A con artist and seductress, Meredith Spooner lived fast-and died young. But her final scam-embezzling more than a million dollars from a college endowment fund-is coming back to haunt Leonora Hutton. The tainted money is stashed away in an offshore account for Leonora. And while she wants nothing to do with the cash, she discovers two other items in the safe-deposit box: a book about Mirror House-the place where Meredith engineered her final deception and a set of newspaper stories about an unsolved murder that occurred there thirty years ago.
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July 20, 2003
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Excerpt from Smoke in Mirrors by Jayne Ann Krentz
THE PRESENT . . .
A shifting of the light reflected in the mirror above the dresser was the only warning she had that she was not alone in the dead woman's apartment. Her hands went cold. The fine hair on the nape of her neck stirred as if she had been zapped with an electrical charge.
Leonora straightened swiftly from the drawer she had been searching and spun around, a soft, pale pink cashmere sweater in her hands.
Two junkyard dogs stood in the doorway of the bedroom.
One of them was human.
His broad shoulders filled a lot of the available space and cut off the view of the hall behind him. There was about him the deceptively relaxed, totally centered grace of the natural-born predator. Not an impulsive young hunter overeager to take down the first of the prey that bolts from cover, rather a jaded pro who prefers to pick and choose his targets. He had the face of a man who had done a lot of things in life the hard way and he also had the cold gray eyes to match.
The ghost-gray beast at his heels had a lot in common with his companion. Not real big, but very solid. One of his ears was permanently bent, the result of a fight, no doubt. It was difficult to imagine this creature springing playfully in pursuit of a Frisbee. Probably tear the thing to shreds and eat the plastic raw.
Both of the intruders looked dangerous but her intuition told her to keep her eyes on the man. She could not see his hands. They were thrust casually into the deep pockets of a charcoal-colored windbreaker. He wore the lightweight jacket open over a button-down denim shirt and a pair of khaki trousers. His feet were shod in leather work boots. The boots looked large.
Both man and beast were damp from the rain that misted this stretch of the southern California coast today. Each gave the impression that going for her throat would be no big deal. All in a morning's work.
"Were you a friend of hers or did you just happen to hear that she was dead and decide to drop in to see if there was anything worth stealing?" the human junkyard dog asked.
His voice suited him. A low, dark, very soft growl.
She got a grip on her hyperactive imagination. "Who are you?"
"I asked you first. Which is it, friend or casual opportunist? Either way, I figure you're a thief so maybe the answer is moot."
"How dare you?" Outrage incinerated some of the alarm that had quickened her pulse. "I am not a thief. I'm a librarian." Damn, that sounded dumb. Well, no one could say that she couldn't hold her own when it came to snappy repartee, she thought.
"No kidding." His mouth curved into a mockery of a smile. "Looking for overdue books? You should have known better than to give Meredith Spooner a library card. Doubt if she ever returned anything she stole in her entire life."
"Your sense of humor leaves a lot to be desired."
"I'm not auditioning for a late-night comedy show."