BEAST IN THE TOWER
Harlequin Intrigue #966
He's a Mystery Promotion, ISBN
#0-373-692331, January 2007
Eighteen Months Ago
The dust settling from the tired old walls coated the warped,
three-legged chair like a layer of gray velvet, undisturbed by the
passage of time. Since it offered the only place to sit in this
abandoned room, standing was the preferred option.
The room had made some banker's assistant a nice, cozy office back in
the building's heyday. Now it was a decrepit eyesore, marred by peeling
plaster and exposed studs in the crumbling walls, good for nothing more
than meetings like this one.
Just another example of misused funds and misguided dreams. Dr. Damon
Sinclair had been a sentimental fool to purchase this thirty-story
high-rise and hire architects and historians to research its history so
he could restore it to all its glory. He was an even bigger fool for
trusting the wrong people.
But one man's disadvantage was another--"I've got them."
Ah, yes, the hired help had arrived. A few minutes late, but carrying
something that could make his tardiness forgivable. Anticipation cleared
the sinuses and made the eyes sharply perceptive. "Let me see them."
Electricity hadn't run on this floor of the newly renamed Sinclair Tower
for years, but the heavy flashlight provided all the illumination
necessary to inspect the treasure the short, stocky workman handed over.
He was breathing hard from the exertion of the past hour or so, and the
grime hiding beneath his fingernails was as distasteful as the room
But a normal aversion to filthy things was momentarily forgotten as the
culmination of so much planning was about to come to fruition.
Retribution was only a fortunate by-product of the millions waiting to
be made. Patience had allowed the plan to go forward, but tonight it was
asking too much to wait for the privacy of a cleaner place before
opening the leather-bound books.
The three binders were heavy with the weight of possibilities. Thumbing
through the pages of scribbled notes and computer read-outs was like
following a map to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Only, the little leprechaun sent to retrieve the map had forgotten one
very important item.
Inhale deeply, exhale slowly. Patience. Patience. "You've already
rigged the explosion?"
The sweaty man hired for his alleged expertise nodded. "Yeah. The
unstable base and volatile acid will accidentally meet in--" he
paused to check his watch before raising a cocky grin "--fifteen minutes
and twenty-two seconds. No one will be able to trace what we've done, or
even that we've been there."
The incompetent fool had the audacity to laugh. "Yeah, right, I know.
You were never even here in the building."
"That's not the only mistake you've made, you idiot." The binders
dropped like a gauntlet between them, sending up a billowing cloud of
The little leprechaun frowned, perplexed by the displeasure. "What's
wrong? Shouldn't we be leaving?"
Sheer willpower stifled the urge to sneeze. "Where are the codes? The
difference between these binders--and binders with the codes--is ten
million dollars. These formulas will take years to decipher without
"I looked where you said. I looked everywhere I could think of. Your
information was wrong. The codes weren't in his lab." He backed toward
the door frame and glanced into the hallway, as if expecting to be
discovered. Had the idiot been followed? Maybe he'd been stupid enough
to use the freight elevator, the noise of which would certainly alert
those do-gooders who ran the restaurant on the ground floor that there
were trespassers on the upper floors of the building.
"You took the stairs, didn't you? I warned you to use the stairs."
The words fell on deaf ears. "Look, the blast won't affect us down here,
but the cops'll question anybody on the premises. Those fifteen minutes
will go by faster than you think. We need to get out of here."
Inhale. Exhale. "It will take months--maybe years--of research to
recreate Dr. Sinclair's formulas from these notes. My investors may not
be as patient as I--"
The little man dared to point a finger. "I brought you the files you
specified, replaced them with the fakes so no one would know they were
stolen, just like you said. And hell, yeah, I took the stairs."
"I told you we'd need the codes."
"They weren't there! I turned that place inside out. They must be hidden
someplace else. I don't know where else to look, what else to do."
"Yes, your incompetence is staggering." The gun slipped from its
waistband holster as easily as the decision to use it was made. Damon
Sinclair was a crafty bastard, but he could be beaten. Though not if
there was someone on the team who couldn't get the job done. "It's cost
me more than I anticipated already."
His gaze narrowed and focused on the gun. "What are you gonna do?"
Aim between the eyes. Pull the trigger before you can run. The
leprechaun's head jerked back. He hit the wall and slumped to the floor.
Dead. "Get better help."
“A Midsummer Night’s
Murder” from CORNERED by Julie Miller
Piercing eyes watched them running from tent to tent. Cursing. Crying.
One of them actually threw up. Idiots.
“Like chickens with their heads cut off.”
Only one of them seemed to fully grasp the
danger they were in. She thought she was so smart. But she wouldn’t be a
problem for long. None of them would be a problem anymore.
This plan was so ingenious, and his
ally so easily duped that it was almost too easy. If this group could
destroy the reputation of a proud private college that had been around
for generations, then they could easily destroy themselves.
And there wasn’t a one of them there who
didn’t deserve punishment of some kind. Fear was good. Terror, even
better. And for one in particular? Death was the only acceptable
Revenge was a grand thing. So entertaining.
Time to sit back and let the drama unfold.