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Deanne C. Miller
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Christine Alden, a young, flat-broke genealogist accepts the job offered by the rakish Michael Chandler against her better judgment. Having been through one disastrous marriage, Michael spells trouble.
She arrives on Michael’s isolated barrier island estate and discovers jewel robberies and murder are not just headlines. People around her are being murdered. And it looks like she’s the next victim.
Christine Alden dumped the contents of the penny jar on her desk and began counting. It came to just over four dollars--every cent she had to her name.
Her throat tightened, her stomach churned. What was she going to do? How was she going to eat? There was no one she could turn to for help. Her parents were dead, and she had no other relatives.
She fought the panic rising inside her. Stay calm, she told herself. The checks from the two partial charts she ran last month should be coming in any day now.
Five minutes later, she heard the lid of the mailbox drop, followed by the doorbell, the postman’s signal he’d arrived. With fingers crossed, she hurried out of her office and across the living room.
When she opened the front door Derek Whitaker, her ex-husband, insolently leaned against the doorframe sorting through her mail.
"That’s none of your business," she said, and grabbed for the envelopes.
He jerked them away and held them at arm’s length. "None of my business? Everything you do is my business."
"Not any more."
Christine looked up at the man she’d found so attractive once. He looked as handsome as ever in expensive tan linen shorts and brown shirt, but humor no longer twinkled in his dark eyes. Instead of the boyish smile she’d found so appealing, a snarl curled his lips. It’d been that way ever since she said, "I do."
"What do you want, Derek?"
What a ridiculous question. She knew what he wanted. Her. Not because he loved her or couldn’t live without her, but because she belonged to him.
"Now, darling," he said, feigning a pout. "Is that any way to treat me, after all we’ve meant to each other."
An icy chill shot up Christine’s spine. She knew that look. Derek was up to something--something she was sure to find unpleasant.
Derek fanned her mail out like poker cards, selected an envelope and handed it to her. It was from her bank.
"You need me, Christine. You can’t make it on your own."
Maybe not, but she’d sleep on the streets before she went back to him. She snatched the rest of her mail from his hand.
"I don’t need you."
He lunged at her, fire glinting in his eyes. "I’ll kill you. Who is he?"
Christine jumped back into the living room and slammed the door, twisting the dead bolt with hands that shook. Her heart pounded. She leaned her head against the door and closed her eyes, trying to blot his crazed look from her mind.
"Open the door!" Derek shouted.
It felt like he was trying to jerk the door off its hinges. Christine’s first instinct was to turn and run, but the remembered images of Derek’s hammer-hard fists set her pulse racing, turned her knees to water.
The door rattled again. There wasn’t any point in calling the police. She already had. She’d told them how Derek sat across the street for hours on end watching the house--how he followed her everywhere she went--what he said he would do to her if he ever caught her with another man.
It didn’t do any good. They didn’t come right out and say Judge Whitaker’s son would probably have to kill her before they did anything, stalking law or not, but she got the message.
She’d have to take care of this herself, but how? Derek had never listened to reason--had never thought she was capable of taking care of herself--would never believe her if she told him there wasn’t another man.
"Damnit, Christine! Open this door. Now!"
The door rattled again as Derek’s fist hammered the wood. Then she heard heavier blows. It sounded like he was trying to kick the door down.
Expecting the door to cave in any minute, Christine grabbed the nearest thing resembling a weapon, her father’s heavy, gnarled oak cane from the stand by the door.
Derek kicked the door again. Then a deathly hush settled over the room. The clock on the mantle boomed out the passing seconds.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Deanne C. Miller now resides in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and two Great Danes. When not writing, Deanne can be found at her potter’s wheel.
In addition to the second Craig Hancock adventure, she is currently working on a new adult mystery, with baseball as the theme.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 260
Paper Weight (lb): 11.2
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