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Out of Nowhere
Author: Sandra Brown





For the record…

In the unlikely event they catch me, it will be assumed that I am mad.

That will be correct, but only if people are using the word mad as a synonym for angry.

To do such a thing as what I’m planning, one doesn’t have to be mentally unstable. I’m quite sane. I’m rational. I don’t appear or act like a crazed individual, because I’m not.

Irate is what I am.

Fury roils inside me. It has for a while now. Others with a purpose similar to mine make the stupidest blunder possible by announcing to the world what they intend to do before they do it. They air their grievances on social media. They entrust so-called friends with their most morbid thoughts. They commit their maniacal fantasies to paper, drawing ghastly depictions of death and destruction. They fill notebooks with pages of scribbled nonsense that, afterward, psychiatrists and FBI profilers try to decipher in order to pinpoint a motive for their deed, which is usually described as “senseless.”

But what’s senseless is the analyzing. It’s a waste of time and tax revenue. The individual who committed the act wasn’t necessarily insane, or afflicted with a personality-altering brain tumor, or suffering a rare chemical imbalance, or cursed from conception with a domineering id.

No. Chances are he was simply pissed off.

That’s me. I’m pissed off but good. And I’m going to vent my anger in a way that will be remembered and lamented. But I’m not going to make the mistake of advertising it first. Those other morons who don’t exercise patience get captured, or annihilated by SWAT team bullets, or take their own lives.

I have no intention of any of that happening to me. I’m confident that I’ll get away with it.

I’ll use this gun. It’s untraceable. I made sure of that. It’s never been used in the commission of a crime. It’s portable and easily concealed but no less deadly than an AR-15 rifle.

See? I’ve thought this through.

There’s only one catch, a single, slightly worrisome hitch: I don’t know when or where my plan will be implemented. Out of necessity, I’ll have to go with the situation, whatever it is, when it presents itself.

But I’m no fool. If the setting doesn’t feel right, or there’s a large police presence, or any other unfavorable factor, I’ll know to scrub the assault and save it for another day.

I’ve been disappointed by several postponements. The circumstances would seem at first to be ideal, and I would think, This is it! Then something would happen that would prevent me from acting. Once it was a thunderstorm. Another time, where otherwise the conditions were ideal, an old man suffered a stroke. Wouldn’t you know it? Security guards and EMTs swarmed. I would have been a fool to proceed.

These delays are frustrating and infuriating and leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

But while being unable to choose my time and place is a drawback, immediacy could work to my advantage. I won’t give myself away by a slip of the tongue, no accidental tip-off that would alert someone to my intentions or arouse curiosity.

Another benefit to acting in the moment is that when the opportunity does present itself and I realize that all systems are go, I won’t have time to get nervous and overthink it. I’ll have to act purposefully and without hesitation.

Which is why I stay constantly prepared. I’m vigilant. At the drop of a hat, I’ll be ready. When the time is right, I’ll know it. And I’ll do it.

And the best part? No one will suspect me.



Chapter 1



You claimed to be the best, and, by damn, you are.” Beaming a smile, the CEO of John Zimmerman Industries handed over a bank receipt. “As of an hour ago, your fee plus the bonuses you chalked up were deposited into your account.”

“Thank you.” Calder Hudson checked the receipt for accuracy. The account number was correct, and the amount in front of the decimal point was on the rosy side of six figures.

“Everything seems to be in order.” Calder folded the receipt and slid it into the breast pocket of his bespoke suit coat, smiling at the group of upper-management personnel clustered around him. “It’s been my pleasure, ladies and gentlemen. May I use JZI as a reference?”

The CEO replied on behalf of those assembled. “Of course, of course. We’ll provide a glowing review.”

Calder raised an eyebrow. “With an emphasis on discretion.”

There was a ripple of chuckles.

“Goes without saying,” said the CEO.

Calder nodded with satisfaction, thanked them as a group, then, with the bearing of a cleric doling out blessings, went around the circle shaking hands with each. He wished them a good evening, picked up his briefcase, and left the conference room.

As he made his way to the elevator, he kept his stride and carriage deceptively casual, but inside his head, it was Mardi Gras, baby! and he was grand marshal of the parade.

It was a long ride down from the top floor of the steel and glass Dallas skyscraper to the subterranean parking garage, but Calder’s blood was still fizzing with self-congratulations as he stepped off the elevator and gave himself a fist pump. His whoop echoed through the near-empty concrete cavern.

As prearranged, his Jaguar had been left in a first-row, VIP parking slot. For three months and change, he’d been tooling around in a rental car and was ever so glad to have his sleek sports model back.

He kissed his fingertips, then tapped them against the roof of the car. “Hello, sweetheart. Miss me?” He shrugged out of his coat and set it and his briefcase in the passenger seat, then started the motor, thrilling to the aggressive growl he’d sorely missed.

He backed out, and, as he took the sharp curves on his climb up the parking levels to the exit, his tires screeched menacingly. “Badass at the wheel,” he whispered through a smug grin as he shot out of the garage and onto the city street.

It was after business hours; rush-hour traffic had abated. But no other motorist would have dared to get in his way. Not today. He blew through yellow lights at several downtown intersections before taking a ramp onto the freeway.

He slid on his sunglasses against the blood orange–red streaks painted across the sky by the setting sun, then accessed his phone from the steering wheel.

Shauna answered on the second ring and said, “Helloooo there, handsome.”

“Helloooo, beautiful.”

“How’d it go?”

“Well, can’t say the same for some, but I had a great day.”

“I can hear it in your voice. It’s oozing conceit.”

“I’m trying my best to suppress it, but, you know…”

“Yes, I do know. I’ve heard it before, and it’s insufferable.”

He grinned. “You suffer it, though, don’t you?”

“Don’t be smug. Where are you?”

“Headed home. What about you?”

“Home? You’re supposed to be on your way here.”

Calder’s elation dimmed several watts as he now remembered that Shauna had to work this evening. Damned if he could remember what she had scheduled. “You’re still at the studio?”

“No, on location at the fair. I’m killing time in the van while the crew sets up for the interview.” She huffed with exasperation. “You forgot, didn’t you? Honestly, Calder. You said you’d come.”

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