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A Wrongful Death [Barbara Holloway Series Book 10] [Secure eReader]
eBook by Kate Wilhelm

eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller
eBook Description: Who knew that being a Good Samaritan would lead Barbara Holloway to face her biggest challenge ever: being named prime suspect in a high-profile kidnapping? The peace and quiet of Barbara's retreat on the Oregon coast is shattered when a terrified young boy calls to her as she walks along a deserted beach. Frantically he leads her to a cabin deep in the woods where his mother lies senseless and battered--clearly left for dead. Barbara runs for help, but by the time she returns with the police and medics both mother and son are gone. The puzzle only deepens when, back in the city, Barbara learns that the boy she met is the grandson of a wealthy and prominent family--and that they have accused her of aiding and abetting his disappearance. With the help of her father, Frank, Barbara delves into the mystery of the missing child, only to realize that the kidnapping is a ruse for a more sinister plan--a plan that pits the meaning of family against cold hard cash. But the more she learns, the more questions she has, and troubling obstacles continue to thwart her every move--from the justice system that employs her, to the false identities of those around her. Yet none of these things compares to the shocking murder scene that awaits her.

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2007

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The New York branch of the Farrell Publishing Group had six offices, a small reception room and enough books and manuscripts to fill a space triple the size it occupied. Much of the overflow was in Elizabeth Kurtz's tiny office. Boxes were stacked on boxes and the filing cabinets were so packed that they were seldom opened, since it was almost impossible to remove a folder to examine its contents. On shelves and on the floor were stacks of dictionaries, science reference books and pamphlets. A bulletin board held so many overlapping notes and memos that some of them had yellowed and curled at the edges. The small sign on her door read: Elizabeth Kurtz Assistant Editor. That door had not been closed all the way in the three years that she had used the office on Mondays and Thursdays. The door would start to close, then stick, leaving a three-or four-inch gap. It had bothered her in the beginning, but she never thought of it any longer, and paid little attention to any activity in the hall beyond it.

That October day she was frowning at a sentence she was trying to unravel, something to do with paleontology, she assumed, since that was the subject of the manuscript.

The door was pushed open and Terry Kurtz entered and tried to close the door behind him. When it stuck, he gave it a vicious push, to no avail.

"What are you doing in here? Get out! Whatever you're selling, I'm not buying," Elizabeth snapped, half rising from her chair.

"I have a proposition for you," he said, and tried again to close the door. He cursed and kicked it when it stuck.

"I'm calling security," she said, reaching for the phone. He rushed around the desk and grabbed her wrist, wrenching her hand back.

"Just shut up and listen," he said in a low voice, keeping an eye on the door, holding her wrist in a numbing grip. "I just came from the hospital. They're going to operate on Dad in the morning, emergency open-heart surgery, and they don't think he'll make it. He told me something. Mom left us alone for a couple of minutes and he told me. Taunted me with it."

Elizabeth felt no more sense of loss or grief than Terry was showing. She tried to pull away from his grasp, and he tightened his hold and leaned in closer, whispering now. "When he found out you were pregnant, he assigned a share of the company to us, in both our names. He was going to hand it over when Jason was a year old and I was thirty-five, a present to celebrate my birthday, our marriage and a grandchild, but you spoiled it when you got on your high horse and kicked me out. He put the assignment away somewhere. It's still valid, except Mom will get her hands on whatever that document is and she'll shred it faster than she'll order his cremation. I've got his keys, and I intend to find it first. You have to help me."

"I don't have to do anything," she cried. "Get out of here and leave me alone!"

Voices in the hall outside her door rose as the speakers drew nearer. Terry released her wrist and straightened up, and she jumped from her chair and stepped behind it. Neither spoke until the voices faded, then were gone.

"If you touch me again, I'll have you arrested for assault!" she said.

"That assignment means a hefty income for the rest of your life and Jason's if you sell it back tomorrow. And when the company sale goes through that amount will triple, quadruple! No more dingy office where the door won't even close. You have to think what it will mean for our son."

"Our son!" she said furiously. "As if you care a damn about my son. How many times have you even seen him? Three! Goddamn you, three times in five years!"

But it still hurt, like a phantom pain from an amputated limb, she sometimes thought. A year of magic, the princess and her incredibly handsome prince, playing, making love, seeing the world like two wide-eyed children with fairy dust in their eyes. Then her pregnancy. He had walked out when she was just under five months pregnant, and he had not returned until Jason was six months old. She had met his return with divorce papers.

He was still the incredibly handsome prince, with curly dark hair, eyes so dark blue they appeared black until the light hit his face in a particular way and they gleamed with an electric blue light. Muscular and lean, athletic, with the perfect features of a male model, he had won his princess without a struggle, but while he still lived in fairyland, she had put illusions behind her and regarded him now with loathing.

"You can sell your share tomorrow, easily a million dollars. Hold it for six months, and that figure rises astronomically. Two million, three, God knows how high it'll go."

He was whispering again. "I have his keys to the office files, and to his home files. Mom will stay at the hospital for now, but if she finds out that I lifted his keys, she'll head for wherever that document is. The office, or the condo. And we have to get that paper before she gets to it. She knows where it is, and she'll get it, believe me. You can take the condo, and I'll hit the office files. We'll find it first."

She knew he was right about his mother. Sarah Kurtz felt about Elizabeth the same way Elizabeth felt about Terry. She shook her head. "I can't get inside the condo or the office, so forget it. Go search by yourself."

Copyright © 2007 by Kate Wilhelm.

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