Something Different/Pepper's Way

Praise for Kay Hooper
SLEEPING WITH FEAR

“Readers will be mesmerized.”


Publishers Weekly

“Hooper’s Special Crime Unit novels all have their own unique blend of mystery, suspense and the paranormal laced with a touch of romance. The author is a gifted teller of action-packed stories.”


Romantic Times Book Review

“Suspense just doesn’t get better than Kay Hooper’s novels… it’s a one-sitting read that will hold you in its grip from beginning to end.”


Romance Reviews Today

CHILL OF FEAR

“Hooper’s latest may offer her fans a few shivers on a hot beach.”


Publishers Weekly

“Kay Hooper has conjured a fine thriller with appealing young ghosts and a suitably evil presence to provide a welcome chill on a hot summer’s day.”


Orlando Sentinel

“The author draws the reader into the story line and, once there, they can’t leave because they want to see what happens next in this thrill-a-minute, chilling, fantastic reading experience.”


Midwest Book Review

HUNTING FEAR

“A well-told, scary story.”


Toronto Sun

“Hooper’s unerring story sense and ability to keep the pages flying can’t be denied.”


Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

“Hooper has created another original—
Hunting Fear
sets anintense pace…. Work your way through the terror to the triumph… and you’ll be looking for more Hooper tales to add to your bookshelf.”


Times Record News

“It’s vintage Hooper—a suspenseful page-turner.”


Wichita Falls (TX) Facts

SENSE OF EVIL

“A well-written, entertaining police procedural… loaded with suspense.”


Midwest Book Review

“Filled with page-turning suspense.”


Sunday Oklahoman

“Sense of Evil
will knock your socks off.”


Rendezvous

“Enjoyable… thought-provoking entertainment.”


Calgary Herald

TOUCHING EVIL

“Following her highly popular Shadow series, Hooper again scores big with this psychic thriller.
Touching Evil
is the first installment in her Evil series involving Noah Bishop’s specially talented group of agents. It kept me furiously turning the pages until the chilling climax.”


Old Book Barn Gazette

“Touching Evil
is a full-force, page-turning, suspense-driven read. …Hooper provided enough twists and turns to her story that it had this reader anxiously gripping the pages and not leaving my couch for hours on end.”


Mystery Reader

STEALING SHADOWS

“A fast-paced, suspenseful plot… The story’s complicated and intriguing twists and turns keep the reader guessing until the chilling ending.”


Publishers Weekly

“This definitely puts Ms. Hooper in a league with Tami Hoag and Iris Johansen and Sandra Brown.”


Heartland Critiques

HAUNTING RACHEL

“A stirring and evocative thriller.”


Palo Alto Daily News

“An intriguing book with plenty of strange twists that will please the reader.”


Rocky Mountain News

“It passed the ‘stay up late to finish it in one night’ test.”


Denver Post

FINDING LAURA

“Hooper keeps the intrigue pleasurably complicated, with gothic touches of suspense and a satisfying resolution.”


Publishers Weekly

“Ms. Hooper throws in one surprise after another…. Spellbinding.”


Rendezvous

AFTER CAROLINE

“Harrowing good fun. Readers will shiver and shudder.”


Publishers Weekly

“Kay Hooper comes through with thrills, chills, and plenty of romance, this time with an energetic murder mystery with a clever twist. The suspense is sustained admirably right up to the end.”


Kirkus Reviews

“Kay Hooper has crafted another solid story to keep readers enthralled until the last page is turned.”


Booklist

AMANDA

“Amanda
seethes and sizzles. A fast-paced, atmospheric tale that vibrates with tension, passion, and mystery. Readers will devour it.”


Jayne Ann Krentz

“Kay Hooper’s dialogue rings true; her characters are more three-dimensional than those usually found in this genre. You may think you’ve guessed the outcome, unraveled all the lies. Then again, you could be as mistaken as I was.”


Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Kay Hooper has given you a darn good ride, and there are far too few of those these days.”


Dayton Daily News

“Will delight fans of Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt.”


Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

BANTAM BOOKS BY KAY HOOPER

THE BISHOP TRILOGIES

STEALING SHADOWS

HIDING IN THE SHADOWS

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

TOUCHING EVIL

WHISPER OF EVIL

SENSE OF EVIL

HUNTING FEAR

CHILL OF FEAR

SLEEPING WITH FEAR

THE QUINN NOVELS

ONCE A THIEF

ALWAYS A THIEF

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

AMANDA

AFTER CAROLINE

FINDING LAURA

HUNTING RACHEL

CLASSIC FANTASY AND ROMANCE

ON WINGS OF MAGIC

THE WIZARDS OF SEATTLE

MY GUARDIAN ANGEL
(ANTHOLOGY)

YOURS TO KEEP
(ANTHOLOGY)

Table of Contents

Something Different

one

two

three

four

five

six

seven

eight

nine

ten

Pepper’s Way

one

two

three

four

five

six

seven

eight

nine

ten

About the Author

A writer is only as good as those rare and unrewarded friends who bolster, cheer (or jeer), criticize, question, applaud—or just listen in sympathetic silence. Ideas bounce off these friends, plots are tried for effect, character motivation explored. Discussions go on over the phone; across coffee tables or dinner tables; and in the presence of baffled, bemused spouses.

And you thought I wrote alone.

Pam and Bob, this one’s for you.

Something Different
one

GYPSY HIT HER BRAKES INSTINCTIVELY AND
swerved as the small brown rabbit darted across the road in front of her car. Satisfaction and relief at not hitting the creature were short-lived, however, as a sudden and savage jolt informed her that her already battered VW had been rear-ended.

Her head snapped back and then forward, banging into the steering wheel with enough force to give her a brief view of stars in broad daylight. She found herself fighting various laws of motion in an effort to bring the car and herself safely to the side of the road. Her heart lodged in her throat for one flashing instant, because the side of the road was a narrow strip of dirt bordering on a sheer drop. And, Gypsy thought, neither she nor the car had wings.

Sputtering, the VW’s engine voiced an unmistakable death rattle and expired as the little blue car with its bright yellow daisy decals lurched onto the strip of dirt. Gypsy heard a more powerful engine rumble into silence behind her. Automatically and needlessly she pulled up the emergency brake and turned off the ignition switch.

Although her forehead throbbed painfully, and the sickening fear at her near-maiden flight over the cliff hadn’t quite
faded, Gypsy’s thoughts were crystal-clear and crazily detached.

Not again. This could
not
be happening to her again. It was the third time in six months, and poor Daisy was certainly
dead.
Judging by the sound of the impact, not even the best body-and-fender man would be able to pound the dents out. And Daisy’s engine had quite definitely been mortally wounded.

Gypsy abruptly became furious at whomever had murdered poor Daisy.

The sound of the other car’s door slamming was followed swiftly by a startlingly deep and coldly controlled masculine voice. “Are you all right?” it demanded, and then added icily, “Don’t you know that it’s illegal as well as unsafe to drive a car without brake lights?”

Gypsy fumbled for Daisy’s door handle and struggled out, letting her anger at Daisy’s assassin have full rein. “
You
hit
me,
dammit, and Daisy
did
have a brake light—the left one! Now you’ve killed her—” She broke off abruptly as she got her first clear look at Daisy’s assassin. He didn’t look like a killer.

He was slightly under six feet tall, wide-shouldered but slender, and finely muscled. His burnished copper hair was thick and slightly shaggy, a bit longer than collar length. Eyes of an astoundingly intense shade of jade-green shot icicles at her. But his obvious anger couldn’t hide the shrewdness behind his eyes, and the rigidly held expression only emphasized his marvelous bone structure.

Not a bit like a killer, Gypsy mused….

Recovering from her initial surprise, Gypsy was just about to light into the handsome stranger when he aimed the first thrust.

“My God! I thought the last of the flower children grew up years ago!”

She automatically looked down at herself; there was nothing unusual. Faded, colorfully patched jeans, a tie-dyed T-shirt, ragged sneakers, and a silver peace sign dangling around her neck on a leather thong. She supposed that his description fit, but the thrust didn’t go home. In the first place one did not normally dress neatly to perform the errand Gypsy had just completed, and in the second place she didn’t much care how she looked—and this man’s distaste did nothing to change that.

She rather pointedly eyed his neat, three-piece business suit, spending a long moment gazing at extremely shiny shoes. Then she let her gaze wander briefly to the gleaming silvergray Mercedes before returning it to his face. Satisfied with his reaction—a slight reddening beneath the tan of his cheeks— she let the matter drop, refusing to correct his first impression.

Dropping the easily assumed dignity, she spoke heatedly. “You hit Daisy from behind, and that makes it your fault!”

He sent a faintly bewildered glance toward Daisy’s crumpled rear end, but said shortly, “You had no brake lights.”

“Big deal!” she snapped. “If you’d been watching where you were going, you would have seen me swerve to miss that rabbit, and— Oh! Corsair!” Hastily she turned back to her car.

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