Thursday, 4 September 2008
Friday was going to be the night.
He knew Savannah’s schedule, knew her habits, knew exactly when she’d be alone. And on Friday night, she would be. Her superhero Navy SEAL husband had planned to be in town for the weekend, but he’d cancelled.
Instead, he would be waiting for her.
He couldn’t wait to see her face, couldn’t wait until she realized that she was going to die, couldn’t wait until she screamed and sobbed in fear and pain.
And oh, it had been so long since he’d last relieved the nightmarish pressure that built up inside of him, pressing out from within his chest, making it hard to breathe, hard for his very heart to beat.
And yes, he’d learned to control it, pushing it back, far back. Sometimes so far back, he nearly forgot he wasn’t one of them. But he never forgot for long.
Over the past week, the pressure had returned, growing stronger and more powerful—every beat of his pulse seeming to shake him with the knowledge that it was time, it was time, it was finally time. . . .
It was time, and he’d take her tomorrow tonight. And although he loved to linger, this one he’d kill quickly. And while he knew he’d regret and miss the power and pleasure he got from drawing out her pain, he’d still get some relief.
And for that alone, as short term and temporary as it was destined to be, it would be good.
But merely good—not perfect. Perfect was reserved for her. Still, he’d have that perfection soon, because he knew, without a doubt, that, upon news of Savannah’s gruesome death, she would come.
She would come, and this game he’d been playing for all this time would begin its final quarter, this play its final act. But until then, until Friday night, he had to be patient and wait. He had a morning ritual to help him through the day.
He’d say her name aloud—just a whisper, but it would echo in the pristine, sterile bathroom—the S’s gloriously sibilant, the K sound crisp.
Then he’d go into his bedroom, and pick out a picture of her from his vast collection—some that he’d taken himself, which had been a thrill—and he’d carry it with him, all day, in the breast pocket of his jacket.
It was dangerous for him to do so. Savannah knew Alyssa well, and would ask all sorts of awkward questions if she ever saw it. He made sure she never saw it—although there had been one particularly close call. He’d had it on the table, but had swept it into the trash before Savannah got too close. He hadn’t been able to rescue it, though, before the janitor took it to the dumpster, and he’d had to print out another.
But such risks were part of the game, and carrying the photo with him gave him the comfort and strength he needed to make it through another long, dull day.
Today’s picture was one of his favorites. It had run in the Manchester newspaper. In it, Alyssa was a mere shadow, a shape, standing with a number of other law enforcement officers—police and FBI—at the place where he’d left one of them. Amanda Timberman. It had taken them six months to find Amanda, and unlike all of the others, he’d hoped that they never would.
But they had, and good had come from bad when this picture was taken.
He’d since found out that Alyssa was an investigator with a personal security firm called Troubleshooters Incorporated. She’d been hired by Amanda’s former fiancé—her job being to find Amanda, long gone missing. And find Amanda, she finally had.
When he’d first seen this picture, he hadn’t known Alyssa from any of the other shadowy person- sized shapes in the photograph. But he knew her well now—he recognized her just from the way she was standing, from the tilt of her head.
She thought she had both the brains and the skill to stalk and capture the serial killer that the media had dubbed “The Dentist.” She’d been after him for years.
But now, the Dentist was stalking her. And unlike her, he always caught his prey.
It had started on the very same day that this picture was taken— this journey he was now undertaking; a journey that would end— soon—with her blood on his hands and her pretty white teeth on a necklace he would wear close to his heart.
Her phone rang, shrill and startling in the darkness.
Jenn fumbled for her glasses, knocking them off her bedside table and onto the floor, peering at her alarm clock through the blur made worse by her grogginess.
As she picked up her glasses, the phone rang again, and she knew it had to be Maria—notorious for her insomnia. She also knew, if she answered it, that she’d be forced to recount last night’s terrible, horrible, no- good date with Scooter Randall—an ordeal which she’d driven all the way out to Long Island to endure.
“Maybe he’s changed since high school,” Maria had said, urging her to accept the dinner invitation.
A clue that he hadn’t changed might’ve been the fact that, after twelve years, he was still calling himself by his high school nickname. But Maria, despite being one of the smartest people Jenn knew when it came to most things, was a complete and total idiot when it came to relationships.
Jenn settled back in her bed, willing the call to voice mail. She knew that if Maria really, really needed her, she’d call back and she wouldn’t stop until Jenn picked up.
But then, crap, her cell phone started ringing, too.
Jenn rolled and grabbed for it, because although Maria could be something of a drama queen, there had been only one other time that she’d made a two- fisted phone call like this: when Jenn’s dad had been rushed to the hospital with a heart attack.
“I’m awake,” Jenn said now. “I’m here, what’s wrong?”
“Ford. Garage or street?” Maria’s voice was tight, clipped.
“The car, Jenn. Did you park the car in the—”
Jenn understood. “Street.” She’d gotten home last night well after the time that Vincent lowered and locked the gate to the parking garage.
A few weeks ago, she and Maria had gotten a great deal from the wizened little man. For a fraction of the price it normally cost to keep a car in New York City, they were able to garage the beat- up Taurus that they bought at the beginning of the campaign and cleverly named “Ford”—the catch being that they didn’t have access to it from midnight to 6 a.m.
So far, so good—except for the many nights they missed Vincent’s deadline, and had to park it on the street.
“Get dressed and get over here,” Maria ordered. “On second thought, don’t get dressed, just get here. We need a ride to the airport, now.”
“The airport?” Jenn asked, tucking the phone between her shoulder and ear as she pulled on the pants she’d worn on the date from hell. She kicked aside the heels she’d bought for the occasion— she was a fool to think that shoes like that made her look sexy instead of freakishly big and stupid—and stepped into her worn- out flats instead. “What airline has flights leaving at this time of—”
“We need a ride out to Westchester,” Maria interrupted. “Van’s grandmother’s chartered a plane to San Diego, and it leaves from there. Jenn, just get over here, okay? Ken’s been badly wounded. He was shot.”
“What?” Despite her disbelief, Jenn had heard what Maria said. Savannah’s Navy SEAL husband Ken had been shot. But the words didn’t line up with what she knew to be true. “Van told me he’s back from Iraq.”
“He’s not in Iraq,” Maria said, as Jenn grabbed a sweatshirt and went out the door. “He’s in San Diego. He was doing some kind of bodyguard assignment as a favor for a friend.”
“Oh, my God.” Jenn waited all of three seconds for the elevator, then bailed and took the stairs.
Maria continued, lowering her voice. “Jenni, it looks bad. He was hit three times, twice to the chest. He’s in surgery right now, but . . .” She exhaled, hard. “I’m going to fly to California with Savannah. I’m pretty sure she’s going to find out on the flight that . . . I don’t want her to get that news alone.”
“Oh, my God,” Jenn said again. “Should I come? I could come, too.”
“It was a tough enough battle,” Maria said, “to talk her into letting me go. She’s already said that she wants you to stay here and hold down the fort.”
Which made sense. They were in the middle of a political campaign, a...
New York Times bestseller Suzanne Brockmaann's brilliant new Troubleshooters book is guaranteed to make your heart race and your blood chill. Danger can be addictive.
Troubleshooters Inc.'s second-in-command Alyssa Locke is no stranger to dealing with danger. As a former FBI agent, guarding lives is Alyssa's game and no one plays it better. Now her toughest challenge will be protecting herself from 'The Dentist', a sadistic murdere she has relentlessly pursued for over a decade.
Alyssa's new assignment was supposed to be an easy one: take a squad to New York to teach self-defence to a newly-elected congresswoman receiving death threats. But the job take a more sinister turn as they discover a dead boy and Alyssa finds herself heading up a murder investigation.
Then Alyssa is ambushed and finds herself imprisoned by The Dentist, the mastermind behind it all. Cut off from everyone, Alyssa must use all her skills as he prepares to make her his ultimate trophy. One one survive - who will it be?
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Description du livre Paperback. État : New. book. N° de réf. du libraire 0755355539