He surfaced two years ago. Then he disappeared.
But Detective Angie Pallorino hasn’t forgotten the violent rapist who left a distinctive calling card—crosses etched into the flesh of his victims’ foreheads. When a comatose Jane Doe is found in a local cemetery, sexually assaulted, mutilated, and nearly drowned, Angie is struck by the eerie similarities to her earlier unsolved rapes. Could he be back?
Then the body of a drowned young woman, also bearing the marks of the serial rapist, floats up in the Gorge, and the hunt for a predator becomes a hunt for a killer. Assigned to the joint investigative task force, Angie is more than ready to prove that she has what it takes to break into the all-male homicide division. But her private life collides with her professional ambitions when she’s introduced to her temporary partner, James Maddocks—a man she’d met just the night before in an intense, anonymous encounter.
Together, Angie and Maddocks agree to put that night behind them. But as their search for the killer intensifies, so does their mutual desire. And Angie’s forays into the mind of a monster shake loose some unsettling secrets about her own past. How can she fight for the truth when it turns out her whole life is a lie?
The phone rang again. She reached down and groped along the floor for her jacket.
"Leave it." His command was husky. Velvet on gravel. Surprisingly authoritative.
Angie looked up into his face. Something in his eyes whispered “danger.” The phone started to ring again. It had to be urgent. Holgersen, her new partner, would not contact her on her night off otherwise. Angie padded over to her jacket. She extracted her phone. Pushing a tangle of thick, damp hair off her face, she connected the call.
“Yeah,” she said, not using her name. She hadn’t given him her name, and had no intention of doing so either, so she wasn’t about to mention it while answering the phone.
“Party’s over, Pallorino,” came Holgersen’s oddly accented voice. “You and me got us a Jane Doe over at Saint Jude’s. Young—mid to late teens. Sexual assault. Paramedics picked her up in Ross Bay Cemetery. Critical condition. Nonresponsive.”
She glanced at him. He was watching her intently, listening. She turned her back to him, moved to the window. “What about the others?” she said quietly. “Dundurn and Smith? They’re on tonight.”
“Dundurn wants to pass it on. He and Smith have been on seventy-two hours straight with this flu bug hitting the department. And they’re still winding down on another call.” A pause. “He said you might want it. Could be your guy from the Fernyhough and Ritter cases. Except this time the mark has been carved into her forehead.”
Everything in her body went stone still. Her and Hash’s old cases. An unsolved thorn in Hash’s side—a repeat rapist who’d first come to their attention four years ago in the sexual assault of sixteen-year-old Sally Ritter, and then again a year later in an attack on Allison Fernyhough, fourteen. They never found him. “I’ll be there in twenty.”
“What are you, like in the States, or what? You coming by bicycle?”
“Handle whatever you can until I get there. Twenty minutes.”
She killed the call, grabbed her jeans, rammed her feet into the legs, and shimmied them up her hips. Pulling her shirt on quickly, she scooped her hair back and twisted it into a tight ponytail at the nape of her neck. Angie yanked on her boots, reached for her leather jacket, and paused, looking at the man in the motel room bed. He was watching her—analyzing her.
“Give me your number?” he said. “For next time.”
Again, she felt that whisper of unease—a faint sixth sense of warning that maybe this time she’d bitten off a bit more than she could chew, or control. He was like the first taste of a potent, addictive drug. And she didn’t like the feeling—she didn’t want to need him. She’d made that mistake once before.
Do it. Do it again. He’s like medicine. He took all your cares away . . .
Angie hesitated, her brain racing through the options. One more time couldn’t hurt—could it? She moved quickly to the small table next to the bed and scrawled her private cell number onto the hotel pad. It was for a burner phone. She could get rid of it anytime she wanted. She shrugged into her jacket as she made for the door.
He called after her. “You got a name there, warrior princess?”
She paused, hand on doorknob, and the devil on her shoulder whispered, Yes, you can control this. You can stop anytime you want to . . . Besides, she was only human. She could have a life. It wasn’t as though it was forbidden to have a relationship. As long as she held the reins, all the control.
“Angie,” she said.
“You?” she asked.
He smiled slowly, one side of his mouth curving slightly higher than the other. “I’ve got your number.” He paused. “Angie.”
About the Author
Loreth Anne White is an award-winning author of romantic suspense, thrillers, and mysteries. She has won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Romantic Suspense, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall. In addition, she has been a two-time RITA finalist, a Booksellers’ Best finalist, a multiple Daphne Du Maurier Award finalist, and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award winner. A former journalist and newspaper editor who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her family.