brutal murder of a young woman. Charles Penn, a hard-eyed
man with a history of violence, was convicted of the crime.
Now he's escapedand another woman is dead.
Ellie fears she may be next and turns to the only person
she trusts: attorney Joe Gable. Joe would give his life to
protect Ellie, but neither of them knows just how deadly
an enemy they faceor how close he is.
Then the police discover that both crimes mirror events
in a bestselling mystery series. And when the third book
in the series is released, Joe and Ellie realize that time
has run out. Because in this book the killer eliminates the
only threat to his freedom. The last death is the death of
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Now You See Him
By Stella Cameron
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThere is a beat in this city, like the throbbing of arteries when the heart contracts.
New Orleans has its own pulse. I hear it now, getting faster. Steam vents through grills in the street. If they pumped blood from those grates the air would turn red, but the pressure would ease.
It's early, early enough the breeze through jasmine doesn't take the edge off last night's scent of booze, sweat and urine.
This waterproof bike suit makes me sweat and the helmet doesn't help anything.
My timing must be as perfect as it was the first time. I've already seen her several times. The one. Rich, spoiled, dissatisfied and looking for more treasures to buy, to stuff in the bottomless cavity she thinks is her desire. Boredom is the name of that cavity, and fear. The boredom of a woman who has everything but purpose. She would never confess to fear but it's there, fear of being alone with herself. I loathe such women. One of them has ruined my life by using my talent and ignoring my existence.
Antiques, Diamond and Gold Jewelry by Xavier Tilton.
Whooee, that is some name to fill up an awning over a shop door. Shops like this one cram Royal Street, but I picked out Xavier Tilton's place for the diamonds - and thelong-legged woman who comes at the same time on the same morning each week. Tilton carries more diamonds than any other place I've checked. They shimmer and flash inside glass-fronted display cases lining the walls. No fingerprints on that glass; Xavier carries a half-mitt in his pocket and moves behind customers discreetly wiping away any evidence of their presence.
He's doing it now, sliding behind her, talking and wiping.
It's time. They're alone in there and the street is almost empty. Nothing but a few stinking, sleeping no-names covered with piles of rags. Once I'm in the shop I'll close the door to keep the sound down.
Wait, there's a delivery truck. If it stops here I'll have to change plans.
Come on, come on. Jeez, a friggin' turtle. Move. Good, it's parking over there, the driver's leaving the engine running. Any distraction is good.
Call Xavier to the courtyard behind the shop, to the deliveries gate. Now! Move your feet. Walk into the alley beside the shop and press the button beside the pretty iron gate.
"Xavier Tilton here."
"Mornin', Mr. Tilton. Gift delivery from Blossoms."
"Bring it into the shop."
Shit. "It's a fern of some sort. A tree. 'Bout seven foot."
"I'll meet you at the delivery gate. Give me a couple of minutes to get through the courtyard."
Do that, Xavier. Take your time getting to your gate. I'm the one who has to get inside the shop and keep moving until this is finished.
It's raining again. Quick, inside, close the door quietly. Smells of ammonia and stinkin' candles.
Bless you, Xavier, for the classy music. Nothing like a little opera early in the morning.
The seconds are ticking away now. How long before Tilton comes back?
The woman has heard me coming into the shop. "Mornin', ma'am." Don't I sound friendly?
"Good mornin' to you," she says. "He'll be right back." Pretty face. Smooth blond hair. Much younger than I thought. Too bad. She wants something in the case, can't look away from it for more than a second.
Her purse is small - no straps. Fate is smiling.
Take out the pick and palm it against my thigh. Cram the dark visor down.
Stay cool. Two steps ... and strike. Ouch, it goes in easy enough until she falls and her weight hangs on the pick. Damn blood everywhere, running down the visor and blurring everything. Wipe it on your sleeve. She's doing it right. With a little guidance from me she falls forward and through the glass and she doesn't say a word, doesn't scream. That's because she's already dead - or close to it.
How many more seconds? If he catches me it's over.
I can see her in the mirrored back of the case, sliding down, breaking shelves, tipping all the pretty things. She's not pretty anymore.
Pull the pick out. NOW. Grab the purse and stuff inside the suit. Move my feet, back away, put the pick in its thigh pocket, open the door, close it behind me and walk away. Walk fast but not too fast - to the corner, turn, and there's the bike.
I'm away and heading for that coulee and the ruined shack. It wasn't the woman's fault, not really, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time - for her.
This suit doesn't keep the wind out, or am I cold? How can I be cold? Warm rain hits my neck and should turn this oilskin stuff into a sauna. I'm going where I went before, out past the zoo.
Soon the scenery gets lonely, the undergrowth is burned, and rotting trees lean this way and that. The deeper I go, the more deserted it feels.
The coulee isn't deep enough but it'll have to do.
The rented bike goes into the barn. My own wheels never looked so good. Off with the suit and wrap the helmet and purse inside, and the gloves, the black tennis shoes, underwear, too. Now I stuff the lot into a double garbage sack but I can't load it until I wash.
The soap is still where I hid it. Colder, the water should be colder and chafe my skin red and clean. My feet cling to slimy gravel and tree roots. Why do I shiver when I'm not cold anymore? Soap coats me and I rub it in hard, dig my fingernails into the soft surface of the bar.
Not enough. I want to bleed, I want to hurt. A pebble, large and porous like pumice - yes, it will clean me. It tears into my upper arms, into the skin on my belly and buttocks, the backs of my thighs and my elbows. Long red stripes that pop bubbles of blood, then begin to seep in ragged rivulets quickly mixed to a bloody wash by the water. I want to lay the flesh on my face raw but everyone would see it.
Sometimes a sacrifice must be made - as an example. I didn't want to do it the first time or this time, but I had to, Sonja made sure of that. Sonja owes me.
God help me, one more to go.
The Times Online
Tuesday, October 23
Yesterday morning an as yet unidentified woman died when she fell into a jewelry display case at a Royal Street antique shop.
Owner Xavier Tilton, alone with the woman at the time, received a call to go to the outside service entrance and left the woman in the shop. By the time he returned she appeared close to death and did, in fact, expire before the police and aid units reached the scene.
Although Mr. Tilton is sure the victim carried a purse, no purse was located at the Royal Street shop. Mr. Tilton reported that the deceased had been interested in an antique diamond ring in the case. After the incident, no merchandise appeared to be missing. The ring the victim was considering remained on her finger.
No official comment has yet been made, but information from a credible source revealed that the crime has been classified as murder.
A tentative link has been made to the bizarre murder of Stephanie Gray during Mardi Gras two years ago. At that time a close friend of Miss Gray said the victim had traveled to New Orleans to try out for a place in a band. The friend did not hear from Miss Gray after she boarded a bus in Bismarck, ND.
At the autopsy it was discovered the woman had most likely died before being trampled during the parade. A weapon later described as probably an ice pick had been stabbed beneath the base of her skull, then removed. No purse or other personal possessions were ever found. Our sources tell us yesterday's Royal Street victim also sustained a mortal wound to the brain, most likely inflicted with an ice pick, and used in part to drive her through a heavy glass door in the display cabinet.
Last Friday, Charles Penn, convicted murderer of Stephanie Gray, escaped while being transported between maximum security facilities. He remains at large.
Excerpted from Now You See Him by Stella Cameron Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd. . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When a man convicted of murder escapes prison, Ellie Byron, who witnessed the crime that sent him to jail fears for her life, especially when a serial killer begins stalking the streets of her New Orleans home, patterning their crimes after the plots of a series of bestsellers. Needing protection and comfort both, Ellie seeks it from Joe Gable, an old friend who could be more if they both live long enough. As the killing continues, there is doubt that the escapee is the killer, but someone is, and Ellie is the link in the chain to end their freedom. ............................................ *** Facing psychological demons as well as a living breathing one tests Ellie and places her at peril, but it is not the end yet. If you are looking for a taut, thrilling read, then this will keep you on the edge of your chair. ***
NOW YOU SEE HIM, takes us back to the small town where big city crimes find their way. Ellie Byron is the owner of Hungry Eyes the local bookstore. Before moving to town, she witnessed a murder during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Testifying against the main suspect she thinks her worries are over when he is put in jail. Now the convicted killer has escaped and the murders have started up again. Will Ellie be the killers next victim or will hunky lawyer Joe Gable protect her? I just love the town of Touissant and I wait for every new release anxiously and I have yet to be disappointed. Ellie Byron is the type of heroine that will have the reader rooting for from the beginning. Joe is the type of hero that will have you coming up with reasons to hire him as a lawyer. We also get to meet up again with sexy priest Father Cyrus and his loyal secretary Madge. I loved this book and I know that you will too.
Two years ago, Ellie Byron was standing on a balcony watching the Mardi Gras festivities when she saw the Stephanie Gray murder. The New Orleans Police arrested Charles Penn, but Ellie could not identify whether he was the killer as she insisted she followed the victim; the police believe that Ellie feared Charles would come after her so she refused to tell the truth. In spite of Ellie¿s inability to point to Charles as the killer, he is convicted of murder....................... Ellie, owner of the Hungry Eyes Bookstore in Toussaint, Louisiana learns that Charles has escaped from incarceration and that another woman was killed using the same ice pick modus operendi used in the Gray case. Besides her belief that her life is in peril, but not necessarily from Charles, Ellie fears that her past will surface. Local lawyer Joe Gable tries to protect her because he wants to get close to her, but also wonders why Ellie Byron has no history anywhere prior to five years ago. Meanwhile police see uncanny parallels between the homicides and mystery novels written by Sonja Elliot....................... This exhilarating romantic suspense is a tense thriller that grips the audience from the moment Charles escapes from prison; the plot keeps the attention of fans as the tension mounts and twists occur. The audience will wonder if Charles truly is the killer or is there is someone else perhaps from Ellie¿s shadowy past. Finally there is the link to the Elliot novels to muddy the bayous further in what is a sensational tale that keeps readers wondering whose doing what to whom.................... Harriet Klausner
I found this be a very good book. Easy to read, guessed the killer too far early in the book. First time reader of Cameron's and will definitely be reading more of her books.
Way too many useless characters. Confusing dialog. Bizarre relationships. Did Cameron really write this book?? Unfortunately I purchased this e-book without reading the ratings because her books are usually well done.. I won't make that mistake again.!
I really enjoy Stella Cameron's books but if I had read this one first I don't think I would read another. The characters are boring, Ellie especially is stupid and insipid and makes me want to scream. The story is slow and makes no sense. I am so glad I got this book at a yard sale and only paid .25 for it!
What a horrible book. It was choppy and very amateurishly written. I had a hard time getting through this. Both hero and heroine needed some serious character development. Glad I got this as a bargain book. This was my first time reading this author and I'm not so sure I will try another.