Lt. Arthur Tragg stood in the living room of the apartment, watching while his forensic team performed their job. The woman's body lay on the carpet in a large pool of dried blood. She was lying on her right side, her long brunette hair covering her face like a veil. She was very well dressed and, in his opinion, very shapely. He shook his head sadly, thinking what a waste this was.
When the call had come into the homicide department, Tragg's heart had literally almost stopped. He knew the address as well as his own. The apartment belonged to Della Street. The initial call had only said 'unidentified woman' at the address. Fearing the worst, Tragg had broken every speed limit to get to the scene. Relief at finding not Della, but an unknown, was short lived.
The victim had been stabbed in the chest, the knife still protruding just above the heart. A quick scan of the apartment Made it very apparent the knife had come from Della's kitchen. Items scattered around the room and overturned furniture suggested a fight had taken place. She had also been alive long enough to scrawl the initials D S in her own blood on the carpet.
Sergeant Brice looked over at his boss. "We're ready to turn her over."
Tragg nodded. Carefully the sergeant rolled the woman onto her back, brushing the hair back. At seeing her face, Tragg sucked in a breath.
"You know her Lieutenant?"
Tragg sighed and stepped over to the body. "Yes. Her name is Laura Cavanagh. She's Mason's...ah...acquaintance. She's a lawyer in Denver."
Sergeant Brice shoved his hat back on his head. "That's not good. What do you suppose she's doing in LA?"
Tragg just shook his head. "No idea, unless she had...business with Mason."
The sergeant inclined his head towards the two initials. "Suppose those mean Miss Street?"
Tragg's voice was a low growl. "Don't make anything of it yet, Sergeant. It's too early in the investigation. We need to see what forensics and the lab boys can come up with. And don't let the press get wind of this. They'll be making up enough stories once news of where the murder took place."
The sergeant was about to respond when the men from the morgue entered, followed by Paul Drake.
Tragg should have known it wouldn't take the investigator long to show up. He was sure Mason wouldn't be far behind.
"Drake what are you doing here?"
Paul ignored him and rushed over to the body. "Oh God. It's Laura."
Paul walked around the body to stand by Tragg.
"Sorry Lieutenant. A friend overheard the call and told me about it. I was afraid Della had come home"
Tragg knew Paul had sources in the department but could never ferret out who was passing him the information. Then it struck him what Paul had said.
"Wait a minute. What do you mean 'come home'? Where is she?"
Paul realized too late his faux pas. He tried to think of a way to keep Tragg in the dark, but at the cop's stern look, he knew it was no use.
"She's been at her Aunt Mae's for a couple days."
Tragg chuckled. "Mason finally gave her some vacation time, huh."
Paul looked away. "Yeah."
Tragg looked at the door. "Where is Mason? I thought he'd be on your heels."
Paul tried to think of a way out of explaining where he was sure Perry was right now.
"I'm not sure where he is Lieutenant. He left the office saying he had some business to take care of. Maybe a new client."
Tragg eyed him suspiciously, knowing Mason almost always told Drake where he was going and what he was doing.
"Well you better figure out how to get in touch with Mason. He's gonna want to know about this. And we're going to need to talk to Della. Can you get in touch with her at her aunt's?"
Paul nodded. "Can I call from here?"
Tragg looked at the sergeant. "Sure Lieutenant. The forensic guys are finished dusting for prints."
Paul sat on the couch and started to light a cigarette, then remembered Della's no smoking rule in her place. Taking out his notebook, he flipped to the page that had Mae's number. Watching as the morgue team placed Laura on their gurney, he picked up the phone and dialed, hoping Perry was there. He didn't want to tell Della by himself, especially after he had seen the victim and the two initials.