Excerpt: Peak Season for Murder

Prologue:

Twenty-Four Years Earlier

The woman stood over her sleeping lover, watching the gentle rise and fall of his naked chest, listening to his breathing. In her right hand, she held the pistol, the one he’d given her for protection.

“Mostly from me,” he’d joked.

Small, compact with an ivory handle, she could cradle it in the palm of her hand, carry it in her jacket pocket, hide it in her purse, and no one would see it.

She raised her right hand and aimed the gun at his temple.

How easy it would be to kill him, she thought. And no one could blame me.

As if he sensed her, he took a deep breath and let out a soft snore, then settled back to sleep.

On his left hand she could see the glint of his gold wedding band.

“You knew what we were about. I never lied to you,” had been his explanation.

Was I that weak, she wondered? No, he was that strong.

Suddenly, lightning flashed against the window, lighting up the room for a second as if illuminating her weakness—his perfect face.

She pulled back on the trigger thinking how easily she could destroy it.

A clap of thunder crashed overhead.

Had his eyes flickered open for a brief second? she thought, holding her breath. But it was just an illusion; he went on softly snoring, oblivious as always, wrapped up in his own dreams.

No, she told herself as she eased up on the trigger.

She took one more look at him before she crept out of the bedroom.

As she stood in the living room, she was tempted to take something, some reminder of this time. But she knew she had to make it look right.

She put the pistol back in the desk drawer.

Quietly, she opened the front door, locking it behind her, as if she had never been there, as if she had never let him into her life.

Her car was parked in front of the apartment building. But she walked past it into the dark, wet night, the rain soaking through her t-shirt and jeans. She congratulated herself on two things: her cleverness in staging her own disappearance and her restraint in not killing him—the man who had ruined her.

After all, she thought to herself, as she headed toward the highway, murder was never part of the plan. I simply want to disappear forever.