THE COVE. Catherine Coulter


Catherine Coulter


Catherine Coulter


To my creative and talented sister, Diane Coulter, who said to me in September 1994, “Let me tell you about this little town on the coast of Oregon called The Cove.” And thus The Cove was born.

To Jonathan Kellerman’s novel Bad Love, the best title of the year. I told my editor, Stacy Creamer, that I wanted a title like his, only more. Being my editor, she suggested without a pause, “How about Really Bad CoveT’

To my assistant, Karen Evans, who snits without fear of death, and with charm.

To David Shanks, President of Putnam/Berkley, who swore to me in June 1995 that he’ll tell me whenever I do something stupid.

And finally to my husband, Anton, partner and confidant, who manages to keep everything in proper perspective.


SOMEONE WAS WATCHING her. She tugged on the black wig, flattening it against her ears, and quickly put on another coat of deep-red lipstick, holding the mirror up so she could see behind her.

The young Marine saw her face in the mirror and grinned at her. She jumped as if she’d been shot. Just stop it. He’s harmless, he’s just flirting. He couldn’t be more than eighteen, his head all shaved, his cheeks as smooth as hers. She tilted the mirror to see more. The woman sitting beside him was reading a Dick Francis novel. In the seat behind them a young couple were leaning into each other, asleep.

The seat in front of her was empty. The Greyhound driver was whistling Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” a song that always twisted up her insides. The only one who seemed to notice her was that young Marine, who’d gotten on at the last stop in Portland. He was probably going home to see his eighteen-year-old girlfriend. He wasn’t after her, surely, but someone was. She wouldn’t be fooled again. They’d taught her so much. No, she’d never be fooled again.

She put the mirror back into her purse and fastened the flap. She stared at her fingers, at the white line where the wedding ring had been until three days ago. She’d tried to pull it off for the past six months but hadn’t managed to do it. She had been too out of it even to fasten the Velcro on her sneakers-when they allowed her sneakers-much less work off a tight ring.

Soon, she thought, soon she would be safe. Her mother would be safe too. Oh, God, Noelle-sobbing in the middle of the night when she didn’t know anyone could hear her. But without her there, they couldn’t do a thing to Noelle. Odd how she rarely thought of Noelle as her mother anymore, not like she had ten years before, when Noelle had listened to all her teenage problems, taken her shopping, driven her to her soccer games. So much they’d done together. Before. Yes, before that night when she’d seen her father slam his fist into her mother’s chest and she’d heard the cracking of at least two ribs.

She’d run in, screaming at him to leave her mother alone, and jumped on his back. He was so surprised, so shocked, that he didn’t strike her. He shook her off, turned, and shouted down at her, “Mind your own business, Susan! This doesn’t concern you.” She stared at him, all the fear and hatred she felt for him at that moment clear on her face.

“Doesn’t concern me? She’s my mother, you bastard. Don’t you dare hit her again!”

He looked calm, but she wasn’t fooled; she saw the pulse pounding madly in his neck. “It was her fault, Susan. Mind your own damned business. Do you hear me? It was her fault.” He took a step toward her mother, his fist raised. She picked up the Waterford carafe off his desk, yelling, “Touch her and I’ll bash your head in.”

He was panting now, turning swiftly to face her again, no more calm expression to fool her. His face was distorted with rage. “Bitch! Damned interfering little bitch! I’ll make you pay for this, Susan. No one goes against me, particularly a spoiled little girl who’s never done a thing in her life except spend her father’s money.” He didn’t hit Noelle again. He looked at both of them with naked fury, then strode out of the house, slamming the door behind him.

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