Read Hide From Evil Online

Authors: Jami Alden

Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Romance, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Adult

Hide From Evil (2 page)

BOOK: Hide From Evil
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The mere thought of it was enough to make her blood simmer.

She made herself focus that fire, channeled it into the here-and-now as she walked into the courtroom. Roman Karev’s mud-green stare raked her from head to toe, his greasy smile making her yearn for a shower.

I’m going to nail you, asshole
, she thought, picturing the bodies of Aurelia and Nico Salvatore clinging together after Karev and his thugs had beaten them to death for reasons that changed depending on whom you talked to.

Some said it was because Nico had failed to pay back a loan he’d taken out to keep his trattoria running when business slowed to a crawl. Others said it was because Nico refused to let Karev’s men use the apartment of the restaurant as a holding area for stolen goods after Nico had already taken payment.

Either way, Nico made a fatal mistake when he decided to do business with Karev, and now it was up to Krista to prove it.

As hard as it was to follow Benson’s lead and let go of Flynn’s case for the time being, right now she had to focus on the big picture. For her, this job was all about doing right, making sure sleazebags like Karev got their due, and on the rare occasion that she fucked up, doing everything she could to make sure the truth came out.


Forty-five minutes later, Krista gathered up her files, her gut churning at the debacle that had just occurred. “I can’t believe it,” she murmured again. “Without Baker’s eyewitness account, we’re screwed.” In a move that had blindsided them, the judge had granted the defense’s motion to make their key witness’s testimony inadmissible in the trial.

“It’s a blow,” Benson replied.

“It’s more than a blow,” Krista hissed low so the other side wouldn’t hear. “All we’re left with is circumstantial.” The chances of getting a jury to convict were now hovering somewhere around zero, and Karev and his sharks knew it.

“Keep your head,” Benson warned. “We’ll regroup back at the office.”

Krista nodded, gathering her composure around her like a protective force field.
Never let the defense see your cracks.
It was one of the first lessons Benson ever taught her. No matter what, never show anything but supreme confidence to the enemy.

She slung her briefcase over her shoulder and stormed out of the courtroom. Mark followed a few steps behind. Karev and his team were standing outside, shaking hands and patting backs. Karev’s lead counsel, Matt Swanson, shot her a sympathetic look and shrugged as if to say,
Better luck next time.

Krista ignored the friendly gesture from the man she’d known nearly half her life, wanting nothing more than to get away from them before she completely lost her cool.

“Roman, congratulations,” a masculine voice boomed. A wave of dread paralyzed her. As if this morning could get any worse. “Matt, I heard you did a great job. Sorry I couldn’t be there myself, but, well, there are certain conflicts.”

Krista looked up to see a pair of familiar grayish-green eyes on her. “So why are you here, Dad?”

“I came down to observe. I wanted to see how everything went.” He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek, and Krista forced herself not to wipe it off.

She didn’t even need to ask how he felt about the outcome. They may have shared the same eye color and light-blond hair, but that was where the similarities between Krista and her father, John Slater, ended. While Krista had focused her career on using the system to make sure criminals got what they deserved, John Slater cared about one thing: winning.

And today his partner at the highly regarded law firm of Slater, Swanson, and Miller had scored a major victory against his own daughter.

Decades of disappointment and disdain roiled in her stomach, and underneath that the sharp ache that never failed to assault her whenever she saw her father. Mark, who knew her history with her father, gave her a sympathetic look and she did her best to keep her turmoil from showing.

“Mark, good to see you,” her father said, reaching past Krista to shake Mark’s hand. The two exchanged pleasantries and Krista felt like her head was going to explode. She started to move past them.

Her father caught her by the arm. “Will I see you at the Maxwell luncheon on Friday?”

Krista gave her head a curt shake. “Political fund-raisers aren’t exactly my thing.”

“David has been a friend for years.” Her father’s scolding tone made her feel about five years old.

Krista refrained from reminding him that just because someone paid your firm hundreds of thousands in legal fees didn’t make them your friend. “I have to work.” Then, because she couldn’t resist: “Not everyone can take off in the middle of the day to spend a thousand dollars for a plate of rubbery chicken.”

“You could if you wanted to,” her father said quietly. “You know I always have a place for you.”

He still didn’t get it. After everything that had happened, he couldn’t accept that she would never be like him.

Mark shifted uncomfortably beside her and murmured something about getting back to the office.

Before they could go, Karev spoke, his English thickly accented and dripping with arrogance. “I would hire you. You come work for me, you never have to worry again.” The smug grin he exchanged with her father made her jaw lock.

“Don’t think this is over,” she said, hitting him with an icy glare that had felled better men than him. “You may have slithered your way out today, but I’m going to nail you for what you did to the Salvatores.”

Karev’s smile pulled into a sneer and he stepped close enough for her to pick up the cloying scent of hair gel. “You can try. But I will give you some advice. Think of today as a bullet you dodged and quit while you’re ahead.”

* * *

Six hours later, Krista’s gut was still churning as she entered the coffee shop where she was supposed to meet Jimmy Caparulo.

Though she’d dismissed Karev’s threat for the macho posturing that it was, what had happened today had left her with a bad taste in her mouth. She’d faced down hundreds of lowlifes in the courtroom, but it wasn’t often that she left the room feeling so contaminated by the people she came in contact with.

Now that boil on the ass of society was going to walk free unless she could come up with another witness to put him at the scene when the Salvatores were killed.

And her own father had shown up to rub her nose in it. She supposed she should be grateful her father had recused himself from the case and let his partner handle it. No doubt he was still working behind the scenes in an anonymous advisory role, pitting himself against her.

Trying to demonstrate, yet again, that Krista’s quest for justice was not just misguided, but ultimately futile. Waiting for the day when she finally tucked in her tail and admitted Daddy was right, that she was wasting her life in a thankless government job when she could be making millions as the daughter and protégé of one of the top defense attorneys in the Pacific Northwest.

The mere thought made her skin crawl. It was one thing to take money from wealthy businessmen like Maxwell to protect them from lawsuits. It was another to help a scumbag like Karev get away with murder, and God knew what else.

She ordered a latte and forced herself to stop brooding over today’s failure and instead focus on how she was going to salvage the case.

Jimmy was late, so she pulled out Karev’s case files to review while she waited. Her irritation escalated as eight turned into eight-thirty, eight forty-five, and finally nine o’clock passed, and still no sign of Jimmy Caparulo.

Two phone calls at the number he’d given her dumped straight into voice mail, and her texts went unanswered.

She swore under her breath as she looked up Jimmy’s address from the report Stew had given her. Jimmy was not the most stable person in the world, with documented PTSD and a history of alcohol and drug abuse. Most likely he had gone on a bender and either forgot about their meeting or passed out before he could meet her.

Which also made whatever information he provided less than reliable, she reminded herself as she walked the short distance to the house where Jimmy lived with his aunt.

Still, it was a start, and maybe if it wasn’t all bona fide he’d give her something—

Her inner monologue stopped short as she registered the flashing blue and red lights in the driveway halfway down the block. She bit back a swear when she saw it was Jimmy’s house.

As she got closer, she could hear the voices popping over the radios and the murmurs of the small crowd gathered on the front lawn.

A woman was sobbing inconsolably against the shoulder of another woman. “It was awful, so awful. Thank God Angie wasn’t here to see it.”

Krista recognized one of the uniforms controlling the perimeter. “Roberts! What happened in there?”

Roberts looked at her in confusion. “What are you doing here?”

“I was supposed to meet with Jimmy Caparulo about an hour ago,” Krista admitted. So much for keeping their meeting secret until she’d built up her case, but with her number popping up all over his cell phone in the last hour, there was no way to keep a lid on it. “When he didn’t show I decided to come by.”

Roberts let out a mirthless laugh. “Guess he was too busy blowing his brains out to keep your date.”

Krista’s stomach bottomed out at the news. “He killed himself?”

“They’re not gonna call it right now, but from where I’m standing, there isn’t much question he ate the business end of his Glock.”

She swallowed back a surge of bile. “Who found him?”

“Neighbor,” Roberts said, indicating with his head the direction of the sobbing woman. “She found him about fifteen minutes ago and called it in.”

“How’d she get in the house?”

“She has a key. She was a friend of Jimmy’s aunt, and since she died a couple weeks ago, they’ve been taking turns bringing him dinner. Came over to deliver a plate of enchiladas and got one hell of a surprise.”

“Neighbors didn’t hear anything?” The houses on the Caparulos’ street were close together. “Seems like someone would hear a gunshot.”

“It’s an older neighborhood,” Roberts said, and as Krista took a closer look at the crowd milling on the lawn she saw a lot of white hair and hunched backs. “The lady next door says she might have heard it but at the time she thought it was the TV.”

“She say what time?”

“About seven-thirty.”

Krista pulled her wool coat tighter around herself. All that time she was waiting for Jimmy at the coffee shop, and he was already dead.

And he just happened to kill himself on the day he was supposed to meet you.

A shiver that had nothing to do with the damp spring night slithered down her spine. “Okay if I go inside?”

Roberts frowned. “The M.E.’s still in there and they haven’t even moved him yet—”

Krista cut him off with a wave of her hand. “I’ve seen worse.”

Yet Krista could see a thousand bloody crime scenes and nothing would ever prepare her for the smell. She was brutally reminded of that the second she stepped into the small one-story house. She flashed her ID at a uniform and didn’t bother to ask where Jimmy was.

It was all too easy to follow the odor of violent death. Sickly sweet, metallic blood and excrement mixed with an indescribable stink, like she could smell the body already rotting though he’d been dead for less than two hours.

She followed the smell and sounds of activity down a short hallway, past a bathroom on the left, and through the second door on the right. Like a homing beacon, her gaze skipped right to the headboard of the double bed and the wall above. A wall that was painted white now displayed a splatter pattern of blood punctuated with the occasional pieces of gray brain.

Despite the cavalier attitude she’d shown Roberts, Krista’s knees went a little wobbly and her vision started to tunnel. She leaned carefully against the doorjamb and took a deep, quiet breath as she kept an iron-clawed grip on her composure. She’d worked for the prosecuting attorney’s office for seven years, dealt with some of the bloodiest crime scenes imaginable, and had never shown even a hint of weakness. She wasn’t about to start now.

She forced herself to look at the scene analytically. She knew the crime scene guys would do a thorough investigation, but she wanted to take her own look around and see if there was anything going on here that would indicate it was anything other than a gory suicide scene.

Jimmy was flopped back on the bed, his booted feet resting on the floor, knees bent over the edge of the mattress. His right hand was flung out to the side, and there was a chalk mark on the bed to indicate where the gun had fallen.

Flashbulbs popped as the techs took pictures of the scene and she recognized Medina from the coroner’s office leaning over Jimmy’s body. She greeted him, and immediately regretted it when he straightened up, giving her a good look at Jimmy’s face. What was left of it anyway. Her stomach lurched and she pinned her stare to a blank spot on the wall until she was sure she wasn’t going to hurl up the coffee she’d drunk.

“This guy wasn’t screwing around,” Medina said as he snapped off his gloves and dropped them into a biowaste container. “We’ll need ballistics to confirm it, but judging from the way it took off half of his skullcap, Mr. Caparulo used a hollow point, which expanded on impact.”

“Roberts said the Glock was registered to him.”

Medina nodded. “I guess so—that’s for these guys to figure out.” He gestured at the crime scene techs.

“You’re sure he did it himself?”

Medina frowned like the question confused him. “I need to do a full postmortem, and the forensics will have to confirm it, but he has powder residue on his hands.”

A cold breeze wafted through the room, providing momentary relief to the suffocating stench. The shade flapped against the window frame. “The window is open.” Krista lifted the shade and saw the screen was still in place. She turned to one of the techs, an Asian woman wearing wire-frame glasses who was dusting Jimmy’s desk for fingerprints. “Was it like that when you got here?”

“I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask whoever was first on the scene.”

BOOK: Hide From Evil
8.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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