Naked in Death is the first novel in the In Death series so there is nowhere better to start our spotlights than the first meetings and conversations between Eve and Roarke.
In Naked in Death, Eve is investigating the murder of a Senator’s granddaughter, a high priced licensed companion, who was murdered by a hand gun which is a banned weapon in 2058. One of her prime suspects is Roarke and so murder, fate and Nora Roberts have first crossed paths of Lt. Eve Dallas and Roarke.
Both Eve and Roarke have survived childhood abuse and have recreated themselves. For Eve it was a badge; and for Roarke, he wanted to make money which would keep him out of the gutter. The cop and the former criminal meet in Naked in Death and the rest is history.
Though there were more than a hundred faces, Eve had no trouble picking Roarke out of the crowd. He was alone. There were others lined in the pew with him, but Eve recognized the solitary quality that surrounded him. There could have been ten thousand in the building, and he would have remained aloof from them.
He looked straight ahead as the dirge swelled, then without warning, he turned his head, looking five pews back across the aisle and directly into Eve’s eyes.
It was surprise that had her fighting not to jolt at that sudden and unexpected punch of power. It was will that kept her from blinking or shifting her gaze. For one humming moment they stared at each other. Then there was movement, and mourners came between them as they left the church.
Alone, as Eve had suspected, Roarke began to walk across the winter grass, between the cold monuments the living raised for the dead.
He stopped, and as he had at the service, turned and met her eyes. She thought she caught a flash of something in them: anger, sorrow, impatience. Then it was gone and they were simply cool, blue, and unfathomable.
She didn’t hurry as she walked to him. Something told her he was a man too used to people — women especially — rushing toward him. So she took her time, her long, slow strides flapping her borrowed coat around her chilly legs.
“I’d like to speak with you,” she said when she faced him. She took out her badge, watched him give it a brief glance before lifting his eyes back to hers. “I’m investigating Sharon DeBlass’s murder.”
“Do you make a habit of attending the funerals of murder victims, Lieutenant Dallas?”
His voice was smooth, with a whisper of the charm of Ireland over it, like rich cream over warmed whiskey. “Do you make a habit of attending the funerals of women you barely know, Roarke?”
“I’m a friend of the family,” he said simply. “You’re freezing, lieutenant.”
“Now then.” Roarke slid in beside her, reached for a decanter. “Would you like brandy to fight off the chill?”
“No.” She felt the warmth of the car sweep up from her feet and was afraid she’d begin to shiver in reaction.
“Ah. On duty. Coffee perhaps.”
Gold winked at his wrist as he pressed his choice of two coffees on the AutoChef built into the side panel. “Cream.”
“A woman after my own heart.” Moments later, he opened the protective door and offered her a china cup in a delicate saucer. “We have more of a selection on the plane,” he said, then settled back with his coffee.
“I bet.” The steam rising from her cup smelled like heaven. Eve took a tentative sip — and nearly moaned.
It was real. No simulation made from vegetable concentrate so usual since the depletion of the rain forests in the late twentieth. This was the real thing, ground from rich Columbian beans, singing with caffeine.
She sipped again, and could have wept.
“Problem?” He enjoyed her reaction immensely, the flutter of the lashes, the faint flush, the darkening of the eyes — a similar response, he noted, to a woman purring under a man’s hands.
“Do you know how long it’s been since I had real coffee?”
He smiled. “No.”
“Neither do I.” Unashamed, she closed her eyes as she lifted the cup again. “You’ll have to excuse me, this is a private movement. We’ll talk on the plane.”
“As you like.”
He gave himself the pleasure of watching her as the car traveled smoothly over the road.
Odd, he thought, he hadn’t pegged her for a cop. His instincts were unusually keen about such matters. At the funeral, he’d been thinking only what a terrible waste it was for someone as young, foolish and fully of life as Sharon to be dead.
Then he’d sensed something, something that had coiled his muscles, tightened his gut. He’d felt her gaze as physical as a blow. A slow motion one-two punch he hadn’t been able to evade.
It was fascinating.
But the warning blip hadn’t gone off. Not the warning blip that should have relayed cop. He’d seen a tall, willowy brunette with short, tumbled hair, eyes the color of honey combs and a mouth made for sex.
If she hadn’t sought him out, he’d intended to seek her.
Too damn bad she was a cop.
Eve set the package down, scowled at it. “And how did he know where I live? You can’t pluck a cop’s address out of the directory file. How did he know?” she repeated quietly. “And what’s he up to?”
“For God’s sake, Dallas, open it. He probably took a shine to you. Some men find the cool, disinterested, and understated attractive. Makes them think you’re deep. I bet it’s diamonds,” Mavis said, pouncing on the box as her patience snapped. “A necklace. A diamond necklace. Maybe rubies. You’d look sensational in rubies.
She ripped ruthlessly through the pricey paper, tossed aside the lid of the box, and plunged her hand through the gold-edged tissue. “What the hell is this?”
But Eve had already scented it — despite herself — begun to smile. “It’s coffee,” she murmured, unaware of the way her voice softened as she reached for the simple brown bag Mavis held.
“Coffee.” Illusions shattered, Mavis stared. “The man’s got more money than God, and he sends you a bag of coffee?”
“Oh, well then.” In disgust, Mavis waved a hand. “I don’t care what the damn stuff costs a pound, Dallas. A woman wants glitter.”
Eve brought the bag to her face and sniffed deep. “Not this woman. The son of a bitch knew just how to get to me.” She sighed. “In more ways than one.”
“Sorry I kept you waiting,” Roarke began, then his eyes narrowed, darkened.
“No problem,” Eve said as he crossed to her. “I was just…Hey—“
She jerked her chin as his hand cupped it, but his fingers held firm, turning her left cheek to the light. “Your face is bruised.” His voice was cool on the statement, icily so. His eyes as they flicked over the injury betrayed nothing.
But his fingers were warm, tensed, and jolted something in her gut. “A scuffle over a candy bar,” she said with a shrug.
His eyes met hers, held just an instant longer than comfortable. “Who won?”
“I did. It’s a mistake to come between me and food.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
He laid a hand over hers, watched her frown and look down at the contact. “You know, I’ve spent most of my life with a basic dislike of cops — for one reason or another. I find it very odd that I’ve met, under such extraordinary circumstances, one I can respect and be attracted to at the same time.”
She lifted her gaze again, and though the frown remained, she didn’t draw her hand free of his. “That’s a strange compliment.”
“Apparently we have a strange relationship.”
All patience, he bent down until his face was close to hers. “What you are is hoping to get drunk enough so that you can take a few punches at someone without worrying about the consequences. With me, you don’t have to get drunk, you don’t have to worry. You can take all the punches you want.”
“Because you have something sad in your eyes. And it gets to me.”
He stepped closer, skimmed his fingers over her choppy hair. “I respect the privacy of the people I care about. And I care about you Eve. I don’t know why, precisely, but you pull something from me.”
When she started to step back, he tightened his fingers. “I’m tired of every time I have a moment with you, you bring murder between us.”
“There is murder between us.”
“No. If anything that’s what brought us here. Is that the problem? You can’t shed Lieutenant Dallas long enough to feel?”
“That’s who I am.”
“Then that’s who I want.” His eyes had darkened with impatient desire. The frustration he felt was only with himself, for being so impossibly driven he might, at any moment, beg. “Lieutenant Dallas wouldn’t be afraid of me, even if Eve might.”
There were questions he need to ask. Questions, he could see by her face, that needed to wait. Perhaps it was time he took a risk. He dipped a hand into his pocket, drew out what he carried there.
Baffled, Eve stared down at the simple gray button in his palm. “That’s off my suit.”
“Yes. Not a particular flattering suit — you need stronger colors. I found it in my limo. I meant to give it back to you.”
“Oh.” But when she reached out, he closed his fingers over the button.
“A very smooth lie.” Amused, he laughed at himself. “I had no intention of giving it back to you.”
“You got a button fetish, Roarke?”
“I’ve been carrying this around like a schoolboy carries a lock of his sweetheart’s hair.”
Her eyes came back to his, and something sweet moved through her. Sweeter yet as she could see he was embarrassed. “That’s weird.”
“I thought so, myself.” But he slipped the button back in his pocket. “Do you know what else I think, Eve?”
“I don’t have a clue.”
“I think I’m in love with you.”