The facts are public knowledge: five people have been murdered. Each has died from a blow to the head. And the media-dubbed Prince Charming killer has left a "calling card" with each victim. A single thornless rose.
But there's another fact...one that the police haven't made public. Something no one, except the killer and the police, should know. But Gabriel Donner does--and he can't figure out why. All he knows is that he's begun hearing voices, sleepwalking and dreaming vividly of the murders...as they happen.
He can't go to the police, but there is someone who can help him. Laura Dane, a psychic who's worked on cases like his before, is the only person he can trust with his terrible truths. But as her suspicion about Gabriel's innocence grows, so does the evidence that points to his guilt. Because Gabriel knows more than any innocent man should.
Adventure is more than a code word to USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Christina Skye. The globe-trotting China scholar has savored snake meat in Shanghai and tracked obscure folk art in Canton. She shoots firearms, treks off-road on her motorcycle and hikes mountains with equal passion. For her devoted readers she serves up a signature blend of action, high-tech adventure and romantic suspense with "snappy dialogue" and an unerring ability to keep "the narrative energy high and the pacing swift," according to Publishers Weekly.
Her twenty-two novels have earned impressive spots on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list, four weeks at number one on the Waldenbooks Romance Bestseller list, and repeated positions on USA Today's bestseller list. After Skye received her doctorate in classical Chinese literature, she wrote five internationally acclaimed art and cultural guides to China while also working as a consultant to the National Geographic Society and the American Museum of Natural History. In 1990 her first novel sold to a publisher in six days.
Skye's books always feature smart, stubborn women (yes, even in her historical romances!) and tough men. She has written nine contemporary works of romantic suspense with police/military themes, six historical romances and a series of seven wildly popular paranormal romances set at a haunted English abbey. Currently she is working on the sixth book in her acclaimed Code Name series, featuring tough, smart women teamed with white-hot Navy SEALs. Adventure, humor and sizzling passion are her trademarks. Two of her Code Name books have been chosen as Cosmopolitanmagazine Book Club Selections. Code Name: Princess was also a Borders Best Romance of 2004 and Readersread.com Best Book of 2004. Code Name: Blondie stayed on the USA Today list for three weeks. Her books have been translated into eight languages.
In addition to frequent standing-room-only appearances at writing conferences and workshops, Skye has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including Geraldo!ABC Worldwide News, Travel News Network, the Arthur Frommer Show, Voice of America, Looking East, Good Morning, Arizona and Good Morning, San Diego.
While researching her latest Navy SEAL adventure, Code Name: Bikini, during the Authors at Sea cruise organized by Levy Entertainment, Skye scored an exclusive interview with the head pastry chef aboard a Carnival Cruise ship. She went behind the scenes, spending several hours in the galley learning the ins and outs of shipboard life. In addition to finding four great ways to kill her villain, she came away amazed by the staff's skill and dedication in a fast-paced profession.
When this bestselling author isn't testing her Jeep's transmission off-road, you'll find her at work on her next Code Name Navy SEAL adventure for HQN books.
Dinner that night was more like a wake than a meal. Mike had done his best to keep a civil conversation going, but it seemed to be a lost cause. Gabriel had little to say to Laura, and she had even less to say to him. But Mike was beginning to believe that the strain between them had nothing to do with locking Gabriel inside his room. He'd seen the way Laura looked at Gabriel when she thought he wasn't watching. And he'd caught Gabriel stealing glances at Laura off and on all night. Their lack of conversation had nothing to do with animosity and everything to do with a growing attraction they were trying to ignore.
As soon as it was decent, he made his excuses and bade them good-night. Laura followed the men into the hallway, escaping up the stairs before either one could object. Gabriel watched her go without comment, but Mike could tell by the look on Gabriel's face that his mind was not on the business at hand. In his own opinion, this day was long overdue. It was about time Gabriel Donner invested something of himself into a personal life.
The thought made Mike smile all the way home.
The clock in the upstairs hallway was striking eleven when Gabriel knocked on Laura's door.
"Come in," she called, then watched the door swing inward, her eyes widening with apprehension.
It was Gabriel. Right on time. He dangled a key and a lock in the air.
"I'm heading to bed. Come do your duty."
The skin crawled on the back of Laura's neck, but she did as heasked.
They walked side by side toward his bedroom without speaking. Each locked into their own thoughts. Each struggling to come to terms with a growing attraction to the other that neither could afford.
Laura's hair was still damp from her shower. Wisps of short curls stuck fast to her forehead and the sides of her cheeks. Gabriel wanted to touch them, to see if they were as soft as they looked. Her bathrobe was belted loosely, revealing far too much of the dainty pink gown beneath for his peace of mind. His fascination with this woman was increasing on a daily basis. He alternated between admiration for her gutsy attitude and a growing desire to explore the woman she was.
She walked with her head held high and a slight swagger to her steps, like a woman who was sure of her place in the world. Once Gabriel had been the same way. He wanted that life back and was willing to do anything it took to reclaim it. Even to the point of being locked up each night like a criminal, which he feared himself to be.
But Laura was still ambivalent about the whole idea and felt compelled to speak her mind one more time. She paused in the middle of the hallway near a recessed light, unaware that the glow had cast a halo around her head, or that Gabriel seemed stunned by her sudden angelic appearance.
"Gabriel, please reconsider. What if the house catches on fire? You would be locked inside your room with no way of getting out."
He knew she was upset, but it was all he could do to tear his gaze away from the light in which she stood. It was only after he felt the touch of her hand on his arm that he was able to answer.
"You would call the fire department and then come let me out," he said.
She persisted. "What if something happens and I can't get to you? What if"
The halo seemed to be spreading, like a white-hot fire, enveloping her head and shoulders. He needed to touch her, wondered if it would burn him if he did. But he didn't move.
"And what if nothing happens? Or what if it does and you do get to me?" he countered.
She took a step forward, and as she did, the halo seemed to engulf her whole body, leaving her framed from head to foot in the light.
"But what if"
He couldn't breathe, couldn't swallow. Suddenly the urge to fall into her fire and let himself be consumed was too strong to deny. He took her by the shoulders and pulled her close, then closer still, until their lips were separated by little more than a breath.
"What if I kiss youright nowbefore you have time to slap my face?"
Someone gasped. Laura thought it was herself that she heard. But after his mouth had descended and their breaths, then their lips, had merged, she wasn't so sure. After that, the thought of answering him had been impossible ... and unnecessary. It could have been his swift intake of breath that she'd heard, or the groan that had ripped up his throat as she willingly returned the kiss.
Finally one of them had taken a slow step back. She didn't remember who had made the first move, but it must have been her. Surely she had better sense than to get mixed up with this man and his problems.
Gabriel was torn between what he wanted and what he knew he should do. The last thing he wanted was to let her go, but right now, he had no choice.
"Don't say a word," she muttered, then opened the door to his room and almost pushed him inside. "Don't you dare ruin what just happened with some pissant apology that will make me sorry I ever set foot in this house. Right now, I don't want to hear anything out of your mouth but good night."
Gabriel stood without moving, watching the expression on her face as she closed the door between them. Only after he heard the padlock snapping in place did he punctuate her last remark.
She paused in the hallway. His voice was soft, just above a whisper, but she heard it all the same. "What?"
"Good night," he said.
She splayed her hand on the door, as if by wish alone she could still touch him.
"Yes, good night." Then, loath to break the tenuous tie between them, she added. "Sleep well."
She was almost out of earshot when she heard him call out to her again.
She sighed. He wasn't making this easy for either one of them, and she suspected that he knew it. She turned and walked a few feet back to his door.
The taste of her was still on his lips. He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the door.
"We're not finished with that."
"Not finished with what?"
"With that kiss," he whispered.
Her cheeks flamed, and her knees went weak, but Gabriel couldn't see her reaction. All he could hear was a surprising acceptance in her voice.
It wasn't until later that it dawned on him to wonder what else she might know, but it was too late to ask. She was already gone.