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When a rash of mysterious disappearances hits close to home, Kathryn Reynolds joins forces with Detective Jack Thornton to find her best friend, an investigation that plunges them into a deadly game of murder and evil where a faceless enemy prepares to destroy them. Original.
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Kathryn Reynolds swept a lock of fiery red hair away from her forehead and rocked back in her chair.
Rolling the tension out of her shoulders, she stared critically at the computer screen. Two days ago she’d been happy with the brochure she was designing for Sunrise Realty.
Now she had the nagging feeling there was something wrong. Was the text readable enough against the background of rising suns? Should she use a bolder font?
She had just clicked on the color chart when she heard footsteps on the front porch of the white Victorian she’d inherited from Grandma O’Shea.
Heather! Thank God. She hadn’t realized until that moment how worried she was. But her sigh of relief evaporated with the sound of the doorbell. Heather wouldn’t ring the bell. Unless she’d lost her key––and forgotten about the one she’d hidden under a rock in the bushes. Which, actually, she wouldn’t put past her friend and downstairs tenant. Heather had a lot of excellent qualities, but she was also a bit of a flake.
Speaking of which––
The bell sounded a second time, and a male voice called out, “Anybody home?” Kathryn looked down at the long, bare legs protruding from beneath her Redskins tee shirt. Damn! She’d done it again––gotten up and started working, then lost track of the time.
Now it was afternoon, and she wasn’t exactly dressed for company. Sprinting into the bedroom, she grabbed the pair of knit shorts she’d left on the chair, pulling them on as she crossed the worn Oriental rug.
After unlocking the door to her apartment, she hurried barefoot down the stairs to the sound of pounding on the front door, then looked through the beveled glass window.
A dark-haired man in a blue uniform stood on the porch, and her mouth went dry.
It was him!
No. She canceled the spurt of panic. It wasn’t him. He was too young. Too heavy. It wasn’t the guy with the white van she’d seen off and on around the neighborhood for the past week––acting busy. He’d given her a creepy feeling, and she’d asked a couple of neighbors if they knew what he was doing. Nobody had been sure. She hadn’t seen him for a few days; and, for a moment, she’d thought...But it wasn’t him.
Slipping the door on the chain, she opened it and asked, “Can I help you?”
“She’s not home right now.”
The man looked annoyed. “She’s supposed to be here between three and six.”
“I’m sorry. Can I help you?” she asked again.
“Mr. Fisher asked me to bring over these carpet samples she wanted to see.”
Heather had complained about the carpet in the bedroom, and Kathryn had said she’d go in with her on replacing it. But obviously she couldn’t make the selection by herself.
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to come back when she gets home.”
He jutted out his jaw. “And when will that be?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yeah, well, I’m late for an installation job because of her, so tell her to get back to Mr. Fisher.”
“I’ll give her the message.”
He picked up a vinyl case he’d set down and stamped back across the porch, leaving Kathryn standing in the vestibule that led to both apartments. Turning to her right, she stared at her friend’s door.
When had she last seen Heather? Saturday night? She wasn’t sure, because she’d been working on a couple of jobs, and she hadn’t been paying attention. It wasn’t unusual for Heather to take off for the weekend. And it wasn’t even unusual for her to extend a minivacation into the next week––since she worked as a substitute teacher and could turn down assignments if she wanted. But usually she was back by Monday afternoon. Now it was Tuesday. And she still wasn’t home.
Kathryn pressed her hand against the wall, running her fingers over the raised strips in the wallpaper, staring at Heather’s door. She owned the apartment. She could go in if she wanted and look around, but her own sense of privacy was very strong. So she wasn’t going to invade Heather’s space just because she was feeling jumpy.
And what would she be looking for if she did go inside? A body? Signs of a struggle?
She grimaced, knowing she was letting her imagination run away with her now.
Slowly she climbed back up the stairs, stepped into her apartment, and locked the door––looking around at the cozy space where her graphic design business shared her living quarters. After Gran had died, she could have moved down to the first floor. But she liked being up here, liked the extra light and the view of the garden––and not having anyone walking around above her. She loved the high ceilings and the old wooden floors and the carefully crafted woodwork that made her home so different from the tract housing developers were slapping up these days. More than that, she was comfortable here. Maybe too comfortable. Sometimes she knew she had a tendency to close herself off like a hermit crab ducking into its shell.
Which was why her friendship with Heather DeYoung, who rented the apartment downstairs, had been so good for her.
The woman could be maddening. Exasperating. A total flake. And at the same time a really good friend. In the year and a half that Heather had lived downstairs, they’d gotten into the habit of hanging out together––taking power walks in the afternoons, going on shopping expeditions. Talked long into the evening about movies and books and the guys in their lives. Shared their problems.
So did her friend have a problem now? Something she hadn’t felt comfortable bringing up? Like that little episode last year?
She crossed to the window, ducked under The Spider Plant That Took over the World, and stared down at the bright pink and red azaleas in full bloom, then flicked her gaze back to the empty space in the driveway where her tenant’s burgundy Honda was usually parked.
“Dammit, Heather,” she muttered. “Where are you? Atlantic City, cleaning up at the slot machines? Why don’t you take a minute to give me a call and let me know you’re okay?”
Like magic, the phone rang, and she blinked––then sprinted back to the desk and snatched up the receiver.
There was no answer.
The silence stretched, and she carefully replaced the receiver in the cradle as she looked at the caller I.D.
It said “Unavailable.” So it was probably just one of those automated telemarketing calls. Not Heather trying to check in. Or calling to say her car had broken down because she’d forgotten to change the oil.
Like she’d forgotten to charge the battery on her cell phone. Which was probably why there was no answer when Kathryn had called that number.
She grimaced. Maybe it was time to check in with Heather’s boyfriend, Gary Swinton. He was a strange guy. Secretive. Always acting superior, like he knew something Kathryn didn’t. Privately she called him The Swine, and she’d told Heather she could do better; but Gary was still in and out of her bed on a semiregular basis.
After looking up his number in her Rolodex and dialing, she counted five rings before an answering machine picked up.
“Hey, this is Gary. I really want to talk to you. So leave a message.”
Yeah, sure, she thought. Probably she was the last person he wanted to talk to, because she’d made her feelings about him pretty clear.
She almost hung up. Then she took a breath and said in an upbeat voice, “Hi. This is Kathryn Reynolds. I’m trying to reach Heather. She needs to set up an appointment to look at the bedroom carpet samples. If she’s with you, could you ask her to give me a call?” She finished by leaving her number, all the time picturing Gary sitting by the machine, listening to her talk.
She considered driving down to his place. But he lived in D.C., in Adams Morgan––not a neighborhood she liked to walk through alone at night. And it would be dark by the time she got there.
With a sigh, she picked up the magic wand sitting on the desk. Too bad she couldn’t wave it, say “abracadabra,” and command her tenant to appear. Unfortunately, the wand was just a hollow plastic tube about a foot long, one of the toys she liked to play with while she was thinking. It was filled with shiny stars and moons floating in a viscous blue liquid. Turning it on end, she watched the heavenly bodies shoot upward in a swirl of blue, but they didn’t give her...Review:
A true master of intrigue. -- Rave Reviews
Rebecca York's writing is fast-paced, suspenseful, and loaded with tension. -- Jayne Ann Krentz
She writes a fast-paced, satisfying thriller. -- UPI
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Book Description Berkley, 2003. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0425191257
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