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"That's good to know...I think." A long revelation stilled her. "Wow."

"What?"

"s.e.x with you took my mind off c.o.ke."

"Let me know when the effect wears off. I'll make sure I'm available."

She chuckled, shaking her head.

"I better go now..." The moment made him antsy. He felt as though he should say something else but didn't know what it should be.

"All right, I'll talk to you later," she said.

He stalked over to her, grabbed her rather roughly, and pulled. Again he was cramming her against the boxes but instead of choking her he was kissing her, while his hands couldn't resist mauling her contours. I adore this woman, he thought. Their tongues delved; they sucked each other's breath as if desperate for it. Fanshawe wished he could dissolve into the heat, scents, and substance that was her.

"If you bang me again like you just did," she panted, "I'll be in a wheelchair for a week," but the prospect didn't seem to daunt her: she reached to unbuckle his belt...

Fanshawe sucked her neck, then dug his fingers hard into her b.u.t.tocks. She sighed, flinched, then nearly squealed when he twisted her nipples through her blouse. He wanted to do it all again right there, but common sense returned.

He had other things going on besides Abbie. His awareness of the looking-gla.s.s in his pocket reminded him.

"Later," he said. "But I need to show you something tonight."

"Yeah?" she purred.

"Yeah."

"Where?"

He looked right into her eyes. "Witches Hill, around eleven-thirty."

Her eyes lit up, but then she slumped. "s.h.i.+t. I can't. Believe it or not, I'm not just an inn keeper with a secret. I'm also on the town council. We've got a big meeting tonight at eight. Sometimes those things go till two in the morning. It's a big pain in the a.s.s but I signed on for it, so..."

"Tomorrow night, then."

Before she could say "Okay," Fanshawe kissed her hard one more time, then left.

(II).

Fanshawe showered, changed, and rested, nursing his carnal wounds in his room. I was choking her, he thought. I was...

He didn't want to think on it further. Not being in control of himself was something he'd never experienced outside of his voyeurism. Images of Abbie and their primitive lovemaking kept flas.h.i.+ng in his mind. It had been exquisite.

And now she'd agreed to leave with him, go to New York.

The prospect thrilled him, even in spite of her own much more destructive addictions. But there was something else that thrilled him as well.

He saw that Dr. Tilton had left another message, and so had Artie. They would have to wait. From the sweltering hidden room in the attic, Fanshawe retrieved Jacob Wraxall's other diary, and spent the rest of the afternoon reading every handwritten line that had remained legible after over three centuries.

It was a demented tableau that unfolded before him. His stomach turned with each sentence he deciphered, yet the more he read the more grim

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