Authors: Julia Derek
Published by Adrenaline Books
Copyright © 2015 by Julia Derek
This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Published as an e-book July 2015 by Adrenaline Books.
To find out more about the author and to sign up for her new books release, visit
Cover design by Luly Blazek at
MORE JULIA DEREK BOOKS
THE SMILEY KILLER(YA Thriller)
THE LOVING A KILLER SERIAL (Dark Psychological Thriller)
The Other Woman--Part Two
THE L.A. GIRLS ROMANCE SERIES (Sexy Romantic Suspense)
The Girl Undercover Serial is dedicated to Brad Slaight, a great friend and tireless critic/supporter of all my writing.
As soon as I was back out on the street, I walked across the multi-lane road that ran alongside Jonah’s huge apartment building and entered Central Park at the other side.
I quickly found a tree with a wide enough trunk behind which I hid and faced the building. From that vantage point, I had a great view of the entrance through which Jonah should soon exit to go see his father. When he did, I would of course be on his tail. If everything worked out the way I hoped, I would, at the very least, know what Otto Stenger looked like tonight, and, if I was really lucky, I might even discover where he lived when he was in New York. Surely I’d learn something else useful.
I couldn’t help but smile a little, I was so pleased with myself. What had taken Ian months and months of fruitless investigations, I may achieve in one day. And all it had cost me was a date with Jonah during which I pretended to be head over heels for him. I think it’s fair to say that my idea had been—to use Ian’s own word—brilliant. Even if the fact that Jonah just so happened to be Stenger’s son, it was still pretty damn brilliant.
It suddenly dawned on me that there might be more than one entrance to the colossal pre-war building at the other side of the street. It did after all take up the entire block.
As fast as I could, I ran alongside the edge of the park until I got a good view of the building’s corner. The darkness of night helped to keep me hidden, so I didn’t bother to crouch down much.
Just as I had feared, there was another entrance—a smaller one and not as well lit as the main one—that led out to the side street intersecting the road with all the lanes in front. In order to surveil both entrances effectively, I would have to split myself into two people they were so far apart. Jonah could easily exit via one, while I was busy watching the other.
That smug smile on my face faded and deep frustration surged through me instead at the thought that I might miss Jonah, which would bring Ian and me back to square one. I needed Ian to get here and watch one of the entrances for me.
Sticking my hand into my purse, I found my latest disposable cell phone. I dialed Ian’s number and then brought the phone to my ear. My heart seemed to pound louder and harder with each ring that went through without my partner in crime picking up. Finally, his voicemail began to play. Praying he was just screening his calls, I hissed, “Ian, it’s me. Pick up. I have some incredible news, but I need your help right now.
pick up.” I paused to suck in a breath, then added with as much emphasis as I could manage without actually yelling and drawing the attention from passers-by in the park, “Pick. Up. The. God. Damned.
But all I heard was the jarring beep indicating that my time to speak on Ian’s voicemail had run out. Exasperated, I disconnected.
Now what do I do?
I thought. Should I run between the two entrances, hoping to get a glimpse of Jonah being at some stage of leaving the building and jumping into a cab? I estimated that it would take me fifteen to twenty seconds to run between them if I moved fast, more as I got increasingly tired. It definitely wasn’t a great solution, but I couldn’t think of another.
I glanced at the side street. It was smaller and had less traffic than the main one, but that might be just what Jonah preferred. Especially if he didn’t want to draw attention to himself while going to see his father.
Chewing on my lower lip, I decided that I simply had to keep track of both entrances.
So I started running.
The minutes passed with no sight of Jonah leaving. I kept trying Ian, obsessively pressing the redial button, praying that he would pick up. When he finally did much later, I was sweaty and dizzy from having to make sharp turns every time I reached one exit. In order to endure all the swiveling around, I had eventually slowed down to a brisk stride, not bothering to crouch down any longer; if Jonah suddenly appeared, I would just dive behind the four-foot tall stone wall that outlined most of the park.
“Hello?” Ian said in my ear so unexpectedly I nearly dropped the cell.
“There you are! I thought you’d
pick up the goddamned phone. I need you to come and help me.”
“Gabi? Is that you?”
“Yeah, I’m calling from my latest burner. Jonah is about to go see his dad, who is none other than Stenger. Otto Stenger is his full name.” I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth fast enough.
“Stenger is Jonah’s dad? Bloody hell! When did you find out?”
“A short while ago. I don’t have time to explain how it happened.” I had to slow my pace further to talk to Ian. “Listen, I’m outside his apartment building and waiting for him to leave it so I can shadow him. Unfortunately there’s another exit and if he uses that one, I’ll miss him. I’m trying to watch both, but they’re pretty far apart. I need you to come here and watch one.”
“Okay, I’m heading over there right now. What’s the address?”
I gave him the address and explained where the building’s side entrance was. He assured me he’d be there in fifteen minutes tops.
“Can’t you get here sooner than that?” I asked, even though it was a stupid question. Ian wanted to find Stenger even more than I did, so if he’d be able to come any swifter, surely he would. I added, “Never mind. Just get here as fast as you can.”
“I’m getting in a cab right as we speak.” I heard him rattle off the address to what I assumed was the cabdriver. Then he was back. “I’ll call when I get there. Keep your fingers crossed I don’t get stuck in traffic.”
I held onto my phone in case Ian needed to reach me before he arrived, my gaze fixed on Jonah’s massive prewar building as I kept jogging back and forth alongside the edge of the park.
Oh, God, please make it so that he hasn’t left yet,
I repeated inwardly while squinting into the night. I squeezed the phone in my hand so firmly I feared it might break. Letting go of the pressure somewhat when I realized what I was doing, I tried to calculate how much time had passed since I had left Jonah’s place. It couldn’t be more than half an hour, which meant my target most likely was still at home. But it also meant that he should be leaving any moment now.
I briefly pondered approaching the doorman and bribing him the way Ian liked to do to get him to call me if Jonah was leaving. It didn’t take long before I discarded that notion, however. Not only did I have a mere forty bucks on me, but even if I’d had several hundred, I doubted I’d be able to convince the doorman of such a fancy building to be my lookout. And what if Jonah walked out of the building as I was working his doorman? With my luck, surely that’s what would end up happening.
I got more and more frustrated with each minute that passed and I didn’t spot Jonah nor heard from Ian, informing me that he had arrived.
Just as I sighed and cursed him out under my breath, I spotted a familiar figure exiting the building’s main entrance. But it wasn’t Jonah—it was Burt. Watching him as he took a right on the sidewalk, walking south on the street between us, I tried to decide whether to follow him instead; maybe he was going to see Stenger in Jonah’s place for some reason. Then I remembered that he was supposed to go out drinking with “the boys.” He must be heading for some bar. My eyes returned to Jonah’s house. Where the hell
Ian? If he stayed true to his word and didn’t get caught up in traffic, he should have arrived by now. I glared at every cab that passed by, sure that this one was the one containing Ian. But none stopped at the intersection, letting him out.
Glancing down at my phone, I noticed to my surprise that I had an incoming call from Ian, yet no sound came out.
Shit, I must’ve accidentally muted it while holding it,
I thought. I pressed the Talk button.
“Where are you?” I blurted.
“I’m at the corner of the two streets you told me,” he replied. “I’ve been trying to call you for the last three minutes. Why didn’t you pick up?”
“Something must be wrong with my phone,” I lied. “I didn’t spot Jonah yet. Burt just left the building, though.” I searched for Ian on the other side of the road, but couldn’t see him.
“Burt?” Ian said. “Who’s Burt?”
“His roommate and another trainer at the club. It now seems like he’s in on it, too.” As I said those words, my gaze returned to Burt. Maybe he wasn’t going to a bar. He was wearing nondescript athletic shorts and an equally obscure hoodie that he pulled farther down over his face, keeping his gaze trained to the ground. His shoulders were hunched and his hands were buried deep into his pockets. You wore that kind of outfit and used that body language when you wanted to stay incognito, not go drinking with your buddies.
“Exactly where are you?” I asked Ian. “I can’t see you.”
“At a newsstand close to the intersection you told me. I can see the side entrance to the building well from here. So far, I haven’t seen Jonah anywhere. I’ve been looking.”
I immediately saw the newsstand Ian must be referring to. An idea struck me then, and I cursed myself for not having thought of it sooner so I could have utilized it myself; it would have saved me plenty of sweat and dizzy spells. “Buy the biggest newspaper you can find and hide behind it, pretending like you’re reading it. Then position yourself so you can view both entrances at the same time.” Burt got smaller and smaller as he kept walking down the street, and it got harder and harder to see him. I needed to get moving if I wanted to follow him, which I had just decided that I wanted to do. Maybe he
going to see Stenger in Jonah’s place. “I’m going after Burt. I think he might be up to something. Keep looking for Jonah and follow him if you see him. I don’t think he’s left yet.”
I hung up before Ian could reply and began moving in the same direction as Burt was, running alongside the low stone wall. If Jonah were to show up, Ian would do as good a job as me tagging him, so I was pleased with the arrangement I’d arrived at so quickly. Plus, the fact that I had connected with Ian right then, I interpreted as fate trying to tell me something, namely, for me to go after Burt.
I stayed inside the park for as long as I could. The walkway alongside it was much too bright due to several streetlamps for me to dare to exit just yet. Besides, I could see the black man fine from my current vantage point, a few blocks away from Jonah’s building now.
But then he took a sharp turn onto a side street and disappeared between two big buildings.
I leaped over the stone wall and ran in the direction he had taken, determined not to lose him. As I reached the other side of the street, narrowly avoiding being run over by a speeding cab, I spotted him again, continuing west. Comfortable that he wouldn’t spot me because of the distance between the streetlamps even if he turned around, I edged closer to him. He had soon reached the end of the block and made another sharp turn, this one to the left.
I ran up to the corner of the building and peered around it, seeing Burt walking down the street. This street was a main one, which meant it was better lit, so I gave him some more space before I set after him once more.