Read Deadly Valentine Online

Authors: Carolyn G. Hart

Deadly Valentine

After the Ball

The quiet was ominous, freighted with horror.

Blood glistened obscenely against the magnolia-white skin and creamy silk, clung viscously to the diamond-brilliant necklace.

Shakily, Annie took one step forward, then another. She had to see if … But when the light focused fully on that crushed head and what remained of a no-longer-lovely face, she knew there was no need to hurry.

Shrubbery rustled to her left, toward the lagoon. Whirling, Annie swung the light in that direction. Was there a darker shadow past that clump of azaleas?

“Who’s there?” Her voice rose in panic.

No answer.

Annie had had enough. She bolted toward the path to home, running as fast as she could.

From the lagoon, she heard a splash….

Bantam Books by Carolyn G. Hart

Death on Demand Mysteries

D
EATH ON
D
EMAND
D
ESIGN FOR
M
URDER
S
OMETHING
W
ICKED
H
ONEYMOON WITH
M
URDER
A L
ITTLE
C
LASS ON
M
URDER
D
EADLY
V
ALENTINE
T
HE
C
HRISTIE
C
APER
S
OUTHERN
G
HOST
M
INT
J
ULEP
M
URDER

Henrie O Mysteries

D
EAD
M
AN’S
I
SLAND
S
CANDAL IN
F
AIR
H
AVEN

Table of Contents

Other Books by this Author

Title Page

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

About the Author

Copyright

To all Sisters in Crime:

                            
Wishing you

                                            
Good books

                                                            
Good luck

                                                                            
God’s blessing
.

One

T
HE FACE MIGHT
have been sculpted in stone. It wasn’t simply from absorption in a delicate, tedious task. Oh no. It was more than that. Much more. The taut muscles reflected icy determination, ruthless decision, implacable resolve.

The gloved hand worked patiently, skillfully, with the cut-out letters, plucking them from their separate piles, applying glue with a toothpick, placing them neatly against the heart, scissored from scarlet construction paper.

Finally, it was done. A derisive, merciless smile touched the artist’s mouth.

Two

S
YDNEY
C
AHILL WAS
determined not to cry.

Crying made your eyes red and swollen.

And it never helped.

Despite her resolution, more hot tears welled. She grabbed a tissue and carefully patted her eyes dry. Swallowing jerkily, she leaned anxiously toward the mirror. Did she look dreadful? Soft black hair framed a face as delicate and translucent as porcelain. When Howard fell in love with her, he had told her she had skin as smooth as a gardenia. “Your hair, your eyes …” In her memory, his voice was soft, tender, loving.

Now he was cold and aloof. Now his eyes didn’t follow her when she crossed the room. Now there were no more presents, no more surprises. Now he didn’t come to her.

Frantically, she reached across her dresser for her jewel case. Opening it, her eyes darted from memento to memento. That jade pin, from Carl. The little intaglio ring of onyx, from Bruce. She smiled tremulously. Oh, that lovely butterfly pin, a golden filigree inset with crystals, from Bobby.

Her breathing quieted. She picked up one piece, then another, remembering the giver and the love.

Without warning, tears brimmed again, hiding the bright glitter of the stones, the glisten of the gold.

Sydney snapped shut the jewel case and stumbled to her feet. She ran to her bath and splashed water on her face. Her reflection was blurred in the mirror. Gently, Sydney caressed her skin with the soft face towel and remembered the night that Howard had dried her body, wet from the hot tub, in a luxurious beach towel and …

Love.

Her heart cried out for love.

Three

J
OEL
G
RAHAM TYPED
slowly, clumsily. His dad had made him take typing last year instead of study hall. As usual, he had put forth as little effort as possible. Still, it had almost been worth the boring time it took, because his dad got him an Apple computer and Jesus, it did make school easier. Old hag-face Thompson, the typing teacher, was right about that. And all those neat games! Joel finished typing the title of the essay. The stupid required essay.

AN EMBARRASSMENT OF ROCHES.

He snickered and spaced back to make the correction.

AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES.

Mrs. Borelli made them write one goddam essay after another. And she picked the topics. So what was he going to write about? What did he have too much of?

Then he thought what he had that probably not one other stud in the senior class had! Goddam, wouldn’t he love to write it all down. Women lusting for him. Older women. He could have them whenever he wanted. At least he could have until yesterday afternoon. That had been a hell of a deal. He still felt half mad, sending him home like he was a kid, his pants unzipped. But it had its funny side, too. He’d never forget the look on their faces. Two of
them. Hot for his body! Be a hoot to write it all down. Mrs. Borelli would have a seizure.

Joel moused the cursor backward, wrote:

AN EMBARRASSMENT OF BITCHES
.

He moved uncomfortably in his chair. Shit, it made him horny. He glanced at the clock. Maybe he could get some later tonight.

Four

A
NNIE
L
AURANCE
D
ARLING
was in a snit, which she thought she’d successfully concealed from her husband.

It didn’t help her mood when Max grinned at her, that devil-may-care, damnably
attractive
grin, as they parted on the fog-shrouded boardwalk, each destined for his own establishment of business, and said cheerily, “Hope you feel better soon.”

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