Thankless in death, p.1
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       Thankless in Death, p.1
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         Part #37 of In Death series by J. D. Robb
Thankless in Death


  Nora Roberts published her first novel using the pseudonym J.D. Robb in 1995, introducing to readers the tough as nails but emotionally damaged homicide cop Eve Dallas and billionaire Irish rogue Roarke.

  With the In Death series, Robb has become one of the biggest thriller writers on the earth, with each new novel reaching number one on bestseller charts the world over.

  For more information, visit www.jd-robb.co.uk

  Become a fan on Facebook at Nora Roberts and J. D. Robb

  ALSO BY NORA ROBERTS WRITING AS J.D. ROBB

  Naked in Death

  Visions in Death

  Glory in Death

  Survivor in Death

  Immortal in Death

  Origin in Death

  Rapture in Death

  Memory in Death

  Ceremony in Death

  Born in Death

  Vengeance in Death

  Innocent in Death

  Holiday in Death

  Creation in Death

  Conspiracy in Death

  Strangers in Death

  Loyalty in Death

  Salvation in Death

  Witness in Death

  Promises in Death

  Judgment in Death

  Kindred in Death

  Betrayal in Death

  Fantasy in Death

  Seduction in Death

  Indulgence in Death

  Reunion in Death

  Treachery in Death

  Purity in Death

  New York to Dallas

  Portrait in Death

  Celebrity in Death

  Imitation in Death

  Delusion in Death

  Divided in Death

  Calculated in Death

  Don’t miss Eve and Roarke in their next case

  CONCEALED IN DEATH

  Between the wall he’d opened and the one barely a foot behind it lay two bundles wrapped in thick plastic. But he could see, clearly enough, what they were. Roarke took his jacket from Nina’s limp fingers, drew his ‘link out of the pocket. ‘Eve,’ he said when her face came on screen. ‘It seems I’m in need of a cop.’

  There is nothing unusual about billionaire Roarke supervising work on his new property – but when he takes a ceremonial swing at the first wall to be knocked down, he uncovers the body of a girl. And then another – in fact, twelve dead girls concealed behind a false wall.

  Luckily for Roarke, he is married to the best police lieutenant in town. Eve Dallas is determined to find the killer – especially when she discovers that the building used to be a sanctuary for deliquent teenagers and the parallel with her past as a young runaway hits hard.

  As the girls’ identities are slowly unravelled by the department’s crack forensic team, Eve and her staunch sidekick Peabody get closer to the shocking truth …

  Out February 2013

  1

  HE WAS SICK TO DEATH OF HER NAGGING.

  Bitch and complain, bitch and complain, and nag, nag, nag every time she opened her damn mouth. He’d like to shut it for her.

  Jerald Reinhold sat at the kitchen table, while his mother’s never-ending list of criticisms and demands rolled over him in dark, swollen clouds.

  Every fucking day, he thought, the same thing. Like it was his fault he’d lost his stupid, dead-end job. His fault his girlfriend—another bitch who never shut up—kicked him out so he had to move back in with his whining, mouthy parents. His fault he’d dropped a few thousand in Vegas and had some credit card debt.

  Jesus! His fault, his fault, his fault. The old bitch never cut him the smallest break.

  Hadn’t he told her that he wouldn’t have lost his job if his prick of a supervisor hadn’t fired him? So he’d taken a few days off, who didn’t? So he’d been late a few times, who wasn’t?

  Unless you were a work-droid like his idiot father.

  But God, she made it such a big fucking deal. He’d hated the job anyway, and only took it because Lori badgered him into it, but he got all the blame.

  He was twenty-six, for Christ’s sake, and deserved a hell of a lot better than working for chump change as a take-out delivery boy.

  And Lori gives him the boot just because he’s out of work—temporarily—and goes batshit on him because he lost a few bucks on a trip with some friends?

  He could, and would, do a lot better than Lori wide-ass Nuccio. Bitch threatened to call the cops just because he gave her a few smacks. She deserved a lot more than a couple love taps, and he wished like hell he’d given her just what she deserved.

  He deserved more than a room in his parents’ apartment and his mother’s incessant hammering.

  “Jerry, are you listening to me?” Barbara Reinhold fisted her hands on her hips.

  Jerry lifted his gaze from the screen of his PPC where he was trying to relax with a game. He spared his skinny, flat-chested, know-it-all mother one smoldering glance.

  “How can I help it when you never shut up?”

  “That’s how you talk to me? That’s how you show your gratitude for the roof over your head, the food we put in your belly?” She lifted a plate that held a slice of bread, a thin slice of fake turkey. “I’m standing here making you a sandwich since you finally dragged yourself out of bed at noon, and you sass me? It’s no wonder Lori kicked you out. I’m telling you one thing, mister, you’re not getting a free ride here much longer. It’s been almost a month now, and you haven’t done diddly about finding a job.”

  He thought: Shut the fuck up or I’ll shut you up. But he didn’t say it. He wanted the sandwich.

  “You’re irresponsible, just like your father said, but I said, he’s our son, Carl, and we have to help him out. When are you going to help yourself, that’s what I want to know.”

  “I told you I’d get a job. I’ve got options. I’m considering my options.”

  “Your options.” She snorted, went back to building the sandwich. “You’ve gone through four jobs this year. What options are you considering while you’re sitting here in the middle of the day in the ratty sweats you slept in? I told you they’re looking for a stock boy down at the market, but do you go and see about it?”

  “I’m not a freaking stock boy.” He was better than that. He was somebody. He’d be somebody if people gave him half a break. “Get off my back.”

  “Maybe we haven’t been on your back enough.” She layered a slice of bright orange cheese on top of the turkey, and her voice took on the soft, reasonable tone he hated.

  “Your father and I scrimped and saved so you could go to college, and you flunked out. You said how you wanted to train so you could learn how to develop those computer games you like so much, and we backed you on that, put the money to that. When that didn’t work, your dad got you a job at his office. He went to bat for you, Jerry, and you screwed around and mouthed off, and got fired.”

  She picked a knife from the block to cut the sandwich. “Then you met Lori, and she was the sweetest thing. A smart girl, a hardworking girl from a real nice family. We had such high hopes there. She got you working as a busboy in the restaurant where she works, and she stuck with you when you lost that job. When you said how you could get a messenger job if you had a good bike, we made you a loan, but that didn’t last two months. And you never paid us back, Jerry. Now this last job’s gone, too.”

  “I’m tired of you throwing the past in my face, and acting like it was all my fault.”

  “The past keeps repeating, Jerry, and seems to be getting worse.”

  Her lips pressed together as she added a handful of the Onion Doodles he liked to the plate. “You’re out of work again, and you can’t afford a place of your own. You took the rent money and the tip money Lori had saved up and went off to Las Vegas with Dave and that no-account Joe. An
d you came back broke.”

  “That’s a damn lie.” He shoved to his feet. “It was my money, and I’ve got a right to take a break with my friends, to have some goddamn fun.”

  There was a sheen in her eyes—not of tears, not of anger, but of disappointment. It made him want to punch, punch, punch that sheen away.

  “It was the rent money, Jerry, and the money Lori saved up from her tips. She told me.”

  “You’re going to take her word over mine?”

  On a sigh, she folded a napkin into a triangle as she had for him when he was a boy. Her dented heart came clearly through the sound, but all he heard was accusation.

  “You lie, Jerry, and you use people, and I’m worried we let you get away with it for too long. We keep giving you chances, and you keep throwing them away. Maybe some of that’s our fault, and maybe that’s part of the reason you think you can talk to me the way you are.”

  She set the plate on the table, poured a glass of the coffee-flavored drink he liked. “Your father and I were hoping you’d find a job today, or at least go out and look, make a real effort. We talked about it after you went out with your friends again last night. After you took fifty dollars out of my emergency cash without asking.”

  “What are you talking about?” He gave her his best shocked and insulted look. “I didn’t take anything from you. You’re saying I’m stealing now? Ma!”

  “It wouldn’t be the first time.” Her lips compressed when her voice wavered some, and she came back with the no-more-bullshit tone he knew drew a deep, hard line.

  “We talked it over, decided we had to take a stand, Jerry. We were going to tell you together when your father gets home, but I’ll tell you now so you’ll have that much more time. We’re giving you until the first of the month—that’s the first of December, Jerry—to find work. If you don’t get a job, you can’t stay here.”

  “I need some time.”

  “We’ve given you a month, Jerry, and you haven’t done anything except go out at night and sleep half the day. You haven’t tried to get work. You’re a grown man, but you act like a kid, and a spoiled, ungrateful one. If you want more time, if you want us behind you, you eat your lunch, then you go out and look for a job. You go down to the market and get that stock boy job, and as long as you’re working and show us you’re trying, you can stay.”

  “You don’t understand.” He forced tears into his eyes, a usual no-fail. “Lori dumped me. She was everything to me and she threw me over for some other guy.”

  “What other guy?”

  “I don’t know who the hell he is. She broke my heart, Ma. I need some time to get through it.”

  “You said she kicked you out because you lost your job.”

  “That was part of it, sure. That asshole at Americana had it in for me, from day one. But instead of taking my side, she flips me over because I can’t buy her stuff. Then she tells you all these lies about me, trying to turn my own mother against me.”

  “Eat your lunch,” Barbara said, wearily. “Then get cleaned up, get dressed, and go down to the market. If you do that, Jerry, we’ll give you more time.”

  “And if I don’t, you’ll kick me out? You’ll just boot me to the street like I’m nobody? My own parents.”

  “It hurts us to do it, but it’s for your own good, Jerry. It’s time you learned to do what’s right.”

  He stared at her, imagined her and his father plotting and planning against him. “Maybe you’re right.”

  “We want you to find your place, Jerry. We want you to be a man.”

  He nodded as he crossed to her. “To find my place. To be a man. Okay.” He picked up the knife she’d used to cut his sandwich, shoved it into her belly.

  Her eyes popped wide; her mouth fell open.

  He hadn’t planned to do it, hadn’t given it more than an instant’s conscious thought. But God! It felt amazing. Better than sex. Better than a good, solid hit of Race. Better than anything he’d ever felt in his life.

  He yanked the knife free. She stumbled back, throwing up her hands. She said, “Jerry,” on a kind of gurgle.

  And he jammed the blade into her again. He loved the sound it made. Going in, coming out. He loved the look of absolute shock on her face, and the way her hands slapped weakly at him as if something tickled.

  So he did it again, then again, into her back when she tried to run. And again when she fell to the kitchen floor and flopped like a landed fish.

  He did it long after she stopped moving at all.

  “Now that was for my own good.”

  He looked at his hands, covered with her blood, at the spreading pool of red on the floor, the wild spatters of it on the walls, the counter that reminded him of some of the crazy paintings at MOMA.

  An artist, he mused. Maybe he should be an artist.

  He set the knife on the table, then washed his hands, his arms, in the kitchen sink. Watched the red circle and drain.

  She’d been right, he thought, about finding his place, about being a man. He’d found his place now, and knew exactly how to claim his manhood.

  He’d take what he wanted, and anyone who screwed with him? They had to pay. He had to make them pay, because nothing else in his life had ever made him feel so good, so real, so happy.

  He sat down, glanced at where his mother’s body lay sprawled, and thought he couldn’t wait until his father got home.

  Then he ate his sandwich.

  Lieutenant Eve Dallas strapped on her weapon harness. She’d had a short stack of waffles for breakfast—something that tended to put a smile on her face. Her husband, unquestionably the most gorgeous man ever created, enjoyed another cup of superior coffee in the sitting area of their bedroom. Their cat, who’d just been warned off the attempt to sneak onto the table, sat on the floor washing his fat flank.

  It made a nice picture, she thought: Roarke, his mane of black hair loose around his wonderfully carved face, that beautiful mouth in a half smile, and his wild blue eyes on her. The dishes from their meal together on the table, and Galahad pretending he didn’t want his nose in the syrup added to the “at-home and liking it” ambience.

  “You look pleased with yourself, Lieutenant.”

  “I’m pleased,” she said, and added that musical murmur of Ireland in Roarke’s voice to her list of morning enjoyments. “I’ve had a couple of days without a hot one so I’m nearly caught up on paperwork. The quick scan of the weather for today told me I won’t be freezing my ass off, and I’m heading out with a belly-load of waffles. It’s a good day, so far.”

  She hooked a brown vest over her shirt—both Roarke approved—then sat to pull on her boots.

  “Generally you’d prefer several hot ones over paperwork,” he pointed out.

  “We’re heading into the holidays, end of year 2060. You start on that season, you get the wackies. And the nearer I am to finishing my year-end report, the better. The last couple of days have been a walk, so if I get a couple more like that, I—”

  “And now you’ve done it.” Shooting her a look of pity, he shook his head. “You’ve jinxed any chance you had.”

  “Irish superstition.”

  “Common sense. But speaking of Irish and holidays, the family’s coming in on Wednesday.”

  “Wednesday?”

  “That’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” he reminded her. “Some of the cousins are switching off so those who couldn’t come last year will. You said you were fine with it.”

  “I am. No, really, I am. I like your family.” He’d only recently found them. He’d lived most of his life, as she had, without blood kin—and the comfort or problems family bring. “I’m just never sure what to do with so many people in the house who aren’t cops.”

  “They’ll be busy enough. Apparently there are many plans in the works for shopping, sightseeing, theater, and so on. You’re unlikely to have all of them at once except on Thanksgiving itself. And then there’ll be all the others.”

  “Yeah.
She’d agreed to that, too—and it had seemed like a fine idea at the time. All the people who’d come for dinner the previous year, in addition to her partner, Peabody, and Peabody’s main man, McNab, who’d opted not to travel this year.

  “It worked okay before.” Shrugging, she got to her feet. “What is it—the more the crazier?”

  “I believe it’s merrier, but either way. And with that in mind, I’d like to add four more.”

  “Four more what?”

  “Guests. Richard DeBlass and family. Elizabeth contacted me just yesterday. He and Elizabeth are bringing the children into New York for the parade.”

  “Talk about crazy. Who wants to jump into that crowd?”

  “Thousands, or it wouldn’t be a crowd, would it? They’ve booked a hotel suite along the route. I thought it would be nice to invite them to share Thanksgiving dinner. Nixie, especially, wants to see you.”

  Eve thought of the girl, the lone survivor when her family had been slaughtered in a home invasion. “Is it a good idea, bringing her back here, to where everything happened over a traditional family holiday?”

  “She’s adjusting well, as you know, but she needs the connection. They’ve made a family, the four of them, but they don’t want Nixie to forget the family she lost.”

  “She’ll never forget.”

  “She’ll not, no.” And he himself would always carry the image of the little girl in the morgue with her head resting on her father’s un-beating heart. “It’s not like you going back to Dallas.” Now he rose, stepped to her. “Revisiting, reliving all that pain and trauma. She had a family who loved her, and was taken from her.”

  “So the connection’s important. Okay with me, but nothing’s going to induce me to go to that parade.”

  “So noted.” He drew her in, kissed her. “We’ve a lot to be thankful for, you and I.”

 
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J. D. ROBB SERIES:

In Death

 

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