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Malice (A Rick Bentz/Reuben Montoya Novel Book 6) (English Edition) Formato Kindle
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"Ti preghiamo di riprovare"
|Formato Kindle, 1 marzo 2010|| |
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|27,72 €||8,31 €|
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CD audio, Audiolibro, Edizione integrale
"Ti preghiamo di riprovare"
Audio, Cassetta, Audiolibro, Edizione integrale
"Ti preghiamo di riprovare"
The scent is unmistakable—gardenias, sweet and delicate, the same perfume that his beautiful first wife, Jennifer, always wore. Opening his eyes in the hospital room where he’s recovering from an accident, New Orleans detective Rick Bentz sees her standing in the doorway. Then Jennifer blows him a kiss and disappears. But it couldn’t have been Jennifer. She died twelve years ago . . .
Once out of the hospital, Bentz begins to see Jennifer everywhere, haunting and taunting him, then vanishing without a trace. Could she still be alive? He can’t tell his new wife, Olivia, about the sightings or his secret fear that he’s losing his mind—though he knows she suspects something is wrong. But Olivia is also hiding a secret . . .
When a copy of Jennifer’s death certificate arrives in the mail, emblazoned with a red question mark, Bentz follows the postmark trail to Los Angeles. Then the murders begin, each victim a part of Jennifer’s past, each grisly corpse pointing to Bentz as the prime suspect. Someone’s been waiting patiently, silently, anticipating Bentz’s every move. Soon it will be Bentz’s turn to suffer for his sins. But he won’t be the only one made to pay the ultimate price. For a diabolical killer has now made Olivia the prime target . . .
Estratto. © Riproduzione autorizzata. Diritti riservati.
MaliceBy LISA JACKSON
ZEBRA BOOKSCopyright © 2009 Susan Lisa Jackson
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Talk to me in six weeks." Melinda Jaskiel's voice was firm. Clear. Propped on his good leg on the back veranda, his cell phone nearly stuck to his ear in the sweltering bayou heat, Rick Bentz realized his boss wasn't going to budge. Sweat dripping off his nose, he balanced on one crutch, the thick rubber tip wedged between two flagstones. His back ached and walking was a strain, but he wouldn't admit it to a soul-especially not to Jaskiel. As head of the homicide division in the New Orleans Police Department, she had the authority to put him back on active duty. Or not. It was her call.
Once again, Melinda Jaskiel held the fate of his career in her hands.
Once again, he was begging. "I need to work." Jesus, he hated the desperation in his voice.
"You need to be at a hundred percent, maybe a hundred and ten to be back on duty."
His jaw tightened as the intense Louisiana sun beat down on the back of his neck and a fine mist rose from the swampland that backed up to the cottage nestled into the woods. Jaskiel had given him a job when no one else would touch him after the mess he'd left in L.A. And now she was shutting him down.
He heard her mutter something under her breath and thought for a split second she was reconsidering. "Look, Rick, I don't see you pushing papers at a desk from eight to five."
"I've been in P.T. for a couple of months now, strong as ever."
"Strong enough to chase down a suspect? Wrestle him to the ground? Break down a door? Hit the deck, roll, draw your weapon, and cover your partner?"
"That's all TV BS."
"Is it?" Jaskiel's voice was skeptical. "Seems to me you were doing just that kind of `TV BS' when you ended up in the hospital." She knew him too well. "You know the drill. Bring in a doctor's release and we'll discuss your reinstatement. Discuss. No promises. You know, retirement's not a bad idea."
He snorted. "Gee, Melinda, I'm getting the idea you're trying to get rid of me."
"You're still in physical therapy and you're wound too tight. End of subject. I'll talk to you later." She hung up.
"Son of a bitch!" He flung his crutch across the flagstones of the veranda, where it skidded, clattering noisily and startling a mockingbird from a nearby magnolia tree into flight. "Son of a goddamned bitch." His fingers clenched over his cell and he considered hurling it into the swamp, but didn't. Hell, he didn't want to explain that. So far, the department only questioned his physical ability. He didn't want to give the powers that be an insight into his mental state.
No shrinks. No soul searching. No pouring out his heart. No thank you.
He stood with difficulty, his balance not what it had been before the accident, despite what he'd told Jaskiel. And sometimes his leg hurt like hell. He knew he wasn't really ready for active duty, but he was going out of his freakin' mind staying at home. Hell, even his relationship with his wife Olivia was beginning to wear thin. Her biological clock was ticking like crazy and she was pressuring him to have a kid. His own daughter, Kristi, was in her twenties. He wasn't sure he wanted to start over.
No, what he needed was to get out of the house and back to work. It had been nearly three months since the accident and he couldn't take sitting around another second.
"So do something about it," he ordered himself.
Gritting his teeth, he took a step unaided.
First one foot, then the other.
None of the namby-pamby putting one foot forward with the walker and dragging the second one up to it. No way. He was going to walk across this damned patio one foot in front of the other if it killed him. He'd show them all. In a month he'd be running across these stupid stones. A crow sat on one of the roof's gables and cried noisily, its raspy caw echoing through the scrub oak and pine.
Bentz barely noticed.
A third step.
He was sweating now. Concentrating hard. The heat was oppressive, sun beating down, the dank smell of the swamp heavy in his nostrils. The crow kept up his incessant, mocking caw. Irritating bastard.
Another step and Bentz looked up, away from uneven stones and to the bench, his destination. He was crossing his patio on his own two feet.
Just as he would have if he hadn't been injured.
Just as he would have if he hadn't nearly lost his life.
Just as he would have if he hadn't been forced to consider early retirement.
He moved forward again, more easily, more confidently.
And then he felt it.
That cold certainty that he was being watched.
His gut tightened as he looked over his shoulder. Dry, brittle leaves rustled on the windless day.
The crow had disappeared, its scolding cries silent.
A flicker of light between the branches. Something in the thicket, just on the other side of the veranda, moved. A shadow passed quickly, darting through the undergrowth.
Oh, sweet Jesus.
Instinctively, Bentz reached for his sidearm.
His hand came up empty as he rounded to face the woods.
He wasn't wearing his shoulder holster.
Not in his own house.
What the hell was it?
Sunlight played through the lacy canopy of needles and leaves. His heart thumped crazily. The spit dried in his mouth.
It was just his imagination.
But the goose bumps crawling over his flesh and the tightening of every muscle in his body told him otherwise.
Idiot! You're in your own damned backyard.
He turned slightly, trying to make out if the intruder were an opossum, or a deer, or even an alligator crawling up from the swamp, but he knew deep in his soul that this was no wild creature wandering too close to his house.
The shivering leaves stilled on this hot, breathless day. Bentz squinted into the forest. He had no doubt that he would see her.
He wasn't disappointed.
Through the shimmering heat her image appeared. Dressed in that same sexy black dress, flashing him the barest of smiles, she stood between the bleached bark of two cypress trees.
His first wife.
The woman he'd sworn to love through all his days.
The bitch who had betrayed him ... And she was as sensual and gorgeous as she had been all those years ago. The fragrance of gardenias wafted through the air.
Or real flesh and blood?
The woman, a dead ringer for his first wife, stood deep in the woods, staring at him with wide, knowing eyes and that sexy little smile ... God, that smile had turned him inside out.
His heart went still as death.
An eerie chill slid through his veins.
"Jennifer?" he said aloud, though he knew his first wife was long dead.
She arched a single eyebrow and his stomach dropped to his knees.
"Jen?" Bentz took a step forward, caught his toe on an uneven rock, and went down. Hard. His knees hit first. Bam! His chin bounced against the mortar and stone, rattling his jaw, scraping his skin.
Pain exploded through his brain. The crow cackled, as if laughing at him. His cell phone skittered across the flagstones.
"Shit!" he muttered under his breath as he lay still for a second, taking in a couple of breaths, telling himself he was a goddamned idiot, a freak who was seeing things that didn't exist. He moved one leg, then the other, mentally assessing the damage to his already racked-up body.
Not that long ago he'd been paralyzed, the result of a freak accident in a lightning storm. His spinal cord had been bruised, not severed. Slowly he'd recovered to this point and he hoped to hell that he hadn't reinjured his damned back or legs.
Painfully he rolled over and pushed himself onto his knees while staring over the edge of the veranda toward the spot where he'd seen her.
Jennifer, of course, had vanished.
Like a ghost in an old cartoon.
Using a bench for leverage, he pulled himself to his feet and stood, solid and steady. Gingerly, ignoring the pain, he walked closer to the edge of the veranda. Squinting into the shadows, he looked for something, anything to indicate she'd been out there. Tempting him. Teasing him. Making him think he was going crazy.
But nothing moved in the forest.
No woman hid in the deep umbra.
No drop in the temperature indicated a ghost had trod upon his soul.
And, beyond all that, Jennifer was dead. Buried in a plot in California. He knew that as well as his own name. Hadn't he identified her himself over twelve years ago? She'd been mangled horribly in the accident, nearly unrecognizable, but the woman behind the wheel in the single-car accident had been his beautiful and scheming first wife.
His stomach twisted a bit as a cloud passed over the sun. High in the sky jets streaked, leaving white plumes to slice the wide expanse of blue.
Why now had she returned-at least in his mind? Had it been the coma? He'd lain unconscious in the hospital for two weeks and he remembered nothing of those fourteen lost days.
When he'd finally awoken, staring through blurry eyes, he'd seen her image. A cold waft of air had whispered across his skin and he'd smelled the heady aroma of her perfume, a familiar scent laced with gardenias. Then he'd caught a glimpse of her in the doorway, backlit by the dimmed hall lights, blowing him a kiss and looking as real as if she were truly still alive.
Which of course she wasn't.
And yet ...
Now, as he stared into the shaded bayou where shadows lengthened and the steamy scent of slow-moving water filtered through the leaves of cypress and cottonwood, he second-guessed the truth. He doubted what he'd been certain was fact; he questioned his sanity.
Could it be the pain pills he'd been taking since his accident as his daughter-their daughter-had insisted?
Or was he just plain going nuts?
"Crap." He glared at the woods.
She was all a part of his imagination.
Something that had been triggered by nearly half a month of teetering on that razor-sharp edge between life and death.
"Get a grip," he told himself.
Man, he could use a smoke right now. He'd given up the habit years before, but in times of stress nothing gave him a clear sense of what needed to be done like a hit of nicotine curling through his lungs.
Grimacing, he heard a series of sharp barks. The dog door opened with a click, followed by the scratch of tiny paws flying across the stones and a high-pitched yip. Hairy S, his wife Olivia's terrier mutt, streaked across the veranda, sending a squirrel squawking loudly up the bole of a scraggly pine. Hairy, who had been named in honor of Harry S. Truman, Olivia's grandmother's favorite president, was going nuts. He leaped and barked at the trunk of the tree, his mottled hair bristling as the squirrel taunted and scolded from the safety of an upper limb.
"Hairy! Shh!" Bentz wasn't in the mood. His head was beginning to pound and his pride had already suffered a beating with the fall.
"What the hell are you doing?" Montoya's voice boomed at him and he nearly tripped again.
"I'm walking without a damned cane or crutch. What's it look like?"
"Like a face plant."
Bentz turned to find his partner slipping through the side gate and striding across the flagstones with the irritating ease of a jungle cat. To add insult to injury, Olivia's scrappy little dog diverted from the squirrel to run circles around Montoya's feet, leaving Bentz to dust off his pride. He tried not to wince, but his knees stung where his skin had been scraped off. No doubt bruises were already forming. He sensed the ooze of warm, sticky blood run down his shins.
"I was watching from over the top of the gate. Looked to me like you were attempting a swan dive into the concrete."
"I thought so."
Bentz wasn't in the mood to be ridiculed by his smart-assed partner. Make that his smart-assed younger partner. With hair that gleamed black in the afternoon light, reflective sunglasses covering eyes that were as sharp as they had ever been, Montoya was younger and more athletic than Bentz. And not afraid to remind his older partner of it.
When he walked, Montoya damned near swaggered and the diamond stud in his earlobe glittered. At least today he wasn't wearing his signature black leather jacket, just a white T-shirt and jeans. Looking cool as all get-out.
It bugged the hell out of Bentz.
"Olivia at work?"
Bentz nodded. "Should be home in a couple of hours." His wife still worked a couple of days a week at the Third Eye, a New Age gift shop near Jackson Square that had survived Hurricane Katrina. She'd completed her master's in psychology a while back and was considering starting her own practice, but she hadn't quite made the transition to full time. Bentz suspected she missed the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter.
Montoya found Bentz's cell phone near a huge ceramic pot filled with cascading pink and white petunias. "Looking for this?" He dusted off the phone, then handed it to him.
Glowering, Bentz muttered, "Thanks," then jammed the damned phone into his pocket.
"Bad news?" Montoya asked, suddenly sober.
"Jaskiel doesn't think I'm fit for duty."
Bentz bit back a hot retort as a dragonfly zipped past. Considering his current state, he couldn't argue. "Is there a reason you came all the way out here, or did you just want to give me a bad time?"
"Little of both," Montoya said. This time his teeth flashed white against his black goatee. "They're reassigning me. Making Zaroster my"-he made air quotes with his fingers-"`temporary' partner."
Lynn Zaroster was a junior detective who had been with the department a little over two years though she was barely twenty-six. Cute, smart, and athletic, Zaroster was filled with enthusiasm. She was as idealistic as Bentz was jaded.
"Change of pace for you."
"Yeah." Montoya's smile faded. "Sometimes I feel like a goddamned babysitter."
"You're afraid this might be permanent." Because Bentz was being pushed out of the department.
"Not if I have my say, but I thought I'd tell you myself. Rather than you hearing it from someone else."
Bentz nodded, wiped the sweat from his face with the sleeve of his shirt. From inside the house, through the open window, he heard the sound of Olivia's parrot, which, like the dog and this little cottage, she had inherited from her grandmother. "Jaskiel's been hinting that I should retire." His lips twisted at the thought of it. "Enjoy what's left of my life."
Montoya snorted. "You're not even fifty. That's a whole lotta 'left.' Thirty-maybe forty-years of fishing, watching football, and sitting on your ass."
"Doesn't seem to matter."
Reaching down for Bentz's crutch, Montoya said, "Maybe you could retire, draw a pension, and then get your P.I.'s license."
"Yeah ... maybe. And you can keep babysitting." Ignoring the preoffered crutch, Bentz started inside, the little dog hurrying ahead of him. "Come on, I'll buy you a beer."
"Have you gone off the wagon?" Montoya was right beside him, hauling the damned crutch.
"Not yet." Bentz held the door open. "But then, the day's not over."
Chapter TwoBentz was slipping away from her.
Olivia could feel it.
And it pissed her off. Yes, she was sad, too, she thought as she tore down the road in her old Ford Ranger, a relic with nearly two hundred thousand miles that she would have to trade in soon.
She loved her husband and when she'd vowed to stick with him through good times and bad, she'd meant it. She'd thought he had, too, but ever since the accident ...
She braked for a curve on the long country road winding through this part of bayou country on the way to her home, a small bungalow built near the swamp, one she'd shared with Grannie Gin before the old lady had passed on. She'd lived in it alone for a few years, but eventually, when she and Bentz had married, he'd moved from his apartment to the bungalow tucked deep into the woods.
His daughter had lived with them for a while, though that hadn't worked out all that great. Kristi was a grown woman and had needed her own space. But they'd been happy here for the past few years.
Until the damned accident.
A freak occurrence.
Lightning had cleaved an oak tree and a thick branch had come down on Rick, pinning him and nearly severing his spine. Even now she shuddered thinking of those dark days when she hadn't been certain whether he would live or die.
He'd clung to life. Barely. And in that time she and her stepdaughter had finally bonded, clenching each other's hands in the hospital when the doctors had given Bent Bentz a dire prognosis.
Excerpted from Maliceby LISA JACKSON Copyright © 2009 by Susan Lisa Jackson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
- ASIN : B0031W1EO0
- Editore : Zebra Books; Reprint edizione (9 febbraio 2010)
- Lingua : Inglese
- Dimensioni file : 3833 KB
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- Memo : Su Kindle Scribe
- Lunghezza stampa : 513 pagine
- Posizione nella classifica Bestseller di Amazon: n. 585,263 in Kindle Store (Visualizza i Top 100 nella categoria Kindle Store)
- n. 12,431 in Police procedural
- n. 17,147 in Narrativa contemporanea (in inglese)
- n. 18,049 in Thriller giudiziari
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