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Trust Me

Trust Me

4.2 49
by Brenda Novak

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Trust Me by Brenda Novak
The Last Stand (Book 1)

This classic story of romantic suspense by New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak “generates genuine thrills.” (Publishers Weekly)

Four years ago, Skye Kellerman was attacked in her own bed. She managed to fend off her knife-wielding assailant, but the trauma


Trust Me by Brenda Novak
The Last Stand (Book 1)

This classic story of romantic suspense by New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak “generates genuine thrills.” (Publishers Weekly)

Four years ago, Skye Kellerman was attacked in her own bed. She managed to fend off her knife-wielding assailant, but the trauma changed everything about her life. As a result of that night, she joined two friends—also survivors—in starting The Last Stand, an organization to help victims of crime.

But now, her would-be rapist is getting out of prison. Skye knows that Dr. Oliver Burke hasn't forgotten that her testimony cost him his reputation—and his freedom. Sacramento detective David Willis, who investigated her case, believes Burke is a clear and present danger—and guilty of at least two unsolved murders.

And now Burke is free to terrorize Skye again. Unless David can stop him. Unless Skye can fight back. Because Oliver Burke has every intention of finishing what he started. And that's a promise. Trust me.

Originally published in 2008

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The inaugural Skye Kellerman novel from Novak (Dead Right, etc.) generates genuine thrills. Attacked four years ago at home by rapist and murderer Oliver Burke, Skye defended herself and put him behind bars. Inspired by her own struggle, Skye began the Last Stand-an organization focused on helping survivors and teaching self-defense. She is also wrestling with an attraction to the detective from her case, David Willis. When Burke cuts a deal, the fiend is out on the street, eager for revenge on Skye-who has been the focus of his continued obsession. Novak changes the pace by focusing on the families-of the victim, of Willis, of Burke-showing different sides of protective love. Skye's fellow members of the Last Stand get short shrift, but readers will look forward to books in the series devoted to each woman. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Last Stand , #1
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Read an Excerpt

"You already heard, right?"

David Willis glanced up at the man leaning into the cubicle surrounding his cluttered desk. Detective "Tiny" Wyman, his best friend on the force and a damn good cop, was even larger than he was, with skin like burnished copper and a ready smile that always seemed at odds with the depth of sadness in his brown eyes. He took his crime-fighting seriously; he also wasted few words. When he talked, most people listened. Including David.

"Heard what? That I'm behind on my paperwork again?" he joked.

Tiny shoved giant hands into the pockets of his khaki pants, but the casual pose didn't make him look any more comfortable in his clothes. Tiny just wasn't the kind of man who was meant to wear slacks and a sports jacket, let alone a tie. "You're always behind on your paperwork," he grumbled with a crooked grin. "You think I'd waste my valuable time pointin' that out?"

When his smile didn't linger, David knew he hadn't stopped by to spar with him. "No," he said. "What's up?"

Tiny yanked at his tie as if it were choking him. "'Member that guy we put away for attackin' that little blond woman in the middle of the night?"

David had handled enough cases over his thirteen years with the Sacramento PD that, with such a sketchy description, he might not have instantly recalled this particular assault. But Tiny's mention of "that little blond woman" brought the details immediately to mind. Probably because those details hadn't been that deeply buried to begin with. He hadn't talked to Skye in a few months, but she was never far from his thoughts. "Yeah, I remember. Burke got eight to ten."

"Turns out it'll be closer to three."

Rocking back in his chair, David tossed his pen on the stack of paperwork he'd been forcing himself to complete.

"I knew he was coming up for his first parole hearing. But last I heard, there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell he was going to get it."

"He shouldn't have gotten it," Tiny responded. "Burke is dangerous. But…" He gave up fiddling with his tie, his attitude one of surrender to another day at the office. "I guess he ratted out a fellow inmate, which meant San Francisco PD could close two previously unsolved homicides. They recommended him to the parole board."

David shot to his feet. "Didn't anyone read my damn letter? Why didn't they call us first? Check this guy out?"

"Apparently they contacted Chief Jordan several weeks ago."

"Did he tell them the body count along the river stopped once our friendly dentist went to prison?"

"Of course. And they said it could just as easily be a coincidence." Tiny finally cracked his usual broad smile.

"I say they can bank on our intuition. But they want more."

More. That was why the chief had questioned him about the unsolved cases, wanting to know if he was any closer to developing a solid connection to Oliver Burke. Jordan had been looking for something tangible to contest San Francisco's opinions. And David hadn't been able to give it to him. But their meeting hadn't concerned him too much. He hadn't realized what was on the line. He'd figured he'd have at least two more years to uncover the missing link.

"This is bullshit." David nudged his friend aside as he squeezed through the opening of his cubicle, intent on finding Jordan. But Tiny grabbed his arm.

"Save your breath, man. There's nothing he can do. The decision's been made. Dr. Burke walks next week."

"Next week? Doesn't anyone care what he might do?" Two other detectives in the violent crime unit stuck their heads out into the hall. David used a pointed stare to encourage them to mind their own business and shifted his attention back to Tiny.

"Seems that San Francisco cares more about closing old cases," Tiny said. "By rewarding Burke, they give others an incentive to step forward. There're some gangbangers in there who know a lot of shit. I think the SFPD would've fought this all the way to the governor, trying to get a pardon if they had to."

Obviously, it hadn't been necessary to go that far. Burke's early release had been far easier to accomplish than David would've believed possible. "But if he attacks again, he'll know better than to leave his victim alive to testify against him. He made that mistake once and it landed him in prison."

"Which was Chief Jordan's argument."


"He was told we can't take every 'might' into account or we'd never be able to do our jobs."

"Skye Kellerman is a 'might' that should matter!" Tiny ran a hand over his bald head. "She matters to you, right?"

As usual, Tiny's voice was a low rumble, but David couldn't help noticing the subtle inflection. He ignored it, as well as the memory of Tiny warning him that he was getting too emotionally involved with Skye. Then, as now, he'd been trying to reconcile with his ex-wife.

"I wouldn't put it past Burke to seek her out—to take what he couldn't get from her, along with an extra measure of revenge." The image created by his own words made him sick.

Tiny's gaze remained steady. "Neither would I."

"We have to do something."

"What? Unless we find the proof we're missing on those old murders, or he commits another crime, there's nothin' we can do." He released a long, laborious sigh. "You want me to call her?"

David wished he could let Tiny deliver the news. Or someone else. This was the last thing he wanted to tell Skye. But he refused to take the easy way out. It had to be him. "No, I'll do it."

"You're sure?"

"I'm sure." With a curse, he smacked the divider as Tiny left. Tiny didn't bother to look back. He knew David too well, shared his frustration. But several heads popped into the hall again.

"What are you staring at?" David growled.

Everyone disappeared, but intimidating his coworkers didn't make him feel any better. How was he going to tell Skye that the fear she faced daily—after surviving Burke's attack—was about to get a lot worse?

Skye Kellerman's shoulder blades tensed as she heard tires in her gravel drive. It was a cold morning in early January, not dark, but a thick blanket of fog made her feel completely isolated. Cut off from the rest of the world.


Hurrying to the antique secretary she'd inherited, along with the house, when her mother passed away a year earlier, she selected her Kel-Tec P-3AT semiautomatic handgun over her Sig P232—because it was lighter, thinner and easier to conceal. Carrying it with her, she ran to get a T-shirt from her bedroom. She wanted to cover the cleavage and stomach revealed by the jogging bra and Lycra shorts she wore while working out. She was self-conscious about her breast size, which drew more attention than she felt comfortable with.

A car door slammed and footsteps approached the house. Heavy footsteps. The footsteps of a man.

Pulling on a baggy T-shirt that said The Last Stand: Where Victims Fight Back, she went to peek through the wooden shutters of her front windows, then the peephole she'd drilled in the door. But the fog was too thick, the morning shadows too murky to make out more than a large, dark shape coming toward her.


The metallic taste of fear rose in her throat and soured her stomach. This was probably just someone who was lost and needed directions. Sherman Island, which only had 175 residents, sat in the heart of the Sacramento River Delta. Few outsiders were familiar with the sloughs, natural waterways, drawbridges and levees that made the wetlands so unique. But she would no longer assume that strangers were safe. Not since she'd been startled awake in the middle of the night by a man wearing a hood and wielding a knife.

Burke was now in prison—thank God—but because of The Last Stand, the victim's support organization she'd started with her friends Sheridan Kohl and Jasmine Stratford two years ago, she'd made a lot of enemies. This could easily be Tamara Lind's husband, a wife-beater who blamed Skye for Tamara's recent desertion. Last week, he'd threatened to bomb The Last Stand. Or it could be Kevin Sheppard. Kevin had appeared at their offices after a flurry of newspaper articles praising TLS for financially backing an investigator who'd uncovered new evidence on a high-profile murder. Kevin had wanted to help out as a volunteer, but Skye turned him away when a background check revealed accusations of stalking, at which point he'd grown unreasonably angry and stormed out. No one had seen him since.

The doorbell sounded, followed almost immediately by a sharp rap.

She imagined turning off the alarm and opening the door as far as the chain allowed, only to have it kicked wide—and felt her palm begin to sweat on the butt of her gun. Calm down.

She had damn good aim. But nerves could wreak havoc on the best marksman in the world. So she wouldn't open the door. She'd pretend to be gone and hope he'd go on his way.

Holding her breath, she pressed her spine more firmly to the wall, wondering what the students from her various shooting classes would think if they could see her now— sweating and shaking over some fog and an unexpected visitor. Most viewed her as indestructible when she had a gun in her hand. They acted like their own guns made them invincible, too. But they didn't understand what it was really like in a desperate standoff, didn't fully grasp that a woman could own a million firearms and still be vulnerable. Unless she was prepared to pull the trigger.

Was she willing to kill Kevin Sheppard? Or Tamara's estranged husband?

If she had to…

She hadn't made a move or a sound, but her visitor didn't seem to be buying that she wasn't at home. He rang the doorbell again. Knocked. Then his body blocked the window as he tried to see in.

"Skye? Skye, are you there? It's me, Detective Willis." Exhaling slowly, she consciously released the pressure of her fingers on the gun. David… She wasn't in mortal danger. But knowing he was standing on her front step certainly didn't slow her heart rate.

"Your car's in the drive," he yelled. "You gonna answer?" Taking another steadying breath, she flipped the safety on her gun, dropped it in the pocket of her coat, which hung on the hall tree by the door, and dashed a hand across her moist upper lip.


"Coming." After shutting off the alarm system, she slid the chain aside, turned the dead bolt and opened the door.

He was wearing a green shirt and tie and looked good— too good. His tie was a little dressy for his shirt, but his style was as unique as it was appealing. Sort of James Dean "cool" mixed with Johnny Depp "different." Briefly, she remembered the time, nearly a year ago, when he'd brushed his lips against hers, then kissed her more deeply, pushing her up against the wall. In that moment, their volatile attraction had overcome reason and common sense.

"Hi." She smiled, hoping to appear unaffected, but their relationship was so complex, she couldn't take any encounter with him in stride. Especially an unexpected encounter.

"What brings you out to the delta?"

His manner suggested this wasn't a social call. She almost wondered if he'd forgotten the night he'd come by to help her move and they'd nearly made love. "I need to talk to you. Can I come in for a minute?"

He was being so formal, so aloof. And he hadn't called. He'd shown up at her door. What was going on?

Stepping aside, she beckoned him past her, telling herself there was no reason for the knot in her stomach. The worst was behind her. No matter what happened from here on, she'd never have to go through the same hell again.And that was all that mattered. "Can I get you a cup of green tea?"

"Green tea?" he echoed, arching a dark eyebrow.

"Sorry. I don't have any coffee. I don't drink it anymore."

"I'll pass on the tea. I'm afraid my body wouldn't know what to do with something that healthy." His light green eyes seemed to take in every detail of her face and figure— which, in turn, made her far too aware of him. But he didn't indicate whether or not he liked what he saw. He kept whatever he was thinking locked behind an implacable expression. And a second later, he shifted his attention to his surroundings.

For the first time in a long while, Skye saw the inside of her house from someone else's perspective. In the living room, she'd removed her mother's dated "for company" couch, the walnut veneer side tables, the curio cabinets and vases filled with silk flowers—given them all to Jennifer and Brenna, her two stepsisters, who lived in southern California near their father. She'd replaced the furniture with free weights, an exercise bike, a treadmill, an aerobics step and a mat for yoga. Only a slice of kitchen could be seen from their vantage point, but it showed the small indoor garden where she grew herbs and wheat grass.

"Wow, I like what you've done to the place," he said. His sardonic smile let her know he didn't consider it an improvement. She knew that in his view it served as further proof that her past was taking control of her life, which was something they'd argued about the last time they'd talked.

"Thanks. Seemed a pity to waste so much space."

"Forever practical."

She hadn't been practical at all. Until the early-morning hours of July 11th nearly four years ago, breaking a freshly manicured nail had been classified as a catastrophe. "Having to stab a rapist tends to change a person."

The muscle that twitched in his jaw revealed his displeasure. Evidently, she'd just reminded him of the purpose of his visit—if the scar on her cheek had ever let him forget it in the first place.

"Maybe you should sit down," he said.

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com. To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

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Trust Me (Last Stand Series #1) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
steffiebaby140 More than 1 year ago
Normally I am not a big fan of female authors when it comes to thrillers. I have never been sure why that it but I shy away. This however was absolutely riveting! I could not put it down and I found myself repeatedly reading late into the night. This author will definately be getting my business in the future.
mld685 More than 1 year ago
This was an all around GREAT read. From beginning to end, nonstop action, suspense, twists and turns with a bit of romance tossed in to spice it up. Would recommend to anyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was really really awesome. it had everthing a good book has, drama, suspense, romance, twists and turns, unexpected turns as well. i would recommend this book to anyone, as i already have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There was nothing the least bit boring about this book as someone previously stated. It moved along nicely, letting you get to 'know' the characters. Oliver was a great villian...he gave me chills. Trust Me brings out lots of emotions in the reader...that's what a good author does. Great start to a new trilogy.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Four years ago, Skye Kellerman was assaulted in her bed by Oliver Burke. Unlike his alleged previous victims, she survived and testified against her assailant. Outraged by the intrusion and her treatment by the court system, she became a strong victims' advocate.------------ - Sacramento Police Detective David Willis stuns Skye with the news that due to the SFPD recommendation over SPD strong opposition Oliver was being paroled. Burke hates the woman who he blames for his prison time and vows to finish the job. Attracted to her since he first met her during the original investigation, David is concerned for Skye as he believes Burke is a serial rapist murderer although no hard core evidence beyond the major drop in river corpses since the three years the dentist went away has surfaced. He may not be able to officially keep Skye safe, but he vows to keep her safe because he knows Burke will act.---------- This is a strong romantic suspense police procedural starting with SFPD rewarding Burke for enabling them to close two cold case homicides. The story line never slows down as David and Skye have no doubts the dentist will come for her as both understand Burke¿s Law is to blame others for his lethal activities so he holds her culpable for his jail time. The romantic subplot adds personal tension and fans will appreciate the efforts of a caring cop to keep a strong woman safe from a nasty psychopath.------------- Harriet Klausner
RaeRaeRay More than 1 year ago
I have to say this may be one of my favorites of hers. I couldn't put it down and it left me ready to read the next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book
Blondie_Bookworm More than 1 year ago
As another review commented, the beginning is a little rough and the author seems to throw to much at the reader at one time. But once you manage to actually get into the book and the characters get situated and flourish, it is a spectacular read. Definitely a must read for readers looking for a thrill.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Start this book early in the day, you won't be able to put it down. I thought Skye and David were very believable and the story well told. I look forward to the next book.
JuliaAD 5 months ago
If you like a good suspense story, this one is for you. I really like the characters. Skye and David are great. Oliver is so reprehensible and he got everything he deserved. More than one bad guy and you are not sure who is behind it all. There were several characters that were to be pitied. But all in all, a good book. I always like a good plot twist and this has that. Skye and David have been trying not to act on their attraction, but it is something they can't deny. Will they have to put everything on hold until everything is sorted out, or can they just put some things aside and move on with their lives?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her best book yet!
DebsIN More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Trust Me, the first book about three friends that started a support group. The Last Stand is a victim's support organization started by Skye, Jasmine and Sheridan. Trust me is Skye's story. The guy that attacked her 3 years before is getting out of prison early. Skye knows he will come after her again. In the three years since this guy has been in prison, Skye has bonded and fallen in love with David, the Detective that handled her case. David has issues of his own he is trying to work out with his ex wife. He loves Skye, but there is a lot of baggage on them both, especially since her attacker is a psychopath. There are a lot of twists and turns in this suspense story that will keep you turning the page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Likeable characters and interesting twists. Some areas seem a bit far reaching, but altogether a good read .
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This is a great book and I cant wait to read the rest of the series!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
vix1 More than 1 year ago
This book gives everything and more. The way Skye comes back from something that has happened 4 years ago. She fights back with the help of her friends who open The Last Stand group to help women and men that have went through life altering times in there lives. She also gets help from Detective David Willis. He feels protective of Skye from seeing her after the attack that almost claimed her life. This is the first book in the last group. You will never guess who has gone through lengths to make Skye's life terrifying after she already went through it with a convicted rarest she survived from. I love Brenda Novak her works really give you so much , and this book makes you wonder how many people everyday have the same thing happen to them. You will not be sorry..it was so hard to put it down. So many people you just don't want anything to happen to. In the end you will be happy,surprised,and sad, and very touched.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book recently. I found that the story was good but the beginning started out a little slow for me, however I would definately read it again.
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