The corpse in her path was Bayley Foster's first warning. The second? A break-in at Bayley's own home! She's certain that the stalker who once tormented her has returned to toy with her again. But has her stalker truly escalated tomurder?Her fiercely protective neighbor, police detective Cruse Conyers, is determined to get answers. Even if it takes him into the murky depths of the criminal underworld. What he uncovers adds a terrifying twist to the case that could land both Cruse and Bayley in the cross fire....
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March 09, 2009
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Excerpt from Perfect Target by Stephanie Newton
Bayley Foster held a dead man in her arms.And tried as hard as she couldnotto think about it. Mostly it took all her concentration to keep swimming for shore. Hoping with all her heart that her neighbor heard her screams as she'd launched herself off the deck of her beach house. Late afternoon, he should be home.Bayley'd thought the floating man might still be alive when she'd seen the dark head bobbing in the water in the late afternoon sun. Seeing him up close, she knew he was dead. He looked dead. More than that, his soul was gone.Still, he was a person, someone's dad or brother or friend. He deserved better than drifting to some unknown watery grave in the Gulf of Mexico. His family deserved to know what happened to him.She could easily imagine her family in that situation, never knowing what happened to her if her stalker hadn't been stopped.She didn't want to touch the body, stifled a gag even now just gripping the collar of his suit coat to drag him behind her toward shore. But she was making itone awkward, frog-legged stroke at a time.Just her and the dead guy.Maybe she should call him Bob. Or not. He kind of looked like Great-uncle Harold. Since Harold was dead, too, surely he wouldn't mind sharing his name for a while.The riptide caught her by surprise, grabbed her in its iron grip, drawing her away from where she wanted to go. Shore. Safety.The current sucked at her legs, every stroke like pulling through mud, the body dragging behind her. For the first time, she realized how stupid it had been for her to go in after him. She'd heard the stories of well-meaning tourists who didn't know better facing the vicious undertow, trying to save someone else when they couldn't even save themselves. She was a locala Florida nativeshe should know better.Where was her neighbor?What she wouldn't give to see him come swishing by on his surfboard about now. A retired cop two doors downover the past few months, she'd come to trust his dear face, horn-rimmed glasses and all. She knew he wouldn't let her down.She was so tired already. Giving her head a shake, Bayley cleared the clammy, salt-soaked hair from her eyes. She commanded herself to pay attention to her surroundings and forced her muscles to continue the strokes parallel to the beach that would deliver her from the riptide.She wanted to rest, but that was dangerousshe'd only get sucked out farther.Keep swimming.Her leg muscles burned, each halfhearted kick shooting shards of pain up to her hips. But she couldn't stop. Wouldn't stop."Just a little rest. That wouldn't hurt, would it, Harold?" Yeah, it would hurt. If she gave in, she might end up taking her eternal rest, just like Harold. Fighting against that siren's voice in her head, she kept kicking, slowing against her will.Focus on the task, Bayley.She was taking him home, this man whom somebody loved. Wouldn't she have wanted someone to do the same for her? The nearly healed muscle in her right shoulder where she'd been stabbed screamed at her, reminding her of how close she'd come to being dead. Like this guy.But God had been faithful, even then, when He'd felt so far away. He'd brought her through circumstances that made her shudder to think about. He had plans for her. She knew He did, and He would bring her through this, too.She struggled to keep her head above the water. Salty waves poured into her mouth with every gasp. At least it would be fast.How could she even think that? She'd spent the past four years of her life fighting for survival. With God's help, she'd won against a determined stalker. Sherefusedto die here when she had the strength to fight."Come on, Harold." Kicking harder, she inched forward.The riptide spit her out as suddenly and effortlessly as it had gripped her. Bayley drifted for a few seconds in the normal ebb and flow of the surf, ablefinally&a