The Watcher is a sexy, pulse-pounding romantic suspense from USA Today bestselling author Bella Jewel!
NOW YOU SEE HER . . .
Seven years ago, Marlie Jacobson was kidnapped by a serial killerand lived to tell about it. But it was actually her mother who told the story, in a bestselling book that made Marlie famous. Today, she’s known as the girl who slayed a killer. The one who got away. Now, there’s just one thing Marlie wants to get away from: her past. But when her little sister disappears, her worst fears come rushing backwith a vengeance…
NOW SHE’S GONE.
Kenai Michelson is a world-renowned investigator. Dark, brooding, and dangerously good-looking, he’s the kind of man Marlie would normally avoid at all costs. But Kenai is her only hope in finding her missing sister. Together, Kenai and Marlie follow a trail of clues that leads them toward the truthand into each other’s arms. As her trust in Kenai grows, so does their fierce connection. But will their desire turn deadly as they close in on a ruthless enemy who’s watching their every move?
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Maxine Mitchell is passionate about animals, traveling, coffee, a good bottle of wine, and great stories. Raised an Army brat, she had a mobile childhood (affording her the opportunity to meet people from many different backgrounds) that she would not trade for anything. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
Joe Arden's narration has been described as "sensual," "sexy," and "hot." His recordings range from sweet and romantic to steamy and raw. In his spare time, Joe raises and trains rescue pitbulls and restores vintage motorcycles.
Read an Excerpt
By Bella Jewel
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Bella Jewel
All rights reserved.
Seven Years Later
Groaning, I throw my hand over my face. Morning already? Another day? Really. It seems I only went to bed five minutes ago, how could it possibly be time to wake up? The dramatic singing of the birds outside indicate that it is, in fact, morning, and that means I've made it to see the light of another day. Another lonely, dragging day of misery.
Okay, that's slightly dramatic, but what can I say? It's my life now.
More loud chirping makes me throw my arm from my face and slap it down on the bed beside me. "All right, I'm up," I grumble, attempting to sit.
My body aches and my head is pounding. It seems I wake up this way more often than not these days. The doctor tells me it's all in my head, that there is nothing physically wrong with me anymore. He didn't get his entire body beaten with a bat, so what the hell would he know? I feel it every time I move. My legs mostly. An ache that seems like it'll never leave, a soreness in my muscles that I'm constantly trying to stretch out.
I shove myself up to a sitting position, and stare out the window. I see nothing but trees. Just a vast expanse of skinny, yet lush, trees. There's nowhere else I'd rather be, and that's the honest truth. I bought this tiny, one-bedroom cabin just outside of Colorado Springs for a bargain three years ago. The owner gave me a great deal because he had an emergency with his family and needed to sell it urgently. It was a dream come true for me.
I left my home in Denver just before that, around the time I went from being a nobody to a famous serial killer survivor. I don't say this lightly. Fame didn't come as a relief; it came as my own personal hell. I was suffering serious mental instability, but my mother figured, Hey, why not put my daughter in the spotlight by writing a novel about her horrible ordeal with a deranged psychopath? I'll never forget the hours she sat, talking to reporters, the police, and me about what happened. She managed to piece together enough information to make a bestseller.
Seemed like a solid plan.
The book took off, became massive overnight.
So did I.
Then came the time I couldn't walk down the street without being noticed by someone. If it wasn't insane requests for autographs — Really, who does that? — it was people staring at me like I was a zoo animal. They were either too afraid to talk to me, scared no doubt that I might have a giant breakdown, or wanted to ask me a million nonsensical questions about my kidnapping. As if they were casually discussing a movie and not a human life.
I played along for a while, for the sake of my family — mostly for my widowed mother, who was smiling for the first time since my father died only a year before my kidnapping. But later, I struggled with knowing that her happiness came from exploiting my pain. After all, her daughter nearly lost her life, but then, she was making millions from my story, so what the hell, right?
I was suddenly a survivor. The girl who got away. The brave one. The one who got a second chance at life.
I didn't want any of that.
I don't know why I didn't pack up and run earlier, but the truth is I didn't even know my name most days. Intense therapy and people screaming for my story on the street made my already traumatized mind shut down. I lived most days like a zombie, moving through life purely because I had to, not because I wanted to. Instead of supporting me, my mother made my ordeal about her. Resentment lives deep in my chest daily because of that. Because she wasn't there for me when she needed to be. Because she didn't help me when I was suffering. Because she didn't comfort me when I'd wake up screaming from the nightmares.
The god-awful nightmares.
Even now, I see his face every time I close my eyes. My therapist assures me it won't be this way forever. I think she's wrong. I think it'll be this way for the rest of my life. I just don't see how talking to someone about it is going to take away the fact that he's in my head, and I'm damned sure he'll never leave.
But I'm surviving, now that I'm out here, on my own; I'm making it through. Some days I don't know how, but I think the solitude helps. No reporters. No family members. No walking down the street with judgment. No fear. It's just me. I feel safe, which is something I haven't felt in such a long time.
I throw myself out of bed and my knees protest angrily, but I push on. I don't need any more reminders about what he did. My knees like to keep my mind in the past. Part of the reminder is my fault, I guess. After all, I picked the worst job there is for weak knees — waitressing. In my defense, living this far out of Denver, it was really the only option for me.
My boss is understanding.
Except for days like today, when I sleep in.
I don't need to work. In fact, I probably won't need to work for the rest of my life, but I refuse to touch money that has come from a monster and the story he created for me. I gave most of it to my mom, but in my own account there's a good few million that I don't touch. It just keeps growing and growing as the book continues to sell. I don't want it. I don't think I'll ever want it.
I half walk, half flail, to my closet and pull out my work clothes, which consist of a short black miniskirt and a tight tank top. The diner is a little run-down, so my boss insists on making it more attractive by making us look more attractive. I wear leggings under my skirt, because the scarring on my knees is far too hideous. My boss is fine with it. I think he knew he didn't really get a choice.
Without time for a shower, I drop my nightie and pull the clothes on, before throwing my hair up into a ponytail and jerking on some shoes. There, I'm ready. I groan my way out into the tiny kitchen and head straight to my coffee machine, praying I remembered to set it for this morning.
When it roars to life, I sigh happily.
Thank the heavens.
I take my coffee and pour it into my travel mug. And then I grab my keys and rush out the door. I really need to set an alarm, but that would mean committing to something, and this year I've promised myself I'll just let life take me where it wishes. Yeah right, who am I kidding? I just find comfort in my bed, and most nights it takes me so long to fall asleep that when I finally do, I hang on to it. That usually lasts well into the morning.
I get into the small, beat-up truck my boss gave me when he decided he was far too impatient to fix it, and I had a friend of mine sort it out for me. He has a crush on me, or he did, and so he did it for free. Plus, he was one of those guys that would do anything for another person. For a time, I felt like people did things for me only because they felt sorry for me, but it turns out, some people just liked helping. Sometimes people have no idea who I am and I can have normal conversations without judgment, intrusive questions, or those looks people give when they feel sorry for you.
I don't go anywhere else. I haven't been home to Denver to see my mother or sister, Kaitlyn, for the last few years. They visit me, but the idea of going back into that city, and facing people, is just too much to handle. It just reminds me of everything that went wrong in my life. I'm close enough that they can easily access me when they need to, but far enough that I no longer feel the heavy burden of my past.
I know this affects Kaitlyn.
She suffered when I was taken. She was terrified and thought she'd never see me again. I can't imagine what it was like for her. I'm all she has. We were always super close, especially after our dad died and Mom went off the rails. Kaity and I were all we had and we grew to rely on each other.
My mother put her whole focus on me and the media surrounding me after I was taken, and suddenly Kaitlyn didn't matter anymore. It bothered Kaitlyn, and lately that's showing. The last time mother dearest called, she told me Kaitlyn was seeing a new man, and he was into drugs and all sorts of terrible things.
When I called Kaity, she assured me Mom was losing her mind and that everything was fine.
I wasn't sure I believed her, so I asked our mutual friend Hannah to keep an eye on her for me. Kaity and I met Hannah not long after I returned from my horror. She befriended Kaity at a yoga class, and when Kaity brought her over, she was so kind to me. No judgment. A breath of fresh air. So unlike the other people in my life. We all became great friends. She's been reporting back to me for a few weeks now, letting me know that things aren't as good as Kaity is saying. I trust Hannah.
I just hope Kaitlyn is letting her in, because I'm becoming concerned.
My sister is the only thing I have left.CHAPTER 2
Paul, my boss, slides some plates onto the stainless steel counter and slaps the bell over and over, glaring at me with those deep-brown eyes. He really is a good man at heart, but he works his staff hard. He expects dedication from them and mostly, he gets it. Except from me. But he's learned to tolerate my ups and downs. Some days — most days — I'm a fierce worker. But others, like today, I struggle.
Paul was kind to me when I came to town and asked him for a job. He'd seen my face on the news, and he knew what I'd been through. He gave me the job without hesitation. He never asked questions. He didn't judge and he didn't push. Paul has a kind heart, the type that will always give without question. I'll be forever grateful to him for that.
"I can hear you dude, cool it." I grin and he glares at me, but I don't miss the way his lips twitch.
"I just thought I'd wake you up. You look like you didn't sleep last night, Lee."
Paul is the only person who calls me Lee and honestly, I don't mind. I hate the name Marlie. I always said it reminds me of a dog, and what would you know, there was even a movie about a dog called Marley. Honestly. What are the odds?
I give him a weak smile. "I didn't, but I can still bring in the tips like there's no tomorrow. Even on a bad day."
He finally cracks and winks at me. "I have no doubt. Take a break after you take these plates out; you've been working for six straight hours."
I glance down at my watch. Holy crap, I have.
Yeesh. No wonder why my legs have been killing me.
I take the plates and deliver them to the intended table, smiling politely at the customers, and then go to take my break. I grab my phone, and a croissant out of the warmer, and head out back to the small rickety chair that all Paul's staff use to smoke, eat, and do other things on. I don't even want to know what those other things are, but I hear this chair has stories.
I take a bite of the buttery croissant and stare down at my phone. Seven missed calls. Four from Hannah, three from my mother. My mother only ever calls when she wants to "borrow" more money. Even though she can just take it when she wants it, she thinks she's doing a good thing by getting my permission. She called for money just two days ago, so it's unusual to see another call from her this soon after. But the ones from Hannah are concerning. I quickly check for texts but there are only some alerting me to voicemail.
Skipping them, I call Hannah right away.
"Marlie, I'm so sorry," she says breathlessly into the phone. "I know you're at work and I wouldn't have called unless it was important."
She seems panicked. My heart starts to pound.
"Hannah, is everything okay?"
"Look, you know I wouldn't worry you over nothing, but Kaitlyn is missing."
My blood runs cold. "What do you mean she's missing?"
"I mean she's just gone. I told you I've been keeping an eye on her. You knew she's been going out with that Chris guy, and I recently learned she started doing drugs. I was going to tell you, but she begged me not to, said it was only a one-time thing. I hadn't heard from her since yesterday so I went over today and ..."
"And what?" I ask, my throat so tight it burns.
"And her place was trashed. Things were thrown around everywhere, but she's not there. It's been eighteen hours now, and I can't find her."
A familiar pang of fear grips my chest. An automatic paranoia. My brain goes to the worst possible situation and it clings on.
"Have you called the police?"
"I have, and I called your mom, but Marlie, you need to come home."
My mind spins. Home. Home. No, I can't go home. I don't want to go home. Goddammit. I don't want to return to that place, but for Kaitlyn ... dammit ... I have to.
"I just know something is wrong," Hannah continues. "She's been with this horrible man and his awful friends. Something bad is happening; you need to be here, your mother is a mess."
"Okay," I say in a tiny, shaky voice. "Okay Hannah, just give me today to get the time off."
"I'll be here waiting, call me when you get in. It'll be okay, Marlie."
"Will it?" I whisper.
"I'm sure it will, just come quickly."
"Okay. Bye," I whisper to no one, because she's already gone.
Even though I know she's not lying to me, I still dial my sister's number. It rings and rings. My chest gets even tighter, and I try again. Again nothing. Kaity always answers or texts to let me know she can't talk. It's our thing. Panic turns to real fear as I try to come up with a reasonable explanation in my mind. Maybe she just needs some time away. Maybe she lost her phone. Maybe she's with friends. Maybe she's just busy. I go over all these scenarios, but I can feel it deep in my gut.
She's not okay.
I turn my dry eyes, eyes that haven't cried for three years, to the line of thick trees and beg my heart to stop pounding.
But mostly, I beg for Kaitlyn to return safely before I have to go back there. If I go back there, all the monsters I've put to bed will rise up once more. All the memories, all the nightmares, all the familiar fear and desperation, they'll all come back. I'll be forced to remember the horrible months that followed my escape. I'll have to relive the nightmare I've tried so hard to forget.
I don't want to go back there.CHAPTER 3
The sun is blaring down through my windshield as I round the corner to my mother's mansion. There are police cars lined up outside, and the moment my eyes fall on them, my stomach drops. It's been thirty-six hours. Kaitlyn is officially missing.
My sister. The only one in my family who's ever truly cared. The only person who understands what I went through. Now I don't know where she is or what she's going through.
I pull my truck up onto the curb and stare at the massive, three-story home my mother had built after my book took off. I have been in there once and haven't been back since — just looking at it reminds me that it's built from my horror. How can it even feel like a home, considering what it's based on? A shiver ripples through my body and I rub my sweaty palms over my jeans. I glance into the rearview mirror and take note of how awful I look. My honey-colored hair is thrown up in a messy ponytail and my steel-grey eyes seem vacant — better yet, they match the dark rings under them. I look like shit.
I swallow and then throw open the door and walk with shaky legs up to the front of my mother's house. I don't knock, I just walk in. Four police officers are sitting at her large round dining table. One of them has his hand on her back, rubbing gently as he tries to talk to her. Her blonde hair is falling onto the glass tabletop in a perfect mess, and her shoulders are shaking.
I clear my throat.
Five sets of eyes turn to me.
I recognize two of them. Officer Black and Officer Haynes. They were there when I was rescued. I liked Black, but Haynes was an insensitive prick. If I know my mother, she would have requested them specifically on this case. There are hundreds of officers in Denver, but she chose to get these two. They were aware of our family's fame and would be sure to give her the celebrity treatment. Black scoots his chair back, his blue eyes wide as he strides over to me, a weary smile on his face. "I never thought I'd see the day. Marlie, how are you?"
He reaches me and extends his arms for a hug that I stiffly return. Ever since my kidnapping, physical contact bothers me. I'll tolerate it when I have to, but I'd prefer not to have to. He pats my back and then releases me, smiling down. His hair, which was dark last time I saw him, is slowly going gray on the sides. It suits him, makes him look more sophisticated.
My mother's screeching makes me spin around. She stands and darts towards me, arms open. Without warning, she thrusts herself against me, throwing her arms around my neck. I pat her on the back like she has an illness, and stiffly stand and wait for her to let me go. When she does, she's crying. Big fat tears roll down her cheeks.
"I don't know where she is. Oh, Marlie."
"It'll be okay, Mom," I say in a monotone voice, before turning to Black. "What's being done?"
Excerpted from The Watcher by Bella Jewel. Copyright © 2017 Bella Jewel. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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
I loved this book. I read it after 72 hours and I can't get enough!
Marlie Jacobson was abducted by a serial killer 7 years ago. Unlike others, she managed to escape with her life. Today, she's known as the girl who killed a killer. She just wants to forget, but she has nightmares and flashbacks. Her sister, Kaity, has disappeared. Marlie is certain that another killer has taken her ... someone with a lot of knowledge about what Marlie went through. But that man is dead...so who is this copycat? She hires Kenai Michelson, a very well known private investigator. He's tall, dark and handsome and brooding and rude. Under different circumstances, Marlie would totally avoid this man ... but he's the best at what he does. And Marlie wants her sister back. They have the slimmest of leads, but they follow them as far as they go. It seems that no matter where they go, they are being watched. Someone wants Marlie to pay for escaping what was supposed to be her destiny. This is a terrific Romantic Suspense with a blending of contemporary romance and murder. The characters are cleverly defined, even though Marlie and Kenai are both damaged in one away or another. Marlie's mother is a harridan .. the author has described her so well, I could probably identify her walking down the street. Lots of action, lots of violence. CAUTION: LANGUAGE AND GRAPHIC SEXUAL SITUATIONS. Many thanks to the author / St. Martin's Press / Netgalley for the digital copy of this book. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
I knew It! Another great book by Bella, I just wished I hadn't figured it out so early. These books are in my opinion different from her MC ones as well as her others. These newer books are good have some suspense to them, but to me they are just missing something. I guessed the villian early on so I found myself flipping to see if I was right. I pre-ordered the others already so I will see what the next one holds. But I'm still missing the Bella who wrote her MC's.
4 out of 5 stars Bella Jewel’s THE WATCHER is an edge of your seat suspense filled with emotions that will test your ability to read on. Even though I knew who the villain was from the beginning Bella Jewels ability to make the readers questions is that really the person or am I wrong bring in twist that will keep your reading late into the night. Bella Jewel has the ability to create a dark story that will pull at the readers heart strings as well as the romance between the two man leads. The romance keep the readers finding the light in the darkness. This is my first book by Bella Jewel and I can't wait to read more. Advance Copy from Netgally for my honest thoughts
Marlie wakes up and her body aches and her head is pounding. Another lonely dragging day. The doctor told Marlei she is physically completely healed and it’s all in her head. But had the doctor had his entire body beaten by a bat? Marlie feels it every time she moves and mostly in her legs mostly. Am ache that seems like it will never leave, a soreness in her muscles Marlie couldn’t seem to stretch out. But there is nowhere else Marlie would rather be then her one room cabin she had bought three years ago. Marlie had left her home in Denver when she became famous for being a serial killer's survivor and was Marlies own personal hell. Then Marlie's mother wrote a novel about her ordeal with a serial killer. After a while Marlie couldn’t take knowing her mother’s happiness came from Marlie’s pain. Marlie didn’t know why she stayed as long as she did but most days Marlie didn’t know her own name. Intense therapy and people screaming for her story on the street made Marlie’s traumatized mind close down. Instead of supporting Marlie her mother made it about herself. Her mother didn’t help Marlie when she was suffering, she didn’t comfort Marlie when she woke up screaming from the nightmares. Marlie sees his face every time she closes her eyes. Marlie’s therapist assures her it won’t be that way forever. At the cabin the solitude seems to help also Marlie feels safe. Out here the job Marlie had was a waitress. She didn’t have to work the book was still making money and after giving her mother a lot of money Marlie still had a couple million in the bank but she wouldn’t touch it she didn’t think she ever would. Marlie hadn’t been home in a couple of years but her mom and sister Kaitlyn/Kaity visited Marlie . Kaity had suffered and thought she would never see Marlie again and suddenly Kaity didn’t matter anymore. Kaity hadn’t been doing that good lately per their mom. Marlie had a friend named Hannah and Marlie called her and asked her to keep on eye on Kaity. Kaity was the only think Markie had left. Kaity and Marlie had gotten close when their father died and their mother went a little insane. Then Hannah called Marlie told her that she had recently learned Katy had started doing drugs and now she was missing. She went over to Kaity’s today and her apartment had been trashed. It had been eighteen hours and Hannah can’t find Kaity nor had she heard from her. Kenai is a world renowned investigator and Marlie’s only hope to find Kaitlyn and Marlie got him to take her case. I liked this book s lot. This was well written and the pace was very good. I also liked the plot. At first I didn’t like Kenai at all he was being a butt. I loved that Marlie stood him up and gave Kenai attitude right back. This story keeps you on the edge of your seat. It definitely keeps your attention right from the beginning. I didn’t like Marlie’s mother she didn’t deserve the title of mother more user and selfish. Both Marley and Kenai had a lot of pain in their past I was glad they grew to care about each other and learn to lean on each other I loved the twist and turns of this story and i recommend.
This book was just okay for me. I didn't love it and I didn't hate it but I am still rather disappointed because I had really expected to love it. After reading Bella Jewel's previous book, 72 Hours, in a single afternoon, I really expected this book to be a similar experience. I felt somewhat detached from the story and was never completely pulled in. I did want to see how everything would work out but it was never a book that was too hard to set aside. Marlie spends each day living with what happened to her when she was kidnapped. It is really a miracle that she is alive today after her ordeal. She was taken by a serial killer and none of his previous victims survived. She made it out but lives with the ramifications every day. She leads a simple life in a small town and never wants to return to the town where her nightmares happened. When she learns that her sister is missing, she knows that she must do just that. Marlie hires Kenai, a private investigator, to help her find her sister. They start out on their trip to find her not caring for each other very much. Things change as they work together for a while and they soon become a couple. I have to admit that I was never sold on Marlie and Kenai as a couple. I didn't really feel a lot of chemistry between them and they seemed to go from hate to love before I could blink. This book was really a mixed bag for me. I really enjoyed some parts of the book. My favorite parts were the parts that described her ordeal with the serial killer. Some of those scenes were truly frightening yet entertaining. There were also parts that I didn't care for as much. Some of the action scenes with Kenai and Marlie were a bit too far fetched and didn't seem realistic. I was also really disappointed that I was able to figure out who the bad guy was really early in the book so when the big reveal happened in the book, there was no surprise for me. I do think that a lot of people will enjoy this story more than I did. It had a lot of good moments for me despite the problems that I had with it. I would definitely read more from Bella Jewel in the future. I received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley.
What an absolutely amazing read! Oh my gawd! The opening of this book literally took my breath away and gave me chills. I was not expecting to feel the terror and horror that Marlie suffered through. So many times as a reader I read the words but never actually experience the emotions. Bella Jewel must have a seriously dark streak to bring such a villainous creature to life. I’m so glad she does. Marlie is still recovering years later after having been held captive by a monster. He exposed her to things that a person wouldn’t dream of even in their worst nightmares. When her sister goes missing she is panicked and finds no solace from the steps the police are taking. Needing the best in the business, she hires Kenai a tracker with an impeccable reputation but an awful personality. He’s bossy and moody, and he doesn’t like Marlie at all. As they work together to find Kaitlyn they slowly begin to realize that the other is not what they seem. Soon they are sharing their pasts and relying on each other for safety and comfort. This story moved fast. I started prior to bedtime and read for hours before realizing I had been awake half the night and was beyond the 50% mark. I didn’t want to put it down! There is no getting bogged down, lost in the details, or skimming to get through a tedious scene. I consumed every word and loved each one of them. I enjoy suspense thrillers – the crazier the villain the better. However, I have read very few romantic thrillers that I was completely happy with. Usually either the mystery or the romance takes center stage and the other is left lacking. Not so with The Watcher. It was a perfect balance of all ingredients. I will soon be checking out the previous book 72 Hours. If it’s a fraction of what this one was I’ll be a very, very happy reader. ARC provided in exchange for an honest review and honestly people, if you like romantic suspense thriller type stories this is a definite read. POV – mainly Marlie’s but toward the end we have some of Kenai’s Abuse – only that caused by Marlie’s captor Triggers – no rape, but again, Marlie’s captor is evil but not in a sexual way
Marlie Jacobson, sole survivor of a serial killer, is finding her way back to normal again when she hears that her sister has gone missing. Not believing Kaitlyn is out and about having fun she hires Kenai Michelson to track her down. They set out together on a road trip that will lead them hither and yon with numerous dangerous encounters before they finally determine who has Kaitlyn and why she has been taken. There are flashbacks to Marlie’s time in captivity that are gruesome and horrible but she has, for the most part, overcome most of her weaknesses over the past few years. Her mother is not a motherly type and rather useless in helping her daughters so the burden of finding Kaitlyn falls to her sister. There is romance between Kenai and Marlie though he is rather dark, brooding and taciturn in the beginning. The ending is satisfying and also leads into what might be another serial killer book in the future. I am not sure that 72 Hours and this book are part of a series since the characters are not the same but each book does provide a hook for the next book to come. The story is told in first person from Marlie’s point of view most of the time and it works okay for the story. I am not sure that even a person unwilling to give up could do all that Marlie did or that Kenai, with his injury, would have been up and about the same day BUT it is fiction so perhaps some leeway can be given. The suspense was there, the story held my interest and I enjoyed reading it today. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC – this is my honest review.