Read an Excerpt
Table of Contents
Praise for the novels of Kathleen Dante, “the new valedictorian of the erotic romance class.”*
“Masterful . . . fabulous.”
—Fallen Angel Reviews
“The characters are complex, the romance and sex [are] hot—hot—hot.”
—*Romance Reviews Today
“Ms. Dante has done it again! . . . A feast for the senses.”
“Enough heat to scorch my eyebrows.”
“A triumph for Ms. Dante and a real treat for all fans of erotic romance, mystery, suspense, magic, and face-kicking action.”
—Just Erotic Romance Reviews
“Steamy sex scenes, adventure, and elements of paranormal intensity . . . I found this book fascinating.”
—Romance Reader at Heart
“I was absolutely blown away . . . Brava!”
—Fallen Angel Reviews
“All I can say is, ‘Wow!’ . . . Readers are in for a wild ride.”
“Dante’s sizzling romance delves into the world of the metaphysical sliced with eroticism and espionage.”
“A fantastic book, full of magic, mystery, and incredibly hot sex!”
“Paranormal romance filled with sensuality and fire that any reader will enjoy.”
—Paranormal Romance Writers
“Toe-curling hot . . . absolutely yummy.”
—Just Erotic Romance Reviews
“Sexy, smart, and touching . . . Prepare to be spellbound.”
—Romance Reviews Today
Berkley Heat titles by Kathleen Dante
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2009 by Kathleen Dante.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
HEAT and the HEAT design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
eISBN : 978-1-101-02463-8
1. Women detectives—Fiction. 2. Police—Special weapons and tactics units—Fiction.
3. Snipers—Fiction. 4. Serial murderers—Fiction. I. Title.
Thanks to the readers who e-mailed me asking what’s next, to my supportive family for cheering me on, and to my editor, Leis Pederson, whose insight helped me tell Rio and Cyn’s story better.
Three Weeks Earlier
Sprinting after his fellow agent, Rio Rafael hurdled half-seen rocks and bushes along the garden path, cutting corners in a desperate race against time. Another wild run through the night—one with wailing sirens as the surreal soundtrack instead of plaintive meowing—except this time the danger was all too certain. The last time, they’d found Dillon’s lady poisoned. This time, she could be stabbed to death and horribly mutilated, like the corpse they’d found.
The shorter man outpaced him, pulling ahead with fear-fueled adrenaline. ¡Cojones! That was so wrong. Dillon wasn’t the point man, damnú air. Rio was! His friend ignored the order of the Homicide lieutenant panting behind them to leave the situation to the police.
Swearing silently, Rio lengthened his stride to catch up, knowing Dillon wouldn’t wait for backup—not when a murderer stalked Jordan’s home. To his relief, two cops stood on the porch, suiting up for hard entry. Maybe they had a chance of doing this the right way instead of blindly jumping into the deep end without recon.
Then a cat screamed defiance, his shrill battle cry ripping through the night.
“No.” Dillon dove for the door, slapped the lock panel to shut down its wards, and thrust it open.
Shouldering past the frantic mage, Rio swept the entry for hostiles, training his gun at the shadows. No way was Dillon getting jumped on his watch.
Debris littered the hall, but nothing moved. Nothing crouched on the stairs or hid by the doorway to the living room.
“Clear. Go!” He stepped aside to avoid trampling by his fellow agent. Dillon had barely waited for his okay, sprinting toward the sounds of combat.
Keeping an eye on the shadows, Rio followed for once, trusting his friend’s greater familiarity with the house’s layout. Pottery crunched underfoot, raising a pungent whiff of green.
In the dark studio, anonymous figures struggled. Keeping his gun pointed at the ceiling, Rio stopped beside Dillon, straining at the shadows for a target.
A magelight bloomed in midair, revealing Jordan pinned over a table with Timothy clinging to the back of her knife-wielding attacker. The big cat’s body blocked any clear shot.
Rio swore, furiously debating whether to take the shot anyway.
The murderer flung Timothy away, sending the snarling cat rebounding off a cabinet into ominous silence. The motion lowered the masked figure’s profile; Jordan’s rigid arms held back the knife, but they and her twisting body gave cover to her attacker.
A bullet could hit either one.
Then the knife descended.
Decision point. Rio—
Magic washed over him in a skin-prickling flash of violet power, transforming the struggle for survival into gasping sculpture.
“Police! Don’t move!” several voices shouted from behind. Rather redundant, but Rio wasn’t about to quibble. The cops quickly secured the murderer, permitting Dillon to lift his spell.
It left Jordan lying on the desk, her arms covered with angry slashes, blood dripping off her neck from the carotid. Rio’s heart skipped. Were they too late anyway?
“Get me a medic,” Dillon ordered as he rushed to his lady’s side. He ran his hands over her, his shoulders relaxing as his examination wound down. Whatever Jordan’s injuries were, it seemed they weren’t life-threatening, only gory, and she wasn’t having any trouble breathing—which was more than Rio could say for the cat.
Holstering his gun under his jacket—hopefully before the cops noticed—Rio broke off to check on Timothy. The cat sprawled in a boneless heap, his black-and-white fur liberally crisscrossed with red. A light touch revealed he was only unconscious and had no obvious broken bones. Despite all the blood, nothing gushed with the strength of arterial damage.
As Rio knelt over him, Timothy’s muscles tensed, one paw weakly clawing the floor. A faint snarl came from the battered animal, still defiant.
“Shhh, it’s okay. She’s safe.” Rio offered a finger to sniff, then stroked the valiant cat behind a big ear, while calling some of the medics over; there were enough to see to both victims. At Dillon’s worried frown, Rio gave his friend the high sign, sure that immediate healing would see Timothy well.
His friend slumped against the table, his eyes closing in relief, his arms so tight around Jordan a knife probably couldn’t slip between them. Shuddering, Dillon gave her a watery smile as she cupped her bloodied hands over his cheeks, which were pale beneath his tan.
Fear and desperation were still etched on his features, disbelief at the miracle of Jordan’s survival warring with intense need. There could be no doubt about the depth of the other man’s feelings for her.
Rio had to look away. The raw emotion on Dillon’s face was too revealing, too intimate for him to witness. The averted tragedy was too close to home.
He didn’t understand why it felt that way. Dillon was his friend, but that didn’t explain why Rio’s gut continued to churn now that the danger was past.
Then it hit him like a pile driver to the solar plexus: a realization so great it froze his lungs.
That could be him—him and Cyn—with even more harrowing results. He couldn’t assume that, whenever he came waltzing back to see her, Cyn would be here, safe and sound, eager for more fun and games. Her job was just as dangerous as his, if not more so; in her assignment with the police tac team, she faced violent criminals on a daily basis.
Knowing full well the wild curves Fate could throw a guy, Rio realized he couldn’t take his time with Cyn for granted. And he discovered she meant more to him than just a fun, reliable, convenient lay.
She was more. Much more.
And if he didn’t want to lose her, he’d better do something about it. Just playing games was no longer enough.
Ignoring the lingering stench of burnt chemicals, Cyn—Detective Sergeant Cynarra Malva, to sticklers for formality—ran her hands over her body armor, checking for singe marks and anything else that might weaken the protective silver runes painted on the black Kevlar. Finding none, she folded down its ridiculous one-size-fits-all pauldrons that on her smaller frame evoked a fantasy warlord silhouette and hung the black vest in her narrow locker, ready for the next callout. Disgruntlement twisted her face into a grimace. While not all missions were outright successes, this one in particular left a bitter taste in her mouth.
Two doors down, a locker slammed shut, propelled by Hardesty’s large mitt. It was followed by a resounding thunk when he threw his considerable bulk backward against the metal panel. With his bearlike physique, he managed to rock the bank of lockers.
Expecting an outburst of some sort, Cyn didn’t react to the sounds. A start would have undermined her reputation for calm.
New to Tactical and, at twenty-three, the youngest in the team, Jethro Hardesty hadn’t yet learned to take setbacks in stride, although part of it might just be his usual intensity. “Those shit-heads are laughing at us.”
“No shit? Don’t hold it in, Jet. Tell us how you really feel,” gibed Rick Danzinger as he straddled the bench running the length of the aisle separating the two banks of lockers, his muscular thighs aggressively spread. Only the fact that the assistant team leader had addressed Hardesty by his nickname suggested any levity. Not that Danzinger directed his biting sarcasm in Cyn’s direction much; he was too aware of her higher rank.
Hardesty flushed, perhaps realizing his lack of control didn’t reflect well on him.
Kelvin Jung looked up with hooded eyes, his thin lips turned down at the corners, his black hedge of fashionably spiky gelled locks positively bristling his repugnance. “They’ve got it down to a science: threat, money, deflagration spell, go.” His hands clenched around his wand, knuckles momentarily going white; a good combat mage and countersniper, that was the only other sign of unhappiness he allowed himself.
A new gang had hit town a fortnight past and gone on a crime spree, hitting small businesses. This was the second heist just this week and the fifth to date—and there were still three days left before the week was over. It wouldn’t have mattered so much if the motive were simple robbery, but the perps didn’t care who got hurt, using extreme force to get whatever they wanted.
This last call had bombed—literally—with the gang getting away faster than grease through a goose. Her tac team had arrived only in time to contain the fire from the deflagration spell—not exactly the best use of their combat magics, but they’d been the ones on the ground.
Cyn kept silent, along with the rest of the men. She might be a sergeant with Homicide, but here she was just one of the team—and one of the part-time members at that; that was the way she liked it, despite the brass’s recent efforts to convince her to make her participation full-time. It wasn’t her place to comment. If she opened her mouth now, she might say something she’d regret later. However, she understood the feeling; frustration also left her shoulders tight.
Under the guise of pushing damp, black and white strands of hair out of her face, she sent a sidelong glance at her team leader and fellow sergeant, Fernao Antillia, who, it turned out, was watching her with eyes of polished granite—waiting to see if she’d horn in on his territory, no doubt. Closing her own locker, she broke eye contact, in no mood for a pissing contest she didn’t want to win.
“They’ll slip up,” Fernao finally stated, his dark face hard and determined. “They always do. Then we’ll get them.”
“Or they’ll move on to fresher hunting grounds,” countered Danzinger. The assistant team leader was built like a pit bull terrier, his shoulders bunching and rippling as he wiped down his wand with an oiled rag, taking care to get the crannies of its intricate carving. The short blond had gotten the closest to the blaze, actually diving into the building to save a civilian trapped inside; he smelled like it, too, despite a shower.
“Or that,” Fernao conceded, standing up to prop his hands on his still-narrow hips, the motion drawing her attention to his flat belly.
Cyn schooled her face into an expression of mild interest; her noticing that little detail about her team leader didn’t bear thinking about. Her libido was seriously out of whack. Fellow cops were nowhere on her list of potential lovers—especially married cops.
The senior sergeant, though, cut an impressive figure with his arms akimbo, a deep scowl on his mahogany face. “In which case, languishing here like”—there was an almost imperceptible hesitation in Fernao’s spiel as his gaze darted to Cyn before he continued, with probably a more politically correct substitution—“old aunties won’t change anything.”
Everyone else, including Cyn, stared at their team leader. “Languish?” she repeated, suspecting the younger men wouldn’t even dare breathe the word.
“I can’t believe he said that,” someone muttered in a tone too low to identify.
“Hey, I went to college, too.”
The stunned silence stretched out.
“The wife reads those sorts of books. Great for expanding the vocabulary, you know,” Fernao blustered.
The room broke out in snickers, distracting them from their earlier disgust. The sight of all eight hard male bodies flexing rhythmically kindled a different tension in Cyn.
It really was too bad Rio wasn’t in town. She’d have welcomed a bout of hot sex to unwind, a little slap and tickle to burn off her tension. Not that she was going to look for relief in-house; it was Rio or no one for her, or at least no one in the department. No way was she dipping her toes in that pool, no matter how intriguing it might seem. Work was work, and sex was fun and games, and she wasn’t about to mix the two. Just the thought of the complications of having a fellow cop as a lover gave her hives.
Normally, civilians were intimidated when they found out what she did. Cops, on the other hand, generally preferred women who’d bat their lashes at them, not someone who could go toe-to-toe with them on the mat—or so she’d found. The rare exceptions were so focused on the job that they couldn’t talk about anything else.
And unlike him, all the men in the room wore an aura of toughness around them like a cloak, one that on first or even second glance seemed to be missing from her Latin lover; though that wasn’t an entirely accurate description of Rio, him being half Irish and half Argentine. His mixed heritage wasn’t obvious, except in his name—Riordan—which somehow had been shortened to Rio; however, it had produced a man who was extremely easy on the eyes. If someone had battered his sharp cheekbones or flattened his straight nose, Rio might have managed to look rugged. As it was, his features were too fine to be described as anything else but beautiful. Hardly an adjective one associated with toughness.
But although her sometime lover was a civilian, her job didn’t seem to bother him at all. It also didn’t hurt that he could make her body sing like a finely tuned instrument.
Thinking of him brought to mind his last visit. Usually their time together was fun and games, both of them too conscious of the implicit contract of nothing serious. Normally, sex meant lots of teasing and laughter.
However, this last good-bye, just before he’d left, had been insane—frenzied and tempestuous. She could still feel his hands on her, caressing her, could feel their pressure and intensity: urgent, stroking and fondling her to a fever pitch. Cyn swallowed down the improper desire that rose at the memory of Rio’s blistering lovemaking. His touch had been possessive, his need for her almost ravenous. He’d been fierce, even driven, taking her with a ferocity that bordered on violence.
Nothing at all like her easygoing lover of previous visits.
Then he’d returned to his secretive world of private security—though she had her doubts about that. Rio Rafael showed indications of being an operator, one of the rare few who lived in the shadows of black ops. She might not be military police any longer, but she could still read the signs.
She gave a mental shrug. So long as he didn’t break the law in her town, she could ignore her suspicions. Being in black ops didn’t make him less of a lover and was probably one of the reasons why he wasn’t intimidated by her. Certainly, if the way Rio had taken her that last time was anything to go by, there was no risk of him suddenly feeling threatened by her job.
Cyn shivered at the memory of his leave-taking, missing Rio all the more; then she forced it to the back of her mind. She refused to become one of those women who pined for their lovers when they were gone. It was just sex; great sex, admittedly—but simply sex, for all that.
Snapping back to the present, she looked around, hoping no one noticed her distraction. Her team seemed almost normal, occupied with postmission details. The extreme testosterone that had filled the air was temporarily banished.
Cyn shrugged into her leather jacket, making certain her sleeve covered the wand strapped to her forearm. She still had some hours left in her shift, which meant her desk in Homicide awaited her return. There were cases waiting to be solved and murderers to be caught.
Planting her feet, Cyn pulled, the hundred-pound weight at the end of the line rising smoothly as she extended her arm and leaned forward, using her body as leverage. She held it at full extension for a count of six, ignoring the burning strain on her muscles, then slowly let it slide back down. As the weight clinked on its rest, she exhaled softly, shifted her feet, then mirrored the pull with her other arm. She repeated the exercise methodically, alternating sides over and over, having long accepted the necessity of the mind-numbing routine.
Resistance training was imperative for mages who had to work with high-powered spells, the weights substituting for the invisible but palpable density of serious magic. At those levels, spell control meant strength and coordination, so any master mage worth her salt made sure she was in top physical condition. Cyn might not be in the league of adepts, but since her life and those of her teammates depended on it, she exercised religiously.
Unfortunately, working out left the mind free to wander at will. Commencing yet another set of exercises she knew by heart did little to occupy Cyn’s thoughts.
And hers wanted to dwell on her absent lover.
The grunts from the other stations of the department’s weight room faded away as the torrid memory of Rio’s last good-bye returned to the forefront of Cyn’s mind. She couldn’t leave it alone. What was it about his leave-taking that bothered her so much?
Rio had met her at the door, already packed and ready to go, but a welcome sight nevertheless, after a long night working a murder scene. All he’d said was that he had to fly out immediately, but he’d waited for her to come home to say good-bye.
Of course, after that, they hadn’t done much talking . . . unless you counted gasps and groans and demands for more and harder and deeper. They hadn’t made it to the bed, and if she’d had a rug in her apartment, she’d probably have had rug burn to show for their impatience.
She fought down a blush at the thought of their frenzied lovemaking but couldn’t suppress the thrum of desire that resonated in her bones. She couldn’t blame it all on Rio; he might have been wild to take her that night, but she’d been just as wild to be taken. And boy, had he taken her!
He’d been silent, almost grim. She’d thought it a reaction to the mutilated corpse they’d found—something he might not be accustomed to seeing up close and personal, despite his probable line of work—and dismissed it as natural; even she had been shaken, and it hadn’t been her first murder victim or hacked-up corpse. It had seemed only right that he would seek release through sex.
His hands and mouth had been all over her, as though trying to impress her into his mind to drive out the horrific memory. Fervid caresses and kisses hot enough to scorch her senses. All the while thrusting into her, filling her, driving her mad with his sensual compulsion.
Until she was out of control and loving it.
She hadn’t questioned his urgency or the difference in his lovemaking. Only later, after he’d left, did it occur to her. She’d found the sketch on a paper napkin of her asleep, which was unlike his usual comic doodling. In it she’d appeared soft and sensual—defenseless. Not exactly the way she liked to think of herself. She’d never suspected he viewed her in that light.
“Looks like you’ve got some serious issues, Sarge.” The comment jolted Cyn out of the fog of her thoughts.
What? She glanced to her left, where Jung stood gripping the ends of a rolled towel slung around his neck. She frowned at him, ignoring the toned body gleaming with sweat under the abbreviated, black mesh shirt and skintight cycling shorts he wore and her own breasts still tingling with residual arousal. Truth be told, as good as he looked, he couldn’t compare with Rio. “What do you mean?”
In answer, he tipped his chin at the weight, which in her distraction she’d apparently loaded past her normal limit.
“After that fiasco earlier, you don’t think I need to work through some issues?” Too bad she couldn’t burn off her frustration with a fast, hard romp in bed. It would probably do wonders for her libido—and her mood.
Jung snorted, a bitter smile of agreement flashing across his face. “Fiasco flatters us. Any day now, the papers’ll start baying for blood.” With a recent arrest putting paid to a high-profile bombing, the media was free to focus on the heists to boost ratings. Since Jung worked Robbery, he had a bigger stake than others in the team in ending that crime spree; his ass was closer to the fire.
“Can’t say they wouldn’t be justified,” Cyn gritted out, her delivery only slightly forced as she focused on raising the weight smoothly and masking the effort it took; as one of the youngest sergeants in the department—and female to boot—she couldn’t afford any hint of weakness.
“One of these days our luck will run out, and they’ll get someone killed. Then it’ll be your hot potato, too.” His slanted almond eyes lit up at the prospect.
“Gee, Jung, you’re such a pessimist. Don’t you know we’re supposed to believe we can make a difference? It’s in the regs.” She gave him a tight grin, lowering the weight to its rack with barely a clink. “Repeat after me: they’ll make a mistake, and then we’ll catch them.”
He snorted again. “Just mark my words.” The dire prediction was accompanied by melodramatically arched brows as the prophet of doom rocked on his heels.
Smiling ruefully at his suddenly cheerful negativity, Cyn shook her head, then continued her set. “I didn’t know you’re a precog these days.”
“You don’t need precognition to see that one.”
Much as she hated to, Cyn had to agree with him. The gang was just too free with their deflagration spells not to kill someone eventually. Still, she argued the point as she toughed out the rest of her sets; at least the discussion got her mind off Rio and her current lack of a sex life.
The trip home had been accomplished in silence, which wasn’t as difficult as it sounded, since Cyn didn’t like to use music to drown out her thoughts. Not only would it also drown out sounds that might warn her of an attack, but it smacked of a crutch. No way, nohow, would she lean on one. But even the police band had been quiet, crackling only once during the drive with a routine request for information.
A slow night.
She cautiously entered her second-story walk-up. Alone. She hadn’t been in the mood to hang out with the guys over a mug of whatever was on tap—a frequent occurrence lately, something she wasn’t sure was good. But given the carnal humming of her body, she didn’t think it was wise to immerse herself in all that testosterone and put up with the ritual dick-beating. Most days she didn’t notice the jockeying for top dog—growing up with her brothers had next to inured her to it—but tonight she was too aware of the posturing and the sexual undercurrents.
Her small studio apartment greeted Cyn with more silence and stuffy heat, the evening sun streaming through the cracks between her vertical wood blinds to touch her feet. The door closed behind her with a solid thud, audible punctuation to her low mood. Activating the wards was automatic, requiring little thought.
After cracking the balky windows open the few miserable inches they allowed in the hopes of catching a breeze, she turned on the small fan she kept on the window ledge to draw in air, then blew out a breath, more than ready to call an end to another day. Even the long session in the weight room hadn’t been enough to relax her—tire her, yes, but not like the boneless release of hot, breathless sex.
It was pitiful how much she missed Rio after three measly weeks of absence. Her playful lover who was so much fun in bed—which was probably very different from his game face, if her suspicions were correct.
Cyn’s breasts throbbed at the thought of just how much fun they’d had, her nipples tingling in readiness. He’d trained her body well, had gotten her so accustomed to sexual indulgence that doing without felt unnatural.
Definitely pitiful. She fisted her hand around the white lock of her hair in disgust, the sting on her scalp little punishment for her lack of self-discipline. This wasn’t even the longest she’d gone without seeing him; there’d been a couple of times he’d disappeared for nearly three months before he’d shown up again, tired, tanned, and so eager for a romp between the sheets that she’d known he hadn’t had any of that kind of action while he’d been gone.
It was just sex, darn it all. Cyn spun away from the window to stalk past the love seat and battered coffee table, ignoring the kitchenette in the corner. Admittedly great sex, but just sex, all the same.
Heading for the bedroom, she stripped off her leather jacket, forcing her mind to shift mental gears by debating whether she ought to retire the jacket for the season. Summer was far enough along that leather was too much for the afternoon heat, but she loathed to give up its protection. Eyeing the wards painted on the jacket’s satin inner lining, she hung it in her closet, then pulled off the long-sleeved T-shirt she’d worn under it. Maybe she could use it for another week more.
Continuing to strip on autopilot, Cyn freed her wand from its sheath on her forearm, set it on her nightstand along with her department-issue PDA and cell phone, then undid the bands of the sweaty sheath with an unconscious sigh of relief. The rest of her clothes quickly came off, until she stood naked in the middle of the room. She dumped the limp garments on top of the two-and-a-half-week-old pile spilling out of the plastic crate she used as a laundry basket, then ignored the mound since it had yet to reach critical mass.
Bare minutes later, she stood in front of her drawers, her shoulder-length hair nearly dry despite a quick shower, grateful to be clean and sweat-free. The heat was finally dissipating, so she took out fresh panties and her sleep shirt—a slightly outsized one promoting the Place du Casino in Monte Carlo that she’d filched from Rio—and pulled them on, now wishing she had him in her bed instead to keep her company.
Finding her thoughts dwelling once more on Rio made Cyn grimace. Why did she have him on the brain lately? It wasn’t as if anything had happened to remind her of him.
She put some distance between her and the bed she’d shared with her lover, but the movement brought her face-to-face with the one piece of furniture she usually kept shut.
And for good reason.