Drawn in blood, p.1
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       Drawn in Blood, p.1

         Part #2 of Burbank and Parker series by Andrea Kane
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Drawn in Blood


  Andrea Kane

  Drawn in Blood

  To Mischief Mini, whom we all adore. Thank you

  for bringing a new and renewed love into our

  hearts and our home. You are truly a blessing.

  Contents

  Chapter One

  The front door of the apartment was open a crack.

  Chapter Two

  The evening rush hour had come and gone, but the…

  Chapter Three

  Matthew Burbank was pacing the floor of the waiting room…

  Chapter Four

  Dressed in white coveralls, the team of Albanian gunmen kept…

  Chapter Five

  Xiao Long, or “Little Dragon,” as his street name translated…

  Chapter Six

  The poker game was in full swing when Sloane walked…

  Chapter Seven

  The Kunsthalle München was a rectangular building of concrete and…

  Chapter Eight

  The one thing Derek hadn’t approached Tony with was how…

  Chapter Nine

  Something was bugging Rich Williams.

  Chapter Ten

  Rosalyn was in a hurry. Business tote in one hand,…

  Chapter Eleven

  Xiao Long had gotten involved with the triads when he…

  Chapter Twelve

  Matthew Burbank was pacing by the front door when Sloane…

  Chapter Thirteen

  An hour later, Sloane and her father were seated across…

  Chapter Fourteen

  Sloane ran the hounds an extra half-mile that night to…

  Chapter Fifteen

  The total worth of multimillionaire Theodore Campbell’s private art collection…

  Chapter Sixteen

  Cindy’s debut was a smashing success.

  Chapter Seventeen

  Sloane’s arrow whizzed through the air and struck the bull’s-eye…

  Chapter Eighteen

  Leo Fox had enjoyed a variety of women in his…

  Chapter Nineteen

  Peggy Sun took a few steps back to scrutinize her…

  Chapter Twenty

  Derek was in the living room with the hounds. He…

  Chapter Twenty-One

  It was midmorning when Rich strode down one of C-6’s…

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  The brown sedan cruised slowly down the street. It was…

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Derek arrived at his desk at seven a.m. As a…

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Daniel Zhang was expecting them.

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Wallace’s taste in restaurants was impeccable.

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Derek’s reaction to Sloane and Jeff’s report was not what…

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Jeff and Sloane arrived at the women’s shelter the next…

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Leo was a wreck.

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Derek started with Ben Martino.

  Chapter Thirty

  Phil had thought through everything long and hard.

  Chapter Thirty-One

  Xiao Long’s gaze bore into Leary’s and Martino’s backs as…

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Derek left the cottage at dawn the next morning, heading…

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  Phil’s wake was held that Friday at the Thomas Mackie…

  Chapter Thirty-Four

  There was no doubt that Johnny Liu had members of…

  Chapter Thirty-Five

  Ben was slumped over his desk, head lolled to one…

  Chapter Thirty-Six

  Ben crawled out of the bathroom and back to his…

  Chapter Thirty-Seven

  Sloane rested her head on Derek’s shoulder.

  Chapter Thirty-Eight

  Sloane and Derek drove into the Field Office together the…

  Chapter Thirty-Nine

  The package Johnny Liu had described arrived twenty minutes later.

  Chapter Forty

  It was dark.

  Epilogue

  “I’d forgotten how much paperwork has to be done after…

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Other Books by Andrea Kane

  Credits

  Copyright

  About the Publisher

  CHAPTER ONE

  The front door of the apartment was open a crack. That meant Matthew was home.

  Generally, Rosalyn Burbank preferred being the first one through the door at night. It gave her time to unwind, to transition from work to home. To savor a glass of wine and a hot shower before starting to think about dinner.

  But tonight she was just as happy her husband had beaten her to their Upper East Side apartment. The two of them needed to talk.

  Something was weighing on her husband’s mind, and had been for weeks. She’d waited for him to approach her and broach the subject. He hadn’t. That was way out of character. Matthew wasn’t big on secrets. Neither was Rosalyn. It was probably one of the reasons their marriage had endured for thirty-three years. And what made this situation worse was that whatever Matthew was keeping from her was significant. He wasn’t himself. He was quiet and pensive, and he tossed and turned all night, every night.

  Rosalyn was really starting to worry.

  Tonight she planned to clear the air.

  “Matthew?” She elbowed the front door open the rest of the way and stepped inside, shutting it behind her. “It’s me. You forgot to close the door behind you again. Not the smartest idea. One day, someone’s going to—”

  She never finished her sentence.

  She heard the footsteps rush up behind her a split second before a pair of strong arms grabbed her. A rag was stuffed in her mouth, and a rough sack was pulled over her head.

  Instinctively, Rosalyn fought back. Enveloped by darkness, she struggled like a wild animal, even when she was backhanded so hard that her head snapped around and she lost her footing, nearly toppling to the floor. She managed to stay upright, regained her balance, and swung out blindly with her fist.

  Her knuckles connected with what felt like her attacker’s jaw, and she heard his grunt of stunned surprise.

  She took advantage of the moment, delivering a second punch, hoping to do some serious damage. But this time she missed and her attacker grabbed her arms, pinning them behind her and anchoring them so her movements were restricted. She still didn’t cave, but continued to battle him with sharp defensive jerks of her body and as many clumsy kicks as she could manage.

  When her knee connected with his groin, she knew she’d gone too far.

  He swore viciously, then barked out a terse, unintelligible command in another language—some Asian tongue. Pounding footsteps ensued, and a second intruder burst out from wherever in the apartment he’d been. The two men started arguing in a guttural Chinese dialect. An instant later, Rosalyn was dragged through the foyer and into another room—Matthew’s office, if her sense of direction wasn’t completely off. There, she was shoved into a chair, her wrists were bound behind her, and her ankles were tied together on the floor.

  She tried to let out a scream but only succeeded in gagging on the rag that was crammed in her mouth. The garbled sound that emerged was muffled by the burlap sack. Before she could try again, a heavy, solid object struck her head, and pain exploded through her skull.

  She saw stars and heard herself whimper. Pinpoints of light flashed behind her eyes. The voices…just two? No, maybe three. Male voices. All speaking in the same rapid Chinese. Dazed, she found herself wishing she’d joined Matthew and Sloane all those years ago when they’d taken their trips to the Far East. Then may
be she could have deciphered what was being said. As it was, all she could make out was the urgency of their tones, mixed with the sound of slamming drawers and what was probably a lifetime of possessions being hauled off.

  With her tongue, she managed to maneuver the rag to one side—far enough so she could scream.

  That was a mistake.

  A drawer thudded to the floor. A whiz of motion. And then another blow that connected solidly with the side of her head.

  This one was too much.

  Blinding pain. Then, dark silence.

  It had started to drizzle when Matthew got out of the taxi and paid the driver—a cold autumn drizzle that left you feeling chilled inside and out.

  Matthew didn’t notice it.

  He didn’t notice anything.

  He was paralyzed with shock and worry.

  He’d walked into a Chinatown restaurant to meet his partners, men who also happened to be his oldest friends. It wasn’t a social dinner. It was a strategy session. All their necks were on the line—even the two of them who hadn’t been at the crime scene—and it had been crucial that they nail down the details of the story they’d be giving to the FBI during their individual interrogations. No hesitations. No deviations. It was the only way.

  Matthew had arrived late and on edge.

  But he’d left panicked, punched in the gut with the very basis for this meeting, and sucked into a memory he’d long since buried—or had tried to. Suddenly, the past was the present. No. Worse. Because now what he feared for was his life.

  He’d stepped out for a smoke. The Mercedes had pulled up to the curb, parking directly in front of the Cadillac Escalade, not fifteen feet from where Matthew stood. Two Mediterranean guys, who looked like thugs and were built like linebackers, had gotten out of the Escalade and waited on the sidewalk as the driver of the Mercedes, burly and Asian, hurried around to open the back door for his passenger.

  The man had emerged, emanating power, despite being dwarfed in size by the linebackers. He’d greeted them with a nod, waited for his driver—who was clearly a bodyguard—to be glued to his side, and then led the way, keeping his head down as he walked.

  He raised it just as he reached Matthew. He stopped. A long moment of eye contact. The recognition had been mutual and indisputable.

  It was more than enough to tell Matthew he was living on borrowed time.

  He was barely aware of greeting the doorman at his building or entering the high-rise on York Avenue and Eighty-second Street. On autopilot, he summoned the elevator, then rode upstairs as he berated himself for being a prisoner to his own stupidity.

  The elevator doors slid open, and he headed toward the apartment. Never had he needed a drink more than he did right now.

  He unlocked the front door and flipped on the light as he stepped inside. His gaze swept the living area, and he froze in his tracks.

  The place was trashed, furniture shoved aside, empty recesses left where the flat-screen TV and entertainment center had been. Kitchen drawers were dumped upside down, minus all the unique Art Deco silverware they’d contained. Two handcrafted sculptures that Matthew had bartered for in Thailand were missing, as was the Monet that had hung over the sofa, and the one-of-a-kind ivory chess set he’d bought in India. And one of Rosalyn’s diamond stud earrings was lying in the corner, clearly having been dropped. That meant they’d been in their bedroom and cleaned out her jewelry box.

  None of that meant jack. It was the other painting. That’s why they’d come. The rest was just bonus. They’d broken in because of the painting.

  Not the Monet. It was one of his lesser known works, not one of his masterpieces. But the Rothberg. Not the painting itself, but its paperwork. That was what was invaluable. And timely. Especially after Matthew’s encounter tonight.

  He flung down the portfolio he’d been holding and raced to his office—where he’d find his answer.

  He found a lot more than that.

  Rosalyn was crumpled on her side in a corner of the room. She was bound to a toppled chair—hands and feet—and her head was half-covered by a cloth sack. One of the heavy wooden bookends he kept on his mantle lay beside her. A pool of blood was oozing from inside the sack, staining the Oriental rug beneath his wife’s head. She wasn’t moving. Her unnatural stillness was terrifying.

  “Roz.” Wild with panic, Matthew dashed over, squatting down and easing the sack off her head, dreading what he’d find.

  She was breathing. He released his own breath when he saw that. Thank God. She was alive. The shallow rise and fall of her breasts confirmed it. So did the thready but definite pulse at her wrist.

  To hell with the Rothberg.

  He pulled the rag out of her mouth and untied her wrists and ankles, scrutinizing her as he did. There were nasty gashes just above her ear where the blood was seeping from. Whoever had done this had struck her at least twice with the bookend. Hard.

  “Roz!” Matthew gripped her shoulders and shook her, realizing he was being an ass. He shouldn’t be jarring her, shouldn’t be wasting precious seconds before calling 911. But he needed a sign, any sign—a word, a flicker of recognition—anything that told him she was okay.

  He got both.

  After his second “Roz! Honey, can you hear me?” she cracked open her eyes.

  “Matthew?” she managed, blinking up at him. She stirred, then moaned, sinking back into the carpet and squeezing her eyes shut at the pain.

  “Don’t talk. Don’t move. I’ll get help. It’ll be okay.” Matthew knew he was reassuring himself more than his wife, who’d slipped back into unconsciousness.

  Groping in his jacket pocket, he snatched his cell phone and punched in 911.

  “This is Matthew Burbank,” he announced the instant the emergency operator answered. “I live at 500 East Eighty-second, at the corner of York. Apartment 9B. My home’s been broken into. My wife is hurt. I need an ambulance—fast.” His gaze was darting around, taking in the wreck of his office as he spoke. “She was struck on the head. At least twice. I don’t know how bad it is. She’s bleeding, but she’s alive. Please…hurry.” Dazed, he supplied the other customary answers, then hung up.

  He forced himself to scan the room, taking in the ransacked drawers of his myriad file cabinets. Even though he didn’t label the cabinets themselves, he had a system, and he knew which cabinets were which. So he knew exactly where to direct his scrutiny. The cabinet that was thoroughly trashed, with a specific drawer pulled out to the max, was the one holding his pre-electronic business records of promising modern artists.

  Neatly placed across the open drawer was a now-empty file folder. No surprise as to which one. A. Rothberg’s Dead or Alive was printed on the tab. And resting on top of the folder like some kind of menacing paperweight was a fortune cookie. He picked it up. The fortune was sticking out from inside the cookie. Matthew eased it free.

  Devote tomorrow to silent reflection, it read.

  Bile burned Matthew’s tongue. It wasn’t a suggestion. It was a threat. This is what they’d come for. Not his possessions.

  Matthew stared at the objects in his hands. Then, he shoved the empty file folder, fortune cookie, and fortune into the inside pocket of his trench coat.

  The cops couldn’t see these. If they did, the whole situation would explode wide open.

  It was already too late for him.

  But now his whole family was in mortal danger.

  CHAPTER TWO

  The evening rush hour had come and gone, but the cars were still rumbling through the Midtown Tunnel, making the apartment vibrate and sleep impossible.

  Fortunately, sleep was the furthest thing from Sloane Burbank’s mind.

  Lying alone in Derek’s bed, she pulled the sheet up higher, gripping it tightly in her fists, and wondering for the dozenth time if she was jumping the gun, making a huge mistake. Was this happening too fast? Was it premature? Would it solidify things or blow them apart?

  The step she was making was huge. How di
d she know if it was right?

  She was still pondering that when the key turned in the front-door lock, and Derek’s voice reached her ears, accompanied by the sound of racing paws. An instant later, three bright-eyed dachshunds scrambled into the bedroom, dragging their leashes behind them. They pounced on the bed and on Sloane with a vengeance, licking her face and burrowing in the pillows.

  “Hey.” Sloane greeted Moe, Larry, and Curly—or “the hounds,” as she affectionately called them—with alternating scruffling of their necks. Their enthusiasm was infectious, and she had to grin as Larry stuck his head inside one pillowcase and emerged with two feathers on his snout. She plucked them off, pivoted to her side, and propped herself on one elbow. “That’s quite a greeting, you three. And you’ve only been gone a half hour.”

  “It feels like a lot longer.” Derek Parker entered the room, shrugging out of his lightweight jacket and hanging it neatly over one of the two suitcases near the bedroom door. “We jogged half a mile up Second Avenue. I think we marked every fire hydrant along the way twice—once going and once coming back.”

  Sloane laughed, sitting up to unsnap the hounds’ leashes. Curly was panting the least. Then again, he was her little frankfurter, with almost no hair to weigh him down. Larry was curly haired, and little Moe—actually, Mona, the only female of the trio—was long-haired and silky. She was panting the most, and took the opportunity to gaze at Sloane and emit a plaintive whimper.

  “Oh, cut it out,” Derek muttered as he stepped into the galley kitchen to refill their water dishes. “You’re such a drama queen. You were the one who dragged us into that mud puddle to play—and refused to leave for five minutes. So cut the violins-playing-in-the-background act.”

  Moe gave a pointed snort and jumped off the bed, leaving to join the others for a long drink.

  “Thanks for taking them out,” Sloane said to Derek. “You know that when I’m in the country I take them for a jog every morning and night. But I hate running in the city.”

  “Not a problem.”

  Sloane watched as Derek guzzled a bottle of water, then stripped off his shirt and tossed it in the hamper nearby. That was the one good thing about a small apartment—everything was within reach.

 
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