Moon 2 edge of the moo.., p.1

(Moon 2) - Edge of the Moon, page 1


(Moon 2) - Edge of the Moon

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(Moon 2) - Edge of the Moon


  Moon 2


  Rebecca York





























  "Rebecca York delivers page-turning suspense."

  —Nora Roberts


  Ruth Glick writing as Rebecca York


  "[Her] books… deliver what they promise: excitement, mystery, romance."

  —The Washington Post Book World

  His power grows with every sacrifice. Now he has chosen his

  final victim. And soon, they will meet in a dreamworld of

  ecstasy and agony—from which there is no escape…

  The first person to disappear was an older woman. Then it was a child… then a teenage boy. When Kathryn Reynold's tenant and friend goes missing, she has no idea that her vanishing could be part of a larger, sinister pattern. But the moment she meets Detective Jack Thornton, time seems to stop—literally. The attraction between them is so strong and undeniable, there's almost something dangerous about it…

  Jack Thornton had assumed that this was just a routine missing persons report, but there was nothing routine about his response to Kathryn. He's never reacted so quickly or so strongly to any woman before, and the erotic dreams they share threaten to overwhelm his control. But the more he investigates her friend's disappearance, the more uneasy he feels. For he's starting to sense that he and Kathryn are being manipulated by someone… or something. They seem to be playing cat-and-mouse with an unseen enemy—but what Jack doesn't realize is that a killer is on the hunt, and he will stop at nothing to attain his goal. And that the killer is convinced that Kathryn is the key to his dreams of unholy power…

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


  A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author


  Berkley Sensation edition / August 2003

  Copyright © 2003 by Ruth Glick

  Excerpt from Witching Moon copyright © 2003 by Ruth Glick

  Cover design by Brad Springer

  All rights reserved.

  ISBN: 0-425-19125-7


  Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing

  Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  BERKLEY SENSATION and the "B" design are trademarks

  belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.




  ^ »

  HIS NAME WAS Ayindral, and he lived somewhere between the realm of earth and ageless emptiness. In a plane of existence not of this universe.

  Some might have called him a demon, a chimera, an imp, a spirit, or a jinni. Others might see him as a dark god and prostrate themselves before him.

  But he was none of those. He was a being of energy. Of light and shadow. Of mental power. A being that humankind would never understand, even in a nightmare.

  He had lived since before the planet Earth formed from cosmic dust. He would live on into eternity—if left to himself.

  But there were channels of power between his world and the world of humankind, channels that could spell his destruction.

  Like a rift in the fabric of time, one of those passageways had begun to open. In his incorporeal fashion, he raised his head and sniffed the air—catching the scent of danger the way an animal of the forest might sense the presence of a hunter.

  There was no choice. He must act to save himself. And quickly, before it was too late. Delicately, desperately he cast his mind outward, searching for human beings he could bend to his will—use as his defensive shield.


  « ^ »

  KATHRYN REYNOLDS SWEPT a lock of fiery red hair away from her forehead and rocked back in her chair.

  Rolling the tension out of her shoulders, she stared critically at the computer screen. Two days ago she'd been happy with the brochure she was designing for Sunrise Realty.


  Now she had the nagging feeling there was something wrong. Was the text readable enough against the background of rising suns? Should she use a bolder font?

  She had just clicked on the color chart when she heard footsteps on the front porch of the white Victorian she'd inherited from Grandma O'Shea.

  Heather! Thank God. She hadn't realized until that moment how worried she was. But her sigh of relief evaporated with the sound of the doorbell. Heather wouldn't ring the bell. Unless she'd lost her key—and forgotten about the one she'd hidden under a rock in the bushes. Which, actually, she wouldn't put past her friend and downstairs tenant. Heather had a lot of excellent qualities, but she was also a bit of a flake.

  Speaking of which—

  The bell sounded a second time, and a male voice called out, "Anybody home?" Kathryn looked down at the long, bare legs protruding from beneath her Redskins tee shirt. Damn! She'd done it again—gotten up and started working, then lost track of the time.

  Now it was afternoon, and she wasn't exactly dressed for company. Sprinting into the bedroom, she grabbed the pair of knit shorts she'd left on the chair, pulling them on as she crossed the worn Oriental rug.

  After unlocking the door to her apartment, she hurried barefoot down the stairs to the sound of pounding on the front door, then looked through the beveled glass window.

  A dark-haired man in a blue uniform stood on the porch, and her mouth went dry.

  It was him!

  No. She canceled the spurt of panic. It wasn't him. He was too young. Too heavy. It wasn't the guy with the white van she'd seen off and on around the neighborhood for the past week—acting busy. He'd given her a creepy feeling, and she'd asked a couple of neighbors if they knew what he was doing. Nobody had been sure. She hadn't seen him for a few days; and, for a moment, she'd thought… But it wasn't him.

  Slipping the door on the chain, she opened it and asked, "Can I help you?"

  "Heather DeYoung?"

  "She's not home right now."

  The man looked annoyed. "She's supposed to be here between three and six."

  "I'm sorry. Can I help you?" she asked again.

  "Mr. Fisher asked me to bring over these carpet samples she wanted to see."

  Heather had complained about the carpet in the bedroom, and Kathryn had said she'd go in with her on replacing it. But obviously she couldn't make the selection by herself.

  "I'm sorry, you'll have to come back when she gets home."

  He jutted out hi
s jaw. "And when will that be?"

  "I don't know."

  "Yeah, well, I'm late for an installation job because of her, so tell her to get back to Mr. Fisher."

  "I'll give her the message."

  He picked up a vinyl case he'd set down and stamped back across the porch, leaving Kathryn standing in the vestibule that led to both apartments. Turning to her right, she stared at her friend's door.

  When had she last seen Heather? Saturday night? She wasn't sure, because she'd been working on a couple of jobs, and she hadn't been paying attention. It wasn't unusual for Heather to take off for the weekend. And it wasn't even unusual for her to extend a minivacation into the next week—since she worked as a substitute teacher and could turn down assignments if she wanted. But usually she was back by Monday afternoon. Now it was Tuesday. And she still wasn't home.

  Kathryn pressed her hand against the wall, running her fingers over the raised strips in the wallpaper, staring at Heather's door. She owned the apartment. She could go in if she wanted and look around, but her own sense of privacy was very strong. So she wasn't going to invade Heather's space just because she was feeling jumpy.

  And what would she be looking for if she did go inside? A body? Signs of a struggle?

  She grimaced, knowing she was letting her imagination run away with her now.

  Slowly she climbed back up the stairs, stepped into her apartment, and locked the door—looking around at the cozy space where her graphic design business shared her living quarters. After Gran had died, she could have moved down to the first floor. But she liked being up here, liked the extra light and the view of the garden—and not having anyone walking around above her. She loved the high ceilings and the old wooden floors and the carefully crafted woodwork that made her home so different from the tract housing developers were slapping up these days. More than that, she was comfortable here. Maybe too comfortable. Sometimes she knew she had a tendency to close herself off like a hermit crab ducking into its shell.

  Which was why her friendship with Heather DeYoung, who rented the apartment downstairs, had been so good for her.

  The woman could be maddening. Exasperating. A total flake. And at the same time a really good friend. In the year and a half that Heather had lived downstairs, they'd gotten into the habit of hanging out together—taking power walks in the afternoons, going on shopping expeditions. Talked long into the evening about movies and books and the guys in their lives. Shared their problems.

  So did her friend have a problem now? Something she hadn't felt comfortable bringing up? Like that little episode last year?

  She crossed to the window, ducked under The Spider Plant That Took over the World, and stared down at the bright pink and red azaleas in full bloom, then flicked her gaze back to the empty space in the driveway where her tenant's burgundy Honda was usually parked.

  "Dammit, Heather," she muttered. "Where are you? Atlantic City, cleaning up at the slot machines? Why don't you take a minute to give me a call and let me know you're okay?"

  Like magic, the phone rang, and she blinked—then sprinted back to the desk and snatched up the receiver.


  There was no answer.


  The silence stretched, and she carefully replaced the receiver in the cradle as she looked at the caller I.D.

  It said "Unavailable." So it was probably just one of those automated telemarketing calls. Not Heather trying to check in. Or calling to say her car had broken down because she'd forgotten to change the oil.

  Like she'd forgotten to charge the battery on her cell phone. Which was probably why there was no answer when Kathryn had called that number.

  She grimaced. Maybe it was time to check in with Heather's boyfriend, Gary Swinton. He was a strange guy. Secretive. Always acting superior, like he knew something Kathryn didn't. Privately she called him The Swine, and she'd told Heather she could do better; but Gary was still in and out of her bed on a semiregular basis.

  After looking up his number in her Rolodex and dialing, she counted five rings before an answering machine picked up.

  "Hey, this is Gary. I really want to talk to you. So leave a message."

  Yeah, sure, she thought. Probably she was the last person he wanted to talk to, because she'd made her feelings about him pretty clear.

  She almost hung up. Then she took a breath and said in an upbeat voice, "Hi. This is Kathryn Reynolds. I'm trying to reach Heather. She needs to set up an appointment to look at the bedroom carpet samples. If she's with you, could you ask her to give me a call?" She finished by leaving her number, all the time picturing Gary sitting by the machine, listening to her talk.

  She considered driving down to his place. But he lived in D.C., in Adams Morgan—not a neighborhood she liked to walk through alone at night. And it would be dark by the time she got there.

  With a sigh, she picked up the magic wand sitting on the desk. Too bad she couldn't wave it, say "abracadabra," and command her tenant to appear. Unfortunately, the wand was just a hollow plastic tube about a foot long, one of the toys she liked to play with while she was thinking. It was filled with shiny stars and moons floating in a viscous blue liquid. Turning it on end, she watched the heavenly bodies shoot upward in a swirl of blue, but they didn't give her any insights into Heather's whereabouts.

  Her hand tightened on the plastic as she seesawed the cylinder back and forth, watching the moving shapes, trying to banish the feeling of uneasiness that had been hanging over her since she'd opened her eyes that morning. Well, longer than that—if she were honest.

  With a small thunk, she set down the wand.

  What was wrong with her? She was usually rock steady. In charge of her life. She'd been on her own since Gran died five years ago. She'd paid for her own college education with work-study and student loans. After apprenticing for a couple years at one of the big ad agencies downtown, she'd gone out on her own. Her graphic design business was doing really well, and her client list was growing as satisfied customers recommended her to their friends. She'd worked hard to get where she was. And she was proud of her achievements.

  But for the past few days, a kind of free-floating anxiety had been hanging over her. Not just because of Heather. It was something else—something she couldn't identify. Like a storm gathering, its low, dark clouds hanging directly over her.

  "Really, that's a pretty over-the-top image," she muttered. With a quick shake of her head, she crossed to the window, staring down again at the empty space in the driveway. Heather would be home tomorrow morning, she told herself firmly. But if she wasn't, it was time to get in touch with the Montgomery County Police.

  JACK Thornton pulled his unmarked into the driveway of his gray colonial, cut the engine, and sat with his hands wrapped around the wheel for several moments.

  All day he'd felt something hovering over him, something that grated on his nerves. And now that he was home, he felt as though he'd made a miraculous escape.

  From what?

  He didn't know. But he did know he'd had a hell of a day. He'd walked into the middle of a domestic case. The kind that made him wonder if he was a police detective or a mental health worker.

  It started out when he'd been driving down Democracy Boulevard and seen a woman dressed in a nightgown and robe, sobbing and running in and out of the traffic. No one else was on the scene, so he'd called in a report, then stopped and identified himself.

  By the time a couple of uniformed officers had arrived, Mrs. Westborn had apparently bonded with him.

  But seeing the uniforms got her sobbing again, begging him to stay with her, and he'd ended up taking her to Montgomery County Hospital, where he'd interviewed her in an emergency room cubicle.

  He'd sensed from the first that she was holding back information—which was one of the reasons he'd stuck with her.

  With a good deal of patience and reassurance, he'd finally gotten Mrs. Westborn to admit that her husband was at home—dead. He'd slit
his own throat, and the wife had freaked out.

  Slit his throat! That had riveted Jack's attention. Slitting a throat wasn't so easy to do, despite its popularity with producers of slasher movies. It took a bit of effort to cut through tough muscles, cords, and rubbery tendons, unless you had a rather large and exceptionally sharp surgical scalpel. Besides, throat-cutting was a kind of slow and painful death, one that normally didn't appeal to suicidal folks.

  Jack had sent a couple of uniforms to check out the story while he'd waited with the woman until psychiatric services arrived.

  Then he'd gone over to the house to investigate the scene—and found the guy was dressed in a woman's lacy gown and robe.

  So much for domestic tranquillity in Montgomery County, Maryland, one of the richest counties in the nation. But he'd learned that more money sometimes meant more problems. Like the bored teenager who had hacked up his friend a few years ago, or the group of boys who'd raped a mentally retarded girl in the woods.

  Now he was thinking that murder was as likely as suicide in the Westborn case. Tomorrow he'd start questioning the neighbors, to find out how the couple had been getting along. But he wasn't going to dismiss the possibility of suicide out of hand. Suppose, for example, that Westborn was in serious financial trouble, and he'd seen only one way out?

  Six months ago, Jack might have started checking up on Westborn from his home computer. But he'd been smart enough to recognize the signs of burnout. He'd pulled back, vowed to leave the job at the office.

  As he stepped inside the door, he was enveloped by the smell of baking chocolate chip cookies. For a heart-stopping moment, he thought that Laura was in the kitchen with the kids. Then reality came slamming back. Almost three years ago, a drunk driver on I-270 had crossed the median and crashed into his wife's car with enough force to ram the engine block into the front seat.

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