Ritual in Death:In Death 27.50(3)

By: J. D. Robb


“He used to be such a sensible man,” Maxia murmured.

“Guys of a certain age are especially vulnerable to bimboitis.”

Maxia laughed. “I’m so glad I like you. I wish I wasn’t due in Prague in a couple of days so I could get to know you better. I should mingle, make sure everyone isn’t as bored as Linen over there.”

“I think that’s Polyester. Definitely man-made fibers.”

Laughing again, Maxia shook her head. “Yes, I really like you. And you.” She rose to her toes to kiss Roarke’s cheek. “You look awfully happy.”

“I am. And awfully glad to see you again, Maxi.”

As Maxia started to turn, Silk’s strident voice whined out. “But I want to go now. I want to have fun. This party is dead.”

Someone screamed. Something crashed. As people stumbled back, as some turned, shoving through small packs of others, Eve pushed forward.

The man staggered like a drunk, and wore nothing but spatters and smears of blood. The knife clutched in his hand gleamed with it.

A woman in his path fainted, and managed to take out a waiter holding a full tray of canapés with her. As shrimp balls and quail eggs rained, Silk shrieked, turned, and in a sprint for the terrace bowled over guests like pins in an alley.

Eve flipped open the next-to-useless bag she carried, tossed it to Roarke as she pulled out her weapon.

“Drop it. Drop it now.” She sized him up quickly. About five feet, ten inches, roughly one-sixty-five. Caucasian, brown and brown. And the eyes were glazed and glassy. Shock or drugs—maybe both.

“Drop it,” she repeated when he took another staggering step forward. “Or I drop you.”

“What?” His gaze skidded around the room. “What? What is it?”

She considered and rejected just stunning him in a matter of seconds. Instead she moved to him, gripped the wrist of his knife hand, twisted. “Drop the goddamn knife.”

His eyes stared into hers as his fingers went limp. She heard the knife hit the floor. “Nobody touch it. Stay back. I’m the police, do you get that? I’m a cop. What are you on?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know. The police? Can you help me? I think I killed someone. Can you help me?”

“Yeah. You bet. Roarke, I need a field kit ASAP, and for you to call this in. I need everyone else upstairs for now. I need you people to clear this room until the situation is contained. Move it!” she snapped when people stood, gaping. “And somebody check on that woman lying in the shrimp balls over there.”

Roarke stepped up beside her. “I’ve sent one of the hotel staff down to the garage to get the field kit out of the boot of the car,” he told her. “I’ve notified your Dispatch.”

“Thanks.” She stood where she was as the naked party crasher sat on the floor and began to shudder. “Just remember, you’re the one who wanted to come tonight.”

With a nod, Roarke planted a foot on the hilt of the knife to secure it. “No one to blame but myself.”

“Can you get my recorder out of that stupid purse?”

“You brought a recorder?”

“If you need the weapon, you’re going to need the recorder.”

When he handed it to her, Eve pinned it to the frothy material over her breasts, engaged it. After reciting the basics, she crouched down. “Who do you think you killed?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s your name?”

“It’s . . .” He lifted a blood-smeared hand, rubbed it over his face. “I can’t think. I can’t remember. I can’t think.”

“Tell me what you took.”

“Took?”

“Drugs. Illegals.”

“I . . . I don’t do illegals. Do I? There’s so much blood.” He lifted his hands, stared at them. “Do you see all this blood?”

“Yeah.” She looked up at Roarke. “It’s fresh. I’m going to need to do a room-to-room, starting with this floor. He couldn’t have walked around for long like this. We start with this floor.”

“I can arrange that. Do you want security to start on that, or sit on him while you do the room-to-room?”

“Sit on him. I don’t want them to talk to him, touch him. What’s that room over there?”

“It would be a maid’s room.”

“That’ll do.”

“Eve,” Roarke said as she straightened. “I don’t see any wounds on him. If that blood’s someone else’s—that much blood—they can’t possibly still be alive.”

“No, but we push the room-to-room first.”





CHAPTER TWO