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And then the ghost began to speak, and Jed knew he must be losing his mind.

“That’s it,” Beau said. “It all makes sense. O’Reilly’s. It’s in the middle of everything.”

“Oh, hell,” Jed said. The damn ghost had seen what they all should have seen.

Still staring at Beau, Jed pulled out his phone and punched in Christina’s number.

No answer.

He turned and, deserting the others without a thought, ran for the car.

“Jed!” Thor called after him.

“Call the police. Get Jerry Dwyer over to Christina’s!” Jed shouted over his shoulder.

Then he was in his car and driving, a million thoughts filling his head.


The one place all the victims had in common. All the Irish went there. Redheads.

It was between two highways. Two of the highways where the victims had been found. But before they were murdered, they were abducted and taken to a place where they were held until the killer was ready to strangle them.

They were lured into the killer’s car. Lured…how? Suddenly it hit him.

A woman would trust another woman.

Christina had been close, so close. He remembered her mocking suggestion that Beau had come back to kill again and was using Katherine to lure his victims. It had been an intentionally ridiculous suggestion. Beau had never killed. And Katherine had never procured a victim.

The people had been the wrong part of the equation.

But the equation itself had been right on the money.

“You deserve so much more time than I can give you,” her captor said.

Angie thought that she was going to vomit. She hadn’t eaten, but the gag was choking her. Not to mention the terror that she was feeling.

She’d lost track of time.

Was this it? The end?

“Pretty, pretty, pretty,” he said. “So pretty.”

She could tell from the direction of his voice that he was standing above her, but he leaned down then, fingering her hair. She wanted to cry out. She wanted to protest.

He moved the blindfold, and finally she could see his face. Her stomach lurched. Not because he was so ugly.

Because he was so fucking ordinary. Who would ever suspect…?

And then…the woman! Who knew where she was now, but she was as bad as he was.

The light hurt her eyes, and she blinked. Everything hurt. She was lying on a cold linoleum floor after being tied to a chair.

And now…

Banging sounded from somewhere above, and he started suddenly. “What the hell was that?” he asked aloud, looking in the direction of the noise. He turned back to her and said, “Not a sound, you hear me? Not a sound.”

Then he left her lying there and went to investigate.

Christina ducked onto the side porch. She knocked, but there was no answer, and she thought about calling out, hoping that Tony and Ilona were home and just hadn’t heard the door, but she didn’t want Dan to hear her.

She still couldn’t believe she was sneaking around her neighbors’ house, hiding from her own cousin. It was ridiculous; there had to be a logical explanation for what she’d seen, but meanwhile, she wasn’t taking any chances.

The door was locked, so she went over to a window. It was open, and she breathed a sigh of relief. She pushed the screen in and crawled into the house.

It was almost dark inside. Tony had kept most of his hurricane shutters up, and where there weren’t shutters on the windows, there were drapes.

It took her eyes a minute to grow accustomed to the dimness. Dust motes seemed to ride the air.

She started looking for a phone. She seemed to be in the dining room. A quick look around and then into the living room didn’t turn up a phone.

Maybe in the kitchen.

She started to turn away, but something on the coffee table caught her attention. A newspaper clipping from the front page of today’s paper reporting on the murders. The article was accompanied by a picture of Beau Kidd and a smaller shot of Angie McDuff.

As she stared at it, wondering why her neighbors would have decided to save something so unpleasant, she heard Killer barking madly, followed by a loud knocking on the front door and then footsteps moving toward it. She wasn’t sure why she panicked, but she hurried to hide herself behind the couch.

She saw Tony, wrapped in a bathrobe, stride toward the front door and open it impatiently.

She couldn’t see who was standing there, but then she heard his voice.

Dan’s voice.

“Hey, Tony, I’m a little concerned. Have you seen my cousin? I went to her place, and her car’s there, but she’s not.”

“No, sorry. Haven’t seen her. I worked late last night, and I was just getting some sleep.”

To Christina’s dismay, Dan stepped into the house.

“You’re a liar, Tony. Her dog is outside going insane. That dog knows where she is.”

“She’s not here, and I don’t give a damn about a dog.”

They were moving closer to her location.

“Tony…” Dan began.

Christina almost screamed. Almost gave herself away. She could see them so clearly now. Could see her cousin produce a wicked-looking knife.

“I want my cousin now, Tony,” Dan snapped.

Christina’s house had never seemed so far away, even though Jed was driving as fast as he could.

Fast enough, as old Seamus McDuff would have said, to run over small children, ducks and nuns. He’d never really understood the point of that particular combination, Jed thought, but it was still a great old expression.

Where were the sirens? He should be hearing police sirens, dammit.

He tried Jerry’s number. “What the hell is going on?” he demanded when Jerry picked up.

“Hell! I can’t go busting into someone’s house just on your say-so.”

“There’s just cause for a warrant.”

“And I’m getting one! I’ve got cops almost there, and more ready to bring the warrant, okay?”

Jed hung up in frustration. The light in front of him was yellow. Then red.

He stepped on the gas.

Small children, ducks and nuns.

Christina turned, considering her options. There was a hall that led to the bedrooms, and there were stairs that led to the basement.

She heard Tony cry out hoarsely.

She stared at Dan’s knife.

Then two men moved down the hall toward the bedrooms. She realized they had a clear line of sight toward the door, and the decision was made for her. She held dead still for a minute, then slipped from hiding and raced down to the basement. At the foot of the stairs, she was stunned to see a naked bulb swinging above a big service sink, illuminating a scene that made her blood run cold.

The basement was all one big room, the walls half hidden by piles of junk. Old boxes to the left. Golf bags. Racks that held old coats. Rain boots. The buildup of a lifetime. Everything more or less as it should have been. Except…

She clapped her hand over her mouth to keep from screaming. There was an old mattress in the middle of the floor, and a naked woman lying next to it, staring at her. She was gagged and hog-tied, a blindfold pulled down just below her eyes.

It was Angie McDuff.

Christina raced over to her and dropped to her knees. Angie was bound with scarves, not rope, but the bindings were tight and Christina’s fingers were as numb as her mind. She kept looking fearfully toward the stairs. What the hell was going on?

Dan had pulled out a knife, but Angie was being held captive in Tony’s house.

And where was Ilona?

She couldn’t untie the knots, but she saw a pair of garden shears hanging from a hook on the wall and ran over to grab them. In seconds she was back. Angie’s eyes had gone huge, but she kept still while Christina sawed at the knots binding her wrists and ankles, then cut the gag from behind.

Angie tried to croak out words.

“No.” Christina laid her fingers across the other woman’s lips and shook her head wildly. She could hear someone on the stairs. They had to get out.

She stood and pulled Angie up. After being tied up, Angie couldn’t stand and started to sag, so Christina practically dragged her over to the single window at the back of the basement, where the land outside sloped away.

She couldn’t get it open.

She grabbed a golf club and smashed the glass completely out of the frame, then heaved Angie up to it and shoved her halfway through. “Get out,” she commanded breathlessly. “Now.”

Seemingly impervious to the shards of glass, Angie crawled through. Christina was pulling herself up to follow when she felt fingers grab her hair, and she was wrenched away from the window.


She spun around. Tony was there. He was still in his robe, but it was open, and he was naked beneath it. “Bitch!” he repeated as he drew his hand back. A second later his palm landed across her face with such force that she staggered back, seeing stars. She staggered and fell, landing on the mattress.

“Tony!” she gasped as he walked over to stand looking down at her.

“You guys always thought you were so talented, but who’s the best actor now, huh?”

She couldn’t believe it. He sounded cheerful, friendly.

“Tony, what did you do to Dan?”

He smiled. “Not half of what I’m going to do to you, sweetie.”

“Don’t be an idiot!” she cried, fighting the wave of sheer terror sweeping over her. “Someone will be here any minute. Genevieve is going to get out of the shower and realize I’m not there. She’ll call the police, and they’ll find you here.”

He smiled, totally complacent.

“Someone always comes along, but I always win. Beau Kidd came along at just at the right time. I thought I was going to get caught dumping the body, but he got caught instead.”

“But this time—”

“This time you’re dead, Dan’s dead, and I’m here to tell ’em how I tried to save you from your cousin.”

Christina caught her breath. Someone coming up almost silently behind Tony.