Authors: Kay Hooper
Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #Suspense
Praise for Kay Hooper
“A stirring and evocative thriller.”
—Palo Alto Daily News
“The pace flies, the suspense never lets up. It’s great reading.”
, Baton Rouge
“An intriguing book with plenty of strange twists that will please the reader.”
—Rocky Mountain News
“It passed the ‘stay up late to finish it in one night’ test.”
—The Denver Post
“You always know you are in for an outstanding read when you pick up a Kay Hooper novel, but in
, she has created something really special! Simply superb!”
(gold medal review)
“Hooper keeps the intrigue pleasurably complicated, with gothic touches of suspense and a satisfying resolution.”
“A first-class reading experience.”
—Affaire de Coeur
“Ms. Hooper throws in one surprise after another.… Spellbinding.”
“Harrowing good fun. Readers will shiver and shudder.”
“Kay Hooper comes through with chills, thrills, and plenty of romance, this time with an energetic murder mystery with a clever twist. The suspense is sustained admirably right up to the very end.”
“Peopled with interesting characters and intricately plotted, the novel is both a compelling mystery and a satisfying romance.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Kay Hooper has crafted another solid story to keep readers enthralled until the last page is turned.”
“Joanna Flynn is appealing, plucky, and true to her mission as she probes the mystery that was Caroline.”
seethes and sizzles. A fast-paced, atmospheric tale that vibrates with tension, passion, and mystery. Readers will devour it.”
—Jayne Ann Krentz
“Kay Hooper’s dialogue rings true; her characters are more three-dimensional than those usually found in this genre. You may think you’ve guessed the outcome, unraveled all the lies. Then again, you could be as mistaken as I was.”
—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Will delight fans of Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt.”
—Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
“Kay Hooper knows how to serve up a latter-day gothic that will hold readers in its brooding grip.”
“I lapped it right up. There aren’t enough good books in this genre, so this stands out!”
from The Poisoned Pen
“Kay Hooper has given you a darn good ride, and there are far too few of those these days.”
—Dayton Daily News
Bantam Books by Kay Hooper
ALWAYS A THIEF
ONCE A THIEF
SENSE OF EVIL
WHISPER OF EVIL
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
HIDING IN THE SHADOWS
ON WINGS OF MAGIC
THE WIZARD OF SEATTLE
MY GUARDIAN ANGEL
HIDING IN THE SHADOWS
A Bantam Book / October 2000
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2000 by Kay Hooper
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information address: Bantam Books.
Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, New York, New York.
FOR MY FAMILY
Kane MacGregor looked up from the morning newspaper as she came into the kitchen, and reflected not for the first time that Dinah Leighton was the only woman he’d ever known who managed to create the illusion of incredible bustle while never moving faster than a lazy stroll. It was a peculiarly endearing trait.
“I am so late,” she said by way of greeting, dropping her briefcase into a chair across from him at the table and going around the work island to pour herself a cup of coffee. He always made the coffee in the morning, favoring a gourmet blend rich with taste, a selection Dinah accepted cheerfully even though she considered the beverage merely a simple and efficient means of getting caffeine into her system as quickly as possible. “You turned off the alarm again.” She didn’t sound annoyed, just matter-of-fact.
“After all your long hours recently, I thought you could use a little extra sleep. Besides, it isn’t all that
late. Just after nine. Do you have a meeting this morning? You didn’t mention anything last night.”
“No, not a meeting.” She spooned enough sugar into the coffee to make him wince, and poured enough cream to make him wonder why she even bothered with coffee. “I just … They allow visitors only twice a day, and I’m always too late in the evening.”
It was Thursday. He’d forgotten.
“I’m sorry, Dinah. If you’d reminded me—”
The smile she sent him was quick and fleeting. “Don’t worry about it. I still have time, I think.” She put two slices of bread in the toaster and leaned against the counter.
Kane looked at her, wondering as he had wondered often in recent weeks if it was his imagination that Dinah was a bit preoccupied. He’d thought it was because of the accident, but now he wasn’t so sure. She tended to get wrapped up in her work, sometimes to the exclusion of other things. Was that it? Just another story that had drawn her interest and engaged that lively mind?
He wanted to go to her, but didn’t; he was experienced enough to recognize the warning in both her actions and her body language. She had not touched him, had not even come near him, in fact. She was across the room with the island
the table between them and showing him most of her back.
She might just as well have worn a no-trespassing sign. In neon. It irritated him.
“Will you stop on the way to work?” he asked, keeping the conversation going while he decided
whether or not it was time to do something about this.
Dinah checked the wide, leather-banded watch she wore and nodded absently. “For a few minutes.”
“You don’t have to go twice every week.”
“Yes,” she said. “I do.”
“Dinah, it wasn’t your fault.”
“I know that.” But her voice lacked certainty. She seemed to realize it, because she cleared her throat and quickly changed the subject while she buttered her toast. “Anyway, we’ll be going in opposite directions this morning. Just as well, I expect. Steve has me chasing after that building inspector for an interview and the wretched man is never in his office, so I’ll need my Jeep.”
Steve Hardy was Dinah’s editor at the small but well-known magazine where she worked, and he tended to push her almost as hard as she pushed herself.
“Another exposé?” Kane said lightly. “Bribery and kickbacks in the city?”
She laughed. “I wish. No, this is just for a series on our local officials. You know—a day in the life of, and how, exactly, your tax dollars are being spent.”
“Easy stuff for you.”
Dinah shrugged. “Easy enough.”
Kane watched her load the toast with grape jelly and take a healthy bite. She was, he decided, very watchable no matter what she was doing. She wasn’t beautiful, but damned close. Regular, not-quite-delicate features that fit together well, the best of which being a pair of steady blue eyes that sometimes saw more than one would guess. Her pale gold hair
was cut casually short in tousled layers—“wash and wear,” she called it—and her tall, voluptuous body was clothed in a simple tunic sweater and jeans. Dinah didn’t care much about clothes, and it showed. On the other hand, what she wore hardly mattered because the enticing figure underneath was what caught the eye. The male eye, at any rate.
His eye, certainly, more than six months ago.
It hadn’t taken them long to get intimate, but getting to know each other had become a much more complex, drawn-out process. And a cautious one. Both were fiercely independent, with busy careers and cluttered lives and rocky past relationships that had left scars, and neither had been in a hurry to delve beneath surface passion.
It had been enough, for a while.
But even wary relationships either evolved or fell apart, and theirs was evolving. Almost against their wills, they had been drawn together to share more than a bed, tentatively exchanging views and opinions and comparing tastes and basic values. They liked what they had discovered about each other.
At least, Kane thought so.
They were not quite living together, but after nearly four months of my-place-or-yours, Kane had been wondering if he should be the one to suggest they stop the shuttling back and forth almost every night.
And then, a little more than a month ago, the accident happened and Dinah began to distance herself from him. He had assumed the cause was Dinah’s worry for her friend and the ridiculous guilt she felt.
For the first time, though, he asked himself if that was the case.
“I’ll probably be late tonight,” Dinah said, eating the second piece of toast.
“More research?” It had been her excuse so often of late. Was it time for him to pick a fight and clear the air between them?
“Just something I need to check out. I’ll probably be closer to my place than here by the time I get finished, though, so—”
“Why don’t I meet you there?” he interrupted, unwilling to hear her suggest another night apart. There had been several recently. Too many. “Eight? Nine?”
Her hesitation was brief. “Eight. I should be through by then.”
“I’ll bring Chinese,” he said. “Or would you rather have something else?”
“No, Chinese is fine. Sesame chicken.”
“And no egg rolls. I remember.”
Dinah sent him another brief smile, but her mind was clearly elsewhere.
Kane sipped his coffee and watched her. He could accept that her job was important to her; his was to him, after all. So it would hardly be fair of him to protest her abstraction, to demand all her time and attention for himself. But was that really it?