Nowhere To Hide

Nowhere To Hide

4.1 31
by Nancy Bush

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There Are Sins

"Do unto others. . ." Carefully, he carves the words into their flesh. The victims are all young, brunette, pretty. But she's the one he really wants. The others are just a way to ease the rage that has festered for years, until the only thing that calms him is his knife slicing through skin. . .

You Never Live

Detective September

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There Are Sins

"Do unto others. . ." Carefully, he carves the words into their flesh. The victims are all young, brunette, pretty. But she's the one he really wants. The others are just a way to ease the rage that has festered for years, until the only thing that calms him is his knife slicing through skin. . .

You Never Live

Detective September Rafferty—Nine to her friends—recognizes the artwork that arrives in the mail. She created it back in second grade. Now a killer's words are slashed across it in what looks like blood. He knows her. September's investigation leads to her old classmate, Jake Westerly. She wants to believe Jake is innocent. But trusting anyone could be her last mistake. . .

To Regret

Every slight, every slur, he remembers them all. They turned him into a monster, and now they will suffer for it. Starting with September, he'll show them that the past can never stay hidden, and the time of vengeance is at hand. . .

Praise for Nancy Bush's Blind Spot

"Engrossing. . .twists you won't see coming!" —Karen Rose, New York Times bestselling author

"Atmospheric. . .sure to cause shivers." —Book Page

"Bush keeps the story moving quickly and ends with an unexpected twist." —Publishers Weekly

"Nancy Bush always delivers edge-of-your seat suspense!" —Lisa Jackson, New York Times bestselling author

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this pulse-pounding follow-up to Nowhere to Run, Bush returns to Laurelton, Ore., and the Rafferty twins, both police officers. After August Rafferty’s narrow brush with death in the previous book, it’s sister September’s turn to face danger, as the detective finds herself being stalked and targeted by the serial killer she’s been investigating. Perhaps most disturbing of all is that the culprit, the so-called “Do Unto Others” killer, is using September’s grade-school artwork to scrawl unnerving messages in blood, suggesting some close connection to her childhood. After former classmate and crush Jake Westerly, with whom September had a brief fling in high school, reappears in her life, September wants desperately to trust him, but realizes that Jake may be the psychopath responsible for terrorizing her. Readers will tear through the pages to discover the answer, which Bush delivers with a riveting finish and an intriguing teaser for the next installment. (Sept.)

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Nowhere to Hide



Copyright © 2012 Nancy Bush
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4201-2502-3

Chapter One

Her cell phone rang at four minutes after midnight. September Rafferty, asleep on her living room couch, half rose and thrashed around for the switch to the floor lamp, squinting across the room to her cable box, which showed the time in glowing white numerals: 12:03.

She smiled as she turned the switch and flooded the room with illumination. She knew who it was and why they'd called now. Blinking, she punched the cell's green ON button and said, "You couldn't wait till morning?"

"Twelve-oh-three," her twin brother said. "That's when you came into this world. That's when I'm gonna call. Happy Birthday."

"I should've called you six minutes ago instead of earlier in the day. Happy Birthday to you, too."

"But I called you at the exact time of your birth," he said with a touch of pride. "That was all me."

"You just like the idea of waking me out of a sound sleep."

"Well ... yeah."

Her brother, August "Auggie" Rafferty, was her twin but they'd been born on either side of midnight on August 31, making it different days and even different months. His birthday was August 31 and hers was September 1, hence their parents had named them August and September respectively—a strange decision that went along with how they'd named their three older children: March, May, and July. Which said a lot about their parents, September thought, specifically their father, as their mother had died years earlier and had once alluded to the fact that she was sorry for manacling them with names after the months of the year.

"Did you field any other birthday wishes from the family?" September asked him, fighting a yawn.

"March called. And July."

"July's good about that stuff. I'm generally horrible about remembering birthdays."

"Yours and mine are the only two I'm really certain about," Auggie admitted.

"Yeah ... well ..." September thought briefly about her older sister, May, who'd died in a botched robbery at a fast-food restaurant when she was in high school, but that only brought on more melancholia than she was already feeling this birthday. "No word from Dad, huh," she said.

"Like there would be," he said.

Braden Rafferty had disowned his two youngest children when they both chose law enforcement as a career. He had firm ideas about family, though he'd been an unfaithful husband and an absent parent, and this naming of his children undoubtedly stemmed from his own desire for control and order. At least that's how September saw it. Had she and Auggie both been born in August, she wouldn't put it past him to have named them August and Augusta. That's just who he was, and was indicative of why she generally steered clear of him and most of the other Raffertys as well, except her twin. Luckily, the whims of fate had stepped in, delivering her and her brother on different days and different months, so he was August and she was September.

Or, maybe that was less about luck and more about Braden being able to bend the universe to his will. She wouldn't put it past him.

"So ... have you done anything about your artwork?" he asked.

He meant her second grade artwork, if you could really call it that: the artwork with the phrase Do Unto Others As She Did To Me scrawled across its face in what looked like blood that had come to September at the station about a week earlier. She and her partner were the detectives on the Do Unto Others case where a killer was strangling victims, carving words and markings into their flesh, then discarding the bodies in fields around the city of Laurelton and in Winslow County. At least that was the prevailing theory at work, though they hadn't made that connection public yet.

"Still working on it," she told Auggie.

"Work faster."

"Hey," she protested.

"I'm just sayin'. I don't like you in harm's way."

When the "bloody" artwork had first arrived at the station, she'd told her brother about it, and Auggie had nearly come unglued. Not a big surprise, as he was known for his penchant of saving damsels in distress, and having a killer threaten his sister had sent him into overprotective mode, toute suite. He'd gone straight to their superior, Lieutenant Aubry D'Annibal, and insisted that he be put on the case. Hell no, September had told him flatly. It was her case, and she was bound and determined to hang on to it, especially now that it had become personal. She and her partner, Detective Gretchen Sandler, had been assigned the case and her interfering brother wasn't going to take it from her, no way, no how.

She'd pointed this all out to D'Annibal, adding that Auggie was still deeply involved in the Zuma Software case, where a masked intruder had stormed into the front offices of the software company and opened fire on the employees. That case was just wrapping up but there was still a helluva lot of work to do. Plus, she'd reminded him that he'd already yanked her off that case to put her on this one, and she really didn't want to be pulled again. Yes, her artwork had been sent to her. This killer knew her; there was something there. And that was exactly why she wanted to stay on the case.

So far the lieutenant had kept her on, with the caveat that September might be reassigned if things got too hot. She had then told her brother to leave it alone and get back on Zuma. He could damn well finish with that.

"But the two cases have overlapped," Auggie had argued at the time.

"And when we figure out how, maybe you can jump on this one, too," September stated firmly, holding her ground. As long as she and Sandler were the lead detectives, September didn't want her brother mucking things up.

But, all that said, she knew Auggie wasn't wrong. The third suspected victim of Do Unto Others, Glenda Tripp, had turned out to be related to one of the prime suspects in the Zuma case, so there had to be some connection between the two. It was too improbable, impossible really, that it was mere coincidence. Was Do Unto Others some kind of copycat of the Zuma killer? Maybe following that case and grabbing victims peripherally involved for the notoriety ... or something? That had yet to be determined. It was early days still, and until they had more evidence connecting the three homicides to the Zuma killings and even to each other, they were treading lightly.

"Now," she said to her brother, "I've decided to go to Dad's house and dig through the attic or basement or both, looking for more of my grade school stuff. I want to see if I can find the rest of it. Wanna join?"

"You're kidding."

"You keep saying you want in on this case."

"I'm not going anywhere near dear old Dad." He and Braden didn't talk, didn't get along, didn't much like each other.

"Thought I'd ask," September said.

"But keep me in the loop," he ordered her.

"Yeah, yeah."

Auggie hadn't exactly acquiesced to having September and Gretchen handle Do Unto Others, but he was too busy to really protest much, and though, in reality, September wouldn't have minded working with him, regardless of what she said to him, Gretchen Sandler was her partner and they were in this together, for better or worse.

"I'm off till after Labor Day ... kind of a forced vacation," she admitted now. "D'Annibal wanted me to think about things and decide whether I really wanted to stay on the case."

"You thinking of quitting?"

"Don't sound so eager. No. But when I get back to work I'll give you a call. Maybe we can talk over some stuff."

"What kind of stuff?"

"I don't know. About grade school ... I'll let you know after I find the rest of my work," she said, then added, "If I find it."

"You know I'm always here for you."

"Oh, bullshit. You just want the case for yourself."

"I don't want my little sister involved with a psycho."

"Six minutes younger does not make me your little sister."

"Yes it does. Look it up."

"Bullshit again. Goodnight, Auggie," she said, switching off the light.

"Goodnight, Nine," he responded, calling her by her nickname. She was Nine, for the month she was born, a name that had stuck all through her school years and into her adult life.

The following Thursday she hurried past Guy Urlacher at the Laurelton Police Department's front desk, flashing him a look at her ID. He couldn't stop himself from asking everyone for identification no matter how many times they passed his desk. It was protocol, and Guy was all about it.

"Hey!" he called after her, wanting her to stop, but she was having none of it today.

In the squad room, she dropped her purse on her desk and walked over to stand in front of the bulletin board that held her piece of artwork. Beside it were pictures of Do Unto Others's suspected three victims: Sheila Dempsey, Emmy Decatur, and Glenda Tripp. They'd been reluctant to confirm they had a serial killer on their hands as they didn't want the FBI swarming on them until they were sure.

Detective George Thompkins, heavyset and squeaking his swivel chair, and her partner, Gretchen Sandler, who was seated at a desk, a phone at her ear, in the act of making a call, both stopped what they were doing as September plucked the artwork from the board and carried it to her desk. It was something she'd made in her second grade homeroom class. Now, she said to the room at large, "I don't care if it's ketchup or red paint or salsa or pomegranate juice, when I first saw it, I thought it was blood." She held it up for Thompkins and Sandler to see again. It had been tested for prints when it arrived but all they found were smudges, and she felt now, since it was hers, it didn't have to be tacked on the board. "This message came to me. The killer sent it to me."

"It's ketchup and something else," Thompkins responded.

Sandler skewered him with a scorching look. "We know, George. Jesus. Stay on point. It was meant to look like blood. It was meant to scare the shit out of her." To September, she said, "I still can't believe you can remember what grade you were in when you did that."

Sandler was slim and dark-skinned, half-Brazilian, with curly dark hair and slanted blue eyes. She was attractive in a cat-like, predatory way, and she was known by all and sundry as a bitch on wheels. No one wanted to partner with her, but September, being the newest detective at the Laurelton PD, didn't really have a choice. So far, it had been fine. Gretchen was a good detective, no matter what others thought of her. September had been watching and learning her style over the last four to five months.

Now September gazed down at the artwork, memorizing it yet again. It was made of light blue construction paper with glued-on, cut-out pictures of brown-, orange-, and mustard-colored leaves falling from the sky into a pile that was drawn in at the bottom of the page. An ink-stamped happy face and several gold stars ran across the top of the piece, with a teacher's handwritten note: Your birthday cupcakes were terrific! Way to start the school year!

But underneath the teacher's words, new ones had been added in a bloody scrawl: DO UNTO OTHERS AS SHE DID TO ME.

"Mrs. Walsh was my teacher, and I really liked her," September said aloud. "The falling leaves were the first art project of the year, and my mom hung it up on the wall in our kitchen next to the refrigerator for a long time."

"So, the killer got it from your house," Gretchen said. Again. They'd been over this territory so many times since the envelope had arrived at the station it was like they were rehearsing for a play.

"Possibly ..." September murmured.

"You're scared shitless someone in your family sent it to you."

This was a new wrinkle. To date, Gretchen had left the Raffertys out of it. "No," she denied.

"Oh, c'mon," Gretchen said, but September turned away from her. She wasn't about to trash her family to her partner even though she had entertained some of those very same thoughts.

It had now been two weeks since she'd received the message at the station. Two weeks since it had arrived addressed to her and wrapped inside a birthday card that read, "Way to go 3-year-old," where someone had handwritten in a zero beside the 3, making it 30. Two weeks since September had begun delving through the notes, files, and photos associated with the Do Unto Others killer and dealing with the fact that he'd sent this disturbing message specifically to her.

"They know my age," September had said when the missive first appeared, brought to her at her desk by Candy from administration.

"Jesus, Nine," Gretchen, had responded on an intake of breath. "It really does have to do with you!" She'd meant the Do Unto Others investigation because over the last several months, almost from the moment September had started as a detective with the Laurelton Police Department, this killer, or killers, had begun their rampage, leaving two of the victims' bodies in fields around the city of Laurelton and Winslow County and one inside her own apartment. The bodies were discovered in varying states of undress, but each of them had marks across their torso, maybe the beginnings of words, maybe something else, but Emmy Decatur's torso contained the full DO UNTO OTHERS AS SHE DID TO ME message that had later been sent to the station on September's artwork.

Two weeks ago ...

At the time, September's thirtieth birthday had still been looming, so the card's timing was clear. But who knew the date of her birthday apart from her family? Not many people. And who knew it was her thirtieth? Even fewer. The thought that one of the Rafferty clan had sent it made for a very subdued birthday, and though her sister, July, had made noise about getting together when she called to offer best wishes, September had fobbed her off. She'd fielded calls from her father and her brother, too, though they'd merely said happy birthday and left it at that. Not exactly warm and welcoming were the Raffertys. Not since Kathryn, September's mother, had died, and then a few years later, her sister, May.

Now she looked up from the artwork and across the room to the board that still held Do Unto Others's suspected three victims' pictures. Tripp was the only one found inside her apartment. The prevailing theory was the killer had followed her home and attacked her, but had been scared away before he could fully carve his message into her skin. Since Dempsey and Decatur had been moved to fields, it was assumed he'd been thwarted in getting the body to its eventual "final resting place." Dempsey and Tripp's torsos had been carved with markings, but Decatur was the only one with the killer's Do Unto Others message.

So far ...

After receiving her own warning, September had gone over every scrap of evidence and report on the case with renewed vigor, but still nothing stood out. They'd gotten back the lab evidence on Tripp, the last victim, but it hadn't given them anything new, either. There was no trace of DNA at the crime scenes; it was believed the killer had used condoms. He'd raped his victims and strangled them with a thin cord of some kind, but he was careful to take the cord away and it hadn't left any fibers. So far, they'd been unable to connect the victims apart from the fact that they all had darker hair and similar builds; he was probably going after a type—September's type, as her own hair was dark auburn and she had a lean, dancer's build. The killer had been quiet the last few weeks, which, though a good thing, didn't mean he'd stopped. Maybe he'd set his sights on September as the next victim? Maybe he just wanted to scare her, or play with her?

Whatever the case, she thought, bring it on. This waiting was making her edgy and snappish. And D'Annibal, though he was allowing her to stay on for now, was watching. She didn't want the feds involved until she knew more about how someone had gotten her artwork, but it wasn't her call, and the clock was ticking. She was lucky that Lieutenant D'Annibal loathed interference from outside agencies, so for the moment, the investigation rested with the Laurelton PD. She hoped to solve this thing before it became a joint task force investigation with the feds, but she was of the firm belief that the killer was one man and all three women were his victims.

How had he gotten her artwork from the second grade? Was it from her family home? She didn't want to think about what that meant. Just couldn't do it. Though she had more than a few issues with her family, she did not believe any of them capable of terrorizing her, let alone the terrible things he'd done to the three victims.


Excerpted from Nowhere to Hide by NANCY BUSH Copyright © 2012 by Nancy Bush. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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