First, she imagined it. Then a killer made it real.
Rowan Smith is living in a borrowed Malibu beach house while her bestselling novel is made into a Hollywood movie. A former FBI agent with a haunted past, Rowan thinks she has outrun her demons. But fiction and reality collide when a dismembered body is found in Colorado: the real-life victim had the same name, occupation, and looks as a character in Rowan ' s novel. By the time the FBI, the LAPD, and her own private bodyguard gather around her, another person is killed ' again, the murder ripped from the pages of Rowan ' s book.
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December 27, 2005
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Excerpt from The Prey by Allison Brennan
Rowan Smith learned about Doreen Rodriguez's murder from the reporters camped out in her front yard Monday morning.
A car door slammed and she awoke with a start. Instinctively, she reached for the gun that was no longer under her pillow, searching the cool cotton sheet before remembering it was in her nightstand. Hesitating briefly, she retrieved the cold Glock. She couldn t think of a good reason for needing her gun, but it felt right in her hand.
She'd slept in sweatpants and a T-shirt, an old habit of being ready for anything, and padded down the stairs in bare feet to look out her den window and see who was visiting so early in the morning. The grating sound of a sliding van door shutting told her she had more than one visitor. She used her index finger to bend down the blinds a mere inch to peer out.
She could tell from their rumpled attire and notepads they were print reporters. Television hounds were far more concerned with appearance. Three vans and two cars crammed the driveway of her leased beachfront home. She despised reporters. She d had more than enough of them while working for the Bureau.
The doorbell echoed, startling her. Though she could see the driveway from her den, she couldn't see the door. Presumably one of the bolder reporters had summoned the courage to ring her doorbell.
What did they want' She'd just given an interview about the premiere of Crime of Passion two days ago; surely they didn t need a group session.
She started for the door, then remembered she was carrying her gun. She imagined the headline: Paranoid Former Agent Armed for Interview. She slid the gun into the top drawer of her desk and briskly walked to the front door, barely registering the coolness of the tile under her bare feet.
Her phone rang at the same time the doorbell repeated its obnoxious ding-dong. Great. Reporters coming at her from every direction. She d dealt with them before; she d have to again. It was only as she opened the door that she feared something bad had happened and that maybe she shouldn t talk to them.
"Do you have a comment on the murder of Doreen Rodriguez "
"I don t know Doreen Rodriguez," she said automatically, even as alarm bells went off in the back of her head. The name was familiar, but she couldn t place it. A sick feeling ate at her gut as she tried to connect the dots. As she was shutting the door, another question rang clear:
"You don't know that a twenty-year-old woman named Doreen Rodriguez was killed in Denver Saturday night in the same manner as the character Doreen Rodriguez was murdered in your book Crime of Opportunity "