Betrayal of Trust
A J. P. Beaumont Novel
By J.A. Jance
Copyright © 2011 J.A. Jance
All right reserved.
I was sitting on the window seat of our penthouse unit
in Belltown Terrace when Mel came back from her run. Dripping
with sweat, she nodded briefly on her way to the shower and
left me in peace with my coffee cup and the online version of the
New York Times crossword. Since it was Monday, I finished it within
minutes and turned my attention to the spectacular Olympic
Mountains view to the west.
It was June. After months of mostly gray days, summer had
come early to western Washington. Often the hot weather holds
off until after drowning out the Fourth of July fireworks. Not this
year. It was only mid-June, and the online weather report said it
might get all the way to the mid-eighties by late afternoon.
People in other parts of the country might laugh at the idea of
mid-eighties temperatures clocking in as a heat wave, but in Seattle,
where the humidity is high and AC units are few, a long June
afternoon of sun can be sweltering, especially since the sun doesn't
disappear from the sky until close to 10:00 p.m.
I remember those long miserable hot summer nights when I
was a kid, when my mothera single motherand I lived in a
second-story one-bedroom apartment in a blue-collar Seattle
neighborhood called Ballard. We didn't have AC and there was a
bakery on the floor below us. Having a bakery and all those ovens
running was great in the winter, but in the summer not so much.
I would lie there on the couch in the living room, sleepless and
miserable, hoping for a tiny breath of breeze to waft in through
our lace curtains. It wasn't until I was in high school and earning
my own money by working as an usher in a local theater that I
managed to give my mom a pair of fans for Mother's Dayone for
her and one for me. (At least I didn't give her a baseball glove.)
I refilled my coffee cup and poured one for Mel. She grew up as
an army brat. Evidently the base housing hot water heaters were
often less than optimal. As a result she takes some of the fastest
showers known to man. She collected her coffee from the kitchen
and was back in the living room before the coffee came close to
reaching drinking temperature. Wearing a silky robe that left
nothing to the imagination and with a towel wrapped around her
wet hair, she curled up at the opposite end of the window seat and
joined me in examining the busy shipping traffic crisscrossing
A grain ship was slowly pulling away from the massive terminal
at the bottom of Queen Anne Hill. Two ferries, one going and
one coming, made their lumbering way to and from Bremerton or
Bainbridge Island. They were large ships, but from our perch
twenty-two stories up, they seemed like tiny toy boats. Over near
West Seattle, a collection of barges was being assembled in
advance of heading off to Alaska. Nearer at hand, a many-decked
cruise ship had docked overnight, spilling a myriad of shopping-
intent cruise enthusiasts into our Denny Regrade neighborhood.
"How was your run?" I asked.
"Hot and crowded," Mel said. "Myrtle Edwards Park was teeming
with runners off the cruise ships. I don't like running in
crowds. That's why I don't do marathons."
I had another reason for not doing marathonstwo of them,
actuallymy knees. Mel runs. I walk, or as she says, I "saunter."
Really, it's more limping than anything else. I finally broke down
and had surgery to remove my heel spurs, but then my knees went
south. It's hell getting old. I talked to Dr. Bliss, my GP, about the
situation with my knees.
"Yes," he said, "you'll need knee replacement surgery eventually,
ally, but we're not there yet."
Obviously he was using the royal "we," because if it was his
knee situation instead of mine, I'm sure "we'd" have had it done
I glanced at my watch. "We need to leave in about twenty, if
we're going to make it across the water before traffic stops up."
Since we were sitting looking out at an expanse of water, it
would be easy to think that's the water I meant when I spoke to
Mel, but it wasn't. In Seattle, that term refers to several different
bodies of water, depending on where you are at the time and
where you're going. In this case we were looking at Elliott Bay,
which happens to be our water view, but we work on the other
side of Lake Washington, in this instance, the "traffic" water in
question. People who live on Lake Washington or on Lake
Sammamish would have an entirely different take on the matter when
they used the same two words. Context is everything.
"Okey dokey," Mel said, hopping off the window seat. "Another
refill?" she asked.
I gave her my coffee mug. She took it, went to the kitchen,
filled it, and came back. She handed me the cup and gave me a
quick kiss in the process. "I started a new pot for our travelers,"
she said, then added, "Back in a flash."
I had showered and dressed while she was out, not that I needed
to. There are two full baths as well as a powder room in our unit.
When I married Mel, rather than share mine, she took over the
guest bath and made it her own, complete with all the mysterious
vials of makeup and moisturizers she deems necessary to keep
herself presentable. I happen to think Mel is more than presentable
without any of that stuff, but I've gathered enough wisdom
over the years to realize that my opinion on some subjects is
neither requested nor appreciated.
So we split the bathrooms. As long as we share the bed in my
room, I don't have a problem with that. Occasionally I find myself
wondering about my first marriage to Karen, who is now
deceased. Most of the time we were married, we had two bathrooms
one for us and one for the kids. Would our lives have
been smoother if Karen and I had been able to have separate bath-
rooms as well?
No, wait. Denial is a wonderful thing, and I'm going to call
myself on it. Despite my pretense to the contrary, the warfare
that occurred in Karen's and my bathroom usually had nothing
to do with the bathroom itself. Karen was a drama queen and I
was a jerk, for starters. Yes, we did battle over changing the
toilet paper rolls and leaving the toilet seat up and hanging panty
hose on the shower curtain rod and leaving clots of toothpaste in
the single sink, but those were merely symptoms of what was
really wrong with our marriagenamely, my drinking and my
working too much. All the squabbling in our bathroomthe
only real private place in the housewas generally about those
underlying issues rather than the ones we claimed we were
For years, Karen and I never showed up at the kitchen table for
breakfast without having spent the better part of an hour railing
at each other first. I'm sure those constant verbal battles were very
hard on our kids, and I regret them to this day. But I have to tell
you that the pleasant calmness that prevails in my life with Mel
Soames is nothing short of a dream come true.
Don't let the different last names fool you. Mel is my third wife.
She didn't take my name, and I didn't take hers. As for the single
day Anne Corley's and my marriage lasted? She didn't take my
name, either, so I'm two for one in the wives-keeping-their-own-
names department. Karen evidently didn't mind changing names at
allshe took mine, and later, when she married Dave Livingston,
her second husband, she took his name as well. So much for the
high and low points of J. P. Beaumont's checkered romantic past.
When the coffeepotan engineering marvel straight out of
Starbucksbeeped quietly to let me know it was done, I went out
to the kitchen and poured most of the pot into our two hefty
stainless-steel traveling mugs. This is Seattle. We don't go any-
where or do anything without sufficient amounts of coffee plugged
into the system.
I was just tightening the lid on the second one when Mel
appeared in the doorway looking blond and wonderful. Maybe the
makeup did make a tiny bit of difference, but I can tell you she's a
whole lot better-looking than any other homicide cop I ever met.
On our commute, she drives. Fast. It's best for all concerned if I
settle back in the passenger seat of my Mercedes S-550, drink my
coffee, and do my best to refrain from backseat driving. One of
these days Mel is going to get a hefty speeding ticket that she
won't be able to talk her way out of. When that happens, I expect
it will finally slow her down. Until that time, however, I'm staying
out of it.
And don't let all this talk about making coffee fool you. Mel is
no wizard in the kitchen, and neither am I. We mostly survive on
takeout or by going out to eat. We have several preferred restaurants
on our list of morning dining establishments once we get
through the potential bottleneck that is the I-90 Bridge.
The people who planned the bridges in Seattleboth the 520
and the I-90were betting that the traffic patterns of the fifties
and sixties would prevailthat people would drive into the city
from the suburbs in the mornings and back home at night. So the
lanes that were built into the I-90 bridges have express lanes that
are westbound in the morning and eastbound in the afternoon.
Except there are almost as many people working in the burbs now
as there are in the city, and "wrong-way" commuters like Mel and
me, on our way to the east side of Lake Washington to the offices
of the Attorney General's Special Homicide Investigation Team,
pay the commuting price for those long-ago decisions every day.
If we make it through in good order, we can go to the Pancake
Corral in Bellevue or to Li'l Jon's in Eastgate for a decent sit-down
breakfast. Otherwise we're stuck with Egg McMuffins at our
desks. You don't have to guess which of those options I prefer. So
we head out a good hour and fifteen minutes earlier than we
would need to without stopping for breakfast. Getting across the
lake early usually makes for lighter trafficunless there's an accident.
Then all bets are off. A successful outcome is also impacted
by weathertoo much rain or wind or even too much sun can all
prove hazardous to the morning commute.
That Monday morning we were goldenno accidents, no
stop-and-go traffic. By the time the sun came peeking up over the
Li'l Jon's ordering breakfast. And more coffee. Because our office
is across the freeway and only about six blocks away from the
restaurant, we were able to take our time. Mel had pancakes.
She's a runner. She can afford the carbs. I had a single egg over
easy with one slice of whole-wheat toast.
We arrived at the Special Homicide Investigation Team's east
side office at five minutes to nine. We don't have to punch a time
clock. When we're on a case, we sometimes work extraordinarily
long hours. When we're not on a case, we work on the honor
For the record, I do know that the unfortunate acronym for
Special Homicide Investigation Team is S.H.I.T., an oversight some
bumbling bureaucrat didn't understand until it was too late to do
anything about it. In the world of state governmentand probably
in the federal government as wellonce the stationery is printed,
no departmental name is going to get changed because the resulting
acronym turns out to be bad news. S.L.U.T. (the South Lake
Union Transit) is another unfortunate local case in point.
But for all of us who actually work for Special Homicide, the
jokes about S.H.I.T. are almost as tired as any little-kid knock-
knock joke that comes to mind, and they're equally unwelcome.
Yes, we laugh courteously when people think they're really clever
by mentioning that we "work for S.H.I.T.," but I can assure you,
what we do here at Special Homicide is not a joke. And neither is
our boss, Harry Ignatius BallHarry I. Ball, as those of us who
know and love him like to call him.
Special Homicide is actually divided into three units. Squad A
works out of the state capital down in Olympia. They handle
everything from Olympia south to the Oregon border. Squad B,
our unit, is in Bellevue, but we work everything from Tacoma
north to the Canadian border, while Squad C, based in Spokane,
covers most things on the far side of the mountains. These divisions
aren't chiseled in granite. We work for Ross Connors. As
the Washington State Attorney General, he is the state's chief
law enforcement officer. We work at his pleasure and direction.
We work where Ross Connors says and when Ross Connors says.
He's a tough boss but a good one. When things go haywire, as
they sometimes do, he isn't the kind of guy who leaves his people
blowing in the wind. That sort of loyalty inspires loyalty, and
Ross gives as good as he gets.
That morning Mel and I both managed to survive the terminal
boredom of the weekly staff-meeting ritual. After that, we
returned to our separate cubicle-size offices, where we were
continuing work on cross-referencing the state's many missing
persons reports with unidentified homicides in all other jurisdictions.
It was cold-case work, long on frustration, short on triumphs,
and even more boring most of the time than staff meetings.
When Squad B's secretary/office manager, Barbara Galvin,
poked her head into our tiny offices and announced that Mel and I
had been summoned to Harry's office, it was a real footrace to see
who got there first.
doesn't use that, either. It's only in the last few months that he's
finally accepted the necessity of carrying a cell
Excerpted from Betrayal of Trust by J.A. Jance Copyright © 2011 by J.A. Jance. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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