Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

In Death 12.5 - Interlude in Death

J. D. Robb

  Praise for the #1 New York Times

  bestselling In Death series

  “Sexy, gritty, richly imagined suspense.”

  —Publishers Weekly


  —The Romance Reader

  “Another taut, gut-wrenching, compelling thriller from the incomparable J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts). Each new installment in this series adds more layers to already complex, fascinating characters. And the storylines are always first-rate. Need I say more—another masterpiece!”

  —ParaNormal Romance Reviews

  “Tough-talking thriller with a matchless pace.”

  —Kirkus Reviews

  “A well-written, action-packed book that has surprises in it that keep you enthralled till the last sentence of the last page…Watching the characters and their rapport develop has been delightful to behold. Ms. Robb has yet again shown what a great suspense author she is. Well done!”

  —The Romance Readers Connection

  “Fast-paced romantic suspense.”

  —The Best Reviews

  “A unique blend of hard-core police drama, science fiction and passionate romance.”

  —Gothic Journal


  —The Paperback Forum

  Interlude in Death

  J. D. ROBB


  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr. Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand

  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,

  South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are 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.


  A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author

  Copyright © 2001 by Nora Roberts.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  ISBN: 1-4295-2088-4


  Berkley Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  BERKLEY is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  The “B” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  Learning is not child’s play;

  we cannot learn without pain.


  Happy is the child whose father

  goes to the devil.



  The faces of murder were varied and complex. Some were as old as time and the furrows scoring them filled with the blood spilled by Cain. One brother’s keeper was another’s executioner.

  Of course, it had been rather elementary to close that particular case. The list of suspects had been, after all, pretty limited.

  But time had populated the earth until by the early spring of 2059 it so crawled with people that they spilled out from their native planet to jam man-made worlds and satellites. The skill and ability to create their own worlds, the sheer nerve to consider doing so, hadn’t stopped them from killing their brothers.

  The method was sometimes more subtle, often more vicious, but people being people could, just as easily, fall back on ramming a sharpened stick through another’s heart over a nice patch of lettuce.

  The centuries, and man’s nature, had developed more than alternative ways to kill and a variety of victims and motives. They had created the need and the means to punish the guilty.

  The punishing of the guilty and the demand for justice for the innocent became—perhaps had been since that first extreme case of sibling rivalry—an art and a science.

  These days, murder got you more than a short trip to the Land of Nod. It shut you up in a steel and concrete cage where you’d have plenty of time to think about where you went wrong.

  But getting the sinner where justice deemed he belonged was the trick. It required a system. And the system demanded its rules, techniques, manpower, organizations, and loopholes.

  And the occasional seminar to educate and inform.

  As far as Lieutenant Eve Dallas was concerned, she’d rather face a horde of torked-out chemi-heads than conduct a seminar on murder. At least the chemi-heads wouldn’t embarrass you to death.

  And as if it wasn’t bad enough that she’d been drafted to attend the Interplanetary Law Enforcement and Security Conference, as if it wasn’t horrifying enough that her own commander had ordered her to give a seminar, the whole ball of goddamn wax had to take shape off-planet.

  Couldn’t hold the sucker in New York, Eve thought as she lay facedown on the hotel bed. Just couldn’t find one spot on the whole fucking planet that could suit up. Nope, just had to send a bunch of cops and techs out into space.

  God, she hated space travel.

  And of all the places in the known universe, the site-selection committee had to dump them on the Olympus Resort. Not only was she a cop out of her element, but she was a cop out of her element giving a seminar in one of the conference rooms in one of the ridiculously plush hotels owned by her husband.

  It was mortifying.

  Sneaky son of a bitch, she thought, and wondered if any of the muscles and bones in her body that had dissolved during landing on Olympus had regenerated. He’d planned it, he’d worked it. And now she was paying for it.

  She had to socialize, attend meetings. She had to—dear Christ—give a speech. And in less than a week, she would have to get back on that fancy flying death trap of Roarke’s and face the journey home.

  Since the idea of that made her stomach turn over, she considered the benefits of living out the rest of her life on Olympus.

  How bad could it be?

  The place had hotels and casinos and homes, bars, shops. Which meant it had people. When you had people, bless their mercenary hearts, you had crime. You had crime, you needed cops. She could trade in her New York Police and Security badge for an Interplanetary Law Enforcement shield.

  “I could work for ILE,” she muttered into the bedspread.

  “Certainly.” On the other side of the room, Roarke finished studying a report on one of his other properties. “After a while, you wouldn’t think twice about zipping from
planet to space station to satellite. And you’d look charming in one of those blue-and-white uniforms and knee-high boots.”

  Her little fantasy fizzed. Interplanetary meant, after all, interplanetary. “Kiss my ass.”

  “All right.” He walked over, bent down and laid his lips on her butt. Then began working his way up her back.

  Unlike his wife, he was energized by space travel.

  “If you think you’re getting sex, pal, think again.”

  “I’m doing a lot of thinking.” He indulged himself with the long, lean length of her. When he reached the nape of her neck, he rubbed his lips just below the ends of her short, disordered cap of hair. And feeling her quick shiver, grinned as he flipped her over.

  Then he frowned a little, skimming a finger along the shallow dent in her chin. “You’re a bit pale yet, aren’t you?”

  Her deep-golden-brown eyes stared sulkily into his. Her mouth, wide, mobile, twisted into a sneer. “When I’m on my feet again, I’m going to punch you in that pretty face of yours.”

  “I look forward to it. Meanwhile.” He reached down, began unbuttoning her shirt.


  “Thank you, Lieutenant.” Because she was his, and it continuously delighted him, he brushed a kiss over her torso, then tugged off her boots, stripped off her trousers. “And I hope we’ll get to the perversion part of our program shortly. But for now.” He picked her up and carried her out of the bedroom. “I think we’ll try a little postflight restorative.”

  “Why do I have to be naked?”

  “I like you naked.”

  He stepped into a bathroom. No, not a bathroom, Eve mused. That was too ordinary a word for this oasis of sensual indulgence.

  The tub was a lake, deep blue and fed by gleaming silver tubes twined together in flower shapes. Rose trees heavy with saucer-size white blooms flanked the marble stairs that led into a shower area where a waterfall already streamed gently down gleaming walls. The tall cylinders of mood and drying tubes were surrounded by spills of flowers and foliage, and she imagined that anyone using one of them would look like a statue in a garden.

  A wall of glass offered a view of cloudless sky turned to gold by the tint of the privacy screen.

  He set her down on the soft cushions of a sleep chair and walked to one of the curved counters that flowed around the walls. He slid open a panel in the tiles and set a program on the control pad hidden behind it.

  Water began to spill into the tub, the lights dimmed, and music, softly sobbing strings, slid into the air.

  “I’m taking a bath?” she asked him.

  “Eventually. Relax. Close your eyes.”

  But she didn’t close her eyes. It was too tempting just to watch him as he moved around the room, adding something frothy to the bath, pouring some pale gold liquid into a glass.

  He was tall and had an innate sort of grace. Like a cat did, she thought. A big, dangerous cat that only pretended to be tame when it suited his mood. His hair was black and thick and longer than her own. It spilled nearly to his shoulders and provided a perfect frame for a face that made her think of dark angels and doomed poets and ruthless warriors all at once.

  When he looked at her with those hot and wildly blue eyes, the love inside her could spread so fast and strong, it hurt her heart to hold it.

  He was hers, she thought. Ireland’s former bad boy who had made his life, his fortune, his place by hook or—well—by crook.

  “Drink this.”

  He liked to tend her, she mused as she took the glass he offered. She, lost child, hard-ass cop, could never figure out if it irritated or thrilled her. Mostly, she supposed, it just baffled her.

  “What is it?”

  “Good.” He took it back from her, sipped himself to prove When she sampled it, she found that he was right, as usual. He walked behind the chair, the amusement on his face plain when he tipped her back and her gaze narrowed with suspicion. “Close your eyes,” he repeated and slipped goggles over her face. “One minute,” he added.

  Lights bled in front of her closed lids. Deep blues, warm reds in slow, melting patterns. She felt his hands, slicked with something cool and fragrant, knead her shoulders, the knotted muscles of her neck.

  Her system, jangled from the flight, began to settle. “Well, this doesn’t suck,” she murmured, and let herself drift.

  He took the glass from her hand as her body slipped into the ten-minute restorative program he’d selected. He’d told her one minute.

  He’d lied.

  When she was relaxed, he bent to kiss the top of her head, then draped a silk sheet over her. Nerves, he knew, had worn her out. Added to them the stress and fatigue of coming off a difficult case and being shot directly into an off-planet assignment that she detested, and it was no wonder her system was unsettled.

  He left her sleeping and went out to see to a few minor details for the evening event. He’d just stepped back in when the timer of the program beeped softly and she stirred.

  “Wow.” She blinked, scooped at her hair when he set the goggles aside.

  “Feel better?”

  “Feel great.”

  “A little travel distress is easy enough to fix. The bath should finish it off.”

  She glanced over, saw that the tub was full, heaped with bubbles that swayed gently in the current of the jets. “I just bet it will.” Smiling, she got up, crossed the room to step down into the sunken pool. And lowering herself neck-deep, she let out a long sigh.

  “Can I have that wine or whatever the hell it is?”

  “Sure.” Obliging, he carried it over, set it on the wide lip behind her head.

  “Thanks. I’ve gotta say, this is some…” She trailed off, pressed her fingers to her temple.

  “Eve? Headache?” He reached out, concerned, and found himself flipping into the water with her.

  When he surfaced, she was grinning, and her hand was cupped possessively between his legs. “Sucker,” she said.


  “Oh, yeah. Let me show you how I finish off this little restorative program, ace.”

  Restored, and smug, she took a quick spin in the drying tube. If she was going to live only a few more days before crashing into a stray meteor and being burned to a cinder by exploding rocket fuel on the flight back home, she might as well make the best of it.

  She snagged a robe, wrapped herself in it, and strolled back into the bedroom.

  Roarke, already wearing trousers, was scanning what looked like encoded symbols as they scrolled across the screen of the bedroom tele-link. Her dress, at least she assumed it was a dress, was laid out on the bed.

  She frowned at the sheer flow of bronze, walked over to finger the material. “Did I pack this?”

  “No.” He didn’t bother to glance back, he could see her suspicious scowl clearly enough in his mind. “You packed several days’ worth of shirts and trousers. Summerset made some adjustments in your conference wardrobe.”

  “Summerset.” The name hissed like a snake between her lips. Roarke’s major domo was a major pain in her ass. “You let him paw through my clothes? Now I have to burn them.”

  Though he’d made considerable adjustments to her wardrobe in the past year, there were, in his opinion, several items left that deserved burning. “He rarely paws. We’re running a little behind,” he added. “The cocktail reception started ten minutes ago.”

  “Just an excuse for a bunch of cops to get shit-faced. Don’t see why I have to get dressed up for it.”

  “Image, darling Eve. You’re a featured speaker and one of the event’s VIPs.”

  “I hate that part. It’s bad enough when I have to go to your deals.”

  “You shouldn’t be nervous about your seminar.”

  “Who said I’m nervous?” She snatched up the dress. “Can you see through this thing?”

  His lips quirked. “Not quite.”

  Not quite” was accurate, she decided. The getup felt thin as a cloud, and
that was good for comfort. The flimsy layers of it barely shielded the essentials. Still, as her fashion sense could be etched on a microchip with room to spare, she had to figure Roarke knew what he was doing.

  At the sound of the mixed voices rolling out of the ballroom as they approached, Eve shook her head. “I bet half of them are already in the bag. You’re serving prime stuff in there, aren’t you?”

  “Only the best for our hardworking civil servants.” Knowing his woman, Roarke took her hand and pulled her through the open doorway.

  The ballroom was huge, and packed. They’d come from all over the planet, and its satellites. Police officials, technicians, expert consultants. The brains and the brawn of law enforcement.

  “Doesn’t it make you nervous to be in the same room with, what, about four thousand cops?” she asked him.

  “On the contrary, Lieutenant,” he said laughingly. “I feel very safe.”

  “Some of these guys probably tried to put you away once upon a time.”

  “So did you.” Now he took her hand and, before she could stop him, kissed it. “Look where it got you.”

  “Dallas!” Officer Delia Peabody, decked out in a short red dress instead of her standard starched uniform, rushed up. Her dark bowl of hair had been fluffed and curled. And, Eve noted, the tall glass in her hand was already half empty.

  “Peabody. Looks like you got here.”

  “The transport was on time, no problem. Roarke, this place is seriously iced. I can’t believe I’m here. I really appreciate you getting me in, Dallas.”

  She hadn’t arranged it as a favor, exactly. If she was going to suffer through a seminar, Eve had figured her aide should suffer, too. But from the look of things Peabody seemed to be bearing up.

  “I came in with Feeney and his wife,” Peabody went on. “And Dr. Mira and her husband. Morris and Dickhead and Silas from Security, Leward from Anti-Crime—they’re all around somewhere. Some of the other guys from Central and the precincts. NYPSD is really well represented.”