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Authors: Kay Hooper

Rebel Waltz

BOOK: Rebel Waltz
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PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF

Kay Hooper

BLOOD DREAMS

“You won't want to turn the lights out after reading this book!”

—Romantic Times

“A good read for fans of other serial- killer books and the TV show Criminal Minds.”

—Booklist

SLEEPING WITH FEAR

“An entertaining book for any reader.”

— Winston- Salem Journal

“Hooper keeps the suspense dialed up …. Readers will be mesmerized by a plot that moves quickly to a chilling conclusion.”

—Publishers Weekly

CHILL OF FEAR

“Hooper's latest may offer her fans a few shivers on a hot beach.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Kay Hooper has conjured a fine thriller with appealing young ghosts and a suitably evil presence to provide a welcome chill on a hot summer's day.”

—Orlando Sentinel

“The author draws the reader into the story line and, once there, they can't leave because they want to see what happens next in this thrill-a- minute, chilling, fantastic reading experience.”

—Midwest Book Review

HUNTING FEAR

“A well-told scary story.”

—Toronto Sun

“Hooper's unerring story sense and ability to keep the pages flying can't be denied.”

—Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

“Hooper has created another original—Hunting Fear sets an intense pace …. Work your way through the terror to the triumph… and you'll be looking for more Hooper tales to add to your bookshelf.”

—Wichita Falls (TX) Times Record News

“It's vintage Hooper—a suspenseful page- turner.”

—Brazosport Facts

“Expect plenty of twists and surprises as Kay Hooper gets her series off to a crackerjack start!”

—Aptos Times

SENSE OF EVIL

“A well- written, entertaining police procedural… loaded with suspense.”

—Midwest Book Review

“Filled with page- turning suspense.”

—Sunday Oklahoman

“Sense of Evil will knock your socks off.”

—Rendezvous

“A master storyteller.”

—Tami Hoag

STEALING SHADOWS

“A fast-paced, suspenseful plot… The story's complicated and intriguing twists and turns keep the reader guessing until the chilling end.”

—Publishers Weekly

“This definitely puts Ms. Hooper in a league with Tami Hoag and Iris Johansen and Sandra Brown. Gold 5-star rating.”

—Heartland Critiques

HAUNTING RACHEL

“A stirring and evocative thriller.”

—Palo Alto Daily News

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

—Baton Rouge Advocate

“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.”

—Denver Post

FINDING LAURA

“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

“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

AFTER CAROLINE

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

—Publishers Weekly

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

—Booklist

“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

BANTAM BOOKS BY KAY HOOPER

The Bishop Trilogies
Stealing Shadows
Hiding in the Shadows
Out of the Shadows

Touching Evil
Whisper of Evil
Sense of Evil

Hunting Fear
Chill of Fear
Sleeping with Fear

Blood Dreams
Blood Sins

The Quinn Novels
Once a Thief
Always a Thief

Romantic Suspense
Amanda
After Caroline
Finding Laura
Haunting Rachel

Classic Fantasy and Romance
On Wings of Magic
The Wizard of Seattle
My Guardian Angel (anthology)
Yours to Keep (anthology)
Golden Threads
Something Different
Pepper's Way
C.J.'s Fate
The Haunting of Josie
Illegal Possession If There Be Dragons

For Dee—
Who told me what to do with the toga

ONE

S
PANISH MOSS HUNG
from the towering trees, draping branches, shadowing the drive in coolness. It should have looked gloomy, but didn't, somehow. Sunlight filtered through the leaves and moss to create a mosaic on the hard-packed ground.

Rory stood leaning against the opened car door, gazing around and noting that Nature had been allowed to encroach on what had once, probably, been stunningly beautiful land. The
woods were now thickly grown with brambles and nearly impassable; the distant pasture, although obviously still cultivated for hay, was surrounded by a once-white three-rail fence that looked more imagined than real; a gazebo nearly invisible beneath years of ivy strove valiantly to remain standing; and the driveway was packed dirt with not a trace of gravel or pavement, but many a deep rut.

His cool gray eyes measuring, Rory calculated what it would take to restore the land. A riding path through the woods, he mused, and a footpath and benches for guests in need of shaded solitude. The old gazebo torn down and another constructed. The stables weren't visible, but probably they, too, would need a major overhaul.

He thought of the other plantations he'd purchased and converted into resort-type hotels, then looked steadily up the tree-lined drive to the house. Outwardly, it was in better shape than most of the few remaining privately owned plantations. It possessed wide, shallow steps, a veranda extending along two sides, solid white
Doric columns, and the landscaping near the building had been kept up. Red brick mellowed by time was decorated here and there by climbing ivy. The shutters appeared to be in good repair and there were no broken windows in sight.

Although heaven only knew what rotten floorboards and moldy draperies awaited him inside… Jasmine Hall's noble owner had never allowed cameras inside the place, so Rory hadn't the faintest idea what he'd find.

Sighing, he got back into the car and continued up the drive. He'd stay two weeks, as invited, he decided, to look the place over and find out if old Jake Clairmont was really serious this time about selling Jasmine Hall.

Twice before, the crusty old man had spread the word, only to back out gleefully when Rory and others had expressed interest in buying. The second time had been in Charleston, nearly a year before. The third time, six weeks ago, no one but Rory had taken the bait. And he was still
vaguely surprised and slightly suspicious that he had been promptly invited out to visit the estate.

He frowned as he parked the car in the graveled area near the house and got out, wondering if Clairmont had been foxy enough to have weeded out less interested parties by offering to sell the first two times and then retracting his offer.

It put Rory on guard, his keen business sense wary of an attempt to drive up the price. Although, of course, the place was priceless.

Pushing the thought aside, he went up the broad, shallow steps and made use of the shining brass knocker. He had to use it three times, the third time with considerable force, before the heavy solid-oak door finally swung open. And in that moment Rory experienced the somewhat bewildering shock of a man whose entire attention was quite forcibly ripped from all thoughts of business.

She was an antebellum Southern belle, complete from the raven hair dressed in ringlets to the silk slippers peeping from the hem of her hoop
skirt. The gown was emerald silk, off the shoulders and breathtakingly low-cut, and the faint rustle of each movement announced the presence of at least a dozen petticoats. Her face was heart-shaped and delicate, each feature finely drawn by an appreciative artist. She seemed young, perhaps in her early twenties, although the costume might have been deceptive.

And Rory thought dizzily that Scarlett O'Hara had a rival here in green eyes and an impossibly tiny waist.

“Whatever you're selling, we don't want any.”

If her voice was soft and drawling, her tone at least was thoroughly modern and more than a little impatient. And there was faint surprise in her eyes as she stared up at him, a tiny frown of puzzlement on her forehead.

Rory pulled himself together with determination, leaving his questions for later. “My name's Stewart—Rory Stewart. Mr. Clairmont is expecting me.”

“Oh.” Sea-green eyes looked him up and
down thoughtfully—and with faint hostility?— before focusing on his face. “You're early; we weren't expecting you until tomorrow,” she said abruptly.

Rory ignored the rudeness. “I finished my business in Charleston this morning and decided to get an early start. Unless that's inconvenient, Miss—?”

“Clairmont. Banner Clairmont. Jake's my grandfather.”

Uncomfortably aware of the measuring green eyes holding that slight animosity, Rory reminded himself sternly that Scarlett O'Hara had been a lady only skin deep… and sometimes not even that. “If it's inconvenient—?” he repeated steadily.

“No. No, I suppose not.” She stepped back, gown rustling, and allowed him into the foyer. “Come in.”

Rory's second shock came upon entering the house. He was experienced in detecting attempts to camouflage decaying old mansions with paint and paper in order to have them fetch a higher
price, and knew full well that most Southern families never sold out until they simply could not afford the upkeep of their mansions. He had assumed Jake Clairmont to be in that majority, after seeing the condition of the property surrounding the house.

But Jasmine Hall was fully restored and absolutely beautiful.

He stood in silence, staring about him, his innate love of these historic old homes nearly overpowering him as he saw the foyer as it was meant to be and probably had been a century before.

The wide twin staircases flanking either side of the vast foyer, polished wood gleaming and thick carpet deeply red and spotless. The sparkling chandelier. The antique tables holding priceless vases and figurines. The Old Masters hanging on the walls. The marble floor dotted here and there with intricately woven rugs.

A myriad of thoughts crowded Rory's mind. The old man was toying with him; he couldn't mean to sell this treasure. If he could afford to
maintain it in this prime condition… It would cost the earth if Clairmont were serious. But… dear Lord, wouldn't he love to own this! He'd mortgage practically everything he possessed to have this house. And no resort hotel here. No, this was a home meant to hold a family. But there was no way he possibly could justify the expense; it was impractical and impossible and… and damn Clairmont for the tormenting old devil he was.

Only then did Rory snap out of his trance and realize that the “old devil's” granddaughter had been watching him steadily. He fought to hide what must have been hunger in his eyes, turning to her and waiting politely for her to lead the way. He was faintly surprised to observe that her animosity had vanished, to be replaced by a speculative curiosity, but she gave him no opportunity to probe it.

“This way,” she said, gesturing for him to follow as she headed across the foyer to a set of huge, beautifully carved double doors. She flung one of them open, rustling into a room revealed
to be a library as beautifully restored as the foyer and announcing with a hint of mockery in her soft voice. “You have a visitor, Jake.”

BOOK: Rebel Waltz
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ads

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