"You're out there watching me. I can feel you. What do you want? Why did you come back here?"
Jordan Russell had the perfect life until the brutal monster from her childhood resurfaced, opening up scars she thought were healed. With the hope of finally finding closure Jordan leaves her cheating husband, and her career in the FBI, and returns to where her nightmare began. But what awaits her in Thorny Creek will push her to the very edge of sanity and bring her face to face with her abductor.
He watched Jordan walk from her black SUV into the police department, adjacent to city hall. He’d been so close to her this morning he could almost see her facial expressions. He closed his eyes and visualized her walking along the trail. Her scent had lingered long after she’d gone, as if it had permeated every leaf in the forest. He recalled how she had peered into the darkness, almost looking right at him.
Had she sensed his presence? Was she scared? She had been the last time they met. He wished he’d been close enough to her this morning to hear what she was saying. Did she tell the good doctor about the last time she was in that section of the woods? Had she shared any of the intimate moments of her captivity?
He let out a contented sigh. It seemed a lifetime ago.
So many years had passed since that summer. His summer of discovery, he liked to call it. It was when the beast inside him was born. The hunger for complete dominance first realized. He wondered if Jordan knew she was responsible for that evolution. She had made him see his full potential, awakened a sleeping giant that begged to be turned loose on the world.
He scanned the street. People passed him as if he was invisible to them—but not for long. Soon, the whole world would know of the Musical Strangler.
“Excuse me. I’m looking for Chief Russell.”
Jordan’s stomach did a nosedive at the familiar voice of her soon-to-be-ex-husband.
“You found her,” Frank answered.
Jordan looked up just as Sam smiled. “Indeed I have.” He started toward her desk.
Colleen barged through the opened door. “Chief, there’s an Agent Russell here to see…oh, I guess you found her.”
“Agent Russell,” Frank repeated. He turned back to Jordan, “Isn’t Russell your married name?” He then shifted his gaze back to Sam, “That must mean you’re her husband.”
“Not for much longer.” Jordan hurried around her desk and ushered Frank out the door. “You’ll be hearing from me.” She closed the door and looked at Sam. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here at your request.”
“I specifically requested someone from the Charlotte field office.” Anyone but him.
He looked at her with the gorgeous smile that used to make her go weak in the knees. “And they forwarded that request to Agent Haines, who assigned me.”
“We’ll see about that.” Jordan marched back to her desk, and was four digits into Haines’ cell phone number when Sam pressed his finger down on the button and disconnected the call. Eighteen and a half months of built-up rage boiled to the surface. She doubled her right fist and spun around with lighting fury.
Sam, just as quick, stopped the fist within inches of his jaw. With his free hand, he took the phone from her left hand and placed it back in its cradle. Jordan felt his hot breath on her face as he peered down at her, and was keenly aware of the heat generating from his body through the hand which tightened around her wrist.
“Let me help you, Jordan…please.”
She swallowed hard, summoned all her courage, and met his smoldering gaze. “I need a profiler who can tell me exactly what I’m up against here.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve lost your touch.”
She ignored his smirk. “I need a fresh pair of eyes who can look at this guy objectively.”
“Who hasn’t allowed themselves to get too personal?”
“I just need someone other than you,” she spat.
“Too bad, you’re stuck with me. Now, what do you say I release your hand and you don’t take my head off? Or we can continue to provide the day’s entertainment for your co-workers.”
Jordan shifted her gaze to the glass separating her office from the command center. A half dozen familiar faces scattered like rats. She twisted free from his grip, grabbed her cap from her desk and shoved it down over her head. “Fine!” She was already halfway out the door before she realized he wasn’t with her. She turned back and found him smiling at her. “Are you coming or not?”
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