Home > In Death #25 - Creation in Death

In Death #25 - Creation in Death
Author: J.D. Robb


J.D. Robb - In Death #25 - Creation in Death

Creation in Death (In Death #25)
J.D. Robb

mystery/romance/sf/thriller/fantasy

In_Death_25/index

 

PROLOGUE

FOR HIM, DEATH WAS A VOCATION. KILLING WAS NOT MERELY an act, or a means to an end. It certainly was not an impulse of the moment or a path to gain and glory.

Death was, in and of itself, the all.

He considered himself a late bloomer, and often bemoaned the years before he’d found his raison d’être. All that time lost, all those opportunities missed. But still, he had bloomed, and was forever grateful that he had finally looked inside himself and seen what he was. What he was meant for.

He was a maestro in the art of death. The keeper of time. The bringer of destiny.

It had taken time, of course, and experimentation. His mentor’s time had run out long before he himself had become the master. And even in his prime, his teacher had not envisioned the full scope, the full power. He was proud that he had learned, had not only honed his skills but had expanded them while perfecting his techniques.

He’d learned, and learned quickly, that he preferred women as his partners in the duet. In the grand opera he wrote, and rewrote, they outperformed the men.

His requirements were few, but very specific.

He didn’t rape them. He’d experimented there, as well, but had found rape distasteful and demeaning to both parties.

There was nothing elegant about rape.

As with any vocation, any art that required great skill and concentration, he’d learned he required holidays—what he thought of as his dormant periods.

During them he would entertain himself as anyone might on a holiday. He would travel, explore, eat fine meals. He might ski or scuba dive, or simply sit under an umbrella on a lovely beach and while away the time reading and drinking mai tais.

He would plan, he would prepare, he would make arrangements.

By the time he went back to work, he was refreshed and eager.

As he was now, he thought as he readied his tools. More, so much more…with his latest dormant period had come the understanding of his own destiny. So he’d gone back to his roots. And there, where he had first seriously plied his trade, he would re-form and remake connections before the curtain came down.

It added so many interesting layers, he mused, as he tested the edge on an antique switchblade with a horn handle he’d purchased while touring Italy. He turned the steel blade to the light, admired it. Circa nineteen fifty-three, he thought.

It was a classic for a reason.

He enjoyed using tools from long ago, though he also employed more modern pieces. The laser, for instance—so very excellent for applying the element of heat.

There must be a variety—sharp, dull, cold, heat—a series of elements in various forms, in various cycles. It took a great deal of skill, and patience and concentration to spin those cycles out to the absolute zenith of his partner’s aptitude.

Then, and only then, would he complete the project and know he’d done his best work.

This one had been an excellent choice. He could congratulate himself on that. For three days and four nights, she’d survived—and there was life in her yet. It was so satisfying.

He’d started out slowly, naturally. It was vital, absolutely vital, to build and build and build to that ultimate crescendo.

He knew, as a master of his craft knew such things, that they were approaching that peak.

“Music on,” he ordered, then stood, eyes closed as he absorbed the opening strains of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

He understood the central character’s choice of death for love. Hadn’t it been that choice, so many years before, that had sent him on this path?

He slipped the protective cover over his tailored white suit.

He turned. He looked at her.

Such a lovely thing, he thought now. He remembered, as he always did, her precursor. Her mother, he supposed.

The Eve of all the others.

All that pretty white skin covered with burns and bruises, with narrow slices and meticulous little punctures. They showed his restraint, his patience, his thoroughness.

Her face was untouched—as yet. He always saved the face for last. Her eyes were fixed on his—wide, but yes, a bit dull. She had experienced nearly all she was capable of experiencing. Well, the timing worked well. Very well, because he’d anticipated, he’d prepared.

He’d already secured the next.

He glanced, almost absently, at the second woman across the room, peacefully sleeping under the drug he’d administered. Perhaps tomorrow, he thought, they could begin.

But for now…

He approached his partner.

He never gagged his partners, believing they should be free to scream, to beg, to weep, even to curse him. To express all emotion.

“Please,” she said. Only, “Please.”

“Good morning! I hope you rested well. We have a lot of work to do today.” He smiled as he laid the edge of the knife between her first and second ribs. “So let’s get started, shall we?”

Her screams were like music.

1

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, EVE THOUGHT, LIFE was really worth living. Here she was, stretched out in a double-wide sleep chair watching a vid. There was plenty of action in the vid—she liked watching stuff blow up—and the “plotline” meant she didn’t have to actually think.

She could just watch.

She had popcorn, drowned in butter and salt, the fat cat stretched across her feet keeping them nice and warm. She had the next day off, which meant she could sleep until she woke up, then veg until she grew mold.

Best of all, she had Roarke cozied up in the chair beside her. And since her husband had complained after one handful that the popcorn was disgusting, she had the whole bowl to herself.

Really, it didn’t get any better.

Then again, maybe it did—would—as she planned to nail her husband like an airjack when the vid was over. Her version of a double feature.

“Iced,” she said after a midair collision of a tourist tram and an ad blimp. “Seriously iced.”

“I thought this storyline would appeal to you.”

“There is no storyline.” She took another handful of popcorn. “That’s what appeals to me. It’s just some dialogue stitching explosions together.”

“There was brief full-frontal nudity.”

“Yeah, but that was for you, and those of your ilk.” She flicked a glance up at him, as on screen pedestrians ran screaming from falling wreckage.

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