Eternity in Death:In Death 24.50

By: J. D. Robb

PROLOGUE





Death was the end of the party. Worse than death, in Tiara’s opinion, was what came before it. Age. The loss of youth, of beauty, of body and celebrity was the true horror. Who the hell wanted to screw an old, wrinkled woman? Who cared what some droopy bag of years wore to the hot new club, or what she didn’t wear on the beach at the Côte d’Azur?

No-fucking-body, that’s who.

So when he told her that death could be the beginning—the real beginning—she was fascinated. She was pumped. It made sense to her that immortality could be bought by those privileged enough to pay the price. All of her life everything she wanted, coveted, demanded had been bought, so eternal life wasn’t any different, really, than her pied-à-terre in New York or her villa in France.

Immortality, unlike a penthouse or a pair of earrings, would never get boring.

She was twenty-three, and absolutely at her prime. Everything about her was tight and toned, which she assured herself of by examining her body in the mirror tube in her dressing room. She was perfect, she decided, giving her signature blond mane a carefully studied, and meticulously practiced, toss.

Now, thanks to him, she would always be perfect.

She stepped out, leaving the double mirrored doors open so that she could watch herself dress. She’d chosen form-fitting, nearly transparent red, with a hem of peacock eyes that shimmered and winked with every movement. Chandelier drops swung at her ears, in the same vibrant tones of sapphire and emerald as the accents on the hem of the short, snug gown. She added her blue diamond pendant, and wide pave cuffs on both wrists.

Her sharply defined lips were dyed to match the dress, and they curved now with smug pride.

Later, she thought, after it was done, she’d change into something fun, something for dancing, for celebrating.

Her only regret was that the awakening had to be done in private rather than at the club. But her lover had assured her all that nasty business about being buried, then having to climb out of some disgusting coffin was just the invention of tacky books and bad vids. The reality was so much more civilized.

One hour after the ritual—which was so frigging sexy—she’d wake up in her own bed, eternally young, eternally strong, eternally beautiful.

Her new birthday would be April 18, 2060.

All it would cost was her soul. As if she cared about that.

She strolled out of the dressing room into the bedroom she’d just had redecorated in her new favorite shades of blues and greens. In his bed—canopied to match his mistress’s—Tiara’s teacup bulldog snored.

She wished she could awaken Biddy as she was about to be awakened. He was the only thing in the world she truly loved almost as much as herself. But she’d given her little sweetie pie the sleeping drug, just as she’d been told. It wouldn’t do to have her doggie interrupt the ritual.

Following instructions, she disengaged all security on her private elevator and entrance, then lit the thirteen white candles she’d been told to set around the room she’d chosen for the awakening.

When it was done, she poured the bottle of potion he’d given her into a crystal wineglass. She drank it all, every drop. Nearly time, she thought, as she carefully arranged herself on the bed. He’d slip in quietly, find her. Take her.

Already she felt hot and jittery with need.

He’d make her scream, he’d make her come. And when she was screaming, when she was coming, he would give her that final, ultimate kiss.

Tiara traced her fingers over her throat, already feeling the bite.

She’d die, she thought, running her hands over her breasts and belly in anticipation of him. Wasn’t that wild? She’d die, then she’d awaken. And she’d live forever.





CHAPTER ONE





The room smelled of candle wax and death. In their fat, jewel-toned holders, the candles had pooled into dripping puddles. The body lay in a lake-sized bed canopied with silk, mounded with a multitude of pillows, and stained with blood.

She was young, blond, with a bright red dress rucked up to her waist. Her eyes, a crystal green, were open and staring.

As she studied the body of Tiara Kent, Lieutenant Eve Dallas wondered if the dead blonde had looked into her killer’s eyes as she died.

She’d known him, in any case, almost certainly she’d known him. There was no sign of forced entry, and in fact, the security system had been shut down from the inside, by the victim. There was no sign of struggle. And though Eve was certain they’d find the victim had engaged in sexual intercourse, she didn’t believe it would prove to be rape.

She hadn’t fought him, Eve thought as she bent over the body. Even when he’d drained the blood out of her, she hadn’t fought him.

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