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In Death #16 - Portrait in Death
Author: J.D. Robb


J.D. Robb - In Death #16 - Portrait in Death

Portrait in Death (In Death #16)
J.D. Robb

mystery/romance/sf/thriller/fantasy

In_Death_16/index

 

Prologue

We begin to die with our first breath. Death is inside us, ticking closer, closer, with every beat of our heart. It is the end no man can escape. Yet we cling to life, we worship it despite its transience. Or perhaps, because of it.

But all the while, we wonder of death. We build monuments to it, revere it with our rituals. What will our death be? we ask ourselves. Will it be sudden and swift, long and lingering? Will there be pain? Will it come after a long, full life, or will we be cut off-violently, inexplicably-in our prime?

When is our time? For death is for all time.

We create an afterlife because we cannot rush through our days chased by the specter of an end. We make gods who guide us, who will greet us at golden gates to lead us into an eternal land of milk and honey.

We are children, bound hand and foot by the chains of good with its eternal reward, and evil with its eternal punishment. And so, most never truly live, not freely.

I have studied life and death.

There is only one purpose. To live. To live free. To become. To know, with each breath, you are more than the shadows. You are the light, and the light must be fed, absorbed from any and all sources. Then, the end is not death. In the end we become the light.

They will say I am mad, but I have found sanity. I have found Truth and Salvation. When I have become, what I am, what I do, what I have created will be magnificent.

And we will all live forever.

Chapter 1

Life didn't get much better. Eve knocked back her first cup of coffee as she grabbed a shirt out of the closet. She went for thin and sleeveless as the summer of 2059 was currently choking New York, and the rest of the Eastern seaboard, in a tight, sweaty grip.

But hey, she'd rather be hot than cold.

Nothing was going to spoil her day. Absolutely nothing.

She pulled on the shirt, then with a quick glance at the door to make certain she was alone, did a fast, hip-shaking boogie to the AutoChef for another hit of coffee. A glance at her wrist unit told her she had plenty of time if she wanted breakfast, so what the hell, she programmed it for a couple of blueberry pancakes.

She went back to the closet for her boots. She was a tall, lean woman, currently wearing khaki-colored pants and a blue tank. Her hair was short, choppy in style, and brown, with lighter streaks teased out by that mean and brilliant sun. It suited her angular face, with its wide brown eyes and generous mouth. There was a shallow dent in her chin-a feature her husband, Roarke, liked to trace with a fingertip.

Despite the heat she'd face when she stepped outside the big, blissfully cool bedroom, outside the big, blissfully cool house, she pulled out a lightweight jacket. And tossed it over the weapon harness she had draped over the back of the sofa in the sitting area.

Her badge was already in her pocket.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas grabbed her coffee and pancakes out of the AutoChef, plopped down on the sofa, and prepared to enjoy a luxurious breakfast before clocking in for a day as a murder cop.

With a feline's psychic sense when food was involved, the fat cat Galahad appeared out of nowhere to leap on the sofa beside her and stare at her plate with his dual-colored eyes.

"Mine." She forked up pancakes, and stared back at the cat. "Roarke may be an easy mark, pal, but I'm not. Probably already been fed, too," she added as she propped her feet on the table and continued to plow through her breakfast. "Bet you were down in the kitchen at dawn sidling around Summerset."

She leaned down until they were nose to nose. "Well, there won't be any of that for three beautiful, wonderful, mag-ass weeks. And do you know why? Do you know why?"

Overcome with joy, she caved and gave the cat a bite of pancake. "Because the skinny, tight-assed son of a bitch is going on vacation! Far, far away." She almost sang it, riding on the bliss of knowing Roarke's majordomo, her personal nemesis, wouldn't be there to irritate her that night, or for many nights to come.

"I have twenty-one Summerset-free days ahead of me, and I rejoice."

"I'm not sure the cat shares your jubilation." Roarke spoke from the doorway where he was currently leaning on the jamb watching his wife.

"Sure he does." She scooped up more of the pancakes before Galahad could nose his way onto the plate. "He's just playing it cool. I thought you had some interstellar honcho transmission to take care of this morning."

"Done."

He strolled in, and Eve added to her considerable pleasure by watching him move. Smooth, long-legged, graceful in a way that was pure and dangerous male.

He could give the cat lessons, she mused. Grinning at him, she decided there wasn't a woman alive who wouldn't be thrilled to have that face next to hers over breakfast.

As faces went, it was a masterpiece, carved on one of God's more generous days. Lean, with edgy cheekbones, with a firm, full mouth that could make her own water. All this was framed by a sweep of glossy black hair, and highlighted by Celtic blue eyes.

The rest of him wasn't bad either, she thought. All long and rangy and tough.

"Come here, pretty boy." She fisted a hand in his shirt, gave him a yank. Then sank her teeth, with some enthusiasm, in his bottom lip. She gave it a lazy flick of her tongue before settling back again. "You're better than pancakes any day."

"You're certainly chipper this morning."

"Damn straight. Chipper's my middle name. I'm going out to spread joy and laughter to all of mankind."

"What a nice change of pace." There was amusement riding along with the Irish in his voice. "Perhaps you'll start now by going down with me to see Summerset off."

She grimaced. "That might spoil my appetite." Testing, she polished off the pancakes. "No, no, it doesn't. I can do that. I can go down and wave bye-bye."

Brow lifted, he gave her hair a quick tug. "Nicely."

"I won't do the happy dance until he's out of sight. Three weeks." After a joyful shudder, she rose and foiled the cat by putting the plate out of reach. "I won't see his ugly face or hear the squeaky sound of his voice for three orgasmic weeks."

"Why do I think he's probably thinking something very similar about you?" Sighing, Roarke pushed to his feet. "I'm as sure about that as I am that both of you will miss sniping at each other."

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