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By Carolyn G. Hart

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Almost three o’clock. Swinging her legs over the side, she slipped into her scuffed pink satin houseshoes. Oh, her jaw, her jaw. She padded across the room to her bath and reached up for the brown plastic vial of Valium tablets. One of them might help her sleep. She filled a bathroom cup with water and swallowed the tiny pill, then suppressed a groan. It would take a while for the drug to help. She almost walked to her easy chair, but she knew she would feel better if she kept moving. She crossed the room, dodging the potted plants and the rocking chair and the rickety maple whatnot, and opened the French window to step out onto the second-floor balcony.

The driver of the car burst into the main hall. She was tall and willowy, with strikingly lovely auburn hair which she wore in an old-fashioned chignon. Her face was delicately boned and slender; her pale blue eyes were enormous. She would qualify as a beauty except that her face was white and pinched, the lips quivering in distress. She ignored Annie. Perhaps, in her anger, she didn’t even see her. She spoke to the maid, her voice shaking with fury. ” SUNLIGHT FLOODED THE old and elegant hallway from the open doorway to the left.

Let’s see, it was archery in Death at St. Asprey’s School by Leo Bruce, bullfighting in Puzzle for Pilgrims by Patrick Quentin, running in Dead Heat by Linda Barnes, basketball in The Giant Kill by Kin Piatt, golf in—” “Annie. Annie. ” She paused, images still flashing in her brain like neon on a rainy Saturday night. “Quiet now. ” Obediently, she breathed. Then she shook her head impatiently. ” “I thought you were hyperventilating. Take it easy. ” His voice was low, deep, soothing, and extraordinarily irritating.

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