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Celebrity in Death

J. D. Robb

  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.

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  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

  New York to Dallas


  Published by Hachette Digital

  ISBN: 978-0-748-12586-9

  All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2012 by Nora Roberts

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

  Hachette Digital

  Little, Brown Book Group

  100 Victoria Embankment

  London, EC4Y 0DY


  Also by Nora Roberts writing as 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

  Chapter 23

  From fame to infamy is a beaten road.


  The lust for power, for dominating others,

  inflames the heart more than any other passion.


  WITH FRUSTRATION AND SOME REGRET, SHE studied murder. It lay in the quiet room on a sofa the color of good merlot, with heart blood staining a pale gray shirt beneath the silver bolt of a scalpel. Her eyes, flat and grim, tracked the body, the room, the tray of artfully arranged fruit and cheese on the low table.

  “In close again.” Her voice, like her eyes, was all cop as she straightened her long, lean frame. “He’s lying down. He’s deactivated the droid, leaving it and the house security programmed for DO NOT DISTURB. But he’s lying here and he doesn’t worry about somebody coming in, leaning over him. Tranqs maybe. We’ll check the tox screen but I don’t think so. He knew her. He didn’t fear for his life when she came into the room.”

  She stepped to the door. In the corridor outside the pretty blonde sat on the floor, head in her hands with the sturdily built, newly minted detective smirking beside her.

  And she stood, framed in the doorway with murder at her back.

  “And cut! That’s the money shot.”

  At the director’s signal, the area—dressed as the late Wilford B. Icove Junior’s home office—became a hive of sound and movement.

  Lieutenant Eve Dallas, who’d once stood in that home office over a body that did not—as this one did—sit up and scratch his ass, felt the weird sense of déjà vu shatter.

  “Is this iced or what?” Beside her, Peabody did a restrained little dance by lifting and lowering the heels of her pink cowboy boots. “We’re on an actual vid set watching ourselves. And we look good.”

  “It’s weird.”

  And weirder yet, Eve thought, to watch herself—or a reasonable facsimile—coming toward her with a big, happy smile.

  She didn’t smile like that, did she? That would be yet another weird.

  “Lieutenant Dallas. It’s so great you made it on set. I’ve been dying to meet you.” The actress held out a hand.

  Eve had seen Marlo Durn before, but as a sun-kissed blonde with dark green eyes. The short, choppy brown hair, the brown eyes, even the shallow dent in the chin that matched her own gave Eve a little bit of the wigs.

  “And Detective Peabody.” Marlo passed the long leather coat she’d worn for the scene—a twin of the one Eve’s husband had given her during the Icove investigation—to a wardrobe person.

  “I’m a huge fan, Ms. Durn. I’ve seen everything you’ve been in.”

  “Marlo,” she told Peabody. “We’re partners, after all. Well, what do you think?” She gestured at the set, and a twin of the wedding ring on Eve’s finger flashed on Marlo’s. “Are we close?”

  “It looks good,” Eve said. Like a freaking crime scene still with people tromping around.

  “Roundtree—the director—wants authentic.” Marlo nodded toward the burly man hunched over a monitor. “And what he wants, he gets. It’s just one of the reasons he insisted we shoot everything in New York. I hope you’ve had time to look around, really get a sense of things. I wanted this part the minute I heard about the project, even before I read Nadine Furst’s book. And you, both of you, lived it. Now I’m babbling.”

  She let out a quick, easy laugh. “Talk about a huge fan. I’ve steeped myself in all things Eve Dallas for months now. I even did a few ride-alongs with a couple of detectives when even Roundtree couldn’t budge you or your commander to let me and K.T. ride with the two of you. And,” she continued before Eve could respond, “having steeped myself, I completely understand why you put up the block.”


  “And babbling again. K.T.! Come over and meet the real Detective Peabody.”

  The actress, deep in discussion with Roundtree, glanced over. Annoyance showed in her eyes before she put on what Eve assumed was her meet-the-public smile.

  “What a treat.” K.T. shook hands, gave Peabody the once-over. “You’re letting your hair grow.”

  “Yeah. Kind of. I just saw you in Teardrop. You were totally mag.”

  “I’m going to steal Dallas for a few minutes.” Marlo hooked an arm through Eve’s. “Let’s grab some coffee,” she said, drawing Eve out of the crime scene set and through the mock-up of the Icove home’s second story. “The producers arranged for me to have the brand you drink, and now I’m hooked. I asked my assistant to set us up in my trailer.”

  “Aren’t you working?”

  “A lot of the work is waiting. I guess that’s a similarity to police work.” Moving quickly in boots and rough trousers, her prop weapon—Eve assumed—in a shoulder harness, Marlo led the way through th
e studio, past sets, equipment, huddles of people.

  Eve stopped at the reproduction of her own bullpen. Desks—cluttered—the case board that took her back to the previous fall, the cubes, the scuffed floor.

  The only thing missing was the cops—and the smell of processed sugar, bad coffee, and sweat.

  “Is it right?”

  “Yeah—some bigger, I guess.”

  “It won’t look it on-screen. They reproduced your office, in the same layout, so they can shoot me or one of the others going through this area and in, or out. Would you like to see it?”

  They walked through, past the false wall and an open area Eve assumed wouldn’t show on-screen either, and into a near-perfect model of her office at Cop Central, right down to the narrow window. Though this one looked out on the studio instead of New York.

  “They’ll CGI in the view—buildings, air traffic,” Marlo said when Eve walked over to look out. “I’ve already shot some scenes in here, and we did the conference room scene where you lay out the conspiracy—Icove, Unilab, Brookhollow Academy. That was intense. The dialogue was straight from the book, which we’re told stuck very close to the actual record. Nadine did a brilliant job of merging the reality with a page-turning story line. Though I guess the reality was page-turning. I admire you so much.”

  Surprised, mildly uncomfortable, Eve turned.

  “What you do, every day,” Marlo continued, “is so important. I’m good at my work. I’m damn good at it, and I feel strongly what I do is important. It’s not uncovering-a-global-cloning-ring important, but without art, stories, and the people who bring those stories to life, the world would be a sadder, smaller place.”

  “Sure it would.”

  “When I started researching this part, I realized I’ve never had another role I wanted so much to do justice to. Not just because of the Oscar potential—though the shiny gold man would look great on my mantel—but because it’s important. I know you only watched the one scene, but I hope if there was anything that didn’t ring true, didn’t feel right to you, you’ll tell me.”

  “It seemed right to me.” Eve shrugged. “The thing is, it’s strange, I guess a little disorienting, to watch somebody being you doing what you did, saying what you said. So since it felt strange and disorienting, it must be right.”

  Marlo’s smile exploded. And no, Eve thought, she absolutely did not smile that way.

  “That’s good then.”

  “And this.” Eve did a turn around the office set. “I feel like I need to sit down and knock out some paperwork.”

  “Carmandy would be thrilled to hear that. She’s the head set designer. Let’s get that coffee. They’ll need me back on set soon.”

  Marlo gestured as they went out into the sun-blasted October of 2060. “If we go this way, you’ll see some of the Roarke/Dallas house set. It’s spectacular. Preston, our AD, told you they were going to want some publicity shots while you and Peabody are on set? Valerie Xaviar, that’s the publicist, is handling it. She’s on top of everything.”

  “It was mentioned.”

  Marlo smiled again, gave Eve’s arm a quick, light rub. “I know it’s not something you’d choose to do, but it’ll be great publicity for the vid—and it’ll make the cast and crew happy. You’re going to make the dinner tonight, I hope. You and Roarke.”

  “We’re planning on it.” Couldn’t get out of it, Eve thought.

  Marlo let out a laugh, shot Eve a look. “And you’re wishing you had a hot case so you could skip it.”

  “I guess you are good at your work.”

  “It’ll be more fun than you think. Which won’t be hard because you think it’ll be torture.”

  “Have you got my office wired?”

  “No, but I like to think I’m wired into you.” Marlo tapped her temple. “So I know you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more than you think. And you’ll love Julian. He’s nailed Roarke—the accent, the body language, that indefinable sense of power and sex. Plus, he’s gorgeous, funny, charming. I’ve loved working with him. Are you on an investigation now?”

  “We just closed one a few days ago.”

  “The Whitwood Center case, at least that’s what the media calls it. As I said, I’m steeped. Still, even when you’re not working something active, you’re supervising other investigations, testifying in court, consulting with the officers and detectives in your division. It’s a full plate. Dealing with—”

  Marlo broke off when Eve’s communicator signaled.


  Dispatch, Dallas, Lieutenant Eve. See the officer at Twelve West Third. Possible homicide.

  “Acknowledged. Dallas and Peabody, Detective Delia, en route.” She clicked off, signaled Peabody. “We caught one. Meet me at the vehicle.”

  Pocketing the communicator, she glanced at Marlo. “Sorry.”

  “No, of course. You caught a case, right when we’re standing here. It’s probably a stupid question, but how does it feel when you’re contacted, told someone’s dead?”

  “Like it’s time to go to work. Listen, thanks for showing me around.”

  “There’s so much more. Big Bang Productions basically built Dallas World here at Chelsea Piers. We’ll be shooting for at least two more weeks—probably three. Maybe you can make it back.”

  “Maybe. I’ve got to go. I’ll see you tonight, work permitting.”

  “Good luck.”

  Eve wound her way around to the VIP lot and her vehicle. She wasn’t happy somebody was dead—but if they were going to be dead anyway, she wasn’t unhappy to have picked up the case before the stupid photo shoot thing. She’d found Marlo Durn personable, maybe a little intense, but personable, smart, and not an asshole. But she had to admit it got to be a little unnerving to keep looking at somebody who looked so much like you. And to do it in surroundings that looked like your surroundings.

  Dallas World.


  “Wouldn’t you know we’d catch one.” Peabody hustled up. “That was fun! And Preston—Preston Stykes, the assistant director—said I could do a cameo! They’re going to be shooting some street scenes next weekend, and I get to be a pedestrian—with a closeup, and maybe even a line. I bet I get a zit.” She patted a hand around her face, checking. “You always get a zit when you have a closeup.”

  “Had many—closeups, not zits. I don’t want to know about your zits.”

  “It’ll be my first.” She settled into the passenger seat while Eve got behind the wheel. “And tonight we get to hob with the nob at dinner. I’m having dinner with vid stars, with celebrities, at the swank Park Avenue residence of the hottest director in Hollywood, meeting the most powerful and respected producer—and founder of Big Bang Productions.” Peabody stopped checking for potential zits to press her hand to her belly. “I feel a little sick.”

  “Then you can boot in the swank john of the hottest director in Hollywood.”

  “He was looking for you, Roundtree. He was about to send a gofer to find you.”

  “I was having the surreal experience of having myself show myself around my office and bullpen.”

  “Oh! My desk. I could’ve sat at my desk. I could’ve sat at your desk.”


  “It’s a vid set.”

  “Even then, no.”

  “Mean. The other you is nice. I can call her Marlo. The other me is kind of a bitch.”

  “There you go. Typecasting.”

  “Funny, ha ha. Really, she talked to me for about thirty seconds, then brushed me off. And do you know what she said?”

  “How can I know when I wasn’t there?”

  “So, I’ll tell you.” Scowling out the windshield, Peabody stuck on her rainbow-lensed sunshades. “She said if Nadine’s book was an accurate portrayal, she suggests I take an assertive course. Otherwise I’m never going to be anything but an underling, or a sidekick at best. But with my subservient attitude I’d never be in charge.”

  Eve felt a claw of annoyance scrape dow
n the back of her neck. Her partner had been assertive enough to springboard the investigation and downfall of an organization of dirty cops.

  “She isn’t kind of a bitch. She’s essentially a bitch. And you’re not an underling.”

  “That’s right. I’m your partner, and okay, you’re my lieutenant, but that doesn’t make me some kiss-ass underling with a subservient attitude.”

  “Following orders in the line isn’t subservient, it’s being a good cop. And you have a smart-ass attitude half the time.”

  “Thanks. I didn’t like me very much.”

  “I don’t like you a whole lot. Neither does the other me.”

  “Now I’m confused.”

  “Marlo and K.T. don’t like each other much. It shows when the camera’s not on them. Once the director called ‘Cut,’ they went separate ways, didn’t speak or look at each other until Marlo called K.T. over to you.”

  “I guess I had Hollywood stars in my eyes because I didn’t notice. But you’re right. It must be rough to work with somebody so closely, have to pretend you like and respect each other, and you really don’t.”

  “That’s why they call it acting.”

  “Still. Oh, and I think the other me has a bigger ass.”

  “No question about it.”


  “Peabody, I didn’t actually look at her ass, and I rarely have occasion to look at yours. But I’m willing to say her ass is bigger if it makes you happy and we can stop talking about the Hollywood people.”

  “Okay, but just one more thing. The other me is also a lying sack. She told me she had to go prep for her next scene, but when I cut across where the trailers are to get to the VIP lot, I saw her—and boy, I heard her. Banging on one of the trailer doors, yelling, ‘I know you’re in there, you bastard, and open the fucking door.’ Like that.”

  “Whose trailer?”

  “I don’t know, but she was pissed, and didn’t care who heard because there was crew milling around.”

  “It’s like I’ve always said. You’re a bitch with a nasty temper and no class.”

  Peabody sighed, smiled. “But not an underling.”

  “With that settled,” Eve said as she pulled behind a black-and-white, “maybe we can check out this DB.”