Trying to mix business with pleasure, KEY News correspondent Diane Mayfield has brought her children and her sister to the New Jersey Shore town of Ocean Grove to investigate a story on "girls who cry wolf" for the season premiere of "Hourglass," television's highly rated news magazine.
Diane lands an exclusive interview with a troubled young woman whose tale of being abducted and held against her will for three terrifying days had been disbelieved by the authorities. No sooner does Diane finish taping the interview, though, than a second victim disappears.
The small community, already in the grip of a record heat wave, is now wracked by fear and terror--no one knows who could be next. With only the first victim as eyewitness, Diane and the police turn to her for clues. But it may already be too late to save Diane and her loved ones from the mortal danger that lurks in Ocean Grove.
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St. Martin's Press
May 01, 2006
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Excerpt from Dancing in the Dark by Mary Jane Clark
Chapter One nbsp; Friday August 19 nbsp; Diane could feel the heat from the sidewalk seeping through the soles of her shoes as she hurried down Columbus Avenue. Beads of perspiration slipped down her sides, and she wiped the dampness accumulating at her brow line with one swoop, negating the twenty minutes she had spent in front of the bathroom mirror with her hair dryer, round brush, and styling mousse. Her freshly laundered cotton blouse stuck to her back, and the starched collar was beginning to droop. The day hadn’t even begun and already she was a wilted mess. nbsp; She was anxious, as usual, about being late, and she wished she had not promised herself to walk to work. The twenty-block trek was the only dependable exercise she got these days, and she needed it. She had let her gym membership lapse since she found she wasn’t using it on any routine basis. There just wasn’t time anymore—not if she was going to spend the time she felt she should with the kids right now. nbsp; Sniffing the sickening smell of garbage already baking in the morning sun as it waited to be picked up from the curb, Diane felt relief that her two-week vacation was about to begin. It would be great to get out of the city, away from the oppressive heat, away from the noise and the hustle and the pressure. These last months had been tough on all of them, brutal really. Sometimes, it didn’t feel like any of it could have happened. Yet the reality was all too clear when she spotted Michelle biting her nails or watched Anthony’s shoulders slump when she caught him staring at his father’s framed picture on the piano—or when she reached out in the middle of the night to the empty place in her queen-size bed. nbsp; She cut across the courtyard at Lincoln Center, stopping for just a moment at the wide fountain, hoping to catch a bit of fine spray. But there was absolutely no breeze to propel the mist her way. nbsp; Adjusting her shoulder bag, Diane continued walking. No matter. Soon she and the kids would be someplace where the air didn’t stink and the water flowed cool and clear. Maybe they weren’t going the way they had originally planned, maybe it wasn’t the way they would have wanted it, but it was the way things were. They were going on this vacation. They deserved it. They needed it after all they had been through. nbsp; Life, even without Philip, had to go on. nbsp; Pushing through the heavy revolving door into the lobby, Diane welcomed the blast of cool air. She smiled at the uniformed security guards as she fumbled in her bag for the beaded metal necklace that threaded through the opening on her identification pass. Finding it, she swept the card against the electronic device that beeped to signal she was cleared to enter the KEY News Broadcast Center. She knew many of the other correspondents found it annoying to produce their IDs. They thought their well-known faces should be enough for entry, but Diane didn’t mind. Security had an increasingly tough job, and it was easy enough for her to pull out her card. She did draw the line, however, at wearing the thing around her neck all day. That wasn’t a fashion statement she cared to make. nbsp; She purchased a cup of tea and a banana at the coffee trolley, then walked up the long, wide ramp to the elevators, passing the large, lighted pictures of the KEY News anchors and correspondents, grouped according to their broadcasts. Eliza Blake beamed from the KEY Evening Headlines poster. Constance Young and Harry Granger grinned beneath the KEY to America morning show logo. The Hourglass photo, taken over a year before, showed Cassie Sheridan surrounded by the newsmagazine’s contributing reporters. Diane didn’t stop to study her own face, with its blue-gray eyes and nose s