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Authors: Nora Roberts

Without a Trace

BOOK: Without a Trace
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Nora Roberts

Hot Ice

Sacred Sins

Brazen Virtue

Sweet Revenge

Public Secrets

Genuine Lies

Carnal Innocence

Divine Evil

Honest Illusions

Private Scandals

Hidden Riches

True Betrayals

Montana Sky

Sanctuary

Homeport

The Reef

River’s End

Carolina Moon

The Villa

Midnight Bayou

Three Fates

Birthright

Northern Lights

Blue Smoke

Angels Fall

High Noon

Tribute

Black Hills

The Search

Chasing Fire

Series

Irish Born Trilogy

Born in Fire

Born in Ice

Born in Shame

Dream Trilogy

Daring to Dream

Holding the Dream

Finding the Dream

Chesapeake Bay Saga

Sea Swept

Rising Tides

Inner Harbor

Chesapeake Blue

Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy

Jewels of the Sun

Tears of the Moon

Heart of the Sea

Three Sisters Island Trilogy

Dance Upon the Air

Heaven and Earth

Face the Fire

Key Trilogy

Key of Light

Key of Knowledge

Key of Valor

In the Garden Trilogy

Blue Dahlia

Black Rose

Red Lily

Circle Trilogy

Morrigan’s Cross

Dance of the Gods

Valley of Silence

Sign of Seven Trilogy

Blood Brothers

The Hollow

The Pagan Stone

Bride Quartet

Vision in White

Bed of Roses

Savor the Moment

Happy Ever After

The Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy

The Next Always

eBooks

The O’Hurleys

Skin Deep

Without a Trace

Dance to the Piper

The Donovan Legacy

Captivated

Entranced

Charmed

Enchanted

Cordina’s Royal Family

Affaire Royale

Command Performance

The Playboy Prince

Cordina’s Crown Jewel

Nora Roberts & J. D. Robb

Remember When

J. D. Robb

Naked in Death

Glory in Death

Immortal in Death

Rapture in Death

Ceremony in Death

Vengeance in Death

Holiday in Death

Conspiracy in Death

Loyalty in Death

Witness in Death

Judgment in Death

Betrayal in Death

Seduction in Death

Reunion in Death

Purity in Death

Portrait in Death

Imitation in Death

Divided in Death

Visions in Death

Survivor in Death

Origin in Death

Memory in Death

Born in Death

Innocent in Death

Creation in Death

Strangers in Death

Salvation in Death

Promises in Death

Kindred in Death

Fantasy in Death

Indulgence in Death

Treachery in Death

New York to Dallas

Anthologies

From the Heart

A Little Magic

A Little Fate

Moon Shadows

(with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)

The Once Upon Series

(with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)

Once Upon a Castle          Once Upon a Rose

Once Upon a Star          Once Upon a Kiss

Once Upon a Dream          Once Upon a Midnight

Silent Night

(with Susan Plunkett, Dee Holmes, and Claire Cross)

Out of This World

(with Laurell K. Hamilton, Susan Krinard, and Maggie Shayne)

Bump in the Night

(with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

Dead of Night

(with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

Three in Death

Suite 606

(with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

In Death

The Lost

(with Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blayney, and Ruth Ryan Langan)

The Other Side

(with Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

The Unquiet

(with Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

Also available…

The Official Nora Roberts Companion

(edited by Denise Little and Laura Hayden)

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand

(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have control over and does not have any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

WITHOUT A TRACE

An InterMix Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Harlequin Books edition / September 1990

InterMix eBook edition / January 2012

Copyright © 1990 by Nora Roberts.
Excerpt from
The Witness
copyright © 2012 by Nora Roberts.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-56829-3

INTERMIX

InterMix Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

INTERMIX and the INTERMIX design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To black sheep

Table of Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Excerpt from
The Witness

Prologue

“Pick up the beat on the intro, Tracey boy, you’re dragging it.”

Frank O’Hurley stood on his mark, stage right, and prepared to go through his opening routine again. The three-night run in Terre Haute might not be the highlight of his career, and it certainly wasn’t the apex of his dreams, but he was going to give the audience their money’s worth. Every two-bit gig was a dress rehearsal for the big break.

He counted off the beat, then swung into the routine with the enthusiasm of a man half his age. The calendar might put Frank’s age at forty, but his feet would always be sixteen.

He’d written the little novelty number himself, with the wide-eyed hope that it would become the O’Hurley trademark. At the piano, his oldest child and only son tried to put some life into a melody he’d played too many times to count—and dreamed of other things and other places.

On cue, his mother spun onstage with his father. Even after endless routines, endless theaters, Trace still felt a tug of affection for them. Just as, after endless routines, endless theaters, he felt what had become a familiar tug of frustration.

Would he always be here, beating out a second-rate tune on a second-rate piano, trying to fill his father’s big dreams that hadn’t a hope in hell of coming true?

As she’d been doing most of her life, Molly matched her steps to Frank’s. She could have done the number blindfold. As it was, while she dipped, spun and double stepped, her mind was more on her son than her timing.

The boy wasn’t happy, she thought. And he wasn’t a child any longer. He was on the brink of manhood and straining to go his own way. It was that single fact, she knew, that terrified Frank to the point that he refused to acknowledge it.

The arguments had become more frequent, more heated. Soon, she thought, all too soon, something was going to explode, and she might not be able to pick up all the pieces.

Kick, ball change, dip, and her three daughters tapped onto the stage. With her heart close to Frank’s, Molly could feel him swell with pride. She would hate for him to lose that pride or the hope that kept him the youthful dreamer she’d fallen in love with.

As Molly and Frank moved offstage, the routine eased smoothly into the opening song. The O’Hurley Triplets—Chantel, Abby and Maddy—launched into three-part harmony as if they’d been born singing.

They practically had, Molly thought. But, like Trace, they weren’t children any longer. Chantel was already using her wit and her wiles to fascinate the men in the audience. Abby, steady and quiet, was just marking time. And it wouldn’t be long before they lost Maddy. As a mother, Molly felt both pride and regret at the thought that her youngest had too much talent to remain part of a roving troupe for long.

Yet it was Trace who concerned her now. He sat at the scarred piano in the dingy little club, his mind a thousand miles away. She’d seen the brochures he collected. Pictures and stories on places like Zanzibar, New Guinea, Mazatlán. Sometimes, on the long train or bus rides from city to city, Trace would talk of the mosques and caverns and mountains he wanted to see.

And Frank would brush those dreams off like dust, desperately clinging to his own—and to his son.

“Not bad, darlings.” Frank bounced back to center stage to give each of his daughters a hug. “Trace, your mind’s not on the music. You need to pump some life into it.”

“There hasn’t been any life in that number since Des Moines.”

A few months before, Frank would have chuckled and rubbed a hand over his son’s hair. But now he felt the sting of criticism, man to man. His chin came up to a stubborn point. “Nothing wrong with the song and never has been. It’s your playing that’s lacking. You lost tempo twice. I’m tired of you sulking over the keys.”

Playing peacemaker, Abby stepped between her father and brother. The growing tension had been keeping the family on edge for weeks. “We’re all a little tired, I think.”

“I can speak for myself, Abby.” Trace pushed away from the piano. “No one’s sulking at the keys.”

“Hah!” Frank brushed Molly’s restraining hand away. Lord, the boy was tall, Frank thought. Tall and straight and almost a stranger. But Frank O’Hurley was still in charge, and it was time his son remembered it. “You’ve been in a black mood since I told you I wouldn’t have a son of mine harking off to Hong Kong or God knows where like some gypsy. Your place is here, with your family. Your responsibility is to the troupe.”

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