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From the Publisher"A suspense-filled exercise in terror. . . . A triumph for Anders!" — Ann Rule
"Donna Anders brings the terror. . . directly into your heart." — John Saul
"Donna Anders brings the terror. . . directly into your heart." — John Saul
The underground garage was uncharacteristically silent, as though it were midnight and not the evening rush hour of exhausted commuters anxious to get home. An unexpected lull, Savannah Blum thought, as she drove her aged Volkswagen Bug into the parking slot her grandmother had managed to secure for her. The high-end apartment building across the Hudson River from Manhattan, where she was staying temporarily with Johanna, her mother's mother, was a pretty snooty address and she was lucky to have a place in the security garage.
Not that I could afford to live here, she told herself, getting out of her Bug and locking it. Her car looked shabby and insignificant parked near a Mercedes, a Lexus, and several other expensive vehicles. Savannah grinned as she turned toward the elevator lobby. Right now I couldn't even pay for a dismal walk-up, she thought, appreciating the fact that her grandmother had given her the chance of living well even though she was technically poverty stricken -- until she finished her novel and sold it for a hefty advance, she reminded herself. She had her fingers crossed on that score.
"You should never consider living in a dangerous part of the city," her grandmother had lectured her after Savannah had shared her hope of making a living as a writer and getting a modest apartment in Manhattan. "You couldn't afford a safe neighborhood and you wouldn't last for a week amongst the druggies, pushers, and pimps who prey upon vulnerable women in a poor area, especially with your blond hair and amber eyes. Some creep would fixate on you because you're young and beautiful."
Savannah sobered, remembering, knowing her grandmother had been right. Unfortunately, pretty or not, it was dangerous for a lone woman to live in a fringe area of any city.
Moving away from her Bug, she paused to hoist her backpack and purse strap over her shoulder, and then took a couple of quick steps toward the entrance to the lower elevator lobby. She was still among the parked cars when the hand came down on her shoulder.
She jumped, startled.
By the time she whirled around, the person had released her and was stepping backward with raised hands that obscured facial features, except for a brief flash of several pointy teeth. The tall form was completely hidden under a black hooded cloak, and Savannah couldn't see a face or body shape behind the cloth, let alone whether it was a man or a woman.
She was instantly terrified, her breath trapped in her chest. Her feet seemed cemented to the floor, her legs unable to obey the mental command to run.
For seconds she stared, disbelieving, and suddenly realized that the specter had the height and gait of a man. She seemed hypnotized by the ominous presence in black, fearful to turn her back on him, even to run. Then he was gone, abruptly stepping behind a massive concrete column that supported the building.
There was total silence.
Savannah sucked in a deep breath, stifling the scream that pressed against her clenched lips as she came out of her momentary stupor. Adrenaline jolted her to action and she ran toward the door to the parking lobby.
The black-caped man who'd loomed before her had seemed like -- a vampire with large black wings? Dracula?
Her mind flashed to her sister Sarah's daughter, back in Savannah's hometown of Kansas City. Her twelve-year-old niece was a dedicated fan of the Buffy television series -- about a young female vampire slayer who fought the batlike creatures -- but that was fiction; this was reality. There was no such thing as a fanged supernatural being who drank human blood.
Or was there?
Of course not, she reminded herself. The black bat-shaped figure in the garage wasn't a figment of her imagination. It was a real person -- a man in a hooded black raincoat who'd mistaken her for someone else.
There was a sound behind her.
Savannah ran faster, her neck pricking with apprehension, heading for the way out of the garage. But once in the elevator lobby, she stopped so abruptly that the door to the garage closed against her back.
A man in black, his long raincoat glistening with rain, its hood pushed off his head to reveal equally wet dark hair, was waiting for the elevator. Startled by her sudden appearance, he turned toward her, his gaze taking her in.
"Are you okay?" His voice was deep and masculine and obviously concerned.
Moving sideways, away from the elevators and the closed garage door, Savannah nodded, feeling silly, but still mentally processing her experience just moments earlier.
She drew in long breaths, realizing this man couldn't be the figure she'd run away from in the garage. That person couldn't have gotten to the lobby before she had without her seeing him.
"Of course," she said, and managed a smile. "I'm just recovering from gridlock traffic."
"I understand that," he said. "I just drove up the turnpike from D.C."
His sudden grin was so unexpected and seductive that Savannah momentarily forgot the incident in the garage. But as she got into the lift she waited to choose her floor button until after the man had pushed his. A safety precaution just in case, she thought.
There was a silence as the elevator shot upward. Her fellow occupant had punched the eighth floor and when they reached it, he stepped out. Facing her again, he gave a nod and lifted his brows in a farewell gesture before the door swooshed closed. Then she was being lifted again, upward to the second floor from the top where her grandmother lived, left with an impression that the man thought she was -- what? Attractive, or unstable? When the door opened she walked out quickly, suddenly longing for the safety of the apartment.
Had she been startled because her thoughts were elsewhere, on the possibility of writing the Hawthorne family history -- a project that would also allow her to work on her novel? The Hawthornes were Johanna's friends and her grandmother had recommended her for the job, believing that a real family saga would be a snap for Savannah to write, and a huge financial bonus.
Savannah admitted to herself that she had reservations about that freelance job, even though it would pay well. The family was rich but a little eccentric, according to write-ups in the newspapers and tabloids. They, like the Hiltons and Trumps, had built an empire in the last century. But unlike those other families, the Hawthornes lacked motivated descendants to expand their interests into the twenty-first century. They felt a rags-to-riches epic about the family would guarantee their place in the history of New York State, their roots in America. Did she really want to immerse herself in their world?
One thing was for sure: She couldn't afford to write her novel if she didn't have income to support herself. She needed a job to pay expenses. The family history seemed like a godsend.
Yet the Hawthorne family's most recent history was tinged with tragedy, according to Johanna. In 1974 a family member, a young female artist, had been the final victim in a string of murders the press had dubbed "The Vampire Slayings," murders that to this day remained unsolved. Tekla, like the other victims, had met a violent death. Then the slaughter had stopped as mysteriously as it had started, leaving many questions unanswered. The killer had vanished and was still at large more than three decades later.
"The killer was a sadistic psychopath with a twisted hatred of women," Johanna had said. "Allegedly, the monster always wore a black hooded cape, and his final murder of Tekla in Liberty State Park was his most gruesome and bloody. Newscasters reported that it was as though she'd been bitten by a flock of bats or a wild dog with wolflike teeth."
Vampires and wolves? Leave it to the press to sensationalize a murder case, Savannah thought as she rummaged in her purse for the key to the apartment. In any case the killer was probably long dead, thank goodness. And lots of people wore black hooded raincoats, like the person in the garage and the man in the elevator.
But she was relieved to be at her grandmother's door. The second elevator had just stopped on their floor. As her key turned the lock and Savannah stepped into the apartment, she felt a presence in the lobby behind her. Without wasting the seconds it would take to glance back, she slammed and double-locked the door.
For long seconds she stood in the entry, waiting for someone to knock because the occupants of the other apartment on the floor were away on vacation. Then she heard the elevator leaving -- with the unseen person?
Or was someone still out there?
She didn't know.
And she didn't know why she was so jittery tonight. There was a logical explanation for the black figure in the garage, she reminded herself. For God's sake, she didn't believe in supernatural beings, even if her niece, the Buffy fan, did.
But she meant to ask her grandmother about the garage incident. Just in case the vampirelike person was someone she needed to know about in the building.
It was probably a dumb question, Savannah thought. But one she needed to ask nevertheless.
Copyright © 2006 by Donna Anders
Posted December 9, 2008
Savannah Blum left Kansas City to move into her grandmother¿s apartment in Jersey City so she will be closer to the New York publishing industry. She wants to write a book to do that full time she needs to have a job that will allow her the time to get her book finished. Her grandmother, who believes in her, introduces her to the wealthy Hawthorne family who lived the American dream, going from rags to riches when they immigrated to America.-------------- They are willing to pay her thirty thousand dollars to write their history. She will have access to all the documents they have and will be able to interview the entire family. They are an eccentric lot with one person being a recluse, one a religious fanatic who doesn¿t want to have anything to do with her, a so called psychic who tells her she is in danger, and a sexy host who makes her forget about her boyfriend Tom. Someone fears she is getting too close to a family secret and they try to scare off by stalking her wearing a black cape, sending threatening letters and making malicious phone calls. A series of women are being tortured, mutilated and killed in the same manner as the slayings that occurred in 1979 with a Hawthorne victim being the last person the perp killed. Now many believe he is back and his target is Savannah who is getting too close to uncovering a dark truth.------------- Anyone who loves fantastic psychological suspense in the vein of Joy Fielding, Mary Higgins Clarke and P.J. Tracy will thoroughly enjoy DEATH WAITS FOR YOU. Even the most brilliant amateur sleuth won¿t know who the killer is or how the latest series of homicides relate to the ones over three decades ago. Donna Anders is one author who deserves an award nomination and should be on all the best seller lists.----------- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.