Stay Close

A friend once told Megan that we are always seventeen years old, waiting for our lives to begin. More than ever, clutching to this man, Megan understood that.

A voice flat enough to fit under a door crack.

Because they were unsure how many days this particular job would take, Ken and Barbie had rented a two-bedroom suite at the sleek skyscraper hotel called the Borgata. The Borgata was supposedly the nicest hotel in Atlantic City, plus it had the added advantage of being away from the Boardwalk, the cesspool strip of gamblers, drug addicts, sinners, carnival barkers, and overall filth. Still,

Broome could argue, but he had no leverage here. He was also a one-in-the-hand, don’t-look-a-gift-horse-in-the-mouth kind of guy.

Do you need anything, Mr. Pierce?” the young associate asked him. She was a recent Stanford Law grad and gorgeous and chipper and full of life, and you wondered when life would beat it out of her. It always did in the end. That kind of enthusiasm wouldn’t last.

Everything,” she said. Her mouth tightened. “Stewart Green was a psychopath. He stalked me. He beat me. He threatened to kill me.” “Why?” “What part of the word ‘psychopath’ confused you?

Fester left. Ray put the water on to boil. Instant coffee. Loud Urdu-language voices were coming from upstairs. Sounded like the kids were coming home from school. Ray made his way to the shower and stayed under the spray until the hot water was gone. Milo

Fester or whatever the hell your name is, you don’t want to mess with this. Trust me here. Give me his number. Don’t call and warn him or any of that. You won’t be happy with how it all turns out, if you screw this up.” “I don’t like being threatened.” “Deal with it. What’s Ray’s number?” Fester postured for another minute or two, but eventually he gave it up. Broome wrote it down, warned Fester one more time not to say a word, and then hung up. D

He dialed the number. It was picked up on the third ring. “Good afternoon, Mr. Goldberg!” Reason one for his hesitation: The guy’s voice gave him the heebie-jeebies. The man—he sounded really young—was unfailingly polite and spoke in exclamation points, as though he were trying out for an old-time musical. The sound chilled Goldberg. But there was more to it than that. There

He hadn’t been inside this six-story pachyderm in seventeen years, but if this stomach lining could talk.… He let the smile hit his face. Why not? Why the hell not? He had tortured himself long enough.

Hello, Cassie,” Harry said. His voice was stiff. He shifted in his chair. “How’ve you been, Harry?” His clear blue eyes looked at her in a funny way. This wasn’t like him, but it had been nearly two decades. People change. She started to wonder if coming here had been a mistake.

Hope could be a wonderful thing. But hope could crush you anew every single day. Hope could be the cruelest thing in the world.

I ran down the hill. I went to your place, afraid, I don’t know. I just didn’t know. But you were gone.
I came here, to Lucy. I thought maybe you’d be hiding inside or something. I waited. But you never
showed, of course. I searched for you.For years. I didn’t know if you were dead or alive. I saw your
face on every street, in every bar.

It was obvious and a bit of cliché, but we don’t really age in a straight line. We age in a circle, curving back to childhood, but in all the wrong ways.

It was ten A.M., but the place still had a few pathetic customers and even more pathetic dancers. One staff member set up the always-popular, all-you-can-eat (“food only”—ha-ha) buffet, mixing congealed food trays from Lord knows how many days ago. It would be trite to note that the buffet was a salmonella outbreak waiting to happen, but sometimes trite is the only sock in the drawer. Rudy

Lorraine fiddled with the unlit cigarette. The moms went back to their inane chatter, though with less enthusiasm. They constantly sneaked glances at Lorraine, as if she were some virus introduced into their suburban life-form with a mission to destroy it.

Okay, okay, no need for theatrics.” “No need,” Harry said with a bright smile, “but why not throw them in if I can?

On the one hand, this whole crazy day still felt like a no-harm-no-foul situation. She could leave here unscathed. On the other, she kept looking over her shoulder, as though she were being followed.

Rudy sat behind his desk. He could have worked as an extra on The Sopranos, except the casting director would deem him too much on type. He was a big man, sporting a gold chain thick enough to pull up a Carnival Cruise anchor and a pinkie ring that most of his dancers could wear around their wrists.

... She looks really happy."
"Everyone looks happy on Facebook."
"I know, right? What's up with that?

So I’m not sure I follow. What makes you think he’s in danger?” “Nothing, I guess. The woman’s voice. I don’t know. It sounded so sickly sweet.” “Oh,” Broome said, “well, why didn’t you say so in the first place?” Megan frowned. “Could you be, I don’t know, a little more patronizing?” “‘Sickly sweet’?” “Okay, I get it.” “No, Cassie or whatever your name is, I don’t think you do.” Broome moved a little closer. “May I be blunt?” “Because so far you’ve been circumspect? Sure.

Some people are drawn to trouble. Some people, no matter how easy the path they are given on the walk of life, will find a way to mess it all up.

Some people, no matter how easy the path they are given on the walk of life, will find a way to mess it all up. Ray Levine was one of those people.

Sometimes—most times—Tawny felt as if bad luck walked two steps behind her, catching up every once in a while, tapping her on the shoulder, reminding her that he was there, her constant companion. It

So now Lorraine did TV interviews. The fascination with her was endless. Her natural likability came out because you simply can’t teach that.

So you’re a psychiatrist now, Cassie?” She gave him the half-smile again. “You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to know a psychopath,” she began, “any more than you need to be a cop to know a killer.

That made Rudy’s eyes widen. “So? What was that, twenty years ago?” “Seventeen.” “Long time ago. In a place like Atlantic City, it’s a lifetime.” Boy, did that make sense. You live in dog years here. Everything ages faster. And,

The dog was still whimpering. But now Goldberg thought that maybe he heard another sound too, another whimpering maybe, or something worse, underneath the first—a terrible, pain-stricken noise so nonhuman that paradoxically it could only come from another human being. “Deputy Chief Goldberg?” He swallowed and dived in. “There’s this lawyer named Harry Sutton.…

The familiar voice made Megan automatically smile. The voice still had the sexy rasp of whiskey, cigarettes, and late nights, where every utterance had a hint of a laugh and a dollop of a double entendre.

You look like several large orangutans made you their love slave.” Ah