Excerpt from

Wife Found Slain

A woman wakes in pain. She soon discovers she's in a hospital—with no idea how she got there or who she is. Gradually a memory comes back to her. A man named Owen.

She could not remember whether she was Owen's wife. There had been someone else. Someone named. . . .

It was a short name. Something like Rose. Or Ruth.

That was it. Ruth. But Ruth, she thought, was gone. She had an odd sense of finality about it, as though probably Ruth was dead.

It was strange that she should remember Ruth's name and not her own.

Again she tried to relate herself to something or someone. She began with Owen. But she did not know where he was or when she had last seen him.

And the children. The twins, Neal and Paul.

There were others, too. Ruth's children. Eddie? No, Eddie was her own brother. There was a boy, and then that terrible girl who hated her.

She floated again, and wondered whether she had dreamed it all. Owen's children. How did she know them? They were out on Long Island with Ruth.

She was almost asleep, when her eyes opened suddenly. It was happening again, the alertness. As though something was there.


In the doorway—a flash of white. A quiet step. Her heart began to thud.

She watched, not knowing why it frightened her. She kept her eyes nearly closed so he would think she was sleeping.

He—whoever he was. He was out there, waiting. She knew it.

Again, a faint rustle. Clothes brushing against the wall. And then white. A sleeve.

He was coming in.

Nearly soundless feet. His face in gauze. A surgical mask. Thin black eyebrows that started in one direction, then angled to another.

She had seen those eyebrows. Where?

She gathered herself, unmindful of her pain and weakness. She lifted her head from the pillow and took a sharp breath. She screamed.

Her mouth would not open. It was held fast with wires, her screams muffled by swollen lips.

The man hesitated. His eyes were dark and pitiless.

She screamed again. Her elbow touched a cord on the bed. She fumbled for the call button.

It might be minutes before they answered. Again and again she screamed. The sound was only a small, hoarse cry.

He watched her. Forever. Standing and watching. The pain began to engulf her.

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