Christmas is coming... and Jenny Fitzgerald couldn't care less. She's getting
divorced, and her life is in tatters. And just when she's thinking it couldn't
possibly be worse, her husband is killed on the job, an undercover operation gone
bad. In the midst of her grief, Jenny is confronted with a killer. A hunter who
will stop at nothing to see her dead...
New York City
be home for Christmas…”
Judy Garland crooned in surround-sound and Jenny Fitzgerald resisted the urge
to throw something. She’d wanted to get rid of her husband. That much was
true. But not in a permanent sort of way.
All she’d wanted was a divorce, and now Connor was dead.
He’d never be home for Christmas again. Which made the carol all that
much more of a twisted joke. Stifling a sob, Jenny threw the pants she was folding
onto the bed, her gaze dropping to the envelope on the night stand.
The divorce decree.
All it needed was a signature and it was final. Only Connor hadn’t bothered
to open the envelope, and it seemed that widowhood made the point moot. She grabbed
the envelope and stuffed it into her purse, not sure why exactly she did so, except
that she didn’t want it mocking her.
“How about a break?” Sandy Markham appeared in the doorway, her
face purposefully cheerful. “I found some wine.” She held up a bottle,
her expression turning apologetic.
Sandy had been Jenny’s best friend since first grade. She’d helped
Jenny toilet paper Connor’s house in the sixth grade, found her a date when
Connor’s family had moved just before junior prom, celebrated their reunion
in college, been maid of honor at their wedding, supported Jenny when she’d
decided to leave Connor, and, two days ago, she’d stood beside her at his
A lifetime of memories all tied to a dead man.
“Wine would be good.” Jenny folded another shirt and laid it in
the box marked St. Ann’s.
Sandy walked into the room, setting the bottle on the bureau. “Are you
sure you should be doing this? I mean there isn’t any hurry. Surely you
could wait until--”
“Until what? I’m stronger?” Jenny crossed her arms over her
chest, hugging herself.
“Oh, honey.” Sandy frowned. “I didn’t mean it like
that. I just hate to see you so upset.”
Jenny shrugged, picking up another shirt. “It’s got to be done.
Mr. Bowman’s let me out of the lease, but that means the apartment has to
be empty by January.”
“So at least wait until after Christmas. Or hire someone to do it.”
“I will hire someone. I just wanted to go through his personal things.
I can’t…” She sat done on the bed, burying her face in her hands,
and then pulled up, forcing a smile. “I can’t stand the idea of anyone
else going through them.”
Sandy wrapped an arm around her. “I understand. But we don’t have
to do it all in one day. Right?”
Jenny nodded, emotions leaving her drained. “I guess I just thought doing
something would make me feel better. Accept the reality of it all. I mean, after
six years as a cop’s wife, you’d think I’d be used to the idea
“Death as an abstract is a lot easier to conceptualize than the real
thing.” Sandy sighed. “Besides, this isn’t just any death. It’s
And that said it all, really. Connor Fitzgerald had been an integral part of
her life, and even their impending divorce hadn’t erased the memories. No
matter what he’d done, she still cared. His death had only punctuated the
“I must have imagined something like this happening at least million
times,” she said. “It’s part of what drove us apart, I guess.”
“Yeah, that and Amy Whitaker.” The minute the words were out Sandy
ducked her head, her face awash with regret. “I shouldn’t have said
“Why not?” Jenny said, her insides threatening to fuse together.
“Yeah, but I shouldn’t have brought it up. As usual, my mouth just
engaged before my brain.” Sandy offered a weak smile. “For what it’s
worth, I still really have trouble with the idea. I mean he was so in love with
you. Anyone could see that. Even afterwards...” She broke off obviously
at a loss for words.
“Sometimes love just isn’t enough.” Jenny shrugged, pretending
a nonchalance she didn’t feel. “Besides, Amy was just the tip of the
iceberg. Being with Connor was never easy, and his working Vice just made it that
much harder. He was gone all the time, and he couldn’t talk about his work.
It just got more and more difficult to connect.” She fought against old
feelings of failure, pushing them aside with a sigh. “Anyway, none of it
matters anymore. Connor is gone. And the past has to become just that -- the past.”
“I think that’s the problem,” Sandy said, her gaze concerned.
“It isn’t over. Not really. Too much was left unsettled between the
two of you. And that’s what’s making it so hard to accept that he’s
“Maybe you’re right.” Jenny stood up, wiping her hands on
her jeans. “You know, I keep expecting him to come through that door and
yell at me for going through his things. Crazy, huh?”
“No. Not at all. In fact, I suspect it’s absolutely normal. But
that doesn’t make it any easier.” Sandy’s smile was sad. “Hey,
why don’t we go out for a while, have something to eat, and then we’ll
come back here and tackle the rest.”
“No.” Jenny shook her head, squaring her shoulders. “Let’s
just get it done.” She reached for a sweater, trying to ignore the familiar
smell of Hugo Boss. “I will have that glass of wine though. There’s
a screw pull in the second drawer by the sink.”
Sandy grabbed the bottle and headed for the kitchen. As soon as she was out
of sight, Jenny sank back down onto the bed, her thoughts in turmoil. She’d
hoped that with the memorial service behind her, she’d at least feel a sense
of relief. But instead, the pain only seemed to have intensified. Repression is
what her psychiatrist would call it.
But heart wrenching seemed a better word.
She’d known Connor almost her whole life. Loved him. Hated him. Loved
him again. And then left him. But she hadn’t managed to get him out of her
heart. That had simply been beyond her abilities.
And now he was gone and she was, as usual, left behind.
What she needed was closure. Only she wasn’t going to get it. At least
not in a way that she could live with.
The doorbell and the phone rang at the same time, and Jenny dove across the
bed for the phone. She wasn’t really up to talking, but better that than
answering the door. She’d let Sandy handle that.
fumbled with the receiver, losing her grip on it once, then finally managed to
put it to her ear. As she said hello, she heard the murmur of voices in the foyer.
When it rained it poured.
For a minute the other end of the line was silent. Long enough that she started
to put the receiver back in the cradle, but the sound of static made her stop,
her heart pounding in her ears.
“Get out of there.” The voice was low, almost inaudible. “Now.”