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New York to Dallas

J. D. Robb

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page


  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





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  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 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), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, 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

  Copyright © 2011 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. Published simultaneously in Canada

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Robb, J. D., date.

  New York to Dallas / J. D. Robb.

  p. cm.

  ISBN : 978-1-101-53691-9

  1. Dallas, Eve (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Women detectives—New York (State)—New York—Fiction. 3. Police—New York (State)—New York—Fiction. 4. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction. I. Title.



  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, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

  The Present is the living sum-total of the whole Past.


  I wonder, by my troth, what thou, and I

  Did, till we lov’d.



  While a late-summer storm bashed against her single skinny window, Lieutenant Eve Dallas wished for murder.

  As far as she could see, a good, bloody killing was the only thing that would save her from the torture of paperwork stacked like the Alps on her desk at Cop Central. Her own fault, no question, but she’d been just a little too busy investigating and closing cases to hunker down with budgets and expense reports and the damn evaluation sheets.

  Telling herself it was part of the job didn’t help when she actually had to do it—in bulk—which was why she’d closed herself in her office with lots and lots of coffee and wondered why somebody didn’t just kill somebody else and save her from this nightmare.

  Not really, she told herself. Or not exactly. But since people consistently killed other people anyway, why not now?

  She stared at the numbers on her computer screen until her eyes throbbed. She cursed, sulked, steamed, then strapped on and squeezed, crunched, fudged, and manipulated until she could make the stingy departmental bottom line fit the needs of her division.

  They were murder cops, she thought with bitter resentment. Homicide didn’t run on blood alone.

  She got through it, moved on to the expense chits submitted by her officers and detectives.

  Did Baxter actually believe she’d bite on three-seventy-five for shoes because he’d fucked up his own chasing a suspect down a sewer? And why the hell had Reineke shelled out double the usual rate to a street-level licensed companion for information?

  She stopped, got more coffee, stared out at the brutality of the storm for a few minutes. At least she wasn’t out there, plugged like a wet cork into one of the shuddering airtrams, or shoving her way through the drowning hell of street traffic. She could be soaked, steaming like a clam in the endless stream of heat the summer of 2060 poured on New York.

  Stalling, she thought in disgust, and forced herself to sit again. She’d promised herself she’d finish before the afternoon ceremony. Both she and her partner would receive medals. Peabody had earned it and more, Eve thought, as the catalyst for taking down a ring of dirty cops.

  If paperwork was the drudgery of command, submitting Peabody’s name for the Meritorious Police Duty Honor for Integrity was a boon. All she had to do was finish the grunt work, then she could enjoy the moment with a clear head and guiltless conscience.

  She wished she had candy, but she hadn’t settled on a new hiding place to thwart the nefarious Candy Thief. She wished she could dump some of this crap on Peabody the way she had when Peabody had been her aide instead of her partner.

  Those days were over.

  Stalling again, she admitted, and raked her fingers through her short, choppy brown hair.

  She hacked her way through the expense reports, submitted them up the chain. Someone else’s problem now, she decided and felt almost righteous. No reason she couldn’t start the evals later.

  “Task complete. Shut it down.”

  Unable to comply, the computer responded.

  “I finished.”

  Inaccurate statement. Previous command stipulated all listed reports and evaluations must be complete before system rest.

  This command by Dallas, Lieutenant Eve, priority basis, can only be countermanded at her order by fire, terrorist attack, alien invasion or an open and active case requiring her attention . . .

  Jesus, had she really programmed that? “I changed my mind.”

  Previous command specifies changes of mind, fatigue, boredom, and other lame excuses not acceptable for countermand . . .

  “Bite me,” Eve muttered.

  Unable to comply . . .

  “Fine, fine, fine. Computer, display previous evals, in alpha order, for all officers under my command.”

  She worked her way through. She’d put the damn command in to keep herself in line—and because every single one of her men deserved the time and attention it took for a solid and judicious evaluation.

  She finished Baxter, both Carmichaels, and had slogged her way to Jenkinson when the knock sounded on her door.

  “Yeah, what?” She scowled over at Peabody as her partner opened the door. “Is it an alien invasion?”

  “Not that I’ve heard. There’s a guy out here, pretty shaky, claims he can only speak to you. He says
it’s a matter of life and death.”

  “Yeah?” She perked up. “Computer, life-and-death countermand. Save and hold.”

  Verification required . . .

  “Peabody, tell this fucking machine there’s a human being requiring my attention on a matter of life and death.”

  “Ah, Computer, Peabody, Detective Delia, requests the lieutenant’s attention on an urgent matter.”

  Verification accepted. Saving data. On hold . . .

  Annoyed, Eve gave the computer a rap with the heel of her hand. “It’s pretty pitiful when your own comp won’t take your word.”

  “You put all that in there so you wouldn’t squirm out of the paperwork.”

  “Still. Send life and death back.”

  He came at a stumbling run, a skinny guy she judged as late twenties. He sported a tangle of messy dreads, baggy red shorts, gel-flips, a silver lip ring, and a dingy white tank that showed off his tattoo sleeves. Sweat ran down his thin, white face.

  “You’re Dallas. Lieutenant Eve Dallas, NYPSD. Homicide.”

  “That’s right. What’s the—”

  He burst into tears—loud, hiccupping tears. “He said—he said—I could only talk to you. Had to come to you. He’s got her. He’s got Julie. He’s gonna kill her if you don’t come back with me. He said an hour, and it took me half that to get here.”

  His words rolled on top of each other between sobs and shakes. Eve got out of her chair, shoved him into it.

  “Suck it up and slow down. What’s your name?”

  “I’m Tray. Tray Schuster.”

  “Who is he?”

  “I don’t know. He was just there, in my place. Our place. She just moved in last week. Just there when we woke up, and he tied us up. He ate breakfast, and he—doesn’t matter. You have to come or he’ll kill her. I forgot, I forgot. I’m supposed to say, ‘There’s the bell for round two.’ Please, he’s got a knife. He’s going to cut her. If you don’t come, if I got to anybody else, he said he’d kill her.”


  “My place. Our place, I mean.”

  “Where’s your place, Tray?”

  “Two-fifty-eight Murray Street.”

  The address clicked, and with the click came a twist in the guts. “Apartment three-oh-three?”

  “Yeah.” He swiped at his face. “How did you—”

  “Stay here, Tray.”



  She strode out, into the bullpen. “Peabody.” Scanned the desks and movement. “Baxter, Trueheart, Carmichael, Sanchez. Whatever you’re doing stop and suit up. Suspect is Isaac McQueen. He’s holding a woman hostage, two-fifty-eight Murray Street, apartment three-oh-three. Suspect is armed and extremely dangerous. Additional data en route as the suspect has given a time limit on response. Carmichael, Sanchez, get the wit from my office. Keep him locked in your vehicle. Peabody, with me. Let’s move!”

  “Isaac McQueen?” Peabody scrambled to keep up with Eve’s long legs. “The Collector? He’s in Rikers. Life sentence.”

  “Check that. He’s either out or somebody’s posing as him. That was his apartment. That’s where he kept . . .”

  All those young girls. So many young girls.

  “He’s got this guy’s cohab,” Eve continued, shoving her way onto the elevator. “He sent him to me, specifically. I took McQueen down, in that apartment.”

  “There’s no alert or notification . . . wait.” Peabody swiped at her PPC. “Internal alert buried here. They haven’t even informed command. McQueen escaped sometime yesterday. Killed one of the nurses in the infirmary and managed to walk out wearing his uniform and ID.” Peabody looked up from her PPC. “He just walked out.”

  “We’re damn well going to walk him back in.” She jogged across the lot to her vehicle. “Inform Commander Whitney. He can start knocking heads together at prison administration. He hasn’t killed her,” Eve murmured as she peeled out of the underground lot. “McQueen didn’t escape just to slice up some woman. He’s smart, organized, and he has an agenda. He has needs. He doesn’t kill them—unless they break or dissatisfy. He collects. He’s not interested in this Julie. She’s over his age limit.”

  Peabody finished the text to their commander’s office before looking over at Eve. “She’s a lure. For you.”

  “Yeah, but it doesn’t make sense. He’d just end up boxed in, the way he was before.”

  Didn’t make sense, Eve thought again, but ordered Peabody to request uniforms for backup.

  She used the wrist unit her husband had given her, engaged its communicator. “Carmichael, I want you and Sanchez to cover the rear of the building. Uniforms on the way for backup. Baxter, you and Trueheart will go in with me and Peabody. Body armor. He’ll be expecting us.”

  She shook her head, ripped through the narrow opening between two Rapid Cabs. “He won’t be there. No way he’s going to trap himself. He knows I’ll come, and won’t come alone.”

  “Maybe that’s what he wants you to think, and it’s a trap.”

  “We’re about to find out.”

  She studied the building, one of the cavernous homes that had survived the Urban Wars, and had been converted into apartments. It had seen better days—its better days had passed a century before—but it held up with its faded pink bricks and ornately grilled windows.

  Its main entrance opened directly onto the sidewalk and had minimum security. Working-class neighborhood, Eve thought, as it had been during McQueen’s reign. Most of the residents came home at the end of the day, settled back with a brew and some screen, and minded their own business.

  So McQueen had been able to mind his for nearly three years. And the lives of twenty-six girls between the ages of twelve and fifteen had been forever scarred.

  “He’s got the privacy screen up,” Eve said. “If he’s up there, he knows we’re here. He’d have made contacts, friends, in prison. He’s charming, engaging, sly. It’s possible he got his hands on something more long-range than a knife. Keep down. Move fast.”

  She checked in with Carmichael, gave the go.

  Blanking out memories, she moved, taking point up the stairs, weapon drawn. Throat dry, mind cold.

  “Let me scan the door.” Peabody pulled out her PPC. “He might’ve rigged it.”

  “It opens on a living area, kitchen behind, eating area to the right. Two bedrooms, one right, one left. Bathroom attached to the one on the right. Half-bath left of the kitchen. It’s a big unit, about five hundred square feet.”

  “Scan reads clear,” Peabody told her.

  “Baxter, straight back. Trueheart, Peabody, go left. I’m right.” She nodded to Trueheart and the battering ram. Counted from three down with her fingers.

  The door crashed on its hinges, locks snapping. Eve went in low and fast, focused on the now, not the then. She heard the rush of feet as her team poured into the room.

  She shoved open the bedroom door, swept with her weapon. She saw the figure on the bed, but continued to clear—left, right, closet, bath as she heard her team members call, “Clear!”

  “In here,” Eve shouted, and now moved to the bed.

  “You’re okay. It’s okay. We’re the police.”

  She loosened the gag around the woman’s bloody, swollen mouth. The sounds she made were incoherent moans and whispers.

  He’d stripped her; his pattern there hadn’t changed. Before Eve could give the order, Trueheart, his young, handsome face radiating compassion, lifted the thin bedspread from the floor to cover her shaking body.

  “You’re going to be all right now,” he said gently. “You’re safe now.”

  “He hurt me. He hurt me.”

  Peabody moved in, pulling the knotted sheet McQueen had used to bind the woman’s hands from the hook screwed into the wall. “He can’t hurt you now.” Then she sat, drawing Julie against her to let her weep.

  “He swore he wouldn’t hurt me if Tray did what he said, but he did. He did. He raped me, and he hurt
me. And he did this to me.”

  Eve had already seen it, tattooed in bloody red over Julie’s left breast, caged in a perfect heart.

  “Bus is on the way,” Baxter told Eve. He angled away from the woman sobbing in Peabody’s arms, spoke quietly. “They’ll have a rape counselor on the other end. Do you want me to call the sweepers to go through the place?”

  It wouldn’t matter, she thought. He wouldn’t have left anything behind he hadn’t intended to. But she nodded. “Let the boyfriend know she’s safe. He can go with her to the hospital. You and Trueheart step out, please. Peabody, get Julie some clothes. You can’t put them on yet.” She stood at the foot of the bed, waited until Julie met her eyes. “They’ll have to examine you first, and we’re going to have to ask you questions. I know it’s hard. You should know Tray did everything he could to get to me as fast as possible, to get me back here.”

  “He didn’t want to leave. He begged him to let me go instead. He didn’t want to leave me.”

  “I know. His name is Isaac McQueen. He told you something, Julie, something he wanted you to pass on to me.”

  “He said I wasn’t right, wasn’t . . . fresh, but he’d make an exception. I couldn’t stop him. He hurt me, he tied my hands.” Quivering still, she held her arms out to show the raw bruising on her wrists. “I couldn’t stop him.”

  “I know. Julie, I’m Lieutenant Dallas. Eve Dallas. What did Isaac want you to tell me?”

  “Dallas? You’re Dallas?”

  “Yes. What did he want you to tell me?”

  “He said to tell you that you owe it all to him. It’s time to pay up. I want my mom.” She covered her face with her hands. “I want my mom.”