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.“What kind of an accident?”“I don’t know, mademoiselle,” the policeman said, with an unconvincing shrug.Skye pulled her university ID card from her pocketbook and brandished it under the officer’s nose.“I work in that building.I would like to know what is going on and whether it concerns me.”The police officer glanced from Skye’s face to the ID picture and said, “You had better talk to the inspector in charge.” He led Skye over to a man in plainclothes who was standing next to a police car, talking to a couple of uniformed police officers.“This woman says she works in the building,” the policeman explained to the inspector, a dumpy middle-aged man whose face had the world-weary expression of someone who has seen too much of the underside of life.The inspector studied Skye’s identification card with baggy, red-rimmed eyes and handed it back after jotting her name and address down in his notebook.“My name is Dubois,” he said.“Please come with me.” He opened the police car door, motioned for her to get in the backseat and slid in beside her.“When was the last time you were in your office building, mademoiselle?”She checked her watch.“About two or three hours ago.Maybe a little more.”“Where did you go?”“I am an archaeologist.I took an artifact to an antiques expert for him to look at.Then I went to my apartment for a nap.”The inspector made a few notes.“When you were in the building, did you notice anyone or anything that struck you as strange?”“No.All was normal as far as I know.Could you tell me what has happened?”“There has been a shooting.Someone was killed.Did you know a Monsieur Renaud?”“Renaud? Of course! He was my department head.You say he’s dead?”Dubois nodded.“Shot by an unknown assailant.When was the last time you saw Monsieur Renaud?”“When I came to work around nine o’clock.We were in the elevator.My office is on the floor below his.We said a good morning and went on our separate ways.”Skye hoped that the slight shading of the truth didn’t show in her face.When she’d greeted Renaud, he had simply glowered back at her without speaking.“Can you think of anyone who would harm Monsieur Renaud?”Skye hesitated before replying.She suspected that the inspector’s basset hound expression was a mask meant to lull suspects into making self-incriminating statements.If he had talked to others, he would have learned that Renaud was universally loathed within his department.If she said anything to the contrary, he would wonder why she was lying.“Monsieur Renaud was a controversial figure in the department,” she said after a moment.“Many people didn’t like the way he ran things.”“And you, mademoiselle? Did you like the way he ran things?”“I was among a number of people on the faculty who thought he was not the person for his post.”The lieutenant smiled for the first time.“A most diplomatic response, mademoiselle.May I ask where exactly you have been before coming here?”Skye gave him Darnay’s name and the address of the antique shop, and her home address, which he duly noted, reassuring her that it was routine procedure.Then he got out of the car, opened the door and handed her his business card.“Thank you, Mademoiselle Labelle.Please call me if you can think of anything else regarding this matter.”“Yes, of course.I have a favor to ask, Lieutenant.May I go to my office on the second floor?”He thought about it for a moment.“Yes, but you must be accompanied by one of my men.”They got out of the car and Inspector Dubois called over the police officer Skye had first spoken to and instructed him to escort her through the police cordon.Every policeman in Paris seemed to have converged on the crime scene.Renaud was a scoundrel, but he was a prominent figure at the university and his murder would cause a sensation.More police officers and technicians were working inside the building.Forensics people were dusting for fingerprints and photographers scurried around snapping pictures.Skye led the way to her second-floor office with the policeman close behind, stepped inside and looked around.Although all her furnishings and papers appeared to be in place, she had the strange feeling that something was amiss.Skye’s eyes scanned the room, and then she went to her desk.She was compulsively neat when it came to her paperwork.Before leaving her office, she had stacked her reference books, papers and files with micrometer precision.Now the edges were ragged, as if they had been hurriedly restacked.Someone had been at her desk!“Mademoiselle?”The police officer was giving her an odd look and she realized that she had been staring blankly into space.She nodded, opened a desk drawer and extracted a file.She tucked the file under her arm without bothering to see what it contained.“I’m through here,” she said with a forced smile.Skye resisted the impulse to bolt from the office and tried to walk at her usual pace, but her legs seemed made of wood.Her calm façade gave no hint of her racing pulse and her heartbeat seemed to thunder in her ears.She was thinking that the same hand that had disturbed her papers could have held the gun that killed Renaud.The policeman escorted her from the building and past the barricade.She thanked him and walked home in a daze, crossing streets without looking either way, a near-suicidal move in Paris.She paid no attention to the screech of brakes, the cacophony of blaring horns and the shouted curses.Her full-blown panic attack had subsided by the time she turned the corner of the narrow street to where her apartment was located.She wondered if she had done the right thing not telling Inspector Dubois that her office had been searched.In her mind she could see the inspector thinking that this crazy paranoid woman must go on the list of suspects.Skye lived in a nineteenth-century, mansard-roofed house in Mouffetard, on the fringes of the Quartier Latin.She enjoyed the busy neighborhood, with its shops and restaurants and street jazz musicians.The old town house had been turned into three apartments.Skye’s was on the third floor and her wrought-iron balcony gave her a view of the street life and the ubiquitous Parisian chimney pots.She sprinted up the stairs.Relief washed over her as she opened the door.She felt safe back in her apartment, but the feeling of security lasted only until she walked into the living room.She couldn’t believe the sight that greeted her.The room looked as if a bomb had gone off.Chair and sofa cushions were strewn about the floor.Her coffee table was swept clear of magazines [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]