The next morning at breakfast, Jan asked, "Where were you last night, Oliver?"

Oliver's heart skipped a beat. But she could not possibly have known what happened. No one could. No one. "I was meeting with - "

Jan cut him short. "The meeting was called off. But you didn't get home until three o'clock in the morning. I tried to reach you. Where were you?"

"Well, something came up. Why? Did you need - ? Was something wrong?"

"It doesn't matter now," Jan said wearily. "Oliver, you're not just hurting me, you're hurting yourself. You've come so far. I don't want to see you lose it all because - because you can't - " Her eyes filled with tears.

Oliver stood up and walked over to her. He put his arms around her. "It's all right, Jan. Everything's fine. I love you very much."

And I do, Oliver thought, in my own way. What happened last night wasn't my fault. She was the one who called. I never should have gone to meet her. He had taken every possible precaution not to be seen. I'm in the clear, Oliver decided.

Peter Tager was worried about Oliver. He had learned that it was impossible to control Oliver Russell's libido, and he had finally worked out an arrangement with him. On certain nights, Peter Tager set up fictitious meetings for the president to attend, away from the White House, and arranged for the Secret Service escort to disappear for a few hours.

When Peter Tager had gone to Senator Davis to complain about what was happening, the senator had said calmly, "Well, after all, Oliver is a very hot-blooded man, Peter. Sometimes it's impossible to control passions like that. I deeply admire your morals, Peter. I know how much your family means to you, and how distasteful the president's behavior must seem to you. But let's not be too judgmental. You just keep on seeing that everything is handled as discreetly as possible."

Detective Nick Reese hated going into the forbidding, white-walled autopsy room. It smelled of formaldehyde and death. When he walked in the door, the coroner, Helen Chuan, a petite, attractive woman, was waiting for him.

"Morning," Reese said. "Have you finished with the autopsy?"

"I have a preliminary report for you, Nick. Jane Doe didn't die from her head injury. Her heart stopped before she hit the table. She died of an overdose of methylenedioxymethamphetamine."

He sighed. "Don't do this to me, Helen."

"Sorry. On the streets, it's called Ecstasy." She handed him a coroner's report. "Here's what we have so far."

















Nick Reese looked up. "So if you translated this into English, she died of a drug overdose of Ecstasy?"


"Was she sexually assaulted?"

Helen Chuan hesitated. "Her hymen had been broken, and there were traces of semen and a little blood along her thighs."

"So she was raped."

"I don't think so."

"What do you mean - you don't think so?" Reese frowned.

"There were no signs of violence."

Detective Reese was looking at her, puzzled. "What are you saying?"

"I think that Jane Doe was a virgin. This was her first sexual experience."

Detective Reese stood there, digesting the information. Someone had been able to persuade a virgin to go up to the Imperial Suite and have sex with him. It would have had to be someone she knew. Or someone famous or powerful.

The telephone rang. Helen Chuan picked it up. "Coroner's office." She listened a moment, then handed the phone to the detective. "It's for you."

Nick Reese took the phone. "Reese." His face brightened. "Oh, yes, Mrs. Holbrook. Thanks for returning my call. It's a class ring from your school with the initials P.Y. on it. Do you have a female student with those initials?...I'd appreciate it. Thank you. I'll wait."

He looked up at the coroner. "You're sure she couldn't have been raped?"

"I found no signs of violence. None."

"Could she have been penetrated after she died?"

"I would say no."

Mrs. Holbrook's voice came back on the phone. "Detective Reese?"


"According to our computer, we do have a female student with the initials P.Y. Her name is Pauline Young."

"Could you describe her for me, Mrs. Holbrook?"

"Why, yes. Pauline is eighteen. She's short and stocky, with dark hair..."

"I see." Wrong girl. "And that's the only one?"

"The only female, yes."

He picked up on it. "You mean you have a male with those initials?

"Yes. Paul Yerby. He's a senior. As a matter of fact, Paul happens to be in Washington, D.C., right now."

Detective Reese's heart began to beat faster. "He's here?"

"Yes. A class of students from Denver High is on a trip to Washington to visit the White House and Congress and - "

"And they're all in the city now?"

"That's right."

"Do you happen to know where they're staying?"

"At the Hotel Lombardy. They gave us a group rate there. I talked with several of the other hotels, but they wouldn't - "

"Thank you very much, Mrs. Holbrook. I appreciate it."

Nick Reese replaced the receiver and turned to the coroner. "Let me know when the autopsy is complete, will you, Helen?"

"Of course. Good luck, Nick."

He nodded. "I think I've just had it."

The Hotel Lombardy is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, two blocks from Washington Circle and within walking distance of the White House, some monuments, and a subway station. Detective Reese walked into the old-fashioned lobby and approached the clerk behind the desk. "Do you have a Paul Yerby registered here?"

"I'm sorry. We don't give out - "

Reese flashed his badge. "I'm in a big hurry, friend."

"Yes, sir." The clerk looked through his guest register. "There's a Mr. Yerby in Room 315. Shall I - ?"

"No, I'll surprise him. Stay away from the phone."

Reese took the elevator, got off on the third floor, and walked down the corridor. He stopped before Room 315. He could hear voices inside. He unfastened the button of his jacket and knocked on the door. It was opened by a boy in his late teens.


"Paul Yerby?"

"No." The boy turned to someone in the room. "Paul, someone for you."

Nick Reese pushed his way into the room. A slim, tousle-haired boy in jeans and a sweater was coming out of the bathroom.

"Paul Yerby?"

"Yes. Who are you?"

Reese pulled out his badge. "Detective Nick Reese. Homicide."

The boy's complexion turned pale. "I - what can I do for you?"

Nick Reese could smell the fear. He took the dead girl's ring from his pocket and held it out. "Have you ever seen this ring before, Paul?"

"No," Yerby said quickly. "I - "

"It has your initials on it."

"It has? Oh. Yeah." He hesitated. "I guess it could be mine. I must have lost it somewhere."

"Or given it to someone?"

The boy licked his lips, "Uh, yeah. I might have."

"Let's go downtown, Paul."

The boy looked at him nervously. "Am I under arrest?"

"What for?" Detective Reese asked. "Have you committed a crime?"

"Of course not. I..." The words trailed off.

"Then why would I arrest you?"

"I - I don't know. I don't know why you want me to go downtown."

He was eyeing the open door. Detective Reese reached out and took a grip on Paul's arm. "Let's go quietly."

The roommate said, "Do you want me to call your mother or anybody, Paul?"

Paul Yerby shook his head, miserable. "No. Don't call anyone." His voice was a whisper.

The Henry I. Daly Building at 300 Indiana Avenue, NW, in downtown Washington is an unprepossessing six-story gray brick building that serves as police headquarters for the district. The Homicide Branch office is on the third floor. While Paul Yerby was being photographed and fingerprinted, Detective Reese went to see Captain Otto Miller.

"I think we got a break in the Monroe Arms case."

Miller leaned back in his chair. "Go on."

"I picked up the girl's boyfriend. The kid's scared out of his wits. We're going to question him now. Do you want to sit in?"

Captain Miller nodded toward a pile of papers heaped on his desk. "I'm busy for the next few months. Give me a report."

"Right." Detective Reese started toward the door.

"Nick - be sure to read him his rights."

Paul Yerby was brought into an interrogation room. It was small, nine by twelve, with a battered desk, four chairs, and a video camera. There was a one-way mirror so that officers could watch the interrogation from the next room.

Paul Yerby was facing Nick Reese and two other detectives, Doug Hogan and Edgar Bernstein.

"You're aware that we're videotaping this conversation?" - Detective Reese

"Yes, sir."

"You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you."

"Would you like to have a lawyer present?" - Detective Bernstein

"I don't need a lawyer."

"All right. You have a right to remain silent. If you waive that right, anything you say here can and will be used against you in a court of law. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir."

"What's your legal name?"

"Paul Yerby."

"Your address?"

"Three-twenty Marion Street, Denver, Colorado. Look, I haven't done anything wrong. I - "

"No one says you have. We're just trying to get some information, Paul. You'd like to help us, wouldn't you?"

"Sure, but I - I don't know what it's all about."

"Don't you have any idea?"

"No, sir."

"Do you have any girlfriends, Paul?"

"Well, you know..."

"No, we don't know. Why don't you tell us?"

"Well, sure. I see girls..."

"You mean you date girls? You take girls out?"


"Do you date any one particular girl?"

There was a silence.

"Do you have a girlfriend, Paul?"


"What's her name?" - Detective Bernstein


"Chloe what?" - Detective Reese

"Chloe Houston."

Reese made a note. "What's her address, Paul?"

"Six-oh-two Oak Street, Denver."

"What are her parents' names?"

"She lives with her mother."

"And her name?"

"Jackie Houston. She's the governor of Colorado."

The detectives looked at one another. Shit! That's all we need!

Reese held up a ring. "Is this your ring, Paul?"

He studied it a moment, then said reluctantly, "Yeah."

"Did you give Chloe this ring?"

He swallowed nervously. "I - I guess I did."

"You're not sure?"

"I remember now. Yes, I did."

"You came to Washington with some classmates, right? Kind of a school group?"

"That's right."

"Was Chloe part of that group?"

"Yes, sir."

"Where's Chloe now, Paul?" - Detective Bernstein

"I - I don't know."

"When did you last see her?" - Detective Hogan

"I guess a couple of days ago."

"Two days ago?" - Detective Reese


"And where was that?" - Detective Bernstein

"In the White House."

The detectives looked at one another in surprise. "She was in the White House?" Reese asked.

"Yes, sir. We were all on a private tour. Chloe's mother arranged it."

"And Chloe was with you?" - Detective Hogan


"Did anything unusual happen on the tour?" - Detective Bernstein

"What do you mean?"

"Did you meet or talk to anyone on the tour?" - Detective Bernstein

"Well, sure, the guide."

"And that's all?" - Detective Reese

"That's right."

"Was Chloe with the group all the time?" - Detective Hogan

"Yes - " Yerby hesitated. "No. She slipped away to go to the ladies' room. She was gone about fifteen minutes. When she came back, she - " He stopped.

"She what?" Reese asked.

"Nothing. She just came back."

The boy was obviously lying.

"Son," Detective Reese asked, "do you know that Chloe Houston is dead?"

They were watching him closely. "No! My God! How?" The surprised look on his face could have been feigned.

"Don't you know?" - Detective Bernstein

"No! I - I can't believe it."

"You had nothing to do with her death?" - Detective Hogan

"Of course not! I love...I loved Chloe."

"Did you ever go to bed with her?" - Detective Bernstein

"No. We - we were waiting. We were going to get married."

"But sometimes you did drugs together?" - Detective Reese

"No! We never did drugs."

The door opened and a burly detective, Harry Carter, came into the room. He walked over to Reese and whispered something in his ear. Reese nodded. He sat there staring at Paul Yerby.

"When was the last time you saw Chloe Houston?"

"I told you, in the White House." He shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

Detective Reese leaned forward. "You're in a lot of trouble, Paul. Your fingerprints are all over the Imperial Suite at the Monroe Arms Hotel. How did they get there?"

Paul Yerby sat there, pale-faced.

"You can quit lying now. We've got you nailed."

"I - I didn't do anything."

"Did you book the suite at the Monroe Arms?" - Detective Bernstein

"No, I didn't." The emphasis was on the "I."

Detective Reese pounced on it. "But you know who did?"

"No." The answer came too quickly.

"You admit you were in the suite?" - Detective Hogan

"Yes, but - but Chloe was alive when I left."

"Why did you leave?" - Detective Hogan

"She asked me to. She - she was expecting someone."

"Come on, Paul. We know you killed her." - Detective Bernstein

"No!" He was trembling. "I swear I had nothing to do with it. I - I just went up to the suite with her. I only stayed a little while."

"Because she was expecting someone?" - Detective Reese

"Yes. She - she was kind of excited."

"Did she tell you who she was going to meet?" - Detective Hogan

He was licking his lips. "No."

"You're lying. She did tell you."

"You said she was excited. What about?" - Detective Reese

Paul licked his lips again. "About - about the man she was going to meet there for dinner."

"Who was the man, Paul?" - Detective Bernstein

"I can't tell you."

"Why not?" - Detective Hogan

"I promised Chloe I would never tell anyone."

"Chloe is dead."

Paul Yerby's eyes filled with tears. "I just can't believe it."

"Give us the man's name." - Detective Reese

"I can't do that. I promised."

"Here's what's going to happen to you: You're going to spend tonight in jail. In the morning, if you give us the name of the man she was going to meet, we'll let you go. Otherwise, we're going to book you for murder one." - Detective Reese

They waited for him to speak.


Nick Reese nodded to Bernstein. "Take him away."

Detective Reese returned to Captain Miller's office.

"I have bad news and I have worse news."

"I haven't time for this, Nick."

"The bad news is that I'm not sure it was the boy who gave her the drug. The worse news is that the girl's mother is the governor of Colorado."

"Oh, God! The papers will love this." Captain Miller took a deep breath. "Why don't you think the boy's guilty?"

"He admits he was in the girl's suite, but he said she told him to leave because she was expecting someone. I think the kid's too smart to come up with a story that stupid. What I do believe is that he knows who Chloe Houston was expecting. He won't say who it was."

"Do you have any idea?"

"It was her first time in Washington, and they were on a tour of the White House. She didn't know anyone here. She said she was going to the ladies' room. There is no public rest room in the White House. She would have had to go outside to the Visitor's Pavilion on the Ellipse at 15th and E streets or to the White House Visitor Center. She was gone about fifteen minutes. What I think happened is that while trying to find a ladies' room, she ran into someone in the White House, someone she might have recognized. Maybe someone she saw on TV. Anyway, it must have been somebody important. He led her to a private washroom and impressed her enough that she agreed to meet him at the Monroe Arms."

Captain Miller was thoughtful. "I'd better call the White House. They asked to be kept up-to-date on this. Don't let up on the kid. I want that name."


As Detective Reese walked out the door, Captain Miller reached for the telephone and dialed a number. A few minutes later, he was saying, "Yes, sir. We have a material witness in custody. He's in a holding cell at the Indiana Avenue police station....We won't, sir. I think the boy will give us the man's name tomorrow... Yes, sir. I understand." The line went dead.

Captain Miller sighed and went back to the pile of papers on his desk.

At eight o'clock the following morning, when Detective Nick Reese went to Paul Yerby's cell, Yerby's body was hanging from one of the top bars. Copyright 2016 - 2024