Sandra Brown Hello, Darkness: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780743530057

Hello, Darkness: A Novel

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9780743530057: Hello, Darkness: A Novel
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Bestselling author Sandra Brown is the master of the knife-edge thriller. Her most powerful novel to date, Hello, Darkness, is the gripping story of a woman haunted by her past and caught in a nightmare that threatens to destroy her future.

For Paris Gibson, her popular late night radio show is both an escape and her one real contact with the outside world. Her world of isolation is brutally threatened when one listener -- a man who identifies himself only as "Valentino" -- tells her that her on-air advice to the girl he loves has caused her to jilt him, and that he intends to exact his revenge. First he plans to kill the girl, then he will come after Paris.

Joined by the Austin police department, Paris plunges into a race against time in an effort to find Valentino before he can carry out his threat to kill. To her dismay, she finds that one of the people she must work with is crime psychologist Dean Malloy, a man with whom she shares a history that had a catastrophic effect on both their lives.

As the clock ticks down, and Valentino's threats come closer to becoming a reality, Paris suddenly finds herself forced to deal with a killer who may not be a stranger at all.

Tense and compelling, Hello, Darkness is suspense at its very best, by the author USA Today has called, "A masterful storyteller, carefully crafting tales that keep readers on the edge of their seats."

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Sandra Brown is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers -- including most recently The Crush, Envy, The Switch, and The Alibi which reached #1. She and her husband live in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Dean Malloy eased himself off the bed. Groping in darkness, he located his underwear on the floor and took it with him into the bathroom. As quietly as he could, he closed the door before switching on the light.

Liz woke up anyway.

"Dean?"

He braced his arms on the edge of the basin and looked at his reflection in the mirror. "Be right out." His image gazed back at him, whether with despair or disgust, he couldn't quite tell. Reproach, at the very least.

He continued staring at himself for another few seconds before turning on the faucet and splashing cold water over his face. He used the toilet, pulled on his boxers, and opened the door.

Liz had turned on the nightstand lamp and was propped up on one elbow. Her pale hair was tangled. There was a smudge of mascara beneath her eye. But somehow she made deshabille look fetching. "Are you going to shower?"

He shook his head. "Not now."

"I'll wash your back."

"Thanks, but -- "

"Your front?"

He shot her a smile. "I'll take a rain check."

His trousers were draped over the armchair. When he reached for them, Liz flopped back against the heaped pillows. "You're leaving."

"Much as I'd like to stay, Liz."

"You haven't spent a full night in weeks."

"I don't like it any better than you do, but for the time being that's the way it's got to be."

"Good grief, Dean. He's sixteen."

"Right. Sixteen. If he were a baby, I'd know where he was at all times. I'd know what he was doing and who he was with. But Gavin is sixteen and licensed to drive. For a parent, that's a twenty-four-hour living nightmare."

"He probably won't even be there when you get home."

"He'd better be there," he muttered as he tucked in his shirttail. "He broke curfew last night, so I grounded him this morning. Restricted him to the house."

"For how long?"

"Until he cleans up his act."

"What if he doesn't?"

"Stay in the house?"

"Clean up his act."

That was a much weightier question. It required a more complicated answer, which he didn't have time for tonight. He pushed his feet into his shoes, then sat down on the edge of the bed and reached for her hand. "It's unfair that Gavin's behavior is dictating your future."

"Our future."

"Our future," he corrected softly. "It's unfair as hell. Because of him our plans have been put on indefinite hold, and that stinks."

She kissed the back of his hand as she looked up at him through her lashes. "I can't even persuade you to spend the night with me, and here I was hoping that by Christmas we'd be married."

"It could happen. The situation could improve sooner than we think."

She didn't share his optimism, and her frown said as much. "I've been patient, Dean. Haven't I?"

"You have."

"In the two years we've been together, I think I've been more than accommodating. I relocated here without a quibble. And even though it would have made more sense for us to live together, I agreed to lease this place."

She had a selective and incorrect memory. Their living together had never been an option. He wouldn't even have considered it as long as Gavin was living with him. Nor had there been any reason to quibble over her relocation to Austin. He had never suggested that she should. In fact, he would have preferred for her to remain in Houston.

Independently, Liz had made the decision to relocate when he did. When she sprang the surprise on him, he'd had to fake his happiness and conceal a vague irritation. She had imposed herself on him when the last thing he needed was an additional imposition.

But rather than opening a giant can of worms for discussion now, he conceded that she had been exceptionally patient with him and his present circumstances.

"I'm well aware of how much my situation has changed since we started dating. You didn't sign on to become involved with a single parent of a teenager. You've been more patient than I had any right to expect."

"Thank you," she said, mollified. "But my body doesn't know patience, Dean. Each month that passes means one less egg in the basket."

He smiled at the gentle reminder of her biological clock. "I acknowledge the sacrifices you've made for me. And continue to make."

"I'm willing to make more." She stroked his cheek. "Because, Dean Malloy, the hell of it is, you're worth those sacrifices."

He knew she meant it, but her sincerity did nothing to elevate his mood, and instead only increased his despondency. "Be patient a little longer, Liz. Please? Gavin is being impossible, but there are reasons for his bad behavior. Give it a little more time. Hopefully, we'll soon find a comfort zone the three of us can live within."

She made a face. "'Comfort zone'? Keep using phrases like that and, next thing you know, you'll have your own daytime TV talk show."

He grinned, glad they could conclude the serious conversation on a lighter note. "Still headed to Chicago tomorrow?"

"For three days. Closed-door meetings with folk from Copenhagen. All male. Robust, blond Viking types. Jealous?"

"Pea green."

"Will you miss me?"

"What do you think?"

"How about I leave you with something to remember me by?"

She pushed the sheet away. Naked and all but purring, lying on the rumpled bedding on which they'd already made love, Elizabeth Douglas looked more like a pampered courtesan than a vice-president of marketing for an international luxury-hotel chain.

Her figure was voluptuous, and she actually liked it. Unlike most of her contemporaries, she didn't obsess over every calorie. She considered it a workout when she had to carry her own luggage, and she never denied herself dessert. On her the curves looked good. Actually, they looked damn great.

"Tempting," he sighed. "Very. But a kiss will have to do."

She kissed him deeply, sucking his tongue into her mouth in a manner that probably would have made the Viking types snarl with envy. He was the one to end the kiss. "I've really got to go, Liz," he whispered against her lips before pulling back. "Have a safe trip."

She pulled up the sheet to cover her nudity and pasted on a smile to cover her disappointment. "I'll call you when I get there."

"You'd better."

He left, trying to make it look as if he wasn't fleeing. The air outside settled over him like a damp blanket. It even seemed to have the texture of wet wool when he inhaled it. His shirt was sticking to his back by the time he'd made the short walk to his car. He started the motor and set the air conditioner on high. The radio came on automatically. Elvis's "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"

At this hour there was virtually no traffic on the streets. Dean slowed for a yellow light and came to a full stop as the song ended.

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