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Woman in Hiding
By Rebecca Winters
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"LESLIE? IT'S DIANA! Let me in!"
Leslie Hopkins raced to the door of her New York City apartment and opened it. Her married sister slipped inside. After locking it, Leslie grabbed her and clung.
"If I hadn't known you were coming any second, you wouldn't have found me here."
Diana looked at her in fresh alarm. "Why? What else has that demented ex-fiancé of yours done in the last twelve hours?"
"Take a look at what he left on the coffee table while I was at the pharmacy picking up the tint for my hair. He must have followed me there and knew he had time to break in."
Her sister marched into the living room, then came to an abrupt halt. "Black roses? Ed's not very original, is he."
"It gets worse. You should see what's in my bedroom."
"Worse than your own underwear showing up in the pizza you thought I had ordered to be delivered to you last week?"
She dashed down the hall to investigate. Leslie followed.
Two-dozen cut-up photographs of Leslie had been laid out on the quilt. He'd taped the portions with her head to the wall over her bed. A heart had been drawn around them in Leslie's lipstick, the one she'd discovered missing from her purse ten days ago.
Diana blanched. "I take back what I said."
"I don't understand how he got in here! The locks were changed yesterday morning for the fourth time."
"He probably forced a window open from the fire escape."
"I checked them. They're locked! There's no place I'm safe. I've taken every piece of advice the police have given me, but nothing has helped." She buried her face in her hands. "Ed knows every move I make."
"Not after today he won't!"
Leslie lifted a tear-ravaged face. "I don't think the plan we talked about is going to work. He has some kind of supernatural radar."
Diana took her by the shoulders and shook her. "No, he doesn't! It just seems that way because he has focused all his attention on you.
"Remember what Detective Santini told you? Former-partner stalkers have their entire sense of self-worth caught up in the 'she loves me' syndrome. Any evidence to the contrary is seen as an inconvenience to overcome."
"He's like an evil child," Leslie muttered.
"Exactly. Since he's not getting any response from you, he's acting out because even negative attention is better than none at all. Roger says Ed follows the typical profile, with his history of spousal abuse.
That's why we're going to get you away from him permanently."
"I don't see how we can. He's already been here this morning and is lurking in some hallway right now working on a plan to get inside and kill me."
"It's not going to happen, Leslie. Come on. I've brought everything you need to disappear where he'll never find you. First, let's get this rinse done, then I'll cut your hair."
Within an hour, Leslie's long blond hair had been tinted light brown, and she wore it at chin length in a feather-cut like Diana's.
They stood side by side in front of the mirror. Leslie was five foot eight, an inch taller than her sister.
Diana nodded with satisfaction. "We may not be twins, but the resemblance is strong enough for you to use my driver's license and get away with it."
She spoke the truth. With both of them hazel-eyed and slender, there were more similarities than differences.
Leslie hurried into the bedroom to put on the cotton top she planned to wear on the plane with her jeans. "Is Roger really okay about my impersonating you?"
"The logistics were all my husband's idea, and he's the attorney in the family. We both want you to get as far away from Ed as you can and make a new life for yourself. There's no reason it won't work. I'll get a duplicate license."
"But your credit card -"
"We've been over this before. I don't need it."
"I don't know where I should go! No destination sounds right. I can't make a decis -"
"Don't worry," Diana broke in. "Roger has made the arrangements."
"As long as it's light-years from here, I don't care where it is."
"A nonstop flight from Kennedy to Salt Lake City leaves in two-and-a-half hours. Your ticket's prepaid. All you have to do is check in."
Salt Lake? "I've never been there." She would never have thought of it.
"Neither have I, but Roger insists it's the perfect location. A flyover city. Not too big, the people are nice, the pace is slower. You'll be able to find an anonymous office job that will leave you free to explore the canyons on the weekends. We know how much you love getting out in nature."
Leslie couldn't imagine ever feeling free enough to do that. She shook her head. "He'll track me down, Diana. I know he will."
"Listen to me. When he finally figures out you're nowhere around, he won't have a clue where you've gone."
"He can always find me on the passenger list."
"Not right away. First of all he'll have to figure out how you left New York, and it'll take him a while before he realizes you got away using my name. Even if he eventually gets that information and follows you to Salt Lake, he won't know where to begin looking for you."
Diana could say that now ...
"You're booked at the Scenic View motel, and you'll have to take a taxi from the airport. Roger said not to use a rental car unless you have to. They're too easy to trace.
"On the way to the motel, stop at the Fred Meyer store on Fourth South. They're open until midnight. You can buy a suitcase and some clothes and toilet-ries there."
Fred Meyer. "I'll remember." She tried to swallow but couldn't. "This has to work!"
Her sister's expression sobered. "I agree. Otherwise you'll be in and out of court for years. New York may have passed heavier penalties for stalking, but Roger says nothing will stop someone like Ed who's intent on ruining your every living moment. At least this way you have a fighting chance to get on with your life."
Excerpted from Woman in Hiding by Rebecca Winters Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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