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By:T. R. Ragan

retty stupid to turn down three hundred dollars a day to sit in her car all day and watch a woman betray her husband. Lizzy grabbed a half-chewed pencil from the jar and took notes while he talked. When he was finished she said, "Why don't you give me a cell phone number where I can reach you. I'll sleep on it and call you in the morning."

"I'll call back in a few days," Victor said. A click and a proceeding dial tone followed.

"Okay, never mind, Victor. Don't give me your number. And maybe I won't sleep on it." She hung up the phone.

She read over her notes. Victor said he was an attorney. He talked like an attorney-fast and full of himself.

Lizzy shrugged. Something told her he wouldn't be calling back. She crumpled the note and tossed it in the wastebasket under her desk, then leaned back in her chair. Her gaze connected with her desk drawer. The same drawer where she kept all her private files...all of her secrets.

The phone rang again. She let it ring for a moment, and then picked it up on the fifth ring. "Listen, Victor, I don't appreciate your hanging up on me."

"I've missed you, Lizzy."

It definitely wasn't Victor. "Who's this?"

"You promised you'd never leave me."

A cold chill swept over her. "Who is this?" she asked again.

"Because of you, nobody's safe, Lizzy."

She kept the phone to her ear, but didn't say a word. Instinctively, she reached for her Glock and looked out the window. Her gaze swept over the gray building across the street, and then over the cars parked at the curb-all empty. About a block away, a woman exited a hair salon, pulled keys from her purse, climbed into her BMW and drove away. Whoever was on the other end of the wire was still there. She could hear his faint breathing.

She held the mouth piece away and took a deep breath, regained control of herself. "Is this you, Spiderman?"

A short caustic laugh sounded on the other end of the line before he said, "You shouldn't have gotten away, Lizzy, and you never should have taken something that didn't belong to you. Too bad your mother didn't teach you any manners before she moved so far away. If I'd known you were a liar and a thief, I would have taken care of you long ago."

The line went dead.


She yanked open her bottom drawer and retrieved a file. She opened it and skimmed page after page of notes. Why couldn't she remember details of her time with that crazy man? What did he look like? All she had to do was close her eyes to remember waking up in the room with an aquarium full of spiders and then finding that poor little girl...and almost escaping. Almost. Close, but no cigar. Why hadn't she looked at the couch before she ran out the sliding glass door with that girl? If she had noticed he was no longer sleeping, she could have thrown a chair through the front window or maybe found a telephone to call for help.

She clamped her eyes shut. She could have locked him out of his own damn house. But she hadn't done any of those things. And now all of those days spent with him...all that time...the two months following her attempt at escape were as thick and hazy in Lizzy's mind as the fog outside her window. Two months of hell, and yet the only time she saw glimpses of the horror she experienced was at night, after she couldn't keep her eyes open any longer.

Chapter 4

Monday, February 15, 2010 4:00 PM

Back at her apartment, Lizzy opened the door and looked inside. She readied her gun as she listened and waited.

The only sounds were the padded footfalls of her cat, Maggie.


Her sister Cathy did not like Lizzy living alone, so she'd given Lizzy a cat as a birthday present two years ago. Lizzy hadn't wanted a cat, and she had done everything in her power to keep her distance from Maggie, refusing to let the animal anywhere near her bedroom for the first six months. But Maggie was a determined feline, and she had persevered, making a permanent home for herself on a wide cushiony chair in the corner of Lizzy's bedroom. It was Maggie's chair now. Maggie was her alarm clock, too, waking Lizzy up every morning at six o'clock, give or take a few minutes.

It irked her to know Cathy had been right. Again. Because the truth was, Lizzy didn't know what she would do without Maggie. Maggie had become her friend, her family, her life...yet one more reason why she still needed therapy.

Maggie circled her ankles, wrapping her tail around Lizzy's leg as she meowed. She was hungry.

"Any visitors today, Maggie?"


Lizzy stepped inside and flicked on the light. "Okay, if you say so." She locked the door, latched the chain and slid one of the deadbolts into place.

The phone rang.

She jerked about and aimed her gun at the phone on the kitchen counter. Swallowing the knot lodged in her throat, Lizzy moved slowly toward the phone. For a moment, she just watched it ring. Finally, she decided to ignore the incessant ringing of the phone and feed Maggie instead.

She laid the gun on the counter and opened the refrigerator door, determined not to worry about who might be calling. Let it go, she told herself, afraid of what would happen if she allowed herself to believe Spiderman was back.

Retrieving an open can of cat food from the second shelf, she used a fork to scoop out the rest of the can onto a glass dish. She even hummed a little tune while she worked. The ringing finally stopped.

Thank God.

"There you go, sweetie." She stroked Maggie's soft fur.

The phone rang again.


"Okay, Spiderman," she said aloud. "Let's have it out once and for all." She picked up the receiver. "What do you want!"

"Lizzy, is that you? It's Jared."

She couldn't think. She was a jumble of nerves. "Jared Shayne?"

"That's the one. Lizzy, how are you?"

A wave of emotion swept over her. She hadn't seen Jared in a very long time. Maybe a dozen times since Spiderman bashed her over the head and took her to his lair fourteen years ago. She'd gotten away from him, too. After spending two months in hell, she'd gotten away by using her brain. Mostly she'd used words, lots of words. All bullshit. She'd made the killer think she honestly cared about him, the oldest trick in the book, and then she'd gotten away.

And now, only weeks after her therapist said she was seeing progress, Spiderman called. And now Jared was calling her, too. Coincidence? Or just bad timing? Maybe if she could get more than two hours sleep at night she might be able to function like a regular human being.

She rubbed her temples. Night after night she heard nothing but endless moaning, crying, sawing, and drilling. There was nothing she could do about it then, and there was nothing she could do about it now.

"Lizzy, are you there?"

Every single day she asked herself the same bullshit question: what would it take for her to be able to lead a so-called normal life? And every day she came up with the same answer: she wasn't going to get any sleep until she knew for sure that Spiderman was dead.


"I'm sorry, Jared. Is it really you?"

"It's me, Lizzy. I'm sorry I haven't called before now. How are you?"

After returning from the bowels of hell, she'd told Jared to leave her alone. For the first six months, he'd ignored her request and stayed at her side, day and night. But in the end, he'd given up and did as she asked. "I'm great," she lied.

There was a pause before he said, "I'm glad. It's good to hear your voice. Unfortunately, I'm calling because we've got a situation here in Auburn. A missing girl. Is there any chance you can head out this way?"

She inwardly laughed. She couldn't help it. She'd heard from her sister that Jared Shayne had graduated from USC with a degree in psychology. Instead of becoming the best damn psychologist in the country