Trying to catch her breath, Erin focused on the phone in her hand. For the second time in a week, she dialed 9-1-1. She was about to press the SEND button when something flew over the top of the stall.

Startled, Erin recoiled. The small lightweight object bounced off her shoulder, then landed on the tiled floor.

Erin saw what it was, and all at once she couldn't breathe or move. Paralyzed, she stared down at the pair of glasses with square tortoiseshell frames.

One of the lenses of Molly's new glasses was cracked.

'Oh my God...' Erin whispered. With a shaky hand, she punched the Send button on her cell phone.

Suddenly, she felt something sting her just above the ankle. Crying out, Erin looked down and saw a rubber- gloved hand reaching beneath the stall partition. She saw the glint of a knife. It slashed at her ankle again.

Erin screamed and tried to back away. But like a snake, the gloved hand darted under the partition and grabbed her by the ankle. All at once, the cell phone flew out of Erin's hand and she struggled to keep her balance, but it was impossible. She slammed against the partition wall and then tumbled to the floor. She screamed and kicked, but the hand wouldn't let go...


This book is for my brother-in-law, Denny Kinsella,

one of the nicest guys I know.


I couldn't have written this book without my friend John Scognamiglio, who also happens to be my editor. Thank you, John! I also need to thank the wonderful and talented Doug Mendini. Thanks to everyone else at Kensington Books for their hard work.

I'm also grateful to my terrific agents, the marvelous Meg Ruley and the charismatic Christina Hogrebe, and the rest of the gang at Jane Rotrosen Agency. They rule!

Thanks also to my talented writer friends for their encouragement and for suffering through early drafts of this book and coming up with great suggestions to improve it. I couldn't ask for a better Writers Group: Cate Goethals, Soyon Im, David Massengill, and Garth Stein.

A special thank-you goes to my friend Thomas Dreiling. Tommy, you're terrific!

I'd also like to thank the following friends for their support and for pushing my books to their other friends: Lloyd Adalist, Dan Annear & Chuck Rank, Marlys Bourm, Terry & Judine Brooks, Amanda Brooks, Kyle Bryan & Dan Monda, George Camper & Shane White, Jim & Barbara Church, Anna Cottle & Mary Alice Kier, Paul Dworskin & the gang at Broadway Video, Tom Goodwin, Dennis and Debbie Gotlieb, Cathy Johnson, Ed & Sue Kelly, David Korabik, the cool people at Levy Home Entertainment, Jim Munchel, Eva Marie Saint, John Saul & Mike Sack; Bill, JB, Tammy and Fran at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop; Dan Stutesman, Doug & Ann Stutesman, George & Sheila Stydahar, Marc Von Borstel (who always makes me look good), Michael Wells & the gang at Bailey/Coy Books; and my nice neighbors at The Bellemoral.

A great big thank-you goes to my family, especially my sister, Mary Louise Kinsella, who gave me the idea for this book. Adele, Mary Lou, Cathy, Bill, and Joan--you guys are the best.

Finally thanks to two great writers and teachers who helped me become an author: Anne Powers Schwartz (at Marquette University) and Zola Helen Ross (1912-1989) in Seattle.


Seattle--December 2005

'I swear to God, I'm going to kill her,' he whispered.

Erin Travino didn't pay attention to the man seated in the row behind her. She switched on her cell phone, activating the little blue display light. It glowed in the darkened movie theater. Erin punched in the code to check her messages again.

Up on the big screen in front of her, Judi Dench was reprimanding Keira Knightley for something. Erin hadn't paid much attention to Pride and Prejudice. Maybe she should have been. She had a book report due next week, and hadn't even chosen the stupid book yet. If she'd been following the movie more closely, she could have pretended to have read Pride and Prejudice. Her English Lit teacher was a sucker for Jane Austen.

Then again, she really didn't have to try too hard at school lately. Most of her teachers were cutting her some slack. Erin simply had to say she was still traumatized over what had happened last week, and her teachers would grant her an extension or raise her C to a B minus.

Erin intended to milk the situation for as long as she could. Along with Molly Gerrard, and that nut job, Warren Tunny, she was prominently featured in all the newspaper articles. The Seattle Post- Intelligencer even ran a photo of her, the halfway-decent snapshot from her high school ID. At least her wavy, shoulder-length, auburn hair was freshly washed, and the dimpled smile looked natural. Plus she appeared really thin in the picture.

Erin was constantly dieting, even though her friends insisted it was the last thing in the world she needed to do. Tonight, for example, her best friend, Kim, had bought a soda and a large buttered popcorn for the movie. Kim asked if she wanted some popcorn, but Erin just shook her head and sipped her medium Diet Coke. Didn't Kim know that stuff had the fat equivalent of three Big Macs? At least that was what Erin had heard.

She squinted at the illuminated display on her cell phone: NO NEW MESSAGES.

Someone tapped her on the shoulder, startling her. Erin almost dropped the phone. She glanced over her shoulder.

'Would you mind putting your phone away?' growled the man behind her. He was in his late thirties--as was the lean, Asian guy with him. 'The light is very distracting.'

Erin shifted in her cushioned seat. 'Well, I wasn't talking on it,' she whispered, rolling her eyes.

The man glared at her. The light from the movie screen flickered across his handsome, narrow face. 'That's the fifth time you've pulled out your phone and switched it on since the movie started. Do you have ADD or something? How about showing a little courtesy for the people around you, huh?'

Her mouth open, Erin let out a stunned little laugh.

Suddenly her phone chimed out this ancient tune, 'I Just Called to Say I Love You,' in ring tones. She'd programmed it by accident last week and couldn't undo the damn thing.

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