Home > In Death #13 - Seduction in Death

In Death #13 - Seduction in Death
Author: J.D. Robb


J.D. Robb - In Death #13 - Seduction in Death

Seduction in Death (In Death #13)
J.D. Robb

mystery/romance/sf/thriller/fantasy

In_Death_13/index

 

CHAPTER ONE

Death came in dreams. She was a child who was not a child, facing a ghost who, no matter how often his blood bathed her hands, would not die.

The room was cold as a grave, hazed by the red light that blinked, on and off, on and off, against the dirty window glass. The light spilled over the floor, over the blood, over his body. Over her as she huddled in the corner with the knife, covered with gore to the hilt, still in her hand.

Pain was everywhere, radiating through her in stupefying waves that had no beginning or end, but circled, endlessly circled, into every cell. The bone in her arm he'd snapped, the cheek where he'd backhanded her so carelessly. The center of her that had torn, again, during the rape.

She was smothered by the pain, coated with shock. And washed with his blood.

She was eight.

She could see her own breath as she panted. Little ghosts that told her she was alive. She could taste the blood inside her mouth, a bright and terrible flavor, and smell -- just under the ripeness of fresh death -- the stink of whiskey.

She was alive, and he was not. She was alive, and he was not. Again and again she chanted those words in her head, and her mind tried to make sense of them.

She was alive. He was not.

And his eyes, open and staring, fixed on her.

Smiled.

You can't get rid of me so easy, little girl.

Her breath came faster, in hitching gasps that wanted to gather into a scream. That wanted to burst out of her throat. But all that came was a whimper.

Made a mess of things, haven't you? Just can't do what you're told.

His voice was so pleasant, bright with that grinning humor she knew was the most dangerous of all. While he laughed, blood poured out of the holes she'd hacked into him.

What's the matter, little girl? Cat got your tongue?

I'm alive and you're not. I'm alive and you're not.

Think so? He wiggled his fingers, a kind of teasing wave that made her moan in terror as wet red drops flicked from the tips.

I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. Don't hurt me again. You hurt me. Why do you have to hurt me?

Because you're stupid. Because you don't listen! Because -- and here's the real secret -- I can. I can do what I want with you and nobody gives a stinking rat's ass. You're nothing, you're nobody, and don't you forget it, you little bitch.

She began to cry now, thin cold tears that tracked through the mask of blood over her face. Go away. Just go away and leave me alone!

I'm not going to do that. I'm never going to do that.

To her horror, he pushed himself to his knees. Crouched there like some nightmarish toad, bloody and grinning. Watching her.

I got a lot invested in you. Time and money. Who putsa f**king roof over your head? Who puts food in your belly? Who takes you traveling all over this great country of ours? Most kids your age haven't seen shit, but you have. But do you learn? No, you don't. Do you pull your weight? No, you don't. But you're gonna. You remember what I told you? You're gonna start earning your keep.

He got to his feet, a big man with his hands slowly balling into fists at his side.

But now, Daddy has to punish you. He took a shambling step toward her. You've been a bad girl. And another. A very bad girl.

Her own screams woke her.

She was drenched in sweat, shuddering with cold. She fought for breath, wildly struggled to tear away the ropes of sheets that had wrapped around her as she'd thrashed through the nightmare.

Sometimes he'd tied her up. Remembering that, she made small, animal sounds in her throat as she tore at the sheets.

Freed, she rolled off the bed, crouched beside it in the dark like a woman prepared to flee or fight.

"Lights! On full. God, oh God."

They flashed on, chasing even a hint of shadow out of the huge, beautiful room. Still, she scanned it, every corner, looking for ghosts as the nasty edge of the dream jabbed through her gut.

She forced back the tears. They were useless, and they were weak. Just as it was useless, it was weak, to let herself be frightened by dreams. By ghosts.

But she continued to shake as she crawled up to sit on the edge of the big bed.

An empty bed because Roarke was in Ireland and her experiment of trying to sleep in it without him, without dreams, had been a crashing failure.

Did that make her pitiful? she wondered. Stupid? Or just married?

When the fat cat, Galahad, bumped his big head against her arm, she gathered him up. She sat, Lieutenant Eve Dallas, eleven years a cop, and comforted herself with the cat as a child might a teddy bear.

Nausea coated her stomach, and she continued to rock, to pray she wouldn't be sick and add one more misery to the night.

"Time display," she ordered, and the dial of the bedside clock blinked on. One-fifteen, she noted. Perfect. She'd barely made it an hour before she'd screamed herself awake.

She set the cat aside, got to her feet. As carefully as an old woman she stepped down from the platform, crossed the room, and walked into the bathroom.

She ran the water cold, as cold as she could stand, then sluiced it onto her face while Galahad wound himself like a plump ribbon between her legs.

While he purred into the silence, she lifted her head, examined her face in the mirror. It was nearly as colorless as the water that dripped from it. Her eyes were dark, looked bruised, looked exhausted. Her hair was a matted brown cap, and her facial bones seemed too sharp, too close to the surface. Her mouth was too big, her nose ordinary.

What the hell did Roarke see when he looked at her? she wondered.

She could call him now. It was after six in the morning in Ireland, and he was an early riser. Even if he were still asleep, it wouldn't matter. She could pick up the 'link and call, and his face would slide on-screen.

And he'd see the nightmare in her eyes. What good would that do either of them?

When a man owned the majority of the known universe, he had to be able to travel on business without being hounded by his wife. In this case, it was more than business that kept him away. He was attending a memorial to a dead friend, and didn't need more stress and worry heaped on him from her end.

She knew, though they'd never really discussed it, that he'd cut his overnight trips down to the bone. The nightmares rarely came so violently when he was in bed beside her.

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