Hannah kept wondering why this was happening to her. Two people had been murdered, and somebody was telling her in advance how they would die. But why were they killed?

Someone else stepped into the rest room. Hannah heard footsteps on the tiled floor. For a moment she didn’t move. Then she opened her stall door and looked around.

The stall next to hers was empty. There was nobody by the sinks, either. She could have sworn someone was in the bathroom with her a minute ago. She glanced over toward the sinks again and noticed a small black rectangular box on the edge of the counter.

It was a videocassette.

Hannah glanced at the tape. There was no label on it, probably something recorded live or off a TV. From the tape around the spools, she could see the movie had been stopped at a certain scene. She knew when she put that video in the VCR and pressed “Play,” she would see another murder sequence.

She knew that her secret admirer was planning to kill again.

And he wanted her to see how he would do it….


Kevin O’Brien

This book is for my buddy, Dan Monda


Without my editor at Kensington Books, John Scognamiglio, I never would have gotten this book written. My thanks to John for his encouragement, his honesty, and his friendship. I’m also grateful to many of my other friends at Kensington, especially the dynamic Doug Mendini.

Many thanks also to my agents, Mary Alice Kier and Anna Cottle.

For helping me punch up earlier drafts, another great big thank-you goes to my Writer’s Group pals, David Massengill and Garth Stein; Dan Monda (again), and my dear friend, Cate Goethals.

Thanks to the gang at Broadway Video, along with several customers there, for being incredibly supportive, especially Paul Dwoskin, Tony Myers, Sheila Rosen, Tina Kim, Larry Blades, Phoebe Swordmaker, Chad Schlund, and Sarah Banach. I’m also beholden to Barbara Bailey, Michael Wells, and the folks at Bailey/Coy.

Thanks to my neighbors at the Bellemoral, especially Brian Johnson, who helped with some medical information.

I’m also grateful to my friends Marlys Bourm, Dan Annear, Dan and Doug Stutesman, Elin Shriver, John Saul and Michael Sack, and Terry and Judine Brooks, for all their support and encouragement. And a very special thank- you to the very terrific Tommy Dreiling.

Finally, thanks to my wonderful family.


He was crushing her, but Rae didn’t complain. The last thing he probably needed right now was her barking instructions at him. He seemed so nervous and awkward. He acted as if this were their first time. And it wasn’t.

She was trapped beneath him on his unmade bed. All around the darkened bedroom, strategically placed votive candles flickered. A couple of incense sticks were smoldering in an ashtray on the nightstand. The smoky, spicy scent had become overpowering. Rae thought about asking him to open a window, but she didn’t say anything. All the windows were closed, along with the blinds.

He’d already stripped off his shirt, and now he was on top of her, unbuttoning her blouse. If only he’d climb off for a moment, she could get a breath and maybe wriggle out of her clothes herself. She wanted this to be pleasant for both of them.

He’d been so good to her lately, a godsend. Anyone else would have dismissed her as a crazy, dumb, paranoid blonde. But he took her seriously. And he wanted to protect her.

For the last six weeks, someone had been following her. Rae had even caught the shadowy figure videotaping her on a couple of occasions. Both times, she didn’t get a good look at the man. Once, he was in an old burgundy- colored Volvo outside the hotel where she worked as an events coordinator. The sun reflected off the car window, obscuring his face. But she could make out someone holding a video camera. She never saw that Volvo again.

Rae caught him filming her a second time during a date with Joe. It was just a week before Joe died. They were dining at a fancy Italian bistro, where they’d been seated by the front window. She’d heard somewhere that maitre’d’s often placed good-looking couples near the front windows because they attracted business. Rae and Joe were discussing this when she noticed the man with the video camera standing in a cafe across the street. By the time she pointed him out to Joe, her “secret admirer” had disappeared.

Joe hadn’t taken her very seriously. He never called her paranoid or crazy. He merely humored her, making maddening little remarks like This stalker character must have good taste to go after you.

Joe wouldn’t have thought it was so cute if he were the one getting those strange calls in the middle of the night. Half the time, Rae was afraid to answer the phone. And whenever she stepped outside her apartment, she was constantly looking over her shoulder.

Though he’d made certain she never really saw him, this stalker obviously wanted her to know she was being followed. He wanted her to be scared. He even let her know in advance that Joe would die. He’d left her a sign, forecasting Joe’s death from a rooftop fall.

When Rae tried to warn him that his life might be in danger, Joe had just nodded, smiled, and said he would be careful. If only he’d listened to her and believed her, how different things might have been.

The police said Joe Blankenship had been “under the influence” when he’d toppled from the roof of his apartment building. But Rae knew better. She was the only one who knew.

Whoever said “Knowledge is power” was wrong. Rae had never felt so alone and vulnerable after Joe’s death. Yet a man who truly wanted to help her had been there all the time. For a brief period, she’d actually thought he might be the one stalking her. How silly. He wanted to look after her. He took her seriously.

He talked about turning the tables on the man with the video camera. He wanted to catch him on film. Had

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