Shards of Life - Chapter 6

“My God! Who would do something like that?! How could they?! God, Kate!”

Sam frowned at the voice floating down the hallway. Who the hell was in the morgue?

“I’m sorry, Dr. Parrish. I didn’t know she was your friend.”

A whoosh of the door and she was in autopsy. “Yes, they were friends,” Sam said, annoyed. “You should’ve known that, O’Halloran.”

He looked sheepishly at her.

“As the matter of fact, you should’ve known better, O’Halloran.” Sam’s eyes narrowed. “I requested discretion.”

The petite African-American woman turned from the uncovered body lying on a metallic table sticking out of the wall of refrigerators, tears running down her cheeks. “I needed to see her. I needed to make sure it was her.”

Sam nodded, understanding, but still pissed off. “Are you feeling better now?” she asked sarcastically. “Because nothing bring closure as seeing a friend lying cold and still in the morgue, am I right?”

Dr. Parrish pressed her lips together into a thin line, her eyes shooting daggers at her. “You must be the primary on this case.”

Sam arched an eyebrow, waited for elaboration.

“Javi called and told me everything.”

The morgue door whooshed again, only once, and Sam knew she had an audience. She also suspected who that audience might be. She nodded briskly at the M.E., but O’Halloran merely stared at her as if she’s grown two heads all of a sudden. Guess he wasn’t used to her bitchy side.

With a faint growl, she marched to the body of Kate Beckett, and quickly pulled the cover back in place, just as Alexis Castle asked, “What’s that one her face?”

Lanie Parrish’s muffled whimper sounded from behind her, as Sam gently smoothed the sheet, buying some time, until she could be sure her impassive mask was back in place. She silently vowed to the woman whose mortal husk was lying before her under the sheet, that she would find her killer. Make him pay no matter what it took.

She finally turned, almost colliding with Richard Castle.

His eyes dark, his expression unreadable, he met her gaze. “I want to see her.”

Sam moved slightly, blocking his view of the covered slab. “No.”

“Listen, Detective,” he spat. “I don’t care who you are, I want to see her.”

She notched her chin up, thankful for her four-inch heels that brought her five-foot-and-a-half frame a little closer to his height. Tough to be intimidating when dwarfed by your intimidatee. “Mr. Castle,” she said, striving for patience. “As I told you earlier, you do not want to see Detective Beckett’s body. If you don’t care for my opinion, you can ask Dr. Parrish.” She sought the woman’s red-rimmed eyes.

He tried to walk around her. “And as I told you earlier, I want to see her.”

“And I won’t allow it. Leave the woman some dignity, will you. Remember her as she was in life.”

Something in her tone must have conveyed the intended message, she saw that, but he wouldn’t be deterred. “Move.”

She sighed, holding on to her patience by the thinnest of threads. “Mr. Castle, don’t make me arrest you.”

He drew back. “On what charges?”

“I’ll think of something.” She leaned her back against the slab, pushing it back into the refrigerator. She blindly reached behind her, and closed the steel door with a resounding slam. “Go home, all of you. I have an investigation to run and you’re in my way.”

Five pairs of eyes were murderous, the M.E. still looked shell-shocked, Rick’s gaze was sad, and her Captain’s conveyed both censure and pride. It was obvious Castle wanted to say more, but his mother and daughter flanked him, making soothing noises, Alexis staring at her questioningly.

Lanie Parrish wiped her eyes and left her boyfriend’s embrace. “You know, Detective, you didn’t make any friends today.”

Sam felt a corner of her mouth hitch up in a cynical smile. “I’m not here to make friends, Doctor. I’m here to catch a killer. And I don’t give a fuck if you like my methods.” She met Rick’s eyes. “Detective Kovacz, please escort them out. Now!”

Only Captain Arroyo and Dr. O’Halloran remained in the morgue with her.

“Captain, please pull the necessary strings to get Beckett’s cases.”

He nodded. “I will, but Samantha—”

He only used her given name when she was in for a scolding. And she didn’t have time for it now. “I know, Cap,” she interrupted him. “I will make amends later. After I catch this guy.”

With one last speculative look he left her alone with the M.E.

“You have my report, Doctor?”

“Y-yes”. He cleared his throat and was all business as he handed her a file. “Cause of death was indeed the shot to the back of the head. I found the remnants of the bullet. A .42 as I thought. There are scratches on her throat, a uniform pattern.”

She glanced up from the file? “Necklace?”

“Could be if someone ripped it off her throat. Why?”

“She always wore a necklace with her deceased mother’s ring on it.” Sam narrowed her eyes, staring over his shoulder. “The watch the killer took belonged to her father. But it wasn’t robbery, because he left the earrings.”

“And money,” O’Halloran supplied.

“And money. So why take the necklace and watch.” Her voice became softer. “Proof that the job was done?” she whispered.

She ran the possibilities in her mind. It could be. The missing necklace and watch could be proof that this had been a hit. Which would also explain the post-mortem disfigurement. Make it tough to identify her. Why bother, though. As a cop, her fingerprints were in the system.

She hoped Captain Arroyo would get Beckett’s files ASAP. If this had indeed been a hit, any clues were in those files.

“What else?”

“Multiple signs of struggle on her hands, wounds on knees, heavy bruising at the left side of the ribs. Suggests she was kicked with the toe of a boot. A boot-sized bruise in the middle of her stomach.”

“Any ligature marks?”

“Beside those scratches on her neck, no. She wasn’t restrained.”

Then how could a trained cop be overpowered enough to be shot execution style? “Drugs?”

O’Halloran shook his head. “Tox screen came back negative.”

A shiver ran up her spine. “Found any unusual puncture wounds, Doc? Needle marks?”

“No, Detective.”

“Could you run the tox screen again for me, please?”

He sighed. “It will still be negative the second time, Detective.”

“In understand, but humor me. Only this time run a test for metabolites of Succinylcholine.”

He blinked at her.

“I know my chemistry, Doc. Have it run again.” She walked to the door. “Then go home. It’s been a long day.”

She left the morgue, the file crinkling under the strain of her grip, her heart beating a staccato rhythm, her breath coming in short, panting gasps, hoping she was wrong.

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