Eve flopped back onto the bed. "You should leave more often," she said.
Next to her, Roarke laughed. "Don't you mean I should come home more often?" His voice had more Irish in it than usual, thanks to the after-effects of sex and travel.
Eve waved a hand in the air, "Potato, tomato. --What?"
"Nothing," he said in a strangled voice.
She narrowed her eyes at him. He smiled.
"Hmph," she said, and crawled out of bed. "Married almost two and a half years, and he thinks I can't tell when he's laughing at me."
When she came out of the bathroom twenty minutes later, showered and wearing yet another robe that had appeared as if by magic (if there was a better way to describe her husband, honestly, she couldn't think of one), Roarke was in the sitting area, forking up eggs with one hand and petting the cat with the other.
She smiled. “Just another quiet morning at home before you go buy half the planet.”
“And you collar the other half.”
Her ‘link beeped. Eve blinked once in surprise, then crossed to the dresser and picked it up from where it sat next to her wrist unit and the first diamond Roarke had given her. “Dallas,” she said.
“Dispatch!” The voice that came out of the ‘link was female, melodious, and definitely not Dispatch. “Dallas, Lieutenant Eve. Darling.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Eve could see Roarke typing furiously on his PPC while the cat snuck up on his forgotten breakfast plate. “Identify yourself,” she said flatly. “Use of an NYPSD channel for unofficial purposes is a violation of-“
Whoever was on the other end of the line yawned. “Let’s just skip the boring cop talk, shall we, Lieutenant? So mundane. So hidebound.”
“What do you want to talk about instead? The Mets?”
“Let’s talk about two hundred million dollars,” the voice said. “And what I’ll do to get it. Twenty-four hours, Darling Eve.”
The line went dead. “Damn it,” Roarke said. “Only a partial trace.”
Eve scrambled for her clothes. “Was that just a good fake, or did she hack the official Dispatch line?”
“She did,” Roarke said.
Eve’s ‘link signaled again, and she took a deep breath. “Dallas.”
Eve strode down 4th Street in the Village, trying not to think about the probability that this was another fucking dead end. Trying not to think about a silky voice predicting death and destruction.
Peabody hurried to keep the pace. “This lady—for lack of a better word—has EDD climbing the walls. I haven’t seen McNab like this since—I’ve never seen him like this.” She tugged a wayward strand of brown hair back behind her ear and visibly pouted. “He didn’t even grab my ass on the way out.”
Eve cast her eyes skyward. “Peabody, should I know about your ass?”
“Do I want to know about your ass?”
“Do you want my boot up your ass?”
“Then go back to telling me about the progress McNab made in areas not related to grabbing your ass?”
“That’s just it. Whoever she is, she’s got moves they’ve never seen before. McNab says it’s like trying to translate a book in Arabic when you’ve only ever heard of English. It’s out there.”
“That’s great.” Eve wished she could be in her office. A good desk-kicking would help her right now.
“He’s on it,” Eve said shortly, thinking of the lines that had appeared in Roarke’s forehead whenever he sat at his computer.
“Well, nobody can beat Roarke,” Peabody said.
“Nobody better,” Eve said. “Give me a rundown on this wit.”
Peabody pulled out her PPC. “Cotton Freeman, 62, former security guard, on disability after a shooting three years ago. Not much of a rap sheet—some parking tickets—and he’s known to…” Her voice dropped. “Dallas, do you see that over there?”
“I do.” Eve turned and bent over the PPC. "Keep your attention on me.”
Behind Peabody, two kids—white, brown hair and shaved head, average height, probably late teens—finished ransacking the pockets of a third and shoved him to the ground. Even from twenty feet away, Eve could make out the bruising on his face.
“Give them a few more feet, then go,” she said in an undertone. Peabody tucked her PPC away, but kept her head tilted into Eve.
One hopped on an airboard. Eve braced.
“I’m on the left,” Peabody murmured.
Eve started running; Peabody was just half a step behind her.
Airboard Kid saw her and tried to speed up. Eve simply stopped, waited, and slammed her foot down on the airboard. The kid went flying, crashing straight into the hedges lining the house on the other side of the sidewalk.
Eve turned to check on Peabody, but her partner already had the other kid down. “Well played,” she said.
Peabody was radiating joy. “I used a move Roarke taught me.”
“Very well played.”
“Augh!” Airboard kid pulled himself out of the hedge, throwing himself weakly at Eve. She grabbed him easily by his collar.
“What are you doing?” she asked him. “Seriously. Assaulting a cop? Turn around and stick your hands back, moron.”
“He’s bleeding on you, Dallas,” Peabody said as she pulled her kid up by his restraints.
“Now I get to interview a witness with blood on my shirt. Great day.”
“I see you’ve accessorized yet another outfit with blood,” Summerset said as Eve walked through the door.
She whipped her jacket off and chucked it at the newel post. “There’s room for more if you hassle me, Jeeves.”
Eve whirled and banged on the door. "Peabody! Roarke?"
"Dallas?" The security screen next to the door lit up. "My master isn't working," Peabody said over her shoulder to Roarke. She shoved at the door, then threw her whole weight against it. On Eve's side it didn't so much as shiver.
"Peabody!" Eve called. Peabody didn't react. One-way audio? What kind of sick fucking joke was this? Eve grabbed for her 'link as Peabody did the same outside. Eve's was jammed. Of course it had been jammed. What the hell. Eve banged on the door again, more out of frustration than anything else. "Peabody!"
A sound from the next room had Eve drawing her weapon and pivoting. Hadn't searched the house, hadn't cleared the rooms, stupid, damn it...
"NYPSD! Hands where I can see them!"
Eve's gun wavered. This could be another trick. "Step out where I can see you."
Summerset limped into the light. "Is Roarke—" he began, then went pale and staggered. Eve caught him with one arm. She kept her weapon ready in the other and scanned the room behind him as she lowered him to the floor.
"She's gone," Summerset said. There was blood on his shoulder and one thigh. Stab wounds, from the look of them. "She said she had to—had to get ready for Roarke. Is he safe, Lieutenant?"
"He's just outside with Peabody," Eve said. She jerked her chin at the security screen. "Hear the Irish? I don't care who this e-freak is, nobody can keep Roarke away from someplace he wants to get to."
"...you bloody buggering piece of shit. When I'm done with you, you'll wish for a cat to eat you, and a devil to eat the cat, see if you won't..."
"What does that even mean?" Eve asked, and was more horrified than relieved when the briefest of smiles crossed Summerset's pale, ugly face. "Stop that. Your face isn't built for that. Glare at me some more, I'll feel better."
The door burst open. "Thank God," Eve said. "Peabody! Medic, now! Roarke, Summerset's here but he's going to be all right."
Roarke landed on his knees next to Summerset with less grace than she'd ever seen. "Summerset."
"He's going to be fine," Eve said. "She didn't want him dead, Roarke."
"Aye, she wanted me," Roarke said.
"Well, it's just her bad damn luck she's getting me." When had she taken Summerset's hand? What the hell? Eve snatched hers away. "I have to go."
"I'll catch up to you after Summerset's been checked out."
Eve stood and looked down at her husband. "I'll send McNab to help you."
"To help me or to babysit me?"
"Yes," Eve said, and Roarke shot her a wry look. She brushed a hand over his head and backed away as the medics charged into the room.
"Come on, Peabody," she said.
Peabody fell in step with her, flexing the arm she'd rammed into the door. "Okay, but—we don't know where—"
"Oh, I know," Eve said grimly. "Get in the car."
"What did Peabody say?" Roarke asked as Eve walked back onto the terrace, Galahad following her like the greedy little bundle of fur he was.
"She asked if she could have the video of you breaking into that house this morning."
Roarke stopped in the middle of lighting the candles on the table. "Why?"
Eve rolled her eyes. "She was apparently too busy trying to save my ass to appreciate your 'hot Irish criminal talents' or something like that. And I'm a good friend, so..."
"I feel so cheap," Roarke said, and Eve snorted out a laugh.
"Mister, you are the exact opposite of cheap."
A quiet cough at the door had them both turning.
"You're supposed to be in bed still," Roarke said.
Summerset waved him off. "I'm quite capable of stirring a dish and taking an elevator. Freshly grilled wild king salmon with a garlic butter sauce, fingerling potatoes, and wilted spinach." He wheeled a cart over to the table; Roarke grabbed the serving dish before Summerset could reach for it. Summerset gave Roarke a look he usually saved for Eve and pulled two plates out of the warmer on the cart.
Eve leaned over and pulled out a third plate. "Get off," she said, nudging Galahad off the spare chair at the table.
She got the silverware and napkin down, too, before the combined incredulous stares of Roarke and Summerset combined got to her. "What?" she snapped. "Did you cheap out on the salmon and only make enough for two? Did you get hit on the head and forget how forks work? Sit your bony ass down and dish up some salmon before I dish you in the head, damn it."
She sat down with a thump. Summerset, with one bewildered look at Roarke, sat carefully down where she'd indicated. Galahad draped himself over Summerset's feet. Greedy.
Eve looked over at Roarke, who was still standing next to the table. "Well, aren't you going to—"
He plucked her out of her chair and kissed her until her vision went hazy. "I love you, darling Eve."
"Roarke, not in front of him!" She glared over at Summerset, who was carefully looking at his plate. She plopped back down and grabbed for her wineglass. "Quick, pour me a lot, and let's just get through this." But when he reached across the table, in full view of God and Summerset, she turned her hand to thread her fingers with his.