First You Run - Roxanne St. Claire

Roxanne St. Claire - Bullet Catcher #4 - First You Run

First You Run (Bullet Catcher #4)
Roxanne St. Claire



Charleston, South Carolina, 1978

E ILEEN STAFFORD FIGURED she had to be insane.

Why else would she be hovering in the shadows, waiting for the married man who’d wrecked her life, busted her heart, and made her give up the only thing that mattered to her? She sometimes thought that the trauma of that childbirth had ruined her ability to think straight.

Why else would she have agreed to meet him in an alley at one in the morning?

She rubbed her bare arms against the April chill.

It wasn’t as if he wanted her back. But when he’d called, a glimmer of hope had flickered in her stomach. After all, they had a bond now—they were parents together. Regardless of the decisions she’d made.

Maybe he’d love her again. Maybe she could undo the mistake she’d made eight months ago, at that farmhouse on Sapphire Trail. If only he loved her.

She snorted softly. He’d never loved her. He’d used her. On the desk. In his car. On the floor. In his own home, on the nights his wife attended a DAR meeting. That’s what powerful men did to their secretaries.

Revulsion rolled through her. He’d called her here for a reason. Money, so she’d never tell their secret? Fine. She’d take every dollar he offered, and he could save his precious reputation.

As she squinted to see her wristwatch, she heard a whisper of sound and the shuffle of a footstep, soft enough to tickle her neck with apprehension. Turning, she couldn’t see anything but fingers of ivy cascading down the brick wall of the narrow passageway and a cement building with air-conditioning units and two trash cans on the other side of the alley.

Instinctively, she backed away, moving closer to the light, closer to the gate that guarded a church graveyard. She wasn’t superstitious, but hundred-year-old headstones and gnarled tree roots on a moonless night were just a little too spooky.

Is that why he picked this spot? Because he knew it scared her? Or did he remember the time they’d met in this alley before and made love against this very wall?

She closed her hands over the cool iron gate, and goose bumps rose when it opened. It squeaked an eerie note.

Footsteps pulled her attention back to the far end of the alley. She could barely make out the shadow of a man and a woman, walking quickly toward her. Her heart kicked up.

She inched the gate wider and slipped inside, stepping behind the wall. Had they seen her?

Their footsteps grew louder, followed by the woman’s voice. Then the man’s.

Eileen sucked in a breath. Her man’s.

She flattened against the wall and listened. Why had he called her here, then showed up with another woman? And not his wife—that was clear from the slender silhouette. She slowly inched out from her hiding place, blinking into the darkness.

He had the woman against the wall, his grunt mixing with her moan. Was that him? She couldn’t tell. He wore a long, dark coat, and the woman’s hands were wrapped around his head, covering his hair.

It sounded like him—the panting, horny bastard. Is that why he’d summoned her here? To prove that it was over, that she was replaced? Fury shot through her, and she opened her mouth just as he backed away from the woman. The woman said something, he moved jerkily, and then an explosion cracked the night.

Jesus God in heaven. He shot her.

Over his shoulder, all Eileen could see was the face of the woman the instant she died.

Clamping her hand over her mouth to stifle a scream, Eileen dropped back behind the wall, sliding to the ground as shock and disbelief rocked her. Running footsteps—his footsteps, a killer’s footsteps—scraped the stones, then disappeared onto Cumberland.

She couldn’t breathe. A dead woman was ten feet away, shot by the man Eileen thought she once loved. A man who’d sent her here. Why? To witness it?

No. No—he’d set her up. It was so like him. He could do anything. Didn’t he always say that, laughing and cocksure, when they lay tangled in sheets or half-undressed on top of his desk?

I can do anything, Leenie. I fucking own this town.

He could even commit cold-blooded murder…and set her up to get the blame.

With shaking hands, she pushed her hair off her face, her brain frantic for a way out.

Run. Before the gunshot brought the police and they found her here. She whipped open the gate