Home > Payback in Death

Payback in Death
Author: J. D. Robb



Chapter One


Someone had either kidnapped the sun or decided screw the ransom and killed it dead.

For two glorious weeks, before its abduction or demise, it had blasted heat and light so the sea below the villa in Greece sparkled, diamonds on sapphire. It had baked every ounce of stress away and left generous room for sleep, sex, wine, basking, and more sex.

No better way, to her mind, to spend a slice of summer in 2061.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas, murder cop, hadn’t thought about murder and mayhem for days. That alone equaled vacation. Add a villa of sunbaked gold stone, views of sea and hill, of olive groves and vineyards out every window, top it all off with lazy, private time with the man she loved, and you had it all.

It was a hell of a perfect way to celebrate their third anniversary.

Sometimes it still amazed her. How the cop and the criminal (former), two lost souls who’d pushed, punched, and kicked their way out of misery, somehow found each other. How they’d managed to build a good, strong life together.

Whatever changed, shifted, evolved, that remained constant.

They built together.

Now, after two weeks of ridiculous indulgence—not that Roarke would think it at all ridiculous—they’d arrived in Ireland under a sky of stacked clouds and dripping rain.

Maybe the Irish were sun killers.

And yet, the green shined so vivid here as the fields spread, the hills rose, the stone walls glistened in the wet. The skinny road they traveled snaked, and hedgerows dripping with bloodred fuchsia closed in like living walls.

She checked herself. Maybe a touch of stress but only because the Irish, in addition to being suspected sun killers, opted to drive on the wrong side of snaking, skinny roads, and Roarke drove as if he powered down a straightaway.

He was so damn happy, and his happiness rolled right through her. She didn’t consider it a Marriage Rule to share such a cheerful mood, but it did stand as an advantage.

She studied him awhile—a more pleasant view than the breaks in the hedgerows that displayed sheep, cows, occasionally horses, and various other four-legged animals.

He had that face. Those wild Irish blue eyes, that perfectly sculpted mouth, and all that black silk hair to frame it.

Those lips curved, those eyes smiled—just for her—when he glanced at her.

“Not much farther.”

“I remember.”

The last time they’d visited his family’s farm in Clare—a family he hadn’t known existed during his nightmare childhood, or his very successful career as a thief, a smuggler, a (fairly) legitimate businessman who’d built an empire—they’d pursued a contract killer.

Lorcan Cobbe, the vicious boy from Roarke’s childhood, became a vicious man, and one who’d wanted Roarke dead.

Tables turned, she thought. And now Cobbe sat in an off-planet concrete cage, and would for the rest of his vicious life.

“There’s a break in the clouds ahead.”

She peered at the leaden sky. Maybe, if she squinted, there was a slightly less gray patch.

“You call that a break?”

“I do, yes.” Ireland, like the green, wove through his voice as he reached over to lay a hand on hers. “It means much to them for us to come like this, spend time with the family. It means everything to me that you’re willing to.”

“I’m happy to go. I like them, the whole insane mob of them. And it’s nice to spend some time here when we’re not with a bunch of cops.”

“It is. And yet, that was a satisfying visit after all.”

“Because I stood back and let you kick Cobbe’s ass.”

He smiled again at the “let you.” “My cop understands me, and loves me anyway. And there now, see, there’s a bright spot.”

She couldn’t deny what he’d called a break now showed hints of blue.

“Bright’s a strong word.”

He turned, turned again, and there she saw the field where she’d once landed in a jet-copter—with the damn cows—because he’d needed her. Where she’d first met Sinead Brody Lannigan, Roarke’s mother’s twin.

The stone-gray house, the barns and outbuildings, the thriving gardens.

Even as Roarke turned into the drive, the front door burst open. Sean, Sinead’s freckle-faced grandson, ran out.

“You’re here at last! We’ve been waiting forever, haven’t we? And Nan and Ma made a welcome feast. I’m fair to starving, as they won’t let me have so much as a nibble.”

He stood, fair-haired and bright-eyed, in the dripping rain.

“I’ll help with the bags.”

“There’s a good lad. And how’s it all going, Sean?”

“Fine and well. Are you wearing your weapon then?” he asked Eve. “Can I see it?”

“No and no.”

“Ah well.” He shouldered a bag Roarke handed him. “Maybe later then. We’ve had no trouble, not even a bit, since last you came. But maybe now we’ll have some.”

“Bring that bag in,” Sinead, red hair in a sleek tail, hands on narrow hips, called from the doorway. “And stop badgering your cousins. Welcome, welcome to you both. We’ve missed your faces. No, no, don’t bother with the bags.”

She embraced Roarke, held a moment, then turned to Eve to do the same. “We’ve enough able men to bring them in and up to your room.”

Inside, all color and movement, voices raised in greeting, more hugs. Eve figured she hugged more in five minutes at the Brody farm than she did in a couple of years—or more—otherwise.

Someone handed her a glass of wine.

Food covered the counters in the farmhouse kitchen that smelled of fresh-baked bread and roasted chicken.

The chicken might’ve been clucking out in the coop that morning, but Eve wasn’t going to think about it.

Someone handed her a plate piled with enough food for three starving people. A pair of dogs raced by, then a couple of kids.

Sinead drew her aside.

“I’ve the gift you had sent ahead tucked away. You’ll just let me know when you want it.”

“I guess after all this.”

“We’ll take it up to your room then?”

“Oh. No. He should have it here. Everyone’s here. At least I think they are.”

“Every mother’s son and daughter. I didn’t know if you’d want a private moment for it.”

“No, it’s … family. It’s a family thing.”

Green eyes soft, Sinead kissed her cheek. “I’m grateful for you, Eve. If I haven’t said so, know I’m grateful for you. Now, let’s get you a seat so you can eat. Make room there, Liam, our Eve has legs longer than yours.”

So she sat, the long-legged cop with her choppy brown hair and whiskey-colored eyes, in the middle of noise and confusion that could rival a New York traffic jam.

She hadn’t known family, only abuse and violence, and had forged a career founded on standing for the dead. She had family now—the family she’d made, often despite herself, in New York.

And family here, in an Irish farmhouse.

She caught Roarke’s eye in the melee. When he raised his glass to her in a quick toast, she did the same.


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