She was one of the most sought after women in the world. A top model who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted—even another woman’s man. And now she was dead, the victim of a brutal murder. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas put her life on the line to take the case when suspicion fell on her best friend, the other woman in the fatal love triangle. Beneath the façade of glamour, Eve found that the world of high fashion thrived on an all-consuming obsession for youth and fame. One that led from the runway to the dark underworld of New York City where drugs could be found to fulfill any desire—for a price…
About the Author
Date of Birth:1950
Place of Birth:Silver Spring, Maryland
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Table of Contents
IMMORTAL IN DEATH
She was one of the most sought after women in the world. A top model who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted—even another woman’s man. And now she was dead, the victim of a brutal murder. Lieutenant Eve Dallas put her life on the line to take the case when suspicion fell on her best friend, the other woman in the fatal love triangle. Beneath the façade of glamour, Eve found that the world of high fashion thrived on an all-consuming obsession for youth and fame. One that led from the runway to the dark underworld of New York City where drugs could be found to fulfill any desire—for a price . . .
“This series gets better with each book.”
Titles written as J. D. Robb
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
Born In Trilogy
BORN IN FIRE
BORN IN ICE
BORN IN SHAME
DARING TO DREAM
HOLDING THE DREAM
FINDING THE DREAM
Chesapeake Bay Saga
Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy
JEWELS OF THE SUN
TEARS OF THE MOON
HEART OF THE SEA
Three Sisters Island Trilogy
DANCE UPON THE AIR
HEAVEN AND EARTH
FACE THE FIRE
KEY OF LIGHT
KEY OF KNOWLEDGE
KEY OF VALOR
In the Garden Trilogy
DANCE OF THE GODS
VALLEY OF SILENCE
Sign of Seven Trilogy
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IMMORTAL IN DEATH
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Berkley edition / July 1996
Excerpt for Rapture in Death by J. D. Robb copyright © 1996 by Nora Roberts.
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The fatal gift of beauty
Getting married was murder. Eve wasn’t sure how it had happened in the first place. She was a cop, for God’s sake. Throughout her ten years on the force, she’d firmly believed cops should stay single, unencumbered, and focused utterly on the job. It was insane to believe one person could split time, energy, and emotion between law, with all its rights and wrongs, and family, with all its demands and personalities.
Both careers—and from what she’d observed, marriage was a job—had impossible demands and hellish hours. It might have been 2058, an enlightened time of technological advancement, but marriage was still marriage. To Eve it translated to terror.
Yet here she was on a fine day in high summer—one of her rare and precious days off—preparing to go shopping. She couldn’t stop the shudder.
Not just shopping, she reminded herself as her stomach clutched, shopping for a wedding dress.
Obviously she’d lost her mind.
It was Roarke’s doing, of course. He’d caught her at a weak moment. Both of them bleeding and bruised and lucky to be alive. When a man is clever enough and knows his quarry well enough to choose such a time and place to propose marriage, well, a woman was a goner.
At least a woman like Eve Dallas.
“You look like you’re about to take on a gang of chemi-thugs bare-handed.”
Eve tugged on a shoe, flicked her gaze up and over. He was entirely too attractive, she thought. Criminally so. The strong face, poet’s mouth, killer blue eyes. The wizard’s mane of thick black hair. If you managed to get past the face to the body, it was equally impressive. Then you added that faint wisp of Ireland in the voice, and, well, you had one hell of a package.
“What I’m about to take on is worse than any chemi-head.” Hearing the whine in her own voice, Eve scowled. She never whined. But the truth was, she’d have preferred fighting hand to hand with a souped-up addict than discussing hemlines.
Hemlines, for sweet Christ’s sake.
She bit back an oath, watching him narrowly as he crossed the spacious bedroom. He had a way of making her feel foolish at odd times. Like now as he sat beside her on the high, wide bed they shared.
He caught her chin in his hand. “I’m hopelessly in love with you.”
There he was. This man with the sinfully blue eyes, the strong, gorgeous, somehow Raphaelite looks of a doomed angel, loved her.
“Roarke.” She struggled to hold back a sigh. She could and had faced an armed laser in the hands of a mad mutant mercenary with less fear than she faced such unswerving emotion. “I’m going through with it. I said I would.”
His brow quirked, dark and wry. He wondered how she remained so unaware of her own appeal as she sat there, fretting, her poorly cut fawn-colored hair standing up in tufts and spikes, aroused by her restless hands, thin lines of annoyance and doubt running between her big, whiskey-colored eyes.
“Darling Eve.” He kissed her, lightly, once on the frowning lips, then again in the gentle dip in her chin. “I never doubted it.” Though he had, constantly. “I’ve several things I have to see to today. You were late last night. I never had a chance to ask if you had plans.”
“The stakeout on the Bines case went to after oh three hundred.”
“Did you get him?”
“Walked right into my arms—blissed on dreamers and a marathon VR session.” She smiled, but it was the hunter’s smile, dark and feral. “Murdering little bastard came along like my personal droid.”
“Well, then.” He patted her shoulder before rising. He stepped down from the platform into the dressing area where he pondered a selection of jackets. “And today? Reports to file?”
“I’m off today.”
“Oh?” Distracted, he turned back, a gorgeous silk jacket in deep charcoal in his hand. “I can reschedule some of my afternoon, if you like.”
Which would be, Eve mused, a bit like a general rescheduling battles. In Roarke’s world, business was a complicated and profitable war. “I’m already booked.” The scowl snuck back on her before she could stop it. “Shopping,” she muttered. “Wedding dress.”
Now he smiled, quickly, easily. From her, such plans were a declaration of love. “No wonder you’re so cranky. I told you I’d see to it.”
“I’ll pick out my own wedding dress. And I’ll buy it myself. I’m not marrying you for your damn money.”
Smooth and elegant as the jacket he slipped on, he continued to smile. “Why are you marrying me, Lieutenant?” Her scowl deepened, but he was, above all, a patient man. “Want a multiple choice?”
“Because you never take no for an answer.” She stood, shoving her hands into the front pockets of her jeans.
“You only get a half point for that. Try again.”
“Because I’ve lost my mind.”
“That won’t win you the trip for two to Tropic World on Star 50.”
A reluctant smile tugged at her lips. “Maybe I love you.”
“Maybe you do.” Content with that, he crossed back to her and laid his hands on her strong shoulders. “How bad can it be? You can pop a few shopping programs into the computer, look at dozens of suitable dresses, order in what appeals to you.”
“That was my idea.” She rolled her eyes. “Mavis ditched it.”
“Mavis.” He paled a bit. “Eve, tell me you’re not going shopping with Mavis.”
His reaction brightened her mood a little. “She has this friend. He’s a designer.”
“She says he’s mag. Just needs a break to make a name for himself. He has a little workshop in Soho.”
“Let’s elope. Now. You look fine.”
Her grin flashed. “Scared?”
“Good. Now we’re even.” Delighted to be on level footing, she leaned in and kissed him. “Now you can worry about what I’ll be wearing on the big day for the next few weeks. Gotta go.” She patted his cheek. “I’m meeting her in twenty minutes.”
“Eve.” Roarke grabbed for her hand. “You wouldn’t do something ridiculous?”
She tugged her way free. “I’m getting married, aren’t I? What could be more ridiculous?”
She hoped he stewed over it all day. The idea of marriage was daunting enough, but a wedding—clothes, flowers, music, people. It was horrifying.
She zipped downtown on Lex, braking hard and muttering curses at a sidewalk vendor who encroached on the lane with his smoking glide cart. The traffic violation was bad enough, but the scent of overcooked soydogs hit her nervous stomach like lead.
The Rapid cab behind her broke the intercity noise pollution code by blasting his horn and shouting curses through his speaker. A group, obviously tourists, loaded down with palm cams, compumaps, and binoks gaped stupidly at the whizzing traffic. Eve shook her head as a quick-fingered street thief elbowed through them.
When they got back to their hotel, they were going to find themselves several credits poorer. If she’d had the time and a place to pull over, she might have given the thief a chase. But he was lost in the crowd and a block across town on his air skates before she could blink.
That was New York, she thought with a faint smile. Take it at your own risk.
She loved the crowds, the noise, the constant frantic rush of it. You were rarely alone, but never intimate. That’s why she’d come here so many years ago.
No, she wasn’t a social animal, but too much space and too much solitude made her nervous.
She’d come to New York to be a cop, because she believed in order, needed it to survive. Her miserable and abusive childhood with all its blank spaces and dark corners couldn’t be changed. But she had changed. She had taken control, had made herself into the person some anonymous social worker had named Eve Dallas.
Now she was changing again. In a few weeks she wouldn’t just be Eve Dallas, lieutenant, homicide. She’d be Roarke’s wife. How she would manage to be both was more of a mystery to her than any case that had ever come across her desk.
Neither of them knew what it was to be family, to have family, to make a family. They knew cruelty, abuse, abandonment. She wondered if that was why they had come together. They both understood what it was to have nothing, to be nothing, to know fear and hunger and despair—and both had remade themselves.
Was it just mutual need that attracted them? Need for sex, for love, and the melding of the two that she had never thought was possible before Roarke.
A question for Dr. Mira, she mused, thinking of the police psychiatrist she often consulted.
But for now, Eve determined that she wasn’t going to think about the future or the past. The moment was complicated enough.
Three blocks from Greene Street, she seized her chance and squeezed into a parking space. After searching through her pockets, she found the credit tokens the aging meter demanded in its moronic and static jumbled tones and plugged in enough for two hours.
If it took any more than that, she’d be ready for a tranq room and a parking citation wouldn’t bother her in the least.
Taking a deep breath, she scanned the area. She wasn’t called this far downtown often. Murders happened everywhere, but Soho was an arty bastion for the young and struggling who more often debated their disagreements over tiny glasses of cheap wine or cups of café noir.
Just now, Soho was full of summer. Flower vendors burst with roses, the classic reds and pinks vying with the hybrid stripes. Traffic droned and chugged on the street, rumbled overhead, puffed a bit on the rickety passovers. Pedestrians stuck mostly with the scenic sidewalks, though the people glides were busy. The flowing robes currently hot from Europe were much in evidence, with arty sandals, headdresses, and shiny ropes swinging from earlobes to shoulder blades.
Oil, watercolor, and compu artists hawked their wares on corners and in storefronts, competing with food vendors who promised hybrid fruits, iced yogurts, or vegetable purees uncontaminated by preservatives.
Members of the Pure Sect, a Soho staple, glided in their snowy, street-dusting gowns, their eyes glowing and their heads shaved. Eve gave one particularly devout-looking supplicant a few tokens and was rewarded with a beatific smile and a glossy pebble.
“Pure love,” the devotee offered her. “Pure joy.”
“Yeah, right,” Eve murmured and sidestepped.
She had to backtrack to find Leonardo’s. The up-and-coming designer had a third-floor loft. The window that faced the street was crammed with fashions, blots and flows of color and form that had Eve swallowing nervously. Her taste leaned toward the plain—the drab, according to Mavis.
It didn’t appear, as she took the people glide up to get a closer look, that Leonardo leaned toward either.
The clutching in her stomach came back with a vengeance as she stared at the window display with its feathers and beads and dyed rubber unisuits. However much pleasure she would get from making Roarke wince, she wasn’t getting married in neon rubber.
There was more, a great deal more. It seemed Leonardo believed in advertising in a big way. His centerpiece, a ghostly white faceless model, was draped in a collection of transparent scarves that shimmered so dramatically that the material seemed alive.
Eve could all but feel it crawling over her skin.
Uh-uh, she thought. No way in heaven or hell. She turned, thinking only of escape, and rapped straight into Mavis.
“His stuff is so frigid.” Mavis slipped a friendly, restraining arm around Eve’s waist and gazed dreamily into the window.
“And he’s incredibly creative. I’ve watched him come up with stuff on screen. It’s wild.”
“Yeah, wild. I’m thinking—”
“He really understands the inner soul,” Mavis hurried on. She understood Eve’s inner soul, and knew her friend was ready to bolt. Mavis Freestone, slim as a fairy in her white and gold rompers and three-inch air platforms, tossed back her curling mane of white-streaked black hair, judged her opponent, and grinned. “He’s going to make you the most rocking bride in New York.”
“Mavis.” Eve narrowed her eyes to forestall another interruption. “I just want something that won’t make me feel like an idiot.”
Mavis beamed, the new winged heart tattoo on her biceps fluttering as she lifted a hand to her breast. “Dallas, trust me.”
“No,” Eve said even as Mavis pulled her back to the glide. “I mean it, Mavis. I’ll just order something off screen.”
“Over my dead body,” Mavis muttered, clumping her way down to the street entrance, dragging Eve behind her. “The least you can do is look, talk to him. Give the guy a chance.” She thrust out her bottom lip, a formidable weapon when painted magenta. “Don’t be such a squash, Dallas.”
“Shit, I’m here, anyway.”
Flushed with success, Mavis bounced to the whining security camera. “Mavis Freestone and Eve Dallas, for Leonardo.”
The outer door opened with a grinding clunk. Mavis made a beeline for the old wire-screened elevator. “This place is really into retro. I think Leonardo might even stay here after he hits. You know, eccentric artist and all that.”
“Right.” Eve closed her eyes and prayed as the elevator bumped its way upward. She was taking the stairs down, absolutely.
“Now, keep an open mind,” Mavis ordered, “and let Leonardo take care of you. Darling!” She positively flowed out of the dinky elevator and into a cluttered, colorful space. Eve had to admire her.
“Mavis, my dove.”
Then Eve was struck dumb. The man with the artist’s name was six-five if he was an inch and built like a maxibus. Huge, rippling biceps mountained out of a sleeveless robe in the eye-searing colors of a Martian sunset. His face was wide as the moon, its copper-toned skin stretched tight as a drumhead over razor-edged cheekbones. He had a small, glinting stone winking beside his flashing grin and eyes like gold coins.
He swirled Mavis into his arms, off her feet, and around in one fast and graceful circle. And he kissed her, long, hard, and in a fashion that warned Eve the two of them had a great deal more going on than a mutual love of fashion and art.
“Leonardo.” Beaming like a fool, Mavis ran her gold-tipped fingers through his tight, shoulder-length curls.
Eve managed not to gag as they cooed at each other, but she did roll her eyes. She was stuck now, without a doubt. Mavis was in love again.
“The hair, it’s wonderful.” Leonardo ran loving fingers, the size of soydogs, through Mavis’s streaked mop.
“I hoped you’d like it. This . . .” There was a dramatic pause, as though she were about to introduce her award-winning schnauzer. “Is Dallas.”
“Ah yes, the bride. Lovely to meet you, Lieutenant Dallas.” He kept one arm around Mavis and shot the other out to take Eve’s hand. “Mavis has told me so much about you.”
“Yeah.” Eve slanted a look toward her friend. “She’s been a little light on details on you.”
He laughed, a booming sound that made Eve’s ears ring even as her lips twitched in response. “My turtledove can be secretive. Refreshments,” he stated, then whirled off in a cloud of color and unexpected grace.
“He’s wonderful, isn’t he?” Mavis whispered, eyes dancing with love.
“You’re sleeping with him.”
“You wouldn’t believe how . . . inventive he is. How . . .” Mavis blew out a breath, patted her breast. “The man is a sexual artist.”
“I don’t want to hear about it. Absolutely don’t want to hear about it.” Drawing her brows together, Eve scanned the room.
It was wide, high ceilinged, and crowded with flows and streams of material. Fuchsia rainbows, ebony waterfalls, chartreuse pools dripped from the ceiling, along the walls, over tabletops and arms of chairs.
“Jesus,” was all she could manage.
Bowls and trays of glittering ribbons, tapes, and buttons were piled everywhere. Sashes, belts, hats, and veils crowded with half-finished outfits of shimmering materials and studded bodices.
The place smelled like an incense farm married to a flower shop.
She was terrified.
A little pale, Eve turned back. “Mavis, I love you. Maybe I haven’t told you that before, but I do. Now I’m leaving.”
“Dallas.” With a quick giggle, Mavis grabbed her arm. For a small woman, Mavis was amazingly strong. “Relax. Take a breath. I guarantee Leonardo’s going to fix you up.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of, Mavis. Deeply afraid.”
“Lemon tea, iced,” Leonardo announced with a musical lilt as he came back through a curtain of draping simulated silk with a tray and glasses. “Please, please, sit. First we’ll relax, get to know each other.”
With her eye on the door, Eve edged toward a chair. “Look, Leonardo, Mavis might not have explained things, exactly. See, I’m—”
“You’re a homicide detective. I’ve read about you,” Leonardo said smoothly, snuggling on a curve-sided settee with Mavis all but in his lap. “Your last case generated a great deal of media. I must confess I was fascinated. You work with puzzles, Lieutenant, as I do.”
Eve sampled the tea, nearly blinked when she discovered it was full-bodied, rich, and wonderful. “You work with puzzles?”
“Naturally. I see a woman, I imagine how I would like to see her dressed. Then I must discover who she is, what she is, how does she live her life. What are her hopes, her fantasies, her vision of herself? Then I must take all of that, piece each part of her together to create the look. The image. At first, she is a mystery, and I’m compelled to solve her.”
Unashamed, Mavis sighed lustily. “Isn’t he mag, Dallas?”
Leonardo chuckled, nuzzled Mavis’s ear. “Your friend is worried, my dove. She think I’ll wrap her in electric pink and spangles.”
“It sounds wonderful.”
“For you.” He beamed back at Eve. “So you’re going to marry the elusive and powerful Roarke.”
“It looks that way,” Eve muttered.
“You met him on a case. The DeBlass case, correct? And intrigued him with your tawny eyes and serious smile.”
“I wouldn’t say I—”
“You wouldn’t,” Leonardo continued, “because you don’t see yourself as he does. Or as I do. Strong, valiant, troubled, dependable.”
“Are you a designer or an analyst?” Eve demanded.
“You can’t be one without the other. Tell me, lieutenant, how did Roarke win you?”
“I’m not a prize.” She snapped it, then set her glass aside.
“Wonderful.” He clasped his hands together and almost wept. “Heat and independence, and just a little fear. You’ll make a magnificent bride. Now to work.” He rose. “Come with me.”
She stood up. “Listen, there’s no point in wasting your time, or mine. I’m just going to—”
“Come with me,” he repeated and took her hand.
“Give it a chance, Eve.”
For Mavis, she allowed Leonardo to lead her under and around falls of material and into an equally cluttered workstation on the far side of the loft.
The computer made her feel a little better. Those she understood. But the drawings it had generated, which were pinned and tacked to every available space, made her heart sink.
Fuchsia and spangles would have been a relief.
The models with their long, exaggerated bodies looked like mutants. Some were sporting feathers, others stones. A few were wearing what could have been clothes, but in such outrageous styles—pointed collars, skirts the size of washcloths, unisuits snug as skin—they looked like participants in a Halloween parade.
“Examples for my first show. High fashion is a twist on reality, you see. The bold, the unique, the impossible.”
“I love them.”
Eve curled her lip at Mavis and folded her arms. “It’s going to be a small, simple ceremony, at home.”
“Um.” Leonardo was already at his computer, using the keyboard with impressive skill. “Now this . . .” He brought up an image that made Eve’s blood chill.
The dress was the color of fresh urine, ringed with flounces of mud brown from its scalloped neck to its knifepoint hem that dripped with stones the size of a child’s fist. The sleeves were so snug Eve was certain anyone wearing it would lose all feeling in their fingers.
As the image turned, she was treated to a view of the back, dipping past the waist and trimmed in floaty feathers.
“. . . is not at all for you,” Leonardo finished, and indulged in a deep belly laugh at Eve’s blanched skin. “I apologize. I couldn’t resist. For you . . . just a sketch, you understand. Slim, long, simple. Only a column. Not too delicate.”
He continued to speak as he worked. On the screen, lines and shapes began to form. Sticking her hands in her pockets, Eve watched.
It looked so easy, Eve mused. Long lines, the most subtle of accents at the bodice, sleeves that came to soft, rounded points just at the back of the hand. Still uneasy, she waited for him to start to add the gingerbread.
“We’ll fuss with it a bit,” he said absently, and again turned the image to show a back as sleek and elegant as the front, with a slit to the knees. “You wouldn’t want a train.”
“No.” He only smiled, flicking a glance up at her. “You wouldn’t. A headdress. Your hair.”
Used to derogatory comments, Eve ran her fingers through it. “I can cover it up if I have to.”
“No, no, no. It suits you.”
Her hand dropped in shock. “It does?”
“Indeed. You need a bit of shaping. I know someone—” He flicked that aside. “But the color, all those tones of brown and gold, and the short, not quite tamed style is very good on you. A couple of snips.” Eyes narrowed, he studied her. “No, no headdress, no veil. Your face is enough. Now, color and material. It must be silk, of a good weight.” He grimaced a little. “Mavis tells me Roarke will not be paying.”
Eve’s back went up. “It’s my dress.”
“She’s dug in on this one,” Mavis commented. “Like Roarke would notice a few thousand credits.”
“That’s not the point—”
“No, indeed not.” Leonardo smiled again. “Well, we’ll manage. Color? I don’t think white, too stark for your skin tone.”
Pursing his lips, he went to his palette key and experimented. Fascinated despite herself, Eve watched the sketch turn from snowy white to cream, to pale blue, to vivid green and a rainbow between. Though Mavis oohed and ahed over several choices, he only shook his head.
He settled on bronze.
“This. Yes, oh yes. Your skin, your eyes, your hair. You’ll be radiant, majestic. A goddess. With it you’ll need a necklace, at least thirty-inch length. Better yet, two lengths, twenty-four and thirty inches. Copper, I think, with colored stones. Rubies, citrine, onyx. Yes, yes, and carnelian, perhaps some tourmaline. You’ll speak to Roarke about the accessories.”
Clothes never meant a damn to her, but Eve caught herself yearning. “It’s beautiful,” she said cautiously and began to calculate her credit situation. “I’m just not sure. You know, silk . . . It’s a little out of my range.”
“You’ll have the dress at my cost, and for a promise.” He enjoyed watching the wariness come into her eyes. “That I will be allowed to design Mavis’s dress as your attendant, and you will use my designs for your trousseau.”
“I haven’t thought about a trousseau. I’ve got clothes.”
“Lieutenant Dallas has clothes,” he corrected. “Roarke’s partner in marriage will need others.”
“Maybe we can make a deal.” She wanted that damn dress, she realized. She could feel it on her.
“Wonderful. Take off your clothes.”
She snapped back like a spring. “Okay, asshole—”
“For the measurements,” Leonardo said quickly. The look in her eye had him rising, stepping back. He was a man who adored women, and understood their wrath. In other words, he feared them. “You must consider me as you would your health provider. I can’t design the dress properly until I know your body. I’m an artist, and a gentleman,” he said with dignity. “But Mavis can stay if you feel uneasy.”