The Last To Know
 
 


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The Last To Know [Mass Market Paperback]

Wendy Corsi Staub
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Ms. Staub throws in multiple twists...and presents the reader with a story to relish." -- Rendezvous Magazine March 2001

"Not to be missed...If Ms. Staub wanted to scare us, she did. It's great!" -- Old Book Barn Gazette 1/24/01

"Top Pick: Deliciously creepy...only the brave will read this when they're home alone." -- Romantic Times Magazine March 2001 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Townsend Heights is the perfect small town. Sleepy, tree-lined streets. Good schools. A quick commute to the city. The sort of peaceful, suburban existence Tasha Banks dreamed of living when she left her fast-paced career for full-time motherhood. But now, Tasha's perfect dream is turning into a terrifying nightmare. Someone is targeting women in Townsend Heights--and not just any women. A serial killer is looking for a particular kind of prey...young, stay-at-home mothers...exactly like Tasha. One by one, Tasha's friends are disappearing, only to die in horrific ways. Suddenly, terror is transforming Townsend Heights into a sinister place of fear and foreboding--a place where evil lurks behind every corner, hiding behind the mask of a familiar face--a face that may be the last one Tasha ever sees... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Ms. Staub, 36, a former New York City book editor, is the author of more than three dozen books, both fiction and non-fiction, for adults and teenagers in a variety of genres including suspense, romance, mystery television tie-in, screenplay adaptation, and biography. She has co-authored a hardcover mystery series with former New York City mayor Ed Koch, and has ghost-written novels for R.L. Stine, Francine Pascal, and cover model Fabio. Her first published book, Summer Lightning, won a 1993 RWA Rita Award for Best Young Adult Novel. She was honored last November as a Millennium Author by the Westchester Library Association and lives in New York with her husband and their sons. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

PROLOGUE Tuesday, October 9

"Come on, now, don't look so upset. You're lucky, you know, Janey."

Lucky...

Jane comprehends the word through the fog of mind-numbing dread.

Lucky?

Yes, she thinks, dazed, she has always been lucky. How many times has she heard that over the years, from wistful classmates and envious friends, even her own sister?

"You're so lucky, Jane, that you were born with those blonde curls and big blue eyes...

"You're so lucky, Jane, that your family is rolling in money and you'll never have to work..."

"You're so lucky, Jane, to have Owen. He's crazy about you and your future is set..."

Owen.

What will he do when he comes home from work and finds that she still hasn't returned from her afternoon run? Probably assume that she's lost track of time, as she often does these days...

But not after dark. She never stays out past dark.

Oh, Christ.

Owen.

Schuyler.

"Please..." Jane begs.

Begs for her life.

"No, Janey," comes the firm reply. "Sorry, but this is the way it has to be."

"But...why?" she manages through hammering teeth.

Her body is trembling violently now. She doesn't dare turn her head, struggling to keep her balance on the narrow rock wall where she has been forced to sit, legs dangling over into space. Any movement can send her hurling over the edge to her death on the distant, jagged rocks edging the Hudson River below.

And she won't look behind her, anyway. Can't bear to see her precious baby, her little Schuyler, clutched in the arms of the familiar figure that suddenly loomed out of nowhere such a short time ago, as she rounded a bend on the deserted jogging path that winds through the scenic park.

Though she was startled to see someone there, she wasn't afraid. Not when she saw who it was.

"Look, you know why I have to do this, Janey."

The nickname is spoken with mocking familiarity.

She feels sick. Dizzy. Like she's going to faint.

No! Can't do that. If you faint, you fall. If you fall...

"You know what you did, Janey. And now it's time to pay."

If you fall, you die.

"No, please..."

"Jump, Janey. Just jump."

"No..."

"If you don't jump," the voice says, with chilling calm, "I will drop her. Just as I said before."

She feels movement behind her; sees from the corner of her eye, the hands clutching her precious baby. They're outstretched now, reaching toward the wall as if to make a sacrificial offering.

"You promised you wouldn't hurt her," she says, finding her voice again, hearing the foreign infusion of hysteria in it. "You promised."

"I did. And you know I won't hurt her. Not unless it's absolutely necessary."

"Oh, God..." Horror chokes Jane's throat, snatches her voice again.

"You're lucky, Janey...not like the others. This isn't nearly as...messy."

She fights to stave back the panic as her thoughts whirl, struggling to find an escape, some shred of hope.

If another jogger happens to come along...

But she's too far from the path now. There's nothing back here but a tangle of trees and vines, and birds and squirrels, and the low rock wall that rims the western boundary of the park, with its steep, sheer drop-off to the river below.

She won't survive the fall.

Suicides never do.

They'll find her water-bloated, broken body in the river.

Will Owen believe that she jumped?

Will Schuyler grow up thinking that Mommy abandoned her?

"Just think...The others--they suffered, Janey."

The others?

She can't focus.

Can't comprehend.

Can think of nothing but Schuyler. And Owen.

They need me.

Her hands grip the rough, crumbling stone wall.

Don't look back.

Don't look down.

"You won't suffer like they did. A few seconds, and it'll be all over. You won't feel a thing."

She opens her mouth to beg again for her life.

"Jump!" the voice barks abruptly. "Let's go. I can't wait here all day. Jump!"

"No... Please... I can't..."

Silence.

Not a sound but the brisk breeze stirring the trees.

Then, behind her, an ominous sigh.

"All right, then, Janey. If you won't jump, I'll send your daughter down before you. That'll get you moving. You can try to land first and catch her, okay?"

She turns her head as a harsh chuckle assaults her ears and the meaning of those words filters through the haze to strike her full force.

Panic seizes her as she glimpses the hand again in her periphery, sees it clutching Schuyler's chubby arm.

The baby is dangling by one arm; dangling over the edge.

The warbling wails turn to screams.

Her baby is screaming.

Jane must save her.

Save Schuyler...do whatever you have to do. Anything. Don't let anything happen to Schuyler...

"I'm going to give you one last chance to jump, Janey, before I drop her." The words are matter-of-fact above the baby's terrified howls.

"Maaaaahhhhh-maahhhh."

OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod...

Don't look back.

Don't look down.

"Schuyler," she sobs, and then, with an agonizing shriek and a prayer--for her child, for her own soul--Jane pushes off with her hands and slams herself over the edge, into space.

Falling...

Falling.

Images swirl through her mind, a rapid-fire montage.

Her parents' big Tudor-style house in Scarsdale...

Her horses, her dollhouse, her canopy bed...

Daddy, alive, handsome, getting out of his Rolls on the circular drive...

Owen, young, grinning at her in his morning coat as she makes her way down the aisle of the flower-bedecked Presbyterian Church on Richmond Street ...

Their eight-bedroom Victorian with its nursery whose walls she had sponge painted herself; a soft yellow because they hadn't known if they were expecting a boy or a girl...

Schuyler, newborn, sticky with warm blood, squirming in her arms...

Jane Armstrong Kendall's last thought, before her body is shattered by the cruel, jutting rocks, is that her luck has finally run out...

Just as she's always known it would. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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