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Diamond Bay (Chapter Four)

"He's dead, I'm telling you."

A slim man, with graying brown hair and a narrow, intense face that belied the self-imposed calmness and control of his manner, gave the speaker a look of contemptuous amusement. "Do you think we can afford to assume that, Ellis? We have found nothingI repeat, nothingto assure us of his death."

Tod Ellis narrowed his eyes. "There's no way he could've survived. That boat went up like a fuel tank."

An elegant red-haired woman had been silently listening to the two, and now she leaned forward to put out a cigarette. "And the report from one of the men that he saw something, or someone, go over the side?"

Ellis flushed angrily. These two had deferred to him when it came to setting up the ambush, but now they were treating him like a rank amateur. He didn't like it; he was far from an amateur, and they had damned well needed him when they were after Sabin. The plan hadn't worked out exactly as they'd wanted, but Sabin hadn't escaped, and that was the most important thing. If they had thought it would be easy to capture him, then they were fools, at best. "Even if he got into the water," he said patiently, "he was wounded. We saw him get hit. We were miles out. There's no way he could have gotten to shore. He either drowned, or a shark got him. Why take the chance on drawing attention to ourselves by searching for him?"

The other man's pale blue eyes looked beyond Ellis, into the past. "Ah, but this is Sabin we're talking about, not some ordinary man. How many times has he slipped away from us? Too many for me to trust that it was so easy to kill him. We found no remains on the boat, and if, as you say, he either drowned or was attacked by sharks, there still would have been some evidence. We've patrolled these waters for two days without finding anything. The logical thing to do is to move our search to shore."

"We'll be exposing ourselves if we do."

The woman smiled. "Not if we do it right. We must simply be discreet. Our biggest danger is the possibility that he was picked up by another boat and taken to a hospital. If he's had the opportunity to talk to someone, to make some calls, we won't be able to get near him. First we must find him, though. I agree with Charles. Too much is at stake for us to simply assume that he's dead."

Ellis's face was grim. "Do you have any idea how large an area we'll have to cover?"

Charles drew a map of Florida closer. "Our position was here," he said, marking the spot with an X. "Given the distance and the tides, which I've already checked, I think we should concentrate our efforts in this area." He drew a long oval on the map and tapped it with his pen. "Noelle, check all the hospitals in the area, and also the police blotters, to find if anyone has been treated for a gunshot wound. While you're doing that we'll be searching every inch of the coastline." He leaned back in his chair and surveyed Ellis with his arctic gaze. "Can you contact your people and find out without arousing suspicions if he's called anyone?"

Ellis shrugged. "I have a reliable contact."

"Then make it. We may have waited too long as it is."

He would make the call, Ellis thought, but he was sure it would be a waste of time. Sabin was dead; these people persisted in acting as if he were some sort of superman who could disappear into thin air, then miraculously reappear. Okay, so he'd had a reputation when he was in the field; that had been years ago. He would have lost his edge since then, sitting around at a dull desk job the way he'd been doing. No, Sabin was dead; Ellis was certain of it.

Rachel sat on the front porch swing, a newspaper spread across her lap and heaped with green beans. A dishpan sat on the swing beside her, and she systematically broke the tips off the beans and peeled the string off them, then broke the pods into inch-long sections, which she dropped into the dishpan. She didn't like stringing green beans, but she liked to eat them, so it was a necessary evil. She kept the swing gently swaying and listened to a portable radio set on the windowsill. She was listening to an FM country station, but the volume was turned low because she didn't want to disturb her patient, who was sleeping peacefully.

She had spent the morning expecting him to finally wake up for good, but instead he was still alternating between periods of deep sleep, when the aspirin and sponging got his fever down, and restlessness, when his temperature soared. He hadn't opened his eyes or spoken again, though once he had groaned and held his shoulder with his right hand until Rachel loosened his grip and held his hand, soothing him with soft murmurs of reassurance.

Joe eased up from his position under the oleander bush, a rumble forming in his throat. Rachel glanced at him, then swept her gaze around the yard and toward the road, to the left, but could see nothing. It wasn't like Joe to pay any attention to squirrels or rabbits. "What is it?" she asked, unable to keep the tightness of apprehension out of her voice, and Joe responded to her tone by moving to stand directly in front of the steps. The rumble was a full-fledged growl now, and he was staring toward the pine thicket, toward the slope that led down to Diamond Bay.

Two men were coming out of the thicket.

Rachel continued to string and snap the beans as if she were totally unconcerned, but she felt every muscle in her body tense. She stared at them, openly, deciding that that would be the normal thing to do. They were dressed casually, in lightweight cotton canvas pants and pullover shirts, with loose cotton jackets. Rachel eyed the jackets. The temperature was ninety-nine degrees and it wasn't quite noon yet, so it promised to get hotter. Jackets were anything but practicalunless they were needed to hide shoulder holsters.

As the men crossed the road and approached the house Joe's growls became snarls, and he crouched, the hair along his neck lifted. The men halted, and Rachel caught the movement one man made beneath his jacket before he halted himself. "Sorry about that," she called, leisurely putting aside the beans and getting to her feet. "Joe doesn't like strangers in general, and men in particular. He won't even let the neighbor in the yard. Guess some man abused him once. Are you lost, or has your boat quit on you?" As she talked she came down the steps and laid a calming hand on Joe's back, feeling the way he shifted a little away from her.

"Neither. We're looking for someone." The man who answered her was tall and good-looking, with sandy brown hair and an open, college-boy smile that flashed whitely in his tanned face. He glanced down at Joe. "Uh, do you want to get a better hold on the dog?"

"He'll be all right, as long as you don't come any nearer to the house." Rachel hoped that was true. Giving Joe another pat, she walked past him and approached the men. "I don't think it's me he's protecting as much as his territory. Now what was it you said?"

The other man was shorter, slimmer and darker than Mr. All-American College Boy. "FBI," he said briskly, flashing a badge in front of her nose. "I'm Agent Lowell. This is Agent Ellis. We're looking for a man we think might be in this area."

Rachel wrinkled her forehead, praying she wasn't overdoing it. "An escaped convict?"

Agent Ellis's gaze had been appreciatively measuring Rachel's long, bare legs, but now his eyes lifted to her face. "No, but prison is where we're trying to put him. We think he may have come ashore somewhere in this area."

"Haven't seen any strangers around here, but I'll keep a sharp watch. What does he look like?"

"Six feet tall, maybe a little taller. Black hair, black eyes."

"Seminole?"

Both men looked startled. "No, he's not an Indian," Agent Lowell finally said. "But he's dark, sort of Indian-looking."

"Do you have a picture of him?"

A quick look passed between the two men. "No."

"Is he dangerous? I mean, a murderer, or anything like that?" A lump had formed in her chest and was rising toward her throat. What would she do if they told her he was a murderer? How could she bear it?

Again that look, as if they weren't sure what to tell her. "He should be considered armed and dangerous. If you see anything at all suspicious give us a call at this number." Agent Lowell scribbled a telephone number on a piece of paper and gave it to Rachel, who glanced at it before folding it and putting it in her pocket.

"I'll do that," she said. "Thank you for coming by."

They started to leave; then Agent Lowell paused and turned back to her, his eyes narrowed. "There are some strange marks on the beach down there, as if something has been dragged. Do you know anything about them?"

Rachel's blood froze in her veins. Fool! she told herself numbly. She should have gone down to the beach and obliterated all those marks. At least the tide would have washed away any blood and other signs that had been left where he had fallen. Deliberately she wrinkled her forehead, giving herself time to think, then let her face clear. "Oh, you must mean where I collect shells and driftwood. I pile them all on a tarp and haul it up here. That way I can get it all up the slope with just one trip."

"What do you do with them? The shells and driftwood."

She didn't like the way Agent Lowell was looking at her, as if he didn't believe a word she said. "I sell them," she said, and it was the truth. "I own two souvenir shops."

"I see." He smiled at her. "Well, good luck in your shell hunting." They turned to leave again.

"Do you need a lift?" she asked, raising her voice. "You look hot now, and it's going to get hotter."

Both of them looked up at the blistering sun in the cloudless blue bowl of the sky; their faces were shiny with perspiration. "We came by boat," Agent Ellis said. "We're going to check along the beach some more. Thanks, anyway."

"Anytime. Oh, watch out if you go north. It gets swampy."

"Thanks again."

She watched them disappear into the pines and down the slope, and chills prickled her skin despite the heat. Slowly she returned to the porch and sat down on the swing, automatically returning to the task of breaking the beans. Everything they had said swirled in her mind, and she tried to sort it all out, to get her thoughts in order again. FBI? It was possible, but they had flashed their badges so swiftly she hadn't been able to examine them. They knew what he looked like, but they didn't have any photographs of him; she thought it would be reasonable that the FBI would have some likeness, even if it was just a drawing of someone they were trying to find. And they had sidestepped the question when she asked what he had done, as if they hadn't anticipated that and didn't know how to answer. They had said he should be considered armed and dangerous, but instead he was naked and helpless. Didn't they know he'd been shot? Why hadn't they said something about that?

But what if she were harboring a criminal? That had always been one of the possibilities, though she had discounted it. Now it swarmed back into her mind, and she felt sick.

The beans were finished. She took the pan into the house and set it in the sink, then returned to gather up the paper with the strings and broken ends on it. As she carried it to the kitchen to stuff it in the trash can she cast an apprehensive look at her open bedroom door. She could just see the head of the bed and his black hair on the pillow… her pillow. When he woke up again, and she looked into those night-black eyes, would she be looking into the eyes of a criminal? A killer?

Swiftly she washed her hands and flipped through the telephone book, then punched the number. It rang only once before a harried male voice said, "Sheriffs Department."

"Andy Phelps, please."

"Just a minute."

There was another ring, but this time the answer was absentminded, as if the person had other things on his mind. "Phelps."

"Andy, this is Rachel."

Immediately his voice warmed. "Hi, honey. Everything okay?"

"Fine. Hot, but fine. How are Trish and the kids?"

"The kids are doing okay, but Trish is praying for school to start."

She laughed, sympathizing with Andy's wife. Their boys carried rowdiness to new heights. "Listen, two guys just stopped by the house. They walked up from the beach."

His voice sharpened. "They give you any trouble?"

"No, nothing like that. They said they were FBI, but I didn't get a good look at their badges. They're looking for some man. Are they legitimate? Has your department been notified of anything? I may be paranoid, but I'm out here at the end of the road, and Rafferty's miles away. After B.B…." Her voice trailed away with the sudden pain of the memory. It had been five years, but there were still times when the loss and regret seared her, when the emptiness got to her.

Like no one else on earth, Andy understood. He had worked with B.B. in the DEA. The memory roughened his tone. "I know. You can't be too careful, honey. Look, we've had orders come down to cooperate with some guys who are looking for a man. It's all hush-hush. They're not the local FBI people. I doubt that they're FBI at all, but orders are orders."

Rachel's hand tightened on the receiver. "And an agency is an agency?" "Yeah, something like that. Keep quiet about it, but keep your eyes open. I'm not real comfortable with the feel of this."

He wasn't the only one. "I will. Thanks."

"Sure thing. Listen, why don't you come to dinner some night soon? It's been a while since we've seen you."

"Thanks, I'd love to. Have Trish call me."

They hung up, and Rachel drew a deep breath. If Andy didn't think the men were FBI, that was good enough for her. Going into the bedroom, she stood beside the bed and watched the man sleep, his deep chest slowly rising and falling. She had kept the blinds closed since the night she had brought him into the house, so the room was dim and cool, but a thin ray of sunlight crept between two of the slats and slanted across his stomach, making that long, thin scar glow. Whoever he was, whatever he was involved in, he wasn't a common criminal.

They played lethal games, the men and women who peopled the shadowy world of intelligence and counterintelligence. They lived their lives balanced on the razor's edge of death; they were hard and cold, intense but casual. They weren't like other people, the people who worked at the same job every day and went home to their houses, to their families. Was he one of those for whom a normal life was impossible? She was almost certain of it now. But what was going on, and who could she trust? Someone had shot him. Either he had escaped, or he had been dumped in the ocean to drown. Were those two men hunting for him to protect him, or to finish off the job? Did he possess some highly sensitive information, something critical to defense?

She trailed her fingers over his hand, which was lying limply on top of the sheet. His skin was hot and dry; fever still burned inside him as his body tried to mend itself. She had been able to spoon enough sweetened tea and water into him to keep him from becoming dehydrated, but he had to begin eating soon, or she would be forced to take him to a hospital. This was the third day; he had to have nourishment.

Her brow furrowed. If he could swallow tea, he could swallow soup. She should have thought of that before!

Briskly she went into the kitchen and opened a can of chicken noodle soup, ran it through the blender until it was liquified, then put it on the stove to simmer. "Sorry it isn't homemade," she muttered to the man in the bedroom. "But I don't have any chicken in the freezer. Besides, this is easier."

She watched him closely, checking on him every few minutes; when he began to stir restlessly, moving his head back and forth on the pillow and kicking at the sheet, she prepared a tray for his first "meal," such as it was. It didn't take her long, less than five minutes. She carried the tray into the bedroom and almost dropped it when he suddenly heaved himself up on his right elbow, staring at her with those piercing, fever-bright black eyes.

Rachel's entire body tensed as desperation flooded her. If he fell off the bed she wouldn't be able to get him back on it without help. He was weaving back and forth on his precarious prop, still staring at her with burning intensity. She plunked the tray down on the floor where she stood, sloshing some of the soup over the side of the bowl, then darted to the side of the bed to catch him. Gently, supporting his head and trying not to jostle his shoulder, she put her arm around his back and eased his head onto her shoulder, bracing herself against his weight. "Lie down," she said in the calm, soothing tone she always used for him. "You can't get up yet."

A frown laced his black eyebrows together, and he resisted her efforts. "It's time for the party," he muttered, his words still drunkenly slurred.

He was awake, but certainly not lucid, drifting in a fever-induced dream world. "No, the party hasn't started yet," she reassured him, catching his right elbow and pulling it forward so he wouldn't be able to prop himself up on it.

His weight fell heavily on her supporting arm as she lowered him back onto the pillow. "You have time for a nap." He lay there, breathing heavily, his brow still furrowed as he stared at her. His gaze didn't flicker as she retrieved the tray from the floor and placed it on the bedside table; his attention was locked on her, as if he were trying to make sense of things, to fight his way out of the mists that clouded his mind. She talked quietly to him as she propped him up on her extra pillows; she didn't know if he understood what she was saying, but her voice and touch seemed to calm him. Sitting on the side of the bed, she began to feed him, talking to him all the while. He was docile, opening his mouth whenever she put the spoon to his lips, but soon his eyelids began to droop as he tired. Quickly she gave him aspirin, elated at how easy it had been to feed him.

As she supported his head and pulled the extra pillows from behind him so he could lie flat again, she had an idea. It was worth a try. "What's your name?"

He frowned, his head jerking restlessly. "Whose?" he asked, his deep voice full of confusion.

Rachel remained bent over him, her hand under his head. Her heart was beating faster. Maybe she could begin getting some answers! "Yours. What's your name?"

"Mine?" The questions were making him fretful, agitated. He stared hard at her as he tried to concentrate, his gaze slipping over her face, then moving lower.

She tried again. "Yes, yours. What's your name?"

"Mine?" He drew a deep breath, then said it again. "Mine." The second time it was a statement, not a question. Slowly he moved, lifting both hands, wincing at the pain in his shoulder. He molded his hands over her breasts, cupping them warmly in his palms and rubbing her nipples with his thumbs. "Mine," he said again, stating what he plainly considered to be his ownership.

For a moment, just for a moment, Rachel was helpless against the unexpected pleasure burning her flesh at his touch. She was frozen in place, her nerve endings going wild, her body flooding with warmth as his thumbs turned her nipples into hardened nubs. Then reality returned with a thud, and she jerked away from him, bolting off the bed. Exasperation at himand anger at herselffilled her. "That's what you think," she snapped at him. "These are mine, not yours!"

His eyelids drooped sleepily. She stood there glaring down at him. Evidently the only things on his mind were partying and sex! "Damn it, you have a one-track mind!" she angrily accused, half under her breath.

His eyelashes fluttered open, and he looked at her again. "Yes," he said clearly, then closed his eyes and went to sleep.

Rachel stood beside the bed with clenched fists, torn between laughing and swatting him. It was doubtful that he had understood anything she'd said; that last provocative word could have been in answer to her accusation, or to some question that existed only in his own foggy consciousness. Now he was sleeping heavily again, totally relaxed and oblivious to the upheaval he had left behind.

Shaking her head, she picked up the tray and quietly left the room. Her insides were still quivering with mingled indignation and desire. It was an uncomfortable combination, uncomfortable because she wasn't one to delude herself, and she couldn't deny that she was attracted to him more powerfully than she could ever have imagined. Touching him was a compulsion; her hands wanted to linger on his warm skin. His voice made her shiver deep inside, and one look from those black eyes made her feel electrified. And his touch…his touch! Twice now he had put his hands on her, and each time she had turned molten with uncontrollable pleasure.

It was insane to feel so intensely about a man she didn't know, but no amount of self-lecturing could change her response. Their lives had become linked from the moment she had dragged him out of the surf; in assuming responsibility for his safety, she had committed herself to him on a level that went so deep she was only now beginning to realize its reaches. And he had become hers, as if that act of mercy had created a marriage of their lives, binding them together regardless of their wishes or wants.

Though he was a stranger she already knew a lot about him. She knew that he was hard and fast and well trained; he would have to be, to survive in the world he had chosen. He also possessed a tough-mindedness that was awesome in its intensity, a steely determination that had kept him swimming in the night-dark ocean with two bullet wounds in his body, when a lesser man would have drowned almost immediately. She knew that he was important to the people who were hunting him, though she didn't know if they wanted to protect him or kill him. She knew that he didn't snore and that he had an extremely healthy libido, despite his physical incapacitation. He was still when he slept, except when his bones and muscles ached from his flaring fever; that stillness had bothered her at first, until she realized that it was natural to him.

He also answered no questions, even in his delirium, not even one as elemental as his name. It could be the fever-induced confusion, but it was also more than possible that his training was so deeply ingrained in his subconscious that even illness or drugs couldn't override it.

Soon, tomorrow or the next day, or perhaps even during the coming night, he would wake up and be in full possession of his senses. He would require clothing, and answers to his questions. She wondered what those questions would be, and thought of her own questions, though she was beginning to wonder if he would provide any answers. She couldn't prepare for what he might or might not say, because she felt it would be useless to try to predict his actions. Clothing, however, was a problem she could do something about. She had nothing there that would fit him; though she often wore men's shirts she had bought them specifically for herself, and they would be far too small for him. She hadn't kept any of B.B.'s clothing, though that would have been useless in any case, as B.B. had weighed a good thirty pounds less than this man.

Mentally she made a list of the things he would need. She didn't like leaving him alone for the length of time it would take her to drive to the nearest discount store, but it was either that or ask Honey to do the shopping and bring the things out. She considered that. It was tempting, but the arrival of the two men that morning made her reluctant to involve Honey any deeper in the situation. It should be safe to leave him alone for an hour. She would do her shopping early the next morning, which would give those men time to move out of the immediate area.

She carefully locked the house when she left, and told Joe to stand guard. Her patient was sleeping quietly; she had just gotten him settled, so he should sleep for several hours. Her gun-metal Regal ate up the miles as she pushed her speed as fast as she could, anxiety gnawing at her. It should be all right to leave him alone, but she wouldn't breathe easy until she was back home and could see that for herself.

Though it had just opened for the morning, the local K mart was already swarming with customers who had all decided to do their shopping before the worst heat of the day was upon them. Rachel got a shopping cart and maneuvered it through the crowded aisles, dodging the darting preschoolers who had managed to escape their mothers and were headed, one and all, for the toy department. She steered around browsers, idled behind a frail white-haired woman who walked with a cane, then spotted a clear aisle and broke to the right.

A package of underwear, a few pairs of socks and a pair of jogging shoes, size ten, went into the cart. She had measured his feet that morning, so she was fairly certain the shoes would fit. Two button-up shirts and a cotton terry pullover shirt were piled on top of the shoes. She was uncertain of what size pants to get, but finally selected a pair of jeans, a pair of black denim cutoffs in case the jeans were too uncomfortable on his leg and a pair of khaki chinos. She was ready to head for the checkout counter when a tingle ran up her spine, and her head lifted. Glancing around, she saw a man casually examining some sale items, and the tingle became a fullfledged chill. It was Agent Lowell.

Without breaking stride, she diverted her path to the women's section. The men's clothes, though androgynous enough that they couldn't be recognized as men's unless the sizes were examined, would be a dead giveaway under close scrutiny. Unfortunately Agent Lowell was exactly the type to subject everything to just such an examination. The undershorts, socks and shoes, beneath the pants and shirts, could have no logical explanation.

Ruthlessly she went through the underwear section. Several pairs of panties, all lace and satin, were thrown on top of the pile. A frothy confection of a bra and a matching half-slip were added; she hoped she could trust in the normal male's aversion to handling female lingerie in a public place to keep Agent Lowell from examining the contents of her shopping cart. Out of the corner of her eye she saw him casually moving closer, pausing every so often to examine certain items with absent interest. He was good; he slid through the crowds without attracting notice. He tracked, while giving no appearance of being a hunter.

A grim look entered Rachel's eyes. He would have to be determined indeed to get to the bottom of her cart. Wheeling around, she headed for the drug-and-health section. Intimate female items, some of which she never used but chose now for their conspicuous packaging, were thrown into the cart. If he dared reach for anything she would accuse him of being a pervert in a voice loud enough to bring every store security guard at a run.

He was closing in again. Rachel chose her moment, then turned her cart and all but rammed it into his knee.

"Oh, my goodness, I'm sorry!" she gasped in apology. "I didn't see youoh," she said again, startled recognition in her voice. "Ag" She stopped, looked around, then lowered her voice to little more than a whisper. "Agent Lowell."

It was an Academy Award-winning performance, but it might have been wasted on Agent Lowell, who was preoccupied with rubbing his knee. He straightened, a look of pain still in his eyes. "Hello again, Ms….I don't believe I got your name yesterday."

"Jones," she said, holding out her hand. "Rachel Jones."

His hand was hard, but his palm was a little moist. Agent Lowell wasn't quite as relaxed as he appeared.

"You're out early," he commented.

"With the heat the way it is, it's best to either get out early or wait until after sundown. You really should wear a hat if you're going to be walking around today the way you were yesterday." His face was already sunburned, so her advice was too late.

His expressionless eyes drifted down to the contents of the cart, then jerked back up abruptly. Rachel felt a moment's grim satisfaction at her choices. His presence could be pure coincidence, or it could be deliberate, but he was automatically curious; it was part of his job. She sensed that he had been less disarmed by her studied nonchalance and innocence than the other agent had been.

"You, uh, may have to float a loan to pay for all that," he said after a slight pause.

She ruefully examined the cart. "You may be right. Every time I go off on a trip it seems as if I never have what I need."

His eyes sharpened with interest. "You're going on a trip?"

"In a couple of weeks. I'm doing some research on the Keys, and it always helps to see an area firsthand."

"Research?"

She shrugged. "I dabble in several things. I have my souvenir shops. I do a little writing, teach a few night courses. It keeps me from getting bored with myself." Looking at the checkout counters, where the lines were growing, she said blithely, "I'd better get in line before everyone in the store gets ahead of me. Ohdid you find anything yesterday?"

His face was a blank mask, though his eyes were once again peering at her cart. "No, nothing. It may have been a false lead."

"Well, good luck. Remember to get a cap or something while you're here."

"Sure. Thanks."

She joined one of the lines at the row of checkout counters and selected a magazine to flip through while she waited, gradually nudging the cart forward. He had moved to the side and was looking at paperback books. Damn, would he never leave? When it came her time, she unloaded the cart and tried to keep her body between Lowell and the counter. The clerk picked up the package of undershorts and held them in front of her while she punched in the code number on the computerized cash register. Rachel shifted to that side, and when the clerk set the package down she pushed a shirt over it. Lowell was moving closer.

"One-forty-six eighteen," the clerk said, reaching for a large bag.

Rachel checked her wallet, inwardly grimacing. She seldom carried that much cash, and this was no exception. Disgruntled, she plunked down a plastic credit card and the clerk ran it through the imprinting machine, then called to get an okay on the amount. Lowell had walked around to the front of the store and was coming down in front of the checkout counters. Rachel grabbed the bag the clerk had laid on the counter and began shoving her purchases into it.

"Sign here," the clerk said, pushing the credit slip toward her. Rachel scribbled her name and a moment later the bag was stapled shut. She loaded it in the cart and began wheeling it out of the store.

"Need any help?" Lowell asked, falling into step beside her.

"No, rolling it in the cart is easier than carrying it. Thanks, anyway."

The humid heat settled on them like a suffocating blanket as soon as they left the cool confines of the store, and Rachel squinted her eyes against the almost painful brightness. After opening the trunk of the car she dumped the bag in and slammed the lid shut, agonizingly aware of Lowell's acute interest.

She pushed the cart to a buggy-return stand, then walked back to the car. "Goodbye," she said casually.

He was still watching as she drove out of the lot. Rachel wiped the perspiration off her face, aware that her heart was thudding in a panicky rhythm. She was out of practice for this! She only hoped he hadn't been too suspicious.

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