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She thanked God that she was alone in the cell—no gun moll, no whore in wig and fishnet stockings, no runaway street kid whose innocence had just been ravaged. She knew them all so well, but not in the flesh, never in the flesh.

She wondered how she had come to such a state, how she would ever explain to Sam or Dee Dee or Mrs. Walker. Or anyone else she had ever known in her twenty-nine years.

And what would all this mean to Jaimie, her unborn child? She patted her stomach and sighed. She had promised Jaimie she (or was it he?) would someday be born. He (or she) had yet to be conceived. "Don't give up hope, little one," she whispered. "We've been through so much together." Not for the first time, she wondered about her own sanity. She was talking to an unfertilized egg.

Jennifer would like to pretend that her arrest had been a complete misunderstanding. She didn't belong in a jail in Atlanta, Georgia. She'd only toyed with the idea of murder. A mere whim. An elaborate game.

Okay, so she'd planned the whole thing, but that wasn't the point. Except for a brief dalliance with Buddhism, she was a good Baptist girl. She knew right from wrong. The Ten Commandments were clear. They were even numbered for easy reference, and number six left no room to hedge.

And hadn't she promised God when she was immersed in the baptismal pool that, if He didn't let her drown, she would always be good? By the third dip she truly believed in miracles, and came up sputtering with a new understanding of what it was to be "reborn."

Jennifer Marsh was no murderer. She was a caterer and a novelist—a mystery novelist. True, she had committed murder twelve times in eight novels—if you didn't count Sir Conrad's death which turned out to be the result of natural causes. Eight novels that were stacked neatly on the shelf in her hall closet—eight novels collecting layers of dust—nearly three thousand manuscript pages.

Stacked next to them in a pile that seemed to tower over the manuscripts were rejections from some of the best publishing houses and most prestigious agents in the country. The story was always the same: "While your characters are interesting, I feel they are not unique enough to carry a series," or "I'm sorry but while your material is exceptionally well written and plotted, I could not become sufficiently enthused with it to take it on."

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