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Dying to Pleaseby Linda Howard
Synopses & Reviews
THE CEILING FAN STOPPED.
Sarah Stevens was so accustomed to the slight whirring noise of the fan that the lack of it immediately awakened her. She cracked open one eye and peered at her digital clock, but there weren't any bright red numerals shining back at her. She blinked in sleepy confusion, then realized what was wrong.
The electricity had gone off. Oh, great.
She rolled over onto her back, listening. The night was quiet; there was no rumble of thunder to signal a violent spring storm in the vicinity, which would have explained the loss of power. She didn't close the curtains at night, since her rooms faced the back where the grounds had privacy fencing, and through her bedroom windows she could see the faint gleam of starlight. Not only was it not raining, the sky wasn't even cloudy.
Maybe a transformer had blown. Or an auto accident might have taken down a utility pole. Any number of things could have caused the power outage.
Sighing, she sat up and reached for the flashlight she kept on the bedside table. Regardless of why the electricity was off, her job was to minimize the effect it would have on Judge Roberts, make certain he wouldn't be inconvenienced more than necessary. He didn't have any appointments in the morning, but the old dear was fussy about what time he had breakfast. Not that he'd be cranky about it, but any change in his routine upset him more now than it had even a year before. He was eighty-five; he deserved to have breakfast when he wanted it.
She picked up the receiver of the telephone; it was a land line, so the loss of power wouldn't affect it. Cordless phones were great, until the electricity went off. In addition to this one, Sarah had made certain a few strategically placed phones in the main house were land lines.
No dial tone buzzed in her ear.
Puzzled, and growing slightly worried, she got out of bed. Her two rooms were over the garage, with her combined living room and kitchen area facing the front, while her bedroom and bath faced the back. She didn't switch on the flashlight; this was her home, and she didn't need guidance to make her way to the other room. She parted the curtains covering the front windows and looked out.
None of the strategically placed lights on the Judge's manicured lawn were lit, but to the right, the soft glow of the neighbor's security lights threw long, dense shadows across the lawn.
The electricity wasn't off, then. A breaker could have kicked, but that would have affected only part of the house, or the grounds, but not both. She stood very still, logic and intuition combining: (A) The electricity was off. (B) The phone lines were out. (e The next-door neighbor had electricity. The conclusion she reached didn't require much of a leap: someone had cut the lines, and the only reason for doing so would be to break into the house.
Cat-silent in her bare feet, she ran back to the bedroom and got her nine-millimeter automatic from the bedside table. Her cell phone, damn it, was in her SUV, which was parked under the portico in back. She raced for the door, only briefly considering detouring to get the phone from her vehicle; her first priority was to protect the Judge. She had to get to him, make certain he was safe. He'd had a couple of credible death threats made against him during his last year on the bench, and though he had always passed them off as nothing, Sarah couldn
"Linda Howard meshes hot sex, emotional impact, and gripping tension." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Skilled at running large households efficiently, butler Sarah Stevens also serves as a trained bodyguard for her elderly employer, but when she thwarts a burglary in progress, getting her name in the local press, she suddenly finds herself the target of a deranged and obsessed stalker, who will do anything to get her for himself.
Loyal. Beautiful. Professional. Impeccably organized. Potentially lethal. Sarah Stevens is a woman with many distinct qualities. First and foremost a butler par excellence, skilled at running large households smoothly and efficiently, she is also a trained bodyguard and expert marksman–indispensable to her elderly employer, a courtly gentleman whom Sarah has come to respect and love as a father.
Then one night she thwarts a burglary in progress, a courageous act that rewards Sarah her requisite “fifteen minutes of fame” with the local press. But the exposure is enough to catch the attention of a tortured soul who, unbeknownst to Sarah, will stop at nothing to have her for himself.
Sarah’s perfectly ordered life is shattered when tragedy strikes: her beloved employer is brutally murdered. The detective investigating the case, assures Sarah that she is not a suspect. Until lightning strikes twice. There’s a second killing–and this time, despite a lack of evidence connecting her to the crime, Sarah cannot escape the shadow of guilt.
The only option left for Sarah is to carry on with her life. But she doesn’t realize that a deranged stalker is luring her into an elaborate trap . . . one in which she, once ensnared, might never escape. For Sarah soon finds herself at the mercy of a man who will tend to her every whim, smother her with affection, and crush her in his all-consuming embrace.
In a nonstop roller-coaster ride of unrelenting suspense, Linda Howard has written her most chilling novel yet. Dying to Please is a breathless thriller of desire and obsession.
About the Author
Linda Howard is the award-winning author of nine New York Times bestsellers, including Open Season, Mr. Perfect, All the Queen’s Men, Now You See Her, Kill and Tell, and Son of the Morning. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.
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