Killing was too good for him. She wanted him to beg and plead like the gutter rat he wasshe wanted him to bleed and screamonly then the bastard could die. A slow, withering, agonizing death. Nobody, cheated on Reva Ewing. Roarke's security specialist Reva Ewing is the prime suspect in a double homicide - accused of killing her adulterous husband and his lover - the woman Reva thought was her best friend. But despite having every reason for wanting both of them dead, Reva protests her innocence and Lieutenant Eve Dallas believes her. At the time of the murders, Reva's husband's computer system was also sabotaged. To Roarke, it's the computer attack that poses the real threat. Roarke Industries have been working on a top secret government contract to develop a program that would shield against a new breed of hackers. The Doomsday Group are techno-terrorists who attack systems, steal data, and corrupt computer units on a large scale - and they kill anyone who gets too close.
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Nora Roberts is the author of more than one hundred New York Times bestsellers, with more than 300 million copies of her books in print Under the pen name J. D. Robb, she is author of the bestselling futuristic suspense series. Visit her website at www.nora-roberts.co.uk.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever.
Marriage is a desperate thing.
KILLING WAS TOO GOOD FOR HIM.
Death was an end, even a release. He’d go to hell, there was no question in her mind, and there he would suffer eternal torment. She wanted that for him—eventually. But for the time being, she wanted him to suffer where she could watch.
Lying, cheating son of a bitch! She wanted him to snivel and beg and plead and slither on his belly like the gutter rat he was. She wanted him to bleed from the ears, to scream like a girl. She wanted to twist his adulterous dick into knots while he shrieked for the mercy she’d never give.
She wanted to pound her fists into his beautiful liar’s face until it was a pulpy, pustulated mass of blood and bone.
Then and only then, the dickless, faceless bastard could die. A slow, withering, agonizing death.
Nobody, nobody cheated on Reva Ewing.
She had to pull over and stop the car in the breakdown lane of the Queensboro Bridge until she calmed down enough to trust herself to continue. Because someone had cheated on Reva Ewing. The man she’d loved, the man she’d married, the man she’d believed in utterly was, even now, making love to another woman.
Touching another woman, tasting her, using that skilled deceiver’s mouth, those clever cheating hands to drive another woman wild.
And not just any other woman. A friend. Someone else she’d loved and trusted, believed in, counted on.
It wasn’t just infuriating. It wasn’t just painful to know her husband and her friend were having an affair, and right under her oblivious nose. It was embarrassing to discover herself a cliché. The deceived wife, the clueless dolt who accepted and believed the adulterer every time he said he had to work late, or had a dinner meeting with a client, or was zipping out of town for a few days to nail down, or hand deliver, a commission.
Worse, Reva thought now as traffic whizzed by her car, that she of all people had been so easily duped. She was a goddamn security expert. She’d spent five years in the Secret Service and had guarded a president before going into the private sector. Where were her instincts, her eyes, her ears?
How could Blair have been coming home to her, night after night, fresh from another woman and she not know?
Because she’d loved him, Reva admitted. Because she’d been happy, deliriously happy to believe a man like Blair—with his sophistication and amazing looks—had loved and wanted her.
He was so handsome, so talented, so smart. The elegant bohemian with his dark silky hair and emerald green eyes. She’d been sunk, she thought now, the minute he’d turned those eyes on her, the instant he’d sent her that killer smile. And six months later, they’d been married and living in the big, secluded house in Queens.
Two years, she thought, two years she’d given him everything she had, shared every piece of herself with him, and had loved him with every cell of her body. And all the while he’d been playing her for a fool.
Well, now he’d pay. She dashed the tears from her cheeks, dug deep again for her anger. Now, Blair Bissel was going to find out just what she was made of.
She pulled back into traffic, and drove at a rapid clip to Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
The husband-stealing bitch, as Reva now thought of her former friend, Felicity Kade, lived in a lovely converted brownstone near the north corner of Central Park. Instead of reminding herself of all the time she’d spent inside, at parties, casual evenings, at Felicity’s famed Sunday brunches, Reva concentrated on the security.
It was good. Felicity collected art and guarded that collection like a dog guarded his meaty bone. The fact was, Reva had met her three years before when she’d helped design and install Felicity’s security system.
It would take an expert to gain entrance, and even then, there were backups and fail-safes that would foil all but the crème de la crème of burglars.
But when a woman made her living, her very good living, looking for chinks in security, she could always find one. She’d come armed, with two jammers, a beefed-up personal palm computer, an illegal police master code, and a stunner she intended to slap right against Blair’s cheating balls.
After that, well, she wasn’t quite sure what she’d do. She’d just play the rest by ear.
She hefted her bag of tools, shoved the stunner in her back pocket, and marched through the balmy September evening toward the front entrance.
She keyed in the first jammer as she walked, knowing she’d have thirty seconds only once she’d locked it on the exterior panel. Numbers began to flash on her handheld, and her heart began to race as she counted off the time.
Three seconds before the alarm was set to trip, the first code scanned onto her jammer. She let out the breath she’d held, glanced up at the dark windows.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing up there, you pair of slime,” she muttered as she set the second jammer. “I only need a few more minutes here. Then we’ll really party.”
She heard the whiz of a car on the street behind her, and cursed softly as it braked. A quick look back and she spotted a cab at the curb, and the laughing couple in evening clothes who climbed out. Reva edged closer to the door, deeper in the shadows. With a minidrill she removed the side of the palm plate, noting that Felicity’s house droid kept even the screws spotless.
Interfacing her PPC with a hair-thin wire, she keyed in a bypass code, waited the sweaty seconds for it to clear. Meticulously, she replaced the panel, then used the second jammer on the voice box.
It took longer to clone, a full two minutes, but she felt a frisson of excitement work through her fury when the last voice entry played back.
Reva’s lips twisted in a sneer as her false friend’s voice murmured the password. Reva had only to key in the cloned security numbers, then use her tools to lift the last, manual lock.
She slipped inside, closed the door, and out of habit reset the security.
Prepared for the house droid to appear, to request her business, she held her stunner at the ready. He’d recognize her, of course, and that would give her just enough time to fry his circuits and clear her way.
But the house stayed silent, and no droid stepped into the foyer. So, they’d shut him down for the night, she thought grimly. So they could have a little more privacy.
She could smell the roses Felicity always kept on the table in the foyer—pink roses, replaced weekly. There was a low light burning beside the vase, but Reva didn’t need it. She knew her way, and walked directly to the stairs to climb to the second floor. To the bedroom.
When she reached the landing she saw all she needed to bring her rage back in full force. Tossed carelessly over the rail was Blair’s light leather jacket. It was the one she’d given him for his birthday the previous spring. The one he’d hooked carelessly with his fingers over his shoulder just that morning when he’d kissed his loving wife good-bye, and told her how much he’d miss her, told her as he’d nuzzled her neck how much he hated having to take even this quick out-of-town trip.
Reva lifted the jacket, brought it to her face. She could smell him on it, and the scent of him nearly tore her grief through her anger.
To stave it off, she took one of her tools out of her bag and quietly shred the leather to ribbons. Then, tossing it on the floor, she ground her heel into it before stepping away.
Face hot with temper, she set her bag down, took the stunner back out of her pocket. As she approached the bedroom she saw the flicker of light. Candles, she could even smell them now, some spicy female perfume. And she could hear the low notes of music—something classic, like the roses, like the scent of the candles.
It was all so Felicity, she thought furiously. All so female and fragile and perfect. She’d have preferred something modern, something today and gutsy for this altercation.
Give her Mavis Freestone kicking some serious musical ass, she thought.
But then it was easy to tune out the music with the buzzing of temper and the ring of betrayal in her head. She toed the door wider with her foot, eased in.
She could see the two figures huddled together under the silk and lace of the coverlet. They’d fallen asleep, she thought bitterly. All cozy and warm and loose from sex.
Their clothes were tossed over a chair, messily, as if they’d been in a hurry to start. Seeing them, the tangle of clothes, broke her heart in hundreds of pieces.
Bracing against it, she strode to the bed, gripped the stunner in her hand. “Wake-up call, you piss-buckets.”
And whipped the silk and lace cover away.
The blood. Oh my God, the blood. The sight of it all over flesh, all over the sheets made her head spin. The sudden smell of it, of death, mixed with the scents of flowers and candles, made her gag and stumble back.
She screamed once, shocking herself into action. Sucking in air to scream again, she lunged forward.
Something, someone, slipped out of the shadows. She caught the movement, and another smell—harsh, medicinal. It filled her throat, her lungs.
She turned, to flee or defend she wasn’t sure, and fought to swim through air that had gone to water around her. But the power had drained out of her limbs, numbing them seconds before her eyes rolled back in her head.
And she collapsed in a heap beside the dead who had betrayed her.
1 LIEUTENANT EVE DALLAS, one of New York’s top cops, sprawled naked with the blood beating in her ears and her heart pounding like an airjack. She managed to wheeze in a breath, then gave it up.
Who needed air when the system was revving from the aftermath of truly spectacular sex?
Beneath her, her husband lay warm and hard and still. The only movement was the knock of his heart against hers. Until he lifted one of those amazing hands and cruised it along her spine, from nape to butt.
“You want me to move,” she mumbled, “you’re out of luck.”
“I’d say my luck’s in.”
She smiled in the dark. She loved hearing his voice, the way Ireland shimmered through it. “Pretty good welcome home, especially since you were gone less than forty-eight hours.”
“It certainly put a nice cap on a short trip to Florence.”
“I didn’t ask, did you stop off in Ireland to see your—” She hesitated just a beat. It was still so odd to think of Roarke with family. “Your family?”
“I did, yes. Had a nice few hours.” He continued to stroke that hand, up and down, up and down her back so that her heartbeat slowed and her eyes began to droop. “It’s very strange, isn’t it?”
“I guess it will be, for a while yet.”
“And how’s the new detective?”
Eve snuggled in, thinking of her former aide and how she was handling her recent promotion. “Peabody’s good. Still finding her rhythm. We had a family dispute gone sour. Two brothers mixing it up over inherited property. Knocked the shit out of each other before one of them takes a header down the steps and breaks his stupid neck. So the other brother tries to mock it up like a bungled burglary. Tosses all this stuff they were fighting over in a blanket, hauls it out to his car, shoves it in the trunk. Like we’re not going to look there.”
The derision in her tone had him chuckling. Eve rolled off and stretched.
“Anyway, it was pretty much connect the big, pulsing red dots, so I put Peabody on as primary. After she started breathing again, she did fine. Sweepers were already sucking up evidence, but she takes this jerk in the kitchen, sits down with him all sympathetic—used all that family business she knows so well. Had him babbling out a confession in about ten minutes. Got him on Man Two.”
“Good for her.”
“It’ll help build her confidence.” She stretched again. “We could use a few more walks in the meadow like that one after the summer we put in.”
“You might take a few days off. We could walk in a real meadow.”
“Give me a couple of weeks with her. I want to make sure she finds her feet before I let her solo.”
“That’s a date, then. Oh, your . . . enthusiastic welcome, while much appreciated, drove this right out of my mind.” He got out of bed, calling for the lights at ten percent.
In their subtle glow, she could watch him step off the wide platform where the bed stood, move toward the small bag he’d taken with him. Watching him move, graceful as some lean, elegant cat, gave her such pleasure.
Was that kind of grace innate, she wondered, or had he learned it dodging cops and picking pockets as a child on the streets of Dublin? However it had come to him, it had served him well, as that clever boy, and as the clever man who’d built an empire out of guts and guile and a wily kind of genius.
When he turned, and she saw his face in that shadowed light, it blew straight through her. The staggering love, the breathless wonder that he should be hers—that anything so beautiful should be hers.
He looked like a work of art, one carved by some brilliant sorcerer. The keen bones of his face, the generous mouth that was sensual magic. Those eyes, that wild Celtic blue, that could still make her throat ache when they looked at her. And that miraculous canvas was framed by black silk that swept nearly to his shoulders, and continually made her fingers itch to touch it.
They’d been married more than a year, and there were times, unexpected times, when just looking at him could stop her heart.
He came back to sit beside her, cupped her chin in his hand, brushed his thumb over the little dent in its center. “Darling Eve, so still and quiet in the dark.” He touched his lips to her brow. “I’ve brought you a present.”
She blinked, and immediately edged back. It made him smile, this habitual reaction of hers to gifts. Just as the uneasy look she gave the long, narrow box in his hand made him grin.
“It won’t bite you,” he promised.
“You weren’t even gone two days. There has to be some sort of time requirement for bringing back presents.”
“I missed you after two minutes.”
“You’re saying that to soften me up.”
“Doesn’t make it less true. Open the box, Eve, then say: ‘Thank you, Roarke.’ ”
She rolled her eyes, but she opened the box.
It was a bracelet, a kind of cuff with a pattern of minute diamond shapes etched into the gold to give it sparkle. In the center was a stone—and as it was bloodred, she assumed it was a ruby—big as her thumb and smooth to the touch.
It looked old, and important, in that priceless antique way that made her stomach jitter.
“You forgot the thank-you part.”
“Roarke,” she said again. “You’re going to tell me this once belonged to some Italian countess or—”
“Princess,” he supplied, and took the bracelet from her ...
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Descripción Piatkus Books, 2004. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Never used!. Nº de ref. de la librería P110749935065