Now with new epilogue!
In the still of the night...
Christmas is coming... and Jenny Fitzgerald couldn't care less. She's getting divorced, and her life is in tatters. And just when she's thinking it couldn't possibly be worse, her husband is killed on the job, an undercover operation gone bad. In the midst of her grief, Jenny is confronted with a killer. A hunter who will stop at nothing to see her dead...
Excerpt from Still of the Night
“I’ll be home for Christmas…”
Judy Garland crooned in surround-sound and Jenny Fitzgerald resisted the urge to throw something. She’d wanted to get rid of her husband. That much was true. But not in a permanent sort of way.
All she’d wanted was a divorce, and now Connor was dead.
He’d never be home for Christmas again. Which made the carol all that much more of a twisted joke. Stifling a sob, Jenny threw the pants she was folding onto the bed, her gaze dropping to the envelope on the night stand.
The divorce decree.
All it needed was a signature and it was final. Only Connor hadn’t bothered to open the envelope, and it seemed that widowhood made the point moot. She grabbed the envelope and stuffed it into her purse, not sure why exactly she did so, except that she didn’t want it mocking her.
“How about a break?” Sandy Markham appeared in the doorway, her face purposefully cheerful. “I found some wine.” She held up a bottle, her expression turning apologetic.
Sandy had been Jenny’s best friend since first grade. She’d helped Jenny toilet paper Connor’s house in the sixth grade, found her a date when Connor’s family had moved just before junior prom, celebrated their reunion in college, been maid of honor at their wedding, supported Jenny when she’d decided to leave Connor, and, two days ago, she’d stood beside her at his memorial service.
A lifetime of memories all tied to a dead man.
“Wine would be good.” Jenny folded another shirt and laid it in the box marked St. Ann’s.
Sandy walked into the room, setting the bottle on the bureau. “Are you sure you should be doing this? I mean there isn’t any hurry. Surely you could wait until--”
“Until what? I’m stronger?” Jenny crossed her arms over her chest, hugging herself.
“Oh, honey.” Sandy frowned. “I didn’t mean it like that. I just hate to see you so upset.”
Jenny shrugged, picking up another shirt. “It’s got to be done. Mr. Bowman’s let me out of the lease, but that means the apartment has to be empty by January.”
“So at least wait until after Christmas. Or hire someone to do it.”
“I will hire someone. I just wanted to go through his personal things. I can’t…” She sat done on the bed, burying her face in her hands, and then pulled up, forcing a smile. “I can’t stand the idea of anyone else going through them.”
Sandy wrapped an arm around her. “I understand. But we don’t have to do it all in one day. Right?”
Jenny nodded, emotions leaving her drained. “I guess I just thought doing something would make me feel better. Accept the reality of it all. I mean, after six years as a cop’s wife, you’d think I’d be used to the idea of death.”
“Death as an abstract is a lot easier to conceptualize than the real thing.” Sandy sighed. “Besides, this isn’t just any death. It’s Connor.”
And that said it all, really. Connor Fitzgerald had been an integral part of her life, and even their impending divorce hadn’t erased the memories. No matter what he’d done, she still cared. His death had only punctuated the fact.
“I must have imagined something like this happening at least million times,” she said. “It’s part of what drove us apart, I guess.”
“Yeah, that and Amy Whitaker.” The minute the words were out Sandy ducked her head, her face awash with regret. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Why not?” Jenny said, her insides threatening to fuse together. “It’s true.”
“Yeah, but I shouldn’t have brought it up. As usual, my mouth just engaged before my brain.” Sandy offered a weak smile. “For what it’s worth, I still really have trouble with the idea. I mean he was so in love with you. Anyone could see that. Even afterwards...” She broke off obviously at a loss for words.
“Sometimes love just isn’t enough.” Jenny shrugged, pretending a nonchalance she didn’t feel. “Besides, Amy was just the tip of the iceberg. Being with Connor was never easy, and his working Vice just made it that much harder. He was gone all the time, and he couldn’t talk about his work. It just got more and more difficult to connect.” She fought against old feelings of failure, pushing them aside with a sigh. “Anyway, none of it matters anymore. Connor is gone. And the past has to become just that -- the past.”
“I think that’s the problem,” Sandy said, her gaze concerned. “It isn’t over. Not really. Too much was left unsettled between the two of you. And that’s what’s making it so hard to accept that he’s gone.”
“Maybe you’re right.” Jenny stood up, wiping her hands on her jeans. “You know, I keep expecting him to come through that door and yell at me for going through his things. Crazy, huh?”
“No. Not at all. In fact, I suspect it’s absolutely normal. But that doesn’t make it any easier.” Sandy’s smile was sad. “Hey, why don’t we go out for a while, have something to eat, and then we’ll come back here and tackle the rest.”
“No.” Jenny shook her head, squaring her shoulders. “Let’s just get it done.” She reached for a sweater, trying to ignore the familiar smell of Hugo Boss. “I will have that glass of wine though. There’s a screw pull in the second drawer by the sink.”
Sandy grabbed the bottle and headed for the kitchen. As soon as she was out of sight, Jenny sank back down onto the bed, her thoughts in turmoil. She’d hoped that with the memorial service behind her, she’d at least feel a sense of relief. But instead, the pain only seemed to have intensified. Repression is what her psychiatrist would call it.
But heart wrenching seemed a better word.
She’d known Connor almost her whole life. Loved him. Hated him. Loved him again. And then left him. But she hadn’t managed to get him out of her heart. That had simply been beyond her abilities.
And now he was gone and she was, as usual, left behind.
What she needed was closure. Only she wasn’t going to get it. At least not in a way that she could live with.
The doorbell and the phone rang at the same time, and Jenny dove across the bed for the phone. She wasn’t really up to talking, but better that than answering the door. She’d let Sandy handle that.
She fumbled with the receiver, losing her grip on it once, then finally managed to put it to her ear. As she said hello, she heard the murmur of voices in the foyer. When it rained it poured.
For a minute the other end of the line was silent. Long enough that she started to put the receiver back in the cradle, but the sound of static made her stop, her heart pounding in her ears.
“Get out of there.” The voice was low, almost inaudible. “Now.”
Excerpt from STILL OF THE NIGHT by Dee Davis, Copyright ©2007 by Dee Davis. All rights reserved. Reprint only with permission from author. Please contact .