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Faithless in Death: An Eve Dallas Thriller (Book 52)

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 earth, with each new novel reaching number one on bestseller charts the world over.

  For more information, become a fan on Facebook at



  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

  Celebrity in Death

  Delusion in Death

  Calculated in Death

  Thankless in Death

  Concealed in Death

  Festive in Death

  Obsession in Death

  Devoted in Death

  Brotherhood in Death

  Apprentice in Death

  Echoes in Death

  Secrets in Death

  Dark in Death

  Leverage in Death

  Connections in Death

  Vendetta in Death

  Golden in Death

  Shadows in Death

  Faithless in Death


  Published by Piatkus

  ISBN: 978-0-349-42629-7

  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 © 2021 by Nora Roberts

  The moral right of the author has been asserted.

  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.

  The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.


  Little, Brown Book Group

  Carmelite House

  50 Victoria Embankment

  London EC4Y 0DZ


  About the Author

  Titles by 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

  Their breath is agitation, and their life

  A storm whereon they ride.


  In time we hate that which we often fear.



  Paperwork could kill.

  Nothing, to Eve Dallas’s mind, reached the same heights—or depths—as paperwork’s terminal boredom.

  And if the boredom didn’t kill you, the frustration would.

  She had to survive it. As NYPSD’s Homicide Division’s lieutenant, she had to survive it.

  But it seemed desperately clear to her, as she sat at her desk in her tiny office in Cop Central, that by spring of 2061, somebody sure as hell should have found a cure.

  Didn’t she deserve that when she’d come in early, and full of righteousness, to tackle it? She’d known it would be thornier than usual, but even so, she’d underestimated.

  It wasn’t every day she ended up taking her whole damn squad in pursuit of a contract killer. On two continents. Wouldn’t have happened, she thought as she struggled with numbers, a lot of numbers, if said contract killer hadn’t put a target on her husband’s back.

  And hers.

  Since he had, the men and women who served under her, along with a chunk of cops from EDD and her commander, had stood up, stepped up, and had refused to back down.

  Maybe Roarke had ordered the shuttle for the flight from New York so she didn’t have to figure out how to add that terrifying expense into her budget, into her report.

  Because she’d married a stubborn Irishman, and a filthy rich one.

  And sure, the takedown happened on his family’s farm in Clare, with his aunt and the rest of them capping it off with enough food for an army. So no chits for meals.

  But the overtime. Preapproved by Commander Whitney, yes, but Christ on a spreadsheet, the OT boggled. Then she had the regs to meet for payment due on international investigations.

  Paperwork could not only kill, she thought as she gulped coffee. It could kill slowly and painfully.

  Once, as she worked, her partner, Detective Peabody, clumped down the hall to Eve’s office in her pink cowgirl boots. And poked her cheery self into the room.

  One snarl had her clomping away again.

  And eighty-seven minutes after she’d sat down at her desk, Eve finished—every chit, every hour, every approved expense accounted for.

  She submitted it—and woe be-fucking-tide any flat-nose in Accounting who questioned her. Then she laid her head on the desk, closed her glassy eyes a moment.

  “No more numbers,” she muttered. “In the name of humanity, no more numbers.”

  She sat up, rubbed her hands over her angular face, then back through her choppy crop of brown hair. Rising, she walked to her AutoChef, because she damn well deserved another hit of coffee.

  As she drank it, she stood at her skinny window looking out at her view of New York. A tall, lanky woman, she wore good boots, smoke gray like her trousers, and the vest over her white T-shirt and weapon harness.

  While her wedding ring was her only visible jewelry, she wore a fat diamond on a chain under her shirt. Both pieces Roarke had given her held equal fat slices of sentiment.

  She watched the airtrams wind through a blue sky. The weather gods offered the city a perfect day in May. Sunny and seventies.

  The poor bastards heading to their cubes inside one of the steel towers might not drink in much of it. But it was still there. And since she’d survived Death by Expense Report, she could appreciate it.

  A good day, she thought, and tugged her window open a couple of inches.

  With the kicky little breeze flowing in, she went back to her desk to see what else had piled up since her last shift.

  Her communicator signaled.

  She saw Dispat
ch on the readout.


  Dispatch, Dallas, Lieutenant Eve. Possible homicide. See the officers …

  As she listened to the particulars, she grabbed her jacket off the back of her desk chair and headed out to the bullpen to get her partner.

  Somebody hadn’t had such a perfect day in May.

  “Acknowledged. Dallas and Peabody, Detective Delia, en route. Peabody,” she said, still moving, “we caught one.”

  Her stride hitched briefly as she blinked at Jenkinson’s tie. She should be used to the detective’s insane ties by now, she thought, but who got used to fat, bug-eyed yellow bumblebees buzzing over a neon-orange field?

  Nobody did. Nobody ever should.

  Peabody grabbed her coat and hustled to catch up. She wore curls today, her dark hair red-streaked and bouncy.

  Something else Eve couldn’t get used to.

  “What’ve we got?”

  “Dead body, West Fourth, two uniforms on scene. Interestingly, the nine-one-one came in from the Upper East Side. Two more uniforms being dispatched to that location to speak to the woman who called it in.”

  “How does somebody on the Upper East Side know somebody’s dead in the West Village?” Peabody pondered it while Eve made a heel-turn away from the elevator, already crowded with cops, techs, civilian support heading down.

  They took the glides.

  “Dispatch didn’t have that data.”

  “You got in early today.”

  “Paperwork. Done. Don’t want to talk about it.”

  “McNab and I left early enough to walk in. You’ve got to take advantage of a day like this.”

  “Because, like the DB on West Fourth found out, it could be your last.”

  Hoping for the best, Eve jumped off the glides to try an elevator. Since she found it only about half as full as the one on Homicide’s level, she squeezed in.

  “Mostly we thought it was a really nice morning for a walk.”

  They squeezed off again on the garage level. Their footsteps echoed as they crossed to Eve’s car.

  “We walk a lot when we’re in the field,” Peabody continued as they got in the car. “But it’s not the same as, you know, sort of strolling along. New York in the spring. I mean, it’s just mag.”

  Eve pulled out into the insane traffic, the cacophony of angry horns, the bellowing ad blimps, and the farting maxibuses that was New York in the spring.

  But what the hell; on Eve’s scale it was mag, any time of the year.

  “And hey, Mavis, Bella, and I spent two amazing hours in the community gardens the other day. We’ve got a nice plot going.”

  Eve thought of Mavis, her oldest friend—the performer, the mother, the crazed fashion plate, the pregnant-again Mavis. She could see Mavis doing a lot of things—strange things—but digging in the dirt didn’t make the list.

  “She’s really doing that?”

  “She’s good at it,” Peabody confirmed. “Good hands, good eye. I grew up farming, that’s the Free-Ager way, but she’s a natural. And Bella’s so cute in her little gardening outfits. Oh, and she has a boyfriend.”

  “Mavis has a what? She’s married, knocked up again and married.”

  “No, Bella has a boyfriend. His name’s Ned. He’s twenty-two—months. He’s got all this curly red hair, all these freckles. Mavis dubbed him Adorablicious, and she nailed it. They’re really cute together. His parents, Jem and Linc, are just learning how to garden. Jem’s a blogger, and Linc’s a biochemist.”

  “Is this gardening or a social club?”

  “It can be both, that’s the beauty.” She turned her head to grin at Eve. “You’d hate it.”

  No question of that, Eve thought as she hunted for parking. But still.

  “I planted a tree.”

  “You did what?” Peabody’s dark eyes widened like inflated balloons. “What!”

  “Roarke and I planted a tree. His idea, but we did it. Mostly. The landscaper guy dug the hole, but we put the tree in, and then dirt and whatever.”

  “What kind of tree?”

  “There!” Spotting a space, Eve hit the lights, hit vertical, and as Peabody slammed her goggling eyes shut, punched it across the street. She dropped down between a scarred mini and a burly all-terrain with maybe a half an inch to spare.


  “I was going to say you should warn me, but it would probably be worse.” Happy to be unscathed, Peabody got out, waited for Eve to get their field kits from the trunk. “What kind of tree?”

  Eve pointed south to the crosswalk. “A crying tree, a crying something. Peach, maybe.”

  “A weeping peach?”

  “Weeping, crying. Same thing, even though it doesn’t do either. It’s got little flowers all over it now, so we didn’t kill it.”

  “That’s good, but why did you plant a tree? Why do a cop and a gazillionaire plant a tree?”

  “Roarke gets …” Sentimental, she thought as they joined the river of people crossing the street. “Ideas. We did that pond thing, so—”

  “You did it? It’s done? You said he was going to put one in.”

  “Yeah, it’s done. It’s nice. It’s got those things that float on it.”

  “Lily pads?” Peabody sighed.

  “Those, and like a stone sort of skirt and plants and a bench, and he decided we should plant the tree ourselves.”


  “Social club’s closed,” Eve announced, and paused in front of the four-story building to get a sense.

  Street level consisted of a place called Poets and Painters and a shop called Herbalists. Both had wide windows facing the street, as did the upper stories.

  No privacy screens, she noted, no security bars, just glass.

  She walked to the wine-colored door, between the two businesses, that accessed the units.

  No security camera, standard locks.

  “You could break in with a toothpick,” she decided, and mastered in.

  Iron steps led straight up to the second floor, where a door on the right had a decent alarm system and the double doors on the left had solid locks.

  “DB’s upstairs,” she told Peabody.

  They went up, boots clattering.

  A uniform waited in the open doorway on the right. The double doors on the left stood open. At a glance Eve saw easels, stools, worktables, tools, big and small hunks of stone and wood.

  She heard music pouring out of the room behind the uniform.

  She held up her badge, turned on her recorder.

  “Lieutenant.” The uniform, female, about fifty, her short, densely curled hair tidy under her cap, stepped back. “Officer Miller. My partner, Officer Getz, is upstairs with the DB.”

  “Run it through.”

  “We’d just completed taking a complaint up the block, were going off shift when the call came in. Zero-eight-thirty-three hours. Half a block away, you gotta take it. No response at either unit on this level, and we could hear the music through the door.”

  Hot-tempered music, Eve thought. A lot of bass, a lot of angry drums.

  “No soundproofing,” the uniform continued. “We woke the tenant downstairs in case she had access, which she did. Hettie Brownstone. She and the DB are the only tenants other than the commercial on the street—neither of which were open at the time we arrived. Ms. Brownstone gave us her key cards to both units rented and occupied by Ariel Byrd, and complied when we asked her to wait in her apartment. We announced ourselves, entered. My partner took the second level while I cleared this one. He found the DB.”

  Miller shifted to glance toward the stairs. Through the wide cased opening, Eve saw the other cop standing at parade rest, the wide window at his back, some shelving flanking it.

  “It’s an artist’s studio, sir. Like for sculpting. The back of her head’s caved in. A good-sized hammer, like a mallet, is on the floor beside her, and has blood and gray matter on it—visibly. Also a take-out bag from Café Delish—that’s about a
block east—on the floor at the top of the stairs. Like somebody dropped it, and the fancy coffee splatted good. Two muffins inside the bag.

  “We secured the scene, called it in. I went down to inform Ms. Brownstone and conduct the initial interview.”

  Miller glanced down at the notes in her hand.

  “She’s known the victim for three years, since the vic moved in. She runs a dance studio on the premises, directly across from her apartment. According to her statement, she concluded her last class at nine, locked up. She has a five-year-old kid. She didn’t leave the premises, didn’t hear or see anyone. She states she put the kid to bed by nine-fifteen, took a shower, and had a glass of wine while she watched some screen until about ten-thirty.”

  Miller looked up from her notes. “She was upset, Lieutenant, but cooperative. She stated she would speak to the investigating officers when they arrived, but had to get her kid to school. She would be back by nine.”

  “All right. We’ve got the scene. I’m going to send your partner down. I want you to check with the Poet place. They’d have been open last night. And there’s cams on their door and the herb place. I want to see the feed from both.”

  “Yes, sir, Lieutenant.”

  “See what you can find out from the café, and check on Brownstone when she gets back. Inform her one or both of us will come down to speak with her as soon as possible.”

  “Yes, sir. Sir, I want to add, when I cleared this level, I noticed the bed, unless the victim wasn’t in the habit of making it, had been used. I think used, as there are wineglasses on either bedside table, and a nearly empty bottle of Shiraz on a counter in the kitchen area.”

  “Good to know. Thank you, Officer.”

  Eve walked to the stairs—not iron here, but wood. Old, maybe original.

  The male uniform, maybe fifteen years his partner’s junior, met them at the top.

  To his right on the floor, the soaked take-out bag lay in a pool of creamy brown liquid.

  “Lieutenant. Miller said not to turn the music off. You’d want to keep everything, even that, the way it was when we accessed.”


  “I wouldn’t have heard you coming up. I only knew you were here because I looked down and saw you with Miller.”

  Not ear-blasting loud, Eve thought, but loud enough to mask footsteps.