Cassie didn’t comment. As she backed out and took directions from Holly to her apartment that was considerably more than “a few blocks” from the beach, her companion rambled on about how everyone in Allie’s entourage from bitchy Cherise, her assistant, to Laura, the makeup and hair stylist, had been searching for new jobs, backstabbing each other as if it were necessary to find one, probably all calling Holly for any gossip she had on the Kramer sisters. Cassie forced her voice to be level, for the anger to dissipate. “Everybody needs to work,” Cassie muttered.

“Not for pricks, bitches, and dickheads. Oh, wait.” Holly paused dramatically as if struck by a sudden truth. “I’m one of the bitches.” Barely able to see over the dash, she pointed a manicured finger at the glass and steel apartment building that rose seven floors into the sky. “That’s it. Home sweet home. Just pull in there, to the side entrance.” She indicated a back alley and Cassie nosed her Honda around a planter with lavender plants so lush the blooms scraped the side of the car. “A little close, aren’t you?” Holly complained.

“Shut up,” Cassie teased. “You got a ride, didn’t you?”


Holly giggled.

Cassie let the car idle as Holly reached for the door handle. As she clambered out, she said, “Hey! Have you seen the trailer? For Dead Heat?”

“It’s out already?” Cassie asked, a chill running through her as she thought about seeing Allie on the screen. She didn’t want to think it, didn’t want to believe it, but there was a chance that the movie might be the last time Allie’s image would ever be caught on film. She’s not dead.

The nurse in the old uniform’s words came back to her and she clung to them.

“Just out,” Holly was saying. She looked over her shoulder as she pushed the door open and stepped outside. “I caught it last night, before one of the late shows.”


-- Advertisement --

“It was okay. Even good, I think.” She leaned into the interior. “But it was weird, you know. Seeing Allie up on the screen. So . . . vibrant. So alive.” Holly appeared to sober up a bit as her gaze met Cassie’s for a second. “I just wish I knew what happened to her.”

Cassie nodded and her mood darkened even more. “We all do.”

“I know, I know.” Holly was nodding. She cleared her throat as if she, too, were emotional. “Thanks for the ride.”

“No problem.”

Holly closed the door, then veered a little unsteadily toward the side entrance.

Attempting to shake her thoughts from Allie, Cassie managed to turn her car around in the tight parking lot and eventually eased her Honda into the steady stream of traffic. Night was falling and in the dusk, streetlights began to illuminate the city, a place she’d called home as a child and then again after she’d fled Falls Crossing. She’d never felt at home in the small town, the horror of her captivity by a lunatic only adding to her hatred of all things Oregon. The night terrors and fears, the feeling of abject vulnerability and, yes, paranoia, hadn’t left her when she’d headed south after her high school graduation.

Maybe that’s why she’d wanted Allie to join her. Familiarity. Safety. And maybe that’s why she’d fallen for Trent, whom she’d met in Oregon. Maybe that’s why she’d foolishly ended up marrying him.

“Don’t go there,” she warned herself, checking the rearview to catch the clouds in her eyes before looking farther back, to the street and the headlights crowding behind her. She felt that same little prickle of anxiety skitter up her neck and burrow into her hairline, digging deep into her brain. Was a car following? Maybe a silver SUV of some kind? Or was she mistaken? How could she tell in the sea of vehicles that swelled around her?


And fruitless. Ten cars could be tailing her and she wouldn’t know which they were, not in this throng of vehicles.

“Get over your scaredy self,” she warned.

She tried to concentrate on the road ahead but found herself eyeing her rearview mirror several times, making certain that someone wasn’t silently tracking. The eerie feeling of someone watching her had been explained, at least when she was leaving the airport. Holly had seen her and tried to chase her down. There was no danger here.

-- Advertisement --