Stranded by a storm, a woman must rely on a seductive stranger whom she begins to suspect is a murderer . . . With a megahit on Broadway, a gorgeous wife, and a legion of adoring fans, Justin Magnasun has the world at his feet—but it all comes crashing down on a snowy night that ends in a brutal murder. Now, the world-famous playwright lives a solitary life in the New England countryside, far from the relentless glare of the spotlight. Until Boston reporter Kristin Kennedy shows up. Braving the worst blizzard to hit Massachusetts in decades, Kristin finds herself stranded in the middle of nowhere with no hope of rescue. Then she wakes up buck naked in a stranger’s bed. She couldn’t have predicted the desire that would spark between them, plunging her into an affair with a man shadowed by secrets. Is Justin a cold-blooded killer? As Kristin tries to piece together what happened five years ago, she finds that she’s playing with fire, at the mercy of a murderer preparing to bring down the curtain on her final act.This ebook features an illustrated biography of Heather Graham, including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
|Publisher:||Open Road Integrated Media LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Heather Graham (b. 1953) is a bestselling author of more than 150 romance, suspense, and historical novels that have sold seventy-five million copies worldwide. Raised in Florida, Graham went to college for theater arts, and spent several years acting, singing, and bartending before she devoted herself to writing. Her first novel, When Next We Love, was published in 1982. Although she became famous as an author of romance novels, Graham has since branched out into supernatural horror, historical fiction, and suspense, with titles such as Tall, Dark, and Deadly (1999), Long, Lean, and Lethal (2000), and Dying to Have Her (2001). In 2003 the Romance Writers of America, whose Florida chapter Graham founded, granted her a lifetime achievement award. She lives, writes, and scuba dives in Florida with her husband and five children.
Read an Excerpt
By Heather Graham
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1991 Heather Graham Pozzessere
All rights reserved.
Five Years Later
Kristin said the words aloud in absolute disgust. She was nearly blinded by the heavy flakes obscuring the road ahead. Nervously she released the grip of one hand from the wheel of the car to toss back a thick lock of rich dark hair over her shoulders. She narrowed dove-gray eyes, grown silver with her apprehension, and concentrated fully upon the road—or lack thereof—once again.
The weatherman in Boston had predicted snow flurries for the weekend, but Kristin didn't think this heavy precipitation could be called flurries by any stretch of the imagination. Within thirty minutes the sky had gone from silver-gray to a deep dark charcoal, and large snowflakes were falling in a frenzy on her red Cherokee.
And it was too late to turn back. Far too late. She wasn't sure she could turn around if she tried. She wasn't even sure that she was still on the right road. Or on any road at all, as a matter of fact. Not that she didn't know her way—she did. She'd driven out here to the country to visit Roger and Sue several times.
But she'd never done so in the snow before. And this section of the state was isolated at the best of times. The nights could be black, pitch-black. And now with the storm ...
Was she lost? She didn't even know the answer to that! This was a remote area, with very few houses. Creeping along as slowly as she had to, she hadn't seen a house in ages. She was barely moving, at three to five miles an hour, and even then she was afraid that she was going to swerve into an awful slide at any moment. If she were just on I-495 or the Mass Pike or anything that could be considered a major road, she would stop. Some form of rescue vehicle would eventually come for her. But she wasn't. There were no major roads out here. She couldn't stop. No one else might pass by for days.
She was afraid to stop. New England, for all the horrid reputation of its weather, hadn't had a winter like this in years. Yet Kristin could still remember the blizzard that had struck so suddenly some years ago, leaving commuters stranded, and hundreds of drivers caught in the snow. It had been tragic. People had literally frozen to death in their cars.
Despite the fine heating system in her Cherokee, Kristin shivered at the thought. She'd written an article on that blizzard. She had interviewed people who made it to hospitals in varying stages of hypothermia, and the workers who dug out the ones that had died.
"Flurries!" she snarled out loud again—for courage, for a sense of having company with whom to share the growing fear and misery. She wasn't afraid of flurries; she had four-wheel drive and great snow tires. She had been driving in the snow since she was sixteen, and she was nearly twenty-eight now. She was competent. Intelligent. She would have never started out in this stinking weather if they had forecast anything worse than flurries. Light flurries at that!
She thought about the weatherman she had watched on the news that morning. "New England, you know," he had teased, certain of his own humor. "If you don't like the weather today, don't worry. It'll change by tomorrow."
Droll, droll ...
"Flurries, my foot, you fool!" she cried now, exasperated.
Well, this wasn't going to change by tomorrow. These flurries were a full-scale blizzard, and it didn't take a weatherman to know it.
She slowed the car as the wind swept a solid wall of snow into her windshield. As she did so, the car stalled. She sat in stunned and silent disbelief, then shifted into neutral and turned the key again. The starter growled, then the sound faded. Kristin swore vehemently.
She turned the key again, instantly grateful for the chugging she heard, then furious when it, too, died away. She frowned, biting into her lower lip.
Think! Don't panic, she warned herself severely. She leaned forward, narrowing her eyes. Yes! There was a house nearby! Up on the hill above the road. The snow kept trying to conceal it, but when the wind died down for just a second, she could see it! It was set very far back from the road, maybe even five hundred feet. But it was there. And she was almost at the foot of a nearly snow- covered driveway that led to it.
Thank God. All she had to do was knock on the door and call a towing company. Nothing to panic about, nothing at all. If she had veered onto the wrong road, they'd put her back on the right one.
Fighting the wind, she managed to open the car door. The cold wind struck her a buffeting blow, but she braced against it. The weather was getting worse and worse.
She looked up at the house. Well, it wasn't exactly just a house. It was an estate. It was massive, modern, architecturally beautiful. Constructed of wood and stone, it seemed almost a part of the landscape.
Roger had always told her that she would never dream just how many of the rich and the famous built homes out here in the countryside. She'd have to admit that he had been right when she saw him.
If she ever saw him.
The wind was whirling furiously around her. She was afraid she might not even make it to the house if she didn't hurry. She gritted her teeth and started up the driveway.
Whoever lived here out in the middle of nowhere probably didn't like company at all, she thought. But still, surely the maid could let her use a phone!
Resolutely, she pulled her down parka more closely about her, bent her head and hurried up the drive.
Justin had taken a break from his work, a new play called Whisper of Spring, just minutes before he saw the woman struggling her way up his driveway.
He cursed. He'd been feeling good, really good, for the first time in a long time. He was working. And that was nice.
He'd tried to work before. But the years had been so bitter and so painful. There'd been the trial—when even his own attorneys hadn't believed in him. There had been the doubt in everyone's eyes. Even Christina, who had professed to believe him, had looked at him differently. His only solace had been here in this house. He had learned to crave privacy and anonymity more than ever before.
And now ...
Incredible. The woman was walking up his driveway!
Amazement filled him at first—that anyone, for any reason, would be so foolhardy as to attempt to reach him today.
Then anger swept through him. A fury as blinding as the snow.
Damn her! Damn all reporters! Damn them straight to hell!
Not two hours ago on the telephone, he had warned the reporter from the fledgling magazine not to come. She had insisted that she was going to. He had assured her again and again that he would not see her if she did. She'd tried to tell him that she didn't do sensationalist stories, and he had snarled that he didn't give a damn.
He looked toward the fireplace. Toward the spot where Jugs had once curled up. Well, Jugs wasn't there anymore, and that was thanks to a reporter.
Swearing, he stared out the window again. The reporter was here. And she was probably certain that he'd be forced to let her in because of the weather.
Well, she had another think coming! There was no way she was coming into his house.
No way in hell!
Long before she reached the house, Kristin saw movement.
The door was flung open and a huge man in snow boots and a heavy parka stormed out.
Kristin stopped and assessed him tentatively. He was moving swiftly and with a definite malice.
Though she realized that his parka undoubtedly added bulk and his boots probably made him taller, she could have sworn it was Conan the Barbarian advancing on her.
Here. In this nightmare of endless white and snow ...
All she was doing was coming to ask if she could use the phone! she reminded herself. Why did he give her this awful feeling of unease?
He bore down upon her. And he was huge, well over six feet. His eyes were like a hawk's, cold as ice, sharp, piercing, angry. They seemed to slam into hers.
"You can get yourself right back into that car!" he thundered.
"I—I—" She was floundering. Absurdly. "My car won't start!" she snapped out with more dignity. "I was coming to phone for help—"
But he had already charged by her. In a second he had jerked open the front door to the Cherokee, and was sliding into the driver's seat.
Kristin hurried back after him. She tried to study the man who now sat in her car. She could see little more than those eyes. A snow cap was pulled low over his brow, and a scarf covered his chin and mouth. It did not cover the violence and vehemence of his voice when he spoke.
"Damn you, I will not accept this kind of a trick, young woman. I told you not to come."
"What?" Kristin gasped in utter astonishment.
"I told you not to come. And you can damn well freeze in the snow before I'll let you anywhere near me! You were warned." His voice was deep, rich. It was also so filled with fury that she felt herself trembling inside.
No, she decided firmly. She wasn't going to cower in front of this half-crazed stranger, even if he was built like a brick wall.
She crunched her way back around the car to the driver's side. "I don't know who the hell you are," she shouted, "and I sure as hell don't want to see you or spend any time with you! My car stalled, and that's it!"
He raised his eyes to heaven in a pointed gesture of annoyance. "You fool! You really will try anything for a scoop, huh?"
He half rose, and his fingers curled around her arm. Long, powerful, leather-gloved. She felt a scream bubbling in her throat. She was alone in the snow. He was going to slit her throat. Rape her, mangle her, leave her body there on the roadway, her blood soaking the white snow ...
He practically threw her away from the side of her own car. She went floundering into the snowbank. He didn't even look at her. She staggered up to her feet.
The day just hadn't been going badly enough. She couldn't have just walked up to the house and encountered a nice calm white-aproned maid. Oh, no, she had to run into a brick wall of a maniac. She'd been warned all right. She'd been warned that it was a rough and dangerous world for a woman alone, and that she needed to take care and be smart.
Everybody must have a day for a maniac ...
And he was a maniac, all right. But certainly not a rapist. He had released her arm as if she were something so wretched that she might contaminate him through all the thick layers of her clothing and the leather of his gloves.
He had no interest in her, except to get rid of her.
He just didn't understand that the car wouldn't start!
But then, to her total consternation, he had the Cherokee going almost instantly. He revved the engine, then got out, towering over her, though at five feet eight inches, she considered herself rather tall.
"Car trouble, right?" he demanded.
"It had stalled—"
"Now get the hell out of here and don't come back. You were warned. And so help me, God, lady, I'll let you freeze before I'll let you in!"
He turned on his heel and headed back up the driveway toward his house. Amazed, Kristin stared after him, feeling as if her blood boiled within her despite the intense cold all around.
"Hey! Thanks for starting it up!" Kristin called after him.
She didn't expect a response and didn't get one.
"Bastard!" she added, knowing that her voice would not carry against the snow and the growing wind. She blew hard on her gloved hands, then slid back behind the wheel. "Madman!" she muttered. Then she shivered, glad of the warmth of the heater as she closed her door against the elements.
She just wanted to get away as fast as possible. Memories of the sharp piercing fury in the stranger's eyes drove her to step on the gas a bit too hard. The car leaped to life and immediately started to slide. She swore, not allowing herself to brake. The wheel straightened and she set her foot very lightly on the gas. She had to get to Roger and Sue's as quickly as possible.
She wished that she had told them she would definitely be coming today. But she hadn't known exactly what her plans would be, and she had hated to worry them.
Now she wished that she had worried them. If she had, they would come looking for her when she didn't show up tonight. They would send the cops out ...
If they had cops out here.
Of course they did, she chided herself. The highway patrol went everywhere. And she had met that nice be whiskered old sheriff at Roger's birthday party.
Boy, would she like to see a patrolman now—
The car skidded on a patch of ice. "No!" she cried, feeling it begin to slide wildly across the road. "No, no, no!" she repeated, clutching the wheel and forcing herself not to brake as the Cherokee kept sliding, despite her four-wheel drive and snow tires and the fact that she was doing everything right. She had hit a good-sized patch of ice and that was that. She was spinning. And there was nothing she could do. She was desperately tempted to brake. But that would only make it worse....
She couldn't see a damn thing around her. The snow seemed to be falling in a white blanket now. And on either side of her, the embankment was so high that she might have been on some eternal road to the North Pole and Santa Land.
And the car was completely out of control.
"No, damn it!" she swore out loud.
But it did her no good. The Cherokee plowed deeply into one of those high embankments, and suddenly she was blanketed in white.
Stunned, she stared blindly at the wall ahead of her. The Cherokee's engine made a groaning sound, as if she had wounded it with some malice of intent. Then it went dead.
She yelled at it. How dared the car do such a thing to her? She was careful, she was intelligent, she had taken every precaution!
And the damned car had done this to her anyway.
"See if I defend you to the absolute limit ever again!" she warned the car, slowly, carefully turning her key in the ignition once again. She had to get out of the snowbank.
She was already growing cold. The car had a great heater, but only when the engine was running.
The ignition sputtered, and she began to apologize to the car for calling it names.
But when it continued to sputter without turning over, she started to swear again.
"You start for that absolute maniac and refuse to start for me? What kind of a damn traitor are you?"
The Cherokee had no answer.
She twisted the key again, with no success. All she was doing was grinding the ignition into the ground, she realized. She jerked the key out in sudden fury and threw it onto the seat next to her.
Even as she did so, a creeping feeling of uneasiness began to settle over her. She could die here. These were blizzard conditions. And she was so deep into the country that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts might ignore these roads forever and ever. She was still a good twenty miles from her cousin's house, and she really didn't know the area all that well. Whatever town she was in couldn't possibly boast a population of more than a few hundred, and they would be scattered about over several miles.
There was just her ...
And the maniac.
Yes, the maniac.
She looked around. She could see nothing but the embankment and the falling snow, but she hadn't come that far. The maniac's house was back there, somewhere. At least it would be warm there. If the weather were just normal, it wouldn't take that long to walk back.
But it was snowing harder than ever. The wind was wailing at a fever pitch.
"Oh, damn!" she cried out.
In answer, the wind suddenly rose to new heights. A blinding sheet of snow came slamming down onto the car and snowbank alike.
She realized that in another few minutes it might not matter if anyone ever drove by or not. The bright red Cherokee could be totally buried in the snow.
And then she would slowly freeze.
It would begin in her extremities. Her fingers would go, and her toes. Frostbite. Her feet, her hands. Her nose. And then it would become worse. Hypothermia. Thanks to the article she had written on that last big blizzard, she knew exactly how she would die.
At least there would be very little pain....
"Oh, my God, what is the matter with me?" she whispered out loud. She couldn't stay there in the car; it would soon be buried. She had to get out, and she had to make it to that house, no matter how nasty the man who lived there chose to be.
But he wasn't just nasty. He was crazy, she reminded herself.
Excerpted from Snowfire by Heather Graham. Copyright © 1991 Heather Graham Pozzessere. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very entertaining vintage Heather Graham. You have to love a story about snowbound strangers who instantly fall into lust. As an added bonus – no cell phones.
Another great Heather Graham REPRINT.