Apprentice in Death (In Death #43)(7)

Wrong place, wrong time.

But why those three—two of them regulars to the rink? Out of the dozens and dozens there, why those three?

There was always a reason, she reminded herself. Even if the reason was bat-shit crazy.

She toyed with reasons as she turned through the gates, started down the winding drive toward home.

Lowenbaum’s remark broke through her theorizing.

Dallas Palace? Seriously? Is that how some of the cops saw it?

Maybe it did look something like a castle (was that the same thing as a palace?) with its grand stone walls catching the first glints of winter’s bright stars. It had towers and turrets, and with the white expanse of snow, the ice shimmering on denuded branches of trees, maybe it looked like something out of another time.

Another world.

But that was Roarke’s doing. He’d built it—his personal fortress in the heart of the city. And maybe it had impressed and intimidated the crap out of her at first—and for a while after. But now?

It was home.

Where fires would be burning, where the man she loved would look at her in a way that showed her, in an instant, she mattered. Where a cat would rub against her legs in greeting.

Where, she thought as she parked at the front entrance, Summerset would loom in the foyer like a ghoul.

Like he expected her to trail mud and blood over the pristine floors. And, okay, maybe she had, more than once. But not today.

She checked her boots as she got out of the car, just in case.

Today she didn’t have time to give or receive any shit.

She stepped in, and there he was—bony, black-suited, stone-faced, with the pudgy cat sitting at his feet.

“Save it,” she said before he could lead with whatever insult he’d devised for the day. “I’ve got a cop coming in. Lowenbaum. Send him straight up.”

“And will your guest be joining you for dinner?”

She figured the silky tone took the place of the insult—though the question itself threw her off. “I . . .”

What the hell time was it? She had to force herself not to check her wrist unit, wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

“He’s not a guest, he’s a cop. It’s work.”

To get some of her own back, she walked around the cat rubbing against her legs, shrugged out of her coat, and tossed it over the newel post.


Ignoring him, she started up the stairs, the cat running behind her.

She headed straight to her office, stopped short when she saw Roarke, leaning back against her desk.

The man could stop her heart, then send it into full gallop. Just a look at him. They’d been married more than two years, she thought. Shouldn’t that ease off? Where was that in the Marriage Rules?

But a man who looked like Roarke broke every rule.

That absurdly beautiful face set off with the wild blue eyes of some Irish god, and the perfect poet’s mouth. The black hair, silkier than Summerset’s tone, tied back in work mode. The tall, lean length of him all in black—no tie or suit coat, the sleeves of his shirt rolled to the elbow.

So he’d been home, and working, for some time.

Yeah, the look of him broke the rules, stopped the heart. But it was that instant, just that instant when those amazing blue eyes met hers that sent it into the gallop.

In them lived love. Just that simple, just that extraordinary.

“You’re just in time,” he said, the Irish sliding through the words.

“I—for what?”

He simply held out a hand.

She walked to him, and the first thing he did was draw her in, his clever hands skimming up her back as he brushed his lips to hers.

Home, she thought again, and the last few hours dropped down on her, had her wrapping around him, leaning in. Knowing she could, here she could lean and not lose what she was.

“You caught one,” he murmured. “It’s the murders at Wollman Rink, isn’t it? I thought of you as soon as I heard the bulletin.”

“Yeah. I just left the first victim’s parents and her fourteen-year-old sister smashed to bits.”

“The most brutal part of a brutal job. I’m sorry for it.”

“Me, too.”

He tipped her face back, brushed those lips over her forehead. “You’ll tell me. I think a glass of wine first—there’ll be plenty of coffee later, but a moment to settle for now.”

“Don’t really have one. Lowenbaum’s on his way over. I need him to look at the security disc. I need a consult. He’s SWAT,” she began.

“Yes, I remember him, quite well, from the Red Horse investigation last year. Why him, particularly?”

“They were laser strikes, one strike for each vic, and each one lethal. And I think they came from outside Central Park.”

“Outside? I see.”

Because he did, because he could, it relieved her of long explanations.

“Maybe one of them was a specific target, the other two cover. Maybe I’ll find a connection linking the three of them. But . . .” She shook her head. “I need to set up my murder board, start the book.”

“I can help you with that.”

“Yeah, thanks. Maybe if you—” She turned, and once again her heart stopped. But not in a good way.

On her wall screen lived a pink and purple nightmare.

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