Out of This World
An Excerpt From
Out of This World
From Interlude in Death by J.D. Robb

“What’s this about, Commander?”

“Belle was right. I admire your work. I was intrigued to find us on the same program. You don’t generally accept speaking engagements.”

“No. I like the streets.”

“So did I. It’s like a virus in the blood.” He leaned back, nursed his drink. The faint tremor in his hand surprised her. ``But working the streets doesn’t mean being on them, necessarily. Someone has to commandfrom a desk, an office, a war room. A good cop, a smart cop, moves up the ranks. As you have, Lieutenant.”

“A good cop, a smart cop, closes cases and locks up the bad guys.”

He gave one short laugh. “You think that’s enough for captain’s bars, for a command star? No, the word ‘naive’ never came up in any of the reports I’ve read on you.”

“Why should you read reports on me?”

“I may be retired from active duty, but I’m still a consultant. I still have my finger in the pie.” He leaned forward again. “You’ve managed to work and close some very high-profile cases in the murder book, Lieutenant. While I don’t always approve of your methods, the results are unarguable. It’s rare for me to judge a female officer worthy of command.”

“Excuse me. Back up. Female?”

He lifted his hand in a gesture that told her he’d had this discussion before and was vaguely weary of it. “I believe men and women have different primary functions. Man is the warrior, the provider, the defender. Woman is the procreator, the nurturer. There are numerous scientific theories that agree, and certainly social and religious weight to add.”

“Is that so?” Eve said softly.

“Frankly, I’ve never approved of women on the force, or in certain areas of the civilian workplace. They’re often a distraction and rarely fully committed to the job. Marriage and family soonas they should for women--take priority.”

“Commander Skinner, under the circumstances, the most courteous thing I can think of to say is you’re full of shit.”

He laughed, loud and long. “You live up to your reputation, Lieutenant. Your data also indicate that you’re smart and that your badge isn’t something you just pick up off the dresser every morning. It’s what you are. Or were, in any case. We have that in common. For fifty years I made a difference, and my house was clean. I did what had to be done, then I did what came next. I was full commander at the age of forty-four. Would you like to be able to say the same?”

She knew when she was being played, and kept her face and tone neutral. “I haven’t thought about it.”

“If that’s true, you disappoint me. If that’s true, start thinking. Do you know, Lieutenant, how much closer you would be right now to a captaincy if you hadn’t made some ill-advised personal decisions?”

“Really?” Something began to burn inside her gut. ``And how would you know the promotion potential of a homicide cop in New York?”

“I’ve made it my business to know.” His free hand balled into a fist, tapped lightly, rhythmically on the tabletop. “I have one regret, one piece of unfinished business from my active duty. One target I could never keep in my sights long enough to bring down. Between us, we could. I’ll get you those captain bars, Lieutenant. You get me Roarke.”

Reprinted from “Interlude in Death” by J.D. Robb, featured in the Out of This World anthology by permission of Berkley, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2001, Nora Roberts. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Out of This World