When the older woman spoke, her voice was softer, more conspiratorial, as if they shared something personal. “Jenna’s concerned.”

For a second Cassie flashed on her mother. Petite. Black hair. Wide green eyes. A once-upon-a-time Hollywood beauty, Jenna Hughes had been a household name years before either of her daughters had tried to follow in her famous footsteps, before a monster, a deranged serial killer, had tried to destroy them all. Cassie shuddered, knew that the terror from all those years before had chased after her, unrelenting. Those memories, the horror, fear, and gore, were the dark well from where her blood-chilling nightmares sprang. For years she’d kept the terror at bay. Until the near-murder on the set and Allie’s disappearance. Now they’d come back again, with a vengeance.

“You entered the hospital voluntarily,” the doctor reminded her softly, as if she could read Cassie’s thoughts. That much was true, though she’d felt pressured into the decision. “You know you have unresolved issues.” A slight rise of the doctor’s white eyebrows punctuated her thought. “Night terrors. Hallucinations. Blackouts.”


“They’re better.” Cassie zipped her bag. Thought about the nurse she’d seen in her room. Not a hallucination; she had the earring to prove it. Still, she’d decided not to mention the visitor; nor would she rat out Rinko. There was no reason to make more trouble.

“Are they?” the doctor asked, her eyes narrowing behind her rimless glasses.

“Mmm.” A bit of a lie. Well, maybe more than a bit, but she nodded, pushing aside her doubts. “I was freaked out after the near-murder on the set. You know that. It’s why I came here. Voluntarily. To sort things out and get my head right.” She stared the doctor squarely in the eyes. “I’m still convinced someone was gunning for Allie.”

“It was an accident,” Dr. Sherling reminded her, a theory Cassie didn’t buy. There was an ongoing investigation after the “incident,” of course; the actor who’d pulled the trigger more shocked than anyone, the prop gun having been tampered with. So how was that an accident? This was the kind of thing that was never supposed to happen. Never. There were fail-safes in place.

And yet, Lucinda Rinaldi, who had miraculously survived after nearly two weeks in a coma, was recovering. She was now out of the hospital and, according to a mutual acquaintance, had graduated into a rehabilitation center on the other side of the river, where she was putting her life back together, all the while contemplating a lawsuit against the production company and anyone attached to Dead Heat.

An accident?

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Cassie didn’t think so, but then she’d always been one to buy into conspiracy theories. She would keep her thought to herself for now. What she needed to do was get out of the hospital. She’d admitted herself voluntarily, she was going out the same way.

“Thanks,” she said to the doctor, swinging the strap of her bag over her shoulder.

“Seriously, Cassie, I think you should reconsider. Hallucinations? Blackouts? These are very serious issues.”

“Duly noted.” And then she walked out of the room. She wasn’t coming back. Period.

“Remember our appointment next week,” the doctor called after her.

Right. Cassie hurried past the information and admittance desks. Through an atrium with a soaring glass ceiling, she made her way outside where she felt the cooling mist against her face. She then hastened down wide marble stairs to the waiting cab, where the cabbie was smoking a cigarette and talking on a cell phone. At the sight of her, he abandoned both activities and climbed out of the car to toss her bag into the trunk of a dented cab that was definitely in need of a wash.

She caught sight of Steven Rinko on the front lawn. “Just a sec.” Rinko was a few steps away from a group of young men playing ring-toss.

“Meter’s runnin’,” the cabbie muttered.

“I’ll be right back.”

Cassie cut across the dewy grass to the spot where Steven stood in jeans and a white T-shirt and used a bathrobe as a coat. “You’re leaving,” he said sadly, his gaze traveling to the idling cab.

“That’s right.”

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