Mystery (Ariel Gold) Mercer, Judy Double Take

ISBN 13: 9780671557102

Double Take

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9780671557102: Double Take

It's midnight, and Ariel Gold has just arrived on Kiawah Island, a few miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. She's come to her grandfather's home for a break from L.A. - from gridlock and drive-by shootings and tremors - and from a problem that is uniquely her own: she is struggling to recover from a total and devastating memory loss. But the weekend will not be the restful hiatus she imagined. Late at night on a deserted stretch of beach, a chance meeting opens a door to the past she seeks. The stranger appears from nowhere, and is stunned to encounter Ariel; he's mistaken her for her sister, whom he's known since childhood - and who he knows is dead. He tells Ariel of their special friendship and, in the telling, reveals himself to be a troubled man, haunted by demons at which Ariel can only guess. Then, as suddenly as he appeared, he vanishes into the night. She couldn't know their brief exchange would pull her into a spiral of tainted old Southern money and family scandal with all the force of a coastal hurricane. For Ariel, following in her sister's shadow is both eerie and compelling, as she digs into the stranger's past in the hope she might learn more about her own. But the deeper she delves into a chilling legacy of high drama, low jealousies and bad blood, Ariel finds the truth can be twisted - and memories can be murder.

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About the Author:

Judy Mercer is the author of four critically acclaimed thrillers featuring Ariel Gold -- Blind Spot, Fast Forward, Double Take and Split Image. She received a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Georgia, and has worked as a news reporter, disc jockey, advertising copywriter, advertising director, and freelance writer. She lives in Marin County, California, with her husband.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

"But you're dead!"

The lone woman crouching on the beach started violently, overbalancing. Her palms hit sand, hard, and the shell she'd been about to pick up, a small but perfect conch, bit into her knee as she fell. Above her small cry of pain and alarm, she heard the voice again, a strangled, inarticulate sound somewhere in the darkness behind her, louder, nearer.

Her head snapped erect as her legs tensed for flight. There was nothing in her field of vision but ocean, white foam soughing into the lazy arcs of low tide, and sand, an endless, empty stretch to either side. It was one o'clock in the morning. There was no one to help and nowhere to run.

She dug the conch from under her knee, a feeble weapon. In that millisecond, her mind raced through options. How near was he? Could she charge him? It was a him, no question. A man's voice, thick with menace.

Half erect and off balance, she planted her feet like a clumsy sprinter on the blocks and pivoted toward her attacker, still ten or so feet away but closing in. It was then that mental tumblers clicked into place. It wasn't menace she'd heard. It was shock. And the man wasn't running; he looked as if he were being pulled forward against his will.

Ariel Gold came to her feet. Wind whipped hair into her eyes, but she slung her head, stood her ground, and waited.

The man was a stranger, but that was hardly surprising since she'd arrived on the island only an hour before. He was fair, slightly built, in his late thirties, she guessed. His tie was undone, his suit jacket unbuttoned, he was barefoot. All those impressions came and went in an instant. What struck Ariel was his expression. The cold silver of a full moon showed her a face riveted by fear, pain, and something more complex: something like wonder. He looked as if he'd come face-to-face with a ghost.

One hand reached toward her, hesitantly.

"Jane?" he said.

Copyright © 1997 by Judy Mercer

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