St. Petersburg, Florida, Friday, Feb. 19, 1 am
He stood in the darkness, waiting. Nauseous. Trembling, for God's sake.
It has been far, far worse than he'd ever imagined. But then, he never imagined he'd sit there and watch as another man gasped and clawed and begged for mercy.
But he had.
He lifted his head when he heard the crunch of gravel . . . coming closer, louder. A shadow appeared beneath the trees where he waited. Large, looming. Menacing by the light of day. But by night. He fought the shudder and squared his shoulders for what needed to be done. Andrews was coming.
"Is it done?" Andrews asked.
As if he'd dare show his face were it not. He nodded once. "It's done."
"You're sure he's dead?"
"I checked his pulse," he returned bitterly. "He's dead."
"And it looked like an accident?"
He swallowed hard, remembering how the young man had gasped and clawed, his face going a bluish-purple before the gurgling finally stopped. "Yeah, I made it look like he'd accidentally ingested one of the chemicals he'd been researching. It was the middle of the night and he was drinking coffee in the lab. They'll find the chemical in his coffee cup. They'll rule it accidental contamination. No one will suspect."
"Excellent. And the book?"
He reached in his briefcase and pulled out a hardbound notebook encased in a plastic ziplock bag. "This is what he was working on. Leave it in the bag unless you're wearing gloves."
Andrews's eyes narrowed doubtfully and a spurt of fury bubbled up to mix with his nausea. He shoved the book into Andrews's meaty hands. "Take it, dammit," he snarled. "This is what you damn well wanted." This is what I killed for. Another wave of nausea rolled and he swallowed it back.
"You replaced it with another book?"
"I did." He was still huffing, his heart still racing. "No one will suspect."
Andrews slipped the book into his own briefcase. "Until someone else gets too close."
His throat closed at the unspoken command. "No. No way in hell will I do this again. No."
Andrews just smiled, his teeth flashing white in the darkness. "Of course you will. I'd only borrowed you before. I own you now."
Copyright © 2005, Karen Rose Books, Inc.