Ritual in Death:In Death 27.50(30)

By: J. D. Robb

“The blood. Her blood.”

“They put it on you. You were supposed to die, holding the knife, covered in her blood. There would have been questions, sure, a lot of questions. Who else was with you. They had two other people they believed would be dead who’d be tied in. One of them is dead, Jack—he didn’t do anything, and he’s dead. Another is across the hall in a room like this, struggling to deal with what happened. They drugged her, used her. Do you blame her for Ava?”

“No. God.”

“Why blame yourself?”

“I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t get out of... myself, and help her. Even when I heard her screaming. In my head.”

“Thirteen people killed Ava. You weren’t one of them. Because you lived, we found them. Every one of them is locked up. Every one of them is going to pay. You lived, and you found me, Jack. I was in Suite 606. I saw what was done to her. I had her blood on my hands. She was in my head, too, Jack. I’m telling you, she doesn’t blame you. She doesn’t want you to carry this.”

He put out a hand, took hers. “They’re going to pay?”

“Every goddamn one.”

“Thank you.”

She stepped out, and watched through the observation window as Roarke leaned over and kissed Mika on the brow.

“How is she?” she asked when he came out.

“Better. Better than I’d hoped, really. Mira said she has a strong mind. How about your Jack?”

“He’ll get there.”

Roarke took her hand. “Another long day, Lieutenant, with all your interrogations and reports and media conferences.”

“You had one, too, I imagine, making up for the time lost yesterday. Buying up wide chunks of the universe takes it out of a guy.”

“Yet I feel surprisingly . . . fresh.”

“Good, because I want to go home and sleep with my husband—in a much more active sense than last night.” She let him keep her hand as they walked away from the treatment rooms. “You know, I found this little bag full of stones and flowery things in the pocket of the jacket I had on yesterday. How do you suppose that got there?”

“Hmm. Magic?”

She gave him a shoulder bump and let it go. As far as she was concerned, the only magic she’d ever need was the good strong grip of his hand in hers.