Forgotten in Death (In Death #53) by J. D. Robb

“Got an old watch, gold watch.” Girlie, Eve thought. Expensive. “One shoe. Ladies shoe, probably leather because it hasn’t fully decomposed. No sign of a ’link or ID. Recovery team should do a thorough search. Maybe a mugging, maybe, but wouldn’t you want the jewelry? Is she going to refuse when she’s pregnant or has a baby with her? I don’t think so. Shoot her after you have the valuables, okay, but before? No point.”

Eve shifted, and focused on the second remains.

So small, she thought as pity rose up. Hell, her cat was bigger.

“Probability on second remains is fetus given the positioning with female. That’s not a damn coincidence. Indeterminate gender. I’m not sure I could tell even if it wasn’t curled up. The top of the skull…” She remembered Mavis talking about Bella’s soft spot. How the skull didn’t knit hard for weeks after birth.

“Soft spot,” she murmured. “No visible injuries.”

Because it died in there, died inside its mother before it took its first breath.

Some sort of exterior wall, she noted. Concrete blocks. And brick, a brick wall on the other side of the hollow. About three feet in from the exterior wall.

Walled you in, didn’t they? Fuckers.

“Dallas? You good?”

“Yeah.” She held up a hand to verify to Peabody, and slowly, carefully eased off the beam to balance on some rubble.

Something shifted; she held her breath.

When the world didn’t fall in around her, she played her light closer to the remains.

“I’ve got slugs here. Bullets. I see two bullets. I can’t safely retrieve them without disturbing the remains or, you know, burying us in here.”

“You should come up,” Peabody called out, and the nerves in her voice sounded clearly. “You’ve got enough on record.”

“Probable COD on unidentified female, two gunshot wounds to the chest. Probable COD on second remains … it comes to the same, doesn’t it? Dr. DeWinter and ME to confirm.”

She secured the evidence bags, put on the gloves.

“Bring me up.”

When she came up again, she unhooked her field kit, passed it to Peabody. “We need sweepers who can get down there once the remains are removed. Call it in, set it up.”

She pulled off the gloves as Mackie unclipped her.

“I gotta shut you down, Mackie.”

“The whole project? Building One—the one we got going up? It’s a half block away from this projected green space.”

“The projected green space is a crime scene.” But she considered. “Is there any way to secure this area off, to access that building from another location?”

“Yeah, yeah, we already access it from two other locations. And I can have a security fence up in three hours, tops, to cordon off this whole area. This elevated space here, it’s going to be all park, see? Open to the public and all, and over there, we’ll have some private green space for the towers. Mixed residential and commercial. More commercial down on street level.”

“Why are you jacking up just this one area?”

“We tested all the platforms, and this one here, this section came up hollowed out in spots. Well, you saw that yourself up close. We’ve updated and reenforced wherever we need to for the new designs. A lot of what got started in the way back ended up bombed out or torn up during the Urbans. And when construction started up again, a lot of it was rushed or subpar.”

Eve tugged at her own memory. “There used to be shops and restaurants up here. Over The West Side, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, but it was crap construction, and they never got the people glides to work right. Plus, they never finished it, so it ended up overgrown, falling down until the boss bought it a couple years ago.”

“A couple years ago.”

“He’s got ideas. Well, you’d know, right? Took some time to get the design the way he wanted—it’s a big project.”

“I can see that. Bigger than the one Singer’s developing.”

“Oh yeah, more than double that. So it takes awhile to get the design, get it all engineered and approved and permitted, and…”

She saw his eyes widen. “Is that one of yours? She looks too fancy to be a cop.”

Eve turned and thought he had a point. Garnet DeWinter looked too fancy to be a cop. Then again, she wasn’t one.

“Forensic anthropologist. Bone doctor,” Eve added as Mackie continued to watch DeWinter approach.