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I thought you’d be worth more.” The voice came to him, low and taunting. “After all of your blustering and bullshit, I really thought you’d be worth more.”
Jeremy Briar jerked in the chair, but there was nowhere for him to go. His hands were bound to the armrests, the duct tape far too tight, cutting into his wrists, and his legs were taped to the legs of the chair. A blindfold covered his eyes, casting him in darkness, and the scent of cigarettes burned his nose.
“L-let me go…” His voice rasped out. They hadn’t given him anything to drink or to eat in, Christ, how many hours? “M-my family… th-they’ll pay any-anything….” Just to get me back.
Laughter. Dark and mean. “No, they won’t pay a fucking dime.”
The ice in his chest froze his heart. “No!” The tape bit into him. “M-my father, I told you, he is—”
“An idiot.” The voice was still low, drifting through the darkness. “I gave him instructions, but the thing is, Jeremy boy, the asshole just couldn’t follow them.”
Bile rose in his throat. “N-no…”
“Not like I asked for that much. Just four million for you. Four damn million.” The shuffle of footsteps. More than one set. Someone else was here.
“The bastard has that much in change.” Anger simmered in that tense whisper.
Jeremy licked his lips and knew that the voice was right. His father owned half the city. He had that much money in the bank, easy. What the fuck? Jeremy’s mouth was so dry. He’d screamed and he’d screamed before, but no one had come for him.
No one had helped him.
“Your father thinks it’s a joke.” Jeremy flinched when he felt a touch on his shoulder. Sharp. Light. Fingernail?
The point pressed into his flesh.
Jesus. A knife. A whimper broke from his lips. “L-let me talk to him…. I’ll make him see—”
No fucking joke. That blade was too real.
“I told him what to do,” the whisper blew against his ear, and Jeremy shuddered. “Told him when to make the drop. Told him where to put the money. Told him everything, and if he’d just followed my instructions, you would’ve been home by now.”
The blade sliced into his shoulder.
Jeremy pissed his pants. “Pl-please…”
“Rich boy, is this the first time you’ve begged?”
His head jerked in a nod. He knew tears streamed from beneath the blindfold. He couldn’t stop them. Fear ate at his gut, and he knew, he knew that his father had left him to die.
Always disappointing me, boy. Not going to dig your ass out of another mess. You’re on your own.
Those had been the last words that his father spoke to him. So he’d screwed up and gotten busted with pot. Did he deserve this?
Don’t let me die.
“Beg some more.” The blade sank into his shoulder.
And Jeremy begged. Begged and pleaded and promised anything because he wanted the fire in his shoulder to ease. He wanted the pain to stop. He wanted to go home.
Bad dream. Just a bad dream. I’ll wake up, I’ll—
The knife pulled from his flesh with a thick slush of sound. Jeremy cried out, sagging back, but the blade followed him. The tip grazed over his jaw, traveled up his cheek, and then slipped right under the edge of the blindfold.
“You’re going to send your old man a message for me.”
Hope shot through him. Yes, yes! If he could just talk to his dad, he could make him understand. Not a joke. Hell, no. His dad would understand. The bastards would get their money, and Jeremy would be free. “I’ll tell him anything; I’ll say—”
The blade sliced the blindfold away.
He blinked against the flood of light. So bright.
“You don’t have to say a damn thing.”
The voice, not a whisper anymore, stopped his heart.
The man crouched over him with the weapon. Jeremy could see the others, too, as they came forward into the light.
Jeremy shook his head. “Don’t—”
The knife sank into his upper arm. It sliced down, and the bastard wrenched the blade, cutting through flesh and muscle in one long stroke as he opened the arm from shoulder to wrist.
“Let’s send him a message.” The figure moved around him and stared down with a smile that twisted his lips and never touched his eyes. “Let’s see what the asshole has to say when he finds what’s left of you.”
FBI Special Agent Samantha Kennedy had seen hell. She’d looked into the devil’s eyes and heard his laughter. She’d died, but fate had brought her back.
Fate wouldn’t be letting Jeremy Briar come back.
Taking a deep breath, tasting decay and blood, Samantha stared at the body laying spread-eagle on the asphalt right in front of the big, black wrought-iron gates.
Jeremy’s eyes were open. They had to be. Some asshole had cut off his eyelids. His body was sliced open, each arm cut from shoulder to wrist. A red smile split his throat and his stomach—
She yanked her gaze away. Don’t think. Don’t feel.
Sam spun away from poor dead Jeremy and nearly stumbled right into her boss, Keith Hyde.
His eyes weren’t on the body. They were on her. “You up for this?” he asked as his dark gaze searched her face. His deep voice seemed to echo around her, and goose bumps rose on her arms.
Sam knew that he was waiting for her to fail. They were all waiting. All the other agents in her unit. None of them thought that she could do the job anymore.
Maybe I can’t.
Sam swallowed. She belonged to the Serial Services Division, an elite unit in the FBI that most agents would gladly sell their souls to join. A team specifically designed to track and apprehend serials. The SSD had nearly unlimited resources. And Hyde answered to no one.
His team. His domain.
And she was the freaking weak link.
“I’m up for anything.” Her voice came out soft, and she’d meant to sound hard. Christ. The guy was looking at her like she’d shatter any minute. Hadn’t she already proved to him over the last six months that she wasn’t going to fall apart? What did he want from her?
The sunlight seemed to darken the rich coffee cream of his skin. His mouth tightened, and she knew that he didn’t believe her.
What else was new?
“I’ve gotten the all-clear.” Okay, her voice came stronger now because she was pissed. A dead body waited behind her, and Hyde was wasting time grilling her.
“I know the shrinks said you could work the cases.” His arms crossed over his chest. Beside them, a uniform bent over and retched into the bushes. Great. So much for the preservation of the crime scene. Hyde’s gaze measured her as he continued, “But working them and surviving them are two different things.”
He’s waiting for me to break.
“Don’t worry about me.” Sam jerked her thumb over her shoulder even as she felt a trickle of sweat slide between her shoulder blades. “Worry about that poor man’s family.” The scent of death clogged her nostrils. Move. Oh, she wanted to get away. Wanted to run.
But she knew it wasn’t possible to run from death. Death could follow a person anywhere. He followed her even in her dreams.
“He fits the established pattern,” Sam said as she noticed that the crime scene guys were there, finally. Sam eased away, with Hyde shadowing her steps, as the techs came through to start working on the body. Hurry. Because she knew the poor man’s parents were inside. She’d seen the shift of the curtains, and she knew they were peeking out, staring at the remains of their son and blaming themselves.
“Jeremy Briar,” she murmured, “Twenty-two years old, the only son of Kathleen and Morgan Briar. Jeremy was last seen three days ago, in a dive right outside of the university, a place called The Core.” And then he’d just vanished.
“His father got the ransom call,” Hyde said, voice cool. “Twenty-four hours after Jeremy went missing.”
Samantha didn’t look back at the body. Bodies had never been her strong suit. She preferred to stay in the office and track her prey on the Net. But it wasn’t about staying safe anymore. Now, she had to prove she could handle the job. The shrink in charge of her case had understood when Sam explained that she didn’t want to hide behind a desk. So thanks to him, she was out here, shaking apart on the inside and realizing that Jeremy wasn’t that much younger than she was.
Your age doesn’t matter, not when death comes calling.
“Why didn’t the father pay?” Sam asked and shielded her eyes as she turned to look back up at the house. Freaking huge. Four houses could fit inside that one. The guy would’ve had the money to ransom his son.
“Seems Jeremy got in trouble with the law a few times, and he had a history of run-ins with bookies.” Hyde paused, then said, “Mr. Briar thought his son was trying to scam him.”
Oh, damn. The father hadn’t believed the call, and Jeremy had paid. “Do you think the vic went fast?” The question came out before she could bite it back. But she knew what it was like when a sadistic freak took his time with you and made you beg for death. “W-were most of the injuries postmortem?”
“No.” His answer was immediate.
Her eyes fell closed, just for a moment.
“I don’t want you working this case, Kennedy,” Hyde’s words snapped out.
Her eyes flew back open. “Sir, I can—”
But his dark stare glinted. “I don’t want you in the field, and I don’t really give a shit what the prick in psych said.” He closed in on her. “You’re not ready. You think I can’t see you shaking?”
Her breath caught. “I can do this.” Desperation edged the words.
“Maybe.” Hyde shook his head. “But I want you back in the office. Dante has point on this one. If he wants to use you, well—”
“Don’t do this,” Sam managed, choking back the lump in her throat. She’d been busting her ass to make sure that she still could work the detail. “I know my job. I know—”
“I know my people.” No expression crossed his dark face. He towered over her, cold and unfeeling. “And I know you aren’t ready.”
She wouldn’t crumble. Not here. Not in front of him. Not him. “You’re the one who sent me out on the Phoenix case.” The Phoenix investigation had been the last big case she’d worked, and Hyde had been the one to send her out on that arson case as backup. “If you didn’t think I was ready, you shouldn’t have sent me.”
“You don’t belong in the field, Agent Kennedy.”
She stumbled back and felt the jab right in her heart. “You don’t think I’m strong enough, do you?” It had always been there, right from the beginning. She wasn’t like the other agents. Sam knew that she didn’t have their experience or their hard edge. She’d just skated past her twenty-fourth birthday so yes, she was younger, but she’d passed the same exams, done the drills, and proven herself, dammit.
“I know you’re strong.”
His words had her blinking.
“The problem is that you don’t know that.”
Her lips parted but she didn’t speak.
“And you’re scared. So scared that if you came face-to-face with a perp, I don’t know what you’d do, Kennedy.”
Neither did she.
“We both know you haven’t worked best in the field.”
No, she’d always been better back at the office, surrounded by her computers. But she couldn’t stay with them forever, and there were times—like with the Watchman case—when she’d had to go into the field.
And the results hadn’t been pretty.
Her breath barely fluttered out. I can do this.
“Go back to the office,” he said again. “If Dante needs you…”
With an effort, she managed a slow nod. She’d been called to the scene today because the other SSD agents were working other cases. Proximity and availability. But Sam had also been called in because she knew this case. This case and the others like it that had occurred just weeks before Jeremy Briar’s disappearance.
She’d been the one to first notice the pattern. She always noticed the patterns.
Sam forced her back to straighten. “I’m not going to fail, Hyde.” That was all that she’d say because she wouldn’t beg. Not yet.
His dark eyes just watched her.
Forcing out a hard breath, refusing to let the stench get to her, she shouldered past him. She kept her chin up and didn’t so much as blink, not until she was back at her car.
Sam climbed in and slammed the door closed. She curled her raw palms around the steering wheel and blinked.
Two tears slid down her cheeks.
Didn’t he see? Without the job, she had nothing.
Sam wasn’t normally the type for casual sex. She was the kind of woman who went for commitment, romance, and candlelight.
No, she had been that kind of woman. Now she was different, and she needed. Needed to forget who she was and just feel.
Can’t work the cases. Can’t sleep at night. Can’t even close my eyes without remembering…
Sam took a deep breath.
Right then, she’d do just about anything to forget.
Sam had left the crime scene hours before. When she’d gotten back to her place, the invitation to this expensive party had been waiting on her porch, courtesy of her meddling mother. The woman thought Sam might find a potential mate at one of these boring society gigs.
Sam didn’t want a mate. She just wanted a screw. Hot sex. Hard and wild. And she knew the perfect man to give her everything she needed.
Her perfect man stood across the room from her, separated by the crush of bodies. The party was too hot and too noisy by far with the fake laughter and high voices and the people who were pretending to be interested in each other.
Pretending. She was so sick of pretending.
Sam snagged a drink off a waiter’s tray. She downed the champagne in two gulps and pushed her way toward her target.
He’d know who she was. Sam didn’t doubt that. Well, he’d better know.
They’d had sex two weeks ago. Sex that had left her sore and aching and satisfied. Satisfied—for a time.
Until she’d wanted more.
She really hoped that the guy remembered her.
She sure remembered him.
Max Ridgeway. Tall, dark, and sexy. The man who’d made her come in two minutes. The man who’d made her scream.
The man who’d turned her on to casual sex.
Max was lover number three in her lifetime, not that he knew that. She’d been sure to play the game. After all, she could pretend, too. She’d acted cool and confident and made sure that she didn’t screw things up.
“You.” His voice, deep and rumbling, caught her, and she looked up to see him striding toward her.
Game face, girl. Get it on. Sam lifted her chin and let her lips curl into a smile that was as fake as all the others in the room. Forget. Forget everything but him.
Why try to pick up someone else when he was there? He’d be all she needed. He’d be…
Hot enough to banish the chill from her body.
Max caught her wrist and pulled her close. All around them, men stood in their perfect tuxedos and women smiled in their designer dresses. A high-end party. One packed with people who had too much money and too much alcohol.
His face—really not handsome, but sexy, so sexy—leaned in close to hers. At six foot three, Max was big and muscled with skin tanned a light brown. His midnight black hair curled just a little too long over the back of his collar.
The first time she’d seen him, she’d known that he would be the one for her. She’d gone into the bar, taken one look, and picked the strongest man in the place.
“You left without a damn word.”
Huh. Anger hummed in his words. She wet the lips that she’d carefully painted for tonight. Part of the mask. Normally, she didn’t give a damn about makeup.
She’d come to this party for one reason. Him. She wanted more.
“I’m here now.” She rose onto her toes and whispered the words close to his mouth.
A muscle flexed in his jaw. “Baby, your timing is shit.”
Sam almost smiled. Would have, if she’d been a different woman. Instead, she blinked at him, not just because she was trying to appear cool but because the contacts in her eyes were driving her crazy.
“I came to find you,” she told him and thought about kissing him. But no, not yet.
“And I fucking looked for you.”
Now she was surprised. She’d figured that the guy would just move on to the next woman on his list.
“Come with me.” His grip on her wrist was almost bruising. Almost, because Max knew his strength. When he started walking, shouldering through the crowd, she followed because she wanted out of there.
A few moments later, his left hand slammed against the glass door, sending it swinging open, and then they were outside on the balcony. The crisp air of late autumn cooled her body. Max kicked the door shut behind them and finally, finally, the noise was gone.
It was just them.
“When you approached me in the bar, you didn’t know who the hell I was, did you?” A lamp shone down on him and revealed the faint lines near his blue eyes. The light cast a dark shadow behind him, making him seem even bigger.
Anger had thickened in his voice. What, couldn’t the guy just enjoy the sex like she had? What was the big deal? Sam forced a shrug, letting one shoulder rise and fall. Max still had her wrist, and she could feel the rough calluses on his fingertips. Not born into money, not this man. And when she’d seen him the first night in that bar, wearing his faded jeans and beat-up jacket, she hadn’t thought—
“You ran when you woke up and realized just whose bed you were in.”
She hadn’t exactly been concentrating on her surroundings when he took her home. Sam had been busy yanking off his clothes. But with the harsh light of morning, she’d seen…
The picture of his stepfather on the mantle. A man she’d met before. A man her own mother had dated once upon a time.
“You just introduced yourself as Max.” Her voice came out husky. Not deliberate that. But his eyes—such a bright blue—narrowed, and she heard the rasp of his breath.
“And you’re Samantha,” he said.
First names—that was all you were supposed to need for casual sex, right? “I am.”
“What do you want from me?” he demanded as he trapped her against the brick wall to the right of the door. So warm, oh, his flesh seemed to burn hers. She could feel the thick length of his arousal pressing against the front of her dress. A short, skimpy dress that she’d found buried in the back of her closet.
“I want more.” The truth. She could give him that much.
A growl rumbled in his throat.
“I don’t care that you’re rich.” Yes, let’s just put that out there. She hadn’t run because of his money. Hadn’t gone to him for that and hadn’t run away because of it. She’d left because the night was over. “I don’t want forever.” The fake promises of happily-ever-after wouldn’t suit her.
His fingers freed her wrist and wrapped around her waist. “What do you want?”
My life back.
She pushed her hand between their bodies and let her fingers rest over his racing heart. “I told you…. more.” Sex. Passion.
Anything to hold back the shadows. Anything to let her pretend that she was normal. Not some freak. Not someone who couldn’t even do her job anymore.
A woman this man wanted.
His left hand slid down her body. His fingers pressed just below the bottom of her dress.
Her breath caught. Yes. Here. Right here. So what if others were just a door away? She wanted this.
His rough fingertips smoothed up her thigh. Edged higher, higher, a few more inches.
“Fuck. You’re not wearing underwear.” Max’s words came out, gravel-rough, and his eyes narrowed.
She smiled at him and ignored the surge of her heart. “Problem?”
His fingers slipped between her legs. She was already wet for him. Eager and ready.
His breath blew out on a ragged sigh. Two fingers, big and long, pushed through her folds and found her sex. His fingers drove inside, knuckles-deep.
Sam shot up on her toes. Her hands flew up to his shoulders, and she held on tight as electricity whipped through her body. Her nails dug into his tux jacket. Perfectly pressed. Screw that. She tightened the muscles of her sex around him, wanting a fast release, needing that hard pop of pleasure as—
His fingers withdrew.
Max leaned in close, and his lips feathered over her ear as he whispered, “You want to use me for sex?” Those fingers were tauntingly close to the center of her need as he stroked lightly. Petting and teasing.
Sam squeezed her eyes shut.
“Another fast screw and you walk away?” he asked softly, as his arousal rubbed against her thigh. Long and ready, and he could take her right then. Shove her skirt up, slide inside, and they’d both come. “I could be anybody, couldn’t I?” His fingers thrust deep once more, and the stab of pleasure stole her breath. “Doesn’t matter who I am.”
Max’s lips went to her throat and pressed right over the pulse that throbbed too fast. Licked. Sucked.
Did it matter who he was? Did it?
“Who am I, baby?” Now it was harder to understand the words as he growled against her flesh.
His fingers continued to drive inside her. His thumb rubbed the nub of her desire. A little more, just a little… Her climax was so close that her body trembled. More.
“M-Max…” She breathed his name. The night air felt good on her flesh because suddenly she was hot, burning up, right there, burning so fast.
And she kept her eyes closed because she didn’t want to see him.
She only wanted to feel. Pleasure. Life. Not the cold touch of death.
The door squeaked, providing a bare second’s warning. “Hey, Max!” A male voice called out. “There’s someone I want you to—”
Max’s fingers pushed deep.
Sam choked back a moan as a rush of pleasure flooded through her body on a hot tide of release.
“Not now,” Max snarled.
“Ah, shit, s-sorry, m-man…” The door slammed shut.
Her breath panted out.
Max raised his head and stared down at her. “He couldn’t see you.”
No. The man would have just seen Max, wrapped around some faceless woman. Not her.
Because she wasn’t the type for casual sex. Wasn’t the kind of woman who tracked a man to a party, ditching her panties and asking him to take her on the balcony. She was the good girl. The quiet one. Always had been.
Her hip vibrated. Not from him, though she could almost expect to—
Christ, her phone!
She slapped her hands against Max’s chest and shoved him back.
His fingers slipped down her thighs. “Samantha? He didn’t—”
Her fingers trembled as she yanked out the phone and read the text. Get back to scene in Melborne ASAP. New body. The message was from Agent Dante. Oh, hell, from Dante.
“I-I have to go,” she told Max and saw his eyes widen.
“The hell you do.” He shook his head grimly and didn’t move an inch. Solid muscle. Angry, aroused male. “You’re not running this time. We’re not finished.”
No, they’d just been getting started, but she couldn’t turn down Dante, not if he was willing to give her a chance on the team. “Max, I—”
He kissed her. He’d made her come without once kissing her, and the touch of his lips seemed shocking. Too intimate. After what he’d just done? But, yes, too—
His tongue pushed past her lips. Tasted her. Took and claimed hers, and she met him head-on.
Sam liked the way he tasted. There was wine in his kiss. Just as there must be champagne on her tongue. Tangy, but sweet.
The man knew how to use his tongue. Knew how to thrust and lick and have her straining to meet him.
Her fingers clenched around the phone. Her nipples ached, and her sex quivered.
More. More. They couldn’t have all night, but they could have a few moments. Right there.
Sam tore her mouth away. “I-I’m sorry… I’ve got—work.”
He stared at her with his jaw clenched and his strong chin angled down as he studied her. “What kind of work would call you in this late at night?”
He didn’t want to know. Sam let her lips curve. Being fake was becoming so easy. “I work with…” Oh, jeez, but she needed her voice to stop sounding so breathy and weak. “C-computers. I-I have a tech emergency.”
He blinked. “You—”
“I have to go.” She’d have to change. No way could the others see her in this outfit. It would take an hour to drive out to Melbourne from D.C. Why did Dante want her? And—
Another body? That didn’t fit the pattern. No way. She eased away from Max and reached for the door.
“You’re running again.” Arousal still rumbled in his words. The rough timbre of a man who hadn’t gotten his pleasure.
“No, I’m just walking away.” She didn’t look back. Say something. She knew that she should. Leaving the guy like this—
The old Sam would never have done that.
Then again, the old Sam was dead. She’d died in the water months before when a serial killer had left her broken body in a lake. And these days, it felt like her ghost was all that remained.
Her spine straightened. “Sam Kennedy.” The words came out softer than she’d intended. “My name’s… Sam Kennedy.” She waited, wondering if he’d make the connection to her mother, but there was no flicker of recognition on his face. As far as she knew, Max and her mother had never met face-to-face, and since her mother was in Europe right then, she doubted their paths would be crossing soon.
But her heart still beat a little too fast. By giving him her last name, she’d given herself one less shield from him.
“Samantha Kennedy,” Max said softly as if tasting the name. But, no, he was wrong.
Max kept calling her Samantha when she was just plain old Sam. Despite her mother’s hopes, she’d never been fancy enough for Samantha. Her fingers curled around the door knob, and she began to pull it open.
“How do I find you, Samantha?”
He wanted to find her?
Well, duh, Sam, you left the man with a hard-on. Of course he wants to find you.
But she didn’t want him to see her world. Not ever. In this fake life, she and Max could touch here. Nowhere else.
Not on the streets. Not in the shadows where she worked. Not with the killers. He didn’t need to see them.
“You don’t, Max,” Sam said with a sigh, and she finally glanced back now. “But I can find you, and I will.” Unless he told her to screw off. Unless—
“Sounds like a promise.”
She gave a quick nod and opened the door. A man stood nearby, young and handsome, close to her age, and he eyed her with a knowing smile on his lips.
Sam walked right past him, her mind already on the case.
On the dead body that waited for her.
So he had a full name. A name and a face and a hard-on that was really damn painful.
Max Ridgeway stalked to the edge of the balcony. His hands gripped the thick metal railing, and he sucked in a deep breath.
And still tasted her.
She’d come against his hand. He hadn’t missed the hard clench of her sex or the soft cream that coated his fingers. She’d come, she’d kissed him, then she’d walked away.
Using him for sex.
Jesus Christ—women usually used him for money. For power.
Probably shouldn’t complain. He was supposed to like that, right?
But he didn’t. Max yanked at his bow tie, loosening the knot, hating the damn thing, hating the stupid party he’d been forced to attend. Five years ago, he never would’ve been caught in this scene, but these days, he knew he had to play the game in order to keep his business in the black.
His business. The minute he’d seen Samantha, he’d forgotten all about the deals that he’d been working on at the party. As a rule, Max didn’t go for one-night stands. He was long past the stranger pickup. Well, he had been. Until Samantha had touched him, and he’d gotten lost in her dark, turbulent eyes.
Walking away from her that night hadn’t been possible, not after he’d tasted her. He’d taken her lips and known he’d take her.
The beginning. For him, that’s what it had been.
Max wanted more from Samantha Kennedy than just a few hot hours in the dark.
Down on the street below him, she ran from the building, hurriedly dodging in and out of the lights. The lamps caught the red of her hair, flickering almost like fire in the heavy curls.
When she’d come up to him at that bar, her heart-shaped face had been so pale. Her brown eyes so wide. Her mouth—slick and red—had trembled.
She’d been afraid, and he’d wanted her.
A fast fuck.
Max knew when a woman had secrets, and Samantha carried those secrets like a cloak around her sensual little body.
Samantha jumped into a small red VW Bug. He almost smiled at that. Hadn’t been expecting her to—
She shot out of the lot with a roar of the car’s engine, and he watched until the red taillights vanished.
It would be easy to find her. He had connections in D.C. His, his stepfather’s. He could track her and discover everything that there was to know about Samantha Kennedy in a matter of hours.
If that was what he wanted.
He had them, too. In spades.
I’ll find you. She’d better. Because Samantha Kennedy had made a mistake. She’d given him a taste, and now Max found that he wanted more.
Being a greedy bastard was part of his nature. When he wanted something, he took it.
He wanted Samantha.
“Thought you didn’t go for the society ladies.” His stepbrother’s mocking voice drifted in the air to him.
Max didn’t glance back. He’d heard the door open, just as he’d heard it earlier when Quinlan came outside. At a piss-poor time.
“Sorry for the interruption.” The soft tread of Quinlan’s shoes padded over the tile. “Didn’t expect you to be… occupied out here.”
Max forced himself to release the railing.
Quinlan’s rough laugh filled the night, only to end with a nervous edge. “Didn’t know you went for sex in public places, man.”
“I don’t.” Normally. “And whatever you thought you saw out here, forget it.” Kissing and telling wasn’t his style either. Slowly, Max turned around and stared at his younger brother. Hell, his stepbrother was probably a lot closer to Samantha’s age than Max was at thirty-three.
Quinlan gulped and looked away. His left hand lifted to rub against his neck, and his golden horseshoe ring—his so-called lucky charm, a gift from Quinlan’s father—glinted.
His stepbrother always seemed to have trouble looking him in the eye. Since his mother’s death, so did their “father.”
Max headed for the door. He was done with this scene. He didn’t need to schmooze and party. What he needed—well, she’d driven away.
I’ll find you. She’d better.
Find me, or I’ll find you, baby.
Excerpted from Deadly Lies by Eden, Cynthia Copyright © 2011 by Eden, Cynthia. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted December 17, 2011
A must read series. All 3 books were outstanding. They keep you guessing the entire time. The characters are well developed and have great chemistry. Edge of your seat suspense and amazingly sexy. And kudos to the author for having such satisfying endings. Well played out, not so abrupt as most. Loved it !
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Posted February 23, 2011
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FBI Special Agent Samantha Kennedy has chased down the darkness of death and survived to come back and run down yet another fiend. She was once a victim but never sacrificed her beliefs in the system to put away the people that commit the crimes. But when she is face-to-face with a killer that enjoys hurting his victims as much as he does killing them Sam has to ask herself if she is strong enough to take this on and solve the crime? Being part of an elite FBI task force is an honor and Sam knows how to do her job she just is not sure she is able to get past the nightmares and perform the duties as requested.
Meeting Max Ridgeway was supposed to be a one night encounter but after spending an amazing evening with him she can't let him go and he feels the same. When Max's brother falls prey to the kidnappers she winds up not only in his bed but right in Max's face as an investigator trying to find Quinlan. Sam chases down leads and runs around in circles following false leads and out of control ransom requests. The FBI can't do this without Sam being at the top of her game and Sam is distracted by Max as well as her history with another serial killer that tried to kill and still haunts her.
As the victim count starts to rise and questions about Max and his involvement start to surface what will Sam do - love him or leave him? All fingers are pointing in one direction and Max has the past to match up with the present crime so what is he really up to and who is he playing for the fool?
As Max and Samantha start revealing secrets to one another and the curtain of doubt is lifted they become more attached and both start to trust the other. Their pasts are both filled with baggage but both know that together they can conquer anything that goes bump in the night.
This series has always been a winner and never fails to scare you to death and still make you go ahhh what a sweet love story. Cynthia Eden can write in all genres but I am in love with these characters and hope that Hyde has a story in there somewhere waiting to be told.
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Posted January 30, 2011
A predatory psychopath devastated FBI Serial Service Division Special Agent Samantha Kennedy. The Fed slowly heals mentally while her superior Hyde has doubts with her being on the Jeremy Briar vicious murder case as he sent her into that Phoenix fiasco. Although she conceals her trepidations behind a badge of confidence that she knows is false; Hyde remains hesitant that she is capable of performing her field work at this time.
Sam meets and is attracted to Max Ridgeway. She uses sex with Max to regain her self esteem. However, she keeps vanishing almost immediately after and refuses to tell him anything about herself. When someone kidnaps Max's younger brother for ransom, Sam gets involved; leaving Max to wonder who his beloved truly is.
The third Deadly SSD police procedural romance is a powerful thriller due to the spotlight on Samantha, a secondary player in the previous entries (see Deadly Fear and Deadly Heat) whose teammates and superior worry she does not have what it takes anymore; she uses sex to keep the demons away. However, though she struggles with trepidation, this time Max who refuses to allow her to run away from him is her impetus. With an unexpected potentially deadly twist enhancing the suspense, this is a great entry in a fantastic series with Monica on deck.
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Posted November 14, 2012
Posted August 29, 2012
Posted May 21, 2012
The third in this series. Loved the suspense and the twisted mind of the kidnapper. The romance between Sam and Max was HOT. A great thrill ride . .Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 14, 2011
I enjoyed reading the first two books in this series, but I LOVED Deadly Lies. I have been reading books like this for a while and normally the ending doesn't surprise me anymore... it's about the character development and great story lines even if I know who dunnit before the last page. Not the case with Lies. Each new twist kept the suspense building until the end. I hope this series will continue!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 15, 2011
I jumped right from Deadly Heat into this one. So it almost seemed as if it was just an "extension" to the other book. The story line is different, but the characters are from the first two in the series. So by the time I made it to this third book I was so familiar with them that it was as if I really knew who they were and how they operated.
This book follows Samantha, who has some serious problems in the first book. But she's dealing and is back to do what she can to help her team. I really connected with Samantha. She's very smart, and although she's a bit timid at times she can be strong when she needs to. She kind of reminds me of myself. While I like the rest of the characters in the series, and both of the previous books were really good I have to say that this is my favorite so far.
I've become kind of attached to these characters and I really hope that Eden keeps this series going. It can be a bit difficult to read, as (I've said before) Eden's ability to get inside the head of the killer is a bit creepy. But the writing is great and the story keeps you guessing. With this one I thought I had it figured out, boy was I wrong!
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. This is not a paid review and is a truthful and honest review.
Posted April 20, 2011
I have read all of the books in Cynthia's Deadly series and these books are amazing. Deadly Lies brings you back together with all of the people in the previous two books.
Samantha serves on the SSD team, an FBI team devoted to solving serial murder cases. Sam is their computer genius. Samantha has suffered her own horrors which started in childhood and ended in a previous case meant to destroy Sam. After months of therapy she is determined to prove herself as a valuable member of the team. She's seen her share of horrific tortures that humans can inflict on others. She seeks solace in the arms of someone she thinks will be a one night stand and help her to clear her head and feel alive once again.
Max is a successful businessman. But that success did not come easy. He has a secret from his childhood that haunts him to this day. His stepfather is a rich, successful man and Max is determined to prove his worthiness to his stepfather. So working long hours he fills his nights with casual sex until he meets Samantha then everything changes. He has feelings for her until he discovers her deception. Her lies could be deadly. It may cost him more then he ever bargained for. When a deadly killer strikes Max and his family, he is determined to do everything to keep his promise made to his mother on her deathbed, even if it costs him everything.
Cynthia Eden writes romantic suspense with twisted villains who will shock you everytime. This book is a must read for all romantic suspense lovers. This series was by far one of my favorite series read in the past year. Its a winner.
Posted March 29, 2011
Posted March 14, 2011
Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes paranormal romances and romantic suspense novels. She is currently very busy writing her stories for Grand Central Publishing and Kensington Brava. She has always wanted to write, and particularly enjoys creating stories about monsters, vampires, werewolves, and even the real-life monsters that populate her romantic suspense stories. Cynthia graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Alabama where she studied Sociology and Communication. Cynthia has worked as a college admissions counselor, a teacher, and as an editor. Other titles include: Eternal Hunter, Midnight Sins, and Hotter After Midnight.
FBI Special Agent Samantha Kennedy is still haunted by her past. On a previous case for the Serial Services Division, she was abducted and forced to endure her worst fear by a mad man. Her fellow agents aren't sure she's ready to return yet, so she pretends to be a more confident and completely in control woman. In an attempt to keep the darkness at bay, she shares an unbridled passion with a handsome stranger. But personal and professional lines are crossed when successful entrepreneur Max Ridgeway's brother is the next in a line of kidnappings targeting rich families. Some victims have returned with scars, some have returned in pieces. The attraction between Max and Sam is undeniable, but neither is who they seem. Yet they must trust each other to work this case of deadly lies or Samantha's nightmares will become all to real... again.
This is the third book in the SSD series with Deadly Fear and Deadly Heat coming before. Though part of a series, these are stand alone reads. I didn't find this book near as haunting and powerful as the first two, but nonetheless it was a stellar read. Mostly in part because of the author's detail to post traumatic stress syndrome and working it into the plotline for her heroine.
After reading all three books in this series, what stands out most memorable to me is the epilogues, told through the point of view of Hyde, the head of SSD. He has his own traumatic past and reasons for joining this division of the FBI, which we learn little by little at the end of every book. I don't know if this is the last book in the series or not, but I hope not for several reasons, especially Hyde's.
As with all Cynthia's books, she spins a web of lies, murder, and deceit so deep you must keep reading or succumb to insomnia. The secondary characters are essential and interesting, the plot is fast-paced, the romance hot, and the setting vivid. Recommended.
Author and Reviewer
Posted March 10, 2011
I read all 3 books in this series... just finished this one, loved it. Cynthia Eden keeps you hanging on the whole time. loved it... hope she comes out with another book in this series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 2, 2011
DEADLY LIES by Cynthia Eden is a heart thumping action packed romantic suspense set in present day Washington,DC. This is the third in "The Deadly Series",Book One,"Deadly Fear",Book Two, "Deadly Heat",but can be read as a stand alone. It is well written with twists,turns,depth,details and is action packed from the first page to the last. It has sex,lust, passion,secrets, murder, suspense, romance, betrayal,lies,mystery,a vicious serial killer, struggles with fear,danger,SSD unit(Serial Service Division),FBI,family betrayal,trust issues, finding true love an not letting go of that love. The hero, Max,is sexy, handsome, an entrepreneur,has secrets and attracted to the heroine. The heroine, Samantha, is sexy,smart, mysterious, has secrets,an SSD agent,is a genius with computers, on the trail of a serial killer and out for a one night stand to forget her fears and feel alive again....enter Max.For Max,one night is not nearly enough time with the beautiful,sexy Samantha. They soon meet again,at a party,and their attraction is undeniable.But then all hell breaks lose, Max's stepbrother,Quinlan,is kidnapped.A ransom is demanded or they will find him in pieces.There have been several others,kidnapped and killed.NO POLICE,or they find pieces of him. Max does not know that Samantha is an SSD agent,she goes with him to his stepfather's house,secretly letting her team know another kidnapped.Some secrets are revealed,and together Samantha and Max embark on a roller coaster ride,while trying to trap a ring of bloodthirsty kidnappers.When the truth comes to light,terror is relived,love blooms,sacrifices made,and devastation of a family is lost.If you enjoy the TV show "Criminal Minds" you will definite enjoy this one. This is a fast paced, action packed,survival,terror filled,heart thumping story of a merciless,vicious,psychopath killer who could be one of your family.I would highly recommend this book,but BE WARNED it is a set on the edge of your seat thriller.This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher and details can be found at Forever,an imprint of Grand Central Publishing and My Book Addiction and More.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 31, 2011
After reading Deadly Lies, I have decided that Cynthia Eden has moved up to one of my all-time favorite authors. I fell in love with this book and couldn't go to sleep after reading it. I highly recommend Cynthia Eden to my fellow readaholics!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2011
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Posted April 1, 2011
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Posted March 19, 2011
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Posted May 1, 2011
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Posted March 13, 2011
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