August 7, 1937
Austin, Texas Aiko wielded the gun with an artist’s precision. Again and again she pierced her victim’s flesh, leaving behind a permanent stain, one so indelible she’d never be forgotten. Sweat beaded at her high, unlined forehead and trickled along her skin, but she refused to be distracted. Around her the air grew thick and heavy with curses, as each victim succumbed to her craft. Occasionally she had to check her aim, to angle it so she could be certain of her target. Her work was precise, delicate, and true.
“How much longer, honey? We’ve got a train to catch.” Reese, lying on his stomach, turned his head to the side and flashed his wide, gapped grin at the young woman. The teeth that had gone missing had been lost to fistfights and barroom brawls, but Reese still liked to think he was a handsome devil. Even with his bare ass hanging out. “Wanna come with us?”
“Stop pestering the young lady,” came the quiet caution from the front of the circus tent. “You don’t want the needle to slip and hit bone, now do you?”
Published by Harper Torch.
San Cabes, California
She stumbled into the cabin. He shoved hard, and she cried out as her knees crumpled beneath her. The vicious kick to her side slid her across the Aubusson rug. With a sickening thud, her head rapped against the base of the rocking chair. She fell against the corded timbers of the wall. Shivering on the floor, she lay stunned and tearless.
In the cold dark of the isolated cabin, where she’d thought to hide until Sebastian came for her, her laboured breaths echoed and filled the space with fretful sound. The flames from the fireplace had died down. Occasionally, embers spat out angry sparks. Wood cracked and broke against the hearth. A storm raged in the thick of the forest, wind and rain lashing at the old mission stones. Inside, the air seethed with obsession and mania.
“You’re mine, Analise!” Nathan stalked her, loomed over her. “Don’t ever run from me again!”
The command, and the accompanying strike to her hip from his muddied boot, snapped her head back and opened her swollen eyes. Analise tried to push herself up using the hand beneath her, but the wrist he’d fractured gave way.
It was not the first time she’d felt the brutal ache that seemed to burn her skin, tasted the metallic flavour of blood on her tongue. It was not the first time she’d wanted to whimper for mercy, beg for the pain to cease.
Published by St Martin’s Paperbacks.
“Ah, hell.” Fin muttered the forbidden oath, but she figured that at this point, the minor infraction wouldn’t matter much. Assuming she lived past the next few minutes.
“Hell?” Kell murmured in dry, sleepy response. “It’s four in the morning. You’ll see hell if you’re lucky.” She tucked her legs beneath her and propped her arms on her knees. In the adjoining twin bed, with its white eyelet canopy, Julia snored lightly and evenly. Too lightly. Too evenly. But Kell understood the pretense. If she’d had her way, she would have been pretending to be asleep too. No such luck.
Instead, she took a deep breath and plunged. “Mrs. F, I know what this looks like,” she began in familiar refrain, “but if you’ll just listen to Fin, I promise you she’s got a good explanation.” I hope.
Saying nothing, Eliza Faraday advanced into the spacious bedroom, the sunny yellow walls having no effect on the stony look she shot at Kell. Suitably cowed, Kell scooted back against the headboard and prepared to watch the show.
Published by Avon.
Secrets and Lies
Nighttime suited Sebastian Caine. In the shadows, he could prowl the quiet streets, invisible to the unsuspecting eye. Dakkar or Paris, New York or New Delhi, the nighttime yielded its secrets to him with a delicate sigh.
Or, perhaps, with the muffled shorting of a cross-circuit alarm system.
“Not nearly as poetic, but effective,” Sebastian acknowledged, as sparks cascaded to cobblestones where he knelt. He eased the door open, alarms successfully disengaged. Looking down at the now-darkened keypad, a frisson of awareness tightened his skin. Cutting the alarm hadn’t been simple, but an incongruity niggled at the back of his mind. Circuit broken – check. Alarm pad disengaged – check. Brass locks picked – check. He’d done this a hundred times before, stealing inside deserted buildings to relieve unsuspecting owners of their possessions. Still, tonight felt different. Unsettled. But, he reminded himself ruefully, standing outside a mark’s house was not the place to figure out what bothered him.
Quickly, he slipped inside the doorway that led into a kitchen most chefs fantasised about. Nearly the size of the walk-up he’d lived in as a toddler, Sebastian thought, but much quieter. As he’d planned, nothing sounded beyond the distant lapping of waves. The perfect spot on the Pacific coast for a thief.
Published by Avon.
August 11, 1991
Smoke billowed from the warehouse and flames licked the metal roof with sharp red tongues, lighting the night sky. Kell raced ahead of the conflagration, sneakers slapping the unpaved road with a steady beat that echoed her thudding heart. Scraggly trees with branches gnarled from meagre rain lined the road, providing scant shelter from prying eyes. Kell calculated they had a couple of minutes at best to find a place to hide. Assuming it wasn’t already too late.
She spared a jittery glance behind her. Findley ran smoothly with the lean, graceful strides that had won the state track championship in April. The satchel strap across her chest, and the bulging tan bag it supported, appeared to have no affect on her ability to run like a gazelle. But Julia stumbled, her petite frame unused to the exertion. Or the panic. Her sherry brown eyes grew impossibly wider. Terror gripped the younger girl, born, Kell understood, from more than their current predicament. Julia was recalling the last fire, the last frenzied flight that had taken away all she’d known.
Kell shortened her stride and fell back. Automatically, Fin took the lead. Reaching out, Kell captured Julia’s arm, as much to propel as to comfort.
Published by Avon.