Hit Parade Page 45

There was the house, white with dark green trim, a prewar frame house with a basketball hoop mounted on the garage at the end of the long driveway. Keller circled the block, parked where he could watch the place without being too obvious about it. He cut the engine, but moved the key to a position that let you listen to the radio. Or, in this case, the CD player, where Williwaw was in desperate straits.

The side door of the white frame house opened, and two children hurried up the driveway to the garage, shortly followed by their mother, who was wearing gray sweatpants and a University of Southern Michigan sweatshirt. The garage door ascended, and a Japanese SUV backed out of the driveway and headed off down Rumsey Road. Taking them to school, Keller thought. And she didn\ look to be dressed for anything more than dropping them off and coming straight home.

Would the CD player keep his place? Or would the damn thing start over from the beginning? Hard to tell, but it was a risk he\d have to take. He turned the key, drew it from the ignition lock, and walked up the driveway she\d recently backed out of. She\d left the garage door open, which suggested a quick return, and which made it easy for Keller to conceal himself. He stood in the shadows, next to a child\s bicycle, and thought occasionally about the woman, and the rest of the time about Williwaw and his long-eared fellows.

She was back in under fifteen minutes, and she was out of the car before she saw Keller. She hadn\ expected this, had evidently had no idea that her husband, conveniently on the other side of the country on a business trip, was so anxious to get rid of her that he\d paid a substantial fee toward that end. Still, she was afraid, and her fear froze her in her tracks, mouth open, eyes wide.

Keller stunned her with a stiff-fingered jab to the solar plexus, then took hold of her and broke her neck.

Back in his rental car, Keller had a bad moment when he started it up. But then the CD came on, and it resumed right where it had left off, which saved having to search for his place. He thought the image of the woman\s face might get in the way, that and the sense-memory of lowering her body to the ground and shoving her out of sight underneath her SUV, but before he\d gone three blocks he was caught up in the story, and the woman\s image was already starting to fade from his memory.

Poor little rabbits. He hoped nothing bad would happen to them.

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