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Before i say goodbye, p.1
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       Before I Say Goodbye, p.1

           Mary Higgins Clark
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Before I Say Goodbye

  Acclaim for the Queen of Suspense




  “Mary Higgins Clark knows what she’s doing. . . . This savvy author comes up with something unexpected. . . . A hold-your-breath ending.”

  —The New York Times Book Review

  “Romantic suspense has no more reliable champion than Mary Higgins Clark. Her characters are . . . breezy and fun, and so is this confection of a book.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “For someone who loves plot, Mary Higgins Clark’s BEFORE I SAY GOOD-BYE should be like manna from heaven. . . . America’s ‘Queen of Suspense’ clearly knows what her readers want. Here she provides it, in spades.”

  —Los Angeles Times

  “A smooth and easy read.”

  —New York Post

  “The storytelling skills of the newest grand master of mystery writing have never been better.”

  —The Hartford Courant (CT)

  “Clark holds the reins the whole way through this tale of mischief and secrets, allowing us to unwind her labyrinth of hidden clues only as she wants them to unfold.”

  —The Christian Science Monitor

  “Hard to put down. . . . It’s what a vacation book should be.”

  —The Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)

  “Yet another pearl Clark can add to her worldwide bestsellers.”

  —Tulsa World (OK)

  “Fun and exciting. . . . Clark provides her myriad of fans with another enthralling tale filled with action and adventure.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Fascinating enough that I read it through in one sitting. . . . Well worth reading for all your mystery fans.”

  —The Anniston Star (AL)

  “Short chapters and quick cuts from character to character add piece after piece to a whodunit puzzle that keeps readers riveted.”

  —The Florida Times-Union

  “One of her most ambitious efforts in years, guaranteed to please her legions of hard-core fans.”

  —Providence Sunday Journal (RI)

  “Vintage Mary Higgins Clark with lots of action and a terrific climax.”

  —Abilene Reporter News (TX)

  “Characters so interesting the reader can identify with them in an instant.”

  —Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)

  Thank you for downloading this Simon & Schuster eBook.

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  Seventeen years later Thursday, June 8




  Friday, June 9














  Wednesday, June 14







  Thursday, June 15











  Friday, June 16







  Saturday and Sunday June 17 and 18




  Monday, June 19










  Tuesday, June 20







  Wednesday, June 21








  Thursday, June 22











  Friday, June 23

















  Tuesday, November 7 Election Day


  Mary Higgins Clark Talks About Her Life and Work

  Daddy’s Gone A Hunting Excerpt


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  For Michael Korda

  Dear Friend


  Magnificent Editor


  Many thanks for 25 wonderful years


  Once again it’s time to say—How can I thank thee—Let me count the ways.

  My gratitude contiues to grow with each passing year to my long-time editor, Michael Korda, and his associate, senior editor Chuck Adams. They always encourage, always persevere, always say the right words along the way.

  Blessings on Lisl Cade, my publicist—always my encouraging companion, dear friend and thoughtful reader.

  I’m forever grateful to my agents, Eugene Winick and Sam Pinkus. They find answers before I ask the questions. True friends, indeed!

  Associate Director of Copy Editing Gypsy da Silva is always there with her eagle eye and heavenly patience. Again and again, thank you, Gypsy.

  Bless you Copy Editor Carol Catt and Scanner Michael Mitchell for your careful work.

  Thank you Chief Warrant Officer Lionel Bryant of the U.S. Coast Guard for being my giving and thoughtful expert on the likely post events of an explosion in the New York Harbor.

  Sgt. Steven Marron and Detective Richard Murphy, Ret., NYPD, New York County District Attorney’s Office have given marvelous guidance about what police procedure and investigation would unfold if the events depicted here had been actual happenings. Thank you. You’re great.

  My deep gratitude to architects Erica Belsey and Philip Mahla and interior designer Eve Ardia for being my experts on the architecture and design questions I posed to them.

  Dr. Ina Winick is always there for me to answer my psychological queries. Bless you, Ina.

  Many thanks to Dr. Richard Roukema for his thoughtful analysis when I asked him hypothetical questions.

  Many thanks to Diane Ingrassia, Branch Manager of the Ridgewood Savings Bank, for answering my questions about safe d
eposit boxes.

  Always my thanks to my assistants and friends Agnes Newton and Nadine Petry and my reader-in-progress, Irene Clark.

  Thanks to my daughter and fellow author, Carol Higgins Clark, for once again being my sounding board and keeping me from using expressions her generation just plain wouldn’t get.

  Continuing gratitude to my cheering section, our children and grandchildren. As one of the kids asked, “Is writing a book like having a lot of homework, Mimi?”

  A special loving thank you to my husband, John Conheeney, who continues to survive with great grace and humor being married to a writer on a deadline.

  Once again I joyfully quote the fifteenth-century monk. “The book is finished. Let the writer play.”

  P.S. To my friends—I’m available for dinner.


  FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Nell MacDermott turned and began the swim back to shore. Her body tingled with youthful exhilaration as she looked about, taking in the glorious combination of the sun in the cloudless sky, the light, fresh breeze, the salty, foaming whitecaps breaking around her. She had been in Maui only an hour but already had decided that she liked it better than the Caribbean, which for the past several years was where her grandfather had taken the family for their annual post-Christmas vacation.

  Actually, “family” seemed something of an exaggeration. This was the fourth year that their family had consisted of just her grandfather and herself. It had been five years ago when Cornelius MacDermott, legendary congressman from New York, had been called off the floor of the House of Representatives to be given the news that his son and daughter-in-law, both anthropologists on an expedition in the Brazilian jungle, had died in the crash of their small chartered plane.

  He immediately had rushed to New York to pick up Nell at school. It was news that she had to hear from him. He arrived to find his granddaughter in the nurse’s office, weeping.

  “When we were coming in from recess this morning, I suddenly felt that Dad and Mommy were with me, and that they had come to say good-bye to me,” she told him as he held her. “I didn’t actually see them, but I felt Mom kiss me, and then Dad ran his fingers through my hair.”

  Later that day, Nell and the housekeeper who took care of her when her parents were away had moved into the brownstone on East Seventy-ninth Street, the place where her grandfather had been born, and where her father had been raised.

  Nell flashed briefly on these memories as she began her swim back to shore and to her grandfather, who was sitting in a beach chair under an umbrella, having reluctantly acquiesced to her plea for one quick swim before they unpacked.

  “Don’t go out too far,” he had cautioned as he opened his book. “It’s six o’clock, and the lifeguard is leaving.”

  Nell would have liked to stay in the water longer, but she could see that the beach was almost deserted now, and she knew that in a few minutes her grandfather would realize he was getting hungry and start to get impatient, especially since they hadn’t even unpacked. Long ago her mother had warned her that any situation that left Cornelius MacDermott both hungry and tired was to be avoided.

  Even from a good distance out, Nell could see that he was still deeply absorbed in his book. She knew though that it wouldn’t last much longer. Okay, she thought as she picked up her stroke—“Let’s make waves.”

  Suddenly, she felt disoriented, as if she were being turned around. What was happening to her?

  The shore disappeared from view as she felt herself being yanked from side to side, then pulled under. Stunned, she opened her mouth to call for help, but immediately found herself swallowing salty water. Sputtering and choking, she gasped for breath, struggling to keep afloat.

  Riptide! While her grandfather was checking in at the front desk, she had overheard two bellmen talking about it. One of them said that there’d been a riptide on the other side of the island last week, and that two guys had drowned. He said that they died because they fought against the pull instead of letting themselves get carried out until they were beyond it.

  A riptide is a head-on collision of conflicting currents. As her arms flailed, Nell remembered reading that description in National Geographic.

  Still, it was impossible not to resist as she felt herself being pulled under the churning waves, down, down, and away from shore.

  I can’t let myself get carried out! she thought in a sudden flash of panic. I can’t! If I go out, I’ll never get back in. She managed to orient herself long enough to look toward shore and glimpse the candy-striped umbrella.

  “Help me!” she said feebly, her effort to scream ending when the salty water filled her mouth, gagging her. The current that was pulling her out and sucking her under was too strong to fight.

  In desperation she flipped onto her back and let her arms go limp. Moments later she was struggling again, resisting the horrifying feeling of her body being rushed out away from shore, away from any hope of help.

  I don’t want to die! she kept saying to herself. I don’t want to die! A wave was lifting her, tossing her, pulling her farther out. “Help me!” she said again, then began to sob.

  And then, just as suddenly as it had begun, it was over. The invisible foamy chains abruptly released her, and she had to flail her arms to keep afloat. This was what they had talked about in the hotel, she thought. She had been tossed beyond the riptide.

  Don’t get back into it, she told herself. Swim around it.

  But she was too tired. She was too far out. She looked at the distant shore. She would never make it. Her eyelids were so heavy. The water was starting to feel warm, like a blanket. She was getting sleepy.

  Swim, Nell, you can make it!

  It was her mother’s voice, imploring her to fight.

  Nell, get moving!

  The urgent command from her father stung her senses and succeeded in shattering her lethargy. With blind obedience, Nell swam straight out, then began to make a wide circle around the area of the riptide. Every breath was a sob, every movement of her arms an impossible struggle, but she persevered.

  Agonizing minutes later, nearing exhaustion, she managed to dive into a swelling wave that grabbed and held her and rushed her toward shore. Then it crested and broke, tossing her onto the hard, wet sand.

  Trembling violently, Nell started to get up, then felt firm hands lifting her to her feet. “I was just coming to call you in,” Cornelius MacDermott said sharply. “No more swimming for you today, young lady. They’re putting up the red flag. They say there are riptides nearby.”

  Unable to speak, Nell only nodded.

  His face creased with concern, MacDermott pulled off his terry-cloth robe and wrapped it around her. “You’re chilled, Nell. You shouldn’t have stayed in so long.”

  “Thank you, Grandpa. I’m fine.” Nell knew better than to tell her beloved, no-nonsense grandfather what had just happened, and she especially did not want him to know that once again she had had one of those experiences of being in communication with her parents, experiences that this most pragmatic of men brusquely dismissed as a flight of youthful fantasy.

  Seventeen years later

  Thursday, June 8


  NELL SET OFF at a brisk pace on her familiar walk from her apartment on Park Avenue and Seventy-third Street to her grandfather’s office on Seventy-second and York. From the peremptory summons she had received, demanding that she be there by three o’clock, she knew that the situation with Bob Gorman must have come to a head. As a result she was not looking forward to the meeting.

  Deep in thought, she was oblivious to the admiring glances that occasionally came her way. After all, she and Adam were happily married. Still, she knew that some people found a tall woman, with the slim, strong body of an athlete, short chestnut-colored hair that was now forming into humidity-caused ringlets, midnight-blue eyes, and a generous mouth, attractive. While growing up, and frequently attending public events with her grandfather, Nell’s rueful observation was that when the
media described her, that was usually the word used—“attractive.”

  “To me, attractive is like having a guy say, ‘She’s not much to look at, but what a personality!’ It’s the kiss of death. Just once I want to be described as ‘beautiful’ or ‘elegant’ or ‘stunning’ or even ‘stylish,’ ” she had complained when she was twenty.

  Typically, her grandfather’s comment had been, “For God’s sake don’t be so silly. Be grateful you’ve got a head on your shoulders and know how to use it.”

  The trouble was that she knew already what he wanted to discuss with her today, and the way he was going to ask her to use her head was a problem. His plans for her and Adam’s objections to them were most decidedly an issue.

  AT EIGHTY-TWO, Cornelius MacDermott had lost little of the vigor that for decades had made him one of the nation’s most prominent congressmen. Elected at thirty to represent the midtown Manhattan district where he had been raised, he stayed in that spot for fifty years, resisting all arguments to run for the Senate. On his eightieth birthday he had chosen not to run again. “I’m not trying to beat Strom Thurmond’s record as the longest-serving guy on the Hill,” he had announced.

  Retirement for Mac meant opening a consulting office and making sure that New York City and State stayed in his party’s political fold. An endorsement from him was a virtual laying on of hands for neophyte campaigners. Years ago he had created his party’s most famous election commercial on TV: “What did that other bunch ever do for you?” followed by silence and a succession of bewildered expressions. Recognized everywhere, he could not walk down the street without being showered with affectionate and respectful greetings.

  Occasionally he grumbled to Nell about his status as a local celebrity: “Can’t set foot outside my door without making sure I’m camera ready.”

  To which she replied, “You’d have a heart attack if people ignored you, and you know it.”

  When she reached his office today, Nell waved to the receptionist and walked back to her grandfather’s suite. “The mood?” she asked Liz Hanley, his longtime secretary.

  Liz, a handsome sixty-year-old, with dark brown hair and a no-nonsense expression, raised her eyes to heaven. “It was a dark and stormy night,” she said.

  “Oh boy, that bad,” Nell said with a sigh. She tapped on the door of the private office as she let herself in. “Top of the day, Congressman.”

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