Authors: Kate White
Tags: #Mystery, #Contemporary, #Thriller, #Humour, #FIC022000
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2002 by Kate White
All rights reserved.
Warner Books, Inc.,
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
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First eBook Edition: May 2003
To Hunter and Hayley. Thank you for all your wonderful support and encouragement.
So many people were helpful to me when I was writing this book but several gave especially generously of their time and I
want to say a very big thank you to them: Paul Paganelli, M.D., Chief of Emergency Medicine, Milton Hospital, Milton, MA;
Sandra Schneider, M.D., head of emergency medicine, University of Rochester Medical School; Chet Lerner, M.D.; Barbara Butcher,
deputy director of investigations for the office of the chief medical examiner, New York City; Pete Panuccio, sergeant, NYPD;
Roger Rokiki, chief inspector, Westchester County police; and magician Belinda Sinclair.
I’d also like to thank my fabulous editor, Sara Ann Freed, for all her guidance, my terrific agent, Sandy Dijksktra, for not
gagging when I said I wanted to write a mystery, and Miriam Friedman for all her amazing efforts.
the kind of woman who not only got everything in the world that she wanted—in her case a fabulous job as editor in chief
of one of the biggest women’s magazines, a gorgeous town house in Manhattan, and a hot-looking husband with a big career of
his own—but over the years also managed to get plenty of what other women wanted: like
fabulous jobs and
hot-looking husbands. It was hard not to hate her. So when her perfect world began to unravel,
might have been tempted to turn my face into my pillow at night and go, “Hee hee hee.” But
took no pleasure in her misery, as I’m sure plenty of other people did, and instead
jetted to her rescue. Why? Because she helped pay my bills, because she was my friend in a weird sort of way, and most of
all because as a writer of true crime articles I’ve always been sucked in by stories that start with a corpse and lead to
There’s no way
could forget the moment when all the Sturm und Drang began. It was just after eight on a Sunday morning, a Sunday in early
was lying under the covers of my queen-size bed in a spoon position with thirty-four-year-old Kyle Conner McConaughy, investment
banker and sailing fanatic, feeling him growing hard and hoping I wouldn’t do anything to mess up the delicate ecosystem of
the moment. It was our sixth date and only the second time we’d been to bed, and though dinner had been nice and last night’s
sex had been even better than the first time, I had a pit in my stomach—the kind that develops when you find yourself gaga
over a guy you’ve begun to sense is as skittish as an alpine goat. All it would take was the wrong remark from me—a suggestion,
for instance, that we plan a weekend at a charming inn in the Berkshires—and he’d burn rubber on his way out the door.
The phone rang just as I felt his hand close around my right breast. I glanced instinctively at the clock. God, it was only
8:09. The machine would pick it up, regardless of what idiot had decided to call at this hour. It was too early for my mother,
traipsing around Tuscany, and too late for old boyfriends, who did their drunk dialing at two A.M. from pay phones in bars
below 14th Street. Maybe it was the super. It would be just like him to get in touch at this hour with some pathetic complaint,
like my bike was leaning up against the wrong wall in the basement.
“Do you need to get that?” K.C. asked, his hand pausing in its pursuit.
“The machine will,” I said. Had I remembered, I wondered, to turn the volume all the way down? The fourth ring was cut off
abruptly and a woman’s voice came booming into the room from the small office directly across from my bedroom. No, I hadn’t.
“Bailey? . . . Bailey? . . . Please pick up if you’re there. It’s Cat . . . I need your help. . . . Bailey, are you there?”
“I better grab this,” I said, wriggling out from under the white comforter. I propped myself up on my elbow and reached for
the phone on the bedside table.
“Hi,” I said, clearing my throat. “I’m here.”
“Oh, thank God,” Cat Jones said. “Look, something’s wrong here and I’m going insane. I need your help.”
“Okay, tell me,” I said calmly. If I wasn’t responding with a huge degree of concern, it was because I’d known Cat Jones for
seven years and I’d seen her freak when the dry cleaners pressed the seams wrong in her pants.
“It’s my nanny—you know, Heidi.”
“This one quit, too?”
“Please don’t be funny. There’s something the matter. She won’t answer the door down in her apartment.”
“You’re sure she’s there?”
“Yes. I mean, I talked to her yesterday and she promised to be here this morning.”
“Christ, it’s only eight o’clock, Cat,” I protested. “She’s probably dead asleep. Or she’s got a guy with her and she’s embarrassed
to answer the door.” K.C.’s hand, which had been fondling my breast only seconds ago, had now lost much of its enthusiasm.
“But she’d never just ignore me,” Cat said. Of course not. Few people would have the nerve to do that.
“Maybe she’s not even in there. Maybe she spent the night at somebody else’s place.”
“She said she was staying in last night. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
“Can’t you let yourself in? You’ve got a key, right?”
“I’m scared to go in alone. What if there’s something the matter in there?”
“Well, what about Jeff ?” I asked, referring to her husband.
“He’s up in the country for the weekend with Tyler. I had something to do here,” she added almost defensively.
“And there’s no one closer? A neighbor?”
“No. No one I trust.”
She paused then in that famous way of hers, which had started out as a trick to make people rush to fill the void and divulge
their most sacred secrets to her, but which now had become a kind of unintentional mannerism, the way some people bite the
side of their thumb as they think. I waited her out, listening to the sound of K.C.’s breathing.
“Bailey, you’ve got to come up here,” she said finally.
I exclaimed. “Cat, it’s eight-eleven on a Sunday morning. Why not wait a bit longer? I bet she spent the night at some guy’s
place and she’s trying to flag down a cab right now.”
“But what if that’s not the case? What if something happened to her in there?”
“What are you suggesting? That she’s passed out from a bender—or she’s hung herself from the door frame?”
“No. I don’t know. It just seems weird—and I’m scared.”
I could see now that this was bigger than a dry-cleaning snafu, that she had her knickers in a twist and was serious about
wanting me there, uptown on 91st Street, now.
“Okay, okay,” I said. “It’s going to take me at least thirty minutes to get dressed and get up there.”
“Just hurry, all right?” She hung up the phone without even saying good-bye.
By now there didn’t seem to be much lust left in my dashing Lothario. He’d let his hand slip away and had rolled from the
spoon position onto his back. I’d once heard someone say that Cat Jones was so intimidating that she had made some of the
men she went to bed with temporarily impotent, but even I, who had never underestimated her, was impressed that she’d managed
to do that from about eighty blocks to a man
was in bed with.
“Look, K.C., I’m really sorry,” I said, rolling over and facing him. He had lots of Irish blood in his veins, and it showed—dark
brown, nearly black eyes, coarse dark brown hair, pale skin, front teeth that overlapped ever so slightly. “This woman I work
for has a live-in nanny and she thinks she’s in some kind of trouble. I’ve got to go up to her place and help her out.”
“Is that Cat, the one you work for at
“Yeah. The beautiful but easily bothered Cat Jones. You’re welcome to hang around here till I get back.”
What I wanted to add was, “And when I get back I’ll do things to your body that you’ve never even imagined before,” but at
that moment I wasn’t feeling very nervy.
“No, I should go,” he said. “Can I make a preemptive strike on the bathroom? It’ll be quick.”
“Sure. I’m gonna make coffee. Do you want something to eat—a bagel?”
“Not necessary,” he said, pulling his arm out from under me so he could swing out of bed. He leaned over the side, reaching
for his boxers, and then padded off to the bathroom. Great. There’d been the tiniest hint of snippiness in the “Not necessary,”
as if he suspected I’d found an excuse to blow him off. Or maybe he was relieved. This way there’d be no awkwardness about
how long he was supposed to stay at my place or whether he should take me out for French toast and mimosas.
I forced myself out of bed and stole a look in the mirror above my dresser. I’m fairly attractive, I guess you could say,
but lookswise the morning has never been my finest hour. I’d gotten all my makeup off last night, so there was none of that
streaky “Bride of Chucky” horror, but my short blondish brown hair was bunched up on top of my head and it looked as though
I had a hedgehog sitting there. I swiped at it with a brush a few times until it lay flat and then pulled on a pair of jeans,
a white T-shirt, and a black cotton cardigan.
As I headed toward the kitchen I could hear K.C. splashing water in the bathroom. I put on the teakettle (I make my coffee
in a French press) and walked from the living room out onto my terrace to see what the weather had in mind today. I live in
the Village, Greenwich Village, at the very east end of it before it becomes the shabbier East Village, and my view is to
the west, toward an unseen Hudson River blocked by grayand red- and sand-colored buildings and nineteen shingled water towers
scattered over the rooftops. It was cool, and the sky was smudged with gray.
“How’d you get this place again?”
K.C. was standing in the doorway, all dressed, ready to split. There was something downright roguish about him, a quality
that was kept almost at bay when he dressed in one of his navy banker suits, but came through loud and clear as he stood there
in slacks and a shirt rumpled from having been tossed in a heap on the floor in my bedroom. I was torn between the desire
to swoon and the urge to heed a tiny voice in my head that was going, “Run, Bambi, run.”
“I got divorced, and this was part of the consolation prize.”
He took three steps toward me. “I used your toothbrush, Miss Weggins.”
“Then I look forward to using it next,” I said. I nearly cringed at the sound of myself saying it. I’d once written an article
about a woman with fourteen personalities, including an adolescent boy named Danny who liked to set five-alarm warehouse fires.
Maybe that’s what was going on with me.
But he smiled for the first time that morning and leaned forward and kissed me hard on the mouth.
“Have a good day.”
“Oh, I’m sure I will. I’ll be scouring New York for the no-show nanny.”
“I hope she’s worth it,” he said.
“You want to come along?” I asked in a burst of imagination or stupidity.
“Can’t,” he said. “I’m supposed to go sailing today.”
I walked him to the front of the apartment, flipped the locks on the door, and opened it. He spotted
The New York Times
lying on the mat and picked it up for me. Then he flashed me this tight little smile with raised eyebrows and turned to go.
No “Call you later.” No “That was the most awesome sex I’ve ever had.” I felt a momentary urge to hurl the newspaper at the
back of his head, but I just closed the door and begged the gods to keep me from falling hard for him.
Twelve minutes later I was in a cab heading uptown. I’d brushed my teeth, made coffee, and then poured it into a Styrofoam
cup. I’d tried sipping it in the taxi, but the driver was going too fast, so now I had the cup on the floor, squeezed between