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Authors: Debra Webb

Tags: #Murder, #sex video, #allison brennan, #Lisa Renee Jones, #Linda Howard, #Serial Killer, #fbi, #trust

SEE HER DIE

BOOK: SEE HER DIE
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SEE HER DIE

Debra Webb

“Debra Webb is a master storyteller.” ~Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestseller

“Debra Webb’s name says it all.” ~ Karen Rose, New York Times Bestseller

This book is dedicated to my husband, Nonie Webb, who has trusted me from day one and has allowed me to follow my dream. Forever would never be long enough to spend with you.

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright 2003, “Protective Instincts,” Harlequin

Copyright 2013, Pink House Press

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

Prologue

“Now who’s in control, Ned?”

The razor sharp edge of the dagger she held glistened in the light. Ned tried to speak... to beg, to tell her he would do anything she asked, but he couldn’t. He could only mumble through the scrunched-up panties she’d forced into his mouth.

Why had he allowed her into his apartment? He should have realized something was wrong but she’d distracted him.

He’d made a terrible, terrible mistake.

“Oh, that’s right,” she said, her voice condescending, as she trailed the metallic tip down the center of his chest. A creeping, crawling shiver followed its path. “You can’t talk right now, can you?”

She smiled a sick, sinister smile—one he wouldn’t have associated with her. He tried to swallow, gagging on the silk choking him. His eyes burned. He was a grown, man and he was going to cry.

Why the hell was she doing this?

Sweat coated his skin. His heart pounded harder, making his chest ache, as she walked all the way around him. Please, please, he prayed, let this be just another of her games. He didn’t want to die like this, naked and tied to a chair.

He didn’t want to die at all.

“If they found you like this,” she continued, her tone casual, as if tying up a man at gunpoint and then waving a dagger in his face was an everyday affair, “maybe they’d recognize you for the pervert you are.” She checked the rope binding his wrists behind his back. He tried to pull away.

Ned closed his eyes and fought another sting of tears. Surely she couldn’t mean to—

“Look at me,
Dr.
Harrison.”

He opened his eyes. She stood in front of him now, the tip of the blade pressed against the flesh directly over his heart. It thundered savagely. So hard he could scarcely draw a breath.

What had he done to her that was so bad? She’d enjoyed the sex just as much as he had. He’d ended the brief affair, as he always did, on an upbeat note and she hadn’t complained. Why now?

“All those women, Ned.” She shook her head in disapproval. “You’re a user,” she snarled. “You strike when your prey is the most vulnerable. You’re nothing but scum.”

He whimpered, the sound small and desperate. No! He refused to play the victim for her. He wanted to scream. To remind her that she had come to him! They’d all been willing. He hadn’t forced any of them. They’d liked it... wanted it!

The tip of the blade pierced his flesh. He felt the warm blood bloom, then ooze down his chest. Felt the tears spill from his eyes. Something like a sob escaped his aching throat. This couldn’t be happening to him. Not now.

She laughed, the sound brittle and harsh. “You bastard. You’re not a man, you’re a coward. A real man wouldn’t have to prey on vulnerable women. A
real man
wouldn’t cry when faced with the truth.” She poked him a little harder, drawing blood again.

A muffled cry emerged before he could stop it.

“You’re sick. That’s what you are. What’s next for the great doctor? Little girls waiting at the bus stop?”

He stilled. The realization hit him like a bus barreling down Sixth Avenue. So that was what this was all about. She was pissed off because—dear God, could it be that simple? He snorted, then laughed as best he could with those frigging panties shoved halfway down his throat. What a stupid bitch. What the hell had she expected?

Fury darkened her face. “Are you laughing at me?”

He tried to control himself, but he just couldn’t stop. If he hadn’t been tied to the chair, he would have doubled over with the laughter bubbling up inside him.

“You son of a bitch.”

He laughed, then coughed, almost choking. All
this
was about one stupid little slut.

“Go to hell!” She lunged, jamming the dagger into his chest.

His body jerked as his startled gaze collided with hers.

She looked as surprised as he was.

Shaking her head, she backed away from him.

He blinked, then stared down at his chest. The jewel-handled weapon was buried to the hilt.

Damn
.

He looked up at her one last time as the narrow focus of death closed in around him.

She’d killed him.

Chapter One

Elizabeth Young imagined that Dr. Ned Harrison was every bit as good-looking in death as he’d been in life. The white linen that draped his coffin, along with the six tall candles surrounding it, made an impressive display. But the most effective ploy was the huge choir assembled behind the distinguished looking priest. The choir’s grand entrance, as well as the blessing, had been nothing short of awe-inspiring. And Elizabeth wasn’t even Catholic.

The brooding medieval architecture of the Holy Trinity Church lent a dramatic atmosphere for his final public appearance. It was the perfect sendoff for such a highly regarded, nationally renowned psychiatrist.

No one who knew him, least of all Elizabeth, would be at all surprised to find Ned’s picture on the social page of tomorrow’s issue of the
New York Times.
The city would mourn the loss of a brilliant doctor, and a great number of its female inhabitants would mourn him for completely different reasons.

Elizabeth surveyed the crowd around her as the priest continued to celebrate Mass in solemn, hushed tones. More than half of those present were women under forty, fashionably dressed, all beautiful and probably all wealthy.

Though she was neither rich nor glamorous, she would bet her next month’s earnings the one thing all the females gathered had in common was that they had slept with the deceased.

Including Elizabeth
.

Knowing full well there was no getting comfortable physically or mentally, she shifted on the hard wooden pew. What on earth had possessed her to come to Ned’s funeral Mass? She glanced around at the other women, all facing forward in somber attention, and wondered what
their
reasons for making an appearance might be. Maybe, rather than mourning or showing their respect, they’d all come for the same very personal reason—to make absolutely certain the bastard was really dead.

Of course the visit the homicide detectives had paid her had pretty much driven the point home. The two men had been fairly cordial at first, but the questions had soon turned openly accusing, as had their attitudes. She hoped she wouldn’t have to go through that again. She had a new life here, a clean, fresh start.

She’d almost allowed Ned Harrison to ruin everything. Her heart squeezed painfully.

How could she have been so foolish?

“Can you believe she wore that dress to a funeral?”

Elizabeth snapped from her pity party and turned to the woman sitting next to her, her one trusted friend. “What?” she whispered.

Gloria Weston angled her head to the right in a gesture that made Elizabeth want to hunker down out of sight. “Over there. The blond in the fiery red dress,” Gloria muttered under her breath.

Elizabeth strained to look without actually moving her head. She frowned. “Do you know her?” The woman looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t quite place her.

Gloria shook her head. “She looks like that model who got into trouble last year. I don’t know. She’s probably just another one of Ned’s hussies.”

Elizabeth cocked an eyebrow. “What does that make us?”

Gloria snorted softly. Fortunately no one seemed to notice the rude sound. “Fools,” she retorted. “Just like the rest of them.”

Elizabeth didn’t want to think about that—or the phone call she’d gotten from Ned late Friday afternoon. The slime ball. He’d called two or three times last week, begging her to have dinner with him.
Just to talk
, he’d assured her.
I’m not ready to let you go
, he’d added in that charismatic voice of his. What a jerk. She knew what he wanted all right, and she had no intention of falling into that trap again.

No way.

But on Friday she’d gone to the restaurant, anyway. He’d made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. Her pulse quickened at the thought of the video. It was the only reason she’d gone. And then he hadn’t shown up. She’d wanted to kill him. Elizabeth felt sick to her stomach at the memory. Who’d have thought that a few days later she’d be attending his funeral? It was eerie.

What if the detectives had found...?

No. She resisted the urge to shake her head. She wouldn’t think about that.

“Look.” Gloria nodded toward another woman who sat two rows up. This one had coal black hair cut in one of those sleek, face-hugging styles. She sported a dress that defied any description Elizabeth might have attempted.

“That’s Vanessa Bumbalough,” Gloria said, one hand over her mouth.

The name didn’t ring a bell. The woman sat next to a man who resembled Johnny Depp in profile. He hadn’t bothered to remove his sunglasses. Elizabeth’s brow furrowed in question as she leaned closer to her friend. “Who’s Vanessa whatever-you-said?”

The man sitting directly behind them cleared his throat. Elizabeth cringed. Gloria ignored him. “She’s a new big deal fashion designer. She’s all over the papers lately. Don’t you ever read?” Gloria made an impatient face. “Apparently her designs stole the show at this season’s big fashion debut. The whole industry’s up in arms. She’s hot hot hot.”

Ned wouldn’t have chosen her otherwise, Elizabeth mused. The man had a reputation to maintain, after all. She winced at the idea of just how gullible she had been. How could she have thought that Ned Harrison was really interested in her? She wasn’t beautiful in the classic sense of the word, though she wasn’t exactly unattractive. Her social graces left a lot to be desired. She couldn’t tolerate contact lenses, leaving her no alternative but to wear glasses. Even worse, she’d done the unthinkable by giving up a prestigious job at a ritzy interior design firm and taken blue-collar work. Not a good thing in a city where profession was the single most qualifying factor for being a part of the
in
crowd.

Screw the in crowd. Elizabeth was happy just as she was—for the most part anyway.

She glanced at her friend. Gloria was one of the city’s beautiful people. Petite, a head of feisty red corkscrew curls, pixie features. A power job on Wall Street. People loved her. She was the first friend Elizabeth made when she arrived in the city. She’d met her at one of Brian’s, her ex-fiancé’s, infamous parties. Gloria had been there for Elizabeth ever since. Through the breakup with Brian, leaving the firm and having to find a new, low rent place to live in addition to finding work.

Ned the Casanova shrink Harrison had almost cost Elizabeth that friendship. And he definitely was not worth it.

Then again, he hadn’t deserved to be murdered either. A trickle of guilt followed on the heels of that thought. She couldn’t deny experiencing just a little glee when she’d read about his abrupt demise in Sunday’s paper, but then she was only human. That she’d spoken with him only hours before his unfortunate date with destiny was completely unnerving. What if he’d actually shown up for their dinner date and laid on the charm? What if she’d fallen under his spell one last time?

Last
being the operative word. Her mind conjured up the murder scene the newspaper had described in grim detail and her stomach roiled.

Dying in such a humiliating manner was overkill, she reasoned, no pun intended. Sure, there’d been a moment or two when she could have killed him herself, but the truth was she was an adult. It wasn’t like Dr. Harrison had taken advantage of a helpless child. She’d made a conscious decision to enter into a sexual relationship with him. As had, she presumed, most of those assembled here today. She scanned the seated crowd of women who could easily fill several issues of
Vogue
or
Cosmo.

As the priest began the eulogy, his opening remarks bemoaned the great man New York City had lost. Elizabeth wondered if the kindly Father would have waxed so eloquently if he’d had a loved one who’d been one of Ned’s conquests.

“Look.” Gloria inclined her head toward the aisle that separated the rows of pews. “Remember her from the party the other night?”

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