Running Scared

PROLOGUE

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

1980

Free!

Kate Summers pulled the last page from her word processor and dropped it with the others in her OUT basket. Now for the hard part—saying good-bye and making a quick exit. She glanced at the pebbled-glass door to Tyrell Clark’s office. His desk lamp shined through the opaque barrier.

Get a grip, Kate. You can do this.

She’d agreed to work late, hoping that he wouldn’t return, but she hadn’t been so lucky. She’d heard his heavy tread on the back stairs just forty minutes before, and though he hadn’t paused at her desk, hadn’t so much as glanced in her direction as he’d beelined to his office, she knew she couldn’t leave without collecting her last paycheck and a letter of recommendation.

The rest of the building was quiet. Only the soft rumble of the structure’s tired furnace and the muted sounds of traffic outside disturbed the silence in the once-hallowed halls of Clark & Clark. The elder Clark, Tyrell Senior, had died just two years before and now there was only his son to carry on the tradition. In the meantime business was shrinking. The staff that had once filled eight offices now occupied just two. Tyrell, a brilliant lawyer, also loved women, drink, and a friendly, if fatal, wager at the race track. And he had not only the IRS after him but other, more sinister adversaries—loan sharks and bookies and the like.

In two days Kate planned to leave Boston—and the nightmare she’d been living—behind. She’d never have to set foot in the offices of Clark & Clark again. All she had to do was ship her meager belongings to Seattle and hand her keys over to the landlord of her small apartment—four tiny rooms that had been her home for the past three years. A lump filled her throat, but she ignored it.

No more memories. No more pretending. A new start. That’s what she needed.

“Kate?”

She sucked in her breath.

From the adjoining office, Tyrell Clark’s voice, smooth as well-oiled machinery, caused a chill to creep up her spine. She hated that well-modulated, nearly patronizing tone.

“No more,” she whispered under her breath, and one of her hands curled into a tight fist. She didn’t have to put up with his advances—gentle touches and suggestive innuendos—a second longer. She found her coffee cup, favorite pen, address book, and dropped them all into her oversized bag.

“Before you leave, I’ve got something I want to discuss with you.”

The light in his adjoining office snapped off. Her stomach knotted in apprehension.

Now what? Bracing herself, she glanced at the clock. Nearly seven. And she was alone with him. The building was probably empty. Nervously she looked out the single window in the reception area, through the trails of rain that drizzled down the glass. Outside it was dark except for the illumination from streetlamps and the flash of headlights from cars as they passed. She’d been a fool to stick around after Rinda had gone home for the day, but she’d needed the money the overtime would bring, had naively thought that Tyrell wouldn’t return from his late afternoon meeting with a client. She’d been wrong. Stupid, stupid girl.

He scraped back his chair and it squeaked as he stood. His familiar tread followed.

Just a few more minutes. You can handle it, Kate. Whatever you do, don’t blow it; you need his letter of recommendation so you can get another job in Seattle.

She managed a thin, watery smile as he approached her L-shaped desk. Fake it, she told herself, though her palms began to sweat. Be friendly, but firm. She resisted the urge to wipe her suddenly