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Guardian Of Her Heart
By Linda Johnston
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDianna Englander drew in her breath so sharply that it sounded like a muffled scream.
There. Behind the green minivan, several rows away in the parking garage, stood a familiar figure. Again.
He was too far off for her to see him clearly, but she felt him grinning at her.
She stood, trembling, beside her red sports car in its assigned parking space. She gripped the handle of the driver's door. Moisture flooded her eyes and spilled over - tears of fury. Of frustration.
She'd known she hadn't been hallucinating the first time she'd seen him, a week earlier.
After all this time, he had come after her. Here.
Oh, she hadn't been hard to find after all the hype about the opening of the Englander Dispute Resolution Center almost exactly a year ago.
The Center had been named after her husband Brad - dead, thanks to the man who stood just a few yards away. Murdered by that monster.
And so was the precious baby created by Brad and her, who had died before ever being born ...
"Damn you, Glen Farley." Dianna's voice was barely a whisper, but it echoed in her mind. Damn you ... damn you.
But she was the one who had been damned.
Knowing how foolish it was, she took a step toward the evil creature who had ruined her family. He raised his hand as if waving to her and walked beyond the minivan and into the next row of parked vehicles.
"Stop!" She hadn't intended to cry out, but the shout filled the air.
She heard soft voices behind her and turned. A woman with a couple of kids approached a sedan a few cars away, looking nervous as she hastily shepherded the children inside.
Dianna pasted a small smile on her face that she intended to be reassuring. But judging by the way the woman slammed her car door shut and quickly started the engine, Dianna knew she looked as distraught as she felt.
As the car pulled away, she returned her attention to where she had seen Farley.
He wasn't there.
She realized then how fast she was breathing. Inhaling the ugly odor of exhaust fumes, here in the indoor parking garage.
She yanked at her purse until its strap jerked off her shoulder. She fumbled with the zipper till it opened and dug for her cell phone. Call 9-1-1, the rational part of her mind instructed.
"Hey, Dianna," said a soft female voice behind her. Dianna pivoted. Eleven-year-old Julie Alberts stood near her father Jeremy's black luxury sedan in its space two over from Dianna's. Julie's brown eyes, luminous even in the dim parking garage light, widened. Tendrils of brown hair that had escaped from the barrette at the back of her neck framed her gamine face in coiled wisps. "Are you okay?" she asked.
No! Dianna wanted to scream. But she didn't want to frighten Julie. "I'm fine, honey. I was just leaving. Get in my car and come with me, okay?" She slipped her phone back into her purse. What good would the police do now?
"But my dad's supposed to meet me here to drive me home."
But Farley was here. Farley killed people.
They had to leave, all of them.
"We'll pick him up at the elevator," Dianna said.
"Let's go. Now."
Julie didn't move. She looked scared. "Dianna, what's wrong?"
Before she could answer, Jeremy Alberts appeared near the doorway from the elevator. "There he is." Dianna motioned to him to come quickly, then hesitated. Was it better to flee through the garage or drive out? Before she made up her mind, Jeremy joined them. "What's wrong?" he demanded, parroting his daughter's words. He gave Dianna an odd look.
Her emotions were clearly showing.
"Did you see -?" He didn't finish, but the question remained written in the furrow of his shaggy salt-and-pepper brows.
He didn't have to say more.
Dianna had filled him in the first time. Fortunately, he had believed her. Had acted appropriately.
But all his security measures hadn't stopped Farley from returning.
"We'll fix it, Dianna," he said in a gruffly reassuring voice. "Don't worry."
"We need to get out of here," Dianna told him. "Now."
"Yes," he agreed, hurrying Julie to his car.
Dianna tried to watch everywhere at once. There were no other cars driving around, no further sign of Farley. But that didn't mean he wasn't still here. Or that he hadn't rigged up something harmful.
"What's going on?" Dianna heard Julie insist before the car door closed behind her.
Dianna got into her own vehicle. Her hands trembled as she clutched the steering wheel, and she watched all around as she let Jeremy's car lead the way down the ramp, get out first.
If Glen Farley hurt someone else, it shouldn't be the Alberts.
Or her. Or anyone.
It had been more than a year since he'd stopped stalking her ... before.
Why was he here? Oh, Lord, why was he here?
Excerpted from Guardian Of Her Heart by Linda Johnston Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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