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The In Death Collection, Books 16-20

J. D. Robb

  J.D. Robb The IN DEATH COLLECTION Books 16-20

  Portrait in Death

  Imitation in Death

  Divided in Death

  Visions in Death

  Survivor in Death

  J. D. Robb

  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



  The Reef

  River’s End

  Carolina Moon

  The Villa

  Midnight Bayou

  Three Fates


  Northern Lights

  Blue Smoke

  Angels Fall

  High Noon


  Black Hills

  The Search

  Chasing Fire



  Born in Fire

  Born in Ice

  Born in Shame


  Daring to Dream

  Holding the Dream

  Finding the Dream


  Sea Swept

  Rising Tides

  Inner Harbor

  Chesapeake Blue


  Jewels of the Sun

  Tears of the Moon

  Heart of the Sea


  Dance Upon the Air

  Heaven and Earth

  Face the Fire


  Key of Light

  Key of Knowledge

  Key of Valor


  Blue Dahlia

  Black Rose

  Red Lily


  Morrigan’s Cross

  Dance of the Gods

  Valley of Silence


  Blood Brothers

  The Hollow

  The Pagan Stone


  Vision in White

  Bed of Roses

  Savor the Moment

  Happy Ever After

  Nora Roberts & J. D. Robb

  Remember When

  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

  Portrait in Death

  Imitation in Death

  Divided in Death

  Visions in Death

  Survivor in Death

  Origin in Death

  Memory in Death

  Born in Death

  Innocent in Death

  Creation in Death

  Strangers in Death

  Salvation in Death

  Promises in Death

  Kindred in Death

  Fantasy in Death

  Indulgence in Death

  Treachery in Death


  From the Heart

  A Little Magic

  A Little Fate

  Moon Shadows

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


  (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

  Once Upon a Kiss

  Once Upon a Midnight

  Silent Night

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

  Out of This World

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

  Bump in the Night

  (with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  Dead of Night

  (with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  Three in Death

  Suite 606

  (with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  In Death

  The Lost

  (with Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blayney, and Ruth Ryan Langan)

  The Other Side

  (with Mary Blaney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  Also available...

  The Official Nora Roberts Companion

  (edited by Denise Little and Laura Hayden)

  Table of Contents

  Portrait in Death

  Imitation in Death

  Divided in Death

  Visions in Death

  Survivor in Death


  J. D. Robb



  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


  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.


  A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 2003 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

  ISBN: 978-1-1011-9121-7


  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

  The light of the body is in the eye.

  —New Testament

  A mother is a mother still,

  The holiest thing alive.

  —Samuel Coleridge


  We begin to die with our first breath. Death is inside us, ticking closer, closer, with every beat of our heart. It is the end no man can escape. Yet we cling to life, we worship it despite its transience. Or perhaps, because of it.

  But all the whi
le, we wonder of death. We build monuments to it, revere it with our rituals. What will our death be? we ask ourselves. Will it be sudden and swift, long and lingering? Will there be pain? Will it come after a long, full life, or will we be cut off—violently, inexplicably—in our prime?

  When is our time? For death is for all time.

  We create an afterlife because we cannot rush through our days chased by the specter of an end. We make gods who guide us, who will greet us at golden gates to lead us into an eternal land of milk and honey.

  We are children, bound hand and foot by the chains of good with its eternal reward, and evil with its eternal punishment. And so, most never truly live, not freely.

  I have studied life and death.

  There is only one purpose. To live. To live free. To become. To know, with each breath, you are more than the shadows. You are the light, and the light must be fed, absorbed from any and all sources. Then, the end is not death. In the end we become the light.

  They will say I am mad, but I have found sanity. I have found Truth and Salvation. When I have become, what I am, what I do, what I have created will be magnificent.

  And we will all live forever.

  Chapter 1

  Life didn’t get much better. Eve knocked back her first cup of coffee as she grabbed a shirt out of the closet. She went for thin and sleeveless as the summer of 2059 was currently choking New York, and the rest of the Eastern seaboard, in a tight, sweaty grip.

  But hey, she’d rather be hot than cold.

  Nothing was going to spoil her day. Absolutely nothing.

  She pulled on the shirt, then with a quick glance at the door to make certain she was alone, did a fast, hip-shaking boogie to the AutoChef for another hit of coffee. A glance at her wrist unit told her she had plenty of time if she wanted breakfast, so what the hell, she programmed it for a couple of blueberry pancakes.

  She went back to the closet for her boots. She was a tall, lean woman, currently wearing khaki-colored pants and a blue tank. Her hair was short, choppy in style, and brown, with lighter streaks teased out by that mean and brilliant sun. It suited her angular face, with its wide brown eyes and generous mouth. There was a shallow dent in her chin—a feature her husband, Roarke, liked to trace with a fingertip.

  Despite the heat she’d face when she stepped outside the big, blissfully cool bedroom, outside the big, blissfully cool house, she pulled out a lightweight jacket. And tossed it over the weapon harness she had draped over the back of the sofa in the sitting area.

  Her badge was already in her pocket.

  Lieutenant Eve Dallas grabbed her coffee and pancakes out of the AutoChef, plopped down on the sofa, and prepared to enjoy a luxurious breakfast before clocking in for a day as a murder cop.

  With a feline’s psychic sense when food was involved, the fat cat Galahad appeared out of nowhere to leap on the sofa beside her and stare at her plate with his dual-colored eyes.

  “Mine.” She forked up pancakes, and stared back at the cat. “Roarke may be an easy mark, pal, but I’m not. Probably already been fed, too,” she added as she propped her feet on the table and continued to plow through her breakfast. “Bet you were down in the kitchen at dawn sidling around Summerset.”

  She leaned down until they were nose to nose. “Well, there won’t be any of that for three beautiful, wonderful, mag-ass weeks. And do you know why? Do you know why?”

  Overcome with joy, she caved and gave the cat a bite of pancake. “Because the skinny, tight-assed son of a bitch is going on vacation! Far, far away.” She almost sang it, riding on the bliss of knowing Roarke’s majordomo, her personal nemesis, wouldn’t be there to irritate her that night, or for many nights to come.

  “I have twenty-one Summerset-free days ahead of me, and I rejoice.”

  “I’m not sure the cat shares your jubilation.” Roarke spoke from the doorway where he was currently leaning on the jamb watching his wife.

  “Sure he does.” She scooped up more of the pancakes before Galahad could nose his way onto the plate. “He’s just playing it cool. I thought you had some interstellar honcho transmission to take care of this morning.”


  He strolled in, and Eve added to her considerable pleasure by watching him move. Smooth, long-legged, graceful in a way that was pure and dangerous male.

  He could give the cat lessons, she mused. Grinning at him, she decided there wasn’t a woman alive who wouldn’t be thrilled to have that face next to hers over breakfast.

  As faces went, it was a masterpiece, carved on one of God’s more generous days. Lean, with edgy cheekbones, with a firm, full mouth that could make her own water. All this was framed by a sweep of glossy black hair, and highlighted by Celtic blue eyes.

  The rest of him wasn’t bad either, she thought. All long and rangy and tough.

  “Come here, pretty boy.” She fisted a hand in his shirt, gave him a yank. Then sank her teeth, with some enthusiasm, in his bottom lip. She gave it a lazy flick of her tongue before settling back again. “You’re better than pancakes any day.”

  “You’re certainly chipper this morning.”

  “Damn straight. Chipper’s my middle name. I’m going out to spread joy and laughter to all of mankind.”

  “What a nice change of pace.” There was amusement riding along with the Irish in his voice. “Perhaps you’ll start now by going down with me to see Summerset off.”

  She grimaced. “That might spoil my appetite.” Testing, she polished off the pancakes. “No, no, it doesn’t. I can do that. I can go down and wave bye-bye.”

  Brow lifted, he gave her hair a quick tug. “Nicely.”

  “I won’t do the happy dance until he’s out of sight. Three weeks.” After a joyful shudder, she rose and foiled the cat by putting the plate out of reach. “I won’t see his ugly face or hear the squeaky sound of his voice for three orgasmic weeks.”

  “Why do I think he’s probably thinking something very similar about you?” Sighing, Roarke pushed to his feet. “I’m as sure about that as I am that both of you will miss sniping at each other.”

  “Will not.” She picked up her harness, strapped on her weapon. “Tonight, to celebrate—and make no mistake, I’m going to celebrate—I’m going to lounge around the living room and eat pizza. Naked.”

  Roarke’s eyebrows winged up. “I’ll certainly enjoy that.”

  “Get your own pizza.” She shrugged into her jacket. “I have to wave bye-bye now. I’m due at Central.”

  “Practice this first.” He laid his hands on her shoulders. “Have a good trip. Enjoy your vacation.”

  “You didn’t say I had to speak to him.” She blew out a breath at Roarke’s calm stare. “All right, all right, it’s worth it. Have a good trip.” She stretched her lips into a smile. “Enjoy your vacation. Asshole. I’ll leave off the asshole, I just wanted to say it now.”

  “Understood.” He ran his hands down her arms, then took her hand. The cat darted out of the room ahead of them. “He’s looking forward to this. He hasn’t taken much time for himself in the last couple of years.”

  “Didn’t want to take his beady eyes off me long enough. But that’s okay, that’s all right,” she said in a cheerful voice. “Because he’s going, and that’s what’s important.”

  She heard the cat screech, the curse that followed, then a series of thuds. Eve was fast on her feet, but Roarke beat her to the stairs, and was already sprinting down there to where Summerset lay in a heap along with scattered piles of linen.

  She took one look at the scene at the bottom of the stairs and said, “Oh, shit.”

  “Don’t move. Don’t try to move,” Roarke murmured as he checked Summerset for injuries.

  Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Eve crouched. Summerset’s always pale face was bone-white and already going clammy. She read shock in his eyes, along with considerable pain.

  “It’s my leg,” he managed in a voice gone reedy. “I’m afraid it’s broken.”

/>   She could see that for herself by the awkward angle it took below the knee. “Go get a blanket,” she told Roarke as she pulled out her pocket-link. “He’s shocky. I’ll get the MTs.”

  “Keep him still.” Moving fast, Roarke whipped one of the tangled sheets over Summerset, then dashed upstairs. “He could have other injuries.”

  “It’s just my leg. And my shoulder.” He closed his eyes as Eve called for medical assistance. “I tripped over the bloody cat.” Gritting his teeth, he opened his eyes and did his best to smirk at Eve though the heat of the fall was rapidly turning to a cold that made his teeth chatter. “I imagine you think it’s a pity I didn’t break my neck.”

  “Thought crossed by mind.” Lucid, she thought with some relief. Didn’t lose consciousness. Eyes a little glassy. She glanced over as Roarke came back with a blanket. “They’re on their way. He’s coherent, and pissy. I don’t think there’s any head injury. Take more than a spill down the stairs to crack that stone anyway. Tripped over the cat.”

  “For Christ’s sake.”

  Eve watched Roarke take Summerset’s hand, hold it. However she and the skinny baboon dealt with each other, she understood the man was more Roarke’s father than his own blood had been.

  “I’ll get the gates, clear the MTs through.”

  She headed to the security panel to open the gates that closed off the house, the expansive lawns, the personal world Roarke had built, from the city. Of Galahad there was no sign, nor Eve thought sourly, would there likely be for a while.

  Damn cat had probably done it on purpose to spoil her good time because she hadn’t given him enough pancakes.

  So they would hear the sirens, she opened the front door, and nearly staggered against the wall of heat. Barely eight, and hot enough to fry brains. The sky was the color of sour milk, the air the consistency of the syrup she’d so cheerfully consumed when there’d been joy in her heart and a spring in her step.

  Have a nice trip, she thought. Son of a bitch.

  Her ’link beeped just as she heard the sirens. “Here they come,” she called to Roarke, then stepped aside to take the transmission. “Dallas. Shit, Nadine,” she said the minute she saw the image of Channel 75’s top reporter on screen. “This isn’t a good time.”