Homicide Detective Ethan Stone’s next case unexpectedly leads him to the beautiful and brave Isabel. He has seen a lot of horrific crimes, but nothing like this. As lead investigator, he is tasked with keeping her safe while tracking down a deranged killer. He isn’t about to mix work with pleasure but the pull towards Isabel starts to blur the lines…
Isabel’s life has been shattered with the gruesome discovery of her murdered family. Can she outrun the killer who has his sights firmly set on her? How many more people will die in the process to keep her safe…
*contains intimate scenes*
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My love of Crime/Romance/Suspense inspired me to write this book. I have so many stories in my head. I thought it was time to get it down on paper.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I LOVE writing characters. I usually let my imagination run wild and sometimes can get a little carried away!
This book was always going to have two lead characters, and for my first book, I wanted to develop a relationship between a detective and a victim. Thus how Ethan and Isabel were created.
He had a need, a need so strong it couldn't be controlled. The desire for blood and death vibrated through his entire body.
"Where is she?” he yelled to the poor, brutalised family.
He had them tied and gagged, quivering in fear of the unknown. He looked around the quaint home; the family had done well for themselves, he surmised. He picked up a framed picture—mother, father, son, and daughter—stroking his finger over her face, such a perfect looking family—too bad they wouldn’t survive.
He took in a calming breath and crouched down next to the wife. She was sobbing uncontrollably now; she whimpered as he unsheathed his blade.
He always preferred to use a blade over a gun, a blade was so much more personal. Yes, it took more planning, and it was sometimes riskier, but the joy of slicing through flesh and watching the searing pain in his victims was beyond gratifying, and he could always draw out the dying process.
"I'm only going to ask this one more time.” He was looking directly at the husband, whose jaw was clenched, teeth clamped shut, clearly trying to find a way out of a situation that was hopeless. He looked into his angry gaze and wanted to commend him for his commitment to his family.
He had broken every single one of his fingers and toes, and still, he did not reveal the information he was after. With the blade pressed tightly against his wife’s throat, the husband broke his gaze and looked to his wife. What he saw there was love, sorrow, and understanding. He mumbled a heartfelt, "I love you,” through the gag, tears streaming down his face.
The husband glanced toward his unmoving son, blood pooling around his awfully still body. Then his gaze locked with the killer’s; he could see the renewed determination. He wasn’t going to say a word.
The killer’s blood raced with excitement through his veins; this was going to be fun . . .
I'm bone tired; every muscle in my body is sore and aches. I'm looking forward to crawling into my bed and sleeping the day away. Jane certainly owes me a massive favour.
I still can’t believe that Jane convinced me to take her shift at the V Bar, after working all day in the office only to do another six hours waitressing on my feet. I'm beyond exhausted and looking forward to my bed.
I think of my best friend Jane while driving home and a smile comes to my face.
“I love you, Jane, but I'm not cut out for waitressing,” I say aloud.
Jane begged me to cover her shift last minute as her Army beau, Matt, had gotten leave for the night. It is a rare occurrence for him to get a pass, so I reluctantly agreed. It is worth it to see my best friend so happy.
It is almost 2:00 a.m. by the time I get home. I pull into the driveway and get my bags from the back seat. The house is cloaked in darkness, which isn't surprising as everyone should be fast asleep. I do find it peculiar that Dad hasn’t left the porch light on for me. He almost always does when I'm coming home late.
As I make my way to the door, I suddenly feel an unease shift through me, almost like someone has just walked over my grave.
I shiver and look over my shoulder into the darkness but can’t see anything. I'm just being paranoid because I'm so tired.
"Get a grip girl," I say and shake my head.
I dig into my purse for my keys and unlock the front door. As I step inside, the first thing I notice is the strange smell, a metallic, almost rust-like odour in the air. I scrunch up my nose.
That’s odd, I think to myself. Mum is normally such a clean freak and the house smells like flowers most of the time. The unease from earlier returns as I reached for the light. There is a sudden feeling of dread consuming me.
I flick on the switch for the light, and the light from the entryway casts a glow into the living room. What I see causes my knees to buckle. I cry out in a long, drawn-out voice, “No!”
Struggling to my feet, I make my way to the edge of the living room. My heart pounding, there is so much noise, screaming in my head so loud I think my head is going to explode. Then I realise I'm the one screaming.
I take a deep breath. “No, no, it’s just a dream, a horrible dream. Wake up; wake up!” I start sobbing in earnest. “Help, help!” I run to my mum, who is bound, and check her pulse . . . nothing. “Mum, please . . . don’t leave me,” I sob, rocking her in my arms.
I look over to Dad, and the unnatural way in which he lays, I know he is gone too. “Please, no, god, don’t take them from me,” I whisper. That’s when I notice Caleb in the corner lying so still, face down, blood still pooling from his small frame.
Blood, so much blood, I rush to him and turn him over. I try to stop the bleeding by taking my cardigan off to help, but the blood is coming from everywhere. I don’t know what to do. I look into his eyes and see the vacant expression in them, almost like he is looking straight through me.
“Please, Caleb. No, please be okay; I need you to be okay.” I whimper. I clutch him in my arms, willing him to come back. I can vaguely hear police, sirens in the distance. But it all sounds too far away.
I feel a presence in the room and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I slowly turn, still clutching Caleb to my chest to see a man sitting in the far corner of the room in Dad’s favourite armchair.
He is dressed in black. I can’t make out his face because I didn’t turn on the lights in the main room, so he is cloaked in darkness, but I can make out the gleaming knife that lays on his leg covered in blood.
I hold my breath as I wait, expecting this evil bastard to end my life like he did my family’s. He starts clapping, clap, clap, clap. "Wow, what a performance. I knew you were special when I first saw you, but you truly are a magnificent creature, Isabel." He is happy and looks almost proud. I can hear it in his voice.
That he knows my name makes my heart skip a beat. "I have big plans for you, Isabel, but it sounds like our time is limited.” The sounds of the sirens are getting closer. Come on, come on, I think, hurry up.
I want to scream, to shout, to run, but I can’t. My body is frozen; my fear keeping me paralysed. Staring at this monster, all I can do is continue to watch and listen while a lone tear runs down my cheek.
"Don't worry, Isabel. I'll be back for you. It doesn't matter where you are, I will find you," he says.
He is psychotic, what does he want with me?
I then watch as the killer moves to the back door. Just as he opens the door, he turns to me with a sadistic smile and says, "You. Are. MINE. You always have been." He says it with such conviction, like it is actually true.
Then he is gone, like he was never there. But of course, he was, he is real. All the blood and death in the room is proof of that. I can hear the sirens in my driveway, the pounding of feet on the pavement, and urgent knocking on the door, all just before I collapse and the darkness takes me.
I have been in the force most of my adult life; I live and breathe it. Graduating at the top of my class, I have the passion for solving crimes and, some would say, obsession for justice. I can attest to many failed relationships over the course of my career due to the nature of my work and its lengthy hours.
Ma is badgering me to settle down, to work less and make her some more grandbabies. She is always reminding me that at thirty-four, I'm no longer a spring chicken anymore. My Pop, on the other hand, understood. He would say, "Son, one day you will meet the woman of your dreams, and she will love you just the way you are. You keep being the great man that you are."
I love my parents dearly. Thinking about them makes me miss them, especially my mum’s famous apple pie. I was looking forward to Sunday lunch, judging by the sounds of this case though, looks like I will be missing it.
I look in the rear-view mirror of my SUV at my reflection and scrub a hand down my face; I need some coffee. I got the call a little over 2 a.m., family homicide; I don't know all the specifics, only that the dispatcher said it is a bad one.
I look at the family home and surrounding houses. Such a perfect neighbourhood, crime around these parts are at an all-time low. Maybe some petty theft here and there, but homicide? It is extremely unusual. I sigh as I step out of my vehicle and make my way to the police tape.
The policeman standing out the front approaches me.
"Detective Stone, I have cleared the perimeter and made sure no one has disturbed the scene. The crime scene guys are in there now, just waiting for you to begin." This kid is green, looks like he is fresh out of the academy.
I study his face and noticed the unusual pallor in his skin. "You been in there, kid?” I ask.
"Ahhh . . . yes, yes, sir, I have; I was first on the scene." Jesus, this is all I need, for this kid to mess up evidence by trampling through the scene. "You touch anything?" I question.
"No, detective Stone, I followed protocol as soon as I saw the situation; I checked the victims for a pulse and then backed out following my footsteps and logged the call." Hmmm, smart kid.
"What's your name, kid?” I ask.
"Wyatt Preacher, sir."
I clap him on the back and say, "Great job, officer Preacher, always follow your instincts." The kid beams at me with the praise.
I pass him and go under the police tape, making my way to the front door. I notice no signs of forced entry. Did the family know their killer? As I approach, I see the techs and ME waiting for me.
Wu walks over. "Hey Wu, what have we got?"
Leo Wu is one of the best Medical Examiners on the force. I'm happy to be working with him, knowing nothing will go unnoticed with him on the case. “Family of four, Mum, Dad, sister, and brother. It was a brutal slaying, blood everywhere, weapon of choice appears to be a blade of some sort; I will know more once I get them back to the lab."
Wu is the sort with a concrete stomach; there isn't much that can affect him, but he looks a little ruffled.
"Thanks, Wu, give me five minutes to go through the scene, and then you'll be good to go." He gives me a salute and signals the first door to the left of me and heads back over to the other techs.
I reach into my pocket and put on my latex gloves and blue booties. As I approach what looks to be the living room, my stomach bottoms out. "Jesus." It is bad; as far as crime scenes go, this one is pretty much up there with one of the worst I have seen.
I enter the room, watching where I step as I make my way to the closest victim. He is restrained and appears to have been tortured prior to death. "Did you have information that the killer needed?" I murmur to myself.
"Hey, Stone, what we got?" I turn to face detective Miller.
"Hey Miller, I just got on scene, four fatalities, father looks to have been tortured. His fingers and toes are at odd angles." I grimace examining them.
"Damn," Miller says. "Haven't seen one this bad in a while," he comments while surveying the scene. Miller is a highly decorated cop, one of the best at the ripe old age of sixty-four; he is gearing up to retire in a few years. He will be hard to replace; they don't make them like him anymore. Tough as nails, he is a real badass, took me under his wing when I first started. I'm the cop I am today because of him. I'm going to miss the old bastard.
I walk carefully over to the wife. "Wife's throat is cut. Would be the cause of death; however, she appears to have multiple stab wounds. This crime seems personal. The killer enjoys his work."
I make my way to the remaining two victims, keeping in mind I need to be quick so the ME can get started. "The son also has multiple stab wounds, looks like he bled to death slowly in his sister’s arms. I can't tell how she died, too much blood and her brother is covering her body."
I crouch down next to her head; she seemed to have been clutching her brother as he died. I carefully examine her, trying to determine how she died. Her skin that isn't tainted with blood is a beautiful ivory, smooth and perfect. She has long, straight, brown hair tied into a high ponytail.
I notice she is only in a singlet; strange, it being Autumn. The weather has been quite cool lately. I see the bunched-up fabric beside the victims.
"I think the daughter may have tried to save her brother; she appears to have tried to staunch the blood flow using her jacket." As I speak, I look up into her beautiful green eyes. Green eyes that are blinking back at me.
"Shit, get the medic, Miller; she's still alive. Call dispatch now!" Miller rushes out of the room to call it in. "Hey, hey, stay with me. I am detective Stone. You are safe; you are going to be fine, just hold on." I try to reassure her.
Those piercing green eyes lock onto me; I can see a moment of confusion in them, and then the gravity of the situation unfolds.
Those panicked eyes look up at me. "It's ok," I soothe. I turn my head toward the door. "Miller, ETA on the medic?" I shout.
"They are seven minutes out," he replies. I suddenly feel a hand grasp onto my wrist tightly.
"Please don't leave me," she whispers before she loses consciousness.
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