Everyone wanted to believe that the first attack was just a random act of violence.
Then a second victim is found.
The two women share similar wounds, and Detective Alex Gray can’t deny the connection. Someone is hunting down young women to fulfill their macabre fantasies.
Then they make a mistake and leave a witness behind.
When Megan Crawford wakes up in the hospital, she can’t remember her attackers or what happened to her.
If Megan’s memories are their only clue, will Alex catch the killers?
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was stuck in a hospital bed for two months while I recovered from a car accident. My boyfriend (now husband) lent me his laptop to entertain myself. One day, I just started typing the story (one-handed since the other was in a cast). I'd been watching a lot of mystery movies and TV shows, so I'm sure something from one of them gave me the initial idea.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
A lot of them were inspired by things I'd read or seen. For example, Dr. Cooper, the medical examiner, is similar to the ME on CSI. For most, I began with a general idea of who they were as a person and let them grow as the book (and then the series) continued.
NEAR THE FOOTHILLS OF THE Blue Ridge Mountains, a long stretch of highway gently wound through acres of farmland. Crop fields and pastures of cows, horses, and other farm life cradled the road. Crickets and cicadas were all that could be heard in the still summer night. Music blared from the open windows of the sedan as it barreled down the highway disrupting the peace. Ashley Collins enthusiastically sang along with the lyrics, slamming the steering wheel with her hands in time to the beat. The warm June wind blew her hair in streams across her face as she drove down the country highway. It was the end of her vacation, and she planned to savor the final weekend before work started again. Ashley typically filled weekend nights with drinking, partying, and laughs with her girlfriends.
Her phone’s bright screen lit up the passenger seat as another text arrived. Ashley grabbed the phone and opened the message. Over the last few hours, she’d received several of these from her friends. They were excited that she’d made it home early enough to go to the party. Unfortunately, this particular text was a reminder from her mother that they had to attend her cousin’s baby shower the following afternoon. As Ashley looked at the message, her car started to drift onto the shoulder. She jerked it back onto the road with a start when she hit the rumble strip. Realizing that there might be some merit behind the no texting while driving laws, Ashley set the phone back down onto the passenger seat and focused on the road.
As her car passed a dirt road, another vehicle’s headlights flipped on and pulled out behind her. The flashing lights of a police cruiser tinted the landscape red and blue, drawing Ashley’s eyes to the rearview mirror.
Ashley put on her hazard lights and slowed down. She maneuvered the car onto the shoulder and came to a stop, turning off the radio. Beads of sweat quickly formed on her forehead as the breeze was cut off and the humid summer air pooled into the car. All of Pruitt County had enjoyed a cool, mild spring with comfortable temperatures, but summer weather was rapidly taking over, and summers in Georgia were far from mild.
In the rearview mirror, Ashley watched the officer emerge from the cruiser and adjust his uniform. He pulled out his Maglite and shined it around the car. He sauntered to the driver’s side window and flashed the light in Ashley’s eyes. She squinted as the harsh glare knifed into her dilated pupils.
“License and proof of insurance please, ma’am,” he said.
Ashley pulled her wallet out of her purse and fished out the documents. She handed them to the officer, and he looked at them quickly before looking back at Ashley.
“Did you realize you were speeding and didn’t maintain your lane?”
“No, sir.” She looked at her lap.
“Were you texting?”
He humphed and held out his hand. “Hand me the phone.”
Ashley did as he said and was surprised when he turned and walked away without another word. She watched as he walked back to the car. He was of average height and looks; nothing made him stand out in any way except his eyes. Something about them bothered her, but she couldn’t place what it was exactly. Ashley tapped the steering wheel as she watched the officer pull up her information on the computer. After a few minutes, he returned but held no ticket or phone in his hand. He looked at her with the closed-lipped stare that most officers perfected over the years on the job.
“Miss, I’m going to have to get you to step out of the car. This vehicle has been reported stolen.”
“This is my car, sir, and I haven’t reported it stolen,” Ashley replied, baffled.
“I understand, miss, but I have to get you to go sit in my unit while I double check this and do a routine search of the vehicle.”
The color drained from Ashley’s face. She shook her head as if to clear herself from this nightmare she had to be having. When the scene stayed the same, she reluctantly emerged from her car and allowed the officer to lead her back to his cruiser. Ashley’s knees shook as she walked and she stumbled, the officer catching her and providing support. He opened the back door and helped Ashley slide inside. She clasped her shaking, clammy hands together.
The officer leered at her. “Now, my partner here is going to keep an eye on you while I take a look at the car. We have to do a thorough inspection in these cases,” he told her as he closed the door, trapping her inside.
Ashley’s eyes immediately flew to the man ogling her from the passenger seat. He looked similar to the other officer, minus the bit of graying hair along the temples. This officer also didn’t have as much bulk to him as his partner did. And when he grinned at her she saw gaps where some teeth were missing.
When he turned away, Ashley reached out and touched the solid plastic window separating them. On TV cop shows the barrier was always perforated or had a window. The separator also usually stopped at the back of the seats rather than connecting snugly to the carpeted floorboard.
Before Ashley had time to question the oddity, the second officer reached and hit a button on the console. A hissing noise filled the car as a white, odorless cloud poured into the back seat. Ashley’s eyes widened and she started to gag, choking on the fumes. She yanked the door and when it wouldn’t budge she started banging on the glass with her hands.
Pain reverberated down her arms, but she continued to pound, ignoring the pain. Her vision clouded and her arms weakened. Ashley was aware of her body sliding down the seat and onto the floor, but she wasn’t able to fight gravity as it pulled her downward. She tried to call out for help, but the blackness engulfed her.
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