family, of sorts. A brother and sister whose lives no longer marched with hers. A father who was almost a stranger. A mother she hadn’t seen or heard from in twenty years.
Not my fault, Jo reminded herself as she started back across the street. It was Annabelle’s fault. Everything had changed when Annabelle had run from Sanctuary and left her baffled family crushed and heartbroken. The trouble, as Jo saw it, was that the rest of them hadn’t gotten over it. She had.
She hadn’t stayed on the island guarding every grain of sand like her father did. She hadn’t dedicated her life to running and caring for Sanctuary like her brother, Brian. And she hadn’t escaped into foolish fantasies or the next thrill the way her sister, Lexy, had.
Instead she had studied, and she had worked, and she had made a life for herself. If she was a little shaky just now, it was only because she’d overextended, was letting the pressure get to her. She was a little run-down, that was all. She’d just add some vitamins to her regimen and get back in shape.
She might even take a vacation, Jo mused as she dug her keys out of her pocket. It had been three years—no, four—since she had last taken a trip without a specific assignment. Maybe Mexico, the West Indies. Someplace where the pace was slow and the sun hot. Slowing down and clearing her mind. That was the way to get past this little blip in her life.
As she stepped back into the apartment, she kicked a small, square manila envelope that lay on the floor. For a moment she simply stood, one hand on the door, the other holding her camera, and stared at it.
Had it been there when she left? Why was it there in the first place? The first one had come a month before, had been waiting in her stack of mail, with only her name carefully printed across it.
Her hands began to shake again as she ordered herself to close the door, to lock it. Her breath hitched, but she leaned over, picked it up. Carefully, she set the camera aside, then unsealed the flap.
When she tapped out the contents, the sound she made was a long, low moan. The photograph was very professionally done, perfectly cropped. Just as the other three had been. A woman’s eyes, heavy-lidded, almond-shaped, with thick lashes and delicately arched brows. Jo knew their color would be blue, deep blue, because the eyes were her own. In them was stark terror.
When was it taken? How and why? She pressed a hand to her mouth, staring down at the photo, knowing her eyes mirrored the shot perfectly. Terror swept through her, had her rushing through the apartment into the small second bedroom she’d converted to a darkroom. Frantically she yanked open a drawer, pawed through the contents, and found the envelopes she’d buried there. In each was another black-and-white photo, cropped to two by six inches.
Her heartbeat was thundering in her ears as she lined them up. In the first the eyes were closed, as if she’d been photographed while sleeping. The others followed the waking process. Lashes barely lifted, showing only a hint of iris. In the third the eyes were open but unfocused and clouded with confusion.
They had disturbed her, yes, unsettled her, certainly, when she found them tucked in her mail. But they hadn’t frightened her.
Now the last shot, centered on her eyes, fully awake and bright with fear.
Stepping back, shivering, Jo struggled to be calm. Why only the eyes? she asked herself. How had someone gotten close enough to take these pictures without her being aware of it? Now, whoever it was had been as close as the other side of her front door.
Propelled by fresh panic, she ran into the living room, and frantically checked the locks. Her heart was battering against her ribs when she fell back against the door. Then the anger kicked in.
Bastard, she thought. He wanted her to be terrorized. He wanted her to hide inside those rooms, jumping at shadows, afraid to step outside for fear he’d be there watching. She who had always been fearless was playing right into his hands.
She had wandered alone through foreign cities, walked mean streets and empty ones, she’d climbed mountains and hacked through jungles. With the camera as her shield, she’d never given a thought to fear. And now, because of a handful of photos, her legs were jellied with it.
The fear had been building, she admitted now. Growing and spiking over the weeks, level by level. It made her feel helpless, so exposed, so brutally alone.
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