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Simon & Schuster 1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020 This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Compilation copyright © 2013 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Introductions copyright © 2013 by Mary Higgins Clark All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Simon & Schuster Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 This Simon & Schuster ebook edition April 2013 SIMON & SCHUSTER and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc. For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-866-506-1949 or business@simonandschuster.com The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event.  For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at www.simonspeakers.com. Designed by Nancy Singer ISBN 978-1-4767-4600-5

Contents

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Introduction from Mary Higgins Clark Where Are the Children? Excerpt Just Take My Heart Excerpt Where Are You Now? Excerpt Two Little Girls in Blue Excerpt Daddy’s Little Girl Excerpt On the Street Where You Live Excerpt Pretend You Don’t See Her Excerpt A Cry in the Night Excerpt All Around the Town Excerpt Loves Music, Loves to Dance Excerpt Daddy’s Gone A Hunting Excerpt

SAMPLER INTRODUCTION BY MARY HIGGINS CLARK

What does it feel like to start a book? My best answer is to say that it’s like starting to climb a mountain. You’re eager—you even need to make the climb but you know it won’t be easy. In every book I’m motivated by a subject I want to explore. In my new book, Daddy’s Gone A Hunting, suppressed memory is the DNA of the story. And, of course, after that decision all the building blocks go into place: the main characters—who they are; the secondary plot that is entwined with the main story; the setting; the chapter endings. I want to make the readers decide to keep going even when they know they have to get up early and should turn off the light. The happiest comment I can receive is, “I read your darn book till 4 in the morning and was exhausted all day.” I hope you enjoy these excerpts from some of my other books as well as the “peek behind the scene” as to why I started to climb that mountain and decide to write them. Happy reading. Mary Higgins Clark

Exclusive Introduction for Where Are the Children?

This is my first suspense novel, inspired by a notorious criminal case in New York—that of a beautiful young woman accused and found guilty of the murder of her two children, a six-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl. Both convictions were overturned on technicalities. She served very little time in prison, got out, married her wealthy boyfriend, and, I guess, lived happily ever after. I reversed the situation. “Suppose,” I thought, “an innocent young mother is convicted of the death of her two children, gets out of prison on a technicality, flees across the country, remarries, and seven years later to the day, the children of her second marriage disappear.” The book, published in the United States in 1975, became a worldwide bestseller and launched my career as suspense writer.

Excerpt from Where Are the Children? 9780743206112

Prologue

He could feel the chill coming in through the cracks around the windowpanes. Clumsily he got up and lumbered over to the window. Reaching for one of the thick towels he kept handy, he stuffed it around the rotting frame. The incoming draft made a soft, hissing sound in the towel, a sound that vaguely pleased him. He looked out at the mist-filled sky and studied the whitecaps churning in the water. From this side of the house it was often possible to see Provincetown, on the opposite shore of Cape Cod Bay. He hated the Cape. He hated the bleakness of it on a November day like this; the stark grayness of the water; the stolid people who didn’t say much but studied you with their eyes. He had hated it the one summer he’d been here—waves of tourists sprawling on the beaches; climbing up the steep embankment to this house; gawking in the downstairs windows, cupping their hands over their eyes to peer inside. He hated the large FOR SALE sign that Ray Eldredge had posted on the front and back of the big house and the fact that now Ray and that woman who worked for him had begun bringing people in to see the house. Last month it had been only a matter of luck that he’d come along as they’d started through; only luck that he’d gotten to the top floor before they had and been able to put away the telescope. Time was running out. Somebody would buy this house and he wouldn’t be able to rent it again. That was why he’d sent the article to the paper. He wanted to still be here to enjoy seeing her exposed for what she was in front of these people . . . now, when she must

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have started to feel safe. There was something else that he had to do, but the chance had never come. She kept such a close watch on the children. But he couldn’t afford to wait anymore. Tomorrow . . . He moved restlessly around the room. The bedroom of the top-floor apartment was large. The whole house was large. It was a bastardized evolution of an old captain’s house. Begun in the seventeenth century on a rocky crest that commanded a view of the whole bay, it was a pretentious monument to man’s need to be forever on guard. Life wasn’t like that. It was bits and pieces. Icebergs that showed in tips. He knew. He rubbed his hand over his face, feeling warm and uncomfortable even though the room was chilly. For six years now he’d rented this house in the late summer and fall. It was almost exactly as it had been when he had first come into it. Only a few things were different: the telescope in the front room; the clothes that he kept for the special times; the peaked cap that he pulled over his face, which shaded it so well. Otherwise the apartment was the same: the old-fashioned sofa and pine tables and hooked rug in the living room; the rock maple bedroom set. This house and apartment had been ideal for his purpose until this fall, when Ray Eldredge had told him they were actively trying to sell the place for a restaurant and it could be rented only with the understanding it could be shown on telephoned notice. Raynor Eldredge. The thought of the man brought a smile. What would Ray think tomorrow when he saw the story? Had Nancy ever told Ray who she was? Maybe not. Women could be sly. If Ray didn’t know, it would be even better. How wonderful it would be to actually see Ray’s expression when he opened the paper! It was delivered a little after ten in the morning. Ray would be in his office. He might not even look at it for a while. Impatiently, he turned from the window. His thick, trunklike legs were tight in shiny black trousers. He’d be glad when he could lose some of this weight. It would mean that awful business of starv-

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ing himself again, but he could do it. When it had been necessary he’d done it before. Restlessly he rubbed a hand over his vaguely itchy scalp. He’d be glad when he could let his hair grow back in its natural lines again. The sides had always been thick and would probably be mostly gray now. He ran one hand slowly down his trouser leg, then impatiently paced around the apartment, finally stopping at the telescope in the living room. The telescope was especially powerful—the kind of equipment that wasn’t available for general sale. Even many police departments didn’t have it yet. But there were always ways to get things you wanted. He bent over and peered into it, squinting one eye. Because of the darkness of the day, the kitchen light was on, so it was easy to see Nancy clearly. She was standing in front of the kitchen window, the one that was over the sink. Maybe she was about to get something ready to put into the oven for dinner. But she had a warm jacket on, so she was probably going out. She was standing quietly, just looking in the direction of the water. What was she thinking of? Whom was she thinking of? The children—Peter . . . Lisa . . . ? He’d like to know. He could feel his mouth go dry and licked his lips nervously. She looked very young today. Her hair was pulled back from her face. She kept it dark brown. Someone would surely have recognized her if she’d left it the natural red-gold shade. Tomorrow she’d be thirty-two. But she still didn’t look her age. She had an intriguing young quality, soft and fresh and silky. He swallowed nervously. He could feel the feverish dryness of his mouth, even while his hands and armpits were wet and warm. He gulped, then swallowed again, and the sound evolved into a deep chuckle. His whole body began to shake with mirth and jarred the telescope. Nancy’s image blurred, but he didn’t bother refocusing the lens. He wasn’t interested in watching her anymore today. Tomorrow! He could just see the expression she’d have at this time tomorrow. Exposed to the world for what she was; numbed with worry and fear; trying to answer the question . . . the same

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question the police had thrown at her over and over seven years ago. “Come on, Nancy,” the police would be saying again. “Come clean with us. Tell the truth. You should know you can’t get away with this. Tell us, Nancy—where are the children?”

1
Ray came down the stairs pulling the knot closed on his tie. Nancy was sitting at the table with a still-sleepy Missy on her lap. Michael was eating his breakfast in his poised, reflective way. Ray tousled Mike’s head and leaned over to kiss Missy. Nancy smiled up at him. She was so darn pretty. There were fine lines around those blue eyes, but you’d still never take her for thirty-two. Ray was only a few years older himself, but always felt infinitely her senior. Maybe it was that awful vulnerability. He noticed the traces of red at the roots of her dark hair. A dozen times in the last year he’d wanted to ask her to let it grow out, but hadn’t dared. “Happy birthday, honey,” he said quietly. He watched as the color drained from her face. Michael looked surprised. “Is it Mommy’s birthday? You didn’t tell me that.” Missy sat upright. “Mommy’s birthday?” She sounded pleased. “Yes,” Ray told them. Nancy was staring down at the table. “And tonight we’re going to celebrate. Tonight I’m going to bring home a big birthday cake and a present, and we’ll have Aunt Dorothy come to dinner. Right, Mommy?” “Ray . . . no.” Nancy’s voice was low and pleading. “Yes. Remember, last year you promised that this year we’d . . .” Celebrate was the wrong word. He couldn’t say it. But for a long time he’d known that they would someday have to start changing the pattern of her birthdays. At first she’d withdrawn completely from him and gone around the house or walked the beach like a silent ghost in a world of her own. But last year she’d finally begun to talk about them . . . the two other children. She’d said, “They’d be so big now . . . ten and eleven. I try to think how they would look now, but can’t seem to even imagine. . . . Everything about that time is so blurred. Like

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a nightmare that I only dreamed.” “It’s supposed to be like that,” Ray told her. “Put it all behind you, honey. Don’t even wonder what happened anymore.” The memory strengthened his decision. He bent over Nancy and patted her hair with a gesture that was at once protective and gentle. Nancy looked up at him. The appeal on her face changed to uncertainty. “I don’t think—” Michael interrupted her. “How old are you, Mommy?” he asked practically. Nancy smiled—a real smile that miraculously eased the tension. “None of your business,” she told him. Ray took a quick gulp of her coffee. “Good girl,” he said. “Tell you what, Mike. I’ll pick you up after school this afternoon and we’ll go get a present for Mommy. Now I’d better get out of here. Some guy is coming up to see the Hunt place. I want to get the file together.” “Isn’t it rented?” Nancy asked. “Yes. That Parrish fellow who’s taken the apartment on and off has it again. But he knows we have the right to show it anytime. It’s a great spot for a restaurant and wouldn’t take much to convert. It’ll make a nice commission if I sell it.” Nancy put Missy down and walked with him to the door. He kissed her lightly and felt her lips tremble under his. How much had he upset her by starting this birthday talk? Some instinct made him want to say, Let’s not wait for tonight. I’ll stay home and we’ll take the kids and go to Boston for the day. Instead he got into his car, waved, backed up and drove onto the narrow dirt lane that wound through an acre of woods until it terminated on the cross-Cape road that led to the center of Adams Port and his office. Ray was right, Nancy thought as she walked slowly back to the table. There was a time to stop following the patterns of yesterday—a time to stop remembering and look only to the future. She knew that a part of her was still frozen. She knew that the mind

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dropped a protective curtain over painful memories—but it was more than that. It was as though her life with Carl were a blur . . . the entire time. It was hard to remember the faculty house on the campus, Carl’s modulated voice . . . Peter and Lisa. What had they looked like? Dark hair, both of them, like Carl’s, and too quiet . . . too subdued . . . affected by her uncertainty . . . and then lost—both of them. “Mommy, why do you look so sad?” Michael gazed at her with Ray’s candid expression, spoke with Ray’s directness. Seven years, Nancy thought. Life was a series of seven-year cycles. Carl used to say that your whole body changed in that time. Every cell renewed itself. It was time for her to really look ahead . . . to forget. She glanced around the large, cheerful kitchen with the old brick fireplace, the wide oak floors, the red curtains and valances that didn’t obstruct the view over the harbor. And then she looked at Michael and Missy. . . . “I’m not sad, darling,” she said. “I’m really not.” She scooped Missy up in her arms, feeling the warmth and sweet stickiness of her. “I’ve been thinking about your present,” Missy said. Her long strawberry-blond hair curled around her ears and forehead. People sometimes asked where she got that beautiful hair—who had been the red-head in the family? “Great,” Nancy told her. “But think about it outside. You’d better get some fresh air soon. It’s supposed to rain later and get very cold.” After the children were dressed, she helped them on with their windbreakers and hats. “There’s my dollar,” Michael said with satisfaction as he reached into the breast pocket of his jacket. “I was sure I left it here. Now I can buy you a present.” “Me has money too.” Missy proudly held up a handful of pennies. “Oh, now, you two shouldn’t be carrying your money out,” Nancy told them. “You’ll only lose it. Let me hold it for you.” Michael shook his head. “If I give it to you, I might forget it when I go shopping with Daddy.” “I promise I won’t let you forget it.”

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“My pocket has a zipper. See? I’ll keep it in that, and I’ll hold Missy’s for her.” “Well . . .” Nancy shrugged and gave up the discussion. She knew perfectly well that Michael wouldn’t lose the dollar. He was like Ray, well organized. “Now, Mike, I’m going to straighten up. You be sure to stay with Missy.” “Okay,” Michael said cheerfully. “Come on, Missy. I’ll push you on the swing first.” Ray had built a swing for the children. It was suspended from a branch of the massive oak tree at the edge of the woods behind their house. Nancy pulled Missy’s mittens over her hands. They were bright red; fuzzy angora stitching formed a smile face on their backs. “Leave these on,” she told her; “otherwise your hands will get cold. It’s really getting raw. I’m not even sure you should go out at all.” “Oh, please!” Missy’s lip began to quiver. “All right, all right, don’t go into the act,” Nancy said hastily. “But not more than half an hour.” She opened the back door and let them out, then shivered as the chilling breeze enveloped her. She closed the door quickly and started up the staircase. The house was an authentic old Cape, and the stairway was almost totally vertical. Ray said that the old settlers must have had a bit of mountain goat in them the way they built their staircases. But Nancy loved everything about this place. She could still remember the feeling of peace and welcome it had given her when she’d first seen it, over six years ago. She’d come to the Cape after the conviction had been set aside. The District Attorney hadn’t pressed for a new trial because Rob Legler, his vital prosecution witness, had disappeared. She’d fled here, completely across the continent—as far away from California as she could get; as far away from the people she’d known and the place she’d lived and the college and the whole academic community there. She never wanted to see them again—the friends who had turned out not to be friends but hostile strangers who spoke of “poor Carl” because they blamed his suicide on her

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too. She’d come to Cape Cod because she’d always heard that New Englanders and Cape people were reticent and reserved and wanted nothing to do with strangers, and that was good. She needed a place to hide, to find herself, to sort it all out, to try to think through what had happened, to try to come back to life. She’d cut her hair and dyed it sable brown, and that was enough to make her look completely different from the pictures that had front-paged newspapers all over the country during the trial. She guessed that only fate could have prompted her to select Ray’s real estate office when she went looking for a house to rent. She’d actually made an appointment with another realtor, but on impulse she’d gone in to see him first because she liked his hand-lettered sign and the window boxes that were filled with yellow and champagne mums. She had waited until he finished with another client—a leathery-faced old man with thick, curling hair—and admired the way Ray advised him to hang on to his property, that he’d find a tenant for the apartment in the house to help carry expenses. After the old man left she said, “Maybe I’m here at the right time. I want to rent a house.” But he wouldn’t even show her the old Hunt place. “The Lookout is too big, too lonesome and too drafty for you,” he said. “But I just got in a rental on an authentic Cape in excellent condition that’s fully furnished. It can even be bought eventually, if you like it. How much room do you need, Miss . . . Mrs. . . . ?” “Miss Kiernan,” she told him. “Nancy Kiernan.” Instinctively she used her mother’s maiden name. “Not much, really. I won’t be having company or visitors.” She liked the fact that he didn’t pry or even look curious. “The Cape is a good place to come when you want to be by yourself,” he said. “You can’t be lonesome walking on the beach or watching the sunset or just looking out the window in the morning.” Then Ray had brought her up here, and immediately she knew that she would stay. The combination family and dining room had

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been fashioned from the old keeping room that had once been the heart of the house. She loved the rocking chair in front of the fireplace and the way the table was in front of the windows so that it was possible to eat and look down over the harbor and the bay. She was able to move in right away, and if Ray wondered why she had absolutely nothing except the two suitcases she’d taken off the bus, he didn’t show it. She said that her mother had died and she had sold their home in Ohio and decided to come East. She simply omitted talking about the six years that had lapsed in between. That night, for the first time in months, she slept through the night—a deep, dreamless sleep in which she didn’t hear Peter and Lisa calling her; wasn’t in the courtroom listening to Carl condemn her. That first morning here, she’d made coffee and sat by the window. It had been a clear, brilliant day—the cloudless sky purple-blue; the bay tranquil and still; the only movement the arc of sea gulls hovering near the fishing boats. With her fingers wrapped around the coffee cup, she’d sipped and watched. The warmth of the coffee had flowed through her body. The sunbeams had warmed her face. The tranquillity of the scene enhanced the calming sense of peace that the long, dreamless sleep had begun. Peace . . . give me peace. That had been her prayer during the trial; in prison. Let me learn to accept. Seven years ago . . . Nancy sighed, realizing that she was still standing by the bottom step of the staircase. It was so easy to get lost in remembering. That was why she tried so hard to live each day . . . not look back or into the future. She began to go upstairs slowly. How could there ever be peace for her, knowing that if Rob Legler ever showed up they’d try her again for murder; take her away from Ray and Missy and Michael? For an instant, she dropped her face into her hands. Don’t think about it, she told herself. It’s no use. At the head of the stairs she shook her head determinedly and walked quickly into the master bedroom. She threw open the win-

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dows and shivered as the wind blew the curtains back against her. Clouds were starting to form, and the water in the bay had begun to churn with white caps. The temperature was dropping rapidly. Nancy was enough of a Cape person now to know that a cold wind like this usually blew in a storm. But it really was still clear enough to have the children out. She liked them to have as much fresh air as possible in the morning. After lunch, Missy napped and Michael went to kindergarten. She started to pull the sheets from the big double bed and hesitated. Missy had been sniffling yesterday. Should she go down and warn her not to unzip the neck of her jacket? It was one of her favorite tricks. Missy always complained that all her clothes felt too tight at the neck. Nancy deliberated an instant, then pulled the sheets completely back and off the bed. Missy had on a turtleneck shirt. Her throat would be covered even if she undid the button. Besides, it would take only ten or fifteen minutes to strip and change the beds and turn on a wash. Ten minutes at the most, Nancy promised herself, to quiet the nagging feeling of worry that was insistently telling her to go out to the children now.

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Some mornings Jonathan Knowles walked to the drugstore to pick up his morning paper. Other days he pedaled on his bike. His outing always took him past the old Nickerson house, the one that Ray Eldredge had bought when he married the pretty girl who was renting it. When old Sam Nickerson had had the place it had begun to be rundown, but now it looked snug and solid. Ray had put on a new roof and had painted the trim, and his wife certainly had a green thumb. The yellow and orange mums in the window boxes gave a cheerful warmth even to the bleakest day. In nice weather, Nancy Eldredge was often out early in the morning working on her garden. She always had a pleasant greeting for him and then went back to her work. Jonathan admired that trait in a woman. He’d known Ray’s folks when they were summer people up here. Of course, the Eldredges had helped settle the Cape. Ray’s father had told Jonathan the whole family line right back to the one who had come over on the Mayflower. The fact that Ray shared enough love for the Cape to decide to build his business career here was particularly exemplary in Jonathan’s eyes. The Cape had lakes and ponds and the bay and the ocean. It had woods to walk in, and land for people to spread out on. And it was a good place for a young couple to raise children. It was a good place to retire and live out the end of your life. Jonathan and Emily had always spent vacations here and looked forward to the day when they’d be able to stay here the year around. They’d almost made it, too. But for Emily it wasn’t to be. Jonathan sighed. He was a big man, with thick white hair and a broad face that was beginning to fold into jowls. A retired lawyer, he’d found inactivity depressing. You couldn’t do much fishing in the winter. And poking around antique stores and refinishing fur-

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niture wasn’t the fun it had been when Emily was with him. But in this second year of his permanent residency at the Cape, he’d started to write a book. Begun as a hobby, it had become an absorbing daily activity. A publisher friend had read a few chapters of it one weekend and promptly sent him a contract. The book was a case study of famous murder trials. Jonathan worked on it five hours every day, seven days a week, starting promptly at nine-thirty in the morning. The wind bit against him. He pulled out his muffler, grateful for the watery sunshine he felt on his face as he glanced in the direction of the bay. With the shrubbery stripped, you could see clear to the water. Only the old Hunt house on its high bluff interrupted the view—the house they called The Lookout. Jonathan always looked at the bay right at this point of his trip. This morning again, he squinted as he turned his head. Irritated, he looked back at the road after barely registering the stormy, churning whitecaps. That fellow who rented the house must have something metallic in the window, he thought. It was a damn nuisance. He felt like asking Ray to mention it to him, then ruefully brushed the thought away. The tenant might just suggest that Jonathan check the bay somewhere else along the way. He shrugged unconsciously. He was directly in front of the Eldredge house, and Nancy was sitting at the breakfast table by the window talking to the little boy. The little girl was on her lap. Jonathan glanced away quickly, feeling like an intruder and not wanting to catch her eye. Oh, well, he’d get the paper, fix his solitary breakfast and get to his desk. Today he’d begin working on the Harmon murder case—the one that he suspected would make the most interesting chapter of all.

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Ray pushed open the door of his office, unable to shake the nagging sensation of worry that like an unlocated toothache was throbbing somewhere inside him. What was the matter? It was more than just making Nancy acknowledge her birthday and risking the memories it aroused. Actually, she’d been pretty calm. He knew her well enough to understand when the tension was building about that other life. It could be triggered by something like the sight of a dark-haired boy and girl together who were the ages of her other children, or a discussion of the murder of that little girl who’d been found dead in Cohasset last year. But Nancy was all right this morning. It was something else—a feeling of foreboding. “Oh, no! What does that mean?” Ray looked up, startled. Dorothy was at her desk. Her hair, more gray than brown, casually framed her long, pleasant face. Her sensible beige sweater and brown tweed skirt had an almost studied dowdiness and signaled the wearer’s indifference to frills. Dorothy had been Ray’s first client when he had opened this office. The girl he had hired didn’t show up, and Dorothy had volunteered to help him out for a few days. She’d been with him ever since. “You do realize that you’re shaking your head and frowning,” she told him. Ray smiled sheepishly. “Just morning jitters, I guess. How are you doing?” Dorothy immediately became businesslike. “Fine. I have the file all together on The Lookout. What time do you expect that fellow who wants to see it?” “Around two,” Ray told her. He bent over her desk. “Where did you ever dig out those plans?”

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“They’re on file in the library. Don’t forget, that house was begun in sixteen-ninety. It would make a marvelous restaurant. If anyone is willing to spend money renovating it, it could be a showcase. And you can’t beat that waterfront location.” “I gather Mr. Kragopoulos and his wife have built up and sold several restaurants and don’t mind spending the dollars to do everything the way it should be done.” “I’ve never yet met a Greek who couldn’t make a go of a restaurant,” Dorothy commented as she closed the file. “And all Englishmen are fags and no German has a sense of humor and most Puerto Ricans—I mean Spics—are on welfare. . . . God, I hate labels!” Ray took his pipe from his breast pocket and jammed it into his mouth. “What?” Dorothy looked up at him bewildered. “I certainly was not labeling—or I guess, maybe I was, but not in the way you took it.” She turned her back to him as she put the file away, and Ray stalked into his private office and closed the door. He had hurt her. Stupidly, unnecessarily. What in the hell was the matter with him? Dorothy was the most decent, fair-minded, non-biased person he knew. What a lousy thing to say to her. Sighing, he reached for the humidor on his desk and filled his pipe. He puffed thoughtfully on it for fifteen minutes before he dialed Dorothy’s extension. “Yes.” Her voice was constrained when she picked up the phone. “Are the girls in yet?” “Yes.” “Coffee made?” “Yes.” Dorothy did not ask him if he was ready to have some. “Would you mind bringing yours in here and a cup for me? And ask the girls to hold calls for fifteen minutes.” “All right.” Dorothy hung up. Ray got up to open the door for her, and when she came in with the steaming cups he carefully closed it. “Peace,” he said contritely. “I’m terribly sorry.” “I believe that,” Dorothy said, “and it’s all right, but what’s the

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matter?” “Sit down, please.” Ray gestured to the rust-colored leather chair by his desk. He took his coffee to the window and stared moodily out at the graying landscape. “How would you like to come to our house for dinner tonight?” he asked. “We’re celebrating Nancy’s birthday.” He heard her sharp intake of breath and spun around. “Do you think it’s a mistake?” Dorothy was the only one on the Cape who knew about Nancy. Nancy herself had told her and asked her advice before she had agreed to marry Ray. Dorothy’s voice and eyes were speculative as she answered. “I don’t know, Ray. What’s the thinking behind a celebration?” “The thinking is that you can’t pretend that Nancy doesn’t have birthdays! Of course, it’s more than just that. It’s that Nancy has got to break with the past, to stop hiding.” “Can she break with the past? Can she stop hiding with the prospect of another murder trial always hanging over her?” “But that’s just it. The prospect. Dorothy, do you realize that that fellow who testified against her hasn’t been seen or heard of for over six years? God knows where he is now or if he’s even alive. For all we know, he’s sneaked back into this country under another name and is just as anxious as Nancy not to start the whole business up. Don’t forget, he’s officially a deserter from the Army. There’s a pretty stiff penalty waiting for him if he’s caught.” “That’s probably true,” Dorothy agreed. “It is true. And take it one step further. Level with me, now. What do people in this town think of Nancy?—and I include the girls in my own office here.” Dorothy hesitated. “They think she’s very pretty . . . they admire the way she wears clothes . . . they say she’s always pleasant . . . and they think she keeps to herself pretty much.” “That’s a nice way of putting it. I’ve heard cracks about my wife thinking she’s ‘too good for the folks around here.’ At the club I’m getting more and more ribbing about why I only have a golf mem-

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bership and why I don’t bring that beautiful wife of mine around. Last week Michael’s school called and asked if Nancy would consider working on some committee. Needless to say, she turned them down. Last month I finally got her to go to the realtors’ dinner, and when they took the group picture, she was in the ladies’ room.” “She’s afraid of being recognized.” “I understand that. But don’t you see that that possibility gets less likely all the time? And even if someone said to her, ‘You’re a dead ringer for that girl from California who was accused’ . . . well, you know what I mean, Dorothy. For most people it would end there. A resemblance. Period. God, remember that guy who used to pose for all those whiskey and bank ads, the one who was a ringer for Lyndon Johnson? I was in the Army with his nephew. People do look like other people. It’s that simple. And if there ever is another trial, I want Nancy to be entrenched with the people here. I want them to feel she’s one of them and that they’re rooting for her. Because after she’s acquitted, she’ll have to come here and take up life again. We all will.” “And if there’s a trial and she isn’t acquitted?” “I simply won’t consider that possibility,” Ray said flatly. “How about it? Have we got a date tonight?” “I’d like very much to come,” Dorothy said. “And I agree with most of what you’ve said.” “Most?” “Yes.” She looked at him steadily. “I think you’ve got to ask yourself how much of this sudden desire to opt for a more normal life is just for Nancy and how much because of other motives.” “Meaning what?” “Ray, I was here when the Secretary of State of Massachusetts urged you to go into politics because the Cape needs young men of your caliber to represent it. I heard him say that he’d give you any help and endorsement possible. It’s pretty hard not to be able to take him up on that. But as things stand now, you can’t. And you know it.” Dorothy left the room without giving him a chance to answer.

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Ray finished the coffee and sat down at his desk. The anger and irritation and tension drained from him, and he felt depressed and ashamed of himself. She was right, of course. He did want to pretend that there wasn’t any threat hanging over them, that everything was just nifty. And he had a hell of a nerve, too. He’d known what he was getting into when he’d married Nancy. If he hadn’t, she certainly had pointed it out. She’d done her best to warn him. Ray stared unseeingly at the mail on his desk, thinking of the times in the last few months when he’d blown up unreasonably at Nancy just the way he had this morning at Dorothy. Like the way he had acted when she had shown him the watercolor she’d done of the house. She should study art. Even now she was good enough to exhibit locally. He’d said, “It’s very good. Now which closet are you going to hide it in?” Nancy had looked so stricken, so defenseless. He’d wanted to bite his tongue off. He’d said, “Honey, I’m so sorry. It’s just that I’m so proud of you. I want you to show it off.” How many of these flare-ups were being caused because he was tired of the constant constriction on their activities? He sighed and started going through his mail. At quarter past ten, Dorothy threw open the door of his office. Her usually healthy pink complexion was a sickly grayish white. He jumped up to go to her. But shaking her head, she pushed the door closed behind her and held out the paper she’d been hiding under her arm. It was the weekly Cape Cod Community News. Dorothy had it open to the second section, the one that always featured a human-interest story. She dropped it on his desk. Together they stared down at the large picture that to anyone was unmistakably Nancy. It was one he’d never seen before, in her tweed suit, with her hair pulled back and already darkened. The caption under it said, CAN THIS BE A HAPPY BIRTHDAY FOR NANCY HARMON? Another picture showed Nancy leaving the courtroom during her trial, her face wooden and expressionless, her hair cascading down her shoulders. A third picture was a copy of a snapshot of

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Nancy with her arms around two young children. The first line of the story read: “Somewhere today Nancy Harmon is celebrating her 32nd birthday and the seventh anniversary of the death of the children she was found guilty of murdering.”

Copyright © 1975, 1999, 2005 by Mary Higgins Clark Copyright © renewed 2003 by Mary Higgins Clark

Purchase Where Are the Children in print or ebook.

Exclusive Introduction for Just Take My Heart

Once again, as is so often true, an article in the newspaper generated this novel. I read about a fifty-five-year-old man who had received the heart of a young man, a chronic depressive, who had killed himself at age thirty-two. The recipient went to thank the young widow, fell in love with her, divorced his wife of many years, and married her. Two years later he shot himself in the head exactly as the donor of his heart had done. Before the transplant, the recipient was known as an extrovert with a keen sense of humor. Most scientists do not accept the theory that the recipient of a heart transplant may acquire the tastes and temperament of the donor. However there are many examples of that change in personality or taste being true. After reading the story in the newspaper, I started to think, “Suppose and what if . . .” Just Take My Heart is the book that followed.

Excerpt from Just Take My Heart 9781439159248

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It was the persistent sense of impending doom, not the nor’easter, that made Natalie flee from Cape Cod back to New Jersey in the predawn hours of Monday morning. She had expected to find sanctuary in the cozy Cape house that had once been her grandmother’s and now was hers, but the icy sleet beating against the windows only increased the terror she was experiencing. Then, when a power failure plunged the house into darkness, she lay awake, sure that every sound was caused by an intruder. After fifteen years, she was certain that she had accidentally stumbled upon the knowledge of who had strangled her roommate, Jamie, when they were both struggling young actresses. And he knows that I know, she thought—I could see it in his eyes. On Friday night, he had come with a group to the closing night of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Omega Playhouse. She had played Blanche DuBois, the most demanding and satisfying role of her career to date. Her reviews had been wonderful, but the role had taken its emotional toll on her. That was why, after the performance, when someone knocked on the door of her dressing room, she had been tempted not to answer. But she had, and they all crowded in to congratulate her, and out of nowhere she recognized him. In his late forties now, his face had filled out, but he was undoubtedly the person whose picture was missing from Jamie’s wallet after her body was found. Jamie had been so secretive about him, only referring to him as Jess, “my pet name for him,” as she put it. I was so shocked that when we were introduced, I called him “Jess,” Natalie thought. Everyone was talking so much that I am sure no one else noticed. But he heard me say his name.

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Who do I tell? Who would believe me? My word against his? My memory of a small picture that Jamie had hidden in her wallet? I only found it because I had lent her my Visa card and I needed it back. She was in the shower and called to me to get it out of her wallet. That was when I saw the picture, tucked in one of the compartments, behind a couple of business cards. All Jamie ever told me about him was that he’d tried his hand at acting and wasn’t good enough, and that he was in the middle of a divorce. I tried to tell her that was the oldest story in the world, Natalie thought, but she wouldn’t listen. She and Jamie had been sharing an apartment on the West Side until that terrible morning when Jamie was strangled while jogging early in Central Park. Her wallet was on the ground, her money and watch were missing. And so was the picture of “Jess.” I told the cops that, she thought, but they didn’t take it seriously. There had been a number of early-morning muggings in the park and they were sure Jamie just happened to be one of the victims, the only fatal victim, as it turned out. It had been pouring through Rhode Island and Connecticut, but as Natalie drove down the Palisades Parkway the rain steadily lessened. As she drove farther down, she could see that the roads were already drying. Would she feel safe at home? She wasn’t sure. Twenty years ago, after being widowed, her mother, born and raised in Manhattan, had been happy to sell the house and buy a small apartment near Lincoln Center. Last year, when Natalie and Gregg separated, she heard that the modest house in northern New Jersey where she’d been raised was for sale again. “Natalie,” her mother warned, “you’re making a terrible mistake. I think you’re crazy not to try to make a go of your marriage. Running back home is never the answer for anyone. You can’t re-create the past.” Natalie knew it was impossible to make her mother understand that the kind of wife Gregg wanted and needed was not the person she could ever be for him. “I was unfair to Gregg when I married him,” she said. “He needed a wife who would be a real mother to Ka-

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tie. I can’t be. Last year I was away a total of six months in all. It just isn’t working. I honestly think that when I move out of Manhattan, he’ll understand that the marriage is really over.” “You’re still in love with him,” her mother insisted. “And he is with you.” “That doesn’t mean we’re good for each other.” I’m right about that, Natalie thought, as she swallowed the lump in her throat that was always there when she allowed herself to think about Gregg. She wished she could talk to him about what had happened Friday evening. What would she say? “Gregg, what do I do about having the certain knowledge that I know who killed my friend Jamie, without a shred of proof to back me up?” But she couldn’t ask him. There was too much of a chance that she’d be unable to resist his begging her to try again. Even though she’d lied and told him she was interested in someone else, it hadn’t stopped Gregg’s phone calls. As she turned off the parkway onto Walnut Street, Natalie realized she was longing for a cup of coffee. She had driven straight through and it was quarter of eight. By this time, on a normal day, she would already have had at least two cups. Most of the houses on Walnut Street in Closter had been torn down to make way for new luxury homes. It was her joke that now she had seven-foot hedges on either side of her house, giving her complete privacy from either neighbor. Years ago, the Keenes had been on one side and the Foleys on the other. Today, she hardly knew who her neighbors were. The sense of something hostile hit her as she turned in to her driveway and pushed the clicker to open the garage door. As the door began to rise, she shook her head. Gregg had been right when he said that she became every character she played. Even before the stress of meeting Jess, her nerves had been unraveling, like those of Blanche DuBois. She drove into the garage, stopped, but for some reason did not immediately push the clicker to close the garage door behind her. Instead, she opened the driver’s door of the car, pushed open the

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kitchen door, and stepped inside. She felt gloved hands dragging her in, twirling her around, and throwing her down. The crack of her head on the hardwood floor sent waves of pain radiating through her skull, but she could still see that he was wearing a plastic raincoat and plastic over his shoes. “Please,” she said, “please.” She held up her hands to protect herself from the pistol he was pointing at her chest. The click as he pushed down the safety catch was his answer to her plea.

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At ten minutes of eight, punctual as always, Suzie Walsh turned off Route 9W and drove to the home of her longtime employer, Catherine Banks. She had been the seventy-five-year-old widow’s housekeeper for thirty years, arriving at eight a.m. and leaving after lunch at one p.m. every weekday. A passionate theatre buff, Suzie loved the fact that the famous actress Natalie Raines had bought the house next to Mrs. Banks last year. Natalie was Suzie’s absolutely favorite actress. Only two weeks ago, she had seen her in the limited run of A Streetcar Named Desire and decided no one could ever have played the fragile heroine Blanche DuBois better, not even Vivien Leigh in the movie. With her delicate features, slender body, and cascade of pale blond hair, she was the living embodiment of Blanche. So far Suzie had not met face-to-face with Raines. She always hoped that she’d run into her someday in the supermarket, but that hadn’t happened yet. Whenever she was coming to work in the morning, or driving home in the afternoon, Suzie always made it her business to drive past Raines’s house slowly, even though in the afternoon, it meant driving around the block to get to the highway. This Monday morning, Suzie almost realized her ambition of seeing Natalie Raines close-up. As she drove past her house, Raines was just stepping out of her car. Suzie sighed. Just that much of a glimpse of her idol was like a bit of magic in her day.

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At one o’clock that afternoon, after a cheerful good-bye to Mrs. Banks and armed with a shopping list for the morning, Suzie got into her car and backed out of the driveway. For a moment she hesitated. There wasn’t a million to one chance that she would see Natalie Raines twice in one day, and anyway she was tired. But habit

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prevailed, and she turned the car left, driving slowly as she passed the house next door. Then she stopped the car abruptly. The door to Raines’s garage was open and so was the driver’s door of her car, exactly as it had been this morning. She never left the garage door open and certainly wouldn’t be the kind to leave a car door open all day. Maybe I should mind my own business, Suzie thought, but I can’t. She turned into the driveway, stopped, and got out of her car. Uncertainly, she walked into the garage. It was small and she had to partially close the door of Raines’s car to reach the kitchen door. By now she was sure something was wrong. A glance into the car had revealed a pocketbook on the front passenger seat and a suitcase on the floor in the back. When there was no response to her knock on the kitchen door, she waited, then, unable to go away unsatisfied, turned the knob. The door was unlocked. Worried that she could end up being arrested for trespassing, something still made Suzie open the door and step into the kitchen. Then she began to scream. Natalie Raines was crumpled on the kitchen floor, her white cable-knit sweater matted with blood. Her eyes were closed, but a soft, hurt cry was coming from her lips. Suzie knelt beside her as she grabbed the cell phone from her pocket and dialed 911. “80 Walnut Street, Closter,” she screamed to the operator. “Natalie Raines. I think she’s been shot. Hurry. Hurry. She’s dying.” She dropped the phone. Stroking Natalie’s head, she said soothingly, “Ms. Raines, you’ll be all right. They’ll send an ambulance. It will be here any minute, I promise.” The sound from Natalie’s lips ended. An instant later her heart stopped. Her last thought was the sentence Blanche DuBois utters at the end of the play: “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

3
She had dreamt of Mark last night, one of those vague, unsatisfying dreams, in which she could hear his voice and was wandering through a dark, cavernous house looking for him. Emily Kelly Wallace woke up with the familiar weight on her mind that often settled in after that kind of dream, but determined that she wouldn’t let it grab hold of her today. She glanced over at Bess, the nine-pound Maltese her brother, Jack, had given her for Christmas. Bess was fast asleep on the other pillow, and the sight of the dog brought immediate comfort. Emily slid out of bed, grabbed the warm robe that was always close at hand in the cold bedroom, picked up a reluctantly awakening Bess, and headed down the stairs of the home in Glen Rock, New Jersey, that she had lived in for most of her thirty-two years. After a roadside bomb in Iraq had taken Mark’s life three years ago, she decided she didn’t want to stay in their apartment. About a year later, when she was recovering from her operation, her father, Sean Kelly, had signed over this modest, colonial-style house to her. Long a widower, he was remarrying and moving to Florida. “Em, it makes sense,” he had said. “No mortgage. Taxes not too bad. You know most of the neighbors. Give it a try. Then if you’d rather do something else, sell it and you’ll have a down payment.” But it has worked, Emily thought, as she hurried into the kitchen with Bess under her arm. I love living here. The coffeepot set to a seven a.m. timer was squeaking its announcement that the coffee was ready to pour. Her breakfast consisted of fresh-squeezed orange juice, a toasted English muffin, and two cups of coffee. Carrying the second one, Emily hurried back upstairs to shower and change. A new bright red turtleneck added a cheery note to last year’s charcoal gray pants suit. Suitable for court, she decided, as well as an antidote for this overcast March morning and the dream of Mark.

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She took a moment to debate about leaving her straight brown hair loose on her shoulders, then decided to pin it up. A quick dash of mascara and lip liner followed. As she snapped on small silver earrings the thought crossed her mind that she never bothered to wear blush anymore. When she had been sick she’d never gone without it. Downstairs again, she let Bess out in the backyard one more time, then, after an affectionate squeeze, locked her in her crate. Twenty minutes later she was driving into the parking lot of the Bergen County Courthouse. Although it was only eight fifteen, as usual the lot was almost half full. An assistant prosecutor for the last six years, Emily never felt more at home than when she got out of her car and crossed the tarmac to the courthouse. A tall, slender figure, she was unaware of how many admiring eyes followed her as she moved swiftly past the arriving cars. Her mind was already focused on the decision that should be coming from the grand jury. For the past several days, the grand jury had been hearing testimony in the case involving the murder of Natalie Raines, the Broadway actress who had been fatally shot in her home nearly two years ago. Although he had always been a suspect, her estranged husband, Gregg Aldrich, had only been formally arrested three weeks ago, when a would-be accomplice had come forward. The grand jury was expected to issue an indictment shortly. He did it, Emily told herself emphatically as she entered the courthouse, walked through the highceilinged lobby, and, scorning the elevator, climbed the steps to the second floor. I’d give my eyeteeth to try that case, she thought. The Prosecutor’s section, in the west wing of the courthouse, was home to forty assistant prosecutors, seventy investigators, and twenty-five secretaries. She punched in the code of the security door with one hand, pushed it open, waved to the switchboard operator, then slipped out of her coat before she reached the tiny windowless cubicle that was her office. A coatrack, two gray steel filing cabinets, two mismatched chairs for witness interviews, a fifty-year-old desk, and her own swivel chair comprised the furnishings. Plants on top of the files and on the corner of her desk were, as Emily put it, her

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attempt to green America. She tossed her coat on the unsteady coatrack, settled in her chair, and reached for the file that she had been studying the night before. The Lopez case, a domestic dispute that had escalated into homicide. Two young children, now motherless, and a father in the county jail. And my job is to put him in prison, Emily thought, as she opened the file. The trial was scheduled to begin next week. At eleven fifteen her phone rang. It was Ted Wesley, the prosecutor. “Emily, can I see you for a minute?” he asked. He hung up without waiting for an answer.

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Fifty-year-old Edward “Ted” Scott Wesley, the Bergen County Prosecutor, was by any standards a handsome man. Six feet two, he had impeccable carriage that not only made him seem taller but gave him an air of authority that, as a reporter once wrote, “was comforting to the good guys and disconcerting to anyone who had reason not to sleep at night.” His midnight blue eyes and full head of dark hair, now showing light traces of gray, completed the image of an imposing leader. To Emily’s surprise, after knocking on the partially open door and stepping inside his office, she realized her boss was scrutinizing her carefully. Finally he said, crisply, “Hi, Emily, you look great. Feeling good?” It was not a casual question. “Never better.” She tried to sound offhand, even dismissive, as though she was wondering why he had bothered to ask. “It’s important that you feel good. The grand jury indicted Gregg Aldrich.” “They did!” She felt a shot of adrenaline. Even though she had been sure it would happen, Emily also knew that the case was largely based on circumstantial evidence and would certainly not be a slam dunk at trial. “It’s been driving me crazy to see that creep plastered all over the gossip columns, running around with the flavor of the month when you know he left his wife bleeding to death. Natalie

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Raines was such a great actress. God, when she walked onstage, it was magic.” “Don’t let Aldrich’s social life drive you crazy,” Wesley said mildly. “Just put him away for good. It’s your case.” It was what she had been hoping to hear. Even so, it took a long moment to sink in. This was the kind of trial a prosecutor like Ted Wesley reserved for himself. It was sure to stay in the headlines, and Ted Wesley loved headlines. He smiled at her astonishment. “Emily, strictly and totally between us, I’m getting feelers about a high-level job that’s coming up in the fall with the new administration. I’d be interested, and Nan would love to live in Washington. As you know, she was raised there. I wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a trial if that situation does work out. So Aldrich is yours.” Aldrich is mine. Aldrich is mine. It was the gut-level-satisfying case that she’d been waiting for before she was derailed two years ago. Back in her office, Emily debated calling her father, then vetoed that idea. He’d only caution her not to work too hard. And that’s exactly what her brother, Jack, a computer designer who worked in Silicon Valley, would say, she thought, and anyhow, Jack’s probably on his way to work. It’s only eight thirty in California. Mark, Mark, I know you’d be so proud of me . . . She closed her eyes for a moment, a tidal wave of pure longing washing through her, then shook her head and reached for the Lopez file. Once again, she read every line of it. Both of them twenty-four years old; two kids; separated; he went back pleading for a reunion; she stormed out of the apartment, then tried to pass him on the worn marble staircase of the old apartment building. He claimed she fell. The babysitter who had followed them from the apartment swore that he’d pushed her. But her view was obstructed, Emily thought, as she studied the pictures of the stairway. The phone rang. It was Joe Lyons, the public defender assigned to Lopez. “Emily, I want to come over and talk about the Lopez case. Your office has it all wrong. He didn’t push her. She tripped. This was an accident.”

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“Well, not according to the babysitter,” Emily replied. “But let’s talk. Three o’clock would be good.” As she hung up, Emily looked at the file picture of the weeping defendant at his arraignment. An unwelcome feeling of uncertainty nagged at her. She admitted to herself that she had doubts about this one. Maybe his wife really did fall. Maybe it was an accident. I used to be so tough, she sighed. I’m beginning to think that maybe I should have been a defense attorney.

4
Earlier that morning, through the tilted slats of the old-fashioned blinds in the kitchen of his house, Zachary Lanning had watched Emily having her quick breakfast in her kitchen. The microphone he had managed to secretly install in the cabinet over the refrigerator when her contractor left the door unlocked had picked up her random comments to her puppy, who sat on her lap while she was eating. It’s as though she was talking to me, Zach thought happily, as he stacked boxes in the warehouse where he worked on Route 46. It was only a twenty-minute drive from the rented house where he had been living under a new identity since he fled from Iowa. His hours were eight thirty to five thirty, a shift that was perfect for his needs. He could watch Emily early in the morning, then go to work. When she came home in the evening, as she prepared dinner, he could visit with her again. Sometimes she had company, and that would make him angry. She belonged to him. He was sure of one thing: There was no special man in her life. He knew she was a widow. If they happened to see each other outside, she was pleasant but distant. He had told her he was very handy if ever she needed any quick repairs, but he had been able to tell right away that she would never call him. Like all the others during his whole life, she just dismissed him with a glance. She simply didn’t understand that he was watching her, protecting her. She simply didn’t understand that they were meant to be together. But that would change. With his slight build, average height, thinning, sandy hair and small brown eyes, in his late-forties, Zach was the kind of nondescript person whom most people would never remember having met. Certainly most people would never imagine that he was the tar-

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get of a nationwide manhunt after coldly murdering his wife, her children, and her mother a year and a half ago in Iowa.

Copyright © 2009 by Mary Higgins Clark

Purchase Just Take My Heart in print or ebook!

Exclusive Introduction for Where Are You Now?

Four years ago I read an article in The New York Times about a woman whose son disappeared thirty years ago. A senior at prestigious Columbia University, he had walked out of his dormitory one afternoon and was never seen again. The anxiety about what may have happened to him destroyed the family. His father became an alcoholic and died. His brother went into deep depression. His sister, unable to cope any longer, moved to California. His mother was alone. She would not move from the large family apartment because once a year the phone would ring and she would hear someone breathing at the other end. That person never spoke, but she was certain it was her missing son. She was afraid that if she were to live someplace else, he might never find her. She was afraid to have her telephone number changed for fear he would not be able to find a different one. That poignant story is the DNA of Where Are You Now? The characters and the unfolding story are all fictional. But as a mother, I do not think anything could be more difficult than to lose a child and never know what happened to him or her. At least if we know that child is no longer alive, there is closure.

Excerpt from Where Are You Now? 9781416552666

1
It is exactly midnight, which means ­ Mother’s Day has just begun. I stayed overnight with my mother in the apartment on Sutton Place where I grew up. She is down the hall in her room, and together we are keeping the vigil. The same vigil w ­ e’ve kept every year since my brother, Charles MacKenzie Jr., “Mack,” walked out of the apartment he shared with two other Columbia University seniors ten years ago. He has never been seen since then. But every year at some point on ­ Mother’s Day, he calls to assure Mom he is fine. “Don’t worry about me,” he tells her. “One of these days I’ll turn the ­ key in the lock and be home.” Then he hangs up. We never know when in those twenty-four hours that call will come. Last year Mack called at a few minutes after midnight, and our vigil ended almost as soon as it began. Two years ago he waited until the very last second to phone, and Mom was frantic that this slim contact with him was over. Mack has to have known that my father was killed in the Twin Towers tragedy. I was sure that no matter what he was doing, that terrible day would have compelled him to come home. But it did not. Then on the next M ­ other’s Day, during his annual call, he started crying and gasped, “I’m sorry about Dad. I’m really sorry,” and broke the connection. I am Carolyn. I was sixteen when Mack disappeared. Following in his footsteps, I attended Columbia. Unlike him, I then went on to Duke Law School. Mack had been accepted there before he disappeared. After I passed the Bar last year, I clerked for a civil court judge in the courthouse on Centre Street in lower Manhattan. Judge Paul Huot has just retired, so at the moment I’m unemployed. I plan

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to apply for a job as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, but not quite yet. First, I must find a way to track my brother down. What happened to him? Why did he disappear? There was no sign of foul play. Mack’s credit cards w ­ ­ eren’t used. His car was in the garage near his apartment. No one of his description ever ended up in the morgue, although in the beginning, my mother and father were sometimes asked to view the body of some unidentified young man who had been fished out of the river or killed in an accident. When we were growing up, Mack was my best friend, my confidant, my pal. Half my girlfriends had a crush on him. He was the perfect son, the perfect brother, handsome, kind, funny, an excellent student. How do I feel about him now? I d ­ on’t know anymore. I remember how much I loved him, but that love has almost totally turned to anger and resentment. I wish I could even doubt that ­ he’s alive and that someone is playing a cruel trick, but there is no doubt in my mind about that. Years ago we recorded one of his phone calls and had the pattern of his voice compared to his voice from home movies. It was identical. All of this means that Mom and I dangle slowly in the wind, and, before Dad died in that burning inferno, it was that way for him, too. In all these years, I have never gone into a restaurant or theatre without my eyes automatically scanning to see if just maybe, by chance, I will run into him. Someone with a similar profile and sandy brown hair will demand a second look and, sometimes, close scrutiny. I remember more than once almost knocking people over to get close to someone who turned out to be a perfect stranger. All this was going through my mind as I set the volume of the phone on the loudest setting, got into bed, and tried to go to sleep. I guess I did fall into an uneasy doze because the jarring ring of the phone made me bolt up. I saw from the lighted dial on the clock that it was five minutes to three. With one hand I snapped on the bedside light and with the other grabbed the receiver. Mom had already picked up, and I heard her voice, breathless and nervous. “Hello, Mack.” “Hello, Mom. Happy ­ Mother’s Day. I love you.”

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His voice was resonant and confident. He sounds as though he doesn’t have a care in the world, I thought bitterly. ­ As usual the sound of his voice shattered Mom. She began to cry. “Mack, I love you. I need to see you,” she begged. “I d ­ on’t care what trouble you may be in, what problems you have to solve, I’ll help you. Mack, for G ­ od’s sake, ­ it’s been ten years. ­ Don’t do this to me any longer. Please . . . please . . .” He never stayed on the phone for as long as a minute. I’m sure he knew that we would try to trace the call, but now that that technology is available, he always calls from one of those cell phones with a prepaid time card. I had been planning what I would say to him and rushed now to make him hear me out before he hung up. “Mack, I’m going to find you,” I said. “The cops tried and failed. So did the private investigator. But I ­ won’t fail. I swear I ­ won’t.” My voice had been quiet and firm, as I had planned, but then the sound of my mother crying sent me over the edge. “I’m going to track you down, you lowlife,” I shrieked, “and ­ you’d better have an awfully good reason for torturing us like this.” I heard a click and knew that he had disconnected. I could have bitten my tongue off to take back the name I had called him, but, of course, it was too late. Knowing what I was facing, that Mom would be furious at me for the way I had screamed at Mack, I put on a robe and went down the hall to the suite that she and Dad had shared. Sutton Place is an upscale Manhattan neighborhood of town houses and apartment buildings overlooking the East River. My father bought this place after putting himself through Fordham Law School at night and working his way up to partner in a corporate law firm. Our privileged childhood was the result of his brains and the hard work ethic that was instilled in him by his widowed Scotch-Irish mother. He never allowed a nickel of the money my mother inherited to affect our lives. I tapped on the door and pushed it open. She was standing at the panoramic window that overlooked the East River. She did not turn,

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even though she knew I was there. It was a clear night, and to the left I could see the lights of the Queensboro Bridge. Even in this predawn hour, there was a steady stream of cars going back and forth across it. The fanciful thought crossed my mind that maybe Mack was in one of those cars and, having made his annual call, was now on his way to a distant destination. Mack had always loved travel; it was in his veins. My ­ mother’s father, Liam O’Connell, was born in Dublin, educated at Trinity College, and came to the United States, smart, well-educated, and broke. Within five years he was buying potato fields in Long Island that eventually became the Hamptons, property in Palm Beach County, property on Third Avenue when it was still a dirty, dark street in the shadow of the elevated train track that hovered over it. That was when he sent for and married my grandmother, the En­ glish girl he had met at Trinity. My mother, Olivia, is a genuine En­ glish beauty, tall, still slender as a reed at sixty-two, with silver hair, blue-gray eyes, and classic features. In appearance, Mack was practically her clone. I inherited my f ­ ather’s reddish brown hair, hazel eyes, and stubborn jaw. When my mother wore heels, she was a shade taller than Dad, and, like him, I’m just average height. I found myself yearning for him as I walked across the room and put my arm around my mother. She spun around, and I could feel the anger radiating from her. “Carolyn, how could you talk to Mack like that?” she snapped, her arms wrapped tightly across her chest. “ ­ Can’t you understand that there must be some terrible problem that is keeping him from us? Can’t you understand that he must be feeling frightened and help­ less and that this call is a cry for understanding?” Before my father died, they often used to have emotional conversations like this. Mom, always protective of Mack, my father getting to the point where he was ready to wash his hands of it all and stop worrying. “For the love of God, Liv,” he would snap at Mom, “he sounds all right. Maybe h ­ e’s involved with some woman and doesn’t want to bring her around. Maybe ­ ­ he’s trying to be an actor.

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He wanted to be one when he was a kid. Maybe I was too tough on him, making him have summer jobs. Who knows?” They would end up apologizing to each other, Mom crying, Dad anguished and angry at himself for upsetting her. I­ wasn’t going to make a second mistake by trying to justify myself. Instead I said, “Mom, listen to me. Since we h ­ aven’t found Mack by now, ­he’s not worrying about my threat. Look at it this way. You’ve heard from him. You know h ­ ­ e’s alive. He sounds downright upbeat. I know you hate sleeping pills, but I also know your doctor gave you a prescription. So take one now and get some rest.” I ­didn’t wait for her to answer me. I knew I ­couldn’t do any good by staying with her any longer because I was angry, too. Angry at her for railing at me, angry at Mack, angry at the fact that this ten-room duplex apartment was too big for Mom to live in alone, too filled with memories. She w ­ on’t sell it because she d ­ oesn’t trust that M ­ ack’s annual telephone call would be bounced to a new location, and of course she reminds me that he had said one day he would turn the key in the lock and be home . . . Home. Here. I got back into bed, but sleep was a long way off. I started planning how I would begin to look for Mack. I thought about going to Lucas Reeves, the private investigator whom Dad hired, but then changed my mind. I was going to treat ­ Mack’s disappearance as if it had happened yesterday. The first thing Dad did when we became alarmed about Mack was call the police and report him missing. I’d begin at the beginning. I knew people down at the courthouse, which also houses the District Attorney’s office. I decided that my search would begin there. Finally I drifted off and began to dream of following a shadowy figure who was walking across a bridge. Try as I would to keep him in sight, he was too fast for me, and when we reached land, I ­ didn’t know which way to turn. But then I heard him calling me, his voice mournful and troubled. Carolyn, stay back, stay back. “I ­ can’t, Mack,” I said aloud as I awakened. “I ­ can’t.”

2

Monsignor Devon MacKenzie ruefully commented to visitors that his beloved St. Francis de Sales Church was located so close to the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine that it was almost invisible. A dozen years ago, Devon had expected to hear that St. Francis would be closed, and he could not in honesty have contested the decision. After all, it had been built in the nineteenth century and needed major repairs. Then, as more apartment buildings went up in the area and older walk-ups were renovated, he had been gratified to see the faces of new parishioners at Sunday Masses. The growing congregation meant that in the past five years he had been able to carry out some of those repairs. The stained-glass windows were cleaned; years of built-up soil removed from the murals; the wooden pews sanded and refinished, the kneeling benches covered with soft new carpeting. Then, when Pope Benedict decreed that individual pastors could decide to offer a Tridentine Mass, Devon, who was proficient in Latin, announced that henceforth the eleven ­o’clock Sunday Mass would be celebrated in the ancient tongue of the Church. The response stunned him. That Mass was now filled to overflowing, not only with senior citizens but teenagers and young adults who reverently responded “Deo gratias” in place of “Thanks be to God,” and prayed “Pater Noster” instead of “Our Father.” Devon was sixty-eight, two years younger than the brother he had lost on 9/11, and uncle and godfather of the nephew who had disappeared. At Mass, when he invited the congregation to silently offer their own petitions, his first prayer was always for Mack and that one day he would come home. On ­ Mother’s Day, that prayer was always especially fervent. To-

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day, when he returned to the rectory, there was a message waiting for him on the answering machine from Carolyn. “Uncle Dev—he called at five of three this morning. Sounded fine. Hung up fast. See you tonight.” Monsignor Devon could hear the strain in his n ­ iece’s voice. His relief that his nephew had called was mixed with sharp anger. Damn you, Mack, he thought. ­ Haven’t you any idea what ­ you’re doing to us? As he tugged off his Roman collar, Devon reached for the phone to call Carolyn back. Before he could begin to dial, the doorbell rang. It was his boyhood friend, Frank Lennon, a retired software executive, who served as head usher on Sundays and who counted, itemized, and deposited the Sunday collections. Devon had long since learned to read ­ people’s faces and to know instantly if there was a genuine problem. That was what he was reading in L ­ ennon’s weathered face. ­ “What’s up, Frank?” he asked. “Mack was at the eleven, Dev,” Lennon said flatly. “He dropped a note for you in the basket. It was folded inside a twenty-dollar bill.” Monsignor Devon MacKenzie grabbed the scrap of paper, read the ten words printed on it, then, not trusting what he was seeing, read them again. “UNCLE DEVON, TELL CAROLYN SHE MUST NOT LOOK FOR ME.”

Copyright © 2008 by Mary Higgins Clark

Purchase Where Are You Now in print or ebook!

Exclusive Introduction for Two Little Girls in Blue

I have always been fascinated by the stories of identical twins who are so close and who feel each other’s emotions and physical pain. There is a true story of this kind of occurrence eighty years ago when a socialite in Manhattan collapsed during lunch and was rushed to the hospital writhing in pain. It turns out that her twin sister in London was in labor and giving birth at that time. I investigated and found many similar stories, and I thought, suppose identical three-year-old twins are kidnapped. The parents get one back and believe the other is dead, and then realize that the twin who was returned is communicating with her sister.

Excerpt from Two Little Girls In Blue 9780743288972

1
“Hold on a minute, Rob, I think one of the twins is crying. Let me call you back.” Nineteen-­ year-­ old Trish Logan put down her cell phone, got up from the couch, and hurried across the living room. It was her first time babysitting for the Frawleys, the nice people who had moved into town a few months earlier. Trish had liked them immediately. Mrs. Frawley had told her that when she was a little girl, her family often visited friends who lived in Connecticut, and she liked it so much she always wanted to live there, too. “Last year when we started looking for a house and happened to drive through Ridgefield, I knew it was where I wanted to be,” she told Trish. The Frawleys had bought the old Cunningham farmhouse, a “fixer-­upper” that T ­ rish’s father thought should have been a “burner-­ upper.” Today, Thursday, March 24th, was the third birthday of the Frawleys’ identical twin girls, and Trish had been hired for the day ­ to help with the party, then to stay for the evening while the parents attended a black-­ tie dinner in New York. After the excitement of the party, I’d have sworn the kids were dead to the world, Trish thought as she started up the stairs, headed to the twins’ room. The Frawleys had ripped out the worn carpet that had been in the house, and the nineteenth-­ century steps creaked under her feet. Near the top step, she paused. The light she had left on in the hall was off. Probably another fuse had blown. The wiring in the old house was a mess. That had happened in the kitchen this afternoon. The twins’ bedroom was at the end of the hall. There was no sound coming from it now. Probably one of the twins had cried out

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in her sleep, Trish thought as she began to inch her way through the darkness. Suddenly she stopped. ­ It’s not just the hall light. I left the door to their room open so I could hear them if they woke up. The night-­ light in the room should be showing. The d ­ oor’s closed. But I ­couldn’t have heard one of them crying if it was closed a minute ago. Suddenly frightened, she listened intently. What was that sound? In an instant of sickening awareness, she identified it: soft footsteps. A hint of equally soft breathing. The acrid smell of perspiration. Someone was behind her. Trish tried to scream, but only a moan escaped her lips. She tried to run, but her legs would not move. She felt a hand grab her hair and yank her head back. The last thing she remembered was a feeling of pressure on her neck. The intruder released his grip on Trish and let her sink to the floor. Congratulating himself on how effectively and painlessly he had rendered her unconscious, he turned on his flashlight, tied her up, blindfolded and gagged her. Then directing the beam onto the floor, he stepped around her, swiftly covered the length of the hall, and opened the door to the twins’ bedroom. Three-­ year-­ olds Kathy and Kelly were lying in the double bed they shared, their eyes both sleepy and terrified. K ­ athy’s right hand and ­ Kelly’s left hand were entwined. With their other hands they were trying to pull off cloths that covered their mouths. The man who had planned the details of the kidnapping was standing beside the bed. ­ “You’re sure she d ­ idn’t see you, Harry?” he snapped. “I’m sure. I mean, I’m sure, Bert,” the other responded. They each carefully used the names they had assumed for this job: “Bert” and “Harry,” after the cartoon characters in a sixties beer commercial. Bert picked up Kathy and snapped. “Get the other one. Wrap a blanket around her. ­ It’s cold out.” Their footsteps nervously rapid, the two men raced down the back stairs, rushed through the kitchen and out to the driveway, not bothering to close the door behind them. Once in the van, Harry sat

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on the floor of the backseat, the twins wrapped in his beefy arms. Bert drove the van as it moved forward from the shadows of the porch. Twenty minutes later they arrived at the cottage where Angie Ames was waiting. ­ “They’re adorable,” she cooed as the men carried the children in and laid them in the hospital-­ style crib that had been prepared for them. With a quick, deft movement of her hands she untied the gags that had kept the little girls silent. The children grabbed for each other and began to wail. “Mommy . . . Mommy,” they screamed in unison. “Sshhhh, sshhhh, ­ don’t be scared,” Angie said soothingly as she pulled up the side of the crib. It was too high for her to reach over it, so she slipped her arms through the rails and began to pat their dark blond ringlets. ­ “It’s all right,” she singsonged, “go to sleep. Kathy, Kelly, go back to sleep. Mona will take care of you. Mona loves you.” “Mona” was the name she had been ordered to use around the twins. “I ­don’t like that name,” ­she’d complained when she first heard it. “Why does it have to be Mona?” “Because it sounds close to ‘Momma.’ Because when we get the money and they pick up the kids, we ­ don’t want them to say, ‘A lady named Angie took care of us,’ and one more good reason for that name is because ­ you’re always moaning,” the man called Bert had snapped. “Quiet them down,” he ordered now. ­“They’re making too much noise.” “Relax, Bert. No one can hear them,” Harry reassured him. He’s right, thought Lucas Wohl, the real name of the one called “Bert.” One of the reasons, after careful deliberation, that he had invited Clint Downes—“Harry’s” actual name—to join him on the job was because nine months of the year Clint lived as caretaker in the cottage on the grounds of the Danbury Country Club. From Labor Day to May 31st the club was closed and the gates locked. The cottage was not even visible from the service road by which Clint entered and exited the grounds, and he had to use a code to open the service gate.

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It was an ideal spot to hide the twins, and the fact that C ­ lint’s girlfriend, Angie, often worked as a babysitter completed the picture. ­“They’ll stop crying,” Angie said. “I know babies. Th ­ ey’ll go back to sleep.” She began to rub their backs and sing off-­ key, “Two little girls in blue, lad, two little girls in blue . . .” Lucas cursed under his breath, made his way through the narrow space between the crib and the double bed, and walked out of the bedroom, through the sitting room, and into the kitchen of the cottage. Only then did he and Clint pull off their hooded jackets and gloves. The full bottle of scotch and the two empty glasses they had left out as a reward for success in their mission were in front of them. The men sat at opposite ends of the table, silently eyeing each other. Staring with disdain at his fellow kidnapper, Lucas was reminded once more that they could not have been more different in both appearance and temperament. Unsentimental about his appearance, he sometimes played eyewitness and described himself to himself: about fifty years old, scrawny build, average height, receding hairline, narrow face, close-­ set eyes. A self-­ employed limousine driver, he knew he had perfected the outward appearance of a servile and anxious-­ to-­ please employee, a persona he inhabited whenever he dressed in his black chauffeur’s uniform. He had met Clint when they were in prison together and over the years had worked with him on a series of burglaries. They had never been caught because Lucas was careful. They had never committed a crime in Connecticut because Lucas did not believe in soiling his own nest. This job, though terribly risky, had been too big to pass up, and he had broken that rule. Now he watched as Clint opened the scotch and filled their glasses to the brim. “To next week on a boat in St. Kitts with our pockets bulging,” he said, his eyes searching ­ Lucas’s face with a hopeful smile. Lucas stared back, once again assessing his partner in crime. In his early forties, Clint was desperately out of shape. Fifty extra

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pounds on his already short frame made him perspire easily, even on a March night like this, that had suddenly turned cold. His barrel chest and thick arms looked incongruous with his cherubic face and long ponytail, which he had grown because Angie, his longtime girlfriend, had one. Angie. Skinny as a twig on a dead branch, Lucas thought contemptuously. Terrible complexion. Like Clint, she always looked slovenly, dressed in a tired T-shirt and ragged jeans. Her only virtue in L ­ ucas’s eyes was that she was an experienced babysitter. Nothing must happen to either one of those kids before the ransom was paid and they could be dropped off. Now Lucas reminded himself that Angie had something else going for her. ­ She’s greedy. She wants the money. She wants to live on a boat in the Caribbean. Lucas lifted the glass to his lips. The Chivas Regal felt smooth on his tongue, and its warmth was soothing as it slid down his throat. “So far, so good,” he said flatly. “I’m going home. You got the cell phone I gave you handy?” “Yeah.” “If you hear from the boss, tell him I have a five A.M. pickup. I’m turning off my cell phone. I need some sleep.” “When do I get to meet him, Lucas?” “You ­ don’t.” Lucas downed the rest of the scotch in his glass and pushed back his chair. From the bedroom they could hear Angie continue to sing. “They were sisters, we were brothers, and learned to love the two . . .”

2
The screeching of brakes on the road in front of the house told Ridgefield Police Captain Robert “Marty” Martinson that the parents of the missing twins had arrived home. They had phoned the police station only minutes after the 911 call came in. “I’m Margaret Frawley,” the woman had said, her voice shaking with fear. “We live at 10 Old Woods Road. We ­ can’t reach our babysitter. She ­ doesn’t answer the house phone or her cell phone. ­ She’s minding our three-­ year-­ old twins. Something may be wrong. ­ We’re on our way home from the city.” “We’ll get right over there and check,” Marty had promised. Be­ cause the parents were on the highway and no doubt already upset, he’d seen little use in telling them that he already knew something ­ was terribly wrong. The babysitter’s father had just phoned from 10 Old Woods Road: “My daughter is tied up and gagged. The twins she was minding are gone. ­ There’s a ransom note in their bedroom.” Now, an hour later, the property around the house and the driveway had already been taped off, awaiting the arrival of the forensic team. Marty would have liked to keep the media from getting wind of the kidnapping, but he knew that was hopeless. He had already learned that the babysitter’s parents had told everyone in the hospital emergency room where Trish Logan was being treated that the twins were missing. Reporters would be showing up anytime. The FBI had been notified, and agents were on the way. Marty braced himself as the kitchen door opened and the parents rushed in. Beginning with his first day as a twenty-­ one-­ year-­ old rookie cop, he had trained himself to retain his first impression of people connected with a crime, whether they were victims, perpetrators, or witnesses. Later he would jot those impressions down. In police circles he was known as “The Observer.” In their early thirties, he thought as Margaret and Steve Frawley

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moved hurriedly toward him. A handsome couple, both in evening clothes. The ­ mother’s brown hair hung loose around her shoulders. She was slender, but her clenched hands looked strong. Her fingernails were short, the polish colorless. Probably a good athlete, Marty thought. Her intense eyes were a shade of dark blue that seemed almost black as they stared at him. Steve Frawley, the father, was tall, about six foot three, with dark blond hair and light blue eyes. His broad shoulders and powerful arms caused his too-­ small tuxedo jacket to strain at the seams. He could use a new one, Marty thought. “Has anything happened to our daughters?” Frawley demanded. Marty watched as Frawley put his hands on his ­ wife’s arms as though to brace her against possibly devastating news. There was no gentle way to tell parents that their children had been kidnapped and a ransom note demanding eight million dollars left on their bed. The absolute incredulity on the faces of the young couple looked to be genuine, Marty thought, a reaction he would note in his case book, but appended with a question mark. “Eight million dollars! Eight million dollars! Why not eighty million?” Steve Frawley demanded, his face ashen. “We brought every dime we had to the closing on this house. ­ We’ve got about fifteen hundred dollars in the checking account right now, and ­ that’s it.” “Are there any wealthy relatives in either of your families?” Marty asked. The Frawleys began to laugh, the high-­pitched laugh of hysteria. Then as Marty watched, Steve spun his wife around. They hugged each other as the laughter broke and the harsh sound of his dry sobs mingled with her wail. “I want my babies. I want my babies.”

3
At eleven ­ o’clock the special cell phone rang. Clint picked it up. “Hello, sir,” he said. “The Pied Piper here.” This guy, whoever he is, is trying to disguise his voice, Clint thought as he moved across the small living room to get as far away as possible from the sound of Angie crooning songs to the twins. For ­ God’s sake, the kids are asleep, he thought irritably. Shut up. “What’s the noise in the background?” the Pied Piper asked ­ sharply. “My girlfriend’s singing to the kids ­she’s babysitting.” Clint knew he was furnishing the information the Pied Piper wanted. He and Lucas had been successful. “I ­ can’t reach Bert.” “He told me to tell you he has a five A.M. pickup to go to Kennedy Airport. He went home to sleep, so he turned off his phone. I hope that . . .” “Harry, turn on the television,” the Pied Piper interrupted. “There’s a breaking story about a kidnapping. I’ll get back to you in ­ the morning.” Clint grabbed the remote button and snapped on the TV, then watched as the house on Old Woods Road came into view. Even though the night was overcast, the porch light revealed the ­ house’s peeling paint and sagging shutters. The yellow crime-­ scene tape used to keep the press and onlookers back extended to the road. “The new owners, Stephen and Margaret Frawley, moved to this address only a few months ago,” the reporter was saying. “Neighbors say they expected the house to be torn down but instead learned that the Frawleys intend to gradually renovate the existing structure. This afternoon some of the neighbors’ children attended a third-­ birthday party for the missing twins. We have a picture that

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was taken at the party only hours ago.” The television screen was suddenly filled with the faces of the identical twins, their eyes wide in excitement as they looked at their birthday cake. Three candles were on each side of the festive confection. In the center was one larger candle. “The neighbor tells us that the center candle is the one to grow on. The twins are so identical in every way that their mother joked it would be a waste to put a second candle to grow on there.” Clint switched channels. A different picture of the twins in their blue velvet party dresses was being shown. They were holding hands. “Clint, look how sweet they are. ­ They’re just beautiful,” Angie said, startling him. “Even asleep ­ they’re still holding hands. ­ Isn’t that precious?” He had not heard her come up behind him. Now she put her arms around his neck. “I always wanted to have a baby, but I was told I ­ couldn’t,” she said, as she nuzzled his cheek. “I know, Angie, honey,” he said patiently. This was a story he had heard before. “Then for a long time I ­ wasn’t with you.” “You had to be in that special hospital, honey. You hurt someone real bad.” “But now ­ we’re going to have a lot of money and ­ we’ll live on a boat in the Caribbean.” ­“We’ve always talked about that. Very soon w ­ e’ll be able to do it.” “I’ve got a good idea. ­ Let’s bring the little girls with us.” Clint snapped off the television and jumped up. He turned and grabbed her wrists. “Angie, why do we have those children?” She looked at him and swallowed nervously. “We kidnapped them.” “Why?” “So w ­ e’d have lots of money and could live on a boat.” “Instead of living like damn gypsies, and getting kicked out of this place every summer while the golf pro lives here. What happens to us if the police catch us?”

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“We go to prison for a long, long time.” “What did you promise to do?” “Take care of the kids, play with them, feed them, dress them.” “And ­ isn’t that what ­ you’re going to do?” “Yes. Yes. I’m sorry, Clint. I love you. You can call me Mona. I don’t like that name, but ­ ­ it’s all right if you want me to use it.” “We must never use our real names in front of the twins. In a couple of days ­ we’ll give them back and get our money.” “Clint, maybe we could . . .” Angie stopped. She knew he would be angry if she suggested they keep one of the twins. But we will, she promised herself slyly. I know how to make it happen. Lucas thinks he’s so smart. But ­ ­ he’s not as smart as I am.

4
Margaret Frawley folded her hands around the steaming cup of tea. She was so cold. Steve had pulled an afghan from the couch in the living room and wrapped it around her, but it did nothing to stop the trembling that shook her entire body. The twins were missing. Kathy and Kelly were missing. Someone had taken them and left a ransom note. It d ­ idn’t make sense. Like a litany, the words beat a cadence in her head: The twins are missing. Kathy and Kelly are missing. The police had not allowed them to go into the girls’ bedroom. “Our job is to get them back,” Captain Martinson told them. “We can’t risk losing any fingerprints or DNA samples by contaminating ­ the area.” The restricted area also included the hall upstairs where someone had attacked the babysitter. Trish was going to be all right. She was in the hospital and had told the police everything she remembered. She said s ­ he’d been on her cell phone talking to her boyfriend when she thought she heard one of the twins crying. ­ She’d gone up the stairs and knew instantly something was wrong because she couldn’t see the light in the twins’ room, and that was when she re­ alized someone was behind her. She remembered nothing after that. Had there been someone else, Margaret wondered, someone in the room with the girls? K ­ elly’s the lighter sleeper, but Kathy might have been restless. She may be getting a cold. If one of the girls started to cry, did someone make her stop? Margaret dropped the cup she was holding and winced as hot tea splattered over the blouse and skirt she had bought at a discount house for ­ tonight’s black-­ tie company dinner at the Waldorf. Even though the price was one-­third of what it would have been on Fifth Avenue, it had been too pricey for their budget. Steve urged me to buy it, she thought dully. It was an important

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company dinner. Anyhow, I wanted to get dressed up tonight. We haven’t gone to a black-­ ­ tie affair in at least a year. Steve was trying to dry her clothes with a towel. “Marg, are you okay? Did the tea burn you?” I have to go upstairs, Margaret thought. Maybe the twins are hiding in the closet. I remember they did that once. I pretended to keep looking for them. I could hear them giggling when I called their names. “Kathy . . . Kelly . . . Kathy . . . Kelly . . . where are you? . . .” Steve came home just then. I called down to him. “Steve . . . Steve . . . our twins are missing.” More giggles from the closet. Steve could tell I was joking. He came up to their room. I pointed to the closet. He walked over to it and yelled, “Maybe Kathy and Kelly ran away. Maybe they d ­ on’t like us anymore. Well, t ­ here’s no use looking for them. ­Let’s turn out the lights and go out for dinner.” An instant later the closet door flew open. “We like you, we like you,” ­ they’d wailed in unison. Margaret remembered how scared ­ they’d looked. They must have been terrified when somebody grabbed them, she thought. Somebody is hiding them now. This ­ isn’t happening. ­ It’s a nightmare and I’m going to wake up. I want my babies. Why does my arm hurt? Why is Steve putting something cold on it? Margaret closed her eyes. She was vaguely aware that Captain Martinson was talking to someone. “Mrs. Frawley.” She looked up. Another man had come into the room. “Mrs. Frawley, I’m FBI Agent Walter Carlson. I have three kids of my own and I know how you must be feeling. I’m here to help you get your children back, but we need your help. Can you answer some questions?” Walter ­ Carlson’s eyes were kind. He d ­ idn’t look to be more than his mid-­ forties, so his children were probably not much older than teenagers. “Why would someone take my babies?” Margaret asked

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him. “That’s what ­ ­ we’re going to find out, Mrs. Frawley.” Carlson moved swiftly to catch Margaret as she began to slide from the chair.

5
Franklin Bailey, the chief financial officer of a family-­owned grocery chain, was ­ Lucas’s five A.M. pickup. A frequent overnight traveler up and down the East Coast, he was a regular customer. Some days, like today, Lucas would drive him into Manhattan for a meeting, and then wait for him and drive him home. It never even occurred to Lucas to say he w ­ asn’t available this morning. He knew that one of the first things the cops would check out would be any workmen who had been anywhere around the Frawleys’ house. Chances were h ­ ­ e’d made their list because Bailey lived on High Ridge, which was only two blocks from Old Woods. Of course the cops have no reason to give me a second look, he assured himself. I’ve been picking up people in and around this town for twenty years, and I’ve always kept below the radar screen. He knew that his neighbors in nearby Danbury, where he lived, looked at him as a quiet, solitary guy whose hobby was to fly a small plane out of Danbury Airport. It also amused him to tell people how much he liked to hike, an explanation he used to cover the occasional times when h ­ e’d have a backup driver cover a job for him. The place where he was hiking, of course, was usually a house he had chosen to burglarize. On the way to pick up Bailey this morning, he resisted the temptation to drive past the Frawley home. That would have been crazy. He could picture the activity inside now. He wondered if the FBI was in on it yet. What were they figuring out? he asked himself with some amusement. That the backdoor lock could be slipped with a credit card? That, hidden by the overgrown foundation shrubs, it would have been easy to see the babysitter sprawled on the couch yakking on her phone? That it was obvious from looking in the kitchen window that the back stairs would get an intruder to the second floor without the babysitter having a clue? That there had to

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be at least two people in on the job, one to get rid of the babysitter, one to keep the kids quiet? He pulled into Franklin ­ Bailey’s driveway at five minutes of five, kept the car idling to be sure it stayed nice and warm for the big-­ shot accountant, and contented himself with envisioning the money he would get as his share of the ransom payment. The front door of the handsome Tudor-­ style home opened. Lucas sprang out of the car and opened the rear door for his client. It was one of his little courtesies that the front passenger seat was always pulled up as far as possible to allow maximum leg room in the back. Bailey, a silver-­ haired man in his late sixties, murmured a greeting, his tone distracted. But when the car began to move, he said, “Lucas, turn onto Old Woods Road. I want to see if the cops are still there.” Lucas felt his throat tighten. What would make Bailey decide to go by there? he wondered. He ­ wasn’t a gawker. He had to have a reason. Of course, Bailey was a big shot in town, Lucas reminded himself. ­ He’d been mayor at one time. The fact that he showed up there ­ wouldn’t draw attention to the limo he was in. On the other hand, Lucas always trusted the cold prickly feeling he experienced when he felt himself nearing the law-­ enforcement radar range, and he was feeling it now. “Anything you say, Mr. Bailey. But why would there be cops on Old Woods Road?” “Obviously you ­ haven’t been watching the news, Lucas. The three-­ year-­ old twins of the couple who recently moved into the old Cunningham house were kidnapped last night.” “Kidnapped! ­ You’ve got to be kidding, sir.” “I wish I were,” Franklin Bailey said grimly. “Nothing like this has ever happened in Ridgefield. I’ve met the Frawleys a number of times and am very fond of them.” Lucas drove two blocks, then turned the car onto Old Woods Road. Police barricades were in front of the house where eight hours ago he had broken in and grabbed the kids. In spite of his

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unease and his sense that it would be a lot safer not to be there now, he ­ couldn’t help thinking smugly, If you dopes only knew. There were media trucks parked across the street from the Frawley home. Two policemen were standing in front of the barricades to prevent anyone from turning into the driveway. Lucas could see that they were carrying notebooks. Franklin Bailey opened the back window and was recognized immediately by the sergeant in charge, who began to apologize that he could not allow him to park. Bailey cut him short. “Ned, I ­ don’t intend to park. But maybe I can be of service. I’ve got a seven o ­ ’clock breakfast meeting in New York and will be back by eleven ­ o’clock. ­ Who’s inside, Marty Martinson?” “Yes, sir. And the FBI.” “I know how these things work. Give Marty my card. I’ve been listening to the reports half the night. The Frawleys are new in town and ­ don’t seem to have close relatives to rely on. Tell Marty that if I can be any help as contact person for the kidnappers, I’m available. Tell him I remember that during the Lindbergh kidnapping, a professor who offered to be a contact person was the one who heard from the kidnappers.” “I’ll tell him, sir.” Sergeant Ned Barker took the card and made a note in his book. Then with a somewhat apologetic tone, he said, “I have to identify anyone who drives past, sir. I’m sure you understand.” “Of course.” Barker looked at Lucas. “May I see your license, sir?” Lucas smiled, his eager, anxious-­ to-­ please smile. “Of course, officer, of course.” “I can vouch for Lucas,” Franklin Bailey said. “ ­He’s been my driver for years.” “Strictly following orders, Mr. Bailey. I’m sure you understand.” The sergeant examined the ­ driver’s license. His eyes flickered over Lucas. Without comment he returned it and wrote something in his notebook.

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Franklin Bailey closed the window and leaned back. “All right, Lucas. ­Let’s step on it. That was probably a wasted gesture, but somehow I felt I had to do it.” “I think it was a wonderful gesture, sir. I never had kids, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out what those poor par­ ents are feeling now.” I just hope t ­ hey’re feeling bad enough to come up with eight million dollars, he thought with an inner smile.

Copyright © 2006 by Mary Higgins Clark

Purchase Two Little Girls in Blue in print or ebook!

Exclusive Introduction for Daddy’s Little Girl

Years ago when we moved to New Jersey from Manhattan, my husband and I sat one evening agreeing we like the country but miss the excitement and bustle of Manhattan. We agreed that here, the children could go outside unsupervised because it was so safe an area, just as we had been able to do when we were growing up. It turns out that as we were speaking, a fifteen-year-old girl was being battered to death two towns away. The editorial the next day said local residents are not so much angry as sad. “Never again will a fifteen-year-old girl, her arms full of books, leave her home after dark alone.” The murderer went to prison for fourteen years—always proclaiming his innocence and blaming the crime on a nineteen-year-old friend. When he finally got out of prison, he moved to California and seven years later tried to commit exactly the same crime. That background was the basis of Daddy’s Little Girl.

Excerpt from Daddy’s Little Girl 9780743206327

1
When Ellie awoke that morning, it was with the sense that something terrible had happened. Instinctively she reached for Bones, the soft and cuddly stuffed dog who had shared her pillow ever since she could remember. When she’d had her seventh birthday last month, Andrea, her fifteen-year-old sister, had teased her that it was time to toss Bones in the attic. Then Ellie remembered what was wrong: Andrea hadn’t come home last night. After dinner, she had gone to her best friend Joan’s house to study for a math test. She had promised to be home by nine o’clock. At quarter of nine, Mommy went to Joan’s house to walk Andrea home, but they said Andrea had left at eight o’clock. Mommy had come back home worried and almost crying, just as Daddy got in from work. Daddy was a lieutenant in the New York State Police. Right away he and Mommy had started calling all of Andrea’s friends, but no one had seen her. Then Daddy said he was going to drive around to the bowling alley and to the ice cream parlor, just in case Andrea had gone there. “If she lied about doing homework until nine o’clock, she won’t set foot out of this house for six months,” he’d said angrily, and then he’d turned to Mommy: “If I said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times—I don’t want her to go out after dark alone.” Despite his raised voice, Ellie could tell that Daddy was more worried than angry. “For heaven’s sake, Ted, she went out at seven o’clock. She got to Joan’s. She was planning to be home by nine, and I even walked over there to meet her.”

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“Then where is she?” They made Ellie go to bed, and, eventually, she fell asleep waking only now. Maybe Andrea was home by now, she thought hopefully. She slipped out of bed, rushed across the room, and darted down the hall to Andrea’s room. Be there, she begged. Please be there. She opened the door. Andrea’s bed had not been slept in. Her bare feet silent on the steps, Ellie hurried downstairs. Their neighbor, Mrs. Hilmer, was sitting with Mommy in the kitchen. Mommy was wearing the same clothes she had on last night, and she looked as if she’d been crying for a long time. Ellie ran to her. “Mommy.” Mommy hugged her and began to sob. Ellie felt Mommy’s hand clutching her shoulder, so hard that she was almost hurting her. “Mommy, where’s Andrea?” “We . . . don’t . . . know. Daddy and the police are looking for her.” “Ellie, why don’t you get dressed, and I’ll fix you some breakfast?” Mrs. Hilmer asked. No one was saying that she should hurry up because the school bus would be coming pretty soon. Without asking, Ellie knew she wouldn’t be going to school today. She dutifully washed her face and hands and brushed her teeth and hair, and then put on play clothes—a turtleneck shirt and her favorite blue slacks—and went downstairs again. Just as she sat at the table where Mrs. Hilmer had put out juice and cornflakes, Daddy came through the kitchen door. “No sign of her,” he said. “We’ve looked everywhere. There was a guy collecting for some phony charity ringing doorbells in town yesterday. He was in the diner last night and left around eight o’clock. He would have passed Joan’s house on the way to the highway around the time Andrea left. They’re looking for him.” Ellie could tell that Daddy was almost crying. He also hadn’t seemed to notice her, but she didn’t mind. Sometimes when Daddy came home he was upset because something sad had happened while he was at work, and for a while he’d be very quiet. He had that

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same look on his face now. Andrea was hiding—Ellie was sure of it. She had probably left Joan’s house early on purpose because she was meeting Rob Westerfield in the hideout, then maybe it got late and she was afraid to come home. Daddy had said that if she ever lied again about where she’d been, he’d make her quit the school band. He’d said that when he found out she had gone for a ride with Rob Westerfield in his car when she was supposed to be at the library. Andrea loved being in the band; last year she’d been the only freshman chosen for the flute section. But if she’d left Joan’s house early and gone to the hideout to meet Rob, and Daddy found out, that would mean she’d have to give it up. Mommy always said that Andrea could twist Daddy around her little finger, but she didn’t say that last month when one of the state troopers told Daddy he’d stopped Rob Westerfield to give him a ticket for speeding and that Andrea was with him at the time. Daddy hadn’t said anything about it until after dinner. Then he asked Andrea how long she’d been at the library. She didn’t answer him. Then he said, “I see you’re smart enough to realize that the trooper who gave Westerfield the ticket would tell me you were with him. Andrea, that guy is not only rich and spoiled, he’s a bad apple through and through. When he kills himself speeding, you’re not going to be in the car. You are absolutely forbidden to have anything to do with him.” The hideout was in the garage behind the great big house that old Mrs. Westerfield, Rob’s grandmother, lived in all summer. It was always unlocked, and sometimes Andrea and her friends sneaked in there and smoked cigarettes. Andrea had taken Ellie there a couple of times when she was babysitting her. Her friends had been really mad at Andrea for bringing her along, but she had said, “Ellie is a good kid. She’s not a snitch.” Hearing that had made Ellie feel great, but Andrea hadn’t let Ellie have even one puff of the cigarette. Ellie was sure that last night Andrea had left Joan’s house early

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because she was planning to meet Rob Westerfield. Ellie had heard her when she talked to him on the phone yesterday, and when she was finished, she was practically crying. “I told Rob I was going to the mixer with Paulie,” she said, “and now he’s really mad at me.” Ellie thought about the conversation as she finished the cornflakes and juice. Daddy was standing at the stove. He was holding a cup of coffee. Mommy was crying again but making almost no sound. Then, for the first time, Daddy seemed to notice her: “Ellie, I think you’d be better off in school. At lunchtime I’ll take you over.” “Is it all right if I go outside now?” “Yes. But stay around the house.” Ellie ran for her jacket and was quickly out the door. It was the fifteenth of November, and the leaves were damp and felt sloshy underfoot. The sky was heavy with clouds, and she could tell it was going to rain again. Ellie wished they were back in Irvington where they used to live. It was lonesome here. Mrs. Hilmer’s house was the only other one on this road. Daddy had liked living in Irvington, but they’d moved here, five towns away, because Mommy wanted a bigger house and more property. They found they could afford that if they moved farther up in Westchester, to a town that hadn’t yet become a suburb of New York City. When Daddy said he missed Irvington, where he’d grown up and where they’d lived until two years ago, Mommy would tell him how great the new house was. Then he’d say that in Irvington we had a million-dollar view of the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge, and he didn’t have to drive five miles for a newspaper or a loaf of bread. There were woods all around their property. The big Westerfield house was directly behind theirs, but on the other side of the woods. Glancing back at the kitchen window to make sure no one had seen her, Ellie began to dart through the trees. Five minutes later she reached the clearing and ran across the field to where the Westerfield property began. Feeling more and

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more alone, she raced up the long driveway and darted around the mansion, a small figure lost in the lengthening shadows of the approaching storm. There was a side door to the garage, and that was the one that was unlocked. Even so, it was hard for Ellie to turn the handle. Finally she succeeded and stepped into the gloom of the interior. The garage was big enough to hold four cars, but the only one Mrs. Westerfield left after the summer was the van. Andrea and her friends had brought some old blankets to sit on when they went there. They always sat in the same spot, at the back of the garage behind the van, so that if anyone happened to look in the window, they wouldn’t be able to see them. Ellie knew that was where Andrea would be hiding if she was here. She didn’t know why she felt suddenly afraid, but she did. Now, instead of running, she had to practically drag her feet to make them move toward the back of the garage. But then she saw it—the edge of the blanket peeking out from behind the van. Andrea was here! She and her friends would never have left the blankets out; when they left, they always folded them and hid them in the cabinet with the cleaning supplies. “Andrea . . . ” Now she ran, calling softly so that Andrea wouldn’t be scared. She was probably asleep, Ellie decided. Yes, she was. Even though the garage was filled with shadows, Ellie could see Andrea’s long hair trailing out from under the blankets. “Andrea, it’s me.” Ellie sank to her knees beside Andrea and pulled back the blanket covering her face. Andrea had a mask on, a terrible monster mask that looked all sticky and gummy. Ellie reached down to pull it off, and her fingers went into a broken space in Andrea’s forehead. As she jerked back, she became aware of the pool of Andrea’s blood, soaking through her slacks. Then, from somewhere in the big room, she was sure she heard someone breathing—harsh, heavy, sucking-in breaths that broke off in a kind of giggle.

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Terrified, she tried to get up, but her knees slid in the blood and she fell forward across Andrea’s chest. Her lips grazed something smooth and cold—Andrea’s gold locket. Then she managed to scramble to her feet, and she turned and began to run. She did not know she was shrieking until she was almost home, and Ted and Genine Cavanaugh ran into the backyard to see their younger daughter burst out of the woods, her arms outstretched, her little form covered in her sister’s blood.

2
With the exception of when his team practiced or had a game during the baseball season, sixteen-year-old Paulie Stroebel worked in Hillwood’s service station after school and all day Saturday. The alternative was to help out during those same hours at his parents’ delicatessen a block away on Main Street, something he’d been doing from the time he was seven years old. Slow academically, but good with things mechanical, he loved to repair cars, and his parents had been understanding of his desire to work for someone else. With unruly blond hair, blue eyes, round cheeks, and a stocky five-foot-eight frame, Paulie was considered a quiet, hardworking employee by his boss at the service station and something of a dopey nerd by his fellow students at Delano High. His one achievement in school was to be on the football team. On Friday, when word of Andrea Cavanaugh’s murder reached the school, guidance counselors were sent to all the classes to break the news to the students. Paul was in the middle of a study period when Miss Watkins came into his classroom, whispered to the teacher, and rapped on the desk for attention. “I have very sad news for all of you,” she began. “We have just learned . . .” In halting sentences she informed them that sophomore Andrea Cavanaugh had been killed, the victim of foul play. The reaction was a chorus of shocked gasps and tearful protests. Then a shouted “No!” silenced the others. Quiet, placid Paulie Stroebel, his face twisted in grief, had sprung to his feet. As his classmates stared at him, his shoulders began to shake. Fierce sobs racked his body, and he ran from the room. As the door closed behind him, he said something in a voice too muffled for most of them to hear. However, the student seated nearest the door later swore that his words were “I can’t believe she’s dead!” Emma Watkins, the guidance counselor, already stunned by the

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tragedy, felt as though a knife had gone through her. She was fond of Paulie and understood the isolation of the earnestly plodding student who tried so hard to please. She herself was positive that the anguished words he shouted were “I didn’t think she was dead.” That afternoon, for the first time in the six months he’d been working at the service station, Paulie did not show up, nor did he call his boss to explain his absence. When his parents got home that evening, they found him lying on top of the bed, staring at the ceiling, pictures of Andrea scattered beside him. Both Hans and Anja Wagner Stroebel had been born in Germany, and they immigrated to the United States with their parents when they were children. They had met and married in their late thirties and used their combined savings to open the delicatessen. By nature undemonstrative, they were fiercely protective of their only son. Everyone who came into the store was talking about the murder, asking each other who could possibly have committed such a terrible crime. The Cavanaughs were regular customers at the deli, and the Stroebels joined in the shocked discussion that Andrea might have been planning to meet someone in the garage on the Westerfield estate. They agreed that she was pretty, but a bit headstrong. She was supposed to be doing homework with Joan Lashley until nine o’clock, but had left unexpectedly early. Had she planned to meet someone, or had she been waylaid on the way home? Anja Stroebel acted instinctively when she saw the pictures on her son’s bed. She swooped them up and put them in her pocketbook. At her husband’s questioning glance, she shook her head, indicating that he was to ask no questions. Then she sat down next to Paulie, and put her arms around him. “Andrea was such a pretty girl,” she said soothingly, her voice heavy with the accent that became stronger when she was upset. “I remember how she congratulated you when you made that great catch and saved the game last spring. Like her other friends, you are

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very, very sad.” At first it seemed to Paulie that his mother was talking to him from a distant place. Like her other friends. What did she mean? “The police will be looking for anyone who has been a particular friend to Andrea, Paulie,” she said slowly but firmly. “I invited her to a mixer,” he said, the words coming haltingly. “She said she would go with me.” Anja was sure her son had never asked a girl for a date before. Last year he had refused to go to his sophomore dance. “Then you liked her, Paulie?” Paulie Stroebel began to cry. “Mama, I loved her so much.” “You liked her, Paul,” Anja said insistently. “Try to remember that.” On Saturday, composed and quietly apologetic for not showing up on Friday afternoon, Paulie Stroebel reported for work at the gas station. Early Saturday afternoon, Hans Stroebel personally delivered a Virginia ham and salads to the Cavanaugh home and asked their neighbor Mrs. Hilmer, who answered the door, to convey his deepest sympathy to the family.

3
“It’s a shame Ted and Genine are both only children,” Ellie heard Mrs. Hilmer say a couple of times on Saturday. “It makes it easier when there’s a lot of family around at a time like this.” Ellie didn’t care about having more family. She just wanted Andrea back, and she wanted Mommy to stop crying and she wanted Daddy to talk to her. He’d hardly said a word to her since she came running home and he grabbed her up in his arms and she managed to tell him where Andrea was and that she’d been hurt. Later, after he’d gone to the hideout and had seen Andrea, and all the police came, he’d said, “Ellie, you knew last night she might have gone to the garage. Why didn’t you tell us then?” “You didn’t ask me, and you made me go to bed.” “Yes, I did,” he admitted. But then later she heard him say to one of the cops, “If only I had known Andrea was there. She might still have been alive at nine o’clock. I might have found her in time.” Somebody from the police talked to Ellie and asked her questions about the hideout and about who else went there. In her head Ellie could hear Andrea saying, “Ellie is a good kid. She’s not a snitch.” Thinking about Andrea, and knowing that she’d never come home again, made Ellie begin to cry so hard that the police stopped questioning her. Then on Saturday afternoon a man who said he was Detective Marcus Longo came to the house. He took Ellie into the dining room and closed the door. She thought he had a nice face. He told her that he had a little boy exactly her age and that they looked a lot alike. “He has the same blue eyes,” he said. “And his hair is just the color of yours. I tell him it reminds me of sand when the sun is shining on it.” Then he told her that four of Andrea’s friends had admitted they

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went to the hideout with her, but none of them had been there that night. He named the girls, then asked, “Ellie, do you know any other girls who might have met your sister there?” It wasn’t like snitching on them if they had already told on themselves. “No,” she whispered. “That was all of them.” “Is there anyone else Andrea might have met at the hideout?” She hesitated. She couldn’t tell him about Rob Westerfield. That would really be telling on Andrea. Detective Longo said, “Ellie, someone hurt Andrea so much that she isn’t alive anymore. Don’t protect that person. Andrea would want you to tell us anything you know.” Ellie looked down at her hands. In this big old farmhouse, this room was her favorite. It used to have ugly wallpaper, but now the walls were painted a soft yellow, and there was a new chandelier over the table and the bulbs looked like candles. Mommy had found the chandelier at a yard sale and said it was a treasure. It had taken her a long time to clean it, but now anyone who visited admired it. They always ate dinner in the dining room, even though Daddy thought it was silly to go to all the fuss. Mommy had a book that showed how to set the table for a formal dinner. It was Andrea’s job to set the table that way every Sunday, even when it was just them. Ellie would help her, and they would have fun putting out the good silver and china. “Lord Malcolm Bigbottom is the guest of honor today,” Andrea would say. Then reading from the book of etiquette, she’d place him at the seat to the right of where Mommy would sit. “Oh, no, Gabrielle, the water glass must be placed slightly to the right of the dinner knife.” Ellie’s real name was Gabrielle, but no one called her that, except Andrea when she was joking. She wondered if it would be her job to set the table that way on Sunday from now on. She hoped not. Without Andrea it wouldn’t be a game. It felt funny to be thinking like that. On one hand, she knew that Andrea was dead and would be buried Tuesday morning in the cemetery in Tarrytown with Grandma and Grandpa Cavana-

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ugh. On the other hand, she still expected Andrea to come into the house any minute, pull her close, and tell her a secret. A secret. Sometimes Andrea met Rob Westerfield in the hideout. But Ellie had crossed her heart and promised not to tell. “Ellie, whoever hurt Andrea may hurt somebody else if he isn’t stopped,” Detective Longo said. His voice was quiet and friendly. “Do you think it’s my fault that Andrea is dead? Daddy thinks so.” “No, he doesn’t think that, Ellie,” Detective Longo said. “But anything you can tell us about secrets you and Andrea shared may help us now.” Rob Westerfield, Ellie thought. Maybe it wouldn’t really be breaking a promise to tell Detective Longo about him. If Rob had been the one who hurt Andrea, everybody should know it. She looked down at her hands. “Sometimes she would meet Rob Westerfield at the hideout,” she whispered. Detective Longo leaned forward. “Do you know if she was going to meet him there the other night?” he asked. Ellie could tell that he was excited to hear about Rob. “I think she was. Paulie Stroebel had asked her to go to the Thanksgiving mixer with him, and she said yes. She didn’t really want to go with him, but Paulie had told her he knew she was sneaking off to meet Rob Westerfield, and she was afraid he would tell Daddy if she didn’t go with him. But then Rob was mad at her, and she wanted to explain to him that that was why she agreed to go out with Paulie, to keep him from telling Daddy. So maybe that’s why she left Joan’s house early.” “How did Paulie know that Andrea was seeing Rob Westerfield?” “Andrea said that she thought he sometimes followed her to the hideout. Paulie wanted her to be his girlfriend.”

4

The washing machine had been used. “What was so important it couldn’t wait until I got back, Mrs. Westerfield?” Rosita asked, her tone a touch defensive, as though fearful she had left a task undone. She had gone out of town to visit her ailing aunt on Thursday. It was now Saturday morning, and she had just arrived back. “You shouldn’t bother yourself with wash when you have your hands full decorating all those houses.” Linda Westerfield did not know why a sudden alarm bell went off in her head. For some reason she did not respond directly to Rosita’s remarks. “Oh, every once in a while, if I’m checking on the decorative painting and touch it up myself, it’s just as easy to run the paint cloths through the machine as to leave them around,” she said. “Well, judging from the amount of detergent you used, you must have had a whole heap of them. And Mrs. Westerfield, I heard about the Cavanaugh girl on the news yesterday. I can’t stop thinking about her. Who would believe that kind of thing could happen in this little town? It breaks your heart.” “Yes, it does.” It had to be Rob who used the machine, Linda thought. Vince, her husband, would certainly not have used a washing machine at any time. Probably didn’t even know how. Rosita’s dark eyes glistened, and she dabbed her hand over them. “That poor mother.” Rob? What would be so important for him to wash? It was an old trick of his. When he was eleven, he’d tried to wash the smell of cigarette smoke from his play clothes. “Andrea Cavanaugh was the prettiest thing. And her father a lieutenant in the state troopers! Somehow you’d think a man like that would be able to protect his child.”

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“Yes, you would.” Linda was sitting at the counter in the kitchen, going over the sketches she had made for window treatments for a client’s new home. “To think that anybody would smash that girl’s head in. Had to be a monster. I hope they string him up when they find him.” Rosita was talking to herself now and didn’t seem to expect a response. Linda slipped the sketches into the portfolio. “Mr. Westerfield and I are meeting some friends at the inn for dinner, Rosita,” she said as she slid off the stool. “Will Rob be home?” A good question, Linda thought. “He went out for a run and should be back any minute. Check with him then.” She thought she detected a quiver in her voice. Rob had been agitated and moody all day yesterday. When the news about Andrea Cavanaugh’s death flashed through the town, she had expected him to be upset. Instead, he’d been dismissive. “I hardly knew her, Mom,” he said. Was it simply that Rob, like many nineteen-year-olds, could not confront the death of a young person? Was it that somehow he felt as though his own mortality was threatened? Linda went up the stairs slowly, suddenly weighted down with a sense of impending disaster. They had moved from the townhouse on Manhattan’s East Seventieth Street to this pre-Revolutionary house six years ago, when Rob went away to boarding school. By then they both knew that the town where they’d traditionally summered at Vince’s mother’s home was where they wanted to live permanently. Vince had said that there were great opportunities to make money here, and he had begun investing in real estate. The house, with its sense of timelessness, was a continuing source of quiet pleasure to her, but today Linda did not pause to feel the polished wood of the banister under her hand or stop to enjoy the view of the valley from the window at the top of the stairs. She walked directly to Rob’s room. The door was closed. He had been gone an hour and would be back from jogging any minute. Nervously she opened the door and stepped inside. The bed was unmade, but the rest of the room was oddly tidy. Rob was meticulous

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about his clothing, sometimes even pressing slacks fresh from the cleaners to sharpen the crease, but he was downright careless about discarded garments. She would have expected to see the clothes he had worn Thursday and yesterday thrown on the floor, waiting for Rosita’s return. She walked quickly across the room and looked into the hamper in his bathroom. That, too, was empty. Sometime between Thursday morning, when Rosita left, and early this morning, Rob had washed and dried the clothes he’d been wearing Thursday and yesterday. Why? Linda would have liked to go through his closet but knew she risked having him find her there. She wasn’t prepared for a confrontation. She left his room, remembering to close the door, and went down the hall and around the corner to the master suite she and Vince had added when they expanded the house. Suddenly aware that she might be feeling the onslaught of a migraine, she dropped the portfolio onto the sofa in the sitting room, went into the bathroom, and reached in the medicine chest. As she swallowed two prescription pills, she looked into the mirror and was shocked to see how pale and anxious she looked. She was wearing her jogging suit because she had planned to go for a run after she’d worked on the sketches. Her short chestnut hair was held back by a band, and she hadn’t bothered with makeup. To her own hypercritical gaze, she looked older than her forty-four years, with tiny wrinkles forming around her eyes and the corners of her mouth. The bathroom window looked out over the front yard and the driveway. As she glanced out, she saw an unfamiliar car driving up. A moment later the doorbell rang. She expected Rosita to use the intercom to let her know who it was, but instead Rosita came upstairs and handed her a card. “He wants to talk to Rob, Mrs. Westerfield. I told him Rob was out jogging, and he said he’d wait.” Linda was nearly eight inches taller than Rosita, who was only a shade over five feet, but she almost had to grab the small woman

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to support herself after she read the name on the card: Detective Marcus Longo.

5
Wherever Ellie went, she felt in the way. After the nice detective left, she tried to find Mommy, but Mrs. Hilmer said that the doctor had given her something to help her rest. Daddy spent almost all the time in his little den with the door closed. He said he wanted to be left alone. Grandma Reid, who lived in Florida, came up late Saturday afternoon, but all she did was cry. Mrs. Hilmer and some of Mommy’s friends from her bridge club sat in the kitchen. Ellie heard one of them, Mrs. Storey, say, “I feel so useless, but I also feel as though seeing us around may make Genine and Ted realize they’re not alone.” Ellie went outside and got on the swing. She pumped her legs until the swing went higher and higher. She wanted it to go over the top. She wanted to fall from the top and hit the ground and hurt herself. Then maybe she’d stop hurting inside. It had stopped raining, but there still was no sun and it was cold. After a while, Ellie knew that it was no use; the swing wouldn’t go over the top. She went back into the house, entering the small vestibule off the kitchen. She heard Joan’s mother’s voice. She was with the other ladies now, and Ellie could tell that she was crying. “I was surprised that Andrea left so early. It was dark out, and it crossed my mind to drive her home. If only . . .” Then Ellie heard Mrs. Lewis say, “If only Ellie had told them that Andrea used to go to that garage that the kids called ‘the hideout.’ Ted might have gotten there in time.” “If only Ellie . . .” Ellie went up the back stairs, careful to walk very quietly so they wouldn’t hear her. Grandma’s suitcase was on her bed. That was funny. Wasn’t Grandma going to sleep in Andrea’s room? It was empty now.

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Or maybe they’d let her sleep in Andrea’s room. Then, if she woke up tonight, she could pretend that Andrea would be coming back any minute. The door to Andrea’s room was closed. She opened it as quietly as she always did on Saturday mornings when she’d peek in to see if Andrea was still sleeping. Daddy was standing at Andrea’s desk. He was holding a framed picture in his hands. Ellie knew it was the baby picture of Andrea, the one in the silver frame that had “Daddy’s Little Girl” engraved across the top. As she watched, he lifted the top of the music box. That was another present he had bought for Andrea right after she was born. Daddy joked that Andrea never wanted to go to sleep when she was a baby, and so he’d wind up the music box and dance around the room with her and play the song from it, singing the words softly, until she dozed off. Ellie had asked if he did that with her, too, but Mommy said no, because she was always a good sleeper. From the day she was born, she’d been no trouble at all. Some of the song’s words ran through Ellie’s head as the music drifted through the room. “. . . You’re daddy’s little girl to have and to hold. . . . You’re the spirit of Christmas, my star on the tree. . . . And you’re daddy’s little girl.” As she watched, Daddy sat on the edge of Andrea’s bed and began to sob. Ellie backed out of the room, closing the door as quietly as she had opened it.

Copyright © 2002 by Mary Higgins Clark

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Exclusive Introduction for On the Street Where You Live

Spring Lake, New Jersey, is a beautiful Victorian village on the Atlantic Ocean. Twelve years ago I decided to buy a home there. At the closing, I was shocked to see that the maiden name of the elderly woman who had died there was Eleanor Higgins. My maiden name is Mary Teresa Eleanor Higgins. Later that summer I met the son of the previous owner. He asked me if I had found their skeletons in the backyard. At my shocked expression, he explained that they had buried two dogs there. I thought “suppose and what if” a young woman buys the home that had belonged to her great grandmother. The day she moves in, the gardener who had been turning over the soil, finds a skeleton—the skeleton of a young woman who had disappeared in 1890. That was the beginning of On the Street Where You Live, and I always say that the house inspired the book, and the book paid for the house.

Excerpt from On the Street Where You Live 9780671004538

Tuesday, March 20

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He turned onto the boardwalk and felt the full impact of the stinging blast from the ocean. Observing the shifting clouds, he decided it wouldn’t be surprising if they had a snow flurry later on, even though tomorrow was the first day of spring. It had been a long winter, and everyone said how much they were looking forward to the warm weather ahead. He wasn’t. He enjoyed Spring Lake best once late autumn set in. By then the summer people had closed their houses, not appearing even for weekends. He was chagrined, though, that with each passing year more and more people were selling their winter homes and settling here permanently. They had decided it was worth the seventy-mile commute into New York so that they could begin and end the day in this quietly beautiful New Jersey seaside community. Spring Lake, with its Victorian houses that appeared unchanged from the way they had been in the 1890s, was worth the inconvenience of the trip, they explained. Spring Lake, with the fresh, bracing scent of the ocean always present, revived the soul, they agreed. Spring Lake, with its two-mile boardwalk, where one could revel in the silvery magnificence of the Atlantic, was a treasure, they pointed out. All of these people shared so much—the summer visitors, the permanent dwellers—but none of them shared his secrets. He could stroll down Hayes Avenue and visualize Madeline Shapley as she had been in late afternoon on September 7, 1891, seated on the wicker sofa on the wraparound porch of her home, her wide-brimmed bonnet beside her. She had been nineteen years old then, browneyed, with dark brown hair, sedately beautiful in her starched white linen dress.

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Only he knew why she had had to die an hour later. St. Hilda Avenue, shaded with heavy oaks that had been mere saplings on August 5, 1893, when eighteen-year-old Letitia Gregg had failed to return home, brought other visions. She had been so frightened. Unlike Madeline, who had fought for her life, Letitia had begged for mercy. The last one of the trio had been Ellen Swain, small and quiet, but far too inquisitive, far too anxious to document the last hours of Letitia’s life. And because of her curiosity, on March 31, 1896, she had followed her friend to the grave. He knew every detail, every nuance of what had happened to her and to the others. He had found the diary during one of those cold, rainy spells that sometimes occur in summer. Bored, he’d wandered into the old carriage house, which served as a garage. He climbed the rickety steps to the stuffy, dusty loft, and for lack of something better to do, began rummaging through the boxes he found there. The first one was filled with utterly useless odds and ends: rusty old lamps; faded, outdated clothing; pots and pans and a scrub board; chipped vanity sets, the glass on the mirrors cracked or blurred. They all were the sorts of items one shoves out of sight with the intention of fixing or giving away, and then forgets altogether. Another box held thick albums, the pages crumbling, filled with pictures of stiffly posed, stern-faced people refusing to share their emotions with the camera. A third contained books, dusty, swollen from humidity, the type faded. He’d always been a reader, but even though only fourteen at the time, he could glance through these titles and dismiss them. No hidden masterpieces in the lot. A dozen more boxes proved to be filled with equally worthless junk. In the process of throwing everything back into the boxes, he came across a rotted leather binder that had been hidden in what

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looked like another photo album. He opened it and found it stuffed with pages, every one of them covered with writing. The first entry was dated, September 7, 1891. It began with the words “Madeline is dead by my hand.” He had taken the diary and told no one about it. Over the years, he’d read from it almost daily, until it became an integral part of his own memory. Along the way, he realized he had become one with the author, sharing his sense of supremacy over his victims, chuckling at his playacting as he grieved with the grieving. What began as a fascination gradually grew to an absolute obsession, a need to relive the diary writer’s journey of death on his own. Vicarious sharing was no longer enough. Four and a half years ago he had taken the first life. It was twenty-one-year-old Martha’s fate that she had been present at the annual end-of-summer party her grandparents gave. The Lawrences were a prominent, long-established Spring Lake family. He was at the festive gathering and met her there. The next day, September 7th, she left for an early morning jog on the boardwalk. She never returned home. Now, over four years later, the investigation into her disappearance was still ongoing. At a recent gathering, the prosecutor of Monmouth County had vowed there would be no diminution in the effort to learn the truth about what had happened to Martha Lawrence. Listening to the empty vows, he chuckled at the thought. How he enjoyed participating in the somber discussions about Martha that came up from time to time over the dinner table. I could tell you all about it, every detail, he said to himself, and I could tell you about Carla Harper too. Two years ago he had been strolling past the Warren Hotel and noticed her coming down the steps. Like Madeline, as described in the diary, she had been wearing a white dress, although hers was barely a slip, sleeveless, clinging, revealing every inch of her slender young body. He began following her. When she disappeared three days later, everyone believed Carla had been accosted on the trip home to Philadelphia. Not even the

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prosecutor, so determined to solve the mystery of Martha’s disappearance, suspected that Carla had never left Spring Lake. Relishing the thought of his omniscience, he had lightheartedly joined the late afternoon strollers on the boardwalk and exchanged pleasantries with several good friends he met along the way, agreeing that winter was insisting on giving them one more blast on its way out. But even as he bantered with them, he could feel the need stirring within him, the need to complete his trio of present-day victims. The final anniversary was coming up, and he had yet to choose her. The word in town was that Emily Graham, the purchaser of the Shapley house, as it was still known, was a descendant of the original owners. He had looked her up on the Internet. Thirty-two years old, divorced, a criminal defense attorney. She had come into money after she was given stock by the grateful owner of a fledgling wireless company whom she’d successfully defended pro bono. When the stock went public and she was able to sell it, she made a fortune. He learned that Graham had been stalked by the son of a murder victim after she won an acquittal for the accused killer. The son, protesting his innocence, was now in a psychiatric facility. Interesting. More interesting still, Emily bore a striking resemblance to the picture he’d seen of her great-great-grandaunt, Madeline Shapley. She had the same wide brown eyes and long, full eyelashes. The same midnight-brown hair with hints of auburn. The same lovely mouth. The same tall, slender body. There were differences, of course. Madeline had been innocent, trusting, unworldly, a romantic. Emily Graham was obviously a sophisticated and smart woman. She would be more of a challenge than the others, but then again, that made her so much more interesting. Maybe she was the one destined to complete his special trio? There was an orderliness, a rightness to the prospect that sent a shiver of pleasure through him.

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Emily gave a sigh of relief as she passed the sign indicating she was now in Spring Lake. “Made it!” she said aloud. “Hallelujah.” The drive from Albany had taken nearly eight hours. She had left in what was supposed to have been “periods of light to moderate snow,” but which had turned into a near blizzard that only tapered off as she exited Rockland County. Along the way the number of fender benders on the New York State Thruway reminded her of the bumper cars she had loved as a child. In a fairly clear stretch, she had picked up speed, but then witnessed a terrifying spinout. For a horrible moment it had seemed as though two vehicles were headed for a head-on collision. It was avoided only because the driver of one car had somehow managed to regain control and turn right with less than a nanosecond to spare. Kind of reminds me of my life the last couple of years, she had thought as she slowed down—constantly in the fast lane, and sometimes almost getting clobbered. I needed a change of direction and a change of pace. As her grandmother had put it, “Emily, you take that job in New York. I’ll feel a lot more secure about you when you’re living a couple of hundred miles away. A nasty ex-husband and a stalker at one time are a little too much on your plate for my taste.” And then, being Gran, she continued, “On the bright side, you never should have married Gary White. The fact that three years after you’re divorced he’d have the gall to try to sue you because you have money now only proves what I always thought about him.” Remembering her grandmother’s words, Emily smiled involuntarily as she drove slowly through the darkened streets. She glanced at the gauge on the dashboard. The outside temperature was a chilly thirty-eight degrees. The streets were wet—here the storm had pro-

duced only rain—and the windshield was becoming misted. The movement of the tree branches indicated sharp gusts of wind coming in from the ocean. But the houses, the majority of them restored Victorians, looked secure and serene. As of tomorrow I’ll officially own a home here, Emily mused. March 21st. The equinox. Light and night equally divided. The world in balance. It was a comforting thought. She had experienced enough turbulence of late to both want and need a period of complete and total peace. She’d had stunning good luck, but also frightening problems that had crashed like meteors into each other. But as the old saying went, everything that rises must converge, and God only knows she was living proof of that. She considered, then rejected, the impulse to drive by the house. There was still something unreal about the knowledge that in only a matter of hours, it would be hers. Even before she saw the house for the first time three months ago, it had been a vivid presence in her childhood imaginings—half real, half blended with fairy tales. Then, when she stepped into it that first time, she had known immediately that for her the place held a feeling of coming home. The real estate agent had mentioned that it was still called the Shapley house. Enough driving for now, she decided. It’s been a long, long day. Concord Reliable Movers in Albany were supposed to have arrived at eight. Most of the furniture she wanted to keep was already in her new Manhattan apartment, but when her grandmother downsized she had given her some fine antique pieces, so there was still a lot to move. “First pickup, guaranteed,” the Concord scheduler had vehemently promised. “Count on me.” The van had not made its appearance until noon. As a result she got a much later start than she’d expected, and it was now almost ten-thirty. Check into the inn, she decided. A hot shower, she thought longingly. Watch the eleven o’clock news. Then, as Samuel Pepys

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wrote, “And so to bed.” When she’d first come to Spring Lake, and impulsively put a deposit down on the house, she had stayed at the Candlelight Inn for a few days, to be absolutely sure she’d made the right decision. She and the inn’s owner, Carrie Roberts, a septuagenarian, had immediately hit it off. On the drive down today, she’d phoned to say she’d be late, but Carrie had assured her that was no problem. Turn right on Ocean Avenue, then four more blocks. A few moments later, with a grateful sigh, Emily turned off the ignition and reached in the backseat for the one suitcase she’d need overnight. Carrie’s greeting was warm and brief. “You look exhausted, Emily. The bed’s turned down. You said you’d stopped for dinner, so there’s a Thermos of hot cocoa with a couple of biscuits on the night table. I’ll see you in the morning.” The hot shower. A nightshirt and her favorite old bathrobe. Sipping the cocoa, Emily watched the news and felt the stiffness in her muscles from the long drive begin to fade. As she snapped off the television, her cell phone rang. Guessing who it was, she picked it up. “Hi, Emily.” She smiled as she heard the worried-sounding voice of Eric Bailey, the shy genius who was the reason she was in Spring Lake now. As she reassured him that she’d had a safe, relatively easy trip, she thought of the day she first met him, when he moved into the closet-sized office next to hers. The same age, their birthdays only a week apart, they’d become friendly, and she recognized that underneath his meek, little-boy-lost exterior, Eric had been gifted with massive intelligence. One day, when she realized how depressed he seemed, she’d made him tell her the reason. It turned out that his fledgling dotcom company was being sued by a major software provider who knew he could not afford an expensive lawsuit. She took the case without asking for a fee, expecting it to be a pro bono situation, and joked to herself that she would be papering the walls with the stock certificates Eric promised her.

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But she won the case for him. He made a public offering of the stock, which immediately rose in value. When her shares were worth ten million dollars, she sold them. Now Eric’s name was on a handsome new office building. He loved the races and bought a lovely old home in Saratoga from which he commuted to Albany. Their friendship had continued, and he’d been a rock during the time she was being stalked. He even had a high-tech camera installed at her townhouse. The camera had caught the stalker on tape. “Just wanted to see that you made it okay. Hope I didn’t wake you up?” They chatted for a few minutes and promised to talk again soon. When she put the cell phone down, Emily went to the window and opened it slightly. A rush of cold, salty air made her gasp, but then she deliberately inhaled slowly. It’s crazy, she thought, but at this moment it seems to me that all my life I’ve been missing the smell of the ocean. She turned and walked to the door to be absolutely sure it was double locked. Stop doing that, she snapped at herself. You already checked before you showered. But in the year before the stalker was caught, despite her efforts to convince herself that if the stalker wanted to hurt her he could have done so on many occasions, she had begun to feel fearful and apprehensive. Carrie had told her that she was the only guest at the inn. “I’m booked full over the weekend,” she’d said. “All six bedrooms. There’s a wedding reception at the country club on Saturday. And after Memorial Day, forget it. I don’t have a closet available.” The minute I heard that only the two of us were here, I started wondering if all the outside doors were locked and if the alarm was on, Emily thought, once again angry that she could not control her anxiety. She slipped out of her bathrobe. Don’t think about it now, she warned herself. But her hands were suddenly clammy as she remembered the

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first time she had come home and realized he’d been there. She had found a picture of herself propped up against the lamp on her bedside table, a photograph showing her standing in the kitchen in her nightgown, a cup of coffee in her hand. She had never seen the picture before. That day she’d had the locks of the townhouse changed and a blind put on the window over the sink. After that there’d been a number of other incidents involving photographs, pictures taken of her at home, on the street, in the office. Sometimes a silky-voiced predator would call to comment on what she was wearing. “You looked cute jogging this morning, Emily . . .” “With that dark hair, I didn’t think I’d like you in black. But I do. . . .” “I love those red shorts. Your legs are really good . . .” And then a picture would turn up of her wearing the described outfit. It would be in her mailbox at home, or stuck on the windshield of her car, or folded inside the morning newspaper that had been delivered to her doorstep. The police had traced the telephone calls, but all had been made from different pay phones. Attempts to lift fingerprints from the items that she had received had been unsuccessful. For over a year the police had been unable to apprehend the stalker. “You’ve gotten some people acquitted who were accused of vicious crimes, Miss Graham,” Marty Browski, the senior detective, told her. “It could be someone in a victim’s family. It could be someone who saw you in a restaurant and followed you home. It could be someone who knows you came into a lot of money and got fixated on you.” And then they’d found Ned Koehler, the son of a woman whose accused killer she had successfully defended, lurking outside her townhouse. He’s off the streets now, Emily reassured herself. There’s no need to worry about him anymore. He’ll get the care he needs. He was in a secure psychiatric facility in upstate New York, and this was Spring Lake, not Albany. Out of sight, out of mind, Emily thought, prayerfully. She got into bed, pulled up the covers, and reached for the light switch. Across Ocean Avenue, standing on the beach in the shadows of

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the deserted boardwalk, the wind from the ocean whipping his hair, a man watched as the room became dark. “Sleep well, Emily,” he whispered, his voice gentle.

Wednesday, March 21

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His briefcase under his arm, Will Stafford walked with long, brisk strides from the side door of his home to the converted carriage house that, like most of those still existing in Spring Lake, now served as a garage. The rain had stopped sometime during the night and the wind diminished. Even so, the first day of spring had a sharp bite, and Will had the fleeting thought that maybe he should have grabbed a topcoat on the way out. Shows what happens when the last birthday in your thirties is looming, he told himself ruefully. Keep it up and you’ll be looking for your earmuffs in July. A real estate attorney, he was meeting Emily Graham for breakfast at Who’s on Third?, the whimsical Spring Lake corner café. From there they would go for a final walk-through of the house she was buying, then to his office for the closing. As Will backed his aging Jeep down the driveway, he reflected that it had been a day not unlike this in late December when Emily Graham had walked into his office on Third Avenue. “I just put down a deposit on a house,” she’d told him. “I asked the broker to recommend a real estate lawyer. She named three, but I’m a pretty good judge of witness testimony. You’re the one she favored. Here’s the binder.” She was so fired up about the house that she didn’t even introduce herself, Will remembered with a smile. He got her name from her signature on the binder— “Emily S. Graham.” There weren’t too many attractive young women who could pay two million dollars cash for a house. But when he’d suggested that she might want to consider taking a mortgage for at least half the amount, Emily had explained that she just couldn’t imagine owing a million dollars to a bank. He was ten minutes early, but she was already in the café, sip-

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ping coffee. One-upmanship, Will wondered, or is she compulsively early? Then he wondered if she could read his mind. “I’m not usually the one holding down the fort,” she explained, “but I’m so darn excited about closing on the house that I’m running ahead of the clock.” At that first meeting in December, when he had learned that she’d only seen one house, he said, “I don’t like to talk myself out of a job, but Ms. Graham, you’re telling me that you just saw the house for the first time? You didn’t look at any others? This is your first time in Spring Lake? You didn’t make a counteroffer but paid full price? I suggest you think this over carefully. By law you have three days to withdraw your offer.” That was when she’d told him that the house had been in her family, that the middle initial in her name was for Shapley. Emily gave her order to the waitress. Grapefruit juice, a single scrambled egg, toast. As Will Stafford studied the menu, she studied him, approving of what she saw. He was certainly an attractive man, a lean six-footer with broad shoulders and sandy hair. Dark blue eyes and a square jawline dominated his even-featured face. At their first meeting she had liked his combination of easygoing warmth and cautious concern. Not every lawyer would practically try to talk himself out of a job, she thought. He really was worried that I was being too impulsive. Except for that one day in January when she had flown down in the morning and back to Albany in the afternoon, their communication had been either by phone or mail. Still, every contact with him confirmed that Stafford was indeed a meticulous attorney. The Kiernans, who were selling the house, had owned it only three years and spent that entire time faithfully restoring it. They were in the final stage of the interior decoration when Wayne Kiernan was offered a prestigious and lucrative position which required permanent residence in London. It had been obvious to Emily that giving up the house had been a wrenching decision for them.

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On that hurried visit in January, Emily went through every room with the Kiernans and bought the Victorian-era furniture, carpets, and artifacts they had lovingly purchased and were now willing to sell. The property was spacious, and a contractor had just completed a cabana and had just started excavating for a pool. “The only thing I regret is the pool,” she told Stafford as the waitress refilled their cups. “Any swimming I do will be in the ocean. But as long as the cabana is already in place, it seems a little silly not to go ahead with the pool as well. Anyhow, my brothers’ kids will love it when they visit.” Will Stafford had handled all the paperwork covering the various agreements. He was a good listener, she decided, as over breakfast she heard herself telling him about having grown up in Chicago. “My brothers call me ‘the afterthought,’” she said, smiling. “They’re ten and twelve years older than I am. My maternal grandmother lives in Albany. I went to Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, which is a stone’s throw away, and spent a lot of my free time with her. Her grandmother was the younger sister of Madeline, the nineteen-year-old who disappeared in 1891.” Will Stafford noticed the shadow that came over Emily’s face, but then she sighed and continued, “Well, that was a long time ago, wasn’t it?” “A very long time,” he agreed. “I don’t think you’ve told me how much time you expect to spend down here. Are you planning to move in immediately, or use the house weekends, or what?” Emily smiled. “I plan to move in as soon as we pass title this morning. All the basic stuff that I need is there, including pots and pans and linens. The moving van from Albany is scheduled to arrive tomorrow with the relatively few things I’m bringing here.” “Do you still have a home in Albany?” “Yesterday was my last day there. I’m still settling my apartment in Manhattan, so I’ll be back and forth between the apartment and this house until May 1st. That’s when I start my new job. After that I’ll be a weekend and vacation kind of resident.” “You realize that there’s a great deal of curiosity in town about

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you,” Will cautioned. “I just want you to know that I’m not the one who leaked that you’re a descendant of the Shapley family.” The waitress was putting their plates on the table. Emily did not wait for her to leave before she said, “Will, I’m not trying to keep that a secret. I mentioned it to the Kiernans, and to Joan Scotti, the real estate agent. She told me that there are families whose ancestors were here at the time that my great-great-grandaunt disappeared. I’d be interested to know what if anything any of them have heard about her—other, of course, than the fact that she seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. “They also know I’m divorced and that I’ll be working in New York, so I have no guilty secrets.” He looked amused. “Somehow I don’t visualize you as harboring guilty secrets.” Emily hoped her smile did not look forced. I do intend to keep to myself the fact that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in court this past year that had nothing to do with practicing law, she thought. She had been a defendant in her ex-husband’s suit, claiming he was entitled to half the money she had made on the stock, and also had been on the witness stand testifying against the stalker. “As for myself,” Stafford continued, “you haven’t asked, but I’m going to tell you anyway. “I was born and raised about an hour from here, in Princeton. My father was CEO and chairman of the board of Lionel Pharmaceuticals in Manhattan. He and my mother split when I was sixteen, and since my father traveled so much, I moved with my mother to Denver and finished high school and then college there.” He ate the last of his sausage. “Every morning I tell myself I’ll have fruit and oatmeal, but about three mornings a week I succumb to the cholesterol urge. You obviously have more character than I do.” “Not necessarily. I’ve already decided that the next time I come here for breakfast it will be to have exactly what you just finished.” “I’d have given you a bite. My mother taught me to share.” He glanced at his watch and signaled for the check. “I don’t want to

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hurry you, Emily, but it’s nine-thirty. The Kiernans are the most reluctant sellers I’ve ever bumped into. Let’s not keep them waiting and give them a chance to change their minds about the house.” While they waited for the check, he said, “To finish the not very thrilling story of my life, I married right after law school. Within the year we both knew it was a mistake.” “You’re lucky,” Emily commented. “My life would have been a lot easier if I had been that smart.” “I moved back East and signed on with the legal department of Canon and Rhodes, which you may know is a high-powered Manhattan real estate firm. It was a darn good job, but pretty demanding. I wanted a place for weekends and came looking down here, than bought an old house that needed a lot of work. I love to work with my hands.” “Why Spring Lake?” “We used to stay at the Essex and Sussex Hotel for a couple of weeks every summer when I was a kid. It was a happy time.” He shrugged. The waitress put the check on the table. Will glanced at it and got out his wallet. “Then twelve years ago I realized I liked living here and didn’t like working in New York, so I opened this office. A lot of real estate work, both residential and commercial. “And speaking of that, let’s get going to the Kiernans.” They got up together.

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But the Kiernans had already left Spring Lake. Their lawyer explained he had power of attorney to execute the closing. Emily walked with him through every room, taking fresh delight in architectural details she had not fully appreciated before. “Yes, I’m absolutely satisfied that everything I bought is here and the house is in perfect condition,” she told him. She tried to push back her increasing impatience to get the deed transferred, to be in the house alone, to wander through the rooms, to rearrange the living room furniture so that the couches faced each other at right angles to the fireplace.

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She needed to put her own stamp on the house, to make it hers. She’d always thought of the townhouse in Albany as a stopgap place, although she had been in it three years—ever since she’d returned from a visit to her parents in Chicago a day early and found her husband in an intimate embrace with her closest friend, Barbara Lyons. She picked up her suitcases, got back in the car, and checked into a hotel. A week later she rented the townhouse. The house she had lived in with Gary was owned by his wealthy family. It had never felt like hers. But walking through this house seemed to evoke sensory memory. “I almost feel as though it’s welcoming me,” she told Will Stafford. “I think it might be. You should see the expression on your face. Ready to go to my office and sign the papers?”

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Three hours later Emily returned to the house and once more pulled into the driveway. “Home sweet home,” she said joyously as she got out of the car and opened the trunk to collect the groceries she’d purchased after the closing. An area near the new cabana was being excavated for the pool. Three men were working on the site. After the walk-through she’d been introduced to Manny Dexter, the foreman. Now he caught her eye and waved. The rumble of the backhoe drowned out her footsteps as she hurried along the blue flagstone walk to the back door. This I could do without, she thought, then reminded herself again that the pool would be nice to have when her brothers and their families came to visit. She was wearing one of her favorite outfits, a dark green winter-weight pantsuit and white turtleneck sweater. Warm as they were, Emily shivered as she shifted the grocery bag from one arm to the other and put the key in the door. A gust of wind blew her hair in her face, and as she shook it away, she jostled the bag and a box of cereal dropped onto the flooring of the porch. The extra moment it took to pick up the box meant that Emily was still outside when Manny Dexter shouted frantically to the op-

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erator of the backhoe. “Turn that thing off! Stop digging! There’s a skeleton down there!”

Copyright © 2001 by Mary Higgins Clark

Purchase On The Street Where You Live in print and ebook!

Exclusive Introduction for Pretend You Don’t See Her

So often an article I have read triggers a book. For this one I read a long article about a family in the Federal Witness Protection Plan and the excruciating loneliness that they were experiencing living in a strange place, unable to discuss their backgrounds, and only contacting the rest of the family through a Federal Marshall. I asked myself why a young woman would be forced into that position and what it would be like if an assassin broke through the code of secrecy and learned where she was.

Excerpt from Pretend You Don’t See Her 9780743206259

Later Lacey tried to find comfort in the thought that even if she had arrived seconds earlier, rather than being in time to help she would have died with Isabelle. But it didn’t happen that way. Using the key she had been given as realtor, she had entered the duplex apartment on East Seventieth Street and called Isabelle’s name in the exact instant that Isabelle screamed “Don’t . . . !” and a gunshot rang out. Faced with a split-second decision to run or to hide, Lacey slammed the apartment door shut and slipped quickly into the hall closet. She had not even had time to fully close that door before a sandy-haired, well-dressed man came running down the stairs. Through the narrow opening she could see his face clearly, and it became imprinted on her mind. In fact, she had seen it before, only hours ago. The expression was now viciously cold, but clearly this was the same man to whom she had shown the apartment earlier in the day: affable Curtis Caldwell from Texas. From her vantage point she watched as he ran past her, holding a pistol in his right hand and a leather binder under his left arm. He flung open the front door and ran out of the apartment. The elevators and fire stairs were at the far end of the corridor. Lacey knew that Caldwell would realize immediately that whoever had come into the apartment was still there. A primal instinct made her rush out of the closet to shove the door closed behind him. He wheeled around, and for a terrible moment their eyes locked, his pale blue irises like steely ice, staring at her. He threw himself against the door but not fast enough. It slammed shut, and she snapped the dead bolt just as a key clicked in the lock. Her pulse racing, she leaned against the door, trembling as the knob twisted, hoping there was no way Caldwell could get back in now. She had to dial 911. She had to get help.

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Isabelle! she thought. That had to have been her cry that Lacey heard. Was she still alive? Her hand on the banister, Lacey raced up the thickly carpeted stairs through the ivory-and-peach sitting room where in these past weeks she had sat so frequently with Isabelle and listened as the grieving mother told her over and over that she still could not believe that the death of her daughter, Heather, had been an accident. Fearing what she would find, Lacey rushed into the bedroom. Isabelle lay crumpled across the bed, her eyes open, her bloodied hand frantically pulling at a sheaf of papers that had been under a pillow beside her. One of the pages fluttered across the room, carried by the breeze from the open window. Lacey dropped to her knees. “Isabelle,” she said. There were many other things she wanted to say—that she would call an ambulance; that it would be all right—but the words refused to pass her lips. It was too late. Lacey could see that. Isabelle was dying.

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Later that scene was played out in the nightmare that came more and more frequently. The dream was always the same: She was kneeling beside Isabelle’s body, listening to the dying woman’s last words, as Isabelle told her about the journal, entreating her to take the pages. Then a hand would touch her shoulder, and when she looked up, there stood the killer, his cold eyes unsmiling, aiming the pistol at her forehead as he squeezed the trigger.

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It was the week after Labor Day, and from the steady ringing of the phones in the offices of Parker and Parker, it was clear to Lacey that the summer doldrums finally were over. The Manhattan co-op market had been uncommonly slow this past month; now, finally, things would start to move again. “It’s about time,” she told Rick Parker as he delivered a mug of black coffee to her desk. “I haven’t had a decent sale since June. Everybody I had on the hook took off for the Hamptons or the Cape, but thank God they’re all drifting back into town now. I enjoyed my month off, too, but now it’s time to get back to work.” She reached for the coffee. “Thanks. It’s nice to have the son and heir wait on me.” “No problem. You look great, Lacey.” Lacey tried to ignore the expression on Rick’s face. She always felt as though he were undressing her with his eyes. Spoiled, handsome, and the possessor of a phony charm that he turned on at will, he made her distinctly uncomfortable. Lacey heartily wished his father hadn’t moved him from the West Side office. She didn’t want her job jeopardized, but lately keeping him at arm’s length was becoming a balancing act. Her phone rang, and she grabbed for it with relief. Saved by the bell, she thought. “Lacey Farrell,” she said. “Miss Farrell, this is Isabelle Waring. I met you when you sold a co-op in my building last spring.” A live one, Lacey thought. Instinctively she guessed that Mrs. Waring was putting her apartment on the market. Lacey’s mind went into its search-and-retrieve mode. She’d sold two apartments in May on East Seventieth, one an estate sale where she hadn’t spoken to anyone except the building manager, the second a co-op just off Fifth Avenue. That would be the Norstrum

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apartment, and she vaguely remembered chatting with an attractive fiftyish redhead in the elevator, who had asked for her business card. Crossing her fingers, she said, “The Norstrum duplex? We met on the elevator?” Mrs. Waring sounded pleased. “Exactly! I’m putting my daughter’s apartment on the market, and if it’s convenient I’d like you to handle it for me.” “It would be very convenient, Mrs. Waring.” Lacey made an appointment with her for the following morning, hung up, and turned to Rick. “What luck! Three East Seventieth. That’s a great building,” she said. “Three East Seventieth. What apartment?” he asked quickly. “Ten B. Do you know that one by any chance?” “Why would I know it?” he snapped. “Especially since my father, in his wisdom, kept me working the West Side for five years.” It seemed to Lacey that Rick was making a visible effort to be pleasant when he added, “From what little I heard on this end, someone met you, liked you, and wants to dump an exclusive in your lap. I always told you what my grandfather preached about this business, Lacey: You’re blessed if people remember you.” “Maybe, although I’m not sure it’s necessarily a blessing,” Lacey said, hoping her slightly negative reaction would end their conversation. She hoped also that Rick would soon come to think of her as just another employee in the family empire. He shrugged, then made his way to his own office, which overlooked East Sixty-second Street. Lacey’s windows faced Madison Avenue. She reveled in the sight of the constant traffic, the hordes of tourists, the well-heeled Madison Avenue types drifting in and out of the designer boutiques. “Some of us are born New Yorkers,” she would explain to the sometimes apprehensive wives of executives being transferred to Manhattan. “Others come here reluctantly, and before they know it, they discover that for all its problems, it’s still the best place in the world to live.” Then if questioned, she would explain: “I was raised in Manhat-

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tan, and except for being away at college, I’ve always lived here. It’s my home, my town.” Her father, Jack Farrell, had felt that way about the city. From the time she was little, they had explored New York City together. “We’re pals, Lace,” he would say. “You’re like me, a city slicker. Now your mother, God love her, yearns to join the flight to the suburbs. It’s to her credit that she sticks it out here, knowing I’d wither on the vine there.” Lacey had inherited not only Jack’s love of this city, but his Irish coloring as well—fair skin, blue-green eyes, and dark brown hair. Her sister Kit shared their mother’s English heritage—china-blue eyes, and hair the shade of winter wheat. A musician, Jack Farrell had worked in the theater, usually in the pit orchestra, although sometimes playing in clubs and the occasional concert. Growing up, there wasn’t a Broadway musical whose songs Lacey couldn’t sing along with her dad. His sudden death just as she had finished college was still a shock. In fact, she wondered if she ever would get over it. Sometimes, when she was in the theater district, she still found herself expecting to run into him. After the funeral, her mother had said with wry sadness, “Just as your dad predicted, I’m not staying in the city.” A pediatric nurse, she bought a condo in New Jersey. She wanted to be near Lacey’s sister Kit and her family. Once there, she’d taken a job with a local hospital. Fresh out of college, Lacey had found a small apartment on East End Avenue and a job at Parker and Parker Realtors. Now, eight years later, she was one of their top agents. Humming, she pulled out the file on 3 East Seventieth and began to study it. I sold the second-floor duplex, she thought. Nicesized rooms. High ceilings. Kitchen needed modernizing. Now to find out something about Mrs. Waring’s place. Whenever possible, Lacey liked to do her homework on a prospective listing. To that end, she’d learned that it could help tremendously to become familiar with the people who worked in the various buildings Parker and Parker handled. It was fortunate now that

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she was good friends with Tim Powers, the superintendent of 3 East Seventieth. She called him, listened for a good twenty minutes to the rundown of his summer, ruefully reminding herself that Tim had always been blessed with the gift of gab, and finally worked the conversation around to the Waring apartment. According to Tim, Isabelle Waring was the mother of Heather Landi, a young singer and actress who had just begun to make her name in the theater. The daughter as well of famed restaurateur Jimmy Landi, Heather had died early last winter, killed when her car plunged down an embankment as she was driving home from a weekend of skiing in Vermont. The apartment had belonged to Heather, and now her mother was apparently selling it. “Mrs. Waring can’t believe Heather’s death was an accident,” Tim said. When she finally got off the phone, Lacey sat for a long moment, remembering that she had seen Heather Landi last year in a very successful off-Broadway musical. In fact, she remembered her in particular. She had it all, Lacey thought—beauty, stage presence, and that marvelous soprano voice. A “Ten,” as Dad would have said. No wonder her mother is in denial. Lacey shivered, then rose to turn down the air conditioner.

h

On Tuesday morning, Isabelle Waring walked through her daughter’s apartment, studying it as if with the critical eye of a realtor. She was glad that she had kept Lacey Farrell’s business card. Jimmy, her ex-husband, Heather’s father, had demanded she put the apartment on the market, and in fairness to him, he had given her plenty of time. The day she met Lacey Farrell in the elevator, she had taken an instant liking to the young woman, who had reminded her of Heather. Admittedly, Lacey didn’t look like Heather. Heather had had short, curly, light brown hair with golden highlights, and hazel eyes. She had been small, barely five feet four, with a soft, curving body.

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She called herself the house midget. Lacey, on the other hand, was taller, slimmer, had blue-green eyes, and darker, longer, straighter hair, swinging down to her shoulders, but there was something in her smile and manner that brought back a very positive memory of Heather. Isabelle looked around her. She realized that not everyone would care for the birch paneling and splashy marble foyer tiles Heather had loved, but those could easily be changed; the renovated kitchen and baths, however, were strong selling points. After months of brief trips to New York from Cleveland, and making stabs at going through the apartment’s five huge closets and the many drawers, and after repeatedly meeting with Heather’s friends, Isabelle knew it had to be over. She had to put an end to this searching for reasons and get on with her life. The fact remained, however, that she just didn’t believe Heather’s death had been an accident. She knew her daughter; she simply would not have been foolish enough to start driving home from Stowe in a snowstorm, especially so late at night. The medical examiner had been satisfied, however. And Jimmy was satisfied, because Isabelle knew that if he hadn’t been, he’d have torn up all of Manhattan looking for answers. At the last of their infrequent lunches, he had again tried to persuade Isabelle to let it rest, and to get on with her own life. He reasoned that Heather probably couldn’t sleep that night, had been worried because there was a heavy snow warning, and knew she had to be back in time for a rehearsal the next day. He simply refused to see anything suspicious or sinister in her death. Isabelle, though, just couldn’t accept it. She had told him about a troubling phone conversation she had had with their daughter just before her death. “Jimmy, Heather wasn’t herself when I spoke to her on the phone. She was worried about something. Terribly worried. I could hear it in her voice.” The lunch had ended when Jimmy, in complete exasperation, had burst out, “Isabelle, get off it! Stop, please! This whole thing is tough enough without you going on like this, constantly rehashing

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everything, putting all her friends through the third degree. Please, let our daughter rest in peace.” Remembering his words, Isabelle shook her head. Jimmy Landi had loved Heather more than anything in the world. And next to her, he loved power, she thought bitterly—it’s what had ended their marriage. His famous restaurant, his investments, now his Atlantic City hotel and casino. No room for me ever, Isabelle thought. Maybe if he had taken on a partner years ago, the way he has Steve Abbott now, our marriage wouldn’t have failed. She realized she had been walking through rooms she wasn’t really seeing, so she stopped at a window overlooking Fifth Avenue. New York is especially beautiful in September, she mused, observing the joggers on the paths that threaded through Central Park, the nannies pushing strollers, the elderly sunning themselves on park benches. I used to take Heather’s baby carriage over to the park on days like this, she remembered. It took ten years and three miscarriages before I had her, but she was worth all the heartbreak. She was such a special baby. People were always stopping to look at her and admire her. And she knew it, of course. She loved to sit up and take everything in. She was so smart, so observant, so talented. So trusting … Why did you throw it away, Heather? Isabelle asked herself once more the questions that she had agonized over since her daughter’s death. After that accident when you were a child—when you saw that car skid off the road and crash—you were always terrified of icy roads. You even talked of moving to California just to avoid winter weather. Why then would you have driven over a snowy mountain at two in the morning? You were only twenty-four years old; you had so much to live for. What happened that night? What made you take that drive? Or who made you? The buzzing of the intercom jolted Isabelle back from the smothering pangs of hopeless regret. It was the doorman announcing that Miss Farrell was here for her ten o’clock appointment.

h

Lacey was not prepared for Isabelle Waring’s effusive, if nervous,

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greeting. “Good heavens, you look younger than I remembered,” she said. “How old are you? Thirty? My daughter would have been twenty-five next week, you know. She lived in this apartment. It was hers. Her father bought it for her. Terrible reversal, don’t you think? The natural order of life is that I’d go first and someday she’d sort through my things.” “I have two nephews and a niece,” Lacey told her. “I can’t imagine anything happening to any of them, so I think I understand something of what you are going through.” Isabelle followed her, as with a practiced eye Lacey made notes on the dimensions of the rooms. The first floor consisted of a foyer, large living and dining rooms, a small library, a kitchen, and a powder room. The second floor, reached by a winding staircase, had a master suite—a sitting room, dressing room, bedroom and bath. “It was a lot of space for a young woman,” Isabelle explained. “Heather’s father bought it for her, you see. He couldn’t do enough for her. But it never spoiled her. In fact, when she came to New York to live after college, she wanted to rent a little apartment on the West Side. Jimmy hit the ceiling. He wanted her in a building with a doorman. He wanted her to be safe. Now he wants me to sell the apartment and keep the money. He says Heather would have wanted me to have it. He says I have to stop grieving and go on. It’s just that it’s still so hard to let it go, though . . . I’m trying, but I’m not sure I can . . . ” Her eyes filled with tears. Lacey asked the question she needed to have answered: “Are you sure you want to sell?” She watched helplessly as the stoic expression on Isabelle Waring’s face crumbled and her eyes filled with tears. “I wanted to find out why my daughter died. Why she rushed out of the ski lodge that night. Why she didn’t wait and come back with friends the next morning, as she had planned. What changed her mind? I’m sure that somebody knows. I need a reason. I know she was terribly worried about something but wouldn’t tell me what it was. I thought I might find an answer here, either in the apartment or from one of her friends. But her father wants me to stop pestering people, and

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I suppose he’s right, that we have to go on, so yes, Lacey, I guess I want to sell.” Lacey covered the woman’s hand with her own. “I think Heather would want you to,” she said quietly.

h

That night Lacey made the twenty-five-mile drive to Wyckoff, New Jersey, where her sister Kit and her mother both lived. She hadn’t seen them since early August when she had left the city for her month away in the Hamptons. Kit and her husband, Jay, had a summer home on Nantucket, and always urged Lacey to spend her vacation with them instead. As she crossed the George Washington Bridge, Lacey braced herself for the reproaches she knew would be part of their greeting. “You only spent three days with us,” her brother-in-law would be sure to remind her. “What’s East Hampton got that Nantucket doesn’t?” For one thing it doesn’t have you, Lacey thought, with a slight grin. Her brother-in-law, Jay Taylor, the highly successful owner of a large restaurant supply business, had never been one of Lacey’s favorite people, but, as she reminded herself, Kit clearly is crazy about him, and between them they’ve produced three great kids, so who am I to criticize? If only he wasn’t so damn pompous, she thought. Some of his pronouncements sounded like papal bulls. As she turned onto Route 4, she realized how anxious she was to see the others in her family: her mother, Kit and the kids—Todd, twelve, Andy, ten, and her special pet, shy four-year-old Bonnie. Thinking about her niece, she realized that all day she hadn’t been able to shake thoughts about poor Isabelle Waring, and the things she had said. The woman’s pain was so palpable. She had insisted that Lacey stay for coffee and over it had continued to talk about her daughter. “I moved to Cleveland after the divorce. That’s where I was raised. Heather was five at that time. Growing up, she was always back and forth between me and her dad. It worked out fine. I remarried. Bill Waring was much older but a very nice man. He’s been gone three years now. I was so in hopes Heather would meet

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the right man, have children, but she was determined to have a career first. Although just before she died I had gotten the sense that maybe she had met someone. I could be wrong, but I thought I could hear it in her voice.” Then she had asked, her tone one of motherly concern, “What about you, Lacey? Is there someone special in your life?” Thinking about that question, Lacey smiled wryly. Not so you’d notice it, she thought. And ever since I hit the magic number thirty, I’m very aware that my biological clock is ticking. Oh well. I love my job, I love my apartment, I love my family and friends. I have a lot of fun. So I have no right to complain. It will happen when it happens. Her mother answered the door. “Kit’s in the kitchen. Jay went to pick up the children,” she explained after a warm hug. “And there’s someone inside I want you to meet.” Lacey was surprised and somewhat shocked to see that a man she didn’t recognize was standing near the massive fireplace in the family room, sipping a drink. Her mother blushingly introduced him as Alex Carbine, explaining that they had known each other years ago and had just met again, through Jay, who had sold him much of the equipment for a new restaurant he’d just opened in the city on West Forty-sixth Street. Shaking his hand, Lacey assessed the man. About sixty, she thought—Mom’s age. Good, solid-looking guy. And Mom looks all atwitter. What’s up? As soon as she could excuse herself she went into the state-of-the-art kitchen where Kit was tossing the salad. “How long has this been going on?” she asked her sister. Kit, her blond hair pulled back at the nape of her neck, looking, Lacey thought, for all the world like a Martha Stewart ad, grinned. “About a month. He’s nice. Jay brought him by for dinner, and Mom was here. Alex is a widower. He’s always been in the restaurant business, but this is the first place he’s had on his own, I gather. We’ve been there. He’s got a nice setup.” They both jumped at the sound of a door slamming at the front of the house. “Brace yourself,” Kit warned. “Jay and the kids are home.”

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From the time Todd was five, Lacey had started taking him, and later the other children, into Manhattan to teach the city to them the way her father had taught it to her. They called the outings their Jack Farrell days—days which included anything from Broadway matinees (she had now seen Cats five times) to museums (the Museum of Natural History and its dinosaur bones being easily their favorite). They explored Greenwich Village, took the tram to Roosevelt Island, the ferry to Ellis Island, had lunch at the top of the World Trade Center, and skated at Rockefeller Plaza. The boys greeted Lacey with their usual exuberance. Bonnie, shy as always, snuggled up to her. “I missed you very much,” she confided. Jay told Lacey she was looking very well indeed, adding that the month in East Hampton obviously had been beneficial. “In fact, I had a ball,” Lacey said, delighted to see him wince. Jay had an aversion to slang that bordered on pretension. At dinner, Todd, who was showing an interest in real estate and his aunt’s job, asked Lacey about the market in New York. “Picking up,” she answered. “In fact I took on a promising new listing today.” She told them about Isabelle Waring, then noticed that Alex Carbine showed sudden interest. “Do you know her?” Lacey asked. “No,” he said, “but I know Jimmy Landi, and I’d met their daughter, Heather. Beautiful young woman. That was a terrible tragedy. Jay, you’ve done business with Landi. You must have met Heather too. She was around the restaurant a lot.” Lacey watched in astonishment as her brother-in-law’s face turned a dark red. “No. Never met her,” he said, his tone clipped and carrying an edge of anger. “I used to do business with Jimmy Landi. Who’s ready for another slice of lamb?”

h

It was seven o’clock. The bar was crowded, and the dinner crowd was starting to arrive. Jimmy Landi knew he should go downstairs and greet people but he just didn’t feel like it. This had been one of the bad days, a depression brought on by a call from Isabelle,

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evoking the image of Heather trapped and burning to death in the overturned car that haunted him still, long after he had gotten off the phone. The slanting light from the setting sun flickered through the tall windows of his paneled office in the brownstone on West Fifty-sixth Street, the home of Venezia, the restaurant Jimmy had opened thirty years ago. He had taken over the space where three successive restaurants had failed. He and Isabelle, newly married, lived in what was then a rental apartment on the second floor. Now he owned the building, and Venezia was one of the most popular places to dine in Manhattan. Jimmy sat at his massive antique Wells Fargo desk, thinking about the reasons he found it so difficult to go downstairs. It wasn’t just the phone call from his ex-wife. The restaurant was decorated with murals, an idea he had copied from his competition, La Côte Basque. They were paintings of Venice, and from the beginning had included scenes in which Heather appeared. When she was two, he had the artist paint her in as a toddler whose face appeared in a window of the Doge’s Palace. As a young girl she was seen being serenaded by a gondolier; when she was twenty, she’d been painted in as a young woman strolling across the Bridge of Sighs, a song sheet in her hand. Jimmy knew that for his own peace of mind he would have to have her painted out of the murals, but just as Isabelle had not been able to let go of the idea that Heather’s death must be someone else’s fault, he could not let go of the constant need for his daughter’s presence, the sense of her eyes watching him as he moved through the dining room, of her being with him there, every day. He was a swarthy man of sixty-seven, whose hair was still naturally dark, and whose brooding eyes under thick unruly brows gave his face a permanently cynical expression. Of medium height, his solid, muscular body gave the impression of animal strength. He was aware that his detractors joked that the custom-tailored suits he wore were wasted on him, that try as he might, he still looked

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like a day laborer. He almost smiled, remembering how indignant Heather had been the first time she had heard that remark. I told her not to worry, Jimmy thought, smiling to himself. I told her that I could buy and sell the lot of them, and that’s all that counts. He shook his head, remembering. Now more than ever, he knew it wasn’t really all that counted, but it still gave him a reason to get up in the morning. He had gotten through the last months by concentrating on the casino and hotel he was building in Atlantic City. “Donald Trump, move over,” Heather had said when he’d showed her the model. “How about calling it Heather’s Place, and I’ll perform there, yours exclusively, Baba?” She had picked up the affectionate nickname for father on a trip to Italy when she was ten. After that she never called him Daddy again. Jimmy remembered his answer. “I’d give you star billing in a minute—you know that. But you better check with Steve. He’s got big bucks in Atlantic City too, and I’m leaving a lot of the decisions to him. But anyway, how about forgetting this career stuff and getting married and giving me some grandchildren?” Heather had laughed. “Oh, Baba, give me a couple of years. I’m having too much fun.” He sighed, remembering her laugh. Now there wouldn’t be any grandchildren, ever, he thought—not a girl with golden-brown hair and hazel eyes, nor a boy who might someday grow up to take over this place. A tap at the door yanked Jimmy back to the present. “Come in, Steve,” he said. Thank God I have Steve Abbott, he thought. Twenty-five years ago the handsome, blond Cornell dropout had knocked on the door of the restaurant before it was open. “I want to work for you, Mr. Landi,” he had announced. “I can learn more from you than in any college course.” Jimmy had been both amused and annoyed. He mentally sized up the young man. Fresh, know-it-all kid, he had decided. “You

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want to work for me?” he had asked, then pointed to the kitchen. “Well, that’s where I started.” That was a good day for me, Jimmy thought. He might have looked like a spoiled preppie, but he was an Irish kid whose mother worked as a waitress to raise him, and he had proved that he had much of the same drive. I thought then that he was a dope to give up his scholarship but I was wrong. He was born for this business. Steve Abbott pushed open the door and turned on the nearest light as he entered the room. “Why so dark? Having a seance, Jimmy?” Landi looked up with a wry smile, noting the compassion in the younger man’s eyes. “Woolgathering, I guess.” “The mayor just came in with a party of four.” Jimmy shoved back his chair and stood up. “No one told me he had a reservation.” “He didn’t. Hizzonor couldn’t resist our hot dogs, I suppose . . .” In long strides, Abbott crossed the room and put his hand on Landi’s shoulder. “A rough day, I can tell.” “Yeah,” Jimmy said. “Isabelle called this morning to say the realtor was in about Heather’s apartment and thinks it will sell fast. Of course, every time she gets me on the phone, she has to go through it all again, how she can’t believe Heather would ever get in a car to drive home on icy roads. That she doesn’t believe her death was an accident. She can’t let go of it. Drives me crazy.” His unfocused eyes stared past Abbott. “When I met Isabelle, she was a knockout, believe it or not. A beauty queen from Cleveland. Engaged to be married. I pulled the rock that guy had given her off her finger and tossed it out the car window.” He chuckled. “I had to take out a loan to pay the other guy for his ring, but I got the girl. Isabelle married me.” Abbott knew the story and understood why Jimmy had been thinking about it. “Maybe the marriage didn’t last, but you got Heather out of the deal.” “Forgive me, Steve. Sometimes I feel like a very old man, repeating myself. You’ve heard it all before. Isabelle never liked New York,

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or this life. She should never have left Cleveland.” “But she did, and you met her. Come on, Jimmy, the mayor’s waiting.”

2
In the next few weeks, Lacey brought eight potential buyers to see the apartment. Two were clearly window-shoppers, the kind whose hobby was wasting realtors’ time. “But on the other hand, you never know,” she said to Rick Parker when he stopped by her desk early one evening as she was getting ready to go home. “You take someone around for a year, you want to kill yourself before you go out with her again, then what happens? The person you’re ready to give up on writes a check for a million-dollar co-op.” “You have more patience than I do,” Rick told her. His features, chiseled in the likeness of his aristocratic ancestors, showed disdain. “I really can’t tolerate people who waste my time. RJP wants to know if you’ve had any real nibbles on the Waring apartment.” RJP was the way Rick referred to his father. “I don’t think so. But, hey, it’s still a new listing and tomorrow is another day.” “Thank you, Scarlett O’Hara. I’ll pass that on to him. See you.” Lacey made a face at his retreating back. It had been one of Rick’s edgy-tempered, sarcastic days. What’s bugging him now, she wondered. And why, when his father is negotiating the sale of the Plaza Hotel, would he give a thought to the Waring apartment? Give me a break. She locked her desk drawer and rubbed her forehead where a headache was threatening to start. She suddenly realized that she was very tired. She had been living in a whirl since coming back from her vacation—following up on old projects, getting new listings, catching up with friends, having Kit’s kids in for a weekend . . . and devoting an awful lot of time to Isabelle Waring. The woman had taken to calling her daily, frequently urging her to come by the apartment. “Lacey, you must join me for lunch. You

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do have to eat, don’t you?” she would say. Or just, “Lacey, on your way home, stop in and have a glass of wine with me, won’t you? The New England settlers used to call twilight ‘sober light.’ It’s a lonesome time of day.” Lacey stared out into the street. Long shadows were slanting across Madison Avenue, a clear indication that the days were becoming shorter. It is a lonesome time of day, she thought. Isabelle is such a very sad person. Now she’s forcing herself to go through everything in the apartment and dispose of Heather’s clothes and personal effects. It’s quite a job. Heather apparently was a bit of a pack rat. It’s little enough to ask that I spend some time with Isabelle and listen to her, Lacey thought. I really don’t mind. Actually, I like Isabelle very much. She’s become a friend. But, Lacey admitted to herself, sharing Isabelle’s pain brings back everything I felt when Dad died. She stood up. I am going home and collapse, she thought. I need to.

h

Two hours later, at nine o’clock, Lacey, fresh from twenty minutes in the swirling Jacuzzi, was happily preparing a BLT. It had been her dad’s favorite. He used to call bacon, lettuce, and tomato New York’s definitive lunch-counter sandwich. The telephone rang. She let the answering machine take it, then heard the familiar voice of Isabelle Waring. I’m not going to pick up, Lacey decided. I simply don’t feel like talking to her for twenty minutes right now. Isabelle Waring’s hesitant voice began to speak in soft but intense tones. “Lacey, guess you’re not home. I had to share this. I found Heather’s journal in the big storage closet. There’s something in it that makes me think I’m not crazy for believing her death wasn’t an accident. I think I may be able to prove that someone wanted her out of the way. I won’t say any more now. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” Listening, Lacey shook her head, then impulsively turned off the answering machine and the ringer on the phone. She didn’t even

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want to know if more people tried to reach her. She wanted what was left of the night all to herself. A quiet evening—a sandwich, a glass of wine, and a book. I’ve earned it, she told herself!

h

As soon as she got to the office in the morning, Lacey paid the price for having turned off the answering machine the night before. Her mother called, and an instant later Kit phoned; both were checking up on her, concerned that they had gotten no answer when they had called her apartment the night before. While she was trying to reassure her sister, Rick appeared in her office, looking decidedly annoyed. “Isabelle Waring has to talk to you. They put her through to me.” “Kit, I’ve got to go and earn a living.” Lacey hung up and ran into Rick’s office. “I’m sorry I couldn’t get back to you last night, Isabelle,” she began. “That’s all right. I shouldn’t talk about all this over the phone anyhow. Are you bringing anyone in today?” “No one is lined up so far.” As she said that, Rick slid a note across his desk to her: “Curtis Caldwell, a lawyer with Keller, Roland, and Smythe, is being transferred here next month from Texas. Wants a one-bedroom apartment between 65th and 72nd on Fifth. Can look at it today.” Lacey mouthed a thank-you to Rick and said to Isabelle, “Maybe I will be bringing someone by. Keep your fingers crossed. I don’t know why, but I’ve got a hunch this could be our sale.”

h

“A Mr. Caldwell’s waiting for you, Miss Farrell,” Patrick, the doorman, told her as she alighted from a cab. Through the ornate glass door, Lacey spotted a slender man in his mid-forties drumming his fingers on the lobby table. Thank God I’m ten minutes early, she thought. Patrick reached past her for the door handle. “A problem you need to know about,” he said with a sigh. “The air-conditioning

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broke down. They’re here now fixing it, but it’s pretty hot inside. I tell you, I’m retiring the first of the year, and it won’t be a day too soon. Forty years on this job is enough.” Oh, swell, Lacey thought. No air-conditioning on one of the hottest days of the year. No wonder this guy’s impatient. This does not bode well for the sale. In the moment it took to walk across the lobby to Caldwell, her impression of the man, with his tawny skin, light sandy hair, and pale blue eyes, was uncertain. She realized that she was bracing herself to be told that he didn’t like to be kept waiting. But when she introduced herself to Curtis Caldwell, a smile brightened his face. He even joked. “Tell the truth now, Miss Farrell,” he said, “how temperamental is the air-conditioning in this building?”

h

When Lacey had phoned Isabelle Waring to confirm the time of the appointment, the older woman, sounding distracted, had told her she would be busy in the library, so Lacey should just let herself in with her realtor’s key. Lacey had the key in hand when she and Caldwell stepped off the elevator. She opened the door, called out, “It’s me, Isabelle,” and went to the library, Caldwell behind her. Isabelle was at the desk in the small room, her back to the door. An open leather loose-leaf binder lay to one side; some of its pages were spread across the desk. Isabelle did not look up or turn her head at Lacey’s greeting. Instead, in a muffled voice, she said, “Just forget I’m here, please.” As Lacey showed Caldwell around, she briefly explained that the apartment was being sold because it had belonged to Isabelle Waring’s daughter, who had died last winter in an accident. Caldwell did not seem interested in the history of the apartment. He clearly liked it, and he did not show any resistance to the six-hundred-thousand-dollar asking price. When he had inspected the second floor thoroughly, he looked out the window of the sitting room and turned to Lacey. “You say it will be available next month?”

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“Absolutely,” Lacey told him. This is it, she thought. He’s going to make a bid. “I don’t haggle, Miss Farrell. I’m willing to pay the asking price, provided I absolutely can move in the first of the month.” “Suppose we talk to Mrs. Waring,” Lacey said, trying not to show her astonishment at the offer. But, she reminded herself, just as I told Rick yesterday, this is the way it happens. Isabelle Waring did not answer Lacey’s knocks at the library door. Lacey turned to the prospective buyer. “Mr. Caldwell, if you don’t mind waiting for me just a moment in the living room, I’ll have a little talk with Mrs. Waring and be right out.” “Of course.” Lacey opened the door and looked in. Isabelle Waring was still sitting at the desk, but her head was bowed now, her forehead actually touching the pages she had been reading. Her shoulders were shaking. “Go away,” she murmured. “I can’t deal with this now.” She was grasping an ornate green pen in her right hand. She slapped it against the desk. “Go away.” “Isabelle,” Lacey said gently, “this is very important. We have an offer on the apartment, but there’s a proviso I have to go over with you first.” “Forget it! I’m not going to sell. I need more time here.” Isabelle Waring’s voice rose to a high-pitched wail. “I’m sorry, Lacey, but I just don’t want to talk now. Come back later.” Lacey checked her watch. It was nearly four o’clock. “I’ll come back at seven,” she said, anxious to avoid a scene and concerned that the older woman was on the verge of hysterical tears. She closed the door and turned. Curtis Caldwell was standing in the foyer between the library and the living room. “She doesn’t want to sell the apartment?” His tone was shocked. “I was given to understand that—” Lacey interrupted him. “Why don’t we go downstairs?” she said, her voice low. They sat in the lobby for a few minutes. “I’m sure it will be all right,” she told him. “I’ll come back and talk to her this evening.

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This has been a painful experience for her, but she’ll be fine. Give me a number where I can call you later.” “I’m staying at the Waldorf Towers, in the Keller, Roland, and Smythe company apartment.” They stood to go. “Don’t worry. This will work out fine,” she promised. “You’ll see.” His smile was affable, confident. “I’m sure it will,” he said. “I leave it in your hands, Miss Farrell.”

h

He left the apartment building and walked from Seventieth Street to the Essex House on Central Park South, and went immediately to the public phones. “You were right,” he said when he had reached his party. “She’s found the journal. It’s in the leather binder the way you described it. She’s also apparently changed her mind about selling the apartment, although the real estate woman is going back there tonight to try to talk some sense into her.” He listened. “I’ll take care of it,” he said, and hung up. Then Sandy Savarano, the man who called himself Curtis Caldwell, went into the bar and ordered a scotch.

3
Her fingers crossed, Lacey phoned Isabelle Waring at six o’clock. She was relieved to find that the woman now was calm. “Come over, Lacey,” she said, “and we’ll talk about it. But even if it means sacrificing the sale, I can’t leave the apartment yet. There’s something in Heather’s journal that I think could prove to be very significant.” “I’ll be there at seven,” Lacey told her. “Please. I want to show what I’ve found to you too. You’ll see what I mean. Just let yourself in. I’ll be upstairs in the sitting room.” Rick Parker, who was passing by Lacey’s office, saw the troubled expression on her face and came in and sat down. “Problem?” “A big one.” She told him of Isabelle Waring’s erratic behavior and about the possibility of losing the potential sale. “Can you talk her out of changing her mind?” Rick asked quickly. Lacey saw the concern on his face, concern that she was fairly certain wasn’t for her or for Isabelle Waring. Parker and Parker would lose a hefty commission if Caldwell’s offer was refused, she thought. That’s what’s bothering him. She got up and reached for her jacket. The afternoon had been warm, but the forecast was for a sharp drop in temperature that evening. “We’ll see what happens,” she said. “You’re leaving already? I thought you said you were meeting her at seven.” “I’ll walk over there, I think. Probably stop for a cup of coffee along the way. Marshal my arguments. See you, Rick.”

h

She was still twenty minutes early but decided to go up anyway. Patrick, the doorman, was busy with a delivery, but smiled when he

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saw her. He waved her to the self-service elevator. As she opened the door and called Isabelle’s name, she heard the scream and the shot. For a split second she froze, then sheer instinct made her slam the door and step into the closet before Caldwell came rushing down the stairs and out into the corridor, a pistol in one hand, a leather binder under his arm. Afterwards she wondered if she imagined that somewhere in her brain she heard her father’s voice saying, “Close the door, Lacey! Lock him out!” Was it his protective spirit that gave her the strength to force the door closed as Caldwell pushed against it, and then to bolt it? She leaned against the door, hearing the lock click as he tried to get back into the apartment, remembering the look of the stalking predator in his pale blue eyes in that instant in which they had stared at each other. Isabelle! Dial 911 . . . Get help! She had stumbled up the winding staircase, then through the ivory-and-peach sitting room and into the bedroom, where Isabelle was lying across the bed. There was so much blood, spreading now to the floor. Isabelle was moving, pulling at a sheaf of papers that were under a pillow. The blood was on them too. Lacey wanted to tell Isabelle that she would get help … that it would be all right, but Isabelle began to try to speak: “Lacey … give Heather’s . . . journal . . . to her father.” She seemed to be gasping for air. “Only to him. . . . Swear that . . . only . . . to him. You . . . read it . . . Show . . . him . . . where . . . ” Her voice trailed off. She drew in a shuddering breath, as though trying to stave off death. Her eyes were becoming unfocused. Lacey knelt next to her. With the last of her strength, Isabelle squeezed Lacey’s hand. “Swear . . . please . . . man . . . !” “I do, Isabelle, I do,” Lacey said, her voice breaking with a sob. Suddenly the pressure on her hand was gone. She knew that Isabelle was dead.

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“You all right, Lacey?” “I guess so.” She was in the library of Isabelle’s apartment, seated in a leather chair facing the desk where Isabelle had been seated just a few hours ago, reading the contents of the leather loose-leaf binder. Curtis Caldwell had been carrying that binder. When he heard me he must have grabbed it, not realizing that Isabelle had taken pages out of it. Lacey hadn’t seen it that closely, but it looked heavy, she thought, and fairly cumbersome. The pages she had picked up in Isabelle’s room were in Lacey’s briefcase now. Isabelle had made her swear to give them only to Heather’s father. She had wanted her to show him something that was in them. But show him what? she wondered. And shouldn’t she tell the police about them? “Lacey, drink some coffee. You need it.” Rick was crouching beside her, holding a steaming cup out to her. He had already explained to the detectives that he had no reason to question a phone call from a man claiming to be an attorney with Keller, Roland, and Smythe, an attorney transferring to New York from Texas. “We do a lot of business with the firm,” Rick had explained. “I saw no reason to call and confirm.” “And you’re sure this Caldwell guy is the one you saw running out of here, Ms. Farrell?” The older of the two detectives was about fifty and heavy-set. But he’s light on his feet, Lacey thought, her mind wandering. He’s like that actor who was Dad’s friend, the one who played the father in the revival of My Fair Lady. He sang “Get Me to the Church on Time.” What was his name? “Ms. Farrell?” An edge of impatience had crept into the detective’s voice. Lacey looked back up at him. Detective Ed Sloane, that was this man’s name, she thought. But she still couldn’t remember the name of the actor. What had Sloane asked her? Oh, yes. Was Curtis Caldwell the man she’d seen running down the stairs from Isabelle’s bedroom?

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“I’m absolutely sure it was the same man,” she said. “He was carrying a pistol and the leather binder.” Mentally she gave herself a hard slap. She hadn’t meant to talk about the journal. She had to think all this through before talking about it. “The leather binder?” Detective Sloane’s tone became sharp. “What leather binder? That’s the first you’ve mentioned it.” Lacey sighed. “I really don’t know. It was open on Isabelle’s desk this afternoon. It’s one of those leather binders that zips closed. Isabelle was reading the pages in it when we were in here earlier.” She should tell them about the pages that weren’t inside the leather binder when Caldwell took it. Why wasn’t she telling them? she thought. Because she’d sworn to Isabelle that she would give them to Heather’s father. Isabelle had struggled to stay alive until she had heard Lacey’s promise. She couldn’t go back on her word … Suddenly Lacey felt her legs begin to shake. She tried to hold them still by pressing her hands on her knees, but they still wouldn’t stop trembling. “I think we’d better get a doctor for you, Ms. Farrell,” Sloane said. “I just want to go home,” Lacey whispered. “Please let me go home.” She knew Rick was saying something to the detective in a low voice, something she couldn’t hear, didn’t really want to hear. She rubbed her hands together. Her fingers were sticky. She looked down, then gasped. She hadn’t realized that her hands were sticky with Isabelle’s blood. “Mr. Parker is going to take you home, Ms. Farrell,” Detective Sloane was saying. “We’ll talk to you more tomorrow. When you’ve rested.” His voice was very loud, Lacey thought. Or was it? No. It was just that she was hearing Isabelle scream Don’t . . . ! Was Isabelle’s body still crumpled on the bed? she wondered. Lacey felt hands under her arms, urging her to stand. “Come on, Lacey,” Rick was saying. Obediently she got up, allowed herself to be guided through the

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door, then down the foyer. Curtis Caldwell had stood in the foyer that afternoon. He had heard what Isabelle said to her about not selling the apartment. “He didn’t wait in the living room,” she said. “Who didn’t?” Rick asked. Lacey didn’t answer. Suddenly she remembered her briefcase. That’s where the pages from the journal were. She remembered the feel of the pages in her hand, crumpled, blood soaked. That’s where the blood came from. Detective Sloane had asked her if she had touched Isabelle. She had told him that she had held Isabelle’s hand as she died. He must have noticed the blood on her fingers. There must be blood on her briefcase too. Lacey had a sudden moment of total clarity. If she asked Rick to get it for her from the closet, he would notice the blood on the handle. She had to get it herself. And keep them from seeing it until she could wipe it clean. There were so many people milling around. Flashes of light. They were taking pictures. Looking for fingerprints, dusting powder on tables. Isabelle wouldn’t have liked that, Lacey thought. She was so neat. Lacey paused at the staircase and looked up toward the second floor. Was Isabelle still lying there? she wondered. Had they covered her body? Rick’s arm was firmly around her. “Come on, Lacey,” he said, urging her toward the door. They were passing the closet where she had put her briefcase. I can’t ask him to get it for me, Lacey reminded herself. Breaking away, she opened the closet door and grabbed her briefcase in her left hand. “I’ll carry it,” Rick told her. Deliberately she sagged against him, weighing down his arm with her right hand, making him support her, tightening her grip on the handle of her briefcase. “Lacey, I’ll get you home,” Rick promised. She felt as though everyone’s eyes were staring at her, staring at

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the bloody briefcase. Was this the way a thief felt? she wondered. Go back. Give them the journal; it’s not yours to take, a voice inside her insisted. Isabelle’s blood was on those pages. It’s not mine to give, either, she thought hopelessly. When they reached the lobby, a young police officer came up to them. “I’ll drive you, Miss Farrell. Detective Sloane wants to make sure you get home okay.”

h

Lacey’s apartment was on East End Avenue at Seventy-ninth Street. When they arrived there, Rick wanted to come upstairs with her, but she demurred. “I just want to go to bed,” she said, and kept shaking her head at his protests that she shouldn’t be alone. “Then I’ll call you first thing in the morning,” he promised. She lived on the eighth floor and was alone in the elevator as it made what seemed to be an interminably long ascent before stopping. The corridor reminded her of the one outside Isabelle’s front door, and Lacey looked around fearfully as she ran down it. Once inside her apartment, the first thing she did was to shove the briefcase under the couch. The living room windows overlooked the East River. For long minutes Lacey stood at one of the windows, watching the lights as they flickered across the water. Finally, even though she was shivering, she opened the window and gulped in the fresh, cool night air. The sense of unreality that had overwhelmed her for the past several hours was beginning to dissipate, but in its place was an aching awareness of being as tired as she had ever felt in her life. Turning, she looked at the clock. Ten-thirty. Only a little over twenty-four hours ago, she had refused to pick up the phone and talk to Isabelle. Now Isabelle would never call her again . . . Lacey froze. The door! Had she double-locked the door? She ran to check it. Yes, she had, but now she threw the dead bolt and wedged a chair under the handle. She realized suddenly that she was shaking again. I’m afraid, she thought, and my hands are sticky—sticky with

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Isabelle Waring’s blood. Her bathroom was large for a New York apartment. Two years ago, when she had modernized the whole space, she had added the wide, deep Jacuzzi. She had never been as happy she had gone to the expense as she was tonight, she thought, as steaming water clouded the mirror. She stripped, dropping her clothes on the floor. Stepping into the tub, she sighed with relief as she sank into the warmth, then held her hands under the faucet, scrubbing them deliberately. Finally she pushed the button that sent the water swirling around her body. It was only later, when she was snugly wrapped in a terry-cloth robe, that Lacey allowed herself to think about the bloodied pages in her briefcase. Not now, she thought, not now. Still unable to shake the chilling sensation that had haunted her all evening, she remembered there was a bottle of scotch in the liquor cabinet. She got it out, poured a little into a cup, filled the cup with water, and microwaved it. Dad used to say there was nothing like a hot toddy to help shake off a chill, she thought. Only his version was elaborate, with cloves and sugar and a cinnamon stick. Even without the trimmings, however, it did the trick. As she sipped the drink in bed, she felt a calmness begin to settle over her and fell asleep as soon as she turned off the light. And almost immediately awakened with a shriek. She was opening the door to Isabelle Waring’s apartment; she was bending over the dead woman’s body; Curtis Caldwell was aiming the pistol at her head. The image was vivid and immediate. It took her several moments to realize that the shrill sound was the ringing of the telephone. Still shaking, she picked up the receiver. It was Jay, her brother-in-law. “We just got back from dinner and heard on the news that Isabelle Waring was shot,” he said. “They reported that there was a witness, a young woman who could identify the killer. Lacey, it wasn’t you, I hope.” The concern in Jay’s voice was comforting. “Yes, it was me,” she

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told him. For a moment there was silence. Then he said quietly, “It’s never good to be a witness.” “Well, I certainly never wanted to be one!” she said angrily. “Kit wants to talk to you,” Jay said. “I can’t talk now,” Lacey said, knowing full well that Kit, loving and concerned, would ask questions that would force her to tell it all again—all about going to the apartment, hearing the scream, seeing Isabelle’s killer. “Jay, I just can’t talk now!” she pleaded. “Kit will understand.” She hung up the phone and lay in the darkness, calming herself, willing herself to go back to sleep, realizing that her ears were straining to hear another scream, followed by the sound of footsteps racing toward her. Caldwell’s footsteps. Her last thought as she drifted off to sleep was of something Jay had said in his call. He said it was never good to be a witness. Why did he say that? she wondered.

h

When he had left Lacey in the lobby of her apartment building, Rick Parker had taken a taxi directly to his place on Central Park West and Sixty-seventh Street. He knew what would be awaiting him there, and he dreaded it. By now, Isabelle Waring’s death would be all over the news. There had been reporters outside her building when they had come out, and chances were that he had been caught on-camera getting into the police car with Lacey. And if so, then his father would have seen it, since he always watched the ten-o’clock news. Rick checked his watch: it was now quarter of eleven. As he had expected, when he entered his dark apartment he could see that the light on his telephone answering machine was flashing. He pressed the PLAY button. There was one message; it was from his father: “No matter what time it is, call me when you get in!” Rick’s palms were so wet that he had to dry them on his handkerchief before picking up the phone to return the call. His father

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answered on the first ring. “Before you ask,” Rick said, his voice ragged and unnaturally high pitched, “I had no choice. I had to go over there because Lacey had told the police that I’d been the one who’d given her Caldwell’s number, so they sent for me.” Rick listened for a minute to his father’s angry voice, then he finally managed to break in to respond: “Dad, I’ve told you not to worry. It’s all fine. Nobody knows that I was involved with Heather Landi.”

4
Sandy Savarano, the man known to Lacey as Curtis Caldwell, had raced from Isabelle Waring’s apartment and down the fire stairs to the basement and out through the delivery entrance. It was risky, but sometimes you had to take risks. Quick strides took him to Madison Avenue, the leather binder tucked under his arm. He took a taxi to the small hotel on Twenty-ninth Street where he was staying. Once in his room, he tossed the binder on the bed and promptly poured a generous amount of scotch into a water glass. Half of it he bolted down; the rest he would sip. It was a ritual he followed after a job like this. Carrying the scotch, he picked up the binder and settled in the hotel room’s one upholstered chair. Up until the last-minute glitch the job had been easy enough. He had gotten back into the building undetected when the doorman was at the curb, helping an old woman into a cab. He had let himself into the apartment with the key he had taken off the table in the foyer when Lacey Farrell was in the library with the Waring woman. He had found Isabelle in the master bedroom, propped up on the bed, her eyes closed. The leather binder had been on the night table beside the bed. When she realized he was there, she had jumped up and tried to run, but he had blocked the door. She hadn’t started screaming. No, she’d been too scared. That was what he liked most: the naked fear in her eyes, the knowledge that there would be no escape, the awareness that she was going to die. He savored that moment. He always liked to take his pistol out slowly, keeping eye contact with his victim while he pointed it, taking careful aim. The chemistry between him and his target in that split second before his finger squeezed the trigger thrilled him. He pictured Isabelle as she started shrinking away from him, returning to the bed, her back to the headboard, her lips struggling

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to form words. Then finally the single scream: “Don’t!”—mingling suddenly with the sound of someone calling her from downstairs— just as he shot her. Savarano drummed his fingers angrily on the leather binder. The Farrell woman had come in at that precise second. Except for her, everything would have been perfect. He had been a fool, he told himself, letting her lock him out, forcing him to run away. But he did get the journal, and he did kill the Waring woman, and that was the job he was hired to do. And if Farrell became a problem he would kill her too, somehow . . . He would do what he had to; it was all part of the job. Carefully Savarano unzipped the leather binder and looked inside. The pages were all neatly clamped in place, but when he thumbed through them he found they were all blank. Unbelieving, he stared down at the pages. He started turning them rapidly, looking for handwriting. They were blank, all of them—none had been used. The actual journal pages must still be in the apartment, he realized. What should he do? He had to think this through. It was too late to get the pages now. The cops would be swarming all over the apartment. He’d have to find another way to get them. But it wasn’t too late to make sure that Lacey Farrell never got the chance to ID him in court. That was a chore he might actually enjoy.

Copyright © 1997 by Mary Higgins Clark

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Exclusive Introduction for A Cry in the Night

An article in one of the major American magazines was about divorced young women with children who would love to remarry—to find a good and trustworthy man who would love their children. That gave me the idea for this novel. I thought, “suppose the man who is rich, handsome, and seemingly caring is actually a lunatic. By moving away from her home and friends, a young woman and her two small children are at his mercy.” And with that premise I was on my way.

Excerpt from A Cry in the Night 9780743206143

Prologue

Jenny began looking for the cabin at dawn. All night she had lain motionless in the massive four-poster bed, unable to sleep, the stillness of the house oppressive and clutching. Even after weeks of knowing it would not come, her ears were still tuned for the baby’s hungry cry. Her breasts still filled, ready to welcome the tiny, eager lips. Finally she switched on the lamp at the bedside table. The room brightened and the leaded crystal bowl on the dresser top caught and reflected the light. The small cakes of pine soap that filled the bowl cast an eerie green tint on the antique silver mirror and brushes. She got out of bed and began to dress, choosing the long underwear and nylon Windbreaker that she wore under her ski suit. She had turned on the radio at four o’clock. The weather report was unchanged for the area of Granite Place, Minnesota; the temperature was twelve degrees Fahrenheit. The winds were blowing at an average of twenty-five miles per hour. The windchill factor was twenty-four below zero. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. If she froze to death in the search she would try to find the cabin. Somewhere in that forest of maples and oaks and evergreens and Norwegian pines and overgrown brush it was there. In those sleepless hours she had devised a plan. Erich could walk three paces to her one. His naturally long stride had always made him unconsciously walk too fast for her. They used to joke about it. “Hey, wait up for a city girl,” she’d protest. Once he had forgotten his key when he went to the cabin and immediately returned to the house for it. He’d been gone forty min-

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utes. That meant that for him the cabin was usually about a twenty-minute walk from the edge of the woods. He had never taken her there. “Please understand, Jenny,” he’d begged. “Every artist needs a place to be totally alone.” She had never tried to find it before. The help on the farm was absolutely forbidden to go into the woods. Even Clyde, who’d been the farm manager for thirty years, claimed he didn’t know where the cabin was. The heavy, crusted snow would have erased any path, but the snow also made it possible for her to try the search on cross-country skis. She’d have to be careful not to get lost. With the dense underbrush and her own miserable sense of direction, she could easily go around in circles. Jenny had thought about that, and decided to take a compass, a hammer, tacks and pieces of cloth. She could nail the cloth to trees to help her find her way back. Her ski suit was downstairs in the closet off the kitchen. While water boiled for coffee, she zipped it on. The coffee helped to bring her mind into focus. During the night she had considered going to Sheriff Gunderson. But he would surely refuse help and would simply stare at her with that familiar look of speculative disdain. She would carry a thermos of coffee with her. She didn’t have a key to the cabin, but she could break a window with the hammer. Even though Elsa had not been in for over two weeks, the huge old house still glistened and shone with visible proof of her rigid standards of cleanliness. Her habit as she left was to tear off the current day from the daily calendar over the wall phone. Jenny had joked about that to Erich. “She not only cleans what was never dirty, she eliminates every weekday evening.” Now Jenny tore off Friday, February 14, crumpled the page in her hand and stared at the blank sheet under the bold lettering, Saturday, February 15. She shivered. It was nearly fourteen months since that day in the gallery when she’d met Erich. No that couldn’t be. It was a lifetime ago. She rubbed her hand across her forehead. Her chestnut-brown hair had darkened to near-black during the

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pregnancy. It felt drab and lifeless as she stuffed it under the woolen ski cap. The shell-edged mirror to the left of the kitchen door was an incongruous touch in the massive, oak-beamed kitchen. She stared into it now. Her eyes were heavily shadowed. Normally a shade somewhere between aqua and blue, they reflected back at her wide-pupiled and expressionless. Her cheeks were drawn. The weight loss since the birth had left her too thin. The pulse in her neck throbbed as she zipped the ski suit to the top. Twenty-seven years old. It seemed to her that she looked at least ten years older, and felt a century older. If only the numbness would go away. If only the house weren’t so quiet, so fearfully, frighteningly quiet. She looked at the cast-iron stove at the east wall of the kitchen. The cradle, filled with wood, was beside it again, its usefulness restored. Deliberately she studied the cradle, made herself absorb the constant shock of its presence in the kitchen, then turned her back on it and reached for the thermos bottle. She poured coffee into it, then collected the compass, hammer and tacks and strips of cloth. Thrusting them into a canvas knapsack she pulled a scarf over her face, put on her cross-country ski shoes, yanked thick, fur-lined mittens on her hands and opened the door. The sharp, biting wind made a mockery of the face scarf. The muffled lowing of the cows in the dairy barn reminded her of the exhausted sobs of deep mourning. The sun was coming up, dazzling against the snow, harsh in its golden-red beauty, a far-off god that could not affect the bitter cold. By now Clyde would be inspecting the dairy barn. Other hands would be pitching hay in the polebarns to feed the scores of black Angus cattle, which were unable to graze beneath the hard-packed snow and would habitually head there for food and shelter. A half-dozen men working on this enormous farm, yet there was no one near the house—all of them were small figures, seen like silhouettes, against the horizon . . . Her cross-country skis were outside the kitchen door. Jenny carried them down the six steps from the porch, tossed them on the

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ground, stepped into them and snapped them on. Thank God she’d learned to ski well last year. It was a little after seven o’clock when she began looking for the cabin. She limited herself to skiing no more than thirty minutes in any direction. She started at the point where Erich always disappeared into the woods. The overhead branches were so entangled that the sun barely penetrated through them. After she’d skied in as straight a line as possible, she turned right, covered about one hundred feet more, turned right again and started back to the edge of the forest. The wind covered her tracks almost as soon as she passed any spot but at every turning point she hammered a piece of cloth into the tree. At eleven o’clock she returned to the house, heated soup, changed into dry socks, forced herself to ignore the tingling pain in her forehead and hands, and set out again. At five o’clock, half frozen, the slanting rays of the sun almost vanishing, she was about to give up for the day when she decided to go over one more hilly mound. It was then she came upon it, the small, bark-roofed log cabin that had been built by Erich’s great-grandfather in 1869. She stared at it, biting her lips as savage disappointment sliced her with the physical impact of a stiletto. The shades were drawn; the house had a shuttered look as though it had not been open for a time. The chimney was snow-covered; no lights shone from within. Had she really dared to hope that when she came upon it, that chimney would be smoking, lamps would glow through the curtains, that she’d be able to go up to the door and open it? There was a metal shingle nailed to the door. The letters were faded but still readable: ABSOLUTELY NO ADMITTANCE. VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED. It was signed Erich Fritz Krueger and dated 1903. There was a pump house to the left of the cabin, an outhouse discreetly half-hidden by full-branched pines. She tried to picture the young Erich coming here with his mother. “Caroline loved the cabin just as it was,” Erich had told her. “My father wanted to modernize the old place but she wouldn’t hear of it.”

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No longer aware of the cold, Jenny skied over to the nearest window. Reaching into the knapsack, she pulled out the hammer, raised it and smashed the pane. Flying glass grazed her cheek. She was unaware of the trickle of blood that froze as it ran down her face. Careful to avoid the jagged peaks, she reached in, unfastened the latch and shoved the window up. Kicking off her skis, she climbed over the low sill, pushed aside the shade and stepped into the cabin. The cabin consisted of a single room about twenty feet square. A Franklin stove on the north wall had wood piled neatly next to it. A faded Oriental rug covered most of the white pine flooring. A wide-armed, high-backed velour couch and matching chairs were clustered around the stove. A long oak table and benches were near the front windows. A spinning wheel looked as though it might still be functional. A massive oak sideboard held willowware china and oil lamps. A steep stairway led to the left. Next to it, rows of file baskets held stacks of unframed canvases. The walls were white pine, unknotted, silk-smooth and covered with paintings. Numbly Jenny walked from one to the other of them. The cabin was a museum. Even the dim light could not hide the exquisite beauty of the oils and watercolors, the charcoals and pen-and-ink drawings. Erich had not even begun to show his best work yet. How would the critics react when they saw these masterpieces? she wondered. Some of the paintings on the walls were already framed. These must be the next ones he planned to exhibit. The pole-barn in a winter storm. What was so different about it? The doe, head poised, listening, about to flee into the woods. The calf reaching up to its mother. The fields of alfalfa, blue-flowered, ready for harvest. The Congregational Church with worshipers hurrying toward it. The main street of Granite Place suggesting timeless serenity. Even in her desolation, the sensitive beauty of the collection gave Jenny a momentary sense of quietude and peace. Finally she bent over the unframed canvases in the nearest rack. Again admiration suffused her being. The incredible dimensions of

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Erich’s talent, his ability to paint landscapes, people and animals with equal authority; the playfulness of the summer garden with the old-fashioned baby carriage, the . . . And then she saw it. Not understanding, she began to race through the other paintings and sketches in the files. She ran to the wall from one canvas to the next. Her eyes widened in disbelief. Not knowing what she was doing, she stumbled toward the staircase leading to the loft and rushed up the stairs. The loft sloped with the pitch of the roof and Jenny had to bend forward at the top stair before she stepped into the room. As she straightened up, a nightmarish blaze of color from the back wall assaulted her vision. Shocked, she stared at her own image. A mirror? No. The painted face did not move as she approached it. The dusky light from the slitlike window played on the canvas, shading it in streaks, like a ghostly finger pointing. For minutes she stared at the canvas, unable to wrench her eyes from it, absorbing every grotesque detail, feeling her mouth slacken in hopeless anguish, hearing the keening sound that was coming from her own throat. Finally she forced her numbed, reluctant fingers to grasp the canvas and yank it from the wall. Seconds later, the painting under her arm, she was skiing away from the cabin. The wind, stronger now, gagged her, robbed her of breath, muffled her frantic cry. “Help me,” she was screaming. “Somebody, please, please help me.” The wind whipped the cry from her lips and scattered it through the darkening wood.

1
It was obvious that the exhibition of paintings by Erich Krueger, the newly discovered Midwest artist, was a stunning success. The reception for critics and specially invited guests began at four, but all day long browsers had filled the gallery, drawn by Memory of Caroline, the magnificent oil in the showcase window. Deftly Jenny went from critic to critic, introducing Erich, chatting with collectors, watching that the caterers kept passing fresh trays of hors d’oeuvres and refilling champagne glasses. From the moment she’d opened her eyes this morning, it had been a difficult day. Beth, usually so pliable, had resisted leaving for the day-care center. Tina, teething with two-year molars, awakened a half-dozen times during the night, crying fretfully. The New Year’s Day blizzard had left New York a nightmare of snarled traffic and curbsides covered with mounds of slippery, sooty snow. By the time she’d left the children at the center and made her way across town she was nearly an hour late for work. Mr. Hartley had been frantic. “Everything is going wrong, Jenny. Nothing is ready. I warn you. I need someone I can count on.” “I’m so sorry.” Jenny tossed her coat in the closet. “What time is Mr. Krueger due?” “About one. Can you believe three of the paintings weren’t delivered until a few minutes ago?” It always seemed to Jenny that the small, sixtyish man reverted to being about seven years old when he was upset. He was frowning now and his mouth was trembling. “They’re all here, aren’t they?” she asked soothingly. “Yes, yes, but when Mr. Krueger phoned last night I asked if he’d sent those three. He was terribly angry at the prospect they’d been lost. And he insists that the one of his mother be exhibited in the window even though it’s not for sale. Jenny, I’m telling you. You

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could have posed for that painting.” “Well, I didn’t.” Jenny resisted the impulse to pat Mr. Hartley on the shoulder. “We’ve got everything. Let’s get on with hanging them.” Swiftly she helped with the arrangement, grouping the oils, the watercolors, the pen-and-ink sketches, the charcoals. “You’ve got a good eye, Jenny,” Mr. Hartley said, visibly brightening as the last canvas was placed. “I knew we’d make it.” Sure you did! she thought, trying not to sigh. The gallery opened at eleven. By five of eleven the featured painting was in place, the handsomely lettered, velvet-framed announcement beside it: FIRST NEW YORK SHOWING, ERICH KRUEGER. The painting immediately began to attract the passersby on Fifty-seventh Street. From her desk, Jenny watched as people stopped to study it. Many of them came into the gallery to see the rest of the exhibit. Not a few of them asked her, “Were you the model for that painting in the window?” Jenny handed out brochures with Erich Krueger’s bio: Two years ago, Erich Krueger achieved instant prominence in the art world. A native of Granite Place, Minnesota, he has painted as an avocation since he was fifteen years old. His home is a fourth-generation family farm where he breeds prize cattle. He is also president of the Krueger Limestone Works. A Minneapolis art dealer was the first to discover his talent. Since then he has exhibited in Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Mr. Krueger is thirty-four years old and is unmarried. Jenny studied his picture on the cover of the brochure. And he’s also marvelous-looking, she thought. At eleven-thirty, Mr. Hartley came over to her. His anxious fretful look had almost disappeared. “Everything’s all right?” “Everything’s fine,” she assured him. Anticipating his next question she said, “I reconfirmed the caterer. The Times, The New Yorker,

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Newsweek, Time and Art News critics are definitely coming. We can expect at least eight at the reception, and allowing for gate-crashers about one hundred. We’ll close to the public at three o’clock. That will give the caterer plenty of time to set up.” “You’re a good girl, Jenny.” Now that everything was in order, Mr. Hartley was relaxed and benign. Wait till she told him that she couldn’t stay till the end of the reception! “Lee just got in,” Jenny continued, referring to her part-time assistant, “so we’re in good shape.” She grinned at him. “Now please stop worrying.” “I’ll try. Tell Lee I’ll be back before one to have lunch with Mr. Krueger. You go out and get yourself something to eat now, Jenny.” She watched him march briskly out the door. For the moment there was a lull in the number of new arrivals. She wanted to study the painting in the window. Without bothering to put on a coat, she slipped outside. To get perspective on the work she backed up a few feet from the glass. Passersby on the street, glancing at her and the picture, obligingly walked around her. The young woman in the painting was sitting in a swing on a porch, facing the setting sun. The light was oblique, shades of red and purple and mauve. The slender figure was wrapped in a dark green cape. Tiny tendrils of blue-black hair blew around her face, which was already half-shadowed. I see what Mr. Hartley means, Jenny thought. The high forehead, thick brows, wide eyes, slim, straight nose and generous mouth were very like her own features. The wooden porch was painted white with a slender corner column. The brick wall of the house behind it was barely suggested in the background. A small boy, silhouetted by the sun, was running across a field toward the woman. Crusted snow suggested the penetrating cold of the oncoming night. The figure in the swing was motionless, her gaze riveted on the sunset. Despite the eagerly approaching child, the solidity of the house, the sweeping sense of space, it seemed to Jenny that there was something peculiarly isolated about the figure. Why? Perhaps because the expression in the woman’s eyes was so sad. Or was it just that the entire painting suggested biting cold? Why would anyone

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sit outside in that cold? Why not watch the sunset from a window inside the house? Jenny shivered. Her turtleneck sweater had been a Christmas gift from her ex-husband Kevin. He had arrived at the apartment unexpectedly on Christmas Eve with the sweater for her and dolls for the girls. Not one word about the fact that he never sent support payments and in fact owed her over two hundred dollars in “loans.” The sweater was cheap, its claim to warmth feeble. But at least it was new and the turquoise color was a good background for Nana’s gold chain and locket. Of course one asset of the art world was that people dressed to please themselves and her too-long wool skirt and too-wide boots were not necessarily an admission of poverty. Still she’d better get inside. The last thing she needed was to catch the flu that was making the rounds in New York. She stared again at the painting, admiring the skill with which the artist directed the gaze of the viewer from the figure on the porch to the child to the sunset. “Beautiful,” she murmured, “absolutely beautiful.” Unconsciously she backed up as she spoke, skidded on the slick pavement and felt herself bump into someone. Strong hands gripped her elbows and steadied her. “Do you always stand outside in this weather without a coat and talk to yourself?” The tone of voice combined annoyance and amusement. Jenny spun around. Confused, she stammered, “I’m so sorry. Please excuse me. Did I hurt you?” She pulled back and as she did realized that the face she was looking at was the one depicted on the brochure she’d been passing out all morning. Good God, she thought, of all people I have to go slamming into Erich Krueger! She watched as his face paled; his eyes widened, his lips tightened. He’s angry, she thought, dismayed. I practically knocked him down. Contritely she held out her hand. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Krueger. Please forgive me. I was so lost in admiring the painting of your mother. It’s . . . It’s indescribable. Oh, do come in. I’m Jenny MacPartland. I work in the gallery.” For a long moment his gaze remained on her face as he studied

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it feature by feature. Not knowing what to do, she stood silently. Gradually his expression softened. “Jenny.” He smiled and repeated, “Jenny.” Then he added, “I wouldn’t have been surprised if you told me . . . Well, never mind.” The smile brightened his appearance immeasurably. They were practically eye to eye and her boots had three-inch heels so she judged him to be about five nine. His classically handsome face was dominated by deep-set blue eyes. Thick, well-shaped brows kept his forehead from seeming too broad. Bronze-gold hair, sprinkled with touches of silver, curled around his head, reminding her of the image on an old Roman coin. He had the same slender nostrils and sensitive mouth as the woman in the painting. He was wearing a camel’s hair cashmere coat, a silk scarf at his throat. What had she expected? she wondered. The minute she’d heard the word farm, she had had a mental image of the artist coming into the gallery in a denim jacket and muddy boots. The thought made her smile and snapped her back to reality. This was ludicrous. She was standing here shivering. “Mr. Krueger . . .” He interrupted her. “Jenny, you’re cold. I’m so terribly sorry.” His hand was under her arm. He was propelling her toward the gallery door, opening it for her. He immediately began to study the placement of his paintings, remarking how fortunate it was that the last three had arrived. “Fortunate for the shipper,” he added, smiling. Jenny followed him around as he made a meticulous inspection, stopping twice to straighten canvases that were hanging a hairbreadth off-center. When he was finished, he nodded, seemingly satisfied. “Why did you put Spring Plowing next to Harvest?” he asked. “It’s the same field, isn’t it?” Jenny asked. “I felt a continuity between plowing the ground and then seeing the harvest. I just wish there was a summer scene as well.” “There is,” he told her. “I didn’t choose to send it.” Jenny glanced at the clock over the door. It was nearly noon. “Mr. Krueger, if you don’t mind, I’m going to settle you in Mr. Hart-

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ley’s private office. Mr. Hartley’s made a luncheon reservation for you and him at the Russian Tea Room for one o’clock. He’ll be along soon and I’m going to go out now for a quick sandwich.” Erich Krueger helped her on with her coat. “Mr. Hartley is going to have to eat alone today,” he said. “I’m very hungry and I intend to go to lunch with you. Unless, of course, you’re meeting someone?” “No, I’m going to get something fast at the drugstore.” “We’ll try the Tea Room. I imagine they’ll find room for us.” She went under protest, knowing Mr. Hartley would be furious, knowing that her hold on her job was becoming increasingly more precarious. She was late much too often. She’d had to stay home two days last week because Tina had croup. But she realized she wasn’t being given a choice. In the restaurant he brushed aside the fact they had no reservation and succeeded in being placed at the corner table he wanted. Jenny turned down the suggestion of wine. “I’d be drowsy in fifteen minutes. I was a bit short on sleep last night. Perrier for me, please.” They ordered club sandwiches, then he leaned across the table. “Tell me about yourself, Jenny MacPartland.” She tried not to laugh. “Did you ever take the Dale Carnegie course?” “No, I didn’t. Why?” “That’s the kind of question they teach you to ask on a first meeting. Be interested in the other fellow. I want to know about you.” “But it happens that I do want to know about you.” The drinks came and they sipped as she told him: “I am the head of what the modern world calls ‘the single parent family.’ I have two little girls. Beth is three and Tina just turned two. We live in an apartment in a brownstone on East Thirty-seventh Street. A grand piano, if I had one, would just about take up the whole place. I’ve worked for Mr. Hartley for four years.” “How could you work for him four years with such young children?” “I took a couple of weeks off when they were born.” “Why was it necessary to go back to work so quickly?”

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Jenny shrugged. “I met Kevin MacPartland the summer after I finished college. I’d been a fine arts major at Fordham University in Lincoln Center. Kev had a small part in an off-Broadway show. Nana told me I was making a mistake but naturally I didn’t listen.” “Nana?” “My grandmother. She raised me since I was a year old. Anyhow Nana was right. Kev’s a nice enough guy but he’s a—lightweight. Two children in two years of marriage wasn’t on his schedule. Right after Tina was born he moved out. We’re divorced now.” “Does he support the children?” “The average income for an actor is three thousand dollars a year. Actually Kev is quite good and with a break or two might make it. But at the moment the answer to the question is no.” “Surely you haven’t had those children in a day-care center from the time they were born?” Jenny felt the lump start to form in her throat. In a minute her eyes would be filling with tears. She said hurriedly, “My grandmother took care of them while I worked. She died three months ago. I really don’t want to talk about her now.” She felt his hand close over hers. “Jenny, I’m sorry. Forgive me. I’m not usually so dense.” She managed a smile. “My turn. Do tell me all about you.” She nibbled on the sandwich while he talked. “You probably read the bio on the brochure—I’m an only child. My mother died in an accident on the farm when I was ten … on my tenth birthday to be exact. My father died two years ago. The farm manager really runs the place. I spend most of my time in my studio.” “It would be a waste if you didn’t,” Jenny said. “You’ve been painting since you were fifteen years old, haven’t you? Didn’t you realize how good you were?” Erich twirled the wine in his glass, hesitated, then shrugged. “I could give the usual answer, that I painted strictly as an avocation, but it wouldn’t be the whole truth. My mother was an artist. I’m afraid she wasn’t very good but her father was reasonably well known. His name was Everett Bonardi.”

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“Of course I know of him,” Jenny exclaimed. “But why didn’t you include that in your bio?” “If my work is good, it will speak for itself. I hope I’ve inherited something of his talent. Mother simply sketched and enjoyed doing it, but my father was terribly jealous of her art. I suppose he’d felt like a bull in a china shop when he met her family in San Francisco. I gather they treated him like a Midwest hunky with hayseed in his shoes. He reciprocated by telling mother to use her skill to do useful things like making quilts. Even so he idolized her. But I always knew he would have hated to find me ‘wasting my time painting,’ so I kept it from him.” The noonday sun had broken through the overcast sky and a few stray beams, colored by the stained-glass window, danced on their table. Jenny blinked and turned her head. Erich was studying her. “Jenny,” he said suddenly, “you must have wondered about my reaction when we met. Frankly I thought I was seeing a ghost. Your resemblance to Caroline is quite startling. She was about your height. Her hair was darker than yours and her eyes were a brilliant green. Yours are blue with just a suggestion of green. But there are other things about you. Your smile. The way you tilt your head when you listen. You’re so slim, just as she was. My father was always fretting over her thinness. He’d keep trying to make her eat more. And I find myself wanting to say, ‘Jenny, finish that sandwich. You’ve barely touched it.’” “I’m fine,” Jenny said. “But would you mind ordering a quick coffee? Mr. Hartley will be having a heart attack as it is that you arrived when he was out. And I have to sneak away from the reception early which won’t endear me to him.” Erich’s smile vanished. “You have plans for tonight?” “Big ones. If I’m late picking up the girls at Mrs. Curtis’ Progressive Day Care Center, I’m in trouble.” Jenny raised her eyebrows, pursed her lips, imitated Mrs. Curtis. “‘My usual time for closing is five P.M. but I make an exception for working mothers, Mrs. MacPartland. But five-thirty is the finish. I don’t want to hear anything about missed buses or last-minute

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phone calls. You be here by five-thirty, or you keep your kids home the next morning. Understan?’” Erich laughed. “I understan. Now tell me about your girls.” “Oh, that’s easy,” she said. “Obviously they’re brilliant and beautiful and lovable and . . .” “And walked at six months and talked at nine months. You sound like my mother. People tell me that’s the way she used to talk about me.” Jenny felt an odd catch at her heart at the wistful expression that suddenly came over his face. “I’m sure it was true,” she said. He laughed. “And I’m sure it wasn’t. Jenny, New York staggers me. What was it like growing up here?” Over coffee they talked. She about city life: “There isn’t a building in Manhattan I don’t love.” He, drily, “I can’t imagine that. But then you’ve never really experienced the other way of life.” They talked about her marriage. “How did you feel when it was over?” “Surprisingly, only the same degree of regret that I imagine I’d have for the typical first love. The difference is I have my children. For that I’ll always be grateful to Kev.” When they got back to the gallery, Mr. Hartley was waiting. Nervously Jenny watched the angry red points on his cheekbones, then admired the way Erich placated him. “As I’m sure you’ll agree, airline food is not fit to eat. Since Mrs. MacPartland was just leaving for lunch, I prevailed on her to allow me to join her. I merely nibbled and now look forward to lunching with you. And may I compliment you on the placement of my work.” The red points receded. Thinking of the thick sandwich Erich had consumed, Jenny said demurely, “Mr. Hartley, I recommended the chicken Kiev to Mr. Krueger. Please make him order it.” Erich quirked one eyebrow and as he passed her he murmured, “Thanks a lot.” Afterward she regretted her impulsive teasing. She hardly knew the man. Then why this sense of rapport? He was so sympathetic and yet gave an impression of latent strength. Well, if you’re used to money all your life and have good looks and talent thrown in, why

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wouldn’t you feel secure? The gallery was busy all afternoon. Jenny watched for the important collectors. They’d all been invited to the reception but she knew many of them would come in early to have a chance to study the exhibit. The prices were steep, very steep, for a new artist. But Erich Krueger seemed to be quite indifferent whether or not they sold. Mr. Hartley got back just as the gallery was closed to the public. He told Jenny that Erich had gone to his hotel to change for the reception. “You made quite an impression on him, Jenny,” he said, sounding rather puzzled. “He did nothing but ask questions about you.” By five o’clock the reception was in full swing. Efficiently Jenny escorted Erich from critics to collectors, introducing him, making small talk, giving him a chance to chat, then extricating him to meet another visitor. Not infrequently they were asked, “Is this young lady your model for Memory of Caroline?” Erich seemed to enjoy the question. “I’m beginning to think she is.” Mr. Hartley concentrated on greeting guests as they arrived. From his beatific smile, Jenny could surmise that the collection was a major success. It was obvious that the critics were equally impressed by Erich Krueger, the man. He had changed his sports jacket and slacks for a well-tailored dark blue suit; his white French-cuffed shirt was obviously custom-made; a maroon tie against the crisp white collar brought out his tanned face, blue eyes and the silver tints in his hair. He wore a gold band on the little finger of his left hand. She’d noticed it at lunch. Now Jenny realized why it looked familiar. The woman in the painting had been wearing it. It must be his mother’s wedding ring. She left Erich talking with Alison Spencer, the elegant young critic from Art News magazine. Alison was wearing an off-white Adolfo suit that complemented her ash-blond hair. Jenny became suddenly aware of the drooping quality of her own wool skirt, the

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fact that her boots still looked scuffed even though she’d had them resoled and shined. She knew that her sweater looked just like what it was, a cheap, misshapen, polyester rag. She tried to rationalize her sudden depression. It had been a long day and she was tired. It was time for her to leave and she almost dreaded picking up the girls. When Nana was still with them, going home had been a pleasure. “Now sit down, dear,” Nana would say, “and get yourself relaxed. I’ll fix us a nice little cocktail.” She’d enjoyed hearing what was going on at the gallery, and she’d read the children a bedtime story while Jenny got dinner. “From the time you were eight years old, you were a better cook than I am, Jen.” “Well, Nana,” Jenny would tease, “maybe if you didn’t cook hamburgers so long they wouldn’t look like hockey pucks . . . ” Since they’d lost Nana, Jenny picked up the girls at the day-care center, bused them to the apartment and placated them with cookies while she threw a meal together. As she was reaching for her coat, one of the most important collectors cornered her. Finally at 5:25 she managed to get away. She debated about saying good night to Erich but he was still deep in conversation with Alison Spencer. What possible difference would it make to him that she was going? Shrugging away the renewed sensation of depression, Jenny quietly left the gallery by the service door.

Copyright © 1982 by Mary Higgins Clark

Purchase A Cry in the Night in print or ebook!

Exclusive Introduction for All Around the Town

The inspiration for this novel emanated from the request for an autograph. A friend of my daughter Carol came to visit, an art therapist from the National Center for Treatment of Dissociative Disorders in Denver, specializing in the treatment of multiple personality disorders. She wanted me to sign a book for one of her patients. When I asked the name, she hesitated and said: “Now which one of her personalities reads your books?” This aroused my interest and led to my writing this book.

Excerpt from All Around The Town 9780743206198

1
June 1974 Ridgewood, New Jersey Ten minutes before it happened, four-year-old Laurie Kenyon was sitting cross-legged on the floor of the den rearranging the furniture in her dollhouse. She was tired of playing alone and wanted to go in the pool. From the dining room she could hear the voices of Mommy and the ladies who used to go to school with her in New York. They were talking and laughing while they ate lunch. Mommy had told her that because Sarah, her big sister, was at a birthday party for other twelve-year-olds, Beth, who sometimes minded her at night, would come over to swim with Laurie. But the minute Beth arrived she started making phone calls. Laurie pushed back the long blond hair that felt warm on her face. She had gone upstairs a long time ago and changed into her new pink bathing suit. Maybe if she reminded Beth again … Beth was curled up on the couch, the phone stuck between her shoulder and ear. Laurie tugged on her arm. “I’m all ready.” Beth looked mad. “In a minute, honey,” she said. “I’m having a very important discussion.” Laurie heard her sigh into the phone. “I hate baby-sitting.” Laurie went to the window. A long car was slowly passing the house. Behind it was an open car filled with flowers, then a lot more cars with their lights on. Whenever she saw cars like that Laurie always used to say that a parade was coming, but Mommy said no, that they were funerals on the way to the cemetery. Even so, they made Laurie think of a parade, and she loved to run down the drive-

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way and wave to the people in the cars. Sometimes they waved back. Beth clicked down the receiver. Laurie was just about to ask her if they could go out and watch the rest of the cars go by when Beth picked up the phone again. Beth was mean, Laurie told herself. She tiptoed out to the foyer and peeked into the dining room. Mommy and her friends were still talking and laughing. Mommy was saying, “Can you believe we graduated from the Villa thirty-two years ago?” The lady next to her said, “Well, Marie, at least you can lie about it. You’ve got a four-year-old daughter. I’ve got a four-year-old granddaughter!” “We still look pretty darn good,” somebody else said, and they all laughed again. They didn’t even bother to look at Laurie. They were mean too. The pretty music box Mommy’s friend had brought her was on the table. Laurie picked it up. It was only a few steps to the screen door. She opened it noiselessly, hurried across the porch and ran down the driveway to the road. There were still cars passing the house. She waved. She watched until they were out of sight, then sighed, hoping that the company would go home soon. She wound up the music box and heard the tinkling sound of a piano and voices singing, “‘Eastside, westside . . .’” “Little girl.” Laurie hadn’t noticed the car pull over and stop. A woman was driving. The man sitting next to her got out, picked Laurie up, and before she knew what was happening she was squeezed between them in the front seat. Laurie was too surprised to say anything. The man was smiling at her, but it wasn’t a nice smile. The woman’s hair was hanging around her face, and she didn’t wear lipstick. The man had a beard, and his arms had a lot of curly hair. Laurie was pressed against him so hard she could feel it. The car began to move. Laurie clutched the music box. Now the voices were singing: “‘All around the town … Boys and girls together . . .’”

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“Where are we going?” she asked. She remembered that she wasn’t supposed to go out to the road alone. Mommy would be mad at her. She could feel tears in her eyes. The woman looked so angry. The man said, “All around the town, little girl. All around the town.”

2
Sarah hurried along the side of the road, carefully carrying a piece of birthday cake on a paper plate. Laurie loved chocolate filling, and Sarah wanted to make it up to her for not playing with her while Mommy had company. She was a bony long-legged twelve-year-old, with wide gray eyes, carrot red hair that frizzed in dampness, milk-white skin and a splash of freckles across her nose. She looked like neither of her parents—her mother was petite, blond and blue eyed; her father’s gray hair had originally been dark brown. It worried Sarah that John and Marie Kenyon were so much older than the other kids’ parents. She was always afraid they might die before she grew up. Her mother had once explained to her, “We’d been married fifteen years and I’d given up hope of ever having a baby, but when I was thirty-seven I knew you were on the way. Like a gift. Then eight years later when Laurie was born—oh, Sarah, it was a miracle!” When she was in the second grade, Sarah remembered asking Sister Catherine which was better, a gift or a miracle? “A miracle is the greatest gift a human being can receive,” Sister Catherine had said. That afternoon, when Sarah suddenly began to cry in class, she fibbed and said it was because her stomach was sick. Even though she knew Laurie was the favorite, Sarah still loved her parents fiercely. When she was ten she had made a bargain with God. If He wouldn’t let Daddy or Mommy die before she was grown, she would clean up the kitchen every night, help to take care of Laurie and never chew gum again. She was keeping her side of the bargain, and so far God was listening to her. An unconscious smile touching her lips, she turned the corner of Twin Oaks Road and stared. Two police cars were in her driveway, their lights flashing. A lot of neighbors were clustered outside,

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even the brand-new people from two houses down, whom they hadn’t even really met. They all looked scared and sad, holding their kids tightly by the hand. Sarah began to run. Maybe Mommy or Daddy was sick. Richie Johnson was standing on the lawn. He was in her class at Mount Carmel. Sarah asked Richie why everyone was there. He looked sorry for her. Laurie was missing, he told her. Old Mrs. Whelan had seen a man take her into a car, but hadn’t realized Laurie was being kidnapped . . .

3
1974-1976 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania They wouldn’t take her home. They drove a long time and took her to a dirty house, way out in the woods somewhere. They slapped her if she cried. The man kept picking her up and hugging her. Then he would carry her upstairs. She tried to make him stop, but he laughed at her. They called her Lee. Their names were Bic and Opal. After a while she found ways to slip away from them, in her mind. Sometimes she just floated on the ceiling and watched what was happening to the little girl with the long blond hair. Sometimes she felt sorry for the little girl. Other times she made fun of her. Sometimes when they let her sleep alone she dreamt of other people, Mommy and Daddy and Sarah. But then she’d start to cry again and they’d hit her, so she made herself forget Mommy and Daddy and Sarah. That’s good, a voice in her head told her. Forget all about them.

4
At first the police were at the house every day, and Laurie’s picture was on the front page of the New Jersey and New York papers. Beyond tears, Sarah watched her mother and father on “Good Morning America,” pleading with whoever took Laurie to bring her back. Dozens of people phoned saying they’d seen Laurie, but none of the leads was useful. The police had hoped there’d be a demand for ransom, but there was none. The summer dragged on. Sarah watched as her mother’s face became haunted and bleak, as her father reached constantly for the nitroglycerin pills in his pocket. Every morning they went to the 7 A.M. mass and prayed for Laurie to be sent home. Frequently at night Sarah awoke to hear her mother’s sobbing, her father’s exhausted attempts to comfort her. “It was a miracle that Laurie was born. We’ll count on another miracle to bring her back to us,” she heard him say. School started again. Sarah had always been a good student. Now she pored over the books, finding that she could blot out her own relentless sorrow by escaping into study. A natural athlete, she began taking golf and tennis lessons. Still she missed her little sister, with aching pain. She wondered if God was punishing her for the times she’d resented all the attention paid to Laurie. She hated herself for going to the birthday party that day and pushed aside the thought that Laurie was strictly forbidden to go out front alone. She promised that if God would send Laurie back to them she would always, always take care of her.

5

The summer passed. The wind began to blow through the cracks in the walls. Laurie was always cold. One day Opal came back with long-sleeved shirts and overalls and a winter jacket. It wasn’t pretty like the one Laurie used to wear. When it got warm again they gave her some other clothes, shorts and shirts and sandals. Another winter went by. Laurie watched the leaves on the big old tree in front of the house begin to bud and open, and then all the branches were filled with them. Bic had an old typewriter in the bedroom. It made a loud clatter that Laurie could hear when she was cleaning up the kitchen or watching television. The clatter was a good sound. It meant that Bic wouldn’t bother with her. After a while, he’d come out of the bedroom holding a bunch of papers in his hand and start reading them aloud to Laurie and Opal. He always shouted and he always ended with the same words, “Hallelujah. Amen!” After he was finished, he and Opal would sing together. Practicing, they called it. Songs about God and going home. Home. It was a word that her voices told Laurie not to think about anymore. Laurie never saw anyone else. Only Bic and Opal. And when they went out, they locked her in the basement. It happened a lot. It was scary down there. The window was almost at the ceiling and had boards over it. The basement was filled with shadows, and sometimes they seemed to move around. Each time, Laurie tried to go to sleep right away on the mattress they left on the floor. Bic and Opal almost never had company. If someone did come to the house, Laurie was put down in the basement with her leg chained to the pipe, so she couldn’t go up the stairs and knock on the door. “And don’t you dare call us,” Bic warned her. “You’d get in

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big trouble, and, anyhow, we couldn’t hear you.” After they’d been out they usually brought money home. Sometimes not much. Sometimes a lot. Quarters and dollar bills, mostly. They let her go out in the backyard with them. They showed her how to weed the vegetable garden and gather the eggs from the chicken coop. There was a newborn baby chick they told her she could keep as her pet. She played with it whenever she went outside. Sometimes when they locked her in the basement and went away they let her keep it with her. Until the bad day when Bic killed it. Early one morning they began to pack—just their clothes and the television set and Bic’s typewriter. Bic and Opal were laughing and singing, “Ha-lay-loo-ya.” “A fifteen-thousand-watt station in Ohio!” Bic shouted, “Bible Belt, here we come!”

h

They drove for two hours. Then from the backseat where she was scrunched against the battered old suitcases, Laurie heard Opal say, “Let’s go into a diner and get a decent meal. Nobody will pay any attention to her. Why should they?” Bic said, “You’re right.” Then he looked quickly over his shoulder at Laurie. “Opal will order a sandwich and milk for you. Don’t you talk to anybody, you hear?” They went to a place with a long counter and tables and chairs. Laurie was so hungry that she could almost taste the bacon she could smell frying. But there was something else. She could remember being in a place like this with the other people. A sob that she couldn’t force back rose in her throat. Bic gave her a push to follow Opal, and she began to cry. Cry so hard she couldn’t get her breath. She could see the lady at the cash register staring at her. Bic grabbed her and hustled her out to the parking lot, Opal beside him. Bic threw her in the backseat of the car, and he and Opal rushed to get in front. As Opal slammed her foot on the gas pedal, he reached for her. She tried to duck when the hairy hand swung forward and back across her face. But after the first blow she didn’t feel

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any pain. She just felt sorry for the little girl who was crying so hard.

Copyright © 1992 by Mary Higgins Clark

Purchase All Around the Town in print or ebook!

Exclusive Introduction for Loves Music, Loves to Dance

People in all walks of life are turning to personal ads to find romance or companionship. Personal ads, however, are risky. In the search for that “someone,” people are throwing caution to the wind. Meeting strangers on an anonymous basis is dangerous, especially for women. Woman can fall prey to sexual harassment, rape, even murder. Yet, personal ads are a growing trend. With the pace of modern living, there is less and less opportunity to meet others through traditional channels—family, friends, community. That is why personal ads are an integral part of newspapers and magazines in the largest city or the smallest hamlet. They have become big business in America. The scary aspect is that you are taking on faith what a stranger tells you—his name, his job, his marital status, his background. When I was Chairman of the International Crime Writers Congress, I was dashing from panel to panel to make sure that all was going well. When I stopped in the auditorium where an FBI agent was speaking, I stayed for the whole lecture. He was talking about a serial killer who had enticed his victims through personal ads. The words “loves music, loves to dance” walked through my mind, and I knew the seed for another book was planted.

Excerpt from Loves Music, Loves to Dance 9780743206181

I
Monday February 18 The room was dark. He sat in the chair, his arms hugging his legs. It was happening again. Charley wouldn’t stay locked in the secret place. Charley insisted on thinking about Erin. Only two more, Charley whispered. Then I’ll stop. He knew there was no use protesting. But it was becoming more and more dangerous. Charley was becoming reckless. Charley wanted to show off. Go away, Charley, leave me alone, he begged. Charley’s mocking laugh roared through the room. If only Nan had liked him, he thought. If only she’d invited him to her birthday party fifteen years ago . . . He’d loved her so much! He’d followed her to Darien with the present he’d bought her at a discount house, a pair of dancing slippers. The cardboard shoebox had been plain and cheap, and he’d taken such trouble to decorate it, drawing a sketch of the slippers on the lid. Her birthday was on March twelfth, during spring break. He’d driven down to Darien to surprise her with the present. He’d arrived to find her house ablaze with lights. Cars were being parked by valets. He’d driven slowly past, shocked and stunned to recognize students from Brown there. It still embarrassed him to remember that he’d cried like a baby as he turned around to drive back. Then the thought of the birthday gift made him change his mind. Nan had told him that every morning at seven o’clock, rain or shine, she jogged in the wooded area near her home. The next morning he was there, waiting for her.

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He remembered, still vividly today, her surprise at seeing him. Surprise, not pleasure. She’d stopped, her breath coming in gasps, a stocking cap hiding her silky blond hair, a school sweater over her running suit, her feet in Nikes. He’d wished her a happy birthday, watched her open the box, listened to her insincere thanks. He’d put his arms around her. “Nan, I love you so much. Let me see how pretty your feet look in the slippers. I’ll fasten them for you. We can dance together right here.” “Get lost!” She pushed him away, threw the box at him, started to jog past him. It was Charley who had run after her, grabbed her, thrown her to the ground. Charley’s hands squeezed her throat until her arms stopped flailing. Charley fastened the slippers on her feet and danced with Nan, her head lolling on his shoulder. Charley lay her on the ground, one of the dancing slippers on her right foot, replacing the Nike on her left. A long time had passed. Charley had become a blurred memory, a shadowy figure lurking somewhere in the recesses of his mind, until two years ago. Then Charley had started reminding him about Nan, about her slender, high-arched feet, her narrow ankles, her beauty and grace when she danced with him . . . Eeney-meeney-miney-mo. Catch a dancer by the toe. Ten piggy toes. The game his mother used to play when he was small. This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. “Play it ten times,” he used to beg when she stopped. “One for each piggy toe.” His mother had loved him so much! Then she changed. He could still hear her voice. “What are these magazines doing in your room? Why did you take those pumps from my closet? After all we’ve done for you! You’re such a disappointment to us.” When he reappeared two years ago, Charley ordered him to place ads in the personal columns. So many ads. Charley dictated what he had to say in the special one. Now seven girls were buried on the property, each with a dancing slipper on the right foot, her shoe or sneaker or boot on the left

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...

He’d begged Charley to let him stop for a while. He didn’t want to do it anymore. He’d told Charley that the ground was still frozen—he couldn’t bury them, and it was dangerous to keep their bodies in the freezer . . . But Charley shouted, “I want these last two to be found. I want them found just the way I let Nan be found.” Charley had chosen these last two the same way he had chosen the others after Nan. They were named Erin Kelley and Darcy Scott. They had each answered two different personal ads he’d placed. More important, they had each answered his special ad. In all the replies he’d received, it was their letters and pictures that had jumped out at Charley. The letters were amusing, the cadence of the language attractive, almost like hearing Nan’s voice, that self-deprecating wit, that dry, intelligent humor. And there were the pictures. Both were inviting in different ways . . . Erin Kelley had sent a snapshot of herself perched on the corner of a desk. She’d been leaning forward a bit as though speaking, her eyes shining, her long, slim body poised as though she were waiting to be asked to dance. Darcy Scott’s picture showed her standing by a cushioned windowseat, her hand on the drapery. She was half-turned toward the camera. Clearly, she’d been surprised when her picture was taken. There were swatches of material over her arm, an absorbed, but amused, expression on her face. She had high cheekbones, a slender frame, and long legs accentuated by narrow ankles, her slim feet encased in Gucci loafers. How much more attractive they would be in dancing slippers! he told himself. He got up and stretched. The dark shadows falling across the room no longer disturbed him. Charley’s presence was complete and welcome. No more nagging voice begged him to resist. As Charley willingly receded into the dark cave from which he had emerged, he reread Erin’s letter and ran his fingertips over her picture.

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He laughed aloud as he thought of the beguiling ad that had summoned Erin to him. It began: “Loves Music, Loves to Dance.”

II
Tuesday February 19 Cold. Slushy. Raw. Terrible traffic. It didn’t matter. It was good to be back in New York. Darcy happily tossed off her coat, ran her fingers through her hair, and surveyed the neatly separated mail on her desk. Bev Rothhouse, skinny, intense, bright, a night student at Parsons School of Design and her treasured secretary, identified the stacks by order of importance. “Bills,” she said, pointing to the extreme right. “Deposit slips next. Quite a few of them.” “Substantial, I hope,” Darcy suggested. “Pretty good,” Bev confirmed. “Messages over there. You’ve got requests to furnish two more rental apartments. I swear, you certainly knew what you were doing when you opened a secondhand business.” Darcy laughed. “Sanford and Son. That’s me.” Darcy’s Corner, Budget Interior Design was what the placard on the office door read. The office was in the Flatiron Building on Twenty-third Street. “How was California?” Bev asked. Amused, Darcy heard the note of awe in the other young woman’s voice. What Bev really meant was, “How are your mother and father? What’s it like to be with them? Are they really as gorgeous as they look in films?” The answer, Darcy thought, is, Yes, they’re gorgeous. Yes, they’re wonderful. Yes, I love them and I’m proud of them. It’s just that I’ve never felt comfortable in their world. “When are they leaving for Australia?” Bev was trying to sound

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offhanded. “They left. I caught the red-eye back to New York after seeing them off.” Darcy had combined a visit home with a business trip to Lake Tahoe, where she’d been hired to decorate a model ski house for budget-priced buyers. Her mother and father were embarking on an international tour with their play. She wouldn’t see them for at least six months. Now she opened the container of coffee she’d picked up at a nearby lunch counter and settled down at her desk. “You look great,” Bev observed. “I love that outfit.” The square-neck red wool dress and matching coat were part of the Rodeo Drive shopping tour her mother had insisted upon. “For such a pretty girl, you never pay enough attention to your clothes, darling,” her mother had fussed. “You should emphasize that wonderful ethereal quality.” As her father frequently observed, Darcy could have posed for the portrait of the maternal ancestor for whom she had been named. The original Darcy had left Ireland after the Revolutionary War to join her French fiancé, an officer with Lafayette’s forces. They had the same wide-set eyes, more green than hazel, the same soft brown hair streaked with gold, the same straight nose. “We’ve grown a bit since then,” Darcy enjoyed pointing out. “I’m five eight. Darcy the First was a shrimp. That helps when you’re trying to look ethereal.” She had never forgotten when she was six and overheard a director comment, “How ever did two such stunning people manage to produce that mousy-looking child?” She still remembered standing perfectly still, absorbing the shock. A few minutes later when her mother tried to introduce her to someone on the set, “And this is my little girl, Darcy,” she had shouted “No!” and run away. Later she apologized for being rude. This morning when she got off the plane at Kennedy, she’d dropped her bags at the apartment, then come directly to the office, not taking time to change into her usual working garb, jeans and a sweater. Bev waited for her to start sipping the coffee, then picked

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up the messages. “Do you want me to start getting these people for you?” “Let me give Erin a quick call first.” Erin picked up on the first ring. Her somewhat preoccupied greeting told Darcy that she was already at her worktable. They’d been college roommates together at Mount Holyoke. Then Erin had studied jewelry design. Recently she’d won the prestigious N. W. Ayer award for young designers. Darcy had also found her professional niche. After four years of working her way up in an advertising agency, she had switched careers from account executive to budget interior decorating. Both women were now twenty-eight, and they were as close as they’d been when living together in school. Darcy could picture Erin at her worktable, dressed in jeans and a baggy sweater, her red hair held back by a clip or in a ponytail, absorbed by her work, unaware of outside distraction. The preoccupied “hello” gave way to a whoop of joy when Erin heard Darcy’s voice. “You’re busy,” Darcy said. “I won’t keep you. Just wanted to report that I’ve arrived, and, of course, I wanted to see how Billy is.” Billy was Erin’s father. An invalid, he’d been in a nursing home in Massachusetts for the past three years. “Pretty much the same,” Erin told her. “How’s the necklace going? When I phoned Friday you sounded worried.” Just after Darcy had left last month, Erin had landed a commission from Bertolini Jewelers to design a necklace using the client’s family gems. Bertolini was on a par with Cartier’s and Tiffany’s. “That’s because I was still terrified the design might be off base. It really was pretty intricate. But all is well. I deliver it tomorrow morning and if I say so myself, it’s sensational. How was Bel-Air?” “Glamorous.” They laughed together, then Darcy said, “Update me on Project Personal.” Nona Roberts, a producer at Hudson Cable Network, had become friendly with Darcy and Erin at their health club. Nona was

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preparing a documentary on personal columns—about the kind of people who placed and answered the ads; their experiences, good or bad. Nona had asked Darcy and Erin to assist in the research by answering some of the ads. “You don’t have to see anybody more than once,” she’d urged. “Half the singles at the network are doing it and having a lot of laughs. And who knows, you might meet someone terrific. Anyhow, think about it.” Erin, typically the more daring, had been unusually reluctant. Darcy had persuaded her it could be fun. “We won’t place our own ads,” she argued. “We’ll just answer some that look interesting. We won’t give our addresses, just a phone number. We’ll meet them in public places. What’s to lose?” They had started six weeks ago. Darcy had had time for only one date before she left on the trip to Lake Tahoe and Bel-Air. That man had written he was six one. As she told Erin afterward, he must have been standing on a ladder when he measured himself. Also he’d claimed he was an advertising executive. But when Darcy threw out a few names of agencies and clients, he was totally at sea. A liar and a jerk, she reported to Erin and Nona. Now, smiling in anticipation, Darcy asked Erin to fill her in on her most recent encounters. “I’ll save it all for tomorrow night when we get together with Nona,” Erin said. “I’m writing every detail down in that notebook you gave me for Christmas. Suffice it to say, I’ve been out twice more since we talked. That brings the total to eight dates in the last three weeks. Most of them were nerds with absolutely no redeeming social value. One it turned out I’d met before. One of the new ones was really attractive and needless to say hasn’t called back. I’m meeting somebody tonight. He sounds okay, but let’s wait and see.” Darcy grinned. “Obviously, I haven’t missed much. How many ads have you answered for me?” “About a dozen. I thought it would be fun to send both our letters to some of the same ads. We can really compare notes if those dudes call.” “I love it. Where are you meeting tonight’s prize?” “In a pub off Washington Square.”

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“What does he do?” “Corporate law. He’s from Philadelphia. Just relocating here. You can make tomorrow night, can’t you?” “Sure.” They were meeting Nona for dinner. Erin’s tone changed. “I’m glad you’re back in town, Darce. I’ve missed you.” “Me too,” Darcy said heartily. “Okay, see you then.” She started to say good-bye, then impulsively asked, “What’s the name of tonight’s pig-in-a-poke?” “Charles North.” “Sounds upscale, waspy. Have fun, Erin-go-bragh.” Darcy hung up. Bev was waiting patiently with the messages. Now her tone was frankly envious. “I swear, when you two talk, you sound like a couple of school kids. You’re closer than sisters. Thinking about my sister, I’d say you’re a lot closer than sisters.” “You’re absolutely right,” Darcy said quietly.

h

The Sheridan Gallery on Seventy-eighth Street, just east of Madison Avenue, was in the midst of an auction. The contents of the vast country home of Mason Gates, the late oil baron, had drawn an overflow crowd of dealers and collectors. Chris Sheridan observed the scene from the back of the room, reflecting with pleasure that it had been a coup to triumph over Sotheby’s and Christie’s for the privilege of auctioning this collection. Absolutely magnificent furniture from the Queen Anne period; paintings distinguished less by their technique than by their rarity; Revere silver that he knew would set off feverish bidding. At thirty-three, Chris Sheridan still looked more like the linebacker he had been in college than a leading authority on antique furniture. His six-four height was accentuated by his straight carriage. His broad shoulders tapered down to a trim waist. His sandy hair framed a strong-featured face. His blue eyes were disarming and friendly. As his competitors had learned, however, those eyes could quickly take on a keen, no-nonsense glint.

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Chris folded his arms as he watched the final bids on a 1683 Domenico Cucci cabinet with panels of pietra dura and central reliefs of inlaid stones. Smaller and less elaborate than the pair Cucci made for Louis XIV, it was nevertheless a magnificent, flawless piece that he knew the Met wanted desperately. The room quieted as the bidding between the two high-stakes players, the Met and the representative of a Japanese bank, continued. A tug on his arm made Chris turn with a distracted frown. It was Sarah Johnson, his executive assistant, an art expert whom he had coaxed away from a private museum in Boston. Her expression reflected concern. “Chris, I’m afraid there’s a problem,” she said. “Your mother’s on the phone. She says she has to talk to you immediately. She sounds pretty upset.” “The problem is that damn program!” Chris strode toward the door, shoved it open, and, ignoring the elevator, raced up the stairs. A month ago the popular television series True Crimes had run a segment about the unsolved murder of Chris’s twin sister, Nan. At nineteen, Nan had been strangled while jogging near their home in Darien, Connecticut. Despite his vehement protests, Chris had not been able to prevent the camera crews from filming long shots of the house and grounds, nor from reenacting Nan’s death in the nearby wooded area where her body had been found. He had pleaded with his mother not to watch the program, but she had insisted on viewing it with him. The producers had managed to find a young actress who bore a startling resemblance to Nan. The docudrama showed her jogging; the figure watching her from the protection of the trees; the confrontation; the attempt to escape, the killer tackling her, choking her, pulling the Nike from her right foot and replacing it with a high-heeled slipper. The commentary was delivered by an announcer whose sonorous voice sounded gratuitously horrified. “Was it a stranger who accosted beautiful, gifted Nan Sheridan? She and her twin celebrated their nineteenth birthday the night before at the family mansion. Did someone Nan knew, someone who perhaps toasted her on her birthday, become her killer? In fifteen years no one has come

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forward with a shred of information that might solve this hideous crime. Was Nan Sheridan the random victim of a deranged monster, or was her death an act of personal vengeance?” A montage of closing shots followed. The house and grounds from a different angle. The phone number to call “if you have any information.” The last closeup was the police photo of Nan’s body as it had been found, neatly placed on the ground, her hands folded together on her waist, her left foot still wearing the Nike, her right foot in the sequined slipper. The final line: “Where are the mates to this sneaker, to this graceful evening shoe? Does the killer still have them?” Greta Sheridan had watched the program dry-eyed. When it was finished, she’d said, “Chris, I’ve gone over it in my mind so often. That’s why I wanted to see this. I couldn’t function after Nan died, couldn’t think. But Nan used to talk to me so much about everyone at school. I . . . I just thought that seeing that program might make me recall something that could be important. Remember the day of the funeral? That huge crowd. All those young people from college. Remember Chief Harriman said that he was convinced her killer was sitting there among the mourners? Remember how they had cameras set up to take pictures of everyone in the funeral home and at church?” Then, as though a giant hand had smashed her face, Greta Sheridan had broken into heart-rending sobs. “That girl looked so much like Nan, didn’t she? Oh Chris, I’ve missed her so much all these years. Dad would still be alive if she were here. That heart attack was his way of grieving.” I wish I’d taken an ax to every television in the house before I let Mother watch that damn program, Chris thought as he ran down the corridor to his office. The fingers of his left hand drummed on the desk as he grabbed the phone. “Mother, what’s wrong?” Greta Sheridan’s voice was tense and unsteady. “Chris, I’m sorry to bother you during the auction, but the strangest letter just came.” Another fallout from that stinking program, Chris fumed. All those crank letters. They ranged from psychics offering to conduct

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seances to people begging for money in exchange for their prayers. “I wish you wouldn’t read that garbage,” he said. “Those letters tear you apart.” “Chris, this one is different. It says that in memory of Nan, a dancing girl from Manhattan is going to die on the evening of February nineteenth in exactly the way Nan died.” Greta Sheridan’s voice rose. “Chris, suppose this isn’t a crank letter? Is there anything we can do? Is there anyone we can warn?”

h

Doug Fox pulled on his tie, carefully twisted it into a precise knot, and studied himself in the mirror. He’d had a facial yesterday and his skin glowed. The body wave had made his thinning hair seem abundant and the sandy rinse completely covered the touch of gray that was emerging at his temples. A good-looking guy, he assured himself, admiring the way his crisp white shirt followed the lines of his muscular chest and slim waist. He reached for his suit jacket, quietly appreciating the fine feel of the Scottish wool. Dark blue with faint pinstripes, accented by the small red print on his Hermès tie. He looked every inch the part of the investment banker, upstanding citizen of Scarsdale, devoted husband of Susan Frawley Fox, father of four lively, handsome youngsters. No one, Doug thought with amused satisfaction, would suspect him of his other life: that of the single freelance illustrator with an apartment in the blessed anonymity of London Terrace on West Twenty-third Street, plus a hideaway in Pawling and a new Volvo station wagon. Doug took a final look in the long mirror, adjusted his pocket handkerchief, and with a glance to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything, walked to the door. The bedroom always irritated him. Antique French provincial furniture, damn place done by an upscale interior designer, and Susan still managed to make it look like the inside of Fibber McGee’s closet. Clothes piled on the chaise, silver toilet articles haphazardly strewn over the top of the dresser. Kindergarten drawings taped on the wall. Let me out, Doug thought.

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The kitchen was the scene of the usual mayhem. Thirteen-yearold Donny and twelve-year-old Beth jamming food in their mouths. Susan warning that the school bus was down the block. The baby waddling around with a wet diaper and grubby hands. Trish saying she didn’t want to go to kindergarten this afternoon, she wanted to stay home and watch “All My Children” with Mommy. Susan was wearing an old flannel robe over her nightgown. She had been a very pretty girl when they were married. A pretty girl who’d let herself go. She smiled at Doug and poured him coffee. “Won’t you have pancakes or something?” “No.” Would she ever stop asking him to stuff his face every morning? Doug jumped back as the baby tried to embrace his leg. “Damn it, Susan, if you can’t keep him clean, at least don’t let him near me. I can’t go to the office looking grubby.” “Bus!” Beth yelled. “Bye, Mom. Bye, Dad.” Donny grabbed his books. “Can you come to my basketball game tonight, Dad?” “Won’t be home till late, son. An important meeting. Next time for sure, I promise.” “Sure.” Donny slammed the door as he left. Three minutes later, Doug was in the Mercedes heading for the train station, Susan’s reproachful “Try not to be too late” ringing in his ears. Doug felt himself begin to unwind. Thirty-six years old and stuck with a fat wife, four noisy kids, a house in the suburbs. The American Dream. At twenty-two he’d thought he was making a smart move when he married Susan. Unfortunately, marrying the daughter of a wealthy man wasn’t the same as marrying wealth. Susan’s father was a tightwad. Lend, never give. That motto had to be tattooed on his brain. It wasn’t that he didn’t love the kids or that he wasn’t fond enough of Susan. It was just that he should have waited to get into this paterfamilias routine. He’d thrown his youth away. As Douglas Fox, investment banker, upstanding citizen of Scarsdale, his life was an exercise in boredom. He parked and ran for the train, consoling himself with the

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thought that as Doug Fields, bachelor artist, prince of the personals, his life was swift and secretive, and when the dark needs came there was a way to satisfy them.

Copyright © 1991 by Mary Higgins Clark

Purchase Loves Music, Loves to Dance in print or ebook!

Extended Excerpt from Daddy’s Gone A Hunting 9781451668964

Prologue

Sometimes Kate dreamed about that night, even though it wasn’t a dream. It had really happened. She was three years old and had been curled up on the bed watching Mommy getting dressed. Mommy looked like a princess. She was wearing a beautiful red evening gown and the red satin high heels that Kate loved to try on. Then Daddy came into the bedroom and he picked Kate up and danced her and Mommy onto the balcony even though it was beginning to snow. I begged him to sing my song and he did, Kate remembered. Bye baby bunting, Daddy’s gone a‑hunting, A rosy wisp of cloud to win, To wrap his baby bunting in. The next night Mommy died in the accident, and Daddy never sang that song to her again.

1
Thursday, November 14
At four o’clock in the morning, Gus Schmidt dressed silently in the bedroom of his modest home on Long Island, hoping not to disturb his wife of fifty-five years. He was not successful. Lottie Schmidt’s hand shot out to fumble for the lamp on the night table. Blinking to clear eyes that were heavy with sleep, she noticed that Gus was wearing a heavy jacket, and demanded to know where he was going. “Lottie, I’m just going over to the plant. Something came up.” “Is that why Kate called you yesterday?” Kate was the daughter of Douglas Connelly, the owner of Connelly Fine Antique Reproductions, the furniture complex in nearby Long Island City where Gus had worked until his retirement five years earlier. Lottie, a slight seventy-five-year-old with thinning white hair, slipped on her glasses and glanced at the clock. “Gus, are you crazy? Do you know what time it is?” “It’s four o’clock and Kate asked me to meet her there at four thirty. She must have had her reasons and that’s why I’m going.” Lottie could see that he was clearly upset. Lottie knew better than to ask the question that was on both their minds. “Gus, I’ve had a bad feeling lately. I know you don’t want to hear me talk like this, but I sense something dark is going to happen. I don’t want you to go.” In the shadowy 60-watt light of the night table lamp they glared at each other. Even as Gus spoke, he knew deep down he was frightened. Lottie’s claim to be psychic both irritated and scared him.

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“Lottie, go back to sleep,” he said angrily. “No matter what the problem is, I’ll be back for breakfast.” Gus was not a demonstrative man but some instinct made him walk over to the bed, lean down, kiss his wife’s forehead, and run his hand over her hair. “Don’t worry,” he said firmly. They were the last words she would ever hear him say.

2
Kate Connelly hoped that she would be able to hide the restless anxiety she felt about her predawn appointment with Gus in the museum of the furniture complex. She had dinner with her father and his newest girlfriend in Zone, the fashionably new café in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Over cocktails she made the usual small talk that rolled easily off her tongue when she chatted with his “flavor of the moment.” This one was Sandra Starling, a platinum blond beauty in her midtwenties with wide-set hazel eyes, who earnestly explained that she had been a runner-up in a Miss Universe contest but became vague as to exactly how far she had been from winning the crown. Her ambition, she confided, was to have a career in the movies and then dedicate herself to world peace. This one is even dumber than most of the others, Kate thought sardonically. Doug, as she had been instructed to call her father, was his genial and charming self, although he seemed to be drinking more heavily than usual. Throughout the dinner, Kate realized that she was appraising her father as if she were a judge on America’s Got Talent or Dancing with the Stars. He’s a handsome man in his late fifties, she thought, a look-alike for legendary film star Gregory Peck. Then she reminded herself that most people her age wouldn’t have any real appreciation of that comparison. Unless, like me, they’re devotees of classic movies, she thought. Was she making a mistake to bring Gus in on this? she wondered. “Kate, I was telling Sandra that you’re the brains of the family,” her father said. “I hardly think of myself as that,” Kate answered with a forced smile.

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“Don’t be modest,” Doug Connelly chided. “Kate is a certified public accountant, Sandra. Works for Wayne & Cruthers, one of the biggest accounting firms in the country.” He laughed. “Only problem is, she’s always telling me how to run the family business.” He paused. “My business,” he added. “She forgets that.” “Dad, I mean Doug,” Kate said quietly, even as she felt her anger building. “Sandra doesn’t need to hear about it.” “Sandra, look at my daughter. Thirty years old and a tall, gorgeous blonde. She takes after her mother. Her sister, Hannah, looks like me. She has my charcoal brown hair and blue eyes, but unlike me she came in a small package. Not more than five foot two. Isn’t that right, Kate?” Dad’s been drinking before he got here, Kate thought. He can get nasty when he gets an edge on. She tried to steer the subject away from the family business. “My sister is in fashion, Sandra,” she explained. “She’s three years younger than I am. When we were growing up, she was always making dresses for her dolls while I was pretending to make money by answering the questions on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.” Oh God, what do I do if Gus agrees with me? she asked herself as the waiter brought their entrées. Fortunately the band, which had been on a break, came back into the crowded dining room and the earsplitting music kept conversation to a minimum. She and Sandra passed on dessert, but then, to her dismay, Kate heard her father order a bottle of the most expensive champagne on the menu. She began to protest. “Dad, we don’t need—­ ” “Kate, spare me your penny-pinching.” Doug Connelly’s voice rose enough to get the notice of the people at the next table. Her cheeks burning, Kate said quietly, “Dad, I’m meeting someone for a drink. I’ll let you and Sandra enjoy the champagne together.” Sandra’s eyes were scanning the room in search of celebrities. Then she smiled brilliantly at a man who was raising his glass to her.

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“That’s Majestic. His album is climbing the charts,” she said breathlessly. As an afterthought she murmured, “Nice to meet you, Kate. Maybe, if I make it big, you can handle my money for me.” Doug Connelly laughed. “What a great idea. Then maybe she’ll leave me alone.” He added a little too hastily, “Just kidding. I’m proud of my brainy little girl.” If you only knew what your brainy little girl is up to, Kate thought. Torn between anger and concern, she retrieved her coat at the cloakroom, went outside into the cold and windy November evening, and signaled a passing cab.

h

Her apartment was on the Upper West Side, a condominium she had bought a year earlier. It was a roomy two-bedroom, with a bird’s-eye view of the Hudson River. She both loved it and regretted that the previous owner, Justin Kramer, a wealth investment advisor in his early thirties, had been forced to sell it at a bargain price after losing his job. At the closing Justin had smiled gamely and presented her with a bromeliad plant similar to the one she had admired when she saw the apartment for the first time. “Robby told me you admired my plant,” he had said, indicating the real estate agent sitting next to him. “I took that one with me, but this one is a housewarming present for you. Leave it in that same spot over the kitchen window and it will grow like a weed.” Kate was thinking about that thoughtful gift, as she sometimes did when she walked into her cheery apartment and turned on the light. The furniture in the living room was all modern. The sofa, golden beige with deep cushions, invited napping. The matching chairs in the same upholstery had been built for comfort, with wide arms and headrests. Pillows that picked up the colors in the geometric patterns on the carpet added splashes of brightness to the décor. Kate remembered how Hannah had laughed when she came to inspect the apartment after the new furniture was delivered. “My God, Kate,” she had said. “You’ve grown up hearing Dad explain how every­ thing in our house was a Connelly fine reproduction—­

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and you have gone hog wild the other way.” I agreed, Kate thought. I was sick of Dad’s spiel about perfect reproductions. Maybe someday I’ll change my mind, but in the meantime I’m happy. Perfect reproductions. Just thinking the words made her mouth go dry.

3
Mark Sloane knew that his farewell dinner with his mother might be difficult and tearful. It was close to the twenty-eighth anniversary of his sister’s disappearance, and he was moving to New York for a new job. Since his graduation from law school thirteen years earlier he had been practicing corporate real estate law in Chicago. It was ninety miles from Kewanee, the small Illinois town where he had been raised. In the years he had been living in Chicago, he had made the two-hour drive at least once every few weeks to have dinner with his mother. He had been eight years old when his twenty-year-old sister, Tracey, quit the local college and moved to New York to try to break into musical comedy. After all these years he still remembered her as if she were standing in front of him. She had auburn hair that cascaded around her shoulders, and blue eyes that were usually filled with fun but could turn stormy when she was angry. His mother and Tracey had always clashed over her grades at college and the way she dressed. Then one day when he went down for breakfast, he found his mother sitting at the kitchen table and crying. “She’s gone, Mark, she’s gone. She left a note. She’s going to New York to become a famous singer. Mark, she’s so young. She’s so headstrong. She’ll get in trouble. I know it.” Mark remembered putting his arms around his mother and trying to hold back his own tears. He had adored Tracey. She would pitch balls to him when he was beginning in Little League. She would take him to the movies. She would help him with his homework and tell stories of famous actors and actresses. “Do you know how many of them came from little towns like this one?” she would ask. That morning he had warned his mother. “In her letter Tracey said she would send you her address. Mama, don’t try to make her

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come back, because she won’t. Write and tell her it’s okay and how happy you’ll be when she’s a big star.” It had been the right move. Tracey had written regularly and called every few weeks. She had gotten a job in a restaurant. “I’m a good waitress and the tips are great. I’m taking singing lessons. I was in an off-Broadway musical. It only ran for four performances, but it was so wonderful to be onstage.” She had flown back home three times for a long weekend. Then, after Tracey had lived in New York for two years, his mother received a call one day from the police. Tracey had disappeared. When she did not show up for work for two days and did not answer her phone, her concerned boss, Tom King, who owned the restaurant, had gone to her apartment. Everything was in order there. Her date book showed that she had an audition scheduled for the day after she had disappeared, and had another scheduled at the end of the week. “She didn’t show up for the first one,” King told the police. “If she doesn’t show up for the other one, then something’s happened to her.” The New York police listed Tracey as a missing person all those years ago. As in “just another missing person,” Mark thought as he drove up to the Cape Cod–style house where he had been raised. With its charcoal shingles, white trim, and bright red door, it was a cheery and welcoming sight. He pulled into the driveway and parked. The overhead lamp at the door shed light on the front steps. He knew his mother would leave it on all night as she had for nearly twenty-eight years, just in case Tracey came home. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, and asparagus had been his response to his mother’s request for what to prepare for his farewell dinner. The minute he opened the door, the heartwarming scent of the roasting beef told him that as usual she had made exactly what he wanted. Martha Sloane came hurrying out from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. Seventy-four years old, her once-slender figure now a solid size fourteen, her white hair with its natural wave

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framing her even features, she threw her arms around her son and hugged him. “You’ve grown another inch,” she accused him. “God forbid,” Mark said fervently. “It’s hard enough for me to get in and out of cabs as it is.” He was six feet six. He glanced over her head to the dining room table and saw that it was set with the sterling silver and good china. “Hey, this really is a send-off.” “Well, that stuff never does get used enough,” his mother said. “Make yourself a drink. On second thought, make one for me, too.” His mother seldom had a cocktail. With a stab of pain, Mark realized that she was determined not to let the upcoming anniversary of Tracey’s disappearance cloud the last dinner they would have for at least a few months. Martha Sloane had been a court stenographer and understood the long hours he would probably face in his challenging new corporate job. It was only over coffee that she talked about Tracey. “We both know what date is coming up,” she said quietly. “Mark, I watch that Cold Case File program on television all the time,” she said quietly. “When you’re in New York, do you think you could get the police to reopen the investigation into Tracey’s disappearance? They have so many more ways to trace what happened to missing people these days, even people who disappeared years ago. But it’s much more likely they’ll do that if someone like you starts asking questions.” She hesitated, then went on. “Mark, I know I have had to give up hoping that Tracey lost her memory or was in trouble and had to hide. I believe in my heart that she is dead. But if I could just bring her body back and bury her next to Dad, it would give me so much peace. Let’s face it. I probably have another eight or ten years if I’m lucky. I’d like to know that when my time comes, Tracey will be there with Dad.” She blinked to try to keep her eyes from tearing. “You know how it is. I always was a sucker for ‘Danny Boy.’ I want to be able to kneel and say a prayer over Tracey’s grave.” When they rose from the table, she said briskly, “I’d love a game of Scrabble. I just found some nice twisty new words in the dictionary. But your plane is tomorrow afternoon and knowing you, you

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haven’t started to pack yet.” “You know me too well, Mom,” Mark said smiling. “And don’t be talking about having eight or ten years. Willard Scott will be sending you one of those hundredth-birthday cards.” At the door, he hugged her fiercely, then took a chance and asked, “When you lock up are you going to turn off the porch light?” She shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. Just in case, Mark, just in case . . .” She did not finish the sentence. It hung unsaid in the air. But Mark knew what it was. “Just in case Tracey comes home tonight.”

4
On her last visit to the family’s complex, Kate had been shocked to learn that the security cameras were still not working. “Kate, your father turned thumbs down on a new system,” Jack Worth, the plant manager, said. “The problem is that every­ thing around here needs to be upgraded. And the fact is we haven’t got the kind of craftsmen that were working here twenty years ago. The ones that are around are prohibitively expensive because the market is shrinking, and our new employees just aren’t the same. We’re starting to get returns on the furniture regularly. I can’t fathom why your father is so stubborn about selling this place to a developer. The land is worth at least twenty million dollars.” Then he’d added, ruefully, “Of course, if he does that, it would put me out of a job. With so many businesses closing, there isn’t too much demand for a plant manager.” Jack was fifty-six, with the burly body of the wrestler he had been in his early twenties. His full head of strawberry-blond hair was streaked with gray. Kate knew he was a strict overall manager of the factory, showroom, and the three-story private museum in which every room was furnished with incredibly valuable antiques. He had started working for the company more than thirty years ago as an assistant bookkeeper and took over the management five years ago. Kate had changed into a running suit, set the alarm for 3:30 A.M., and settled on the couch. She did not think that she would be able to fall asleep but she did. The only problem was that her sleep was uneasy and filled with dreams, most of which she could not remember, but they left her feeling troubled. The one fragment she could remember was the same one she’d had from time to time: A terrified child in a flowered nightgown was running down a long hall, away from hands that were reaching to grab her.

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I didn’t need that nightmare now, she thought, as she turned off the alarm and sat up. Ten minutes later, bundled in her black down jacket, a scarf over her head, she was in the parking lot of her building and getting into her fuel-efficient Mini Cooper sedan. Even at this early hour there was still traffic in Manhattan, but it was moving swiftly. Kate went east through Central Park at Sixty-fifth Street and a few minutes later was driving up the ramp to the Queensboro Bridge. It only took ten minutes more to get to her destination. It was four fifteen, and she knew Gus would be coming any minute. She parked her car behind the Dumpster at the back of the museum and waited. The wind was still strong and the car quickly became cold. She was about to turn the engine on again when dim headlights came around the corner and Gus’s pickup truck came to a stop near her. In two simultaneous motions they got out of their cars and hurried to the service door of the museum. Kate had a flashlight and the key in her hands. She turned the key in the lock and pushed open the door. With a sigh of relief, she said, “Gus, it’s so great of you to come at this hour.” Once inside she used the beam of her flashlight to see the security keyboard. “Can you believe that even the internal security system is broken?” Gus was wearing a woolen cap pulled down over his ears. A few strands of thinning hair had escaped the cap and were plastered on his forehead. “I knew it had to be important for you to want to meet at this hour,” he said. “What’s up, Kate?” “I only pray God I’m wrong, Gus, but I have to show you something in the Fontainebleau suite. I need your expertise.” She reached into her pocket, brought out another flashlight, and handed one to him. “Keep it pointed to the ground.” Silently they made their way to the back staircase. As Kate ran her hand over the smooth wood of the banister, she thought of the stories she had heard about her grandfather, who had come to the United States as a penniless but educated immigrant and eventually made a fortune in the stock market. At age fifty, he had sold his investment firm and fulfilled his lifetime dream of creating fine reproductions of antique furniture. He had bought this property in Long Island City and built a complex that consisted of a factory, a

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showroom, and a private museum to show the antiques he had collected over the years and now would copy. At fifty-five he had decided that he wanted an heir and married my grandmother, who was twenty years younger than he. And then my father and his brother were born. Dad had taken over the run of the business only a year before the accident, Kate thought. After that Russ Link ran it until he retired five years ago. Connelly Fine Antique Reproductions had flourished for sixty years, but as Kate tried repeatedly to point out to her father, the current market for expensive reproductions was shrinking. She had not had the courage to also point out to him that his heavy drinking, neglect of the business, and increasingly erratic hours at the office were other factors in why it was time to sell. Let’s face it, she thought. After my grandfather died, Russ ran every­ thing. At the bottom of the stairs Kate began to say, “Gus, it’s the writing desk I want to show you—­ ” But then suddenly she stopped, grabbed his arm, and said, “My God, Gus, this place is reeking with gas.” Reaching for his hand, she turned and headed back to the door. They had gone only a few steps when an explosion sent the staircase crashing down upon them. Afterward Kate vaguely remembered trying to brush away the blood that was pouring down her forehead and trying to pull Gus’s inert body with her as she crawled to the door. The flames were licking the walls, and the smoke was blinding and choking her. Then the door had blown open and the gusty winds rushed into the hallway. A sheer savage instinct for survival made Kate grab Gus by the wrists and drag him out a few feet into the parking lot. Then she blacked out. When the firemen arrived, they found Kate unconscious, bleeding profusely from a wound in her head, her clothing singed. Gus was lying a few feet away, motionless. The weight of the fallen staircase left him with crushing injuries. He was dead. Purchase Daddy's Gone A Hunting in print or ebook!
Copyright © 2013 by Mary Higgins Clark

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