She turned to face him, livid with rage. "You're a beast!" she cried. "You tried to run me over with your car!" (It was the 17th time someone had been run over with a car in a book whose title begins with the letter "M" that year.)
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"Don't be so sanctimonious," he answered. "I had to protect myself. After all, you knew that I had a history of drunk driving, and I couldn't let you walk around with that knowledge."
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She raised an eyebrow, calculating. "You still can't afford it, can you?" she asked, her voice trembling only slightly.
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"No," he said flatly. "I can't." He reached into his pocket and pulled out--
--a cigarette case, from which he extracted two filter tips, and offered her one. "Marlboro?" he asked. (The Elias Book Bureau reports that smoking in murder mysteries has declined by 38 percent in the past two years.)
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"I don't smoke," she lied. He shrugged and lit the cigarette in his hand, then put the other back in the case. "What are you planning to do now?"
He smiled, and her blood ran cold.
"If I told you," he said with no hint of sympathy, "that would ruin the surprise."
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She grabbed the letter opener on the desk and lunged toward him, intending to stab him in the heart, but he caught the movement and stopped her hand inches from his chest. Then he pushed her back, disarming her and dropping her onto the freshly vacuumed Persian rug.
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"Don't be absurd," he told her. "That was far too crude a gesture. When I decide to deal with you, rest assured the attack will have more subtlety and the pain will go on for a long, long time."
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She was still weeping quietly when he turned on his heel and left the room.
So that ends this chapter. We'll be back with the next chapter, right after this, in the latest mystery novel you've already bought, driven by Jeep.
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