A young woman, obsessed by a man she considers a predator, climbs a fire escape and thinks she sees a murder.
Out of work actress Ava Beck, reduced to working in a West Village flower shop, starts to watch womanizing hedge funder Peter Greer, who lives near. He likes to romance his girlfriends with flowers.
Ava notices bruises on his troubled-looking date named Chloe. Concerned, she follows them after work to Chloe’s studio, second floor in the rear of a brownstone. She hears them arguing, climbs up the fire escape just as Greer angrily sees her…and plunges into a world of stunning twists, murder and madness worse than any she could have imagined…
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“What a fantastic thriller! The action starts with the first sentence and my heart was in my mouth with every page. This stand-alone thriller has such an unusual female character you just love and fear for. I so loved this book – five stars!” Alice Liddell
“Wow, I couldn’t put this book down. Loved the fast pace – no lulls! – and every time I thought I knew what was going on there was a twist. I was left open mouthed at the shocker ending…was reading through tears at one point. Loved this book!” Goodreads
“I just finished Girl Watching you and am trying to catch my breath. This suspense-thriller is amazing, it will have you guessing and second-guessing until the end. 5+ Stars!” Crime Book Club
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There he is again. Another girlfriend.
He approaches. I stiffen and – surprise – feel better. Not much better, but not crying bad, either. Because mad is better than sad, isn’t it? That revved feeling that pulls you out of your gloom? This guy makes me mad.
He comes right up to our sidewalk counter, surveying bouquets, hugging one-armed his beaming new girl. I give a helpless sigh. Doesn’t she know about him? He’s in every gossip column. I grit my teeth as he pays, per usual, with his gold Palladium Visa card; barely looks at me from behind his Armani sunglasses.
“Very nice,” I tell him, hands shaking as I wrap the double bouquet of pink roses in gold foil. And I think: Women should steer clear of you, Mister. You’re a predator. I know your name. I know where you live.
He’s oblivious, of course. (Do people realize, when they give you their credit cards, that you can find out practically everything about them?) Men like this enjoy their arrogance. He’s a Greed Is Good cliché who stops here often to gift his girls with bouquets, plush toys, exotic handcrafts. He’s dark-haired and handsome in an aggressive-brooding way, and his name is Peter Greer. He was written up as one of fifteen hot young hedge funders, and that was several years ago; now he’s forty-one. Weeks ago, he bought a party pad a few blocks away. Fancy place. I searched public records for his property sale.
A pity, I think, because Greer’s new girl is lovely, understated in a wheat-colored blazer over a blue dress. She thanks me sweetly, just like they taught her to do in Minnesota or Iowa or Ohio; then her pretty face disappears behind her fall of blond hair as she sniffs the bouquet, so romantic. Thank you, she smiles at him.
Minnesota, I’ve decided.
Shouldn’t warning women about men like this be some sort of civic duty?
She’s early twenties and smart-looking; maybe one of last June’s crop of new grad school types to arrive in the city, still euphoric that they’re in New York, in just the best new job ever working for bankers or media honchos and living in the heart of trendy West Village, woo hoo.
That’s how I felt, starting out.
She gazes at expensive orchids, leaning on Greer’s shoulder as he waves his wallet pointing to tall ficus and a big-leafed anthurium. Wouldn’t she like more plants in her place? It’s so bare!
She shakes her head, maybe thinking where would she put all her Ikea stuff with those big plants in the way. Her place is tiny. Last visit, he bought her potted yellow chrysanthemums. They wound up outside her window on the fire escape. I think her cat peed on them.
“Do you still have geraniums?” pipes a woman holding a poodle.
Oops. Other customers.
“September’s too late in the season, try asters?” I tell her, going back to subtly watching Greer and Minnesota.
By their effusiveness, I can tell they’ve had their early evening glass of wine at nearby Régine’s, as they’ve done for the weeks since I’ve noticed them dating. It’s probably where they met, probably their breathless our place though the poor girl doesn’t know it’s the turd’s favorite pickup joint. He still acts like their affair is new, but I catch an undercurrent of tension from her. She gives me a suddenly troubled look, then reaches – “Aww…” – to pat a plush bunny tied with a bow to roses…
Bruises on her wrist. Her blazer sleeve pulls back as she reaches to the toy, and I see fingerprint marks, jewel-blue over her pulse.
I lean to her, try to find a subtle way to ask if she was hurt.
But he’s already pulled her away.
I frown, watching them head east on leafy West Eleventh to her studio. It’s on the second floor in the rear, barely five hundred square feet but in a pretty brownstone with a view of the garden with its fire escape that doesn’t shake when you climb up, unlike some fire escapes-
It’s after six – coming home time – and I switch gears to catch up with jostling newcomers: a middle-aged woman in artiste black who wants white chrysanthemums; a young man in a tight Gucci T-shirt waving calla lilies; an elderly lady seeking African violets who asks how my auditions are going (I give her a sad face; she looks sad and says, “Oh, honey”), and a pair of lovers buying a hanging fern. They’ve settled in a one-bedroom on West Sixth. When you’re out together buying hanging ferns, your relationship is serious; you are comfortable with each other.
Two reasons why I like this job: I can hide from the world, and simultaneously get a glimpse into other lives. It helps to see some people find luck.
Then I think of Minnesota’s bruises…
About the Author:
J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine. She is the author of the Embryo medical thriller series, and of the Detective Kerri Blasco Police/Psychological Thrillers Fear Dreams, Her Last Breath, and Watching You.
She loves to hear from her readers. Her email address is joyce (at) jaschneiderauthor.net, her website is http://jaschneiderauthor.net, and come say hi on Facebook http://tinyurl.com/7fm44mk. Also join her website’s Newsletter to hear about sales and new books about to release! She lives with her family in Connecticut, loves gardening, and is working on her next Detective Kerri Blasco thriller.
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