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Upon her arrival in Shoal Harbor, Maine, Lily Jackson hears eerie moans that the locals claim are the ghostly cries of the unfortunate Breckenridge women. Running from loss and setback in Cincinnati, Lily needs the job as semi-psychiatric caregiver for Andrew Breckenridge, but the storm she has to weather from the oldest Breckenridge brother is severe. Clinton Breckenridge is a brooding man used to getting his own way, and he’s not convinced Lily is the right person to help his troubled younger brother.
Even as Lily starts picking up the pieces of Andrew’s tortured psyche and finding out his dark secrets, another mystery looms before her. Andrew’s lover has gone missing in recent months and no one knows what has happened to her, or if her voice has joined those of the other Breckenridge women. Before she knows it, Lily finds herself in danger—thrust directly into the eye of the raging storm.
That night, I was in my room preparing for bed when a loud crack of thunder vibrated through the room. I rushed to the window, dread pounding through me at the sight of the darkening sky. Drops of rain shimmered on the glass, and a startling bolt of lightning illuminated the lighthouse. Something flashed in the top window of the tower, and I squinted through the darkness. Had that been a face? That was impossible. The weather was making me imagine things. Another enormous clap of thunder boomed, and I jumped back, dropping the curtain.
I shivered. Stop this. It’s only a storm. You’re inside. You’re safe. I made a concentrated effort to stop the trembles running through my body. Choosing a book from the nightstand, I settled in bed to read. No way would I be able to sleep until the storm subsided. I tried to focus on the novel, but the words might as well have been written in Swahili for all I understood.
My mind kept wandering to the weather raging outside. With a determined effort, I focused on the page I’d already read no less than five times.
A particularly horrendous blast of thunder made me let out a scream. The lights went out, and I was plunged into darkness.
I froze, my legs quaking so badly, I couldn’t climb from the bed. But then again, did I want to? Wasn’t this the safest place to be?
I tried to remember if I’d seen any candles in the bedroom, but couldn’t recall. The storm was frightening enough, but a power outage was terror-inducing. The only illumination was the occasional flashes of lightening across the draperies, which only intensified my fear.
Forcing my legs to work, I threw off the covers and stood. There had to be a candle in here somewhere. I was halfway across the bedroom floor, making my way through the dark toward the dresser, when a violent rattle shook the doorknob.
A scream left my throat. I couldn’t think straight. Terror sent blood rushing through my eardrums, and it was several moments before I recognized Clinton’s voice. “Lillian? Are you all right?”
On shaking legs, I rushed to the door, mindless of the dark. I jerked it open and summoned all my willpower not to launch into Clinton’s arms. In the faint glow of the flashlight he held, I could barely make out his silhouette, but just having another human in the vicinity eased my terror.
“The power’s out,” I said stupidly.
“I know. I’m sorry. There are candles in the bathroom.”
“I wasn’t sure where to look. And it was dark…” I shuddered. “Why are you here?”
“Drew mentioned your fear of storms. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Let’s get those candles.” His touch landed on my arm, warm and comforting. He guided me to the bathroom where he released me and opened a cabinet. Several candles, some new, some already used were stacked neatly in place. He grabbed the nearest one. Resting the flashlight on the countertop, he reached into his pocket. Flame from a lighter touched the candle’s wick. He turned off the flashlight and slipped it in his back pocket. The flare wavered over his features, which were drawn into a look of concern I’d glimpsed only a few times.
“You’re shivering,” he murmured. He rubbed his hands up and down my arms. The friction of his touch sliding the silk gown along my flesh sent a skitter of desire over my spine.
I met his gaze in the candlelight. His eyes shimmered a golden green. We stared at one another for a few excruciatingly silent moments. He tugged lightly, and I was pulled against his chest. My bones turned to liquid, his touch leaving languorous heat in its wake. His hands slid upward, settling on my face.
“What am I doing?” he asked, his voice a tortured groan.
Before I had time to respond, he lowered his head and claimed my mouth. The kiss was gentle, his lips warm and coaxing. I opened to him with a small moan, linking my hands behind his neck. I pressed into him while a wave of undeniable yearning ached in my lower belly. Madness. This is madness, a voice whispered in my head. In spite of the truth in the words, I didn’t stop.
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Evil lurks beneath the surface in the beauty of the tropics…
After graduation from her small, Oklahoma high school, Liberty Delacort is looking forward to a fun-filled summer before college. But when the people she trusts the most betray her, and a letter arrives claiming her deceased father is still alive, she jumps at the chance to travel to an exotic island to meet him.
But her excitement is short-lived. Her father is dying, and he doesn’t want her around. And, in spite of its outward tranquility, the island is filled with danger and ominous secrets. The secrets soon begin to unravel, and she discovers she is a descendant of Van Helsing, the vampire hunter.
The one up side is her budding romance with the sweet and sexy Ryan Kelly. But even that is threatened when—in spite of her fear of him—she finds herself attracted to an insolent, formidable vampire. Her plan to stay away from him fails when she learns he is the only one with the ability to train her to fulfill her destiny—to save humans from a faction of vicious vampires.
Will her inexperience lead to her death—and the death of others—or will she rise to the challenge and realize her full potential as a Hunter?
Eli moved closer until only a hint of space separated their bodies. “Liberty?” His raspy voice was like a caress over her flesh. A breeze wafted over her bare back, and she shivered. She waited breathlessly for his next words, his next move. “You find me irresistible,” he whispered, his gaze never leaving hers. “You’re helpless to deny me anything. Your knees are weak.” He stroked his finger over her shoulder, letting them trail down to the center of her chest, just above her breasts. “Your heart is pounding for me right now. All you can think about is what it would feel like to kiss me.”
She licked her lips, wishing her glass wasn’t empty. Her mouth was so dry, she couldn’t speak. But oh wow…was he ever right. She didn’t even mind his aggressive, unusual approach. Something about the atmosphere, about leaving behind the trappings of home. The memories of what Cam and Alyssa had done made her reckless. She took his glass from his hand without breaking eye contact. His eyebrows rose as he watched her take a sip of the strong liquor, whatever it was. It burned her throat and eyes, but she resisted the urge to cough. It had done the trick, and she was able to whisper, “Yes.”
The corner of his mouth quirked. He moved closer, brushed his lips along hers, just a tease. That was it? That was the kiss? She bit back a groan of frustration. Her body ached with disappointment. But he moved toward her again, his eyes searching, his lips a hairsbreadth from hers. He stroked a hand down the side of her neck. His touch sent a flash of fire through her veins. She nearly moaned in anticipation, in yearning to feel his mouth, firm and hot against hers. She braced herself. Something primitive deep within told her this would be the kiss to rival any other. She swayed, her lids drifting shut, every nerve in her body tingling…
A scream tore through the night, breaking the spell. Liberty’s eyes flew open, and she gasped.
Eli stepped back. “Dammit,” he bit out. He cupped her cheek in his hand. “Don’t forget where we were.”
Then he was gone. She could barely feel her legs. Were they still supporting her? What the hell had just happened?
She shook her head, then followed the sound of excited voices where the scream had originated.
A group of people had gathered around a gazebo at the back of the house.
Liberty pushed her way through the crowd. Ryan knelt in the center of the gazebo next to a bench where a girl lay still. Her skin was as white as the moon, blank eyes staring at the midnight sky.
Liberty was afraid to look, but somehow couldn’t help herself. She scanned the girl’s body from head to toe. No blood. Good, that was a good sign, right? But the girl looked so…dead.
“Son of a bitch,” a male voice shouted. “She’s been drained.”
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One man can fulfill her destiny…the other can fulfill her fantasy.
To quell the rise of evil vampires, Liberty Van Helsing must embrace her newfound Hunter destiny. But she has a great deal to learn, and Eli Barkley—the vampire who has been teaching her—has already betrayed her once. Her goal is to shut Eli out of her life and become a better hunter on her own—and to focus on her new romance with hot Australian, Ryan Kelly, a human she can trust.
But when a rogue vampire begins savagely killing young women, the authorities insist Liberty work with Eli to find the murderer. Liberty must overlook Eli’s epic betrayal and find a way to get along with him if they are to stop the unknown maniac and protect innocent lives.
Yet, the more time Liberty spends with Eli, the more her unwanted attraction to him grows. She starts to question her feelings for Ryan—are they real, or could Eli be ‘the one?’ As Eli and Liberty delve further into the murders, clues surface that point to Eli as the culprit. Can she trust him now? Or will she have to plunge a stake into his heart, breaking her own, just when she’s learning to believe in him again?
Liberty jumped at the sound of Eli’s voice. Speaking of darkness and evil…
She turned a glare on him. He stood directly behind her, hands shoved in his pockets, yet he’d been in the bar only seconds ago.
“Don’t do that,” she snapped. She looked back at the tiki bar. “How the hell did you…?” She shook her head. “Never mind. You’re a vampire. You move with the speed of light.”
He grinned and slanted his upper body toward her. “Yeah, but we’ve got all that darkness brewing inside. Ironic, isn’t it?”
She swung away from him and took hold of the door handle. “Whatever. I’m tired, so you’ll understand if I don’t feel like hanging out and bantering with you. Besides, your dates are waiting for you.”
She snorted a laugh. “No. Sympathetic. Better them than me.”
“Why is it I don’t believe you?”
“Maybe because you’re delusional?” She gave him an overly sweet smile before turning away to jerk the car door open.
“I see you’re still pouting because I didn’t tell you I was once a big, bad vampire.”
“It doesn’t matter. You warned me early on not to trust you. I should have listened.”
“And now you should put on your big girl panties and get over it. You’re a hunter, Liberty. You need to toughen up.”
Toughen up? Was he kidding? She’d risked her life last night, had worked her ass off training, and he was calling her a wimp. To hell with him. She started to slide into the car, but his voice stopped her.
“You can be mad at me all you want, but you can’t completely shut me out.”
“Watch me,” she bit out, not turning around.
“Let me ask you something. What difference would it have made if you’d known in the beginning?”
She slammed the door and whirled on him. “At least I’d have known who—what—I was dealing with.”
“Would you still have let me train you?”
“I’m not sure. But I had the right to know. To have all the facts before making that decision.”
“If you had chosen not to let me train you, how do you think you would have fared last night? Not knowing the truth was for your own good.”
She gave a bitter laugh. “Yeah, and I’m sure you’re all about what’s best for me.”
“Look, you’re going to have to put all that behind you. Like it or not, you still need me.”
“No, I don’t. I’ll keep practicing. I’ll be fine.”
“You can’t take that chance. If I hadn’t saved your ass last night, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Just like him to throw that in her face. She huffed out a sigh of irritation. “Thanks, but from here on out, I can take care of myself.”
He stepped closer, backing her up to the door. The only way she could get away from him was to climb inside the car. But she didn’t.
“What’s wrong?” He raised his eyebrows, amusement lifting the corners of his mouth. “Are you afraid of me now?”
She tilted her chin up and met his eyes. Eyes that were molten grey in the semi-darkness. “Not afraid. Pissed off. There’s a difference.”
He chuckled. “Well, it’s nice to know I have an effect on you.” His gaze dropped to her throat. “Your pulse is beating like crazy. Right here.” He stroked a finger down her neck, sending heat skittering over her flesh. Damn him. She sucked in a breath and clenched her teeth.
“I can see it.” He dropped his hand, and his gaze locked onto hers. “No matter how much you’d like to be, you’re not immune to me, Liberty Van Helsing.”
She swallowed hard, trying to slow her racing pulse. “I need to get home. Let me go.”
His lips curved in a grin, and his voice lowered to a near whisper. “I’m not touching you.”
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A killer has something to say—and he’s using her obituary column to get his point across…
When columnist Monroe Donovan receives an obituary notice with a date of death two days in the future, she dismisses it as a typo. Then, a second incorrect obituary comes in, and a woman whose name matches the name of the deceased is murdered—on the date listed in the obituary. Now, Monroe realizes that something much more sinister is happening. A serial killer is trying to communicate with her.
She turns to Detective Lane Brody for help, but her attraction to him is complicating her already complicated life. And when the killer turns out to have a disturbing connection to Monroe, complications turn deadly.
I went to work early on Monday morning, before anyone else arrived. I wanted to look up some information from when Katie was murdered. Our computers held software that couldn’t be accessed from my home terminal.
I left off all the lights, other than the one directly above my cubicle. Sipping from the mug of hot, strong coffee I’d just brewed, I scrolled through the limited data available about the murder.
The only viable suspect they’d had was Cameron Cooper. He’d been twenty-one at the time. He’d served three years for a rape that occurred when he was a juvenile.
I did a search on his name. He’d be forty-six now. I wondered if he were still alive, if he were still in the area. Had the police looked at him for Maya’s killing two years ago? I hadn’t found anything to indicate they had in my two years of research. Hadn’t found anything to indicate whether or not Cooper was still around. Was he in jail now for some other crime? Maybe another rape? Once a rapist, always a rapist. The question wasn’t had he done it again. The question was, had he been caught and convicted.
Nothing came up on the search.
A noise sounded behind me and I turned. A figure lurched toward me from the darkness. I let out a scream.
“Monroe? Is that you?” a male voice said.
My heart pounded furiously, but I recognized him now. Adam.
“Yes, it’s me.”
“What are you doing here so early?”
He came closer and in the circle from the light above me, I got a better look at him.
His clothing was wrinkled, as if he’d slept in it. His face, however, looked like he hadn’t slept at all. Deep lines etched the sides of his mouth and dark circles surrounded his eyes, their vivid green now dulled. His hair was uncombed. He smelled of stale cologne and sweat. He squinted at me, blinking like he was coming out of a daze.
“I came in to do some research,” I told him. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
He peered at the computer screen. “What kind of research?”
Adam knew about Katie, but not everything. In the two years we’d dated, I hadn’t told him half of what I’d told Lane.
“It’s not important,” I said, minimizing the web site I had pulled up. I repeated my question. “Are you okay?”
He shook his head, shoving a hand through his hair. Shaking his head again, he stared at me. For just a moment, I saw a longing in his face. The old feelings I’d buried surfaced briefly, my body responding to the look in his eyes. I shoved them aside.
“Adam, has something happened?”
“Did you read yesterday’s paper?”
“Tabitha’s best friend.” He sighed and dropped into the chair next to my desk. I waited for him to continue. After a long silence, he did. “Tabitha’s best friend was…murdered.”
“Oh, Adam. I’m so sorry.”
He nodded slowly, staring at his hands where they rested on his knees. “Murdered. Tabitha’s a wreck. We were up all night.”
“How did it happen? Do they know who did it?”
“Not yet. She was stabbed.” He drew in a shuddering breath. “Murdered,” he said again.
Not knowing what to say, I sat silently. Reaching out, I placed a hand on his shoulder. I could feel him tremble beneath my fingertips.
“I need a drink,” he said.
“It’s six-thirty in the morning.”
He gave a weak grin. “It’s five o’clock somewhere.” Leaning back in the chair, he closed his eyes. “I can’t believe it. Can’t believe Laurel’s dead.”
A chill weaved its way through me and I shuddered. “Laurel?”
He nodded. “Laurel Lohman.”
My blood froze. I couldn’t speak.
Laurel Lohman was the girl’s name. The one in the obituary with the wrong date.Follow Alicia Dean On...