Into the Fire

Into the Fire

4.1 24
by Anne Stuart

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Jamie Kincaid knows that she can't move on with her life until she has answers. And she's walking straight into the fire to find them.

A year ago Jamie learned that her beloved cousin, Nate, had been killed. Beaten to death in what police suspect was a drug deal gone wrong, he was found by his childhood friend Dillon Gaynor. Dillon had always been the baddest

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Jamie Kincaid knows that she can't move on with her life until she has answers. And she's walking straight into the fire to find them.

A year ago Jamie learned that her beloved cousin, Nate, had been killed. Beaten to death in what police suspect was a drug deal gone wrong, he was found by his childhood friend Dillon Gaynor. Dillon had always been the baddest of the bad boys, leading Nate astray, about Nate's death. He's not about to volunteer any information, and Jaime's only choice is to head to the Wisconsin town where he lives to find the answers for herself.

Jamie shows up unannounced on Dillon's doorstep, only to find that Dillon is as dangerous and seductive as she remembers. But despite his silky hostility, she discovers that she can't leave. Things start disappearing, strange accidents begin to happen and Jamie doesn't know whether Dillon is trying to seduce her or scare her away. And if she gives in to his predatory games, will she lose her soul? Or her life?

But something else — something evil and threatening — is going on. And Dillon knows more that he's saying. Is he the one behind the strange threats. . . or is he Jamie's only chance for survival?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bad boys are the darlings of the romance industry, but readers will be hard pressed to find anything appealing about brooding Dillon Gaynor, the hero of Stuart's (A Stranger's Kiss, etc.) convoluted "romance." Not only does Dillon treat good girl Jamie Kincaid abominably when she arrives at his garage/home to retrieve the belongings of her deceased cousin Nate, but he forces her into having sex with him. Twelve years ago, he came dangerously close to having sex with Jamie after her high school prom. Instead, he passed her off to all-star student Paul, who raped her. Unbeknownst to Jamie, Dillon beat Paul within an inch of his life after he learned what happened and spent a year in jail as a result. Now Dillon feels that she owes him, and he's determined to keep her nearby, even if he has to hide her purse and slash her tires. Although Dillon only intends to show Jamie a good time, his methods of persuasion cross the line. When Jamie admits that she doesn't like being touched, his reply is, "Get over it." Jamie ultimately does, but it's clear she never had any choice. Meanwhile, Nate's supposed ghost watches and waits for his chance to kill them both. As twisted as the protagonists' relationship, this silly subplot fails to lend suspense or credibility to this troubling tale. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Desperate for answers surrounding the year-old murder of the adored cousin she had grown up with, Jamie Kincaid impulsively leaves Rhode Island and heads to tiny Cooperstown, WI, determined to retrieve Nate's few possessions and wring the truth out of his childhood "bad boy" friend-and her teenage crush-Dillon "Killer" Gaynor. But evil lurks in the shadows, and when Jamie's car breaks down, forcing her to stay longer than she had planned, she unwittingly places her life, as well as her heart, in danger. A wary, emotionally scarred, but gutsy heroine, a wounded, redeemed, but still rough-around-the-edges hero, and a crazed, vengeful murderer combine in this sexy, edgy, exceptionally well-plotted tale. Stuart is a popular award-winning writer, noted for her often flawed but always complex characters and dark, cutting-edge stories; she lives in Vermont. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.28(w) x 7.26(h) x 1.05(d)

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Into the Fire

By Anne Stuart

Wheeler Publishing

Copyright © 2003 Anne Stuart
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1587245248

Chapter One

It was a cold night in November, and the heater in her old Volvo had died forty miles back. Jamie stared straight ahead into the darkness, ignoring the warning lights on her dashboard, ignoring everything but her final destination. She'd put soothing New Age music on the CD player, but it hadn't managed to calm her. She'd grown even more tense, trying to fight the soporific effects of the soft music, until her hands were numb from gripping the steering wheel.

What the hell was she doing here? Nate was dead, murdered three months ago - coming here wouldn't change anything. It wouldn't stop the pain.

She focused on the road, trying to stay alert after seventeen hours of driving. Nate was dead and no one could tell her what happened. He'd been found bludgeoned to death in an old garage in Cooperstown, Wisconsin, and no one seemed to give a damn. The police had given up after what had been only a cursory investigation. It was a drug deal gone wrong, they said. They had more important things to spend their time on. Three months had passed and everyone had forgotten.

Everyone but Jamie Kincaid and her mother. Nate had come into their family when he was ten years old, his own parents dead in a tragic fire, and he'd always been more of a brother than a cousin. More of a son to Isobel and VictorKincaid than a nephew. Maybe even more of their own child than Jamie, it had seemed at times, but she always quashed that paranoid, disloyal thought. Her parents loved her, just as they loved Nate. Everyone loved charming, feckless Nate, with his glorious smile and easy charm. And he even looked like her parents, with his dark Kincaid good looks and brown eyes. A resemblance the paler, adopted Jamie had always lacked.

It didn't matter, never had mattered to her. There was enough love in their small family to go around, no matter what disasters befell them. And disasters had followed Nate like a vengeful guardian angel. Ending in his own murder, a thousand miles from home, a thousand years away.

The police didn't care. Isobel did. After she'd learned of his death, she'd sunk into a deep, angry depression, not eating, not leaving the house, mourning her lost nephew with a fierce, almost biblical passion. But both Isobel and Jamie needed answers before they could let him rest in peace. And after a bleak, broken Thanksgiving, Jamie had gotten in her old car and driven a thousand miles to get those answers.

If she'd thought twice about it she never would have left Marshfield, Rhode Island. The roads had been crowded with holiday travelers, rushing to and from warm family gatherings. Her car was on its last legs, barely reliable enough to get her to and from work at the small private school where she taught. It wasn't up to heroic efforts, and it was telling her so.

The windshield wipers had stopped working hours before. Fortunately the rain had stopped, as well. She'd passed the Wisconsin state line hours ago, left the interstate to wander on the dark, wet roads outside the city. It seemed like the final indignity, to die in Wisconsin, Jamie thought. Nate was such a flamboyant, larger-than-life character - he should have died spectacularly. Not in some squalid room over top of a garage.

But Dillon Gaynor had seen to it that he had. Nate's lifelong best friend, his nemesis, the person who'd dragged him into the gutter and held him down there. The man Nate had called Killer. Who might have lived up to his name three months ago.

The police had even taken him in for questioning. But they'd let him go. Never filed charges and simply closed the case when other, more important issues took their attention. And the question that haunted Jamie was simple. Had Dillon Gaynor gotten away with murder?

Sometime in western Pennsylvania she'd wondered what the hell she was doing, going after a man she knew was capable of killing. A man who'd scared the shit out of her when he'd been a teenage delinquent. She hadn't seen him in twelve years - he hadn't even bothered to come east for the memorial service for his oldest friend. Even if he hadn't beat her cousin to death, he was still guilty. He'd kept Nate supplied with drugs, he'd taken him down the dark path that had ended in a sordid death. He was to blame, even if he hadn't actually killed him. And she would have been happy never to see him again.

But by Ohio she'd stopped thinking about it. She needed answers, her desperately grieving mother needed them. And Dillon wouldn't dare hurt her. He might be little better than pond scum, a high-school dropout with a record and an ongoing history of trouble with the law, but he was very, very smart.

Almost frighteningly so. He'd be too smart to commit another murder and think he could get away with it.

She even had a plausible excuse for coming. Dillon was holding on to a box of Nate's possessions, and despite Isobel's increasingly virulent requests, he hadn't bothered to send it back to them. God only knows what was inside - maybe the Patek Philippe watch that had been handed down through generations, maybe some clue to what happened. Or maybe dirty laundry and unpaid bills. It didn't matter. Isobel was fixated on having anything that had ever belonged to Nate, and after that bleak Thanksgiving meal Jamie had agreed to go and get it.

Exhaustion set in by Indiana. She'd been surviving on black coffee and Ritz crackers, and the blinding headache was such a familiar companion that it almost felt like a friend. She tried turning off the New Age tape to listen to the radio, but all she could get was angry hip-hop or mournful country music. The classical music station put her to sleep, so she cracked the window and turned the New Age music back on. She gripped the steering wheel tightly.


Excerpted from Into the Fire by Anne Stuart Copyright © 2003 by Anne Stuart. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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