The bodies were hidden under a sheet. Blood had pooled out from underneath, staining the clean white marble floor. That’ll be a bitch to clean later, she thought.
When the sheet was removed, the stench hit Trinity with full force. She took a glance at the corpses, one male and one female - she pegged them to be in their late-20’s to early 30’s. The man was well-muscled, broad shouldered, and tall. His thick neck was striped with ligature marks that had just begun to bruise. He would’ve been an attractive man - dark haired with light eyes - except his baby blues were bloodshot and clouded over. “Bloodshot eyes and broken blood vessels in his nose,” her partner, Patrick, remarked.
“Consistent with strangulation,” she responded. “No other marks or wounds?”
“Appears that way,” Patrick said. “She’s a different story, though.”
They moved on to the female. The man had been dressed, but she was stripped down to her underwear. A white lace thong and a simple nude bralette, though both were soaked through with blood. A rose-gold watch adorned her tiny wrist. “Jesus,” Trinity heard her partner say.
Indeed. She had been stabbed multiple times through the abdomen. Frenzied stab wounds. Some were shallower than others. “Did she bleed out?” Patrick asked.
“Looks like it,” Trinity said. Her skin was impossibly pale. She glanced over at the scarlet bee-stung lips, the way her soft dark hair curled over her shoulders, the bright rouge on her cheeks. Thick false lashes were stuck on her lids; a fly landed on one eye and made the lashes quiver. Dramatically arched brows and audacious blue eyeshadow completed her Instagram-ready look.
“Take the bodies back as soon as we’ve documented the crime scene,” Trinity commanded. She glanced at the bodies again and turned. Patrick dusted off his knees as he stood up.
“What do you make of all this?”
She surveyed the room. No signs of breaking and entering. The dining room had been set for two, his and hers. The rim of one crystal-stemmed wine glass was marked with a light cherry ring, still half-full. A candle had drowned in its own wax at the center. Bone china plates had been scraped clean and stacked neatly aside. “Romantic dinner date gone wrong,” she remarked.
“This was her apartment,” Patrick said. It was lifelessly chic, Trinity observed, the layout lifted from fashion magazines and replicated in full, with few personal touches. Walls were painted an eggshell white; kitchen marble countertops a slate grey; stark white marble flooring. Precious few personal items, except for a monochromatic enlarged photograph of the New York skyline which hung from one of the dining room walls. A cream leather sofa polished to perfection faced a 15-inch plasma screen TV mounted on the wall. She ran her finger on the countertop and bookshelves - no dust.
“The killer took the clock,” she said.
“Clock?” Patrick looked at her, confused.
Trinity pointed to a blank space on the living room wall. “There,” she said. There was a nail, with nothing hanging from it.
“That could’ve been there before,” Patrick replied, unimpressed.
She shook her head. “Look how the whole room appears,” Trinity said. “All the other duplexes in the building come with cream-colored walls. The landlord said she was very meticulous with renovations. This is a new apartment. She redid the interior herself- her walls are white and repainted dozens of times. There’s not a rough patch anywhere. She would’ve noticed a random nail and pulled it out, especially since it’s in a pretty obvious space.”
“Doesn’t mean it was a clock.”
“She’s a professional working woman. There is nothing personal in this room - everything has a practical purpose. What’s more practical than a clock?”
He huffed. “I’m not convinced.”
One of the grunts called her over the bathroom. The mirror was polished clean, the sandstone countertop spotless, her toiletries neatly organized in one corner. The bathtub, however, appeared to not have received the same vigorous buffing. The porcelain sides were stained with a faint ring of blood. She noticed that the soap holder was empty. Patrick whistled low. “What happened here?”
“Someone took a bath,” Trinity said. “And made off with the soap.”
“Why not a shower? Showers are faster.” Patrick said.
It’s more relaxing, Trinity thought. A nice long bath after a stressful day is the best way to unwind. “We’ll find out when we catch him.”
He laughed. She turned to the officer. “See if we can get any fingerprints off the tap, or DNA evidence from drain, hair, skin on the rug, anything.” Satisfied, she stalked off the bedroom.
Unsurprisingly, it was just as well-organized as the previous rooms. Her bed was made - was that done by the killer? The woman’s missing clothes were puddled at the foot of the bed. A little more personal than the other rooms - she noticed some photographs, although all the photographs of the young woman had been placed face down. The mirror was placed at a slightly awkward angle, but in a perfect position to reflect the bed. Papers were placed in color-coordinated folders, and a sensible selection of stationary - Uniball black and blue pens - was organized in a wire-cup pencil holder. A slightly open closet door. She looked inside. Business clothes, neatly pressed, but some had fallen from their hangers and lay crumpled on the closet floor.
“Kinky,” Patrick remarked, noticing the mirror placement. “Don’t know if I’d be into that, though.”
“I don’t think she was into that either,” Trinity said. “I think the killer moved the mirror.”
“What do you mean?”
He wanted to see her face. He wanted to see how much she wanted him, how much she wanted this. He wanted her to see how good they looked together. “It’s a gut feeling,” she said. “Have them dust for prints, though I doubt they’ll find any - he was probably wearing gloves when he organized this room.”
Patrick shrugged. “We should probably check the bed for DNA as well. So you think he killed the man first, pulled her to the bed, raped her, and then stabbed her and took a bath?”
“Yes. It would’ve been hard to control both adults, except the man was likely distracted, in a compromised position and somewhat buzzed. He could’ve used a fake gun to intimidate them - strangulation takes time. I think...” she trailed off.
“He probably interrupted them when they were starting to get it on. He was probably standing in the closet, watching. He may have used a wire hanger to strangle the man quickly from behind. Check her closet, see if it’s one hanger short.”
“How’d he get in?”
She shrugged. “We’ll find out.”
“Jesus,” he said, disgusted. “We’ll take vaginal swabs and check the bedsheets - hopefully he’s a secretor.”
Trinity frowned as she noticed the makeup table. Several tubes of nude lipsticks, a demure rose blush, subdued highlighters. Where was the palette that had produced that bold scarlet lip, the airbrushed rouge?
“Don’t tell me he took her lipstick,” Patrick said.
“No.” She felt a little queasy. “I think he applied that himself.”
She hadn’t liked it as much as he thought she would. He’d overreacted and hurt her, and now she was ignoring him. But he could make it better. He could make her better - the version of herself that he knew she could be... the blue, it brings out your eyes darling, and the highlight for that post-coital glow you were missing... yes, I got all this for you, can’t you see... I love you so much.
Trinity shook her head. “Look through her makeup cabinet. The makeup on her face was expertly applied, but it would’ve gotten messed up during sexual intercourse, and we should be able to find traces on her pillow or the sheets. Nothing in her wardrobe suggests anything as showy as her look now. It suits her, but it isn’t what she would’ve chosen for herself.”
Patrick nodded. “Barker said he found a clock in the dumpster across the street. Perfect condition. It’s grey. Pretty big. Wrapped in a plastic bag but not very well hidden. ”
“Matches the color palette of her living room,” she said. “I wonder why he took it. Get any prints off it?”
“We’ll check. I doubt it. He seems pretty careful.”
“There’s one more thing we haven’t found yet,” Trinity said, “the murder weapon.”
“We’ll get some clues after the autopsy report,” Patrick said. “He might’ve taken that with him, and disposed of it later.”
“He was prepared,” she said. “He brought a makeup palette and he took the clock and the murder weapon with him when he left. He thought this through.”
“What bugs me is how he came in. And how long was he sitting there, in the dark? Did he plan this?”
She sighed, absentmindedly tracing the edges of the woman’s ID card with her gloved hands. “Anita Wang,” she said softly. “Junior Data Analyst.” So sad to have to meet you.