He'd been following her for three days, watching. Waiting.
By now, he knew her habits and her schedule. He knew what time she got up in the
morning, whom she saw during the day, and what time she went to sleep. He knew she read in
bed at night, propped up on pillows. He knew the title of the book she was reading, and
that she laid it facedown on the nightstand to keep her place before she finally turned
off the lamp.
He knew her thick blond hair was natural and that the startling blue-violet color of
her eyes was not the result of the contact lenses she wore. He knew she bought her makeup
at the drugstore and that she spent exactly twenty-five minutes getting ready to go to
work in the morning. Obviously, she was more interested in being clean and neat than in
enhancing her physical assets. He, however, was very interested in her considerable
physical assets. But not urgently and not for the "usual" reasons.
At first, he'd taken great care to keep her in sight while ensuring that
she didn't notice him, but his precautions were more from habit than necessity. With a
population of 150,000 people, 15,000 of them college students, the little city of Bell
Harbor on Florida's eastern seaboard was large enough that a stranger could move unnoticed
among the population, but not so large that he would lose sight of his prey in a jumble of
metropolitan expressways and interchanges.
Today he'd tracked her to the city park,
where he'd spent a balmy but irksome February afternoon surrounded by cheerful,
beer-drinking adults and shrieking children who'd come there to enjoy the Presidents' Day
picnic and festivities. He didn't like children around him, particularly children with
sticky hands and smudged faces who tripped over his feet while they chased each other.
They called him, "Hey, mister!" and asked him to throw their errant baseballs
back to them. Their antics called attention to him so often that he'd abandoned several
comfortable park benches and was now forced to seek shelter and anonymity beneath a tree
with a rough trunk that was uncomfortable to lean against and thick knarled roots that
made sitting on the ground beneath it impossible. Everything was beginning to annoy him,
and he realized his patience was coming to an end. So was the watching and waiting.
To curb his temper, he went over his plans for her while he turned his full attention
on his prey. At the moment, Sloan was descending from the branches of a big tree from
which she was attempting to retrieve a kite that looked like a black falcon with
outstretched wings tipped in bright yellow. At the base of the tree, a group of five- and
six-year-olds cheered her on. Behind them stood a group of older adolescents, all of them
boys. The young children were interested in getting their kite back; the adolescent boys
were interested in Sloan Reynolds's shapely suntanned legs as they slowly emerged from the
thick upper branches of the tree. The boys elbowed each other and ogled her, and he
understood the cause of the minor male commotion: if she were a twenty-year-old coed,
those legs of hers would have been remarkable, but on a thirty-year-old cop, they were a
Normally, he was attracted to tall, voluptuous women, but this one was only five feet
four with compact breasts and a slender body that was appealingly graceful and trim
although far from voluptuous. She was no centerfold candidate, but in her crisp khaki
shorts and pristine white knit shirt, with her blond hair pulled up in a ponytail, she had
a fresh wholesomeness and prim neatness that appealed to him -- for the time being.
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...