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Authors: Kay Hooper

Haunting Rachel

BOOK: Haunting Rachel
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More praise for Kay Hooper


“A stirring and evocative thriller.”

Palo Alto Daily News

“The pace flies, the suspense never lets up. It’s great reading.”

The Advocate,
Baton Rouge

“An intriguing book with plenty of strange twists that will please the reader.”

Rocky Mountain News

“It passed the ‘stay up late to finish it in one night test.’”

The Denver Post


“You always know you are in for an outstanding read when you pick up a Kay Hooper novel, but in FINDING LAURA, she has created something really special! Simply superb!”

Romantic Times
(gold medal review)

“Hooper keeps the intrigue pleasurably complicated, with gothic touches of suspense and a satisfying resolution.”

Publishers Weekly

“A first-class reading experience.”

Affaire de Coeur

“Ms. Hooper throws in one surprise after another…. Spellbinding.”



“Harrowing good fun. Readers will shiver and shudder.”

Publishers Weekly

“Kay Hooper comes through with thrills, chills, and plenty of romance, this time with an energetic murder mystery with a clever twist. The suspense is sustained admirably right up to the very end.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Peopled with interesting characters and intricately plotted, the novel is both a compelling mystery and a satisfying romance.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Kay Hooper has crafted another solid story to keep readers enthralled until the last page is turned.”


“Joanna Flynn is appealingly plucky and true to her mission as she probes the mystery that was Caroline.”



seethes and sizzles. A fast-paced, atmospheric tale that vibrates with tension, passion, and mystery. Readers will devour it.”

—Jayne Ann Krentz

“Kay Hooper’s dialogue rings true; her characters are more three-dimensional than those usually found in this genre. You may think you’ve guessed the outcome, unraveled all the lies. Then again, you could be as mistaken as I was.”

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

‘Will delight fans of Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt.

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

“Kay Hooper knows how to serve up a latter-day gothic that will hold readers in its brooding grip.”

Publishers Weekly

“I lapped it right up. There aren’t enough good books in this genre, so this stands out!”

from The Poisoned Pen

“Kay Hooper has given you a darn good ride, and there are far too few of those these days.”

Dayton Daily News

Bantam Books by Kay Hooper















and in hardcover



May 24, 1988

t won’t take long,” Thomas said reassuringly. “A week, maybe a bit more. Then I’ll be back.”

“But where are you going? And why does it have to be now?” Rachel’s demand held all the natural impatience and indignation of a nineteen-year-old who was about to be deprived of the company of her fiancé at a somewhat inconvenient time. “Tom, you know Mercy’s giving that shower for me on Thursday, and—”

“Honey, men are never welcome at those things. I’d just be in the way.” He was still soothing, but also a little amused, and he smiled at her with the complete understanding of a man who had known her since her auburn hair had been worn in pigtails and at least two front teeth had been missing. He was ten years her senior, and at that moment every year showed.

Rachel didn’t exactly pout, but when she sat down in a chair by the window, it was with a definite flounce, and
her expressive face was alive with frustration and disappointment. “You promised. You said there wouldn’t be any more of these mysterious trips of yours—”

“There’s nothing mysterious about them, Rachel. I’m a pilot, and I deliver cargo. It’s my job. You know that. All right, I know I said there wouldn’t be any more trips out of the country, but Jake asked me to do him a favor, and he
my boss. So—just a quick run down to South America.”

“You promised,” Rachel repeated, not much interested in reasons.

Thomas put his hands on the arms of her chair and bent down, smiling at her with all the charm in his definitely charming nature. “Would it make you happier if I said that Jake’s giving me an extra week off if I take this run? That’s another week in Hawaii, honey. Think about it. Lazing around in the sun on Waikiki, breakfast on a balcony with a magnificent view—and shopping. Lots more time for shopping.”

She couldn’t help but smile. “You know that isn’t my thing.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, but you’re no slouch at it. Come on now, say you’re not mad anymore. I’ll have a miserable few days if I fly off knowing you’re mad at me.”

It was virtually impossible for Rachel to resist his blandishments, a fact both were well aware of, and her sigh held resignation as well as a touch of
“Oh, all right. But you’d better not hang around down in South America. Just remember what’ll be waiting for you back home.” She wreathed her arms around his neck and kissed him.

The passion between them had been nearly impossible for them to handle since the night of her sixteenth birthday and their first real kiss; familiarity had not bred anything except a better understanding of just how powerful desire
could be, especially when it went unsatisfied. Though Rachel’s willpower was shaky where he was concerned, Thomas, very conscious of the years between them and of her youth, had decided for both of them that sex would wait until marriage.

It wasn’t a decision Rachel was happy with, and this wasn’t the first time she had made an attempt to force his hand.

His voice was a little ragged when he pulled back slightly and muttered, “Stop that. I’ve got to go.”

Rachel didn’t want to let go of him. “You’ll miss me. Say you’ll miss me.”

“Of course I’ll miss you. I love you.” He gave her a brief kiss and then firmly unlocked her arms from his neck and straightened. “Make my excuses to your parents about tonight, all right, honey?”

She sighed again. “Right. And I get to spend a boring Saturday night all by myself. Again.”

“Just three more weeks, and that will no longer be a problem,” Thomas reminded her with a grin. “I promise, honey, no more lonely nights for either one of us.”

“I’ll hold you to that.”

Rachel walked with him to the front door of her parents’ house, received another quick kiss, and stood there watching him stride down the walkway to his fast little car. He loved speed, Thomas Sheridan did, whether on the ground or in the air, and often teased her that she was the only love in his life that characteristically moved at a lazy pace.

He turned and waved before opening his car door, and Rachel admired the way the sunlight glinted off his pale silvery hair. He was a rare blond Sheridan on a mostly dark family tree, so different from his raven-haired sister Mercy that both had frequently maddened their mother by
speculating humorously about blond-haired strangers in her past despite Thomas’s undeniable resemblance to his dark father.

“See you in a week or so, honey,” Thomas called out.

He slammed the car door before Rachel could respond in kind, so she merely waved with a smile. She watched the car until it vanished from her sight, then went back into the house to tell her parents that her fiancé would not be joining them for dinner that night.

Rachel woke with a start and sat up in her bed before she even knew what had awakened her. The room was filled with the somber light of dawn, and she was astonished to see him standing near the foot of the bed.

“Thomas? What’re you doing back so soon? I—” Her voice broke off as though it had been cut by something sharp. It wasn’t right, she realized.
wasn’t right. Because she could almost see the curtains through him. A coldness more gray than the dawn seeped into her body, into her very bones, and she heard herself make an anguished little sound when Thomas seemed to reach out toward her, his handsome face tormented.

“No,” Rachel whispered. “Oh, no …” She stretched her hand out toward him, but even as she did so, he was gone. And she was alone in the stark dawn.

Thomas Sheridan’s plane never reached its destination, and no trace of it was ever found.


April 21, 1998

t was no more than a glimpse of movement on a street corner that caught Rachel’s attention. She turned her head more or less automatically, drawn as always by the glint of sunlight off silvery blond hair. She expected to see, as she always had, a stranger. Just one more blond man who would, of course, not be who she wanted him to be.

Except that it was Thomas.

She stood frozen, with four lanes of cars filling the space between her corner and his, and when their eyes met, she almost cried out. Then the light changed, and traffic began moving briskly, and a noisy semi blocked her view of the corner. When the truck had passed, Thomas was gone.

BOOK: Haunting Rachel
2.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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