Birds of Prey : Previously Copub Sequel to the Hour of the Hunter (9780061739101)

ALSO BY J. A. JANCE

J. P. BEAUMONT MYSTERIES

Until Proven Guilty

Injustice for All

Trial by Fury

Taking the Fifth

Improbable Cause

A More Perfect Union

Dismissed with Prejudice

Minor in Possession

Payment in Kind

Without Due Process

Failure to Appear

Lying in Wait

Name Withheld

Breach of Duty

 

 

JOANNA BRADY MYSTERIES

Desert Heat

Tombstone Courage

Shoot/Don't Shoot

Dead to Rights

Skeleton Canyon

Rattlesnake Crossing

Outlaw Mountain

Devil's Claw

 

 

AND

Hour of the Hunter

Kiss of the Bees

A Novel of Suspense
BIRDS
OF PREY

J. A. Jance

For Pat Hall and Mary Daise

Contents

Prologue:
    “Hit me again,” Dr. Kenneth Glass said as the bartender walked past.

Chapter 1.
    The blonde fixed me with an appraising eye...

Chapter 2.
    During dinner I did my best to hold up my end of the conversation.

Chapter 3.
    At six the next morning I was awakened by a determined knocking.

Chapter 4.
    After depositing Beverly in her cabin, I returned to mine.

Chapter 5.
    Sometime during the afternoon, the wind died down...

Chapter 6.
    Beverly and Lars Jenssen must have been up...

Chapter 7.
    On the way through the ship, I was still stunned by Naomi's admission...

Chapter 8.
    There are almost as many reasons for going to AA meetings as there are meetings...

Chapter 9.
    Eventually first officer Vincente motioned me into a darkened room...

Chapter 10.
    For the longest time after Chloe left, Leila and I sat in the gathering darkness...

Chapter 11.
    In the crystal dining room, Margaret Featherman's table was set for six...

Chapter 12.
    It wasn't that late when I got back to my room...

Chapter 13.
    When I lay down on the cot, it wasn't with much hope of sleeping.

Chapter 14.
    After something like that happens, people go into a form of shock.

Chapter 15.
    We arrived back in Skagway in brilliant late-afternoon sunlight.

Chapter 16.
    The grilled halibut steaks Naomi Pepper and I had for dinner...

Chapter 17.
    Once I fell asleep, I really slept.

Chapter 18.
    Nursing my bruised ego, I went upstairs to the Lido Deck...

Chapter 19.
    Beverly Jenssen left Lars and me plenty of room for our “man-to-man” chat...

Chapter 20.
    After downing two more Advil, I came back to bed and lay down again.

Chapter 21.
    Sitka is a port where there are no docking facilities large enough...

Chapter 22.
    Without a word, Margaret led me through the vestibule and over to a door...

Chapter 23.
    Once Dulcie Wadsworth's phone was in my hand...

Chapter 24.
    Belvaducci summoned a crewman, who came and collected Margaret Featherman.

Chapter 25.
    It's possible that by the time the second seating came around...

Appendix
    World-Famous Beaumont Bromides!

About the Author

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

Prologue

H
IT ME AGAIN
,” Dr. Kenneth Glass said as the bartender walked past. The man gave Ken a questioning look, and not without reason. There had been cocktails before dinner and wine with. And now he had just finished downing his third after-dinner Glenmorangie. “It's all right,” Ken reassured the barkeep. “I'm not driving anywhere.”

While the bartender went to pour the next drink, Ken fumbled his cell phone out of his pocket and tried calling home. Again. And still, even though it was well past 2
A.M.
back home in Atlanta, Georgia, his wife was not yet home.

“Shit!” Ken muttered as he flipped the phone shut and stuck it back in his pocket.

“Pardon me?” the bartender asked.

“Nothing,” Ken said, taking his drink. “I've been calling and calling, but my wife's still out,” he added in explanation. There was no reason to make the bartender think Ken was mad at him. “You work your butt off, and what does it get you? A wife who likes the money you make just fine, but doesn't really give a crap about you.”

The bartender nodded sympathetically. “Ain't that the truth,” he said, turning to answer a summons from another customer.

Ken pulled the drink toward him and then stared down into the glass as if hoping the liquid gold contents might hold the answer to some of his burning questions. He tried to remember the reasons Faye had given him for not wanting to come along on this trip. Let's see, there was the Buckhead Garden Club meeting, and since Faye Glass was the newly installed vice president, she certainly couldn't be expected to miss their first spring meeting just because her husband was being honored with a dinner at a national convocation of his fellow neurosurgeons. No, Faye's garden club meeting was far more important than that! But it was almost 3
A.M.
back home in Atlanta, and the garden club meeting sure as hell wasn't running that late.

Ken took a sip of the single-malt Scotch. Despite the booze he had consumed, he felt he was thinking clearly—maybe for the first time in months. The signs had been there for a long time—all the classic signs of marital discord: disinterest in sex and in almost everything else as well; everything that had to do with Ken, that is. The two exceptions had been the Buckhead Garden Club and Faye's new laptop computer, which had become her constant companion. She took it with her everywhere, stowed in the trunk of her shiny white Lexus. He had finally smelled a rat, or rather, Ken had allowed himself to smell a rat when Faye had refused to come along on this trip with him, even though she knew how important it was to him to be honored by his peers. Ken had done his best to convince her to change her mind. Baboquivari Mountain Resort was one of Scottsdale's newest and finest. Always before Faye would have jumped at the chance to accompany him. This time she had simply refused, and no amount of coaxing had persuaded her otherwise.

What if she's having one of those cyber-affairs?
Ken asked himself for the first time.
What if she's picked up some loser on the Internet, and she's going to leave me for him?
The whole idea was almost unthinkable, but Ken forced himself to think about what would be, for him, the worst-case scenario. At three o'clock in the morning, kidding himself about the Buckhead Garden Club just didn't cut it anymore.

“Is this seat taken?” someone asked over his shoulder.

Ken turned to find himself faced with a handsome young man in his mid-to-late thirties. “Help yourself,” Ken said.

The young man settled onto the barstool while Ken made one more futile attempt to call home. Still no answer. In returning the phone to his pocket, he swung around slightly on the barstool.

“I'll be damned,” the newcomer exclaimed. “Dr. Kenneth Glass from Emory University Hospital? The people at Disneyland are right. It is a small world.”

Ken gave the man a bleary, puzzled look. “Do I know you?” he asked.

“Your name tag,” the newcomer replied with a grin. “Name tags are always a dead giveaway.” He held out his hand. “My name's Pete James. Mindy Hudson is my sister. I know Mindy and Rick have thanked you. But let me do the same. Our whole family is eternally grateful for what you did for Kelsey. Can I buy you a drink?”

Ken Glass didn't need another drink, but he was glad to have the company—someone to talk with who might help take his mind off his troubles. “Don't mind if I do.”

Mindy Hudson was one of Ken's patients. She and her husband, Rick, had come to Ken's office pregnant and heartbroken, having just learned that their unborn fetus had been found to have spina bifida. Ken was one of a handful of Vanderbilt-trained neurosurgeons who had taken the school's pioneering in utero surgical techniques back home to Georgia. The Hudsons had come to Crawford Long Hospital at Emory University hoping to find a way to spare their child from the most crippling effects of that disease. And it had worked. Months after undergoing a delicate surgical procedure while still in her mother's womb, Kelsey Hudson had been born. At eighteen months she was now a healthy, normal, and mischievous toddler.

“What brings you here?” Ken asked Pete James. “To Scottsdale, I mean.”

“I'm a computer consultant,” he said. “My company specializes in Internet security systems. I'm in and out of Phoenix a couple times a year.”

“Have you stayed here before?” Ken asked.

“At the Baboquivari?” Pete returned. “No, first time. I told my travel agent that I wanted to try someplace different, and she booked me in here. It's pretty nice, don't you think? For a hotel, that is. When you stay in hotels all the time, they can get pretty old. What are you doing here?”

“Convention,” Ken replied. His tongue was feeling a little thick against the roof of his mouth, and he did his best to enunciate clearly. There was nothing worse than a yammering drunk. He'd been around enough of those in his time that he sure as hell didn't want to
be
one.

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