Witness to a brutal murder, Anne Jones bravely agrees to testify. She is given a new name, a new history and is advised not to get too close to anyone. But she does--and with good reason. Somehow, her identity has been compromised. Someone knows who--and where--she is. Anne's handsome boss, Patrick McClain, is himself witness to the scare tactics being used against her and vows to keep her safe. Yet she will have to disappear all over again, lest she put both their lives in jeopardy....
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July 07, 2008
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Excerpt from Double Jeopardy by Terri Reed
"Really, Patrick, this won't be as disruptive as you imagine. The new computers and software are very easy to navigate. They will just take a little getting used to."
Patrick McClain stared at the Web site for the fancy new system as Sharon Hastings, the Economics Department staff administrator, pointed to the computer monitor sitting on her desk.
Sharon was efficient and talented at her job, but whenever Patrick entered her domain of scattered files and stacks of papers, he had to wonder how she accomplished anything. The array of clutter made him itch.
Patrick twitched his shoulders beneath his tweed sport coat. "What's wrong with the computers we have now?"
In her mid-sixties with graying hair held in a loose bun at her nape and rows of sparkly beaded necklaces hanging down her front, Sharon was a throwback to the seventies, despite her tech savvy. She sighed with a good dose of patience that always brought heat to Patrick's cheeks.
"The school received a grant to buy the new computers. We need to update and stay with the times," she stated calmly.
He understood, but that didn't mean he had to like the change. All of his work was on his computer. "This is going to be a nightmare."
Sharon's lined face spread into an understanding smile. "Don't worry. We have temps coming in to do the software integration. You won't have to do a thing until you have the new notebook computer in your hand. This will be very freeing and much more time-efficient, since you will be able to take your computer home with you and work there instead of coming on campus every weekend."
Taking a cloth from his sport coat's front pocket, he removed his glasses and cleaned the lenses. He thought about his apartment in Boston's Back Bay. His name was on the lease and he did sleep there occasionally, but he didn't consider the stark walls and stiff furniture home.
No, the house he grew up in was home.
But his mother had made it clear recently that she didn't want him coming "home" so often. She'd lamented that it was time for him to get a life. And for her to start living again.
Whatever that meant.
"Well, I just hope whomever you have working on this is competent," Patrick stated and replaced his glasses onto the bridge of his nose.
Sharon inclined her head. "I'm sure they will be." A knock sounded at the door of Sharon's office. "Come in," she called.
The door opened and a young woman, devoid of any hint of makeup, who looked to be in her early twenties, stepped inside. Her short burgundy-red hair spiked up in all directions and her big violet-colored eyes showed hesitance and wariness as she glanced at Patrick. She wore an ill-fitting dress suit and though the drab brown fabric hung off her shoulders, Patrick's gaze fell to the hem of her skirt where her shapely calves were emphasized by heeled pumps.
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to interrupt," the woman said in a soft voice.
"We were just finishing," Patrick offered, feeling the need to banish her uncertainty.
She smiled slightly, and the soft curving of her mouth unexpectedly grabbed at his chest. She turned her gaze to Sharon. "Mrs. Hastings?"
Sharon stood and came around the desk to offer her hand. "I am. And you are...?"
"Anne Johnson. The admin office sent me up."
"Ah, my temp. Did they explain the project to you?"
"Perfect. I was just telling Professor McClain about the new computer system."
A strange lump formed in Patrick's stomach. This young, fresh-faced student was not his idea of a competent person to handle such sensitive material.
He gave Sharon a sharp-eyed glance. If she noticed his disapproval she ignored it. Instead Sharon pretty much dismissed him by pulling Miss Johnson toward the computer to show off the new notebook-style system that would be arriving within the next few days.
The cell phone attached to his belt vibrated. He glanced at the caller ID. His sister. He needed to take the call, but he wanted to stay and learn more about this temp that would be working on the computer issue.
"I'll be going now," he said, unsuccessfully trying to hide his irritation at being ignored by the two ladies.
Sharon nodded distractedly. Patrick met Miss Johnson's wide-eyed stare for a moment before she hastily dropped her violet gaze. The impact of those interestingly colored eyes left him slightly off balance. He frowned some more. He didn't like being off balance.
He stepped out into the corridor and flipped open his phone. "Meggie?"
He listened to his sister's tear-filled tirade. Finally he interrupted, "Meg, have you talked to Dr. Miller about this? Hon, you know how the subway upsets you, so why do you insist on taking it?" He tried to keep the frustration from his voice, but couldn't quite manage it.
"No, I'm not upset with you. Things here are a bit...stressful."
He acknowledged her suggestion that he see a psychologist for stress management.