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Authors: Roxanne St. Claire

Then You Hide

BOOK: Then You Hide
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Pocket Star Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY10020

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 © 2008 by Roxanne St. Claire

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY10020

POCKET STAR BOOKS and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-8002-7
ISBN-10: 1-4165-8002-6

Visit us on the World Wide Web:
http://www.SimonSays.com

 

Look for all three

 

First You Run

Then You Hide

Now You Die

 

A fabulous new trio of Bullet Catcher books by Roxanne St. Claire, available now and coming soon from Pocket Star Books

 

The Critics Love

Roxanne St. Claire

Take Me Tonight

“Sexy, smart, and suspenseful,
Take Me Tonight
is an absolute must-read…. St. Claire really rocks.”

—Mariah Stewart,
New York
Times
bestselling author

“Roxanne St. Claire has outdone herself…you actually have to put
Take Me Tonight
down every once in a while just to catch your breath.”

—Romance Reviews Today

“Definitely one of St. Claire’s best and not to be missed!”


Romantic Times

“Five stars! This story will drag you in and not let you out!”

—A Romance Review

Thrill Me to Death

“Sizzles like a hot Miami night.”

—Erica Spindler,
New York
Times
bestselling author

“Sultry romance with enticing suspense.”


Publishers Weekly

“Fast-paced, sexy romantic suspense…. A book that will keep the reader engrossed in the story from cover to cover.”


Booklist

“Roxanne St. Claire’s got the sexy bodyguard thing down to an art form…. [She] expertly entertains through the novel’s emotional twists and sensual turns, rocketing us through a series of exciting events…one heck of a love story.”

—Michelle Buonfiglio, LifetimeTV.com

“St. Claire doesn’t just push the envelope, she folds it into an intricate piece of origami for the reader’s pleasure!”


The Winter Haven News Chief
(FL)

Kill Me Twice

“When it comes to dishing up great romantic suspense, St. Claire is the author you want. Sexy and scintillating…an exciting new series.”


Romantic Times


Kill Me Twice
literally vibrates off the pages with action, danger, and palpable sexual tension. St. Claire is exceptionally talented.”


The Winter Haven News Chief
(FL)

“Jam-packed with characters, situations, suspense, and danger. The reader will be dazzled.”


Rendezvous

Killer Curves

“A sleek, sexy, and very American romantic suspense novel.”


Publishers Weekly

“This book really grabbed me…refreshingly cool.”


Orlando
Sentinel

French Twist

“Great reading!”


Romantic Times

“Intriguing suspense that crackles with sexual tension.”


The Winter Haven News Chief
(FL)

Tropical Getaway

“Sizzling suspense and scorching sensuality!”

—Teresa Medeiros,
New York
Times
bestselling author

“Romance, danger, and adventure…in just the right combination.”


Booklist

Also by Roxanne St. Claire

The Bullet Catchers Series

First You Run

What You Can’t See,
with Allison Brennan et al.

Take Me Tonight

I’ll Be Home for Christmas,
with Linda Lael Miller et al.

Thrill Me to Death

Kill Me Twice

 

Killer Curves

French Twist

Tropical Getaway

Hit Reply

For Kern Walsh Zink, a woman of wisdom, a lover of life, a compassionate sister who completed our family when she married into it and left a hole in our hearts when she departed. She is missed and loved by many.

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

I
NEVER TRAVEL
alone. This trip to the Caribbean was made possible and more accurate by some generous and helpful sources and I thank them all. In particular…

Down in the islands, mon, there are amazing people. They include the informative and helpful staff of the Villas Caribe, who guided me through the steep curves and even steeper costs of island vacation rentals; the angels who run a piece of paradise on earth known as the Four Seasons Resort in Nevis; and the supremely knowledgeable public relations department of the Star Clippers, who, for the second time in my career, let me make waves on one of their ships. Also a nod to good friends Christie Locke and Tammy Strickland, who shared their Nevis experiences with me.

The investment geniuses at The Blackstone Group and Pope Financial (thank you, Marcel!) provided insights into the world of Wall Street, hedge fund management, and the life and times and mind-set of an asset manager.

Roger Cannon, my go-to source for anything that shoots a bullet; he is truly Bullet Catcher material for his patience, humor, determination, and dedication to the truth. And he’s kinda hot, too!

My team of experts in the publishing world: Micki Nuding, a visionary editor with a magic pencil and perfect touch; and my agent, Kim Whalen of Trident Media Group, who always has my back—usually to catch me when I’m about to fall.

Although they were not part of my research, there was a team of heroes who took over my world while writing this book, so I have to give a shout and a box of the finest chocolate to the nurses and staff of the HolmesRegionalHeartCenter. Most of all, I would like to acknowledge the skill and brilliance of Dr. Michael Greene, a surgeon, an artist, a healer, a gentleman. In his gifted hands, I trusted the heart that matters most to me, the one I married. My deepest gratitude to the entire team of cardio superstars who have the courage and capability to save lives, fix broken hearts, and create medical miracles every single day.

And because of those miracle makers, the husband whom I depend upon is strong, happy, and healthy enough to let me hide in my hole and write. As always, I am profoundly grateful for the love and support that carries me through every day. Thank you, Rich, for being an exemplary heart patient and an even better husband. And finally, a lifetime of love and gratitude to my children, Dante and Mia, who amaze me every time they define grace under pressure. You three are why I live, love, write, and breathe.

THEN YOU HIDE

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

Charleston, South Carolina, 1978

 

“WELL, LOOK WHAT
we have here. The prettiest little suspect in CharlestonCounty.” The fluorescent lights cast a sick, yellow shadow on the cheeks of the man who’d just entered the interrogation room.

Eileen Stafford straightened in the uncomfortable wooden chair and met his gaze. “Where’s my lawyer?”

“He’s comin’, sweetheart. He’s comin’. Mind if I sit down?” Across the table, he yanked out the other chair, flipped it around, and spread his legs around the back. “You remember me, don’t you?”

As if she could forget the man who’d tried to blind her with a flashlight, cut her with handcuffs, and insult her from the front seat of his squad car.

She sat silent. Because
anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
.

“We met the other night out on AshleyBridge.” He lifted thick black eyebrows and crinkled his forehead, all friendly and social.

She glared back at him. “Pretty convenient, you and your partner just cruising along looking for people driving away from crime scenes.”

“Oh, now, honey, you know what happened. Someone saw you running and called the cops. While we were following you lead-footin’ out of Charleston, Ms. Sloane’s body was found.” He held out his hands to imply that this happened all the time to a good cop.

Or a very bad one.

Didn’t he realize this case was so flimsy you could see through it? She’d seen the murder; she’d witnessed it! She knew who did it, yet she sat here, sweating, waiting for a lawyer who was supposed to be here hours ago. When he came, she could tell him who pulled the trigger and who put that gun on the passenger seat of her car—a gun she’d never touched.

But would she have the nerve to tell the truth? To take on the most powerful man in the county? The thought made her stomach roll.

“Why’d you do it, Miss Stafford?”

She bit her lip to keep from saying a word.

“It
is
miss, isn’t it?” Hazel eyes dropped to her chest. “Sure it is. I’ve seen you around the courthouse. You’re a flirty little thing. Real friendly with all the lawyers and judges. You’re a legal secretary. Just like…the deceased.”

“Which makes me smart enough to know I get a lawyer before I talk to anybody.”

He chuckled, propping his elbows on the table and locking his hands into a little shelf for his chin. “And smart enough to know that the South Carolina legal system don’t always work as right as it should.”

She fought a quiver, unwilling to let him see her fear. “I’m not going to talk to you, Officer.”

“Then how ‘bout you
listen
to me…Leenie.”

Oh, God—only one person on earth called her that. Which meant whatever this cop was about to say was a direct message from
him
.

“Listen real careful, okay?” His look made her heart wallop against her ribs. “I’m gonna offer you a fine deal.”

“A deal?” Or her worst nightmare? The man who had destroyed her happiness, forcing her to make a decision she would regret until the day she died—that man could do anything. He could lie, cheat, steal, and, oh, Godamighty, he could kill.

“Real simple, this deal. You tell your lawyer exactly how you killed Wanda, how you were hidin’ right there in that alley, just waitin’ to pounce on the gal who’d taken your place as the prettiest legal secretary in the courthouse, and—”

“I wasn’t waiting for—”

“—and we’ll make sure you don’t have to sit in the hot seat.” One corner of his thin-lipped mouth slid up. “You know what I mean by the hot seat, don’t you, Leenie?”

“There hasn’t been an electrocution in this state since 1962.”

“Capital punishment is alive and well in the state of South Carolina, darlin’. In the hands of”—he bared straight, shiny teeth—“the right judge.”

Eileen closed her eyes. She’d known this was coming. Ever since she’d hidden behind that brick wall in Philadelphia Alley and watched her former lover put a bullet into Wanda Sloane, she’d known she couldn’t run far, and she couldn’t hide for long. Not from him.

“It’s a simple deal. You tell the lawyer just what happened, Leenie. And in exchange…” He shrugged, as if the rest were obvious.

“Say it,” she insisted hoarsely. “You have to say it.”

He leaned close. “Sign the piece of paper pleading guilty…and nothing will happen to your baby.”

She
knew
it.

“I don’t have a baby.”

That statement would be the truth in a deposition. She didn’t have
a
baby. She’d had three. But he didn’t know that. No one in Charleston knew that.

“You have a child,” he said in a patronizing tone. “‘Course, you sold the poor li’l fatherless bastard. But anyone can be…” He took out a handkerchief, blew his nose, let the unfinished sentence hang in the air. “…found with the right people pulling the strings.”

She stared at him.

He folded his hanky and stuffed it into a breast pocket. “And you know, sweetheart, those black-market babies are not always the healthiest. They’ve been known to just die in their li’l cribs.”

That murdering, lying son of a bitch. Would he kill his own daughter?

Of course he would. He was capable of anything. He bought cops like this sleazebucket, bought juries, bought witnesses, bought loyalty. Hell, he’d bought her.

But he only knew she’d gone to the farmhouse on Sapphire Trail to have a baby. No one except the nurse, the lady who owned the place, and one of the sets of adoptive parents knew she’d had triplets that night eight months ago.

Three tiny, helpless baby girls who were all sold to strangers. He only knew of one, but she didn’t know
which
one. Any of those tiny babies could be his victim, unless she…

“Make this deal.” Impatience edged his voice. “Or she dies.”

Right now, her daughters were safe and loved. And marked. If they ever found one another, would that tell them the story of what their mother did and why? All that mattered was that they lived. Her life was worthless without them, anyway.

“Okay,” she said in defeat.

He pushed away from the table and sauntered to the door with a lazy, cocky grin. “I heard you were a very smart girl, Leenie. Guess it’s true.” He pulled the door open, and she heard him say, “The suspect is ready to bargain.”

Eileen dropped her head into her hands. Maybe someday, her babies would forgive her for selling them to strangers. And if they ever discovered who gave them birth, maybe they’d understand why, eight months after they were born, she’d shouldered the blame for a crime she didn’t commit.

BOOK: Then You Hide
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