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       Copper Beach: A Dark Legacy Novel, p.1

           Jayne Ann Krentz
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Copper Beach: A Dark Legacy Novel


  COPPER BEACH

  OTHER TITLES BY JAYNE ANN KRENTZ

  In Too Deep

  Fired Up

  Running Hot

  Sizzle and Burn

  White Lies

  All Night Long

  Falling Awake

  Truth or Dare

  Light in Shadow

  Summer in Eclipse Bay

  Smoke in Mirrors

  Dawn in Eclipse Bay

  Lost & Found

  Eclipse Bay

  Soft Focus

  Eye of the Beholder

  Flash

  Sharp Edges

  Deep Waters

  Absolutely, Positively

  Trust Me

  Grand Passion

  Hidden Talents

  Wildest Hearts

  Family Man

  Perfect Partners

  Sweet Fortune

  Silver Linings

  The Golden Chance

  BY JAYNE ANN KRENTZ WRITING AS AMANDA QUICK

  Quicksilver

  Burning Lamp

  The Perfect Poison

  The Third Circle

  The River Knows

  Second Sight

  Lie by Moonlight

  Wait Until Midnight

  The Paid Companion

  Late for the Wedding

  Don’t Look Back

  Slightly Shady

  Wicked Widow

  I Thee Wed

  Seduction

  Affair

  Mischief

  Mystique

  Mistress

  Deception

  Desire

  Dangerous

  Reckless

  Ravished

  Rendezvous

  Scandal

  Surrender

  With This Ring

  BY JAYNE ANN RKENTZ WRITING AS JAYNE CASTLE

  Canyons of Night

  Midnight Crystal

  Obsidian Prey

  Dark Light

  Silver Master

  Ghost Hunter

  After Glow

  Harmony

  After Dark

  Amaryllis

  Zinnia

  Orchid

  G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

  New York

  G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

  Publishers Since 1838

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi–110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Copyright © 2012 by Jayne Ann Krentz

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  Published simultaneously in Canada

  EISBN: 9781101554289

  Library of Congress Cataloging–in–Publication Data TK

  Printed in the United States of America

  1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

  Book design by Meighan Cavanaugh

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

  For Steve Castle, with love and thanks

  for the background on rare earths.

  Great brothers like you are even more rare.

  Sure glad we made it into the same family.

  Table of Contents

  1

  2

  3

  4

  5

  6

  7

  8

  9

  10

  11

  12

  13

  14

  15

  16

  17

  18

  19

  20

  21

  22

  23

  24

  25

  26

  27

  28

  29

  30

  31

  32

  33

  34

  35

  36

  37

  38

  39

  40

  41

  42

  43

  44

  45

  46

  47

  48

  1

  THERE WAS NOTHING LIKE THE DRAMA OF A DEATHBED SCENE to expose the skeletons in a family’s closet. You never knew what would fall out when you opened the door, the nurse thought. Lifelong conflicts, absolution, regret, long-held grudges, enduring love or unrelenting hatred, whatever had been hidden for decades or generations was suddenly made visible at the end.

  The night-shift staff was gathered at the nurses’ station, drinking coffee, snacking on vending-machine munchies and speculating on the sexual orientation of the new orthopedic surgeon, when the dying man’s son arrived. Emotions in the small group ranged from cynical to relieved.

  They had all watched patients die without family at the bedside. It happened more often than most people realized. Everyone who did this kind of work understood that family dynamics were often convoluted and messy and sometimes downright evil. There were often very good reasons why relatives turned their backs on a family member who was dying. And there was no getting around the fact that the patient in 322 was seriously wasted not just from the cancer but from years of hard living and major addiction issues.

  “Knox probably wasn’t anyone’s idea of a great father,” the orderly said. “Still, it’s about time someone from the family showed up.”

  The middle-aged nurse watched the visitor disappear through the darkened doorway of 322. Then she checked the computer file.

  “He signed in as Knox’s son,” she reported. “But there are no relatives listed on the chart.”

  One of the orderlies popped a handful of potato chips into his mouth. “Guess it’s safe to say it’s not a close family.”

  Lander Knox knew what the crowd at the nurses’ station was thinking. The prodigal son shows up at last. It amused him, but he had been careful not to let his reaction show. He understood that humor was not appropriate to the occasion.

  He had learned long ago to fake the correct emotional responses for a wide variety of situations. His acting talent was worthy of an Oscar. He had gotten very good at pretending to be one of the sheep. He moved among the weak, emotional, easily duped creatures that surrounded him like the wolf he was.
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  He had considered taking a moment to charm the staff at the nurses’ station. It would have been simple to give them a clever story about how he had been on the other side of the world in a war zone when he got word that his father was dying. He could have told them that he had spent three days without sleep trying to get back before the end. But it wasn’t worth the effort. He was planning to stay only a few minutes, just long enough to take his revenge.

  Shadows pooled inside room 322. The machines hummed and hissed and beeped like some high-tech Greek chorus heralding the inevitable. Quinn Knox’s eyes were closed. He was hooked up to an IV line. His breathing was harsh, as if it took everything he had just to grab the next breath. He looked exhausted beyond bearing. The outline etched by the sheet revealed a painfully thin body. The cancer had been gnawing on him for a while now.

  Lander went to the bed and gripped the rail. There was very little that could arouse strong emotion in him, but looking down at the father who had betrayed him, he felt something familiar and powerful stir deep inside. Rage.

  “Surprise, I’m alive,” he whispered. “But, then, I’ll bet you’ve known all along that I didn’t die in that boating accident. Hey, you’re psychic, after all. But you sure hoped I was dead, didn’t you? Well, I’m here. I won’t stay long. Just stopped in to let you know that you lost and I won. Are you listening, you son of a bitch?”

  Quinn’s eyelids twitched. One withered hand moved slightly. Lander smiled. A euphoric satisfaction twisted and melded with the old fury.

  “So you can hear me,” he said. “That’s good. Because I want you to go to your grave knowing that I know everything, how you lied to me, how you tried to cheat me out of my inheritance, everything. I’m on the trail of that lab notebook. I’ve traced it to the Pacific Northwest. Once I have that book, I’ll be able to find that lost mine.”

  Quinn’s eyelids fluttered and opened partway. Faded gray eyes, glazed with morphine and the oncoming chill of death, looked up at Lander.

  “No,” Quinn rasped.

  “A couple of years ago I found the one crystal that you kept as a souvenir. What’s more, I’ve learned how to use it to commit the perfect murder. I’ve run a number of successful experiments so far. Very useful, that crystal. But now I’m going after the whole damn mine full of those stones, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”

  “No, listen…”

  “You’re a dead man, or you will be very soon. They probably got a pool going out there at the nurses’ station, betting on whether or not you’ll make it through the night.”

  “Lab book is psi-coded.” The breath rattled in Quinn’s chest. “Try to break it and you’ll destroy your senses. Maybe kill yourself.”

  “I heard the rumors about the code,” Lander said. “But I haven’t told you the best part yet. I’ve already located a code breaker in Seattle. She’s a freelancer in the underground hot-books market. I’m going to use her to acquire the book for me and break the encryption. Sort of a two-for-one deal.”

  Quinn stared at him with an expression of gathering horror. Lander smiled, pleased.

  “You don’t fear death, but you’re terrified that I’ll get my hands on that lab notebook, aren’t you?” he said. “And I will, old man, I will. I am so very close.”

  “No,” Quinn wheezed. “You don’t understand. The crystals are dangerous. You can’t reopen the mine.”

  “The Phoenix Mine was my inheritance. You had no right to keep it from me. But I’m going to find it now. I’ve been working on my plan for months. Now everything is in place in Seattle. I almost wish you were going to live long enough to see me reopen that mine. Almost.”

  Quinn moved his head restlessly on the pillow. “You don’t know what you’re doing.”

  “You’re wrong.” Lander stepped back from the bed. “I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m going to claim what belongs to me.”

  “Please, listen…”

  “Good-bye, you pathetic bastard.” Lander started to turn away but paused, eyeing the IV lines. “You know, it’s tempting to put a pillow over your face and finish you off right now. But I want you to have a little more time to think about how you failed to cheat me out of what’s mine. I want you to suffer a little longer, Dad.”

  Lander turned on his heel and walked swiftly out of the room. If he stayed for even another minute, he would give in to the rage and the urge to pull the plug on the old man.

  Once out in the hall, he went quickly toward the elevators. He could feel the eyes of the medical staff boring into his back. Screw them. He was never going to see any of them again.

  In room 322, Quinn’s head cleared a little as he raised what was left of his old talent. The effort dumped a small jolt of adrenaline into his bloodstream, countering the effects of the drugs. After three fumbling attempts, he managed to press the call button.

  The nurse appeared. Quinn dredged up the name out of his failing memory banks.

  “Nathan,” he rasped.

  “Are you in pain, Mr. Knox?” Nathan came to stand beside the bed. “I can give you another injection.”

  “Forget the damn drugs. Help me make a phone call.”

  “All right. I can dial it for you, if you like.”

  “Number’s in my wallet. It was with me when I got here.”

  “You aren’t supposed to bring valuables with you to the hospital,” Nathan said.

  “Nothing valuable in my wallet except that phone number. Get it.”

  Nathan went to the closet, pawed through the meager assortment of personal belongings and produced the aged, well-worn wallet. He brought it back to the bed and opened it.

  “Dial the number on that old card,” Quinn said. “Elias Coppersmith. Hurry, man, I don’t have a lot of time.”

  Nathan punched in the number. A man picked up. The voice had a faint, Western edge to it, the kind of voice you associated with cowboys and pilots. The classic Chuck Yeager twang, Nathan thought. The voice also had the ring of authority.

  “Coppersmith.”

  “I’m calling from Oakmont Hospital,” Nathan said. “A patient named Quinn Knox wants to speak with you, Mr. Coppersmith. He says it’s urgent.”

  “Quinn? Put him on.”

  Nathan helped Quinn grip the phone and maneuver it to his ear. Quinn pulled on the last of his fading strength and his talent. He got one last rush of energy.

  “Elias?” he croaked. “That you?”

  “Damn, it’s good to hear from you, Quinn. It’s been at least twenty, twenty-five years. Didn’t know you had my number.”

  “I kept track of you,” Quinn said.

  “Glad to hear it, but you should have stayed in touch. You sound awful. What the hell are you doing in the hospital?”

  “Dying,” Quinn rasped. “What the fuck do you think I’m doing? Shut up and listen, because I don’t have a lot of time. I’m down to hours here, maybe minutes. I think someone may have found Ray Willis’s notebook.”

  “Are you serious?”

  “I just told you, I’m dying. Turns out people get real serious when shit like that happens.”

  “Quinn, where is that hospital?”

  “Florida.”

  “I’ll be on a company plane within the hour. Be there by morning.”

  “Forget it,” Quinn rasped. “Not gonna last that long. Here’s what I know. There’s some rumors floating around in the hot-book market that the notebook has surfaced somewhere in your neck of the woods.”

  “Sedona?”

  “Last I heard you bought yourself a whole damn island up there in the San Juans.”

  “Still got the island, but Willow and I just use it as a spring and summer getaway place. Moved the main headquarters of the company down here to Arizona years ago. There’s one division left in Seattle, the R–and–D lab. My oldest son, Sam, is the only one who lives year-round on the island.”

 

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