Kindred in Death Excerpt
She’d died and gone to heaven. Or better,
because who knew if there was really good sex and lazy holiday mornings
in heaven. She was alive and kicking.
alive anyway. A little sleepy, a whole lot satisfied, and happy the
end of the Urban Wars nearly forty years before had resulted in the
international Peace Day holiday.
the Sunday in June had been selected arbitrarily, and certainly
symbolically—and maybe remnants of
that ugly period still littered the global landscape even in 2060—but
she supposed people were entitled to their parades, cookouts, windy
speeches, and long, drunk weekends.
she was happy to have two days off in a row for any reason.
Especially when a Sunday kicked off like
Dallas, murder cop and ass-kicker, sprawled naked across her husband,
who’d just given her a nice glimpse of heaven. She figured she’d
given him a good look at it, too, as he lay under her, one hand lazily
stroking her butt and his heart pounding like a turbo hammer.
felt the thump on the bed that was their pudgy cat, Galahad, joining
them now that the show was over.
thought: Our happy little family on a do-nothing Sunday morning. And
wasn’t that an amazing thing? She had a happy little family—a home,
an absurdly gorgeous and fascinating man who loved her, and—it couldn’t
be overstated—really good sex.
to mention the day off.
purred, nearly as enthusiastically as the cat, and nuzzled into the
curve of Roarke’s neck.
the very least.” His arms came around her, such good arms, in an easy
embrace. “And what would you like to do next?”
smiled, loving the moment, the lilt of Ireland in his voice, the brush
of the cat’s fur against her arm as he butted it with his head in
a bid for attention.
most likely breakfast.
can be arranged.”
felt Roarke shift, and heard the cat’s purring increase as the hands
that had recently pleasured her gave him a scratch.
propped herself up to look at his face. His eyes opened.
they just killed her, that bold, brilliant blue, those thick,
dark lashes, the smile in them that was hers. Just hers.
down, she took his magic mouth with hers in a deep,
now, that’s far from nothing.”
love you.” She kissed his cheeks, a little rough from the night’s
growth of beard. “Maybe because you’re so pretty.”
was, she thought as the cat interrupted by wiggling his bulk under her
arm and bellying between them. The carved lips, the sorcerer’s eyes,
and sharp, defined bones all framed in the black silk of his hair. When
you added the firm, lanky body, it made a damn perfect package.
managed to get around the cat to draw her down for another kiss,then hissed.
the hell doesn’t he go down and pester Summerset for breakfast?”
Roarke nudged away the cat, who kneaded paws and claws, painfully, over
get it. I want coffee anyway.”
rolled out of bed, walked—long, lean, naked—to the bedroom AutoChef.
cost me another shag,” Roarke muttered.
bicolored eyes glittered, perhaps in amusement, before he scrambled
off the bed.
programmed the kibble, and since it was a holiday, a side of tuna. When
the cat pounced on it like the starving, she programmed two mugs of
coffee, strong and black.
thought about going down for a workout, but sort of took care of that
already.” She took the first life-giving sip as she crossed back to
the platform and the lake-sized bed. “I’m going to grab a shower.”
do the same, then I can grab you.” He smiled as she handed him his
coffee. “A second workout, we’ll say. Very healthy. Maybe a full
Irish to follow.”
a full Irish.”
was thinking breakfast, but you can have both.”
she look happy, he thought, and rested—and altogether delicious. That
shaggy cap of deer-hide hair mussed about her face, those big dark eyes
full of fun. The little dent in her chin he adored deepened just a bit
when she smiled.
was something about the moment, he thought, moments like this when they
were so much in tune, that struck him as miraculous.
cop and the criminal—former—he qualified, as bloody normal as Peace
Day potato salad.
studied her over the rim of his cup, through the whiff of fragrant steam.
“I’m thinking you should wear that outfit more often. It’s a favorite
angled her head, drank more coffee. “I’m thinking I want a really
that handy? I think I want the same.”
took a last sip. “Then we’d better get started.”
too lazy to dress, she tossed on a robe while Roarke programmed more
coffee and full Irish breakfasts for two. It was all so . . . homey,
she thought. The morning sun streamed in the windows of the bedroom
bigger than the apartment she’d lived in two years before. Two years
married next month, she thought. He’d walked into her life, and everything
had changed. He’d found her; she’d found him—and all those dark
places inside both of them had gotten a little smaller, a little brighter.
do you want to do next?” she asked him.
glanced over as he loaded plates and coffee onto a tray to carry it
to the sitting area. “I thought the agenda was nothing.”
can be nothing, or it can be something. I picked yesterday, and that
was lots of nothing. There’s probably something in the marriage rules
about you getting to pick today.”
yes, the rules.” He set the tray down. “Always a cop.”
padded over to eye the plates as if he hadn’t eaten in days.
pointed a warning finger at him, so the cat turned his head in disgust
and began to wash.
pick then, is it?” He cut into his eggs, considering. “Well, let’s
think. It’s a lovely day in June.”
brow lifted. “You’ve a problem with June, or lovely days?”
“No. Shit. June. Charles and
Louise.” Scowling, she chewed bacon. “Wedding. Here.”
next Saturday evening, and as far as I know that’s all under control.”
said because I’m standing up for Louise—the matron of honor or whatever—I’m
supposed to contact Louise every day this week to make sure she doesn’t
need me to do something.” Eve’s scowl darkened as she thought of
Peabody, her partner. “That can’t be right, can it? Every day? I
mean, Jesus. Plus, what the hell could she need me to do?”
stopped eating, narrowed her eyes at him. “Errands? What do you mean
now, I’m at a disadvantage having never been a bride, but best guess?
Confirm details with the florist or caterer, for instance. Go shopping
with her for wedding shoes or honeymoon clothes or—”
would you do that?” Her voice was as thoroughly aggrieved as her face.
“Why would you say these things to me, after I rocked your world twice
in one morning? It’s just mean.”
likely true under other circumstances. But knowing Louise, she has it
all well in hand. And knowing you, if Louise wanted someone to shop
for shoes, she’d have asked someone else to stand up for her at her
gave the shower.” At his barely smothered laugh, she drilled a finger
into his arm. “It was here, and I was here, so that’s like giving
it. And I’m getting a dress and all that.”
smiled, amused by her puzzlement—and mild fear—when it came to social
rites. “What does it look like, this dress?”
stabbed into her eggs. “I don’t have to know what it looks like,
exactly. It’s some sort of yellow—she picked out the color, and
she and Leonardo put their heads together on it. The doctor and the
designer. Mavis says it’s mag squared.”
considered her friend Mavis Freestone’s particular style. “Which
is kind of scary now that I think about it. Why am I thinking about
have no idea. I can say that while Mavis’s taste in fashion is uniquely
. . . unique, as your closest friend she understands perfectly what
you like. And Leonardo knows exactly what suits you. You looked exquisite
on our wedding day.”
had a black eye under the paint.”
and absolutely you. As for etiquette by Peabody, I’d say contacting
Louise wouldn’t hurt, just letting her know you’re willing to help
out should she need it.”
if she does need it? She should’ve asked Peabody to do this instead
of having her second in command, or in line. Whatever the thing is.”
think it’s called bridal attendant.”
With an impatient hand, Eve waved the term away.
tight, and Peabody really gets into this . . . female thing.”
insanity of it, as far as Eve was concerned. The fuss, the frills, the
it’s weird because Peabody used to date Charles, sort of, before she
hooked up with McNab. And after, too.” Her brow furrowed as she worked
through the tangles of the dynamics. “But they never banged each other,
personally or professionally.”
Charles and McNab?”
it.” It got a quick laugh out of her before she thought about errands
and shopping. “Peabody and Charles
never got naked when Charles was a pro. Which is also weird that he
was a licensed companion when he and Louise hooked up, and the whole
time they’re dating—and
getting naked—it doesn’t bother her that he’s getting naked with
other people, professionally. Then he quits without telling her and
trains to be a therapist and buys a house and does the proposing deal.”
Roarke let her run it through, fast words and jerky logic as she shoveled
in eggs, potatoes, bacon. “All right, what’s all this about really?”
stabbed eggs again, then put the fork down and picked up her coffee.
“I don’t want to screw it up for her. She’s so happy, they’re
so happy—and this is a really big deal for her. I get that. I really
do get that, and I did such a crap job on ours. The wedding thing.”
be the judge of that.”
did. I dumped everything on you.”
believe you had a couple of murders on your hands.”
I did. And of course you don’t have anything to do but sit on your
giant piles of money.”
shook his head and spread a bit of jam on a triangle of toast. “We
all do what we do, darling Eve. And I happen to think we do what we
do very well.”
wigged out on you, pissed you off, the night before the wedding.”
a bit of excitement.”
got drugged and kicked around at my own drunk girl party at a strip
club before I made the collar, which was fun in retrospect. But the
point is, I really didn’t do the stuff, so I don’t know how to do
the stuff now.”
gave her knee a friendly pat. For a woman of her sometimes terrifying
courage, she feared the oddest things.
“If there’s something she needs you’ll figure out how to do it.
I’ll tell you, when you walked toward me that day, our day, in the
sunlight, you were like a flame. Bright and beautiful, and took the
breath right out of me. There was only you.”
about five hundred of your close friends.”
you.” He took her hand, kissed it. “And it’ll be the same for
them, I wager.”
just want her to have what she wants. It makes me nervous.”
that’s friendship. You’ll wear some sort of yellow dress and be
there for her. That will be enough.”
“I hope so, because I’m not
tagging her every day. That’s firm.” She looked at her plate. “How
does anyone eat a full Irish?”
and with great determination. I take it you’re not determined
then, if that takes care of breakfast, I’ve had my thought.”
what to do next. We should go to the beach, get ourselves some sand
can get behind that. Jersey Shore, Hamptons?”
was thinking more tropical.”
can’t want to go all the way to the island for one day, or part of
one day.” Roarke’s private island was a favored spot, but it was
practically on the other side of the world. Even in his jet it would
take at least three hours one way.
bit far for an impulse, but there are closer. There’s a spot on the
Caymans that might suit, and a small villa that’s available for the
you know this because?”
looked into acquiring it,” he said easily. “So we could fly down,
get there in under an hour, check it out, enjoy the sun and surf and
drink some foolish cocktails. End the day with a walk along the beach
in the moonlight.”
found herself smiling. “How small a villa?”
enough to serve as a nice impulse holiday spot for us, and roomy enough
to allow us to travel down with a few friends if we’ve a mind to.”
already had this thought.”
had, yes, and put it in the if-and-when department. If you’d like
it, we can make this the when.”
can be dressed and toss whatever I’d need for the day in a bag in
under ten minutes.”
leaped up, bolted toward her dresser.
packed,” he told her. “For both of us. In case.”
glanced back at him. “You never miss a trick.”
rare to have a Sunday off with my wife. I like making the most of it.”
tossed the robe to pull on a simple white tank, then grabbed out a pair
of khaki shorts. “We’ve had a good start on making the most. This
should cap it off.”
as she stepped into the shorts, the communicator on her dresser signaled.
“Crap. Damn it. Shit!” Her stomach dropped as she read the
display. Her glance at Roarke was full of regret and apology. “It’s
watched the cop take over, face, posture, as she picked up the communicator
to respond to her commander. And he thought, Ah well.
I’m sorry to interrupt your holiday.” Whitney’s wide face filled
the tiny screen, and on it rode a stress that had the muscles tightening
at the back of her neck.
no problem, Commander.”
realize you’re off the roll, but there’s a situation. I need you
to report to Five-forty-one Central Park South. I’m on scene now.”
on scene, sir?” Bad, she thought, big and bad for the commander
to be on scene.
The victim is Deena MacMasters, age sixteen. Her body was discovered
earlier this morning by her parents when they returned home from a weekend
away. Dallas, the victim’s father is Captain Jonah MacMasters.”
took her a moment. “Illegals. I know of Lieutenant MacMasters. He’s
weeks ago. MacMasters has specifically requested you as primary. I would
like to grant that request.”
contact Detective Peabody immediately.”
take care of that. I’d like you here asap.”
I’m on my way.”
disengaged the communicator, turned to Roarke. “I’m sorry.”
He crossed to her, tapped his fingertip on the shallow dent in her chin.
“A man’s lost his child, and that’s a great deal more important
than a bit of beach. You know him?”
really. He contacted me after I took Casto down.” She thought of the
wrong cop who’d gone after her at her wedding eve party. “MacMasters
wasn’t his LT, but he wanted to give me a nod for closing that case,
and taking down a bad cop. I appreciated it. He’s got a rep,” she
continued as she changed the holiday shorts for work trousers. “A
good, solid rep. I hadn’t heard about his promotion, but I’m not
surprised by it.”
tidied her choppy cap of hair by raking her fingers through it. “He’s
got about twenty years on the job. Maybe twenty-five. I hear he draws
a hard line and sticks to it, makes sure those serving under him do
the same. He closes cases.”
like someone else I know.”
pulled a shirt out of the closet. “Maybe.”
didn’t tell you how the girl was killed.”
wants and needs me to come in without any preconceptions. He didn’t
say it was homicide. That’s for me and the ME to determine.”
She picked up her weapon harness, strapped
it on. Pocketed her communicator, her ’link, hooked on her restraints.
She didn’t bother to frown when Roarke offered her the summer-weight
jacket he’d selected out of her closet to go over her sidearm. “Whitney’s
being there means one of two things,” she told him. “It’s hinky,
or they’re personal friends. Maybe both.”
him to be on scene . . .”
She sat to pull on the boots she preferred for work. “A cop’s kid.
I don’t know when I’ll get back.”
stopped, looked at him, thought about bags packed just in case, and
walks in the tropical moonlight. “You could fly down, check this villa
work enough I can see to here to keep me busy.” He laid his hands
on her shoulders when she rose, laid his lips on hers. “Get in touch
when you have a better handle on the situation.”
will. See you then.”
jogged downstairs, barely breaking stride when Summerset, Roarke’s
man of just about everything and the pebble in her shoe, materialized
in the foyer.
was under the assumption you were off duty until tomorrow.”
a dead body, which unfortunately isn’t yours.” Then she paused at
the door. “Talk him into doing something that’s not work. Just because
I have to . . .” She shrugged, and walked out to meet death.
Few cops could afford to live in a single-family
residence on the verdant edges of Central Park. Then again, few cops—well,
none other than herself—lived in a freaking castle-manor estate in
Manhattan. Curious about how MacMasters managed his digs, she did a
quick run on him as she navigated the light holiday morning traffic.
Captain Jonah, her dash comp told her, born March 22, 2009, Providence,
Rhode Island. Parents Walter and Marybeth nee Hastings. Educated Stonebridge
Academy, further education Yale, graduated 2030. Married Franklin, Carol
2040, one offspring, female, Deena, born November 23, 2043. Joined NYPSD
September 15, 2037. Commendations and honors include—
that. Finances. Where’s the money come from?”
. . . Current worth approximately eight million, six hundred
thousand. Inherited a portion of grandfather’s estate. MacMasters,
natural causes June 6, 2032, founder
Mac Kitchen and Bath, based in Providence. Company’s current worth—
enough. Asked and answered.”
money, she thought. Yale educated. Ends up an Illegals cop in New York.
Interesting. One spouse and a twenty-year marriage, commendations and
honors on the job. Promoted to captain. It all said what she already
knew of him.
this solid cop she barely knew had specifically requested her as primary
in the investigation of his only child’s death. Why was that? She
she reached the address she pulled in behind a black-and-white. As she
engaged her On Duty light, she took a survey of the house. Nice digs,
she thought, and got out to retrieve her field kit. And, though she
was in danger of overusing the word, it struck her as solid.
Wars construction, nicely rehabbed so it maintained its character, showed
a few scars. It looked dignified, she thought, the rosy brick, the creamy
trim, the long windows—currently shielded with privacy screens, every
of colorful flowers stood guard on either side of the short flight of
stone steps, a pretty touch she supposed. But she was more interested,
as she stepped over and crossed the sidewalk, in the security.
cameras, view screen, thumb pad, and she’d bet voice-activated locks
with a coded bypass. A cop, and particularly one with good scratch,
would be sure to fully protect his home and everything—everyone in
still his teenage daughter was dead inside.
could never cover all the bases.
took her badge out of her pocket to flash the uniform at the door, then
hooked it to her waistband.
waiting for you inside, Lieutenant.”
you first on scene?”
sir. First on scene’s inside, along with the commander and the captain
and his wife. My partner and I were called in by the commander. My partner’s
on the rear.”
My partner will be arriving shortly. Peabody, Detective.”
been apprised, Lieutenant. I’ll pass her through.”
a rookie, Eve thought as she waited for him to pass her in. The uniform
was both seasoned and tough. Had Whitney called him in, or the captain?
glanced to the left, to the right, and imagined people in the neighboring
houses who were awake and at home keeping watch, but too polite—or
too intimidated—to come out and play obvious lookie-loos.
stepped in to a cool, wide foyer with a central staircase. Flowers on
the table, she noted, very fresh. Only a day, maybe two old. A little
bowl that held some sort of colored mints. Everything in soft, warm
colors. No clutter, but a pair of glossy purple sandals—one under,
one beside a high-backed chair.
stepped out of a doorway to the left. He filled it, she thought, with
the bulk of his body. His dark face was lined with concern, and she
caught the glint of sorrow in his eyes.
still his voice was neutral when he spoke. Years of being a cop held
we’re in here. If you’d take a moment before going up to the scene.”
you do, I’ll thank you for agreeing to take this case.” When she
hesitated, he nearly smiled. “If I didn’t put it to you as your
choice, I should have.”
no question, Commander. The captain wants me, he’s got me.”
a nod, he stepped back to lead her into the room.
was a little jolt, she could admit it, when she saw Mrs. Whitney. The
commander’s wife tended to intimidate her with her starched manner,
cool delivery, and blue blood. But at the moment, she appeared to be
fully focused on comforting the woman beside her on a small sofa in
a pretty parlor.
MacMasters, Eve concluded, a small, dark-haired beauty to contrast Anna
Whitney’s blonde elegance. In her drenched black eyes, Eve read both
devastation and confusion. Her slight shoulders shivered as if she sat
naked in ice.
rose as she came in. She judged him at about six-four, and lean to the
point of gangly. His casual dress of jeans and T-shirt coincided with
returning from a brief holiday. His hair, dark like his wife’s, had
a tight curl and remained full and thick around a lean face with deep
cheek grooves that may have been dimples in his youth. His eyes, a pale,
almost misty green, met hers levelly. In them she saw grief and shock,
moved to her, held out a hand. “Thank you. Lieutenant . . .” He
seemed to run out of words.
I’m very sorry, very sorry for your loss.”
the one?” Carol struggled up even as tears spilled down her cheeks.
“You’re Lieutenant Dallas?”
ma’am. Mrs. MacMasters—”
said it had to be you. You’re the best there is. You’ll find out
who . . . how . . . But she’ll still be gone. My baby will still be
gone. She’s upstairs. She’s up there, and I can’t be with her.”
Her voice pitched from raw grief toward hysteria. “They won’t let
me go be with her. She’s dead. Our Deena’s dead.”
now, Carol, you have to let the lieutenant do what she can.”
Whitney stood up to drape an arm around Carol.
I just sit with her? Can’t I just—”
Mrs. Whitney crooned it. “Soon. I’ll stay with you now. The lieutenant
is going to take good care of Deena. She’ll take good care.”
going to take you up,” Whitney said. “Anna.”
and intimidating, Eve thought, but she would handle a grieving mother
and a devastated father.
need to stay down here, Jonah. I’ll be down shortly. Lieutenant.”
friends with the victim’s parents off the job?” Eve asked.
Anna and Carol serve on some committees together, and often spend time
with each other. We socialize. I brought my wife as a friend of the
sir. I believe she’ll be a great help in that area.”
is hard, Dallas.” His voice leaden, he started up the steps.
known Deena since she was a little girl. I can tell you she was the
light of their hearts. A bright, lovely girl.”
house has excellent security from my eyeball of it. Do you know if it
was activated when the MacMasters returned this morning?”
locks were. Jonah found the cameras had been deactivated, and the discs
for the last two days removed. He touched nothing,” Whitney added,
turning left at the top of the stairs. “Allowed Carol to touch nothing—but
the girl. And he prevented his wife from moving the body or disturbing
the scene. I’m sure we can all understand there were a few moments
sir.” It was awkward, she thought, and uncomfortable to be thrust
in the position of interviewing her commander. “Do you know what time
they returned home this morning?”
eight-thirty-two, precisely. I took the liberty of checking the lock
log, and it confirmed Jonah’s statement
to me. I’ll give you a copy of the statement from my home ’link
log. He contacted me immediately, requesting you, and requesting my
presence if possible. I didn’t seal the scene—her bedroom. But it
gestured, stood back. “I think it best if I go down, let you proceed.
When your partner arrives, I’ll send her directly up.”
nodded again, then sighed as he looked at the open bedroom door. “Dallas
. . . It’s very hard.”
waited until he’d turned away, started down the stairs. Alone, she
stepped to the doorway and looked at the young, dead Deena MacMasters.
© 2011 Nora Roberts – All Rights Reserved