Seduction in death, p.1
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       Seduction in Death, p.1
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         Part #13 of In Death series by J. D. Robb
Seduction in Death


  Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Epilogue

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

  SEDUCTION IN DEATH

  A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 2001 by Nora Roberts

  This book may not be reproduced in whole or part, by mimeograph or any other means, without permission. Making or distributing electronic copies of this book constitutes copyright infringement and could subject the infringer to criminal and civil liability.

  For information address:

  The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  The Penguin Putnam Inc. World Wide Web site address is http://www.penguinputnam.com

  ISBN: 978-1-1012-0395-8

  A BERKLEY BOOK®

  Berkley Books first published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  BERKLEY and the “B” design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Putnam Inc.

  Electronic edition: June, 2003

  Titles by Nora Roberts

  HOT ICE

  SACRED SINS

  BRAZEN VIRTUE

  SWEET REVENGE

  PUBLIC SECRETS

  GENUINE LIES

  CARNAL INNOCENCE

  DIVINE EVIL

  HONEST ILLUSIONS

  PRIVATE SCANDALS

  HIDDEN RICHES

  TRUE BETRAYALS

  MONTANA SKY

  SANCTUARY

  HOMEPORT

  THE REEF

  RIVER’S END

  CAROLINA MOON

  THE VILLA

  MIDNIGHT BAYOU

  THREE FATES

  Anthologies

  FROM THE HEART

  A LITTLE MAGIC

  The Once Upon Series

  (with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)

  ONCE UPON A CASTLE

  ONCE UPON A STAR

  ONCE UPON A DREAM

  ONCE UPON A ROSE

  Trilogies

  Three Sisters Island Trilogy

  DANCE UPON THE AIR

  HEAVEN AND EARTH

  FACE THE FIRE

  The Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy

  JEWELS OF THE SUN

  TEARS OF THE MOON

  HEART OF THE SEA

  The Chesapeake Bay Trilogy

  SEA SWEPT

  RISING TIDES

  INNER HARBOR

  The Born In Trilogy

  BORN IN FIRE

  BORN IN ICE

  BORN IN SHAME

  The Dream Trilogy

  DARING TO DREAM

  HOLDING THE DREAM

  FINDING THE DREAM

  Titles written as J. D. Robb

  NAKED IN DEATH

  GLORY IN DEATH

  IMMORTAL IN DEATH

  RAPTURE IN DEATH

  CEREMONY IN DEATH

  VENGEANCE IN DEATH

  HOLIDAY IN DEATH

  CONSPIRACY IN DEATH

  LOYALTY IN DEATH

  WITNESS IN DEATH

  JUDGMENT IN DEATH

  BETRAYAL IN DEATH

  SEDUCTION IN DEATH

  REUNION IN DEATH

  PURITY IN DEATH

  Anthologies

  SILENT NIGHT

  (with Susan Plunkett, Dee Holmes, and Claire Cross)

  OUT OF THIS WORLD

  (with Laurell K. Hamilton, Susan Krinard, and Maggie Shayne)

  True, I talk of dreams,

  Which are the children of an idle brain,

  Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.

  —William Shakespeare

  Yet each man kills the thing he loves,

  By each let this be heard,

  Some do it with a bitter look,

  Some with a flattering word.

  The coward does it with a kiss,

  The brave man with a sword!

  —Oscar Wilde

  Chapter 1

  Death came in dreams. She was a child who was not a child, facing a ghost who, no matter how often his blood bathed her hands, would not die.

  The room was cold as a grave, hazed by the red light that blinked, on and off, on and off, against the dirty window glass. The light spilled over the floor, over the blood, over his body. Over her as she huddled in the corner with the knife, covered with gore to the hilt, still in her hand.

  Pain was everywhere, radiating through her in stupefying waves that had no beginning or end, but circled, endlessly circled, into every cell. The bone in her arm he’d snapped, the cheek where he’d backhanded her so carelessly. The center of her that had torn, again, during the rape.

  She was smothered by the pain, coated with shock. And washed with his blood.

  She was eight.

  She could see her own breath as she panted. Little ghosts that told her she was alive. She could taste the blood inside her mouth, a bright and terrible flavor, and smell—just under the ripeness of fresh death—the stink of whiskey.

  She was alive, and he was not. She was alive, and he was not. Again and again she chanted those words in her head, and her mind tried to make sense of them.

  She was alive. He was not.

  And his eyes, open and staring, fixed on her.

  Smiled.

  You can’t get rid of me so easy, little girl.

  Her breath came faster, in hitching gasps that wanted to gather into a scream. That wanted to burst out of her throat. But all that came was a whimper.

  Made a mess of things, haven’t you? Just can’t do what you’re told.

  His voice was so pleasant, bright with that grinning humor she knew was the most dangerous of all. While he laughed, blood poured out of the holes she’d hacked into him.

  What’s the matter, little girl? Cat got your tongue?

  I’m alive and you’re not. I’m alive and you’re not.

  Think so? He wiggled his fingers, a kind of teasing wave that made her moan in terror as wet red drops flicked from the tips.

  I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. Don’t hurt me again. You hurt me. Why do you have to hurt me?

  Because you’re stupid. Because you don’t listen! Because—and here’s the real secret—I can. I can do what I want with you and nobody gives a stinking rat’s ass. You’re nothing, you’re nobody, and don’t you forget it, you little bitch.

  She began to cry now, thin cold tears that tracked through the mask of blood over her face. Go away. Just go away and leave me alone!

  I’m not going to do that. I’m never going to do that.

  To her horror, he pushed himself to his knees. Crouched there like some nightmarish toad, bloody and grinning. Watching her.

  I got a lot invested in you. Time and money. Who puts a fucking roof over your head? Who puts food in your belly? Who takes you traveling all over this great country of ours? Most kids your age haven’t seen shit, but you have
. But do you learn? No, you don’t. Do you pull your weight? No, you don’t. But you’re gonna. You remember what I told you? You’re gonna start earning your keep.

  He got to his feet, a big man with his hands slowly balling into fists at his side.

  But now, Daddy has to punish you. He took a shambling step toward her. You’ve been a bad girl. And another. A very bad girl.

  Her own screams woke her.

  She was drenched in sweat, shuddering with cold. She fought for breath, wildly struggled to tear away the ropes of sheets that had wrapped around her as she’d thrashed through the nightmare.

  Sometimes he’d tied her up. Remembering that, she made small, animal sounds in her throat as she tore at the sheets.

  Freed, she rolled off the bed, crouched beside it in the dark like a woman prepared to flee or fight.

  “Lights! On full. God, oh God.”

  They flashed on, chasing even a hint of shadow out of the huge, beautiful room. Still, she scanned it, every corner, looking for ghosts as the nasty edge of the dream jabbed through her gut.

  She forced back the tears. They were useless, and they were weak. Just as it was useless, it was weak, to let herself be frightened by dreams. By ghosts.

  But she continued to shake as she crawled up to sit on the edge of the big bed.

  An empty bed because Roarke was in Ireland and her experiment of trying to sleep in it without him, without dreams, had been a crashing failure.

  Did that make her pitiful? she wondered. Stupid? Or just married?

  When the fat cat, Galahad, bumped his big head against her arm, she gathered him up. She sat, Lieutenant Eve Dallas, eleven years a cop, and comforted herself with the cat as a child might a teddy bear.

  Nausea coated her stomach, and she continued to rock, to pray she wouldn’t be sick and add one more misery to the night.

  “Time display,” she ordered, and the dial of the bedside clock blinked on. One-fifteen, she noted. Perfect. She’d barely made it an hour before she’d screamed herself awake.

  She set the cat aside, got to her feet. As carefully as an old woman she stepped down from the platform, crossed the room, and walked into the bathroom.

  She ran the water cold, as cold as she could stand, then sluiced it onto her face while Galahad wound himself like a plump ribbon between her legs.

  While he purred into the silence, she lifted her head, examined her face in the mirror. It was nearly as colorless as the water that dripped from it. Her eyes were dark, looked bruised, looked exhausted. Her hair was a matted brown cap, and her facial bones seemed too sharp, too close to the surface. Her mouth was too big, her nose ordinary.

  What the hell did Roarke see when he looked at her? she wondered.

  She could call him now. It was after six in the morning in Ireland, and he was an early riser. Even if he were still asleep, it wouldn’t matter. She could pick up the ’link and call, and his face would slide on-screen.

  And he’d see the nightmare in her eyes. What good would that do either of them?

  When a man owned the majority of the known universe, he had to be able to travel on business without being hounded by his wife. In this case, it was more than business that kept him away. He was attending a memorial to a dead friend, and didn’t need more stress and worry heaped on him from her end.

  She knew, though they’d never really discussed it, that he’d cut his overnight trips down to the bone. The nightmares rarely came so violently when he was in bed beside her.

  She’d never had one like this, one where her father had spoken to her after she’d killed him. Said things to her she thought—was nearly sure—he’d said to her when he’d been alive.

  Eve imagined Dr. Mira, NYPSD’s star psychologist and profiler, would have a field day with the meanings and symbolism and Christ-all.

  That wouldn’t do any good either, she decided. So she’d just keep this little gem to herself. She’d take a shower, grab the cat, and go upstairs to her office. She and Galahad would stretch out in her sleep chair and conk out for the rest of the night.

  The dream would have faded away by morning.

  You remember what I told you.

  She couldn’t, Eve thought as she stepped into the shower and ordered all jets on full at a hundred and one degrees. She couldn’t remember.

  And she didn’t want to.

  She was steadier when she stepped out of the shower, and however pathetic it was, dragged on one of Roarke’s shirts for comfort. She’d just scooped up the cat when the bedside ’link beeped.

  Roarke, she thought and her spirits lifted considerably.

  She rubbed her cheek against Galahad’s head as she answered. “Dallas.”

  Dispatch. Dallas, Lieutenant Eve . . .

  Death didn’t only come in dreams.

  Eve stood over it now, in the balmy early morning air of a Tuesday in June. The New York City sidewalk was cordoned off, the sensors and blocks squaring around the pavement and the cheerful tubs of petunias used to spruce up the building’s entrance.

  She had a particular fondness for petunias, but she didn’t think they were going to do the job this time. And not for some time to come.

  The woman was facedown on the sidewalk. From the angle of the body, the splatter and pools of blood, there wasn’t going to be a lot of that face left. Eve looked up at the dignified gray tower with its semicircle balconies, its silver ribbon of people glides. Until they identified the body, they’d have a hard time pinning down the area from which she’d fallen. Or jumped. Or been pushed.

  The one thing Eve was sure of: It had been a very long drop.

  “Get her prints and run them,” she ordered.

  She glanced down at her aide as Peabody squatted, opened a field kit. Peabody’s uniform cap sat squarely on her ruler-straight dark hair. She had steady hands, Eve thought, and a good eye. “Why don’t you do time of death.”

  “Me?” Peabody asked in surprise.

  “Get me an ID, establish time of death. Log in description of scene and body.”

  Now, despite the grisly circumstance, it was excitement that moved over Peabody’s face. “Yes, sir. Sir, first officer on-scene has a potential witness.”

  “A witness from up there, or down here?”

  “Down here.”

  “I’ll take it.” But Eve stayed where she was a moment longer, watching Peabody scan the dead woman’s fingerprints. Though Peabody’s hands and feet were sealed, she made no contact with the body and did the scan quickly, delicately.

  After one nod of approval, Eve strode away to question the uniforms flanking the perimeter.

  It might have been nearly three in the morning, but there were bystanders, gapers, and they had to be encouraged along, blocked out. News hawks were already in evidence, calling out questions, trying to snag a few minutes of recording to pump into the airwaves before the first morning commute.

  An ambitious glide-cart operator had jumped on the opportunity and was putting in some overtime selling to the crowd. His grill pumped out smoke that spewed the scents of soy dogs and rehydrated onions into the air.

  He appeared to be doing brisk business.

  In the gorgeous spring of 2059, death continued to draw an audience from the living, and those who knew how to make a quick buck out of the deal.

  A cab winged by, didn’t bother to so much as tap the brakes. From somewhere farther downtown, a siren screamed.

  Eve blocked it out, turned to the uniform. “Rumor is we’ve got eyes.”

  “Yes, sir. Officer Young’s got her in the squad car keeping her away from the ghouls.”

  “Good.” Eve scanned the faces behind the barrier. In them she saw horror, excitement, curiosity, and a kind of relief.

  I’m alive, and you’re not.

  Shaking it off, she hunted down Young and the witness.

  Given the neighborhood—for in spite of the dignity and the petunias, the apartment building was right on the border of midtown bustle and downtown sleaze
Eve was expecting a licensed companion, maybe a jonesing chemi-head or a dealer on the way to a mark.

  She certainly hadn’t expected the tiny, snappily dressed blonde with the pretty and familiar face.

  “Dr. Dimatto.”

  “Lieutenant Dallas?” Louise Dimatto angled her head, and the ruby clusters at her ears gleamed like glassy blood. “Do you come in, or do I come out?”

  Eve jerked a thumb, held the car door wider. “Come on out.”

  They’d met the previous winter, at the Canal Street Clinic where Louise fought against the tide to heal the homeless and the hopeless. She came from money, and her bloodline was blue, but Eve had good reason to know Louise didn’t quibble about getting her hands dirty.

  She’d nearly died helping Eve fight an ugly war during that bitter winter.

  Eve skimmed a look over Louise’s stoplight-red dress. “Making house calls?”

  “A date. Some of us try to maintain a healthy social life.”

  “How’d it go?”

  “I took a cab home, so you be the judge.” She skimmed back her short, honeycomb hair with her fingers. “Why are so many men so boring?”

  “You know, that’s a question that haunts me day and night.” When Louise laughed, Eve smiled in response. “It’s good to see you, all things considered.”

  “I thought you might drop by the clinic, come see the improvements your donation helped implement.”

  “I think it’s called blackmail in most circles.”

  “Donation, blackmail. Let’s not split hairs. You’ve helped save a few lives, Dallas. That’s got to be nearly as satisfying to you as catching those who take them.”

  “Lost one tonight.” She turned, looked back toward the body. “What do you know about her?”

  “Nothing, really. I think she lives in the building, but she’s not looking her best at the moment, so I can’t be sure.” After a long breath, Louise rubbed the back of her neck. “Sorry, this is more in your line than mine. It’s my first experience nearly having a body fall in my arms. I’ve seen people die, and it’s not always gentle. But this was . . .”

  “Okay. You want to sit back down? Want some coffee?”

  “No. No. Let me just tell it.” She steadied herself, a subtle squaring of the shoulders, stiffening of the spine. “I ditched the date from tedium, grabbed a cab. We’d gone to dinner and a club uptown. I got here about one-thirty, I suppose.”

 
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