Excerpt from

Man in the Shadows

Beautiful model Denise Garner has lost her mainstay, the lawyer and longtime friend who helped with her divorce. He was shot in a street mugging. Then the anonymous phone calls began. Now her fiancÚ, Wade, has walked out. She has no one but her two young children. And the calls continue.

Rodney, sensing something, asked again hesitantly, "When's Wade coming back?"

"He's not." She held out her arms to him, and he burst into hoarse cries. "I want Wade!"

"What are we going to do if he doesn't come back?" asked Karen.

"Do about what?"

"But we need him."

"I know we do."

"Then why don't you call him and tell him to come back?"

The question made her angry. At Wade. At Karen, for not understanding.

"I don't know where he is. And that's not the problem."

"Then why—"

"He doesn't want to get involved. He doesn't care. He doesn't give a damn what happens to any of us." She twisted off her engagement ring and flung it across the room. She did not see where it landed, and didn't care.

The telephone rang.

"Maybe it's him!" Karen exclaimed.

It had to be. A misunderstanding. She tried to think what she would say.

It was not Wade's voice that purred, "How's my precious darling?"

She felt sick with disappointment. And sick because it was Avery. She wanted to hang up, but couldn't.

After a moment, he said cautiously, "You are there, aren't you?"

"Yes."

"You sound a little down. Are you feeling all right? Kind of lonely, maybe?"

"Lonely! How could I be lonely? All you did was ruin my life, so what have I got to be lonely about?""

"Wait a minute, wait a minute." Avery could sound so calm and reasonable. "You say I ruined your life? Was I the one who broke us up?"

"It doesn't matter. It's all part of the same thing. You drove me away with your insane jealousy, and now he's gone."

She should not have said it. Should not have let him know he'd won.

It took him a moment to understand. Then he said, "Is that right? He's gone, and you're all alone?"

"I'm . . . not—"

"Aren't you afraid, Denise? All alone, with only your children to keep you safe? Who's going to look after the children?"

The words. The breathy voice.

"Avery, did you make those calls? And you sent the cut-up picture, didn't you? What are you trying to do?"

She did know. She was playing into his hands.

"You're mine, Denise."


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