Indulgence in Death

1

THE ROAD WAS A KILLER, HARDLY WIDER THAN a decent stream of spit and snaking like a cobra between giant bushes loaded with strange flowers that resembled drops of blood.

She had to remind herself that the trip had been her idea—love was another killer—but how could she have known driving in western Ireland meant risking life and limb at every curve?

Rural Ireland, she thought, holding her breath as they zipped around the next turn on the Journey of Death. Where the towns were barely a hiccup on the landscape, and where she was pretty damn sure the cows outnumbered the people. And the sheep outnumbered the cows.

And why didn’t that cause anyone concern? she wondered. Didn’t people consider what could happen if armies of farm animals united in revolt?

When Murder Road finally carved its way out of the blood-drop bushes, the world opened up into fields and hills, green, green, eerily green against a sky stacked with clouds that couldn’t decide if they wanted to rain or just sit there ominously. And she knew those dots all over the green were sheep and cows.

Probably discussing war strategy.

She’d actually seen them hanging around those weird—and okay, a little bit fascinating—stone ruins. Towering, tumbling places that had maybe been castles or forts. A good place for armies of farm animals to plot their revolt.

Maybe it was beautiful in a hang-the-painting-on-your-wall kind of way, but it just wasn’t natural. No, it was too natural, she corrected. That was the deal, too much nature, too much open. Even the houses scattered over the endless landscape insisted on decking themselves out with flowers. Everything blooming, colors smashed against colors, shapes against shapes.

She’d even seen clothes hanging on lines like executed prisoners. It was 2060, for God’s sake. Didn’t people out here own drying units?

And speaking of that—yeah, speaking of that—where was all the air traffic? She’d barely spotted a handful of airtrams, and not a single ad blimp lumbered overhead blasting out its hype on sales.

No subway, no glide carts, no tourists blissfully providing marks for street thieves, no maxibuses farting, no Rapid Cab drivers cursing.

God, she missed New York.

She couldn’t even risk driving to take her mind off it, as for some cruel, inexplicable reason people over here insisted on driving on the wrong side of the road.

Why?

She was a cop, sworn to protect and serve, so she could hardly get behind the wheel on these death-trap roads where she’d probably end up mowing down innocent civilians. And maybe some farm animals while she was at it.

She wondered if they’d ever get where they were going, and what the odds were of getting there in one piece.

Maybe she should run some probabilities.

The road narrowed again, boxed in again, and Lieutenant Eve Dallas, veteran murder cop, pursuer of psychopaths, serial killers, homicidal deviants, fought to hold back a squeal as her side of the car lightly kissed the hedges.

Her husband of two years—and the reason she’d suggested this leg of their vacation—took his hand off the wheel to pat her thigh. “Relax, Lieutenant.”

“Watch the road! Don’t look at me, look at the road. Except it’s not really a road. It’s a track. What are these damn bushes, and why are they here?”

“It’s fuchsia. Lovely, aren’t they?”

They made her think of blood spatter, possibly resulting from a massacre by a battalion of farm animals.

“They ought to move them away from the stupid road.”

“I imagine they were here first.”

Ireland wound through his voice a lot more appealingly than the road wound through the countryside.

She risked a glance in his direction. He looked happy, she realized. Relaxed, happy, at