The Perfect Husband [Quincy/Rainie Series Book 1] [Secure eReader (recommended)/Microsoft Reader/Adobe PDF]
Click on image to enlarge.
by Lisa Gardner
Description: Praise for The Perfect Husband: "A streamlined bang-up addition to the oeuvre of Tami Hoag, Karen Robards, Elizabeth Powell and, these days, even Nora Roberts."--Publishers Weekly "A dark, powerful tale of nerve-shattering suspense."--Tami Hoag "A chilling story of revenge and betrayal, with one of the creepiest villains I've ever read."--Iris Johansen, New York Times-bestselling author of The Ugly Duckling "An unforgettably evil villain and a throat-gripping climax make The Perfect Husband a real page-turner!"--Tess Gerritsen, New York Times-bestselling author of Harvest "I loved this book! I was up till 2 a.m. finishing it!"--Karen Robards, New York Times-bestselling author of Walking After Midnight and Hunter's Moon "Nail-biting suspense...a taut roller coaster of a story that kept me up very, very late."--Kay Hooper, nationally bestselling author of Amanda and After Caroline "A superlative read, with vivid characters, faultless procedure, and a villain who will whisper in the dark evertime you turn off the light."--Eileen Dreyer, nationally bestselling author of Brain Dead
eBook Publisher: Random House, Inc./Bantam Books,
EPIC eBookstore Release Date: October 2004
86 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure eReader (recommended)/Microsoft Reader/Adobe PDF - What's this?]: SECURE MICROSOFT READER FORMAT [511 KB] - Requires Microsoft Reader 2.1.1 for PCs, SECURE EREADER (RECOMMENDED) FORMAT [303 KB], SECURE ADOBE PDF FORMAT [1.4 MB]
All formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
"A streamlined bang-up addition to the oeuvre of Tami Hoag, Karen Robards, Elizabeth Powell and, these days, even Nora Roberts." -- Publishers Weekly
"A dark, powerful tale of nerve-shattering suspense." -- Tami Hoag
"A chilling story of revenge and betrayal, with one of the creepiest villains I've ever read." -- Iris Johansen, author of The Ugly Duckling
"An unforgettably evil villain and a throat-gripping climax make The Perfect Husband a real page-turner!" -- Tess Gerritsen, author of Harvest
"I loved this book! I was up till 2 a.m. finishing it!" -- Karen Robards, author of Walking After Midnight and Hunter's Moon
"Nail-biting suspense...a taut roller coaster of a story that kept me up very, very late." -- Kay Hooper, author of Amanda and After Caroline
"A superlative read, with vivid characters, faultless procedure, and a villain who will whisper in the dark evertime you turn off the light." -- Eileen Dreyer, author of Brain Dead
Five years later
J. T. DILLON WAS DRUNK. Outside, the white-hot desert sun was straight up in the sky, bleaching bones and parching mountains. Saguaro cacti seemed to surf waves of heat while sagebrush died of sunstroke at their feet. And all over Nogales, people hid in darkened rooms, running ice cubes down their naked chests and cursing God for having saved August's apocalypse for September.
But he didn't notice.
In the middle of the cool green oasis of his ranch-style home, J. T. Dillon lay sprawled on his back, his right hand cradling the silver-framed picture of a smiling woman and gorgeous little boy. His left hand held an empty tequila bottle.
Above him a fan stirred the air-conditioned breeze through the living room. Below him a Navajo print rug absorbed his sweat. The room was well maintained and tastefully decorated with wicker furniture and sturdy yucca soap trees.
He stopped noticing such details after his first day of straight tequila. As any marine knew, true binge drinking was art, and J.T. considered himself to be Tequila Willie's first Michelangelo. Shot number one seared away throat lining. Shot number two burned away the taste of the first. Half a bottle later, no man worth his salt even winced at the sensation of cheap, raw tequila ripping down his esophagus, into his stomach, and sooner or later, out his bowels.
By the end of day one J.T. had been beyond conscious thought. The ceiling fan had become a prehistoric bird, his wicker sofa a tiger lying in wait. The toughest, meanest marine in the world had developed a bad case of the giggles. When he closed his eyes, the world had spun sickeningly, so he'd spent his first night with his eyelids propped open by his fingers, staring at the ceiling hour after hour after hour.
Now, on his fourth day of straight tequila, he'd gone beyond thought and surrendered most of his body. His face had gone first. He'd been sitting by his pool, swigging some great Cuervo Gold, and abruptly he'd realized he could no longer feel his nose. He tried to find it with his fingers—no dice. His nose was gone. An hour later his cheeks disappeared as well. No rasp of whiskers, no sting of sweat. He had no cheeks. Finally, not that long ago, he'd lost his lips. He'd tried to open them and they hadn't been there anymore. No lips.
It made it damn hard to drink, and he had twenty-four hours of serious boozing left.
He rolled slowly onto his side, discovering he still had arms and a remnant of a pickled brain. He squeezed his eyes shut and hazy images clustered behind his eyelids. He'd been a champion swimmer and percussion rifle shooter once. He remembered the welcoming smell of chlorine and the heavy weight of his black walnut rifle. He'd been a marine with "raw talent, lots of potential" before he'd been asked to leave.
After the marines had come the stint as a mercenary, doing work he never told anyone about because then he'd have to kill them. The next image was more hesitant, still raw around the edges, as if it understood that even after four days of straight tequila, it had the power to bruise. He was back in the States. Rachel stood beside him. He was a husband. His gaze dropped to the little boy squeezing his hand. He was a father.
Now he was a drunk.
His manservant Freddie arrived, taking the silver-framed portrait from J.T.'s hands and replacing it in the safe where it would remain until next September.
"How are you doing, sir?"
His iguana crawled into the room, its four-foot tail slithering across the red-tiled floor. The tequila screamed, "Red alert! Godzilla attacks!" The sane part of him whispered through parched, rubbery lips, "Glug, go away. I mean it."
Glug pointedly ignored him, settling his plump body in a sunbeam that had sneaked through the venetian blinds and making himself comfortable. J.T. liked Glug.
"Water, sir?" Freddie inquired patiently.
"What day is it?"
"The thirteenth, sir."
"Then gimme another margarita."
In the distance a phone rang. The sound made J.T. groan, and when the noise had the audacity to repeat itself, he crawled painfully toward his patio to escape.
The sun promptly nailed him like a ball peen hammer. He swayed onto his feet, squinted his eyes from long practice, and oozed straight tequila from his pores.
Dry heat, they'd told him when he first moved to Arizona. Sure it's hot, but it's dry heat. Bullshit. One hundred and twenty was one hundred and twenty. No sane man lived in these kinds of temperatures.
He'd spent enough time in jungles, pretending he didn't notice the water steaming off his skin or his own pungent odor. He'd learned to block out some of it. He'd simply inhaled the rest. The jungle lived inside him now. Sometimes, if he remembered Virginia plantations and the way his father had sat at the head of the table, clad in his full Green Beret uniform, his trousers bloused into glossy black Corcoran jump boots, his shirt pressed into razor-sharp creases and ribbons pinned ostentatiously to his chest, the jungle took up its beat in his veins.
Then J.T. would laugh. It was the one valuable lesson he'd learned from his father. Women cry. Men laugh. Whiners moan. Men laugh. Wimps complain. Men laugh.
When Marion had called to tell him the colonel was dying of prostate cancer, J.T. had laughed so damn hard, he'd dropped the phone.
Freddie emerged on the porch, austere in his neatly pressed linen suit. "Telephone, sir."
"Is it still the thirteenth?"
"Tell 'em to go away."
Freddie didn't move. "It's Vincent, sir. He's called four times already. He claims it's important."
J.T. plopped down on the deck and dangled his fingertips into the pool. He'd dreamed of owning a pool like this most of his life. He half-hated it.
"Vincent always thinks it's important."
"He refuses to hang up, sir." Freddie placed the phone on the patio. His indignant sniff indicated what he thought of Vincent. J.T. rolled over on his back. Neither Freddie nor the phone appeared to be willing to go away.
Grudgingly he lifted the receiver. "I'm retired, Vincent."
"No kidding, old man." Vincent's booming voice made J.T. clutch his forehead. "I got a live one for you, Dillon. Right up your alley."
"It's the thirteenth."
"All over half the globe."
"I don't take calls until the fourteenth, and I don't take your calls any day. I'm retired."
"Dillon, wait till you hear about the money—"
"I don't need money."
"Everyone needs money."
"I don't need money. I don't need business. I'm out. Good-bye."
"Hey, hey, hey! Hold on! Come on, J.T. Hear me out, for old time's sake. Listen, I met this woman. She's really terrific—"
"That's not what I meant—"
"Blond probably. You always were a sucker for blondes."
"J.T., buddy, don't be such an ass. I wouldn't have called you about just anyone—I know you're retired. But this woman needs help. I mean, she needs help."
"Yeah? Grab a phone book, look up St. Jude, dial the number. If anyone answers, let me know. I might try dialing it myself someday. Bye."
"I don't care." J.T. hung up the phone. Freddie was still standing there. A bead of sweat traced his upper lip. J.T. shook his head.
"What were you so worried about?" he chided his manservant. "That I'd say yes? That I'd give up all this for a thirty-second adrenaline rush? Freddie, I thought we knew each other better than that."
"I'll bring you another margarita, sir."
"Yeah, Freddie. We understand each other just fine."
J.T. let his head fall back against the heat-proofed patio. The sun pierced his eyelids until he could see the red veins zigzagging his flesh.
Freddie reappeared with a salt-rimmed glass and set it by J.T.'s head.
"Freddie?" J.T. said.
"Let another call come through, and I will fire you."
"Even if it's the colonel, Freddie. Do you understand?"
"Of course, sir."
Freddie pivoted sharply and left; J.T. didn't bother to watch.
He tipped into the pool fully clothed. He sank all the way down. He didn't fight it, he'd never had to fight water. From the beginning, Marion had been able to do anything on a horse and J.T. had been able to anything underwater.
His feet touched bottom. He opened his eyes and surveyed his kingdom, the sides of the pool formed by jutting red stone, the bottom that looked like strewn sapphires.
Copyright © 1998 by Lisa Baumgartner