Celebrity in Death - J. D. Robb

From fame to infamy is a beaten road.

THOMAS FULLER

The lust for power, for dominating others,

inflames the heart more than any other passion.

TACITUS

WITH FRUSTRATION AND SOME REGRET, SHE studied murder. It lay in the quiet room on a sofa the color of good merlot, with heart blood staining a pale gray shirt beneath the silver bolt of a scalpel. Her eyes, flat and grim, tracked the body, the room, the tray of artfully arranged fruit and cheese on the low table.

“In close again.” Her voice, like her eyes, was all cop as she straightened her long, lean frame. “He’s lying down. He’s deactivated the droid, leaving it and the house security programmed for DO NOT DISTURB. But he’s lying here and he doesn’t worry about somebody coming in, leaning over him. Tranqs maybe. We’ll check the tox screen but I don’t think so. He knew her. He didn’t fear for his life when she came into the room.”

She stepped to the door. In the corridor outside the pretty blonde sat on the floor, head in her hands with the sturdily built, newly minted detective smirking beside her.

And she stood, framed in the doorway with murder at her back.

“And cut! That’s the money shot.”

At the director’s signal, the area—dressed as the late Wilford B. Icove Junior’s home office—became a hive of sound and movement.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas, who’d once stood in that home office over a body that did not—as this one did—sit up and scratch his ass, felt the weird sense of déjà vu shatter.

“Is this iced or what?” Beside her, Peabody did a restrained little dance by lifting and lowering the heels of her pink cowboy boots. “We’re on an actual vid set watching ourselves. And we look good.”

“It’s weird.”

And weirder yet, Eve thought, to watch herself—or a reasonable facsimile—coming toward her with a big, happy smile.

She didn’t smile like that, did she? That would be yet another weird.

“Lieutenant Dallas. It’s so great you made it on set. I’ve been dying to meet you.” The actress held out a hand.

Eve had seen Marlo Durn before, but as a sun-kissed blonde with dark green eyes. The short, choppy brown hair, the brown eyes, even the shallow dent in the chin that matched her own gave Eve a little bit of the wigs.

“And Detective Peabody.” Marlo passed the long leather coat she’d worn for the scene—a twin of the one Eve’s husband had given her during the Icove investigation—to a wardrobe person.

“I’m a huge fan, Ms. Durn. I’ve seen everything you’ve been in.”

“Marlo,” she told Peabody. “We’re partners, after all. Well, what do you think?” She gestured at the set, and a twin of the wedding ring on Eve’s finger flashed on Marlo’s. “Are we close?”

“It looks good,” Eve said. Like a freaking crime scene still with people tromping around.

“Roundtree—the director—wants authentic.” Marlo nodded toward the burly man hunched over a monitor. “And what he wants, he gets. It’s just one of the reasons he insisted we shoot everything in New York. I hope you’ve had time to look around, really get a sense of things. I wanted this part the minute I heard about the project, even before I read Nadine Furst’s book. And you, both of you, lived it. Now I’m babbling.”

She let out a quick, easy laugh. “Talk about a huge fan. I’ve steeped myself in all things Eve Dallas for months now. I even did a few ride-alongs with a couple of detectives when even Roundtree couldn’t budge you or your commander to let me and K.T. ride with the two of you. And,” she continued before Eve could respond,