Page 21 of Detective

Cynthia apparently had no such scruples.

As Cynthia's superior, Ainslie had suspected that some of her investigative successes might be morally questionable. But nothing came to his direct attention, and his questions about her rumored freewheeling methods produced strong denials from Cynthia, and once indignation. One matter did surface, though, in a way he could not overlook.

It concerned a con artist and thief named Val Castellon, recently released from prison on parole. Cynthia was lead investigator in a murder, and while Castellon was in no way a suspect, it was believed he might have information about another ex-con who was. Brought in for interrogation, Castellon denied any such knowledge, and Ainslie was inclined to believe him. Cynthia did not. In a subsequent private session with Castellon, Cynthia threatened to plant drugs on him if he failed to testify for her, then have him arrested, in which case his parole would be revoked and he would go back to prison, as well as face stiff new charges. Planting drugs in a suspect's pocket, then appearing to discover them, was a simple tactic for police and all too frequently used.

Ainslie learned about Cynthia's threat through Sergeant Hank Brewmaster, who had been told of it by one of his regular informants, a crony of Castellon's. When Ainslie asked Cynthia if the report was true, she admitted it was, though the drug plant had not yet been done.

"And it won't be," he told her. "I'm responsible, and I won't allow it."

"Oh, bullshit, Malcolm!" Cynthia said. "That prick will wind up back in jail anyway. I'd just be sending him there sooner."

"Don't you get it?" he asked incredulously. "We're here to enforce the law, which means we have to obey it, too. "

"And you're being as stuffy as this old pillow." Cynthia threw one at him from the bed of a motel where they had rented a room on a rainy afternoon. At the same time she fell back on the bed. She spread her legs wide and asked, "Is what you want legal? After all, we're both on duty." She laughed quietly then, knowing precisely what would happen next.

Ainslie's face changed. He went to her and threw his jacket and tie on the bed. Cynthia said suddenly, sharply, "Hurry, hurry! Slide your lovely big illegal cock inside me!"

As he had at other times, Ainslie felt powerless, melting into her, and yet diffident, even embarrassed by Cynthia's raunchy language. Yet it was part of her sexual aggressiveness, and each time made their coupling more exciting. By then they had abandoned the subject of Val Castellon, which Ainslie intended to bring up later, though he never did. Nor did he learn how the missing information in Cynthia's murder inquiry was supplied, except that she obtained it, resulting in one more investigative triumph for Cynthia and himself.

What Ainslie did make sure of was that Castellon was not charged with drug possession, and his parole was not revoked. In one way or another, it seemed, Ainslie's warning to Cynthia had been heeded.

* * *

Something else bothered Ainslie. Unlike most other police officers, Cynthia seemed comfortable, even happy, in the company of criminals, mingling with them at bars in an easy, friendly way. She and Ainslie also differed in their attitudes to lawbreaking. Ainslie viewed crime-solving, particularly of homicides, as moral high ground. Cynthia didn't, and once told him, "Face reality, Malcolm! It's a contest, with crooks, police, and lawyers elf competing. The winner depends on how clever each lawyer is and how rich the defendant is. Your so-called moral issues don't stand a chance in this game."

Ainslie was not impressed. Nor was he happy to learn eventually that a regular companion of Cynthia's at bars and restaurants was Patrick Jensen, a successful novelist and Miami bon vivant, but with an unsavory reputation, particularly among police.

Jensen, a former TV newsman, had written a succession of best-selling crime novels, published worldwide, and by the age of thirty-nine he had amassed what was rumored to be twelve million Dollars. Some said the success had gone to his head, and Jensen had evolved into a rude and arrogant womanizer with a violent temper. His second wife, Naomi, from whom he was divorced, made several spousal battery complaints to police, then withdrew them before of ficial action could begin. Several times after their divorce, Jensen tried to reconcile with Naomi, but she would have no part of it.

Then Naomi Jensen was found murdered, with a .38caliber bullet through her throat. Beside her lay a young musician, Kilburn Holmes, whom she had been dating, killed by a bullet from the same gun. According to witnesses, earlier that day Naomi and Jensen had had a bitter argument outside Naomi's house, during which she insisted he leave her alone and told him she intended to remarry.

Patrick Jensen was an obvious suspect, and inquiries by Miami Homicide showed he had opportunity and no alibi. A handkerchief near the bodies matched others owned by Jensen, though there was nothing on the handkerchief to prove it was his. However, a fragment of paper in Holmes's hand did match another fragment, found in Jensen's garbage. Detectives then discovered that two weeks before the murders Jensen had purchased a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver, but he claimed to have lost the gun, and no murder weapon was found.

Despite intensive effort by Sergeant Pablo Greene's Homicide team, no other evidence was obtained, and what little they had was insufficient to take to a grand jury.

Patrick Jensen knew it, too.

Detective Charlie Thurston, the lead investigator, told Sergeants Greene and Ainslie, "I went to that arrogant dickhead Jensen today to ask a few more questions, and the fucker just laughed and told me to beat it." Thurston, a seasoned detective, normally mild-mannered and patient, was still burning from the encounter.

"The bastard knows we know he did it," he went on, "and he's telling us, 'So what, you'll never prove it.' "

"Let him laugh now," Greene said. "It may be our turn later."

But Thurston shook his head. "Won't happen. He'll put it all in a goddam book and make a pisspot full of money."

To an extent Thurston was right. Nothing more emerged to connect Jensen with the murders of Naomi and her friend Kilburn Holmes, and he did write a new crime story in which the homicide detectives were incompetent buffoons. But the book did not do well, nor did one more which followed, and it appeared that Patrick Jensen's bestseller days had ended, as so often happens when fresh young writers ascend into literary orbit and older ones decline. At the same time there were rumors that, through bad investments, Jensen had lost a major part of his millions and was looking around for other sources of income. Another rumor was that Jensen and Detective Cynthia Ernst had, for a long time, been having an affair.

Ainslie dismissed the second rumor. For one thing, he did not believe Cynthia would be so foolish, in view of Patrick Jensen's status as a murder suspect. Second, he found it inconceivable that she could conduct two intense affairs at the same time, particularly since Cynthia's relationship with Ainslie frequently left the two of them drained.

Just the same, Ainslie did raise Patrick Jensen's name with Cynthia, trying to make the reference casual. Cynthia, as usual, wasn't fooled.

"Are you jealous?" she asked.

"Of Patrick Jensen! That'll be the day." He hesitated, then added, "Do I have reason to be?"

"Patrick's nothing!" she asserted. "It's you I want, Malcolm and all of you. More of your time, all of your time! I don't want to share you, not with anyone." They were in an unmarked police car, Cynthia driving. The last few words rang out like a command.

He was startled and asked, scarcely thinking, "Are you saying we should get married?"

"Malcolm, get free. Then I'll consider."

The answer, he thought, was typical Cynthia; in the past year he had come to know her well. If he were free, the probability was that she would use him, squeeze him dry, and then discard him. No permanence for Cynthia; on that point she had made herself quite clear.

So there it was. Ainslie had known something like this was inevitable and that a moment of decision had arrived. He knew Cynthia would not like what he would say next, and knew too that her anger could erupt like Vesuvius.

For a moment, postponing the confrontation, he thought back again to David and Bathsheba, the lovers who married after Bathsheba's husband Uriah was disposed of in battle as King David prearranged. But God according to the Bible was personally upset by David's perfidy.

. . . the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. And the Lord sent Nathan unto David . . . And Nathan said to David. . . Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of shine own house, and I will take thy wives before shine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives. . .

Like so much else in the Bible, it was as scholars saw it highly implausible folk legend, told around the campfires of semi-nomadic Israelites, then two hundred years later written down with a core of reality, plus myths from ten thousand retellings. But the extent of truth and fiction didn't matter; what did was that in human relations there was nothing new under the sun, but only variations of old themes. One variation now Ainslie wasn't going to marry Cynthia and didn't want to "get free" of Karen.

They had been driving on a quiet suburban street. As if anticipating what was to come, Cynthia pulled the car to the curb and stopped.

She looked at him. "Well?"

Reaching out to take her hand, he said gently, "My love, what's happened between us has been magical, wonderful. It's something I never expected, and as long as I live I'll be grateful. But I have to tell you I can't go on, we have to end it."

He had expected an outburst. But it didn't happen. Instead she laughed. "I presume you're joking."

"No," he answered firmly.

She sat silently for a few moments, staring out of the passenger window. Then, without turning, she said with eerie calm, "You'll regret this, Malcolm, I promise regret it for the rest of your miserable life.''

He sighed. "That may be true. I guess I'll have to take that chance."

Suddenly she looked at him with tears on her cheeks and rage in her eyes. Her fists were clenched and shaking. "You bastard!" she screamed.

From that point onward they saw little of each other. One reason was that Cynthia became a sergeant a few days later. She had taken the promotion exam a few weeks earlier and placed third on a list of six hundred.

Upon her promotion she was transferred from Homicide to Sexual Battery as a supervisor. She was put in charge of a team of five detectives investigating rapes, attempted rapes, sexual harassment, peeping toms; the coverage was wide, and Cynthia became outstandingly successful. As in Homicide, she proved adept at developing leads through a web of contacts and informants. A dedicated, natural leader, she worked her team hard, as well as herself, and early on made a notable arrest that resulted in the sentencing of a fifteen-count serial rapist who, over two preceding years, had terrorized women in the city.

In part because of this and an excellent rating in one more promotion exam, Cynthia was made a lieutenant two years later and moved to a new department Community Relations as second-in-command. There she liaised with the public, appeared at town meetings, lectured community groups and sometimes other police forces, and generally put forward a convincingly positive image of the Miami force.