Picture Me Dead

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9780778320104: Picture Me Dead

When the mutilated body of a woman is found on the side of the road, officer-in-training Ashley Montague and Detective Jake Dilessio must work together to find the truth--an investigation that leads them into a world of corrupt cops, greed, and murder. Reprint.

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About the Author:

New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than ninety novels, several of which have been featured by the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild. There are more than twenty million copies of her books in print and she has been published in more than fifteen languages. Heather lives with her husband and five children in Miami, Florida.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Prologue

She stared into the darkness of the room by night, suddenly and acutely aware of where she was -- and the man at her side. Her mind sped up as she tried to retrace the last hours . . . but nothing would come to her. She had thought herself so aware, so savvy, and yet she had been taken in. 

She listened. In time, she was certain she heard the slow deep breathing indicating that he was asleep. 

No time to consider just what she had done, how far she had taken her quest. No time to consider the ramifications of her actions. There was no time to think of anything now . . .

Other than escape. 

Carefully, she rolled to her side. Still careful, she rose. With the greatest quiet, she dressed. 

"Going somewhere?" 

She turned in the moonlight. He was resting on one elbow, watching her. 

She laughed softly, came back to the bed, eased a hip on to it and leaned over to kiss his forehead. "What a night," she said softly. "Wow. But now . . . I have the strangest craving for ice cream. And coffee. I'm in such a blur," she said. Her nightly habits shouldn't seem too strange to him; she had just made it here, into the inner sanctum. 

"I'm sure there's ice cream in the freezer. And we always have coffee." 

"But I don't want just any ice cream. I want some of that new stuff they're serving at Denny's," she said. "Thank God it's Denny's, or else it wouldn't be open now. And, of course, I'm feeling a little strange. About being here. With you." 

She stood, slipped on her shoes, and went for her shoulder bag. It felt strangely light. 

"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "You're not going anywhere."

He rose in the darkness. She didn't underestimate the extraordinary shape he was in. Being in shape was one of life's passions for him. Along with a few others.

"I just want ice cream," she said. 

He walked toward her. There was no malice evident in his face, rather a form of sorrow. "You're such a liar. I have a feeling you've had what you wanted now, what you really came to achieve. And I'm so sorry, but you're not going to leave." 

She felt in the large leather handbag for her sidearm. 

"The gun is gone," he said softly. 

He took another step toward her. The gun was gone. The terror of that simple fact registered in her mind, along with a change of gears. Run. Get the hell out. 

"What are you going to do to me?" 

"I really don't want to hurt you, you know." 

The bastard. He didn't want to hurt her. Just kill her

He took a step toward her. She decided to use the bag as a weapon, swinging it with practiced force. She caught his head dead center, then stepped forward and brutally slammed a knee into him. She heard the ragged intake of his breath; he doubled over.   And she burst out the bedroom door. 

She ran desperately through the house and out to the front room, seeking the exit. Then she stopped dead still, stunned, staring at a person she had never expected to see blocking her way. In a flash, it made sense. The fact that she had been recognized for what she was . . . known. 

"You . . . cockroach," she managed to whisper.

"Rich cockroach now." 

Bile rose in her; sick fury rose to her lips. Now she knew the extremity of the position into which she had put herself. There was nothing she could say to describe the depths of her revulsion and rage. 

Nothing that would change what she had discovered.   Instinct and common sense kicked in. There was only one thing she could do now, and that was fight desperately for self-preservation.   She ran. 

She streaked through the front room. Reached the door, fumbled with the locks and was out. There was no alarm. 

Of course not. Alarms brought . . .

The police. 

Hysteria threatened to overwhelm her. 

Within seconds she was racing down the drive. She could hear shouting echoing through the house behind her. 

She knew she would never make it into the garage, never reach her car before they were on her. 

She had to run, hope to reach the street. 

Maybe there would be an early riser driving on the highway.

She sped down the long drive, never having known before just how quickly she could move when necessary. No, not when necessary. When desperate. She dug into her bag for her cell phone as she tried to maintain speed. Eureka! It was there. 

She hit 9-1-1. Nothing. They'd left her the phone. They'd just removed the battery. 

She kept running, moving like a sprinter, no thought of saving energy, driven by adrenaline and instinct, the desire to live. She became aware of a terrible rasping sound. 

And then she realized that the rasping sound was the ragged inhalation and exhalation of her own lungs. She had escaped the house, probably more than they had ever thought she could do. A small victory. Her only hope was covering enough distance, finding help, before they caught up with her.

She swallowed-hard, ignoring the fire and agony that seared through her lungs and limbs. She was well aware that she had a long way to go. The pain didn't matter. Hysteria began to rise in her. She forced it down. 

She made it to the road, her feet hitting the pavement, and realized just how dark it could be in the country. She had grown up in the city; there had always been light. But out here . . .

She hadn't gone that far, and already she could feel her muscles burning; her lungs were on fire. 

Copyright © 2003 Heather Graham

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