Picture Me Dead

Picture Me Dead by Heather Graham

Book: Picture Me Dead by Heather Graham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Heather Graham
junkie. He’d always had a good head on his shoulders. He’d cared about his folks; he’d wanted them to be proud of him. He wasn’t a perfect kid; he’d had his moments. He could be a prankster. Once, when she’d had a crush on someone else, he’d managed to get her talking on a speaker phone about the object of her affections. She could have killed him herself at the time, but he’d apologized up and down—and the other guy had asked her out.
    Too bad, actually. She’d wound up dating the jerk for two years.
    It had been a wretched relationship, but that hadn’t been Stuart’s fault. The guy had been what she had wanted, and Stuart had managed to get them together.
    She smiled, remembering how he had looked so pleased, like the cat that had eaten the canary. Once, long ago, in a different world, before they’d all realized what life meant once you grew up, they’d been friends. Good friends.
    She remembered that after graduation, he’d been offered a number of scholarships. He’d been one of the most creative people she’d ever known, dragging her into doing a film for a final project that had been selected as the best in the school and shown, to the delight of their fellow students, several times in the auditorium. It had been a piece called “Discipline—Now and Then,” and while sending out a definite message, it had been hysterically funny, as well.
    Despite his interests in film, literature and the arts, he’d opted for a business degree. He’d chosen a Florida state school for both the financial feasibility and to be able to get back to see his parents frequently. She frowned as she drove, remembering that she’d been invited to his graduation party when he’d made it out in the requisite four years. She hadn’t been able to go, because she’d taken a summer job as a mate on a sailboat heading out to the islands. He was going to take a job working on and selling Web pages, but he was also planning on going back to school and getting into some form of either writing or film.
    Funny, she couldn’t remember what he’d finally decided to focus on when he went for his master’s degree. She should remember something like that. All she could remember right now was his voice, always low and steady, sober and clear. And she could remember that they had promised to get together when the summer was over. They had met for lunch. And they had meant to stay close. But he had been heading up to New York to look at a few schools in the city.
    And she’d been starting classes herself then. And though they had promised to keep up and call often, like so many promises, that one had become lost in day-to-day life.
    As she drove, she saw the road before her, just as it was.
    But in her mind’s eye…
    There was the body on the highway. And now she knew.
    It was Stuart’s body.

    I t had been one hell of a long weekend.
    Jake had spent half of it doing research on the lives of the followers of Peter Bordon since the break-up of his cult and the other half getting settled after the move from one marina to another. As for the research, he had some of the information he wanted in his own files, and for follow-up, he had some really good assistance. Hank Anderson, one of the best men he had ever known for divining facts from a computer, had done a lot of delving for him, though a lot of the information duplicated what he already had. It had become something of a compulsion for him to keep up on the case. He had kept quiet about his persistence, since his fellow officers might consider him obsessive and think his determination not to let matters lie bordered on police harassment.
    Captain Blake, head of homicide, had called him on Saturday afternoon, giving him a stern speech. Good detectives put in all kinds of hours. They worked way beyond their pay. But they learned how to stay sane, as

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