From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts, writing as J.D. Robb, comes a compelling new novel in the futuristic series…A birthday bash sets the scene for a frightening reunion with a killer from Eve Dallas's past…
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July 13, 2003
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Excerpt from Reunion in Death by J. D. Robb
Murder was work. Death was a serious chore for the killer, the victim, for the survivors. And for those who stood for the dead. Some went about the job devotedly, others carelessly.
And for some, murder was a labor of love.
When he left his Park Avenue condo for his regular morning stroll, Walter C. Pettibone was blissfully unaware he was in his last hours of life. He was a robust sixty and a canny businessman who'd increased his family's already considerable fortune through flowers and sentiment.
He was wealthy, healthy, and just over a year before had acquired a young, blonde wife who had the sexual appetite of a Doberman in heat and the brains of a cabbage.
His world, in Walter C. Pettibone's opinion, was just exactly so.
He had work he loved, two children from his first marriage who would one day take over the business he'd taken over from his own father. He maintained a reasonably friendly relationship with his ex, a fine, sensible woman, and his son and daughter were pleasant, intelligent individuals who brought him pride and satisfaction.
He had a grandson who was the apple of his eye.
In the summer of 2059, World of Flowers was a major intergalactic enterprise with florists, horticulturists, offices, and greenhouses both on and off planet.
Walter loved flowers. And not just for their profit margin. He loved the scents of them, the colors, the textures, the beauty of both foliage and blossom and the simple miracle of their existence.
Every morning he would visit a handful of florists, to check the stock, the arrangements, and just to sniff and chat and spend time among the flowers and the people who loved them.
Twice a week, he was up before dawn to attend the gardener's market downtown. There he would wander and enjoy, order or critique.
It was a routine that rarely varied over the course of a half-century, and one he never tired of.
Today, after an hour or so among the blooms, he'd go into the corporate offices. He'd spend more time there than usual in order to give his wife the time and space to finish preparations for his surprise birthday party.
It made him chuckle to think of it.
The sweetheart couldn't keep a secret if she stapled her lips together. He'd known about the party for weeks, and was looking forward to the evening with the glee of a child.
Naturally he would act surprised and had practiced stunned expressions in his mirror only that morning.
So Walter went through his daily routine with a smile at the corners of his mouth -- having no idea just how surprised he was going to be.