• Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Release Date: August 19, 2013
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455581122
  • Available Formats: Audio, e-Book, Print

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Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness to find herself held captive by a man who won’t even tell her his name. She’s determined to escape, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive. Then Emory and her mystery man encounter people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can’t turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.

As her husband’s deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.

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Excerpt


Emory came awake gradually but didn’t open her eyes, fearing that admitting light would make the excruciating headache worse. It had jarred her out of a deep sleep with pains so piercing it was as though a nail gun was being used inside her skull. She was hearing a noise not ordinarily heard in her bedroom, but even her curiosity over that wasn’t enough to embolden her to lift her eyelids.

In addition to the sharp pains inside her head, her right foot was emitting a dull but constant throb. She’d run too hard on it this morning.

The aroma of food was making her queasy.

Why was she even smelling food in her bedroom, when it and the kitchen were on opposite sides of the house? Whatever Jeff was cooking –

Jeff didn’t cook.

Her eyes sprang open, and, when met with nothing she recognized, she sat bolt upright.

The alien scene before her blurred and spun. Scalding bile gushed into her throat. She barely managed to choke it back down before spewing it. Dizziness thrust her back down onto the pillow, which she realized wasn’t her pillow.

And the man looming at the side of the bed wasn’t Jeff.

She blurted, “Who are you?”

He came a step closer.

Stay away from me!” She held up her hand, palm out, although she had no chance of fighting him off. She was as weak as a newborn. He was a giant.

But on her command, he stayed where he was. “Don’t be afraid of me. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Who are you? Where am I?”

“You’re safe.”

That remained to be seen. Her breaths were short and quick, and her heart was pounding. She willed herself to regain her calm, knowing that to panic wouldn’t benefit her.

“How do you feel?” His voice was low and rusty, as though he hadn’t used it in a while.

She just stared at him, trying to piece together the disjoined stimuli and form an explanation of where she was and why she was here.

“How’s your head?” He hitched his chin up.

Tentatively she felt the area indicated and groaned when her fingertips touched a knot behind her left ear. It was like she’d struck a mallet to a gong, sending waves of pain through her head. Her hair was sticky and matted with blood, and her fingers came away stained red. She noticed blood on the pillowcase.

“What happened to me?”

“You don’t remember?”

Her mind backtracked. “I remember running. Did I fall?”

“I thought maybe you could tell me.”

She was about to shake her head, but the motion made her ill and caused another sunburst of pain. “How did I get here?”

“I’d been watching you through binoculars.”

He’d been watching her through binoculars? She disliked the sound of that. “From where?”

“A ridge on another peak. But I lost track of you and thought I should check it out. I found you lying unconscious, picked you up, brought you here.”

“Where is here?”

He made a motion with his hand, inviting her to see for herself.

Every movement of her head meant a fresh agony, but she pushed herself up onto her elbows. After giving the vertigo several moments to subside, she took in her surroundings, specifically looking for a possible means of escape should one become necessary.

There were four windows. Only one door. Only one room, in fact.

The bed on which she lay occupied a corner of it. A screen of louvered panels, probably meant to separate the sleeping area from the rest of the room, had been folded flat and propped against the wall which was constructed of split logs.

Other furnishings consisted of a brown leather recliner and matching sofa. Both had creases, wrinkles, and scratches testifying to decades of use. Between them stood an end table, and on it was a lamp with a burlap shade. These pieces were grouped together on a square of carpet with a hemmed border.

The kitchen was open to the rest of the room. There were a sink, narrow cookstove, an outmoded refrigerator, and a maple wood table with two ladder-back chairs painted olive green. A large stone fireplace comprised most of one wall. The fire burning in it was making the crackling sound she’d been unable to identify when she first woke up.

He’d given her time to survey the room. Now, he said, “Only one of your water bottles is empty. You must be thirsty.”

Her mouth was dry, but other matters concerned her more. “I was unconscious when you found me?”

“Out cold. I’ve tried several times to wake you up.”

“How long have I been out?”

I found you around seven-thirty this morning.”

She looked down at her wristwatch and saw that it was twenty past six p.m. She bicycled her legs to kick off the layers of covers. Throwing her legs over the side of the bed, she stood up. Immediately she swayed.

“Whoa!”

He caught her upper arms. She didn’t like his touching her, but she would have fallen on her face if he hadn’t. He guided her back down onto the side of the bed. Her head felt as though it was about to explode. Her stomach heaved. She covered her eyes with her hand because everything within sight was alternately zooming close and then receding like the wavering images in a fun house mirror.

“Want to lie back down or can you sit up?” he asked.

“I’ll sit.”

He gradually withdrew his hands from her arms, then left her. He went into the kitchen and took a gallon jug of water from the refrigerator. He filled a glass and carried it back to her.

She regarded it suspiciously, wondering if he’d drugged her. The date rape drug was odorless, tasteless, and effective. It not only debilitated the victim, it wiped clean the memory. But if this man had some nefarious purpose in mind, what would have been the point of drugging her if she was already unconscious?

He said, “I tried to get some water down you earlier. You kept gagging and spitting it out.”

Which explained why the front of her shirt was damp. She was fully clothed except for her jacket, gloves, and headband. Her running shoes had also been removed and placed on the floor beside the bed, lined up evenly side by side. She looked up from them to the man extending her the drinking glass. “I’m certain I have a concussion.”

“That’s what I figured, since I couldn’t wake you up.”

“My scalp is bleeding.”

“Not any more. It clotted quick enough. I’ve been dabbing it with peroxide. That’s why the blood on our fingers looks fresh.”

“I probably need stitches.”

“It bled a lot, but it’s not that deep of a gash.”

He’d made that assessment himself? Why? “Why didn’t you call nine-one-one?”

“I’m off the beaten path up here, and I can’t vouch for the quality of the emergency services. I thought it best just to bring you here and let you sleep it off.”

She didn’t agree. Anyone who’d sustained a blow to the head should be seen by a physician to determine the extent of the damage done, but she didn’t yet have the energy to argue the point. She needed to get her bearings and clear her head a bit first.

She took the glass of water from him. “Thank you.”

Although she was desperately thirsty, she sipped the water, afraid that if she drank it too quickly, she’d only throw it up. She was feeling a mite less anxious. At least her heart was no longer racing and her breathing was close to normal. She would take her blood pressure soon — her wrist watch allowed for that — but she didn’t feel up to doing it yet. She was having to white-knuckle the glass of water to keep it steady. He must have noticed.

“Dizzy?”

“Very.”

“Head hurt?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe.”

“I had a concussion once. Didn’t amount to anything except a really bad headache, but that was bad enough.”

“I don’t think mine is serious. My vision is a little blurry, but I remember what year it is and the name of the vice-president.”

“Then you’re one up on me.”

He’d probably meant it as a joke, but there was no humor either in his inflection or in his expression. He didn’t come across as a man who laughed gustily and frequently. Or ever.

She sipped once more from the glass then set it on the small table at the side of the bed. “I appreciate your hospitality, Mr. — “

“Emory Charbonneau.”

She looked up at him with surprise.

He motioned toward the end of the bed. Until now, she hadn’t noticed her fanny pack lying there along with her other things. One of the earpieces on her sunglasses was broken. There was blood on it.

“I got your name off your driver’s license,” he said. “Georgia license. But your name sounds like Louisiana.”

“I’m originally from Baton Rouge.”

“How long have you lived in Atlanta?”

Apparently he’d noted her address, too. “Long enough to call it home. Speaking of which. . .” Not trusting herself to stand again, she scooted along the edge of the bed until she could reach her fanny pack. Inside it, along with two water bottles, one of them empty, were two twenty dollar bills, a credit card, her driver’s licence, the map she’d used to mark her trail, and, what she most needed right now, her cell phone.

“What were you doing up here?” he asked. “Besides running.”

“That’s what I was doing up here. Running.” When she tried unsuccessfully for the third time to turn her phone on, she cursed softly. “I think my battery is completely out of juice. Can I borrow your charger?”

“I don’t have a cell phone.”

Who doesn’t have a cell phone? “Then if I could use your land line, I’ll pay for – “

“No phone of any kind. Sorry.”

She gaped at him. “No telephone?”

He shrugged. “Nobody to call. Nobody to call me.”

The panic which she had willed away earlier seized her now. With the realization that she was at this stranger’s mercy, a baffling situation became a terrifying one. Her aching head was suddenly packed with stories of missing women. They disappeared and often their families never knew what their fate had been. Religious fanatics took wives. Deviants kept woman chained inside cellars, starved them, tortured them in unspeakable ways.

She swallowed another surge of nausea. Keeping her voice as steady as she was capable of, she said, “Surely you have a car.”

“A pickup.”

“Then could you please drive me to where I left my car this morning.”

“I could, but it – “

“Don’t tell me. It’s out of gas.”

“No, it’s got gas.”

“Then what?”

“I can’t drive you down.”

“Down?”

“Down the mountain.”

“Why not?”

He reached for her hand. She snatched it back, out of his reach. He frowned with annoyance then walked across the room to the only door and pulled it open.

Emory’s distress gave way to dismay. Supporting herself on various pieces of furniture as she slowly made her way across the room, she joined him at the open door. It was as though a gray curtain had been hung from above the jamb.

The fog seemed impenetrable, so thick that she could see nothing beyond a few inches of the door frame.

“It rolled in early this afternoon,” he said. “Lucky I was there this morning, or you could’ve woken up to find yourself stranded out there in this.”

“I am stranded in this.”

“Looks like.”

“I don’t have to be.” Once again, her respiration sounded and felt like panting. “I’ll pay you to drive me.”

He glanced over his shoulder at the open fanny pack on the bed. “For forty bucks? No way.”

“Charge whatever you want. I’ll pay you the balance as soon as you get me home.”

He was shaking his head. “It’s not that I doubt you’d pay me. It’s that no amount of money will entice me. The roads up here are winding and narrow, steep drops on the outside. Most don’t have guard rails. I won’t risk your life, or mine, to say nothing of my truck.”

“What about your neighbors?”

His face went blank.

“Neighbors? Surely someone living close by has a phone. You could walk – “

“No one lives close by.”

It was like arguing with a fence post. Or a telephone pole. “I need to let my husband know that I’m all right.”

“Maybe tomorrow,” he said, glancing up toward the sky, although there was absolutely nothing to see. “Depending on how soon this lifts.” He closed the door. “You’re shivering. Go stand by the fire. Or, if you need the bathroom. . .” He pointed out a door on the other side of the room near the bed. “It can get cold in there, but I turned on the space heater for you.” He went over to the cookstove where a pot was simmering. “Are you hungry?” He removed the lid and stirred the contents.

His casual dismissal of her situation astounded her. It frightened her. It also made her mad as hell.

“I can’t stay here all night.”

Even though her voice had carried a trace of near-hysteria, he remained unruffled as he tapped the dripping spoon against the rim of the pot, set it in a saucer, and replaced the lid. Only then did he turn toward her and gesture toward the door. “You saw for yourself. You don’t have a choice.”

“There’s always a choice.”

He looked away from her for several beats. When their eyes met again, he said. “Not always.”

Uncertain of what to do next, she stood where she was and watched as he began gathering utensils to set a place at the table. He asked again if she was hungry. “No. I’m sick to my stomach.”

“I waited on you to eat, but since you’re not going to, do you mind?”

Not that she believed her answer would matter to him, she told him to go ahead.

“I have something for your headache. And a Coke might settle your stomach. Or maybe you should go back to bed.”

Lying down would make her feel all the more vulnerable. “I’ll sit for a while.” Moving unsteadily, she walked over to the dining table. Remembering that she had blood on her fingers from her head wound, she said, “I need to wash my hands.”

“Sit before you fall.”

Gratefully she sank into one of the chairs. He brought her a plastic bottle of hand sanitizer, which she used liberally, then blotted her hands on a paper towel she tore off the roll standing in the center of the table.

Without any ado or hesitation, he took the blood-stained paper towel from her and placed it in a trash bin, then went to the sink and washed his own hands with hot water and liquid soap. He opened a can of Coke, brought it and a bottle of an over-the-counter analgesic pills to the table, along with a sleeve of saltine crackers, and a stick of butter still in the wrapper. At the stove, he ladled a portion of stew into a ceramic bowl.

He sat down across from her, tore a paper towel from the roll and placed it in his lap, then picked up his spoon. “I hate eating in front of you.”

“Please.”

He spooned up a bite and noticed her looking at the contents of the bowl. “Probably not what you’re used to.”

“Any other time it would look good. Beef stew is a favorite of mine.”

“It’s venison.”

She looked up at the stag head mounted on the wall above the fireplace.

He could smile after all. He did so, saying, “Not that particular deer. He was here when I moved in.”

“Moved in? This is your permanent residence? I thought – ” She surveyed the rustic room and its limited comforts, and hoped that she wasn’t about to insult him. “I thought this was a getaway, like a hunting cabin. A place you use seasonally.”

“No.”

“How long have you been here?”

With elbows on the table, he bent over his bowl, addressing it rather than her as he mumbled, “Six months or so.”

“Six months. Without even a telephone? What would you do in an emergency?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t had one yet.”

He opened the packet of crackers, took out two, and spread them with butter. He ate one alone and dropped the other into his bowl of stew, breaking it up with his spoon before taking another bite.

She watched him with unabashed curiosity and apprehension. He’d placed a paper towel in his lap as though it was a linen napkin, but he ate with his elbows on the table. He served his butter from the wrapper and had crumbled a cracker into his stew, but he blotted his mouth after every bite.

He lived in an outdated log cabin, but he didn’t look like a mountain man. Particularly. He had a scruff, but it wasn’t more than a day or two old. He wore a black and red checked flannel shirt tucked into faded blue jeans, but the garments were clean. His hair was dark brown, collar length in back, longer than most men his age typically wore. It was laced with strands of gray at his temples.

That frosting would make another man look distinguished. It only made him look older than he probably was. Late thirties, possibly. But it was a lived-in face with a webbing of creases around his eyes, furrows at the corners of his lips, and a watchful wariness behind his eyes, which were a startling aquamarine. The cool color contrasted to his suntanned, wind-scoured face.

He was an odd mix of contrasts. He lived ruggedly, without even a telephone or TV, but he wasn’t uncouth, and he was well-spoken. Open shelves affixed to the log walls held dozens of books, some hardcover, some paperback, tidily arranged.

The whole place was neat, she noted. But there wasn’t a single photograph in the room, no knickknacks or memorabilia, nothing that hinted of his past, or, for that matter, his present.

She didn’t trust his casual manner, nor his explanation of why he hadn’t taken her to a medical facility as soon as he found her. Calling nine-one-one would have been even more practical. If he’d wanted to.

A man didn’t simply pick up unconscious and bleeding women and cart her to his remote and neighborless mountain cabin without a reason, and she couldn’t think of one that didn’t involve criminality or depravity or both.

He hadn’t touched her in any untoward way, but maybe he was a psychopath who drew the line at assaulting his victims while they were unconscious. Maybe he preferred them awake, aware, and responsive to his torment.

Shakily, she asked, “Are we in North Carolina?”

“Yes.”

“I ask because some of the trails in the park stretch over into Tennessee.”

She remembered parking in a designated area, doing her stretches, clipping on her fanny pack. She remembered hitting her stride, and she recalled the stillness of the woods on either side of the trail and how the cold air had become thinner as she gained altitude. But she had no memory of falling and striking her head hard enough to cause a concussion.

Which led her to wonder if that’s what had indeed happened.

She helped herself to one of the crackers and took a sip of Coke, hoping that the combination of them might improve her queasiness. “What’s the elevation here?”

“Close to five thousand feet,” he replied. “Difficult terrain for running.”

“I’m training for a marathon.”

He stopped eating, interested. “First one?”

“Fifth, actually.”

“Huh. Hoping to improve your time?”

“Always.”

“So you push yourself.”

“I don’t see it that way. I love it.”

“Quite a challenge, distance running at this altitude.”

“Yes, but it makes running at a lower level easier.”

“You don’t worry about overdoing?”

“I’m careful. Especially with my right foot. I had a stress fracture last year.”

“No wonder you favor it.”

She gave him a sharp look. “How do you know I do?”

“I noticed as you were hobbling from the bed to the door.”

Possibly, she thought. Or had he noticed it before when he was watching her through binoculars? From just how far away? From a far ridge as he’d claimed, or from a much closer distance?

Rather than confront him with those questions, she continued making conversation in the hope of gaining information. “My foot gave me fits last year after Boston. The pediatrist advised that I stay off it for three months. I hated being unable to run, but I followed his instructions. Once he gave me the green light, I began training again.”

“When’s the marathon?”

“Nine days from today.”

“Nine days.”

“Yes, I know,” she sighed. “This concussion comes at a most inconvenient time.”

“You may have to pass.”

“I can’t. I have to run it.”

He didn’t ask, just looked at her.

“It’s a fund-raiser. I helped organize it. People are counting on me.”

He spooned another bite, chewed, and swallowed before continuing. “Your driver’s license identifies you as Dr. Emory Charbonneau. Medical doctor?”

“Pediatrics. I share a practice with two OB/GYNs.”

“You take over the babies once they arrive?”

“That was the plan when we formed the practice.”

“Do you have kids of your own?”

She hesitated, then shook her head. “Someday, hopefully.”

“What about Mr. Charbonneau? Is he a doctor, too?”

“Mr. Surrey.”

“Pardon?”

“My husband’s name is Jeff Surrey. When we married I was already Dr. Charbonneau. For professional reasons, it seemed best not to change my name.”

He didn’t remark on that, but his eyebrows came together in a half-frown. “What does he do for a living?”

“He’s a money manager. Investments. Futures.”

“Like for rich people?”

“I suppose some of his clients are well to do.”

“You don’t know?”

“He doesn’t discuss his clients’ money matters with me.”

“Right. He wouldn’t.”

She bit off another corner of the cracker. “What about you?”

“What about me?”

“What do you do?”

He looked across at her, and, with all seriousness said, “Live.”

He wasn’t being glib, and Emory sensed that he didn’t intend to elaborate. He held her gaze for a moment, then set his spoon in his empty bowl, and pushed back his chair. He carried his utensils to the sink. Returning to the table, he politely asked if she wanted any more crackers.

“No, but I’ll keep the Coke.”

While he set about washing dishes, she excused herself. Treading carefully to keep the walls in place and the floor from undulating, she made her way into the bathroom. The space heater was the old-fashioned kind like her great-grandmother had had. Live blue flames burned against blackened ceramic grates.

She used the toilet, washed her face and hands, and rinsed her mouth out with a dab of toothpaste squeezed from the tube she found in the medicine cabinet above the sink. Also in the cabinet were a bottle of peroxide, a razor and can of shaving cream, a box of Bandaids, a jar of multiple vitamins, and a hairbrush.

The shower stall was made of tin. The wire rack hanging from the shower head contained only a bar of soap and a bottle of shampoo. She longed to wash the blood out of her hair but didn’t for fear of reopening the cut on her scalp. The goose egg beneath it hadn’t gotten any larger, but any pressure she applied caused blow darts of pain.

She couldn’t resist peeking into the small cupboard. On the shelving inside it, folded towels and wash cloths were neatly stacked. It also stored rolls of toilet tissue, bars of soap, and cleaning supplies.

Out of the ordinary were the boxes of bullets.

They were on the highest shelf, labeled according to caliber. She had to stand on tiptoe to lift one down. She raised the lid. In the glow of the light fixture above the sink, the shells looked large, long, and lethal.

She quickly closed the box and replaced it exactly as she’d found it, wondering where he kept the guns that corresponded to his arsenal of ammunition.

She left the bathroom to find the main room dark except for the flickering light of the fireplace and the fixture above the kitchen sink. He was folding a dish cloth over the rim of it. Hearing her, he turned his head, speaking to her over his shoulder.

“I figured you’d want to turn in early.”

She glanced toward the bed where the covers, which she’d left rumpled, had been straightened and, on one side, folded back at a precise ninety degree angle. The bloody pillowcase had been replaced with a clean one.

“I’ll sleep in the recliner.”

“You’ll sleep in the bed.” He yanked on a string to extinguish the light above the sink.

The action had a finality to it that strongly suggested arguing over the sleeping arrangements would be futile. Emory sat down on the edge of the bed. She’d been in her running tights all day. Her jogging bra felt uncomfortably tight. But there was no way in hell she’d be removing so much as a single thread, and he was in for a hell of a fight it he intended to take her clothes off.

Her breath caught when he started toward the bed, but after setting the bottle of analgesics and the can of Coke on the night stand, he walked past and went into the bathroom, returning within seconds with the bottle of peroxide and an applicator formed of folded toilet paper squares.

“I don’t have any cotton or gauze,” he said as he poured the solution onto the toilet paper. He set down the bottle and leaned toward her.

“I’ll do that.”

“You can’t see it. If you start feeling around, you might reopen the cut.”

She knew that to be true, so she lowered her hands.

“Turn your head. . .” He nudged her chin with the back of his hand. She complied and sat there, strained and nervous, while he dabbed at the wound.

“Does that hurt?”

“A little.” It hurt like hell, but she couldn’t think of a proper way to phrase it without sounding critical. In fact it was hard to think of anything with him standing so close, bending over her. The proximity of her face to his middle was unsettling and she didn’t breathe until he said, “There,” and stepped away.

“I hate to dirty another pillowcase.”

“Blood washes out. Most of the time.” He picked up the pill bottle and shook two into his palm, then extended his hand to her. “They’ll help with the headache.”

“I’ll wait to take them. See how I do.”

He looked prepared to argue, but returned the tablets to the bottle and replaced it on the night stand. “They’re there if you change your mind. Let me know if you need anything else.”

“Thank you. I will. But I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

“Maybe I should wake you up at intervals. Just to make sure you’re all right, to make sure that I can wake you up.”

“That’s a good idea, but rather than disturb you, I’ll set alarms on my wristwatch.”

He looked prepared to argue, but finally said, “Suit yourself,” and turned away.

She lay down and then pulled the covers to her chin. Although she closed her eyes, her ears were on high alert as she listened to him moving about the room, adding logs to the grate, scooting the fire screen back into place.

Blood washes out. Most of the time. Spoken like someone who had experience with that dilemma.

She shuddered to think how susceptible she was. She couldn’t even stand alone for more than a couple of minutes. If she had to protect herself, what would she do?

While in college she’d taken a self-defense class, but that had been a long time ago. All she recalled of it now was not to think of the assailant as a whole, but to focus on individual parts of him that were vulnerable to counterattack. Eyes, nose, ears, testicles. She feared that rule wouldn’t apply to a man who appeared as solid as a redwood.

She wished she’d secreted one of those deadly looking bullets. The tip of one jammed into an eyeball would do serious damage. It would stop even a giant long enough to slip past him.

She heard what sounded like boots hitting the wood floor muffled by the carpet, then the squeak of leather as he settled on one of the pieces of furniture. The lamp went out. She opened her eyes to slits and saw that he’d chosen the recliner over the sofa. He was leaned back in it, a quilt pulled over him to mid-torso.

Disconcertingly, he was looking straight at her, his eyes reflecting the firelight like those of a predatory animal.

His voice rumbled across the distance between them. “Relax, Doc. If I was going to hurt you, I would have by now.”

Reason told her that was true. She’d been sleeping defenselessly all afternoon and he hadn’t harmed her. Nevertheless. . .

“Why did you bring me here?”

“Told you.”

“But I don’t believe it’s the truth. Not completely.”

“I can’t control what you believe. But you don’t have to be afraid of me.”

After a time, she asked, “Is Drakeland the nearest town?”

“No.”

“What is?”

“You’ve never heard of it.”

“How far is it?”

“As the crow flies? Twelve miles.”

“And by road?”

“Fifteen.”

“I could easily run that. Going downhill, that wouldn’t be a challenging distance for me.”

He didn’t say, Oh, for godsake, lady, you’ve got a concussion and can’t even walk a straight line, much less run one.

He didn’t say anything at all, which was more unnerving than if he’d cited how illogical that prospect was. His silence was also more menacing than if he’d told her flat out that she wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, that he’d brought her here to be his sex slave, and that upon pain of death, she had better not be plotting an escape.

However, she did escape his opalescent gaze by closing her eyes. For five minutes, they shared nothing but a thick tension and the snapping of the logs in the fireplace.

In spite of her fear, her body was exhausted. On their own, her muscles began to relax. She sank deeper into the mattress. Her concussed brain dragged her toward oblivion. She was just this side of it, when she jerked into full awareness. “You never told me your name.”

“That’s right,” he said. “And I won’t.”

Reviews


“Brown will have you guessing right up to the very end. What she so creatively calls the finish line.”  — Fresh Fiction

“Solid novel of romantic suspense from bestseller Brown.”  — Publishers Weekly 6/23/14

“Just when readers think they’ve got things figured out, Brown pulls a clever twist. Settle back and enjoy!” — Romantic Times TOP PICK (Aug 2014)

“She knows how to weave a story that will hold her reader’s attention from the very first line.” — Totally Addicted to Reading

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