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Privileged Witness (Excerpt)
By Rebecca Forster
December, 2005, 10:50

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he half-naked woman came from the penthouse - she just hadn’t bothered to use the elevator. Instead, she stepped off the balcony eleven stories up. Her theatrics kept Detective Babcock from a quiet evening with a good book, a glass of wine and some very fine music. Detective Babcock didn’t hold a grudge long, though. One look at the jumper made him regret that he hadn’t arrived in time to stop her.

Beautiful even in death, the woman lay on the hot concrete as if it were her bed. Her arms were out, one crooked at an angle so that the delicate fingers of her right hand curled toward her head; the other lay straight, her left hand was open-palmed at her hip. On her right wrist was a diamond and sapphire bracelet.  A matching earring had come off at impact and was caught in her dark hair. Her slim legs were curved together.  Her feet were small and bare.  Her head was turned in profile. Her eyes were closed.  The wedding ring she wore made Horace Babcock feel just a little guilty for admiring her.  She carried her age well so that it was difficult to tell exactly how. . .

“Crap, I think I felt a raindrop.”

Babcock inclined his head. His eyes flickered toward Kurt Rippy who was hunkered to the side of a pool of blood that haloed the jumper’s head.  It was the only sign that something traumatic had occurred here. It would be different when the coroner’s people turned the body to take her away.  When they cut off the yellow silk and lace teddy at the morgue, lay her face up, naked on a metal table, they would find half her head caved in, her ribs pulverized, her pelvis shattered.  Her brain might fall out and that would be a sad sight, indeed.  How glad Babcock was to see her this way.



An illusion. 

Raising a hand toward the sky, he checked the weather. Even though the day was done it was still hot and he could see the thunderheads that had hovered over the San Bernardino Mountains for the last few days were now rolling toward Long Beach. Pity tonight would be wet when the other three hundred and sixty four days of the year had been bone dry.

“Are you almost done?” Babcock asked knowing the rain would wash away the blood and a thousand little pieces of grit and dust and things that Kurt needed to collect as a matter of course.

“Yeah. Not much to get here. I bagged her hands just in case, but she looks clean.”

Detective Babcock bridled at the adjective. It was too pedestrian for her. Hardly poetic.

She was pristine.

She was beautiful.

She was privileged.

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Rebecca Forster's novel Privileged Witness will be released February 9, 2006 Signet, ISBN #0-451-21777-2

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