Last Breath
knew that neither of them had gotten fully back on track since the divorce. That was why it was dangerous to get together. There was too great a temptation to revive the old relationship. It would be so easy. She had always loved him, even at the end. Loved him, hated him, distrusted him—all at the same time.
    She sighed. “You’re a piece of work, Killer,” she murmured, “you know that?”
    She went into the den and sat before her desktop computer, logging on to the Internet to check her e-mail. As usual, it was mostly spam. She wondered why they called it that. Perhaps because nobody liked it, but it never seemed to go away.
    One message was different from the rest. It consisted of one sentence.
    She had heard of 4-H, of course. Some sort of club for people who raised livestock or something.
    Whatever it was, she had never tried to join, and even if she had, this cryptic message was hardly the way to welcome a new member.
    Must be a joke, she decided. Or maybe the rest of the message had been cut off.
    She almost deleted the e-mail, but hesitated. The message disturbed her for some reason. She thought of the white van. Now this.
    There couldn’t be any connection. Of course not.
    Even so, she saved the message on her hard drive, though she wasn’t sure why.
    She logged off and shut down her computer. Suddenly she was restless. Returning to her bedroom, she threw on some clothes, then dragged her collapsible home gym out from under the bed.
    She set to work doing butterfly curls. Generally she did a minimum of fifty, with the resistance set at a moderate level. She had learned not to train too hard. A pulled muscle could hamper her activities in the field for days, even weeks. It was better to do more reps at a lower setting. Besides, she was mainly interested in toning her physique.
    Finished with the curls, she readjusted her position and did leg lifts. It was more efficient to alternate upper and lower body exercises, allowing one set of muscles to recover while the other set was being worked.
    She had never been a fitness maven until she enrolled in the Academy. Then she set to work on improving her physical conditioning even before the first day of class. Her greatest fear had been humiliation—she hadn’t wanted to be a washout, hadn’t wanted to find that she couldn’t complete a set of push-ups or a jog around the track, while all the other recruits handled it easily. As it turned out, she proved to be one of the fittest members of the class—a mixed blessing, since it meant that her instructors often singled her out to lead the class in an exercise routine.
    Some cops gradually lost their conditioning once they were in the field. She was determined not to follow their example. In the Academy, slow reflexes or poor coordination could have cost her a few points with the instructors. On the street, the same failings could get her killed.
    Suppose she had been a fraction slower when she grabbed Ramon Sanchez’s revolver ...
    “Don’t think about it,” she gasped, flexing her thigh muscles in another lift.
    She was alive, she was healthy, she was safe. No need to think about might-haves and what-ifs.
    No need to worry about anything at all.

    Treat enjoyed working out with Caitlin.
    He lay on his bedroom floor, his laptop computer resting a few feet away on the smooth carpet, the video feed clearly visible. She exercised her abs and shoulders and back, and he practiced bending.
    Bending—that was what he’d called it ever since childhood, when he discovered the remarkable suppleness of his limbs. In medical argot he was hypermobile; in common parlance, double-jointed—the word double being used in its less familiar sense of fold or bend . Some of his flexibility had diminished with age, but through daily exercise he remained limber enough to hyperextend each elbow by more than fifteen degrees, to bend his knees forward to the same extent, to touch his forearm with

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