Home > In Death #33.5 - Chaos in Death(7)

In Death #33.5 - Chaos in Death(7)
Author: J.D. Robb


“You were the therapist for all three victims,” Eve began.

“Yes. They would have made it. I believe that. On a professional and personal level, I believe Coby and Wil would have made it. I know Jen would have. She’d come so far in such a short time. She’d found the quiet.”

“Dr. Rosenthall used that term. The quiet.”

“Yes, I guess I picked it up from him.” Arianna laid a hand on her heart. “Addiction is never quiet. It’s violent or sly or seductive. Often all three. But Jen found her quiet and her strength, and was helping Coby and Wil find theirs.”

“Other addicts, not making such progress, might resent them for theirs.”

“That’s true. They would have told me if anyone was pressuring them, threatening them. Jen was addicted to heroin, preferred it in the mix they call Chill on the street. She often bartered her body for hits. Her mother was the same, her father was her mother’s dealer—she thinks.”

“She did some time in the system,” Eve put in. “Juvie, group homes, foster homes.”

“Yes. She had a troubled, difficult childhood. Jen ran off when she was sixteen, and continued that troubled, difficult life up until nearly four months ago when she woke up after a binge. She’d lost three days, and came back to herself covered in cuts, bruises, filth, her own vomit in some basement flop with no recollection of how she’d gotten there. She got out, began to walk. She thought of the next score, thought of just ending her life, and she came to Get Straight. Instead of walking on, trying for the next score, or ending her life, she went in.”

“This wasn’t her first try at rehab.”

“No.” Arianna turned her head to meet Eve’s eyes. “She’d had three court-assigned rehabilitations, and none of them took. This time, she chose. She walked in on her own. She was ready to be helped, and they helped her. Justin and I were there that day. She often said that was the beginning for her. When we met.”

Arianna looked away again as her voice roughened.

“Withdrawal is hard and painful, but she never gave up. She brought Coby in. We encourage recoverings to sever ties with people who are part of their addiction, but she wouldn’t listen. She saved Coby, simply because she wouldn’t give up on him either, and then Wil. They loved her, and their love for her and each other proved stronger than the addiction. That’s a kind of miracle. And now…”

“Did they tell you about anyone who concerned them, who gave them any grief, put any pressure on them to use again?”

“No. None of them had any family, no one they were close to or had contact with, not for a long time. They formed friendships, associations at the Center, and at Get Straight. They were still in the honeymoon stage, so happy to be where they were, so happy to have each other.”

“Were they intimate?”

“No, not sexually. Jen and Coby had been, if you can call it intimacy, when they were both using. What they’d formed now was a family, so they lived that way. For Jen, sex had been that bartering tool, or something to do with another addict. She’d become desensitized about sex. I think she was beginning to feel normal and natural urges. She was attracted to Pach—Pachai Gupta—and he to her. But neither of them moved on it.”

“How can you be sure?”

“She would have told me. Honesty had become a vital tool for her in recovery, and she trusted me. They’d made a vow—Jen, Coby, and Will—to abstain for six months, to focus on themselves as individuals. Coby joked about it. He was funny, sharp. He’d used that charm and wit to survive on the streets. Now he used it to keep himself and his friends steady. Wil went the more spiritual route. He’d lived with his great-grandmother until she died, and she’d taken him to church. He’d started to go back. Jen and Coby went with him a few times, but more for friendship than interest.”

“What church?”

“Ah… Chelsea Baptist.”

“Where else did they go routinely, do routinely?”

“They liked to hang out at the Twelfth Street Diner, drink coffee, and talk. They all put in time at Get Straight, attending meetings, taking on chores—cleaning, organizing donations—that’s part of the program. They attended group there, too, as well as here. They’d see a vid now and then, but primarily they worked—saved their money toward finding a place to live—concentrated on the program, studied. Or Jen did. She was taking a business class.”

“You gave them permission to live in the building?”

“Yes. Justin asked me, and we thought it would give them a breather, allow them to live on their own, save, stay close to the Center. The stipulation was they had to keep the place, and themselves, clean. They did.”

“You visited them there?”

“Either Justin or I would drop by once a week. Spot-check,” she said with the first hint of a smile. “We trusted them. But you can’t trust the addiction.”

“Arianna!”

The sharp call sliced through the quiet garden. A man, tall, his dark hair cropped close to a tanned face, hurried toward them. His eyes, a green as sharp as his voice, were all for Arianna. Ignoring Eve and Peabody, he grabbed her hands, got to his knees.

“I heard what happened. What can I do for you?”

“Eton.” Tears shimmered in her eyes. Eve saw her bear down against them. “I was going to tell you myself, but I needed to speak with the police. Lieutenant Dallas, Detective Peabody, my associate, Eton Billingsly.”

“The police.” He shot Eve a disgusted look. “At a time like this?”

“Murder usually brings the cops.”

“It’s hardly necessary to interrogate Arianna at all, and particularly before she’s had time to process.”

“Okay. Let’s interrogate you. Where were you between one and four A.M. this morning?”

He blustered. Eve couldn’t think of another word for the sounds he made or the look on his face as he sprang to his feet. “I’m not answering any of your insulting questions, and neither is Arianna.”

“Oh yeah, you are,” Eve corrected, “here or at Cop Central. Your choice.”

“Eton.” Arianna rose. “Stop now. You’re upset. The police are trying to find out who hurt Jen and the boys, and why.”

“They’ll hardly find out here, with you.” He took her hands again. “Justin should never have allowed it.”

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