Killing Kelly

Killing Kelly

by Heather Graham

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One for the keeper shelf! Rediscover the heart-stopping thrills of this classic romantic suspense, only from New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham.

It was the most dangerous role of her career…and possibly the last.

Playing a malicious diva on a popular daytime soap, actress Kelly Trent has garnered more than her fair share of hate mail. She doesn’t believe anyone would really confuse her with her character, but when an accident on the set hits too close for the producers’ comfort, Kelly is unceremoniously put on hiatus.

At her agent’s suggestion, she agrees to appear in a music video, thinking the time away filming in the Florida Keys might be just the thing to put her life in perspective. But with two left feet, Kelly only hopes dance instructor Doug O’Casey can work miracles.

A former Miami cop, Doug still has a lawman’s instinct for trouble, and the continued threats made against Kelly tell him that she is in danger. Now, as a deranged fan closes in, Doug realizes that someone close to Kelly wants more than her character killed off the show—someone wants her stone-cold dead.

Originally published in 2005

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781488057489
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 08/12/2019
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 14,439
File size: 668 KB

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels. She's a winner of the RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers' Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For more information, check out her websites:,, and You can also find Heather on Facebook.

Read an Excerpt


What was it about the night and the little places where secrets lurked that caused unease to stir in the human heart? It was the unknown, of course. Primeval fear. Something deep within human instinct that all of the civilization in the world could not change.

Dr. Dana Sumter knew all about the psyche and the innate responses to stimuli. Yet she didn't like it one bit that it was still dark when she returned, sliding her sleek Mercedes into the driveway. She started to hit the garage door opener, then remembered that she couldn't park in the garage; she was refurbishing the house and the garage was filled with old furniture that would be picked up by a charity organization.

With a sigh, she simply parked. The engine now off, she was suddenly aware of more than the darkness. She heard the sounds of the day dawning. From somewhere far away, the shrill whine of an emergency vehicle's siren mingled with the distant, deep bark of a large dog. There was a clattering and a screeching as alley cats fought somewhere. Then . . . just whispers in the shadows as the wind picked up slightly, then died down again. The sound was slightly ominous, like a deep, menacing breath . . . right down her spine.

Dana was irritated to be out at that time of the morning, irritated that she'd agreed to do the crack-of-dawn news show. Why had she? Oh, yes, her ratings had slipped because she'd come down rather hard against a womanizing drunkard. The switchboard at her daily syndicated show had gone off the light beam after that. But still, there had been complaints. A lot of people — men, mainly — calling in to say that she should be shot, or coming up with various other colorful phrases, all in the same vein.

She pulled down the visor mirror and studied her features. Good. Maybe her face was a little narrow, a little hard, but basically, for her age, she was sleek, professional, attractive. She lived carefully, didn't smoke, seldom drank and exercised regularly. She gave a little sniff. She'd gotten a lot of flak the time she'd given the overweight housewife the advice to do something about herself. She knew that people had expected her to say that the husband was simply a louse for ignoring his wife. But on that occasion, she'd gone the other way, telling the woman to buy the South Beach Diet book, or do Atkins, or get thee to a gym! The phones had rung off the hooks with people calling in, raging that women were worthy of love no matter what their size. She'd done one of her best shows ever after that, saying that being worthy of love didn't make it happen, that both men and women were responsible to keep themselves up.

However, despite the fact that she had definitely improved herself to an even greater degree, she'd still caught Harvey red-handed with a young thing half his age. But at least she'd had the self-respect to follow her own advice! Yes, she was swift and brutal. The best lawyers in town had helped her keep what was hers intact. He'd made his pixie mistress into a trophy wife — until the trophy wife had discovered that, without Dana, good old Harvey didn't have any money. And suddenly there was Harvey, out in the cold with his dick in his hand.

When asked about her divorce, Dana was cool and calculated, saying that in any marriage there could come a time when both parties simply fell out of love. She forced herself to talk about her ex-husband with affection, as if they were still friends. She had survived the dissolution of her own marriage before the public eye with great esteem, maintaining that, despite the fact that their children were long grown, it was important to be friends for their sakes.

Friends, my ass! She never should have married. Men were all disloyal egoists who used women. She had simply learned to use them back. Even the one fiasco she had endured years ago in weakness was something she had turned to her advantage. And over and over again, at that!

Done with the introspection, she opened her car door, ready to head into her house. Yet she was surprised to still feel a faint sense of unease as she sat in her car. She lived in a gorgeous house on a well-lit main street in a very fashionable district of Westchester, New York. Even when it was midnight, or in the wee hours of the morning, cars went by constantly. She'd never felt in the least bit of danger, no matter what time she returned to or left her house. But now . . .

She looked into the rearview window, but saw nothing. Still, she waited.

Finally, feeling silly, she got out of the car and walked to her front door. But she couldn't help looking over her shoulder. Then she chided herself. It was ridiculous for a grown woman to be afraid of shadows and the sound of leaves rustling in the summer breeze.

At the front door she paused and looked around again. This was odd, so odd. She felt the hairs at her nape standing on end. But there was nothing, no one.

Telling herself to stop being an idiot, she slipped her key into the lock and stepped in. Then she keyed in her number on the alarm pad as she started to close and lock the door. But the door wouldn't close. She frowned, pressing at it. And that was when it burst back in upon her.

For a moment, she just stared, stunned, trying to fathom just what . . . who . . . Then she opened her mouth to scream as she launched for the alarm pad.

But it was too late.

Several thoughts went through her mind. It wasn't ridiculous to be wary of shadows, of darkness, of little whispers of danger. She shouldn't have been so mistrusting as to refuse to keep a live-in housekeeper. She should have been more careful about things she said . . . and did! She should have . . .

From somewhere far away she could hear her dog, Muffy, barking. Then, with a sudden squeaking sound, the barking was cut off — just as every other noise and sensation faded away.


"There's only darkness . . . shadows . . . Kelly, remember that you start off confident, then begin to feel the menace of the night, of something not quite right," Joe Penny directed.

"Four . . . three . . ." Grant Idle, the assistant director, mouthed the last two numbers in the countdown, his fingers raised. Kelly Trent could barely see him. Because it was supposed to be night, there were areas of pure darkness surrounding the intricately planned lighting. She knew, however, that beyond Grant, Joe and the camera, sound and lighting personnel, there was still something of a crowd. Matt Avery, one of her least favorite people in the world, was there with some of the other executives from Household Heaven, the giant mega-cleaning-product corporation that was the major sponsor behind the show. There were guests, friends of Joe Penny, as well as a few people her agent had brought.

Videotaping a popular soap opera was surely one of the strangest ventures in a world that was already strange. Sometimes the sets were closed. Other times it seemed as if they were having a party and anyone could attend. Usually they filmed in the studio; it was cost-effective to do so. Tonight, however, they were out at Hibiscus Point, a man-made private development where they had been all day, filming every exterior shot they could in a matter of hours.

They weren't on anything that resembled a high-traffic public street, because the first houses hadn't even been sold. In fact, many of the high-priced lots remained empty. And the property they were using was high on a hill, rather remote. Still, it seemed as if they were at a busy crossroads, though many of the cars and people hovering behind the cameras had nothing to do with the actual production. Kelly didn't mind one way or the other. She'd been a part of this world for far too long to do anything other than go with the flow and, for the most part, enjoy herself. However, she did find it strange. The producers had put out a gag order regarding the shoot, so presumably, no one but those involved should have known that they would be working outside the studio. But given the number of people around, they might as well have posted an announcement in Billboard.

On cue, she exited the driver's seat of the BMW parked in the driveway, decked to the nines as Marla Valentine. She allowed the car door to slam behind her. And though Marla was supposedly doing nothing more than returning to her home, she paused, adjusted her skirt and straightened her hair. After all, Marla was a Valentine. To the Valentines, appearance meant the world. She was one of the three redheaded sisters who ruled the valley, through scandal after scandal, affair after affair.

A few steps across dirt and she reached the tiled path to the door of the cliffside bungalow. For a moment — without batting an eye or displaying so much as a hint of a smile — she felt a certain amusement. Marla Valentine should have been fair play for criticism just for the shoes she chose to wear. The stiletto heels weren't so bad in the studio. But here, on location, they were murder themselves. She had to take great care with every step. First, because if she didn't, she'd sink right into the earth, and then because they'd be as loud as an exploding bomb on the tile. But whatever Marla Valentine's shoes, she reflected, she loved her job. Melodrama was simply fun, most of the time. Hard work, but fun. And when they finished here tonight, they were on a three-week hiatus. Which didn't actually mean she was off next week, though, for a number of the actors were going to be guests at a theme park for Soap Week.

She paused, just as she had been directed, and acted out a niggling feeling rising in Marla at the first hint of danger — the slightest tightening of her brow, the faintest frown indicating that she was perplexed.

She looked ahead at the door. The front light, which should have been on, was off. And despite the camera lights, it seemed dark. There was the softest whisper of a breeze that night, just enough to ruffle the trees and give a strange, barely audible whistle to the air.

She had to admit, she was having fun being Marla Valentine now. After many seasons in which Marla had been the nice sister, the shy sister, the used sister, she had developed a streak of nastiness that was pure entertainment. And now Marla was finally facing danger. She'd gotten very tough, so surely she would face it well and come back fighting.

Kelly took a step, then played up her character's sense of unease. She squared her shoulders, as if she had put down the demons of hesitance and fear. She started walking again, keys in her hands. She wasn't going to run away from her own front door.

But then she paused, as if uncertain once again. From the corner of her eyes, she could see one cameraman moving around to her left, the other to her right. The focus was on her, then on the door, the bushes, the shadows . . .

Lights stung Kelly's eyes for a moment, but Marla Valentine convinced herself that there was nothing there. Just as Kelly had been directed. Just as she had rehearsed.

She climbed the steps in her stiletto heels. Then, on cue, her attacker appeared from the shadow of the bushes to her right.

Hugh Thompson was the ultimate pro. Stuntman for dozens of shows and movies, he was a solid six foot four. Tonight, he was clad in black from head to toe, a ski mask covering everything but his eyes, a black coat concealing the rest of his frame. Standing perfectly still, he might have been taken for a shadow.

She screamed. It was a damned good scream, she reflected ruefully, but then, in truth, his appearance was rather frightening. He lunged for her and she spun around. Though they were often able to do their takes without so much as a run-through, they had rehearsed this scene several times. She didn't come straight down the steps, but headed for the mound of earth on the side.

Hugh should have caught her. And she should have been there to catch. Instead, the pile of earth gave way. To her astonishment, she had no footing whatsoever. In sneakers, she might have had a chance. But in the stiletto heels, she went down. And with nothing to stop her, she began to roll.

For a moment, pure panic seized Kelly. The house was on a cliff. If she kept rolling and rolling . . . She was vaguely aware of screams coming from the rest of the cast and crew. Hugh was shouting. They all seemed very far away. Dirt and grass were tearing at her. She felt a sharp pain as her elbow hit something, then her knee. She saw a branch and made a mad grasp for it. The rough limb burned her palms, but she held fast. Her impetus halted, she was able to inch along and catch hold of the tree with the low-hanging branch.

One of the stiletto heels was already gone. She kicked off the other and struggled to her feet. Turning around, she saw the edge of the cliff, not very far away at all, deceptive in the darkness. Her knees nearly gave on her again. Her fear was so deep that it truly seemed her heart leaped to her throat and a chill weakened the length of her body. Sheer physical reaction to the manner of her near-death raked her limbs.

Hugh Thompson reached her first.

"Kelly!" Despite the knit ski mask, his voice boomed with concern.

"I'm fine!" she called quickly, shaking like a leaf.

He caught up to her and pulled her back toward the house, half lifting her. "Kelly, jeez!" he breathed.

"Hugh, please, put me down. I'm fine, really. I just don't understand . . . that little mound by the porch was solid as rock before!"

"You can never trust the ground in California!" Hugh said, shaking his head. "Oh, man, Kelly, I about had a heart attack there, watching you go down!"

By then Joe Penny had reached them, his perfect silver hair nearly standing on end. He looked as white as a ghost. "Kelly . . . Kelly!" He threw his arms around her, shaking. Camera and light crews followed him, along with people from costume and makeup, and the two extras with whom Marla Valentine had recently conversed.

"Joe, everyone, please, I'm fine. Of course, I must look like muddy hell, but hey, I can wash up!" Then she heard the sound of a siren and looked at Joe with concern. "Please tell me you didn't call an ambulance!"

"Kelly, you might have been killed!" Joe said, shaking his head, his face still ashen. "My God, I went over all this myself. What on earth . . .?"

"Like Hugh says, it's California!" Kelly said cheerfully.

"You're bleeding," Hugh said.

She looked down at her knee. "It's just a scratch. Really, I'm fine."

"You could be clamoring for workmen's comp!" one of the extras called out, attempting a note of levity.

"A paid vacation in the Caribbean," Hugh agreed lightly.

"But I'm fine!" she protested again. "Please, guys. Thank you all so much for your concern, but I'm not hurt!"

"Oh, my God, Kelly!" That came from Matt Avery, who had just made his way through the crowd surrounding her. She was glad that she wasn't gasping for air — she certainly wouldn't have gotten any! And then . . . Matt.

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Killing Kelly 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Jinny More than 1 year ago
This was a great book i read it in 5 hours. I love the way Heather Graham brings charecters in from other books. This book also goes with these books, "i would recommend reading these books first then you get to see what happend to the characters from the other books." HURRICANE BAY, PICTURE ME DEAD, DEAD ON THE DANCE FLOOR, then the brothers story in, KILLING KELLY, and then THE ISLAND. This is an amazing book and i got to see how all the charecters came together to help.
midkid88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a good one that had me guessing right to the end. It is about Kelly, a soap opera star that is asked to do the tango in a music video. Throughout all of this somebody is trying to kill her with many possibilities as to who it is. The characters are real with a very scenic setting.
caro488 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Graham, Heather, Killing Kelly, pycho can't separate the actress from the role- Doug O Kelly, dance instructor, former cop, now bodyguard, -- some plots require that normally intelligent characters do really stupid things
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heather Graham is great reading if you like mystery/ghost/romance. Jinxkm
Lindsie More than 1 year ago
This is the second book I have read by Heather Graham and I will say I enjoyed it. While some points of the book were a bit drawn out for me I overall liked it. The book was filled with suspense and the end has a twist no one sees coming. I will pick up another book by the author!
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Great job! Now go to japan result 10
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I continually flipped back and forth between who the killer was!!! I always love Ms. Grahams work and I thought this was one of her best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read everything Ms.Graham has available this book was not one of her best. Though the characters interacted with humour the plot for the most part was dull, uninteresting and I don't care what the previous reader said ABSOLUTELY not worth the price of hard advice if you want to read it get it at the library
Guest More than 1 year ago
The characters and the story kept me reading until the wee hours of the morning. Well worth the money for a hardcover.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Actress Kelly Trent of the popular soap opera Valentine Valley is on location shooting a scene as the nasty Marla Valentine when the mud she stands on loosens and she almost dies. One week later, while Kelly is in South Beach, Florida with her agent and her business manager discussing her future. The Valentine Valley director plans to kill off Marla out of fear for Kelly¿s life. Her management team wants Kelly to do a video with rock group Kill Me Dead, whose lead singer Lance Morton is obsessed with Kelly. The soap star insists she cannot dance but agrees to take lessons. Former cop turn private sleuth dance instructor Doug O¿Casey is hired to teach Kelly to tango and to protect her. Kelly and Doug meet at a private party on a yacht; each thinks the other is a snob, but both feel attracted to one another.. They begin the dance lessons with both feeling the heat. As they tango, Doug admits Kelly is not like what he expected as she is down to earth. They give in to their feelings and make love, but he fears for her life as someone keeps trying to kill her. The ensemble cast enhances either the suspense or the terrific likable lead duo. The story line is action-packed yet difficult to determine the villain as the plot disguises him very well to the point that readers will wonder if accidents occurred as opposed to deliberate acts until deep into the tale. Though too many men seem obsessed with Kelly (which also makes for red herrings) and it is too convenient that so many cops and sleuths are involved in Kelly¿s life, fans will enjoy this . Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
It had an unexcepted twist in the end.I thought that I had the book figured out, but I was way off base.It was beautifully done.