I've Got My Eyes on You, p.1Mary Higgins Clark
Thank you for downloading this Simon & Schuster ebook.
* * *
Get a FREE ebook when you join our mailing list. Plus, get updates on new releases, deals, recommended reads, and more from Simon & Schuster. Click below to sign up and see terms and conditions.
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP
Already a subscriber? Provide your email again so we can register this ebook and send you more of what you like to read. You will continue to receive exclusive offers in your inbox.
For Elizabeth and Lauren Wishing the two of you a lifetime of happiness
Jamie was in his room on the second floor of his mother’s small Cape Cod house in Saddle River, New Jersey, when his life changed.
For a while he had been looking out the window to watch Kerry Dowling’s backyard. She was having a party and Jamie was mad because she hadn’t invited him. When they were in high school together, she was always nice to him even though he was in special classes. But Mom had told him that it was probably just a party only for Kerry’s classmates who would be leaving for college next week. Jamie had graduated from high school two years ago and now had a good job stocking shelves in the local Acme supermarket.
Jamie didn’t tell Mom that if the kids at the party started swimming in Kerry’s pool, he was going to go over and swim with them. He knew Mom would be mad at him if he did that. But Kerry always invited him to swim in her pool when she was swimming. He watched from the window of his room until all the kids went home and Kerry was alone outside on the patio cleaning up.
He watched the end of his video. He decided to go over and help her, even though he knew Mom would not want him to.
He slipped downstairs, where Mom was watching the eleven o’clock news, and tiptoed behind the hedges that separated his small backyard from Kerry’s big one.
But then he saw someone come into the yard from the woods. He grabbed something off a chair and came up behind Kerry, hit her on the head, and pushed her into the pool. Then he threw something away.
You’re not supposed to hit people or push them in pools, Jamie thought. The man should say he’s sorry, or he might get a time-out. Kerry’s swimming, so I can go swimming with her, he told himself.
The man didn’t go swimming. He ran away from the yard and back into the woods. He didn’t go in the house. He just ran away.
Jamie hurried toward the pool. His foot kicked something that was on the ground. It was a golf club. He picked it up, carried it toward the pool and put it on one of the chairs.
He said, “Kerry, it’s Jamie. I’ll go swimming with you now.”
But she didn’t answer him. He started to walk down the pool steps. The water looked dirty. He thought maybe somebody spilled something. But when he felt the water in his new sneakers, soaking his pants up to his knees, he stopped. Even though Kerry always said he could swim with her, he knew that Mom would be mad if he got his new sneakers wet. Kerry was floating in the water. He reached out, touched her shoulder and said, “Kerry, wake up.” But Kerry just floated farther away, to the deep end of the pool. So he went back home.
The news was still on the television, so Mom didn’t see him when he sneaked back upstairs and went to bed. He knew his sneakers, socks and pants were wet, so he hid them on the floor of his closet. Maybe they’ll dry before Mom finds them, he hoped.
As he was falling asleep, he wondered if Kerry was having fun swimming.
It was after midnight when Marge Chapman woke up and realized that she had fallen asleep while she was watching the news. She got up slowly, her arthritic knees creaking as she pulled herself up from her big, comfortable chair. Jamie had been born when she was forty-five, and that was when she started putting on weight. I need to lose twenty-five pounds, she thought to herself, if only to give my knees a break.
She turned off the lights in the living room, then went upstairs to look into Jamie’s room before she went to bed. His light was out and she could hear his even breathing so she knew he was asleep.
She hoped he hadn’t been upset about not being invited to the party, but there was only so much she could do to protect him from disappointment.
At quarter to eleven on Sunday morning Steve and Fran Dowling crossed the George Washington Bridge and headed to their home in Saddle River, New Jersey, in silence. Both were tired from their long day on Saturday. Friends from Wellesley, Massachusetts, had invited them to a twenty-seven-hole member-guest golf tournament. They had stayed overnight, and this morning had left early to pick up their twenty-eight-year-old daughter, Aline, at Kennedy Airport and drive her home. Except for brief visits, she had been living abroad for three years.
After the joyous reunion at the airport, a jetlagged Aline had climbed into the backseat of the SUV and fallen asleep. Suppressing a yawn, Fran sighed, “Getting up so early two days in a row reminds me of my age.”
Steve smiled. He was three months younger than his wife, so she hit all the birthday milestones, in this case fifty-five, just before he did.
“I wonder if Kerry will be up when we get home,” Fran said, as much to herself as to her husband.
“I’m sure she’ll be at the front door waiting to welcome her sister,” Steve replied, a smile in his voice.
Fran had her cell phone to her ear and listened as her call again went to Kerry’s voicemail. “Our Sleeping Beauty is still in dreamland,” she announced with a chuckle.
Steve laughed. He and Fran were both light sleepers. Their daughters were the opposite.
Fifteen minutes later they pulled into their driveway and woke up Aline. Still half-asleep, she stumbled into the house after them.
“Dear God,” Fran exclaimed, as she looked around her usually tidy home. Empty plastic glasses and beer cans were on the coffee table and all over the living room. She walked into the kitchen to find an empty vodka bottle in the sink next to empty pizza boxes.
Completely awake now, Aline could tell her mother and father were upset and furious. She shared their feelings. Ten years older than her sister, she had an immediate sense that something was terribly wrong. If Kerry had a party, why didn’t she have the brains to clean up afterward? Aline asked herself. Did she drink too much and pass out?
Aline listened as her mother and father hurried upstairs calling Kerry’s name. They came back immediately.
“Kerry isn’t here,” Fran said, her voice now filled with concern. “And wherever she went, she didn’t take her phone. It’s on the table. Where is she?” Fran’s face was becoming pale. “Maybe she got sick and someone took her home or—”
Steve interrupted her. “Let’s start calling her friends. Someone is bound to know where she is.”
“The lacrosse team roster with phone numbers is in the kitchen drawer,” Fran said, as she began hurrying down the hallway. Kerry’s closest friends were on the team.
Please let her be asleep at Nancy or Sinead’s house, Aline thought. She must have been in really bad shape if she forgot to bring her cell phone with her. At least I can start to straighten up. She went into the kitchen. Her mother was starting to dial as her father read her a phone number. Aline grabbed a large garbage bag from the cabinet.
She decided to see if there was any junk on the back porch or the patio and pool area, and headed there.
What she saw on the porch startled her. A half-filled garbage bag on one of the chairs. When she glanced inside, she saw that it was stuffed with soiled paper plates, a pizza box and plastic cups.
Obviously Kerry had started to clean up. But why would she have stopped?
Uncertain about whether or not to tell her parents what she had found or to just let them keep making calls, Aline went down the four steps t
The putter her parents would use to practice was lying across a chaise lounge on the pool deck.
Aline leaned over to pick up the putter and looked down in horror. Her sister was lying at the bottom of the pool, fully dressed and absolutely motionless.
Jamie loved to sleep late. He worked at the supermarket from eleven until three o’clock. Marge had his breakfast ready at ten o’clock. When he was finished, she reminded him to go upstairs and brush his teeth. Jamie came back, gave her a wide smile and waited for her to say, “Very nice,” before he bolted out the door to go to “my job,” as he proudly referred to it. It was a twenty-minute walk to Acme. As she watched him head down the block, Marge was aware that something was nagging at the back of her mind.
When she went upstairs to make his bed, she remembered what it was. Jamie was wearing his old scuffed sneakers, not the new ones she had bought for him last week. What on earth made him do that? she asked herself as she began to tidy up his room. And where are the new sneakers?
She walked over to his bathroom. He had showered, and the towels and washcloth were in the hamper just where she had taught him to put them. But there was no sign of the new sneakers or the pants he had worn yesterday.
He wouldn’t throw them away, she told herself, as she went back to Jamie’s room and looked around. It was with both relief and dismay that she picked up his tangled belongings where he had left them on the floor of his closet.
The socks and sneakers were soaking wet. So was the lower half of his pants.
Marge was still holding them when she heard a piercing scream from the backyard. She ran to the window to see Aline leaping into the pool and her parents rushing out from the house.
She watched as Steve Dowling jumped into the pool next to Aline and came up carrying Kerry with Aline steps behind him. Horrified, Marge watched as he laid Kerry down and started pounding on her chest, shouting, “Call an ambulance!” In a matter of minutes, police cars and an ambulance were racing up the driveway.
Then Marge saw a policeman pull Steve away from Kerry as the crew from the ambulance knelt beside her.
Marge turned away from the window when she saw the officer get back on his feet and start shaking his head.
It took a long minute before she realized she was still holding Jamie’s pants, socks and sneakers. She knew without being told how they had gotten wet. Why would he have started to go down the steps to the pool and then come back out? And what are these stains?
She had to throw the pants, socks and sneakers in the washer and dryer immediately.
Marge didn’t know why every bone in her body was screaming at her to do that, but without understanding why, she understood that she was protecting Jamie.
• • •
The wail of the police and ambulance sirens had drawn the neighbors out of their homes. The word spread quickly. “Kerry Dowling drowned in her pool.” Many of the neighbors, some with coffee cups in their hands, hurried to the back of Marge’s yard where they could see what was happening.
Marge’s neighbors lived in the bigger houses surrounding her modest home. Thirty years ago she and Jack had bought their small Cape Cod on this curving, heavily treed property. Their neighbors had been like them, hardworking people in similar homes. Over the last twenty years the neighborhood had gone upscale. One by one the neighbors had sold their small homes to developers for double their value. Marge was the only one who had decided to stay. Now she was surrounded by more expensive homes, and the people who lived in them—doctors, lawyers and Wall Street businessmen—were all well-to-do. They were all pleasant to her, but it wasn’t like the old days when she and Jack had been good friends with their neighbors.
Marge joined her neighbors and listened as some said they had heard the music from the party and seen a number of cars parked in the driveway and on the block. But they agreed that the kids who had gone to the party hadn’t been very noisy and were all gone by eleven o’clock.
Marge slipped away back to her house.
I can’t talk to anyone now, she thought. I need time to think, she said to herself. The clunk-clunk sound of Jamie’s sneakers in the washing machine made her even more frantic.
She left the house for the garage, then pushed the button to open the garage door and backed out of her driveway. Careful to avoid making eye contact with any of her neighbors, she pulled away from the crowd of people gathered in her backyard and the increasing number of police who were on the patio and in the yard behind the Dowling home.
When Steve pulled Kerry’s body out of the water, he laid her on the ground, frantically tried to resuscitate her and shouted to Aline to dial 911. He continued to try to force Kerry to breathe, stopping only when the first police car arrived and an officer pushed him aside and took over.
Agonizing and praying, Steve, Fran and Aline watched as the police officer knelt over Kerry, continuing to administer CPR.
Less than a minute later an ambulance came screeching up the driveway and paramedics jumped out. Steve, Fran and Aline looked on as one of them knelt over Kerry to take over the CPR. Her lips were closed and her slender arms extended away from her chest. The red cotton sundress was crumpled and soaking wet on her body. They stared down at Kerry unbelieving. Her hair was still dripping down on her shoulders.
“It would be easier for all of you if you went inside,” they were told by one of the police officers. Silently Aline and her parents walked toward the house. They went inside and huddled at the window.
Working swiftly, the paramedics attached leads to Kerry’s chest to transmit her vitals to the local emergency room at Valley Hospital. The attending physician quickly confirmed what everyone at the scene already believed. “Flatlined.”
The medic who had taken over the CPR application noticed a trace amount of blood on Kerry’s neck. Following his suspicion he lifted her head and saw a gaping wound at the base of her skull.
He showed it to the police officer in charge at the scene, who promptly called the Prosecutor’s Office.
Homicide detective Michael Wilson, of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, was on call that day. He was settled with the newspapers on a chaise lounge at his condominium complex’s swimming pool in Washington Township. Just starting to doze, he was startled by the ring of his cell phone, but quickly became alert. He listened as he was given his next case. “Teenage girl found dead in swimming pool at 123 Werimus Pines Road in Saddle River. Parents were away when she drowned. Local police report signs of a party at the property. Unexplained head trauma.”
Saddle River borders Washington Township, he thought. I can drive there in ten minutes. He got up and started walking back to his unit, the feeling of chlorine on his skin. The first thing I’ll do is shower. I might be working for the next two hours, twelve hours or twenty-four-plus hours straight.
He grabbed a freshly laundered long-sleeved sports shirt and khakis from his closet, tossed them on the bed and headed to the bathroom. Ten minutes later he was out of the shower, dressed and on his way to Saddle River.
Wilson knew that at the time he was called, the Prosecutor’s Office also would have dispatched a photographer and a medical examiner to the scene. They would arrive shortly after him.
Saddle River, a borough of just over three thousand residents, was one of the very wealthy communities in the United States. Despite being surrounded by densely populated suburbs, a bucolic atmosphere pervaded the town. Its minimum two-acre zoning for homes and easy access to New York City made it a favorite of Wall Street titans and sports celebrities. Former President Richard Nixon owned a home there toward the end of his life.
Mike knew that as recently as the 1950s it had been a favorite site of local hunters. In the early
The Dowling home was a handsome cream-colored Colonial with light green shutters. A cop was on duty on the street in front of the house and had cleared an area for official parking. Mike chose a spot and walked across the lawn to the back of the house. Spotting a group of Saddle River police officers, he asked who had been the first to respond. Officer Jerome Weld, the front of his uniform still wet, stepped forward.
Weld explained that he had arrived at the scene at 11:43 A.M. The family members had already pulled the body from the water. Although he was certain it was too late, he applied CPR. The victim was unresponsive.
He and other officers had conducted a preliminary search of the property. Clearly, there had been a gathering at the home the previous evening. Neighbors confirmed that they’d heard music coming from the Dowling home and observed a large number of young people entering and exiting the house and walking to and from their cars. In total some twenty to twenty-five vehicles had been parked on the street during the party.
The officer continued. “I called your office after I observed the gash on the back of the victim’s head. When searching the property, we found a golf club by the pool that appears to have hair and blood on it.”
Mike walked over, bent down and studied it carefully. As the cop had told him, there were several long, bloodstained hairs sticking to the putter head and drops of blood spattered on the shaft.
“Bag it,” Mike said, “and we’ll send it out for analysis.”
As Mike was talking to the officer, the investigator from the Medical Examiner’s Office arrived. Sharon Reynolds had worked several homicide cases with Mike. He introduced her to Officer Weld, who briefly summarized what they had found at the scene.
I've Got My Eyes on You by Mary Higgins Clark / Mystery & Detective / Thrillers & Crime / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes