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Authors: Edna Buchanan


BOOK: Shadows
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Cold Case Squad

The Ice Maiden

You Only Die Twice

Garden of Evil


Margin of Error

Act of Betrayal

Suitable for Framing

Miami, It's Murder

Contents Under Pressure

Never Let Them See You Cry

Nobody Lives Forever

The Corpse Had a Familiar Face

Carr: Five Years of Rape and Murder


Rockefeller Center

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2005 by Edna Buchanan

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

& S
and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Buchanan, Edna.

Shadows / Edna Buchanan.

p. cm

1. Cold cases (Criminal investigation)—Fiction. 2. Police—Florida—Miami—Fiction. 3. Miami (Fla.)—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3552.U324S53 2005



ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-7441-8
ISBN-10: 0-7432-7441-5

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For Mitchell Ivers, an editor you

Fate is the gunman all gunmen fear.




What began with love and surrender now ends in death and guilt. My blood thunders through my veins and I shake with rage as I think of him. Only one of us will survive this night.

The full moon burns a bright hole in a hot, black summer sky. I hide amid wild orchids, poincianas, and tangled passion vines, overwhelmed by the smells of ripe earth, the windswept water, and my own fear. The superheated atmosphere smothers me in its damp, deathlike embrace, the sweet scent of night-blooming jasmine a poignant reminder of other nights like this. I am dizzy and close my eyes as the planet picks up speed. This night was meant for urgent kisses and breathless promises, not sudden death.

The gun weighs heavy and my hands tremble. But what's left to fear? I'm already damned to hell. People would agree with what I am about to do if they only knew the truth. But nobody will listen, and if they did, who would believe me?

My thigh muscles burn from crouching here beneath the gumbo limbo trees. Mosquitoes feast on my sweat-slick skin. I can endure the pain but not the waiting. Yearning to rest my feverish brow against the cool metal of the gun's long barrel, I fight the urge, knowing where it might lead. How easy it would be to surrender to the gun. It whispers a promise in the dark, an end to all this in one great fiery explosion of light. Who would care? Not the man for whom I wait. Finding me dead would convince him that he was right about me.

My shallow sigh is lost in the vast darkness. Night sounds close in around me: the croaks and mating calls of frogs and toads, a nightingale's lonely song. Foxes yelp nearby. I swear I can hear harsh breathing, the sounds of lovemaking in the dark. Is that a memory, my imagination, or the pulse-beat of this sultry night? I despair as the mosquitoes swarm louder and louder around my face.

How long can I wait? Where is he? Will he ever come? The other one was easier. Was it all for nothing? My frustration level reaches the danger zone.

No more. No more waiting. I'll leave it to heaven. God, if He exists, decides who dies tonight. I swear to my only witnesses, the fast-moving moon and the clouds racing like pirate ships across its face, that I will count down from one hundred—if I finish and he has not arrived, it ends here for me. Forever.

It's in God's hands now.

Whispering numbers like a prayer, I count down the final moments of a life. Mine or his.

Ninety-seven, ninety-six…

Destiny awaits. The world grows still, as though the planet has paused to watch. This place has always had an appetite, a fatal enthusiasm for sudden death.


I place the gun barrel in my mouth and run my tongue around the muzzle's rim in anticipation. The oily metal tastes like blood.

Will he will find his own fate waiting—or my corpse?


The life I was meant to lead fast-forwards through my mind, unfurling like a memory, alive with color, light, and passion, a future I will never have.


Outrage overtakes my despair as time ebbs away. He had no right. I take the gun from my mouth and spit out the taste of smoky metal as though on his grave.

I lick my parched lips and my stomach churns. When did I eat last? Not since early yesterday but I still gag. His belly is probably full, his mind at ease, sated by excellent food and better liquor.


None of his prestige and power, or friends in high places, can deflect a shotgun blast. My resolve is fueled by my need for revenge.


I will do it. I gaze at the big, rambling house and imagine its secrets. Music, dance, and laughter live inside those walls. The power to change laughter into tears is mine tonight.


Whose tears? Only God knows.

I grasp the gun tightly.


No fear.


A car. I hear it! At last! As my time runs out. Thank you, Jesus. Please let it be him.


I creep forward, inching through the dense foliage, my cheeks wet.


He laughed. He'll soon know I was someone to fear. Am I? Can I take him down? Will I escape? Assailed by doubts, limbs suddenly weak, I almost fall back into the bushes. This is so different from the other. The gun slips on sweaty skin as I brace it against my cheek and shoulder and raise it into firing position.

Headlights sweep around the curve as the big Buick rolls toward the house. He is alone. Music playing. Skeeter Davis singing “The End of the World” on his car radio.

I can do this.


I stop counting and hold my breath. My temples throb but my hands are steady. I
do this.

I grit my teeth and focus as the car's headlights bounce crazily off the broad gray limbs of the banyan trees.

Damn. To my left, light spills out of the house into the darkness like secrets from a confessional. Someone has swooped aside the filmy curtains at a front window. Fear cramps my heart. Is that someone inside watching? They must have heard the car, too. Please, God. Don't let them come out.

Something else! Nightbirds cut short their hymns as a shadowy creature crashes through the crotons on the far side of the house. I see and hear it simultaneously. Something big. Moving swiftly, close to the ground. I am not alone. My eyes strain against the dark. What…? Is that a wild animal or my inflamed imagination?

My throat closes as the hunched shadow scrambles through the thick ficus hedge. Branches move and snap. It is real. What
it? No time left. Whatever it is, I can't let it stop me. Not now.

The headlights suddenly go dark. The driver cuts the engine. All is silent. My heartbeat accelerates.

He is alone. I watch him roll up his window, crunch open the door, and ease out. His athletic frame unfolds gracefully for a man of his size and power.

Larger than life, moments from death, he reaches inside for his jacket, then slams the car door.

I know what I must do. Ignore the monstrous shadow breathing hard in raspy gasps behind the ficus on the far side of the driveway. Pray that no one steps out of the house. “Don't come out,” I warn in a long, low whisper. It's too crowded out here now. The evening star emerges like an omen, a beacon in a clearing sky, as I level the gun.

Keys jingle in his hand as he locks the big Buick. Unsuspecting, almost jaunty, not a care in the world. He pauses for a deep breath. He smells the jasmine, too. Let it be the last scent he inhales except for the smell of his own blood.

He walks toward the house, his stride long-legged and comfortable, then stops, startled. He sees it, too. The thing that is hiding, crouched in the far hedge. Distracted, he stares. Nothing distracts me. I rise from the bushes, level the gun, close one eye, take aim, and ever so slowly, like a caress, I begin to squeeze the trigger.

“Hey! What are you do—” he shouts at the shadow as my gun roars in a fiery explosion of sound and light. The recoil slams my shoulder and hurls me off balance. My ears ring. I blink, through distorted vision, and see him stumble.

He reels, one arm extended like a Saturday-night drunk trying to steady himself. Bewildered, he sees me for the first time, then lurches unsteadily toward the house, calling, “Diana! Diana!”

Beyond him, a high, inhuman howl pierces the dark. A wild thrashing and scrambling ices my spine. I try to stay focused.

Still on his feet, my target staggers toward the lights of the house. No! Propelled by panic and rage, I rack another shell into the chamber and rush him. No time to take aim. I close the distance between us, thrust the barrel toward him, and squeeze the trigger again. The music from inside the house stops. Or am I deaf from the blast?

No. The front door bursts open, screams shred the soft blanket of night. Shouts. Footsteps, confusion. More cries in the dark. I flee for my life, adrenaline unleashing the speed of wings. Something savage runs as well. The creature from the shadows rounds the back of the house. It's coming after me! My heart races. My shoulder aches. I barely breathe, pounding blindly through thick brush that rips and tears at my clothes. Too late, too afraid to look back, its hot breath at my heels. Oh, God, what have I unleashed?

BOOK: Shadows
12.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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