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Home > In Death #7 - Holiday in Death(2)

In Death #7 - Holiday in Death(2)
Author: J.D. Robb


“I’ll be home tonight.”

“I thought you needed a couple of more days up there.”

“I’ll be home tonight,” he repeated and smiled at her. “I miss you, Lieutenant.”

“Yeah?” However foolish she considered the warm thrill, she grinned at him. “I guess I’ll have to make some time for you when you get here.”

“Do that.”

“Is that why you were calling — to let me know you’d be back early?”

Actually, he’d intended to leave a message that he’d be delayed another day or two — and to try to convince her to join him for the weekend on the Olympus Resort. But he only smiled at her. “Just wanted to inform my wife of my travel plans. Go back to sleep, Eve.”

“Yeah, maybe.” But they both knew she wouldn’t. “I’ll see you tonight. Uh, Roarke?”

“Yes?”

She still had to take a bracing breath before she said it. “I miss you, too.” She cut the transmission even as he smiled at her. Steadier, she took her coffee with her as she went out to prepare for the day.

She didn’t exactly sneak out of the house, but she was quiet about it. Maybe it was barely five in the morning, but she didn’t doubt Summerset was around somewhere. She preferred, whenever possible, to avoid Roarke’s sergeant-major — or whatever term you’d use for a man who knew everything, did everything, and poked his bony nose into what Eve considered her private business entirely too often.

Since her last case had shoved the two of them closer together than either was comfortable with, she suspected he’d been avoiding her as carefully as she had him for the past couple of weeks.

Reminded of it, she rubbed a hand absently just under her shoulder. It still troubled her a bit in the morning, or after a long day. Taking a full blast from her own weapon was an experience she didn’t want to repeat in this or any other lifetime. Somehow worse was the way Summerset had poured meds down her throat afterward, when she’d been too weak to knock him on his ass.

She closed the door behind her, took one deep breath of the frigid December air, then cursed viciously.

She’d left her vehicle at the base of the steps mostly because it drove Summerset crazy. And he’d moved it because it pissed her off. Grumbling because she hadn’t bothered to bring along the remote for the garage door or her vehicle, she trooped around the house, boots crunching on frosted grass. The tips of her ears began to sting with cold, her nose to run with it.

She bared her teeth and punched in the code with gloveless fingers, then stepped into the pristine and blissfully warm garage.

There were two gleaming levels of cars, bikes, sky-scooters, even a two-passenger mini-copter. Her city-issue vehicle in pea-green looked like a mutt among sleek, glossy hounds. But it was new, she reminded herself as she slid behind the wheel. And everything worked.

It started like a dream. The engine purred. At her command, the heat began to whir softly through the vents. The cockpit glowed with lights, indicating the initial check run, then the bland voice of the recording assured her all systems were in operational order.

She’d have suffered the tortures of the damned before she would admit she missed the capriciousness and outright crankiness of her old unit.

At a smooth pace, she glided out of the garage and down the curved drive toward the iron gates. They parted smoothly, soundlessly, for her.

The streets in this exclusive neighborhood were quiet, clean. Trees on the verge of the great park were coated in a thin sheen of glittery frost like a skinsuit of diamond dust. Deep inside its shadows, chemi-heads and spine crackers might be finishing up the night’s work, but here, there were only polished stone buildings, wide avenues, and the quiet dark before dawn.

She was blocks away before the first billboard loomed up, spitting garish light and motion into the night. Santa, red-cheeked and with a manic grin that made her think of an oversized elf on Zeus, rode through the sky behind his fleet of reindeer and blasted out ho, ho, hos, while warning the populace of just how many shopping days they had left before Christmas.

“Yeah, yeah, I hear you. You fat son of a bitch.” She scowled over as she braked for a light. She’d never had to worry about the holiday before. It had just been a matter of finding something ridiculous for Mavis, maybe something edible for Feeney.

There’d been no one else in her life to wrap gifts for.

And what the hell did she buy for a man who not only had everything, but owned most of the plants and factories that made it? For a woman who’d prefer a blow with a blunt instrument to shopping for an afternoon, it was a serious dilemma.

Christmas, she decided, as Santa began to tout the variety of stores and selections in the Big Apple Sky Mall, was a pain in the ass.

Still, her mood lifted as she hit the predictably snared traffic on Broadway. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, there was a party going on. The people glides were jammed with pedestrians, most of whom were drunk, stoned, or both. Glide-cart operators shivered in the cold while their grills smoked. If a vender had a spot on this street, he held it in a tight, ready fist.

She cracked her window a sliver, caught the scent of roasting chestnuts, soy dogs, smoke, and humanity. Someone was singing out in a strident monotone about the end of the world. A cabbie blasted his horn well over noise pollution laws as pedestrians flowed into the street on his light. Overhead the early airbuses farted cheerfully, and the first advertising blimps began to hawk the city’s wares.

She watched a fistfight break out between two women. Street LCs, Eve mused. Licensed companions had to guard their turf here as fiercely as the vendors of food and drink. She considered getting out and breaking it up, but the little blonde decked the big redhead, then darted off into the crowd like a rabbit.

Good thinking, Eve thought approvingly, as the redhead was already on her feet, shaking her head clear and shouting inventive obscenities.

This, Eve thought with affection, was her New York.

With some regret, she bumped over to the relative quiet of Seventh, then headed downtown. She needed to get back into action, she thought. The weeks of disability had made her feel edgy and useless. Weak. She’d ditched the recommended last week off, had insisted on taking the required physical.

And, she knew, had passed it by the skin of her teeth.

But she’d passed, and was back on the job. Now if she could just convince her commander to get her off desk duty, she’d be a happy woman.

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