D., entering residence of deceased for standard examination. Lights,” she ordered, then frowned when the room remained dark.
    Peabody reached around the door, flicked a switch. “She must have preferred manual to voice-activated.”
    The room was cluttered and colorful. Pretty scarves and throws were draped over chairs, tables. Tapestries depicting attractive naked people and mythological animals romped over the walls. Candles were everywhere, on tables, on shelves, on the floor, as were bowls of colored stones, of herbs, of dried flower petals. Chunks and wands of crystal, sparkling clean, crowded every flat surface.
    A mood screen was engaged and showed a wide field of meadow grass and wildflowers blowing gently in the breeze. Its audio played the song of birds and zephyrs.
    “She liked pretty things,” Eve observed. “And lots of them.” Moving over, she glanced at the controls of the mood screen and nodded as they corroborated her thought. “She flipped this on as soon as she walked in. Wanted to mellow out, I’d say.”
    Leaving Peabody to follow, she walked into the adjoining room. The bedroom was small, cozy, and again cluttered. The spread on the narrow bed was embroidered with stars and moons. A glass mobile, dancing with fairies, hung above it and even now clinked musically in the breeze through the open window.
    “This would have been the window, the light you saw come on.”
    “Yes, sir.”
    “So she flipped on the screen, then came straight into the bedroom. Probably wanted to change, get out of the damp dress. But she didn’t.” Eve stepped on to a small area rug with the face of a smiling sun. “It’s cluttered, but tidy in its way. No sign of disturbance or struggle.”
    “Struggle?”
    “You said she was agitated, crying when she came back out. The country meadow program didn’t mellow her, or didn’t have enough time to.”
    “She didn’t bother to shut it down again.”
    “No,” Eve agreed. “She didn’t. There’s the possibility someone was here when she got home. Someone who upset or frightened her. We’ll check the security logs.” She opened what she assumed was a closet, and let out a hum. “Well, look at this. She’d turned it into a room of some kind. Not a lot of clutter here. Get this on record.”
    Peabody stepped up, scanned the recorder over a small, white-walled room. The floor was wood with a white pentagram painted on it. A ring of white candles were arranged in careful symmetry around the edge. A small

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