“I hate patience. Slows everything down.”
“Today," she told it, "death comes to all your circuits. Will it be slow and systematic or fast and brutal?" Considering, she circled it, "Tough decision. I've waited so long for this moment. Dreamed of it."
Showing her teeth, she began to roll up her sleeves.
"What," Roarke asked from the doorway that connected their work areas, "is that?"
"The former bane of my existence. The Antichrist of technology. Do we have a hammer?"
Studying the pile on the floor, he walked in. "Several, I imagine, of various types."
"I want all of them. Tiny little hammers, big, wallbangers, and everything in between."
"Might one ask why?"
"I'm going to beat this thing apart, byte by byte, until there's nothing left but dust from the last trembling chip."
"Hmmm." Roarke crouched down, examined the pitifully out-of-date system. "When did you haul this mess in here?"
"Just now. I had it in the car. Maybe I should use acid, just stand here and watch it hiss and dissolve. That could be good."
Saying nothing, Roarke took a small case out of his pocket, opened it, and chose a slim tool. With a few deft moves, he had the housing open.
"Hey! Hey! What're you doing?"
"I haven't seen anything like this in a decade. Fascinating. Look at this corrosion. Christ, this is a SOC chip system. And it's cross-wired."
When he began to fiddle, she rushed over and slapped at his hands. "Mine. I get to kill it."
"Get a grip on yourself," he said absently and delved deeper into the guts. "I'll take this into research."
"No. Uh-uh. I have to bust it apart. What if it breeds?”
“Eve: “Would you jump in front of a maxibus for me?”
Roarke: “Absolutely. They don't go very fast.”
“You can’t go back. Can’t fix what broke. But you can go forward. And every step matters. Every one makes a difference.” She pushed away from the desk, cupped his face in her hands. “From where I’m standing, you’re the best step I ever took.”
“Roarke: “Our engines don't run at the same speed.”
Eve: “What the hell does that mean?”
Roarke: “Just that.”
Eve: “It sounds like something that ought to piss me off. But I can't figure out exactly why. When I do, I might have to pop you one.”
Roarke: “I'll look forward to it. If you don't sleep, eat. You need something in your stomach. And what are you grinning at?”
Eve: “You. You're such a wife.”
Roarke: “Now, I'm pissed off.”
“Eve, did you marry me for my money?"
"You bet your ass. And you'd better hold on to it, or I'm history"
"It's very sweet of you to say so.”
“Nobody's that naive," she muttered. "Nobody's that guileless."
"He's from Nebraska." Peabody scanned her pocket unit.
"Nebraska." Peabody waived a hand, vaguely west.... "They still grow them pretty guileless in Nebraska. I think it's all that soy and corn.”
“What kind of a maniac needed over five thousand plates?”
“Peabody: “When a guy’s in the hospital, he wants toys.”
Eve: “When a guy gets a splinter in his toe, he wants toys.”
“You and McNab sat around talking about women and sports."
"I don't believe we got to sports. He had a woman on his mind."
Eve's sneer vanished. "You talked to him about Peabody? Damn it, Roarke."
"I could hardly slap him back. He's so pitifully smitten."
"Oh." She winced. "Don't use that word."
"It fits. In fact, if he took my advice ..." He turned his wrist, glanced at the unit fastened there. "They should be well into their first date by now."
"Date? Date? Why did you do that? Why did you go and do something like that? Couldn't you leave it alone? They'd have had sex until they burned out on it, and everything would go back to normal."
He angled his head. "That didn't work for us, did it?"
"We don't work together." Then, when his eyes brightened with pure amusement, she showed her teeth. "Officially. You start mixing cops and romance and case files and gooey looks at briefings, you've got nothing but a mess. Next thing you know, Peabody will be wearing lip dye and smelly girl stuff and dragging body skimmers under her uniform."
She dropped her head in her hands. "Then they'll have tiffs and misunderstandings that have nothing whatsoever to do with the job. They'll come at me from both sides, and before you know it, they'll be telling me things I absolutely do not want to know. And when they break it off and decide they hate each other down to the guts, I'll have to hear about that, too, and why they can't possibly work together, or breathe the same air, until I have no choice, absolutely no choice, but to kick both of their asses."
"Eve, your sunny view on life never fails to lift my spirits."
"And -- " She poked him in the chest. "It's all your fault."
He grabbed her finger, nipped it, not so gently. "If that's the case, I'm going to insist they name their first child after me.”
“You know, I'm really trying to cut down on this stuff. But..." Peabody ripped into the pack of cookies. "Thing is, weird, McNab doesn't think I'm chubby. And when a guy sees you naked, he knows where the extra layers are."
"Peabody, do you have some delusion that I want to hear how McNab sees you naked?"
She crunched into a cookie. "I'm just saying. Anyway, you know we have sex, so you've probably reached the conclusion we're naked when we're having it. You being an ace detective and all."
"Peabody, in the chain of command, you may, on rare occasions and due to my astonishing good nature, respond to sarcasm with sarcasm. You are not permitted to lead with it. Give me a damn cookie."
"They're coconut crunchies. You hate coconut."
"Then why did you buy coconut?"
"To piss you off." Grinning now, Peabody pulled another pack of cookies from her bag. "Then I bought chocolate chip, just for you."
"Well, hand them over then."
"Okay, so ..." Peabody ripped open the second pack, offered Eve a cookie. "Anyway, McNab's got a little, bitty butt, and hardly any shoulders. Still -- "
"Stop. Stop right there. If I get an image of a naked McNab in my head, you're going back to traffic detail."
Peabody munched, hummed, waited.
"Damn it! There he is."
Hooting with laughter, Peabody polished off the last cookie. "Sorry. Dallas, I'm sorry. I couldn't help it. Kinda cute, isn't he?”
“You've got to take time for you, or your internal organs get all shriveled and your skin goes saggy. I read all about it. Anyway, Trina's got some outrageous new body paint."
"No. Absolutely. I don't do body paint."
Mavis rolled her eyes. "For me, Dallas. We know you. But I think you should give it a try one of these days. I bet Roarke would really go for the Gold-Dust. It does amazing things for the boobs. Makes them sparkle."
"I don't want sparkling boobs."
"It's flavored, too. Frangipani."
"Really?" Roarke blew out a stream of smoke. "I'm very fond of tropical flavors.”
“First, stop talking like that droid Peabody's reactivating. Second, you're not responsible for the flight of this suspect. That's on me."
"Lieutenant, I appreciate you taking my inexperience into consideration in my failure to perform my duty and complete this assignment in a satisfactory manner -- "
"Shut up, Trueheart." Jesus God, spare her from rookies. "Peabody! Come in here."
"I've nearly got the droid up and running, Dallas."
"Peabody, tell Officer Trueheart here how I deal with cops who botch assignments or fail to complete same in what I deem a satisfactory manner."
"Sir, you bust their balls, mercilessly. It can be very entertaining to watch. From a discreet and safe distance."
"Thank you, Peabody. You make me proud. Trueheart, am I busting your balls?"
His flush spread. "Ah, no, sir. Lieutenant."
"Then it follows that in my opinion, you didn't botch this assignment. If my opinion was otherwise, you'd be curled on the floor, clutching said balls and begging for mercy, which Officer Peabody has succinctly pointed out I do not have. Are we clear?"
He hesitated. "Yes, sir?”
“Sit down," she ordered Peabody.
"I prefer to stand."
"And I prefer to give you a good boot in the ass, but I'm restraining myself." Eve reached up, fisted her hands in her own hair and yanked until the pain cleared most of the rage.
"Okay, stand. You couldn't sit with that stick up your butt, anyway. One you shove up it every time Subject Monroe, Charles, is mentioned. You want to be filled in, you want to be briefed? Fine. Here it is."
She had to take another deep breath to insure her tone was professional. "On the evening of March twenty-six, at or about nineteen-thirty, I, accompanied by Roarke, had occasion to visit Areena Mansfield's penthouse suite at The Palace Hotel, this city. Upon entering said premises, investigation officer found subject Mansfield in the company of one Charles Monroe, licensed companion. It was ascertained and confirmed that LC Monroe was there in a professional capacity and had no links to the deceased or the current investigation. His presence, and the salient details pertaining to it, were noted in the report of the interview and marked Level Five in a stupid, ill-conceived attempt by the investigating officer to spare her fat-headed aide any unnecessary embarrassment."
Eve stomped back to her desk, snatched up her coffee, gulped some down. "Record that," she snapped.
Peabody's lip trembled. She sat. She sniffled.
"Oh, no." In genuine panic, Eve stabbed out a finger. "No, you don't. No crying. We're on duty. There is no crying on duty.”
“She rose. "I'll just go get the wine."
"I'm not interested in wine."
She walked away, tossed a glance over her shoulder. "You will be. When I start licking it off you.”
“You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Life would be awfully dull if we could look back without regretting at least one affair.”
“They needed each other.
Two lost souls, he thought, taking a moment to walk to the tall windows that looked out on part of the world he’d built for himself out of will, desire, sweat, and dubiously accumulated funds. Two lost souls whose miserable beginnings had forged them into what appeared to be polar opposites.
Love had narrowed the distance, then had all but eradicated it.
She’d saved him. The night his life had hung in her furious and unbreakable grip. She’d saved him, he mused, the first moment he’d locked eyes with her. As impossible as it should have been, she was his answer. He was hers.
He had a need to give her things. The tangible things wealth could command. Though he knew the gifts most often puzzled and flustered her. Maybe because they did, he corrected with a grin. But underlying that overt giving was the fierce foundation to give her comfort, security, trust, love. All the things they’d both lived without most of their lives.
He wondered that a woman who was so skilled in observation, in studying the human condition, couldn’t see that what he felt for her was often as baffling and as frightening to him as it was to her.
Nothing had been the same for him since she’d walked into his life wearing an ugly suit and cool-eyed suspicion. He thanked God for it.
Feeling sentimental, he realized. He supposed it was the Irish that popped out of him at unexpected moments.”
“Great sweater, by the way. Cashmere?” Baffled, Eve looked down at her navy turtleneck. “I don’t know. It’s blue.”
“Plea bargain resulted in probation with standard obligatory rehabilitation. Obligation satisfied at Keith Richard Memorial Rehabilitation Center, New Los Angeles.”
“Kita tak bisa kembali. Tak bisa memperbaiki apa yang telah kita rusak. Tapi, kita bisa maju ke depan.”
“sure bet, the crowd hadn’t packed the”
“We're going to go right by a couple 24/7s crossing town. Maybe we could stop and get some hot chocolate."
"That stuff they sell in those places is swill."
"Yeah, but it's chocolate swill." Peabody tried a pitiful, pleading look. "You wouldn't let her give us any of the good stuff."
"Maybe you'd like some cookies, too. Or little frosted cakes."
"That would be nice. Thanks for asking."
"That was sarcasm, Peabody."
"Yes, sir. I know. Responded in kind."
The easy laugh had the black cloud lifting. Because it did, Eve pulled over at a cross-street 24/7 and waited while Peabody ran in and loaded up.”
“She would defend herself, saying that love, no matter what else it might be, was a natural talent. She would say: You are either born knowing how, or you never know.”
“For all evils there are two remedies - time and silence.”
“Belief doesn't rest on proof or existence...it rests on faith...without faith there is nothing.”
“And he, he himself...the Grinch...carved the roast-beast!”
“They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.”
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