Table of Contents
PRAISE FOR CATHERINE COULTER'S FBI THRILLER SERIES
“A good storyteller . . . Coulter always keeps the pace brisk.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“With possible blackmail, ntra-judiciary rivalries, and personal peccadilloes, there's more than enough intrigueâand suspectsâfor full-court standing in this snappy page-turner ... A zesty read.”â
“Twisted villains . . . intriguing escapism . . . The latest in the series featuring likable . . . FBI agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich.”
Lansing (MI) State Journal
“Coulter takes readers on a chilling and suspenseful ride . . . taut, fast-paced, hard to put down.”â
Cedar Rapids Gazette
“The perfect suspense thriller, loaded with plenty of action.”
The Best Reviews
“The newest installment in Coulter's FBI series delivers . . . a fast-moving investigation, a mind-bending mystery . . . The mystery at the heart . . . is intriguing and the pacing is brisk.”â
“Fast-paced . . . Coulter gets better and more cinematic with each of her suspenseful FBI adventures.”â
Don't Miss Catherine Coulter's FBI Thriller Series
THE COVE (1996)
THE MAZE (1997)
THE TARGET (1998)
THE EDGE (1999)
HEMLOCK BAY (2001)
ELEVENTH HOUR (2002)
POINT BLANK (2005)
DOUBLE TAKE (2007)
THE BEGINNING (2005)
DOUBLE JEOPARDY (2008)
TWICE DEAD (2011)
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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. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Collection copyright Â© 2011 by Catherine Coulter.
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Berkley trade paperback edition / February 2011
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Twice dead / Catherine Coulter.âBerkley trade pbk. ed.
eISBN : 978-1-101-47866-0
1. United States. Federal Bureau of InvestigationâFiction. 2. Suspense fiction, American.
I. Coulter, Catherine. Hemlock Bay. II. Title.
My ongoing love and thanks to Iris Johansen and Kay Hooper, and a big special hug to Linda Howard for a terrific twist.
New York City
Becca was watching an afternoon soap opera she'd seen off and on since she was a kid. She found herself wondering if she would ever have a child who needed a heart transplant one month and a new kidney the next, or a husband who wouldn't be faithful to her for longer than it took a new woman to look in his direction.
Then the phone rang.
She jumped to her feet, then stopped dead still and stared over at the phone. She heard a guy on TV whining about how life wasn't fair.
He didn't know what fair was.
She made no move to answer the phone. She stood there and listened, watching it as it rang three more times. Then, finally, because her mother was lying in a coma in Lenox Hill Hospital, because she plain couldn't stand the ringing ringing ringing, she watched her hand reach out and pick up the receiver.
She forced her mouth to form the single word. “Hello?”
“Hi, Rebecca. It's your boyfriend. I've got you so scared you have to force yourself to pick up the phone. Isn't that right?”
She closed her eyes as that hated voice, low and deep, swept over her, into her, making her so afraid she was shaking. No hint of an Atlanta drawl, no sharp New York vowels, no dropped R's from Boston. A voice that was well educated, with smooth, clear diction, perhaps even a touch of the Brit in it. Old? Young? She didn't know, couldn't tell. She had to keep it together. She had to listen carefully, to remember how he spoke, what he said.
You can do it. Keep it together. Make him talk, make him say something, you never know what will pop out.
That was what the police psychologist in Albany had told her to do when the man had first started calling her. Listen carefully. Don't let him scare you. Take control. You guide him, not the other way around. Becca licked her lips, chapped from the hot, dry air in Manhattan that week, an anomaly, the weather forecaster had said. And so Becca repeated her litany of questions, trying to keep her voice calm, cool, in charge, yes, that was her. “Won't you tell me who you are? I really want to know. Maybe we can talk about why you keep calling me. Can we do that?”
“Can't you come up with some new questions, Rebecca? After all, I've called you a good dozen times now. And you always say the same things. Ah, they're from a shrink, aren't they? They told you to ask those questions, to try to distract me, to get me to spill my guts to you. Sorry, it won't work.”
She'd never really thought it would work, that stratagem. No, this guy knew what he was doing, and he knew how to do it. She wanted to plead with him to leave her alone, but she didn't. Instead, she snapped. She simply lost it, the long-buried anger cutting through her bone-grinding fear. She gripped the phone, knuckles white, and yelled, “Listen to me, you little prick. Stop saying you're my boyfriend. You're nothing but a sick jerk. Now, how about this for a question? Why don't you go to hell where you belong? Why don't you go kill yourself, you're sure not worth anything to the human race. Don't call me anymore, you pathetic jerk. The cops are on to you. The phone is tapped, do you hear me? They're going to get you and fry you.”
She'd caught him off guard, she knew it, and an adrenaline rush sent her sky-high, but only for a moment. After a slight pause, he recovered. In a calm, reasonable voice, he said, “Now, Rebecca, sweetheart, you know as well as I do that the cops now don't believe you're being stalked, that some weird guy is calling you at all hours, trying to scare you. You had the phone tap put in yourself because you couldn't get them to do it. And I'll never talk long enough for that old, low-tech equipment of yours to get a trace. Oh yes, Rebecca, because you insulted me, you'll have to pay for it, big-time.”
She slammed down the receiver. She held it there, hard, as if trying to stanch the bleeding of a wound, as if holding it down would keep him from dialing her again, keep him away from her. Slowly, finally, she backed away from the phone. She heard a wife on the TV soap plead with her husband not to leave her for her younger sister. She walked out onto her small balcony and looked over Central Park, then turned a bit to the right to look at the Metropolitan Museum. Hordes of people, most in shorts, most of them tourists, sat on the steps, reading, laughing, talking, eating hot dogs from the vendor Teodolpho, some of them probably smoking dope, picking pockets. There were two cops on horseback nearby, their horses' heads pumping up and down, nervous for some reason. The sun blazed down. It was only mid-June, yet the unseasonable heat wave continued unabated. Inside the apartment it was twenty-five degrees cooler. Too cold, at least for her, but she couldn't get the thermostat to move either up or down.
The phone rang again. She heard it clearly through the half-closed glass door.
She jerked around and nearly fell over the railing. Not that it was unexpected. No, never that, it was just so incongruous set against the normalcy of the scene outside.