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By David Hosp
Warner Books Copyright © 2005 Richard David Hosp
All right reserved.
Chapter One August 2006
HER BODY WAS FOUND on a Sunday evening. It might have been discovered earlier, but floating in Boston Harbor it blended in with the logs and tires and trash that spilled over from the city.
She was the seventh, or so they thought at the time. Two weeks had passed since the sixth, and people were holding their breath, greedy in their anticipation. Not since the days when the Boston Strangler prowled his way across Beacon Hill had a singular fear so titillated New Englanders.
She was found by a police officer-Officer Paul Stone-who stumbled on her, almost literally. Twenty-two years old and fresh from the police academy, he spent his afternoons on foot patrol along the piers at the edge of South Boston-"Southie," as it was known to the locals. It was a lousy assignment. Directly across Fort Point Channel from downtown Boston, the edge of Southie was lifeless on the weekends, particularly in the heat of late August. The Boston World Trade Center was deserted, as were the new Convention Center and the Federal Courthouse. Other than those outcast buildings, the area was dominated by warehouses, parking lots, and storage facilities, the majority of which were shut down on Sundays. Stone felt as if he were in some postapocalyptic version of his hometown as he patrolled up and down the center of empty streets.
He walked halfway across the abandoned Northern Avenue Bridge at around seven o'clock. It was nearing dusk and most of the lights were on in the skyscrapers in front of him. Many were of the fluorescent variety, beaming out unfriendly from office towers where the lights seemed to burn around the clock, but others glowed from apartment buildings, shimmering along the city's edge and easing the evening's transition. At the bridge's center, he took one last look at the financial district, then turned and followed his patrol route back toward Southie.
The top of his shirt was open to the summer heat as he walked back along the bridge, but there was very little wind. A nice sea breeze might have made the beat more bearable, but the water was still and silent, and he cursed the heat as his collar rode up on his neck, soaked through with sweat.
It was high tide, and the piers seemed peaceful. The sunset over his shoulder cast a flat, pre-dusk light on the shoreline, highlighting the pockets of garbage floating by the shore along the harbor's embankments.
One particular clump caught Stone's eye; a dark mass stuck on a piling twenty yards or so east of the bridge. A metal object in the center of the lump was clinging unnaturally high on the piling. It had found the last rays of sunlight and was reflecting them right into Stone's eyes. He followed the glimmer out of boredom and curiosity, leaving the bridge, turning left, and walking along the shoreline.
When he came to the piling, he leaned over the embankment to take a look.
He could see the object now. It was a watch-a nice one, too. A Movado. The crisp silver casing that formed the simple, understated watch face still held the sunlight from the west. Stone was no longer focused on the watch itself, though; his attention was riveted on the wrist to which it was attached. It was delicate yet firm, and extended up from the water, supporting a slim hand that seemed to be reaching for help. It was so desperate in its pose that Stone's heart skipped a beat, and he reached over the harbor wall to grab hold. It was foolish, he realized, but he did it out of reflex and instinct. The cold, dead feel of the skin returned him to reality and he jerked himself back.
As he let go of the hand, the wrist slipped off its catch on the piling and the entire dark mass rolled over in the water. Stone found himself staring straight down into the face of a woman submerged just inches below the water's surface. Her eyes were open, as if to take one final look at the late summer sky. She was dressed in what looked like a tight-fitting black outfit, and around her neck was a bright red ribbon holding a gold crucifix in place at the top of her chest. Stone had the feeling that she was staring at him, and his heart skipped again when he looked into her eyes. They were clear blue, and they were mesmerizing. Later that night, in trying to recall the entirety of the incident, his only specific recollection would be of those eyes.
He stumbled back from the edge of the embankment and reached for his radio. He was about to call the precinct when a wave of nausea overtook him and he lunged toward the nearest bushes.
After he'd taken a moment to compose himself, he picked up his radio again. "Dispatch, this is Patrol Twelve. I've got a DB Code Thirty in the harbor. Right by the Northern Avenue Bridge, south side. Over."
It seemed like hours before the call was answered. "Patrol Twelve, this is dispatch, could you repeat that?"
"Yeah, I've got a body floating in the goddamned harbor! Caucasian female. Looks like she's in her twenties or thirties. Is that you, Kate?" Stone was friendly with the dispatcher. They'd both grown up in Southie, as had many of the cops in the precinct, and she'd gone to school with his older brother.
"Yeah, it's me, Paul. Don't touch anything. I'm gonna get a team down there to take over on crime scene. Just make damn sure no one goes near the area."
"That shouldn't be too much of a problem. It's just me and the seagulls down here, and I'm sure as hell not going swimming with a stiff."
There was silence on the other end of the radio for a few moments, and after a while Stone started to get nervous. The humidity was oppressive, and he could feel his uniform sticking to his body, bunching uncomfortably in the crevices where his limbs met his torso. It was as if the air was pushing in on him; a stress test draining his arms and legs of their strength as the sweat ran in streams down his back and chest. He began to have the feeling that someone was watching him from a distance, but there was no movement along the waterfront, and he assumed it was just his imagination.
"Kate?" he said into his handset. There was no answer. He walked to the edge of the harbor and looked over the embankment again. The harbor-lady was still there, looking up at him in apparent indifference.
"Kate, you there?" he repeated. He could hear the edge in his voice and he hoped that it wouldn't be obvious back at the station house. He didn't really care, though. He was feeling spooked.
"Yeah, Paul, hold on a minute." Kate's voice calmed him down a little. "Okay," she said after a brief pause. "We've got the task force from Area A-1 on the way down. They should be there in a couple of minutes."
"Okay, I'll be here."
There was another pause. Then, unable to contain her curiosity, Kate asked the question. "Is it him?"
"I don't know, Kate. Red choker. Gold cross. Yeah, I'd say it's probably him. It's just a guess, though."
Kate didn't respond. Stone stood for a moment, looking down at the lifeless figure in the water. Then he sat down on the embankment to wait in silence.
Excerpted from Dark Harbor by David Hosp Copyright © 2005 by Richard David Hosp . Excerpted by permission.
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