Home > Connections in Death (In Death #48)

Connections in Death (In Death #48)
Author: J.D. Robb

1

The legalized torture of socializing lined right up to premeditated murder when you added the requirement of fancy shoes.

That was Lieutenant Eve Dallas’s stand on it, and she should know. She was a murder cop in fancy shoes about to socialize.

Moreover . . .

Whoever decreed that fancy shoes for females required sky-high skinny-assed heels rendering said shoes useless for any practical purpose—including walking—should be immediately subjected to every known manner of torture, legal or otherwise.

Surely by the almost-spring of 2061, in the freaking United States of America, useless skinny-heeled shoes should be banned. Beat with hammers, set on fire, then banned.

She walked in those damn shoes toward a swank penthouse, a tall, lanky woman in a slinky jade dress that shimmered with her movements while a fat, teardrop diamond shot fire from the chain around her neck.

The short, choppy brown cap of her hair set off the diamonds winking none too quietly at her ears. Her long brown eyes narrowed with dark thoughts.

Just who came up with the concept of the cocktail party? Eve wondered. Whoever did, by her decree, should join the originator of fancy shoes in the torture chamber. Who the hell decided it would be a freaking fantastic idea to create a custom where people stood around, usually at the end of a workday, making small talk while balancing a drink in one hand and a plate of tiny, often unidentifiable food in the other?

And, oh yeah, whoever came up with small talk as a social imperative? Straight into the torture chamber.

And while we’re at it, throw the sick bastard who added the requirement of a gift every freaking time you turned around right in there with the others.

Because a sane person didn’t want to have to think about what the hell to buy somebody who invited them to a damn party. A sane person didn’t want to go to a party at the end of a workday and stand around in shoes with stupid skinny heels and balance weird food while making idiotic small talk.

A sane person wanted to be home, wearing comfortable clothes and eating pizza.

“Finished yet?”

Eve glanced toward the ridiculously handsome face of her husband—the guy responsible for the slinky of a dress, the damn shoes, and all the diamonds. She noted the amusement in those killer blue eyes, in the easy smile on that perfectly sculpted mouth.

It occurred to her not only that would Roarke enjoy the upcoming torture, but he could have deemed and decreed all the rules of it himself.

He was lucky she didn’t pop him one.

“Need a few more minutes for the internal monologue?” he asked, the Irish in his voice just adding more charm.

“It’s probably the most sensible conversation I’ll have all night.”

“Well now, what a thing to say. Nadine’s first party in her new home will be full of your friends. They, and she, are smart, interesting people.”

“Smart people are home drinking a brew and watching the Knicks kick some Kings ass on-screen.”

“There’ll be plenty of games yet to come.” He gave her butt an affectionate pat as they approached the outer doors of Nadine Furst’s penthouse. “And,” he added, “Nadine deserves a party.”

Maybe, maybe she could concede that one. The ace on-screen reporter, bestselling author, and now freaking Oscar winner had earned a party. But she herself, murder cop, lieutenant murder cop, deserved maybe wishing a hot case had fallen in her lap at the last minute.

As Nadine earned her cred on the crime beat, she ought to understand.

She turned to face him again—that carved by romantic angels face framed with black silk. In her fancy shoes they stood pretty much eye-to-eye.

“Why can’t a party be brew and pizza and the round ball game on-screen?”

“It can.” He leaned over to brush his lips on hers. “Just not this one.”

When the doors opened, the quiet, classy corridor filled with voices, music. Quilla, Nadine’s teenage intern, stood in a black dress with a silver buckle at the belted waist, short-heeled red booties. The purple streaks in her hair glittered.

“Hey. I’m supposed to say good evening and welcome. And can I—may I”—she self-corrected with a roll of her eyes—“take your coats?”

“How do you know we’re not crashing?”

“Besides how I know you?”

Eve nodded. “Besides.”

“Because lobby security has the guest list and all, and you had to clear through it to get up here. And if you’re some doof who slipped by or live here or whatever, Nadine would have you booted. The place is full of cops.”

“Good enough,” Eve decided as Roarke handed over their coats.

“You look lovely tonight, Quilla.”

She flushed a little. “Thanks. Um, now I’m supposed to tell you to go right in, have a wonderful evening. There’s a bar and buffet in the dining area as well as waitstaff passing food and beverage.”

Roarke smiled at her. “You did that very well.”

“I’ve done it about a million times already. Nadine knows a shitload—I mean, a lot of people.”

“‘Shitload’ covers it,” Eve said. And as they moved through the foyer, through the open doors, was just a little horrified to see she knew most of them herself.

How did that happen?

“Dig the dress, Dallas. The color’s like bang.”

“It’s green.”

“Jade,” Quilla qualified.

“Exactly.” Roarke sent Quilla a wink.

“So anyway, I can take the gift, too, unless you want to give it to her, like, personally. We’ve got a gift table in the morning room.”

“‘Morning room’?”

“I don’t know why it’s called that,” Quilla said to Eve. “But we’re putting the hostess gifts in there.”

“Great.” She shoved the fancy bag at Quilla.

“Chill. Okay, hope you have a kick.”

“A kick at what?” Eve wondered as Quilla headed off.

“I think it means have a good time. Which should speak to you,” Roarke added, “as you enjoy kicking things.” He trailed his fingers down her back. “Let’s get you a drink.”

“Let’s get me several.”

The passage to the bar, however, proved fraught with obstacles: people she knew. And those people had something to say, which cornered her into saying something back.

She was spared cold-sober small talk by passing waitstaff and Roarke’s quick hands.

His quick thinking and smooth moves also saved her from the chatty chat of one of Nadine’s researchers. “Darling, there’s Nadine. We need to say hello. Excuse us.”

With a hand on the small of Eve’s back, he steered her away.

Nadine stepped in from the terrace. Eve deduced the party do—lots of tumbling curls—as Trina’s handiwork. Though far from the usual polished, professional style, Eve supposed the streaky blond curls suited the dress. Strapless, short, snug, in hot tamale red.

Those cat-green eyes scanned, landed on Eve and Roarke. She met them halfway, rose to the toes of her skyscraper red heels and kissed Roarke enthusiastically.

“I’d say this proves our place is perfect for entertaining.”

“‘Our place’?”

Nadine smiled at Eve. “Well, it is Roarke’s building. A lot of your crew’s out on the terrace. It’s heated, and there’s a small bar setup, another buffet.”

Despite the fact that friendship often baffled her, Eve knew her job. “So where is it?”

Nadine fluffed her hair, batted her cat-green eyes. “Where’s what?”

“Well, if you don’t want to show it off—”

“I do. Yes, I do.” Laughing, Nadine grabbed Eve’s hand. With the skill of a running back, she snaked through people, wove around furniture, bolted up the curve of stairs and into her pretty damn swank home office. It held a couple of sofas in classy blue, chairs that picked up the classy blue in a swirly pattern on white, tables in slate gray that matched the T-shaped workstation in front of a killer view of New York City.

A square, recessed fireplace flickered in the left wall. The gold statue stood on the mantel above it. Eve moved closer, studied it. Weird-looking dickless gold dude, she thought, but the nameplate read NADINE FURST, and that’s what counted.

But if they weren’t going to give him a dick, why didn’t they give him pants?

“Nice.” Curious, she lifted, it, glanced over her shoulder. “It’s got weight. Blunt-force trauma waiting to happen.”

“Only you.” Nadine slid an arm around Eve’s waist. “I meant what I said in my acceptance speech.”

“Oh, did you say something?”

Nadine added a solid hip bump, and with a laugh, Eve set the award down again.

“It’s all yours, pal.”

“Not nearly, but—I get to look at it every freaking day. So.” Turning, she reached out a hand for Roarke’s. “Let’s go down and drink lots of champagne.”

Jake Kincade stepped into the doorway. The rock star, and Nadine’s heartthrob said, “Hey.”

His dark hair spilled and swept around a strong face currently sporting a three-day scruff. He wore black—not a suit, but black jeans with a studded belt, black shirt, and black boots Eve admired because they looked sturdy and comfortable.

How come, she wondered, he got to dress like a real person?

“How’s it going?” he said to Roarke as they shook hands. “Looking prime, Dallas. Got to gander the gold guy? He’s shiny, but you gotta wonder. If they weren’t going to suit him up, why not give him his works? One or the other.”

“Good God,” Roarke murmured.

Jake flicked him a glance. “Sorry.”

“No, not at all. It’s only, I know my wife and have no doubt she thought exactly the same.”

“Maybe. More or less. It’s a reasonable question.”

“At least Jake didn’t look at it and see a murder weapon.”

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