Elliot turned back to Sergeant Conley. “Yeah,” Elliot said. “I’m fine.”

Conley’s expression said he wasn’t buying it and Elliot wasn’t surprised. He was sure he looked as pale and lifeless as the corpse sitting in the car. He backed off a bit then began working his way around the scene, taking pictures to review later. When he came to the passenger side of the car, he lowered the camera and worked his hand into a latex glove, wincing as he opened the door, causing the air inside the car, thick with the scents of urine and blood, to flood his senses.

The victim, a female that Elliot guessed to be about thirty years of age, was in the passenger seat with her head tilted back and her hands in her lap. The deep gash across her throat still looked fresh. The expensive necklace had been removed to keep it from being damaged. Everything about her said money, but through the lens of the camera, the massive diamond on her left hand looked as cold and detached as a severed limb. The necklace that dangled from the rearview mirror matched her earrings.

Johnnie Boy was here.

“Sure is dressed nice,” Conley said.

Elliot nodded, noting that her handbag lay undisturbed on the seat beside her, near a smear of blood where it looked like the killer had wiped the knife clean. On the floorboard beneath the brake pedal was a cell phone. Elliot picked it up. It was still on, so he hit redial. The display showed the last call was to the Tulsa Police Department. He started to comment when the sound of an approaching car caught his attention. He knew it would be Beaumont, but he confirmed it, watching the detective pull up. How anyone could keep a car as clean as Beaumont did was a mystery to Elliot. Then again, he suspected that, much like its owner, the car’s highly maintained exterior merely masked an embarrassing need for dirty lubricants.

Beaumont climbed out of his car and started toward them, habitually straightening his already perfect tie while he walked around the Mercedes, surveying the scene before he joined Elliot and Conley. “I hope you haven’t touched anything,” he said.

Elliot shook his head.

He glanced at Conley.

“Not me,” Conley said.

Beaumont looked Elliot over, a thin smile crossing his lips.

“What do you think?” He asked. “Do we have a homicide?”

“Looks like it.”

Beaumont moved closer to the vehicle, observing the victim. “Looks pretty affluent. By the way, Elliot, where were you last night?”

A wave of regret went through Elliot. He was to have met Beaumont for a beer after work and he’d completely forgotten about it. “Sorry, I guess I fell asleep.”

“You must have been dead to the world. I called your house, but you didn’t answer.”

Conley had walked back to his squad car, where he held the door open, the radio microphone in his hand. When Elliot came over, he tilted his head toward the scene and lowered the mike. “Why’d the captain have to send that jerk?”

Elliot tried to hide his smile. Beaumont, who was already busy dusting for prints, wasn’t exactly popular with the patrol officers. He was sharp—real sharp—and he had an impressive way of remembering case details, but he didn’t mind letting you know it. “He’s pretty good at what he does,” Elliot said. “Got an ID on the victim yet?”

Conley nodded. “Name’s Lagayle Zimmerman.”

Elliot ran the name through his memory, but it didn’t register. As he scanned the crime scene, the sounds of traffic on Peoria Avenue wafting through his senses, he noticed two people standing beside another uniformed officer. To Conley, he said, “Any of these people see anything?”

“None that will admit to it,” Conley said.

“You question everybody?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Who found the body?”

“Some wino,” Conley said. “Hang on. I’ll get him for you.” He signaled for the officer to bring the witnesses over.

More to come. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the book.