Finishing the Game

Blurb

Beth got away. And he didn’t get to finish the game.

Ex-cop, turned advisor Jake Complin is hired to profile and help with the capture of a serial killer. It doesn’t take long to realize his obsession is finding the only victim who got away. But she went missing about a month after her attack. Unlike the police, he searches and finds Beth Winters hiding deep in the Adirondack Mountains.

Beth is assaulted not only by her immediate attraction to Jake but also by his plan to take her from hiding and lure her attacker out. She wants to trust him, knowing she has to put herself in danger in order to get her life back. Fully exposed and fearful of the outcome, she can’t help but wonder, when it finally ends, who will win her assailant’s twisted game.

Excerpt

She turned around and tightened the grip on her purse as she hit a button on her key fob. Although her car was yards away her lights immediately illuminated the dark street. Relieved, she reached for the door handle. Something covered her mouth and filled her nostrils with the scent of leather. She was jerked backward into a hard body and she clawed at the hand that muffled her screams. It tightened the precise moment she saw the knife close to her throat. She kept pulling as she concentrated on the serrated blade.

“Let’s play a game,” the man’s raspy voice cooed playfully into her ear. “Don’t make a sound and I won’t hurt you.” She yelled into his palm as her hair fell out of its elastic band. She felt a pinch and the immediate rush of pain. She screamed again into the glove, feeling the warm wet ooze traveling down her throat and gathering around her collar bones and into her blouse. Then she saw the blade and the deep red that dripped silently from its edges.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked close to her ear as a wooly material scratched her face. He turned her, leaning her back against the car and she forced her gaze on him. A dark mask covered his head and she could see only pale blue eyes through the cut out holes. He read her thoughts and reached for her mouth the moment she opened it to scream.

“Wait!” He hesitated as she sucked air into her lungs, needing to buy time. “Please don’t hurt me again,” she said, forcing a smile. “I promise I’ll do whatever you want.”

His eyes narrowed as he pressed into her mouth and the metal sunk into her neck and slit to the back of her hair. She felt the scream deep inside her, yet only breath escaped. “Look at me!” His escalating voice echoed through the stale air around her. When she felt a sharp edge she forced her saturated lids to open. “I warned you not to make a sound!”

“I’m sorry,” she heard from a mouth that was conceding without her consent. But, through the blurriness, she saw she’d pleased him. Ignoring the pain, her eyes searched past him as his weight pushed against her. There was nothing beyond them; no one seeing what was happening, or who’d hear if she dared to scream. He reached under her skirt when she felt the metal penetrate her throbbing neck again. Her knees buckled but his thigh sabotaged her fall.

She reached back for the cool steel that supported her, closing her eyes. Desperation let her hang on when she felt the scraping sound of metal. Opening her eyes just as he touched the inside of her thigh she clutched the keys together in her hand so they didn’t jingle. Blinking back tears she felt the pink container clipped to the chain. Her thumb slid over the lever like she’d practiced a hundred times.

He leaned back to look in her eyes when his hand moved to her panties. Holding her breath, she raised her hand, pointed and sprayed. He screamed and the knife clanged against the pavement when he covered his eyes. She ducked from under his arm, pushed off the side of the car as her feet began pounding against the blacktop.

The cool air burned her lungs as she advanced toward the lights. She dared a glance back, fearing he’d be at her heels. Seeing nothing but blackness she stumbled, the palms of her hands scraping along the gravel. She picked herself up and forced her aching feet to safety. She rounded the bright corner placing a hand against the cool brick wall.

“Help me!” she called even as her body doubled over. “Somebody help me!” She looked up at the faces that had stopped to stare as fresh tears streamed down her cheeks. “Please, help me,” she sobbed as her bare knees dropped to the concrete. She looked down at the dipping blood, sobbing harder.

A hand covered her shoulder and she jerked back, hitting and clawing at it. “Leave me alone!” Another hand grabbed her arm. “Stop touching me, you bastard!”

Her hands swooshed together. “I’m trying to help you,” a voice said sternly. She looked up through blurred vision and into kind brown eyes. “Come with me.” He pulled her to her feet when the strength of her legs gave way. She was whisked into the air and she hung on, putting complete faith in a perfect stranger.

She was assaulted by lights and she closed her eyes. She felt a warm cloth against her neck and felt the pain for the first time since she’d fled. She opened her eyes, looking at all of the horrified faces that stood by, gaping at her in shock. The man’s muffled voice soothed her as he spoke harshly into the phone. She grasped his hand and, when she felt him squeeze, she let her lids close and she surrendered to the darkness.

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