time. I called once or twice, left messages. Just to remind her when I was heading home.”

“Did she ever say anything to you about being concerned? About anyone giving her trouble, making threats?”

“No. Nothing like that.”

“What about you? Anyone making threats?”

“Me? No. No.” She shook her head.

“Who knew you were out of town?”

“Ah… well, everyone. My family, my friends, my agent, publisher, publicist, editor, neighbors. It wasn’t a secret, that’s for sure. I was so juiced about the book, about the opportunity, I pretty much told anyone who’d listen. So… It was a burglary, don’t you think? God, I’m sorry, I can’t keep your name in my head.”


“Don’t you think it was some sort of burglary, Lieutenant Dallas? Somebody who heard I was gone and figured the house was empty, and… ”

“Possibly. We’ll need you to check your belongings, see if anything’s missing.” But she’d noted the electronics, the artwork any self-respecting burglar would have taken. And Andrea Jacobs had been wearing a very nice wrist unit, and considerable jewelry. Real or knockoff, it hardly mattered. A B-and-E man wouldn’t have left them behind.

“Have you had any calls, mail, any contact of an unusual nature recently?”

“Well, since the book was published, I’ve gotten some communications. Mostly through my publisher. People who want to meet me, or who want me to help them get their book published, or want me to write their story. Some of them are pretty strange, I guess. Not threatening, though. And there’s some who want to tell me their theory about the diamonds.”

“What diamonds?”

“From the book. My book’s about a major diamond heist in the early part of the century. Here in New York. My grandparents were involved. They didn’t steal anything,” she said quickly. “My grandfather was the insurance investigator who took the case, and my grandmother-it’s complicated. But a quarter of the diamonds were never recovered.”

“Is that so.”

“Pretty frosty, really. Some of the people who’ve contacted me are just playing detective. It’s one of the reasons for the book’s success. Millions of dollars in diamonds-where are they? It’s been more than half a century, and as far as anyone knows, they’ve never surfaced.”

“You publish under your own name?”

“Yes. See, the diamonds are how my grandparents met. It’s part of Gannon family history. That’s the heart of the book, really. The diamonds are the punch, but the love story is the heart.”

Heart or no heart, Eve thought cynically, a few million in diamonds was a hell of a punch. And a hell of a motive.

“Okay. Have you or Andrea broken off any relationships recently?”

“Andrea didn’t have relationships-per se. She just liked men.” Her white skin turned flaming red. “That didn’t sound right. I mean she dated a lot. She liked to go out, she enjoyed going out with men. She didn’t have a serious monogamous relationship.”

“Any of the men she liked to go out with want something more serious?”

“She never mentioned it. And she would have. She’d have told me if some guy got pushy. She generally went out with men who wanted what she wanted. A good time, no strings.”

“How about you?”

“I’m not seeing anyone right now. Between the writing and the tour, juggling in the day-to-day, I haven’t had the time or inclination. I broke a relationship off about a month ago, but there weren’t any hard feelings.”

“His name?”

“But he’d never-Chad would never hurt anyone. He’s a little bit of an asshole-well, potentially a major asshole-but he’s not… ”

“It’s just routine. It helps to eliminate. Chad?”

“Oh Jesus. Chad Dix. He lives on East Seventy-first.”

“Does he have your codes and access to the house?”

“No. I mean, he did but I changed them after we broke up. I’m not stupid-and my grandfather was a cop before he went private. He’d have skinned me if I hadn’t taken basic security precautions.”

“He’d have been right to. Who else had the new codes?”

Samantha scrubbed her hands over her hair until it stood up in short, flaming spikes. “The only one who had them besides me is Andrea, and my cleaning service. They’re bonded. That’s Maid In New York. Oh, and my parents. They live in Maryland. I give them all my codes. Just in case.”

Her eyes widened. “The security cam. I have a security cam on the front door.”

“Yes. It’s been shut down, and your disks are missing.”

“Oh.” Her color was coming back, a kind of healthy-girl roses and cream. “That sounds very professional. Why would they be so professional, then trash the house?”

“That’s a good question. I’m going to need to talk to you again at some point, but for now, is there someone you’d like to call?”

“I just don’t think I could talk to anyone. I’m talked out. My parents are on vacation. They’re sailing the Med.” She bit her lip as if chewing on a thought. “I don’t want them to know about this. They’ve been planning this trip for nearly a year and only left a week ago. They’d head straight back.”

“Up to you.”

“My brother’s off-planet on business.” She tapped her fingers against her teeth as she thought it through. “He’ll be gone a few more days at least, and my sister’s in Europe. She’ll be hooking up with my parents in about ten days, so I can just keep them all out of this for now. Yeah, I can keep them out of it. I’ll have to contact my grandparents, but that can wait until tomorrow.”

Eve had been thinking more of Samantha contacting someone to stay with her, someone to lean on. But it seemed the woman’s initial self-estimate was on the mark. She wasn’t a weak woman.

“Do I have to stay here?” Samantha asked her. “As much as I hate the idea, I think I want to go to a hotel for the night-for a while, actually. I don’t want to stay here alone. I don’t want to be here tonight.”

“I’ll arrange for you to be taken anywhere you want to go. I’ll need to know how to reach you.”

“Okay.” She closed her eyes a moment, drew in a breath as Eve got to her feet. “Lieutenant, she’s dead, Andrea’s dead because she was here. She’s dead, isn’t she, because she was here while I was away.”

“She’s dead because someone killed her. Whoever did is the only one responsible for what happened. You’re not. She’s not. It’s my job to find whoever’s responsible.”

“You’re good at your job, aren’t you?”

“Yeah. I am. I’m going to have Officer Ricky take you to a hotel. If you think of anything else, you can contact me through Cop Central. Oh, these diamonds you wrote about. When were they stolen?”

“Two thousand and three. March 2003. Appraised at over twenty-eight million at that time. About three-quarters of them were recovered and returned.”

“That leaves a lot of loose rocks. Thanks for your cooperation, Ms. Gannon. I’m sorry about your friend.”

She stepped out, working various theories in her mind. One of the sweepers tapped her shoulder as she passed.

“Hey, Lieutenant? The fish? They didn’t make it.”

“Shit.” Eve jammed her hands in her pockets and headed out.

Chapter 2

She was closer to home than to Central, and it was late enough to justify avoiding the trip downtown. Her equipment at home was superior to anything the cops could offer-outside of the lauded Electronic Detective Division.

The fact was, she had access to equipment superior than the Pentagon’s, in all likelihood. One of her marital side bennies, she thought. Marry one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men-one who loved his e-toys-and you got to play with them whenever you liked.

More to the point, Roarke would talk her into letting him help her use that equipment. Since Peabody wasn’t around to do any drone work, Eve was planning to let him, without too much of an argument.

She liked the diamond angle, and wanted to dig up some data on that. Who better to assist in gathering data regarding a heist than a former thief? Roarke’s murky past could be a definite plus on that end.

Marriage, for all its scary pockets and weird corners, was turning out to be a pretty good deal on the whole.

It would do him good to play research assistant. Take his mind off the revelations that had reared up out of that murky past and sucker punched him. When a grown man discovered his mother wasn’t the stone bitch who’d slapped him around through childhood then deserted him, but a young woman who’d loved him, who’d been murdered while he was still a baby-and by his own father-it sent him reeling. Even a man as firmly balanced as Roarke.

So having him help her would help him.

It would make up, a little, for having her plans for the evening ditched. She’d had something a little more personal, and a lot more energetic, in mind. Summerset, her personal bane and Roarke’s majordomo, was spending ten days at a recuperation spa off-planet-at Roarke’s insistence. His holiday after breaking his leg hadn’t put all the roses back in his cheeks. Like those sunken, pasty cheeks even had roses. But he was gone, that was the bottom line. Every minute counted. She and Roarke would be alone in the house, and there’d been no mention, that she remembered, of social or business engagements.

She’d hoped to spend the evening screwing her husband’s brains out, then letting him return the favor.

Still, working together had its points.

She drove through the big iron gates that guarded the world that Roarke built.

It was spectacular, with a roll of lawn as green as the grass she’d seen in Ireland, with huge leafy trees and lovely flowering shrubs. A sanctuary of elegance and peace in the heart of the city they’d both adopted as their own. The house itself was part fortress, part castle, and somehow had come to epitomize home to her. It rose and spread, jutted and spiked with its stones dignified against the deepening sky, and its countless windows flaming from the setting sun.

As she’d come to understand him, the desperation of his childhood and his single-minded determination never to go back, she’d come to understand, even appreciate, Roarke’s need to create a home base so sumptuous-so uniquely his own.

She’d needed her badge, and the home base of the law for exactly the same reasons.

She left her ugly police-issue vehicle in front of the dignified entrance, jogged up the stairs through the filthy summer heat and into the glorious cool of the foyer.

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