Murder Beyond The Milky Way

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Chapter Twenty-Four

Diana Melville was gorgeous. Harry could not believe that this woman was the same one in the holoportrait. The disembodied image had no way to portray the animal magnetism that the flesh and blood woman exuded as she walked across the raised area towards them.

Harry guessed that she was around 5’5”. She was wearing some kind of shoe with heels that made her appear slightly taller. But that did not destroy the symmetry of her figure which was encased in an emerald green dress that was slightly reminiscent of a space pressure suit. It followed the contours of her body gently clinging to her flesh enhancing all of her curves. She had the kind of breasts and hips that Harry loved, proportioned to each other and set off by a narrow waist. The dress was long reaching almost to the floor, but it had a slit that allowed most of her right leg to appear with each forward step. The dress had a high collar, but her arms were bare. Her hair was almost white and styled to frame her face and draw attention to her hauntingly light blue eyes. Harry wondered if they were real like Allyson’s or genetically altered to help her succeed in her profession.

“Hello, Matt,” she said in a soft, slightly nasal voice.

Quincey stood up. Harry followed his lead. Movement shook him out of his reverie and all he could think was that Somerset was right. Here was a woman who could make a man feel like king of the world.

“Hello, Diana,” Quincey said. “I’ve got some bad news for you. Sit down.”

Diana sat down and sat back slightly to cross her legs. Harry noticed that Diana Melville didn’t sit, she lounged. “You’re here to tell me about Steve, aren’t you,” she said.

“You’ve heard?”

“We live in a dome, Matt. If I sneeze in here, someone by the Lifeshield walkway will hear about it before I can wipe my nose. Diana turned her full attention on Harry. Who’s your friend?”

Harry suddenly felt very small.

“Harry Salem, Diana Melville,” Quincey said by way of introduction.

“Just got off the freighter, didn’t you.” Diana languidly reached out her hand and took Harry’s.

“Is it that obvious?” Harry asked. Harry expected the firm handshake that he had come to loathe since leaving Earth Prime. But he was pleasantly surprised. She caressed his hand with a feathery light touch that sent a sensuous shock up his arm. Harry could feel the goose bumps rising.

Diana laughed. “He’s cute,” she said to Quincey.

“You can have him,” Quincey said. “For a price.”

“Everything comes with a price,” Diana said. “How much?”

“Just some answers,” Quincey said.

“Depends on the questions.”

“How were you and Steve getting along?”

“We weren’t,” Diana said. “Hadn’t you noticed that there was someone else sleeping in his bed?”

“How did you feel about that?” Harry asked.

“He’s kidding, right?” she asked Quincey.

“It’s a good question,” Quincey said.

“How did you expect me to feel?” Diana asked. “One minute I’m the exclusive property of Steve Somerset, the next, anyone who dials up my image can have me. How would you feel?”

“It’s what you get paid for, isn’t it?” Harry asked.

“You didn’t tell me that your little friend was also a little shit,” Diana said to Quincey.

“Well, it is, isn’t it,” Quincey said.

“Hey, what did I ever do to you?” Diana asked Quincey. “You’re the one I should be pissed at.”


“Yeah, you.”


“You’re the one who introduced that Lydia bitch to Steve and caused me to lose...”

“Lose what?” Quincey ask not too kindly. “You knew what you were signing on for when you agreed to come to Magnum-4. You’re time with Steve was nothing more than a vacation.”

“Which you brought to an end,” Diana snapped back. Her eyes went cold, almost lifeless.

“You’re beautiful. Can’t you find someone else like Mr. Somerset?” Harry asked.

Diana turned her blue eyes on Harry. The steel left them. “You’re sweet, but there was no one out here like Steve.”

“I’m beginning to realize that,” Harry said.

Quincey turned and looked at him.

“It’s not easy, you know,” she said. “Men come to me, now, because they want to see what it’s like having the woman who...” Her voice trailed off as if she were remembering something tender. “So, now, I pick and chose carefully. Only I can’t be too careful other wise Turgenev could arrange for me to have a little accident.”

“Why don’t you leave?” Harry asked.

“And you’re going to make that happen?” Diana asked snidely.

“You can leave, can’t you?” Harry looked from Diana to Quincey. “Quincey told me that anyone could leave at any time.”

“Yeah, I suppose I could, but what would be the point?”

“You’d have enough money to set yourself up somewhere. Doesn’t have to be Directorate Space. There are other corporations.”

“And do what?”


“God, you are so naive,” Diana said. She turned to Quincey. “I’ll take him. What do you want to know?”

“How often did you see Steve after Lydia moved in?”



“No. Never. That was the deal. When he came to me and said that he wanted exclusive use of my services, part of the deal was that if we ever separated, neither of us would ever contact the other again. It would be as if neither of us ever existed.”

“Um...” Harry interrupted, “you talk like it was a contract between you and Steve.”

“It was,” Diana said.

“And there were penalties if someone broke the contract?” Harry asked. This was business. This he could understand.

“Well... yeah,” Diana said.

“Who held the contract for your services?” Quincey asked.

“It was between Turgenev and Steve,” Diana answered.

“So, if you saw Steve again after the contract was terminated...”

“Then, Steve would owe Turgenev the penalty.”

“Which was?” Quincey asked.

“I have no idea,” Diana said. “But knowing Turgenev, it wasn’t cheap.”

“That’s why Somerset used Lydia’s PCD, so it would look like Lydia and Diana were talking,” Harry said to Quincey.

“Okay... so Steve breaks the rules and gets a hold of you... why?”

“Don’t know,”Diana said. “We never got together. I got this strange message from him to meet him in the park on the northwestern side of the city the night he was killed. He never showed. I figured what ever the reason, he changed his mind. Wasn’t my place to ask why. The next thing I heard was that he was dead. For all I know, he wanted to dump that Lydia bitch and get me back.”

Quincey stood up. “Thanks for your time, Diana.” Harry stood up, too.

“That’s all you want?” Diana asked somewhat surprised.

“That’s all,” Quincey said. “It’s not like I thought you killed him or anything. I had to track down some loose ends, you understand.”

“Sure, Matt. Sorry to have to see you again like this,” Diana said. She turned to walk away, stopped and turned back to them. “If you ever want some companionship...”

There was an awkward pause. Quincey turned to Harry. “She’s talking to you.” Harry stood there and couldn’t think of a thing to say. Quincey turned back to Diana. “Space lag. He’ll be more with it, tomorrow.”

“You send him back,” Diana said and then turned and walked away.

“You heard that,” Quincey said. “After a good night’s rest, you are coming back here.”

“Why?” Harry asked trying to figure out where he had lost track of the conversation.

“Well, besides the obvious reason,” Quincey said. “You are going to find out why she’s lying to us.”

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