What Are You Afraid Of?

What Are You Afraid Of?

by Alexandra Ivy
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Overview

What Are You Afraid Of? by Alexandra Ivy

SHE’S LEARNED ALL ABOUT KILLERS
They aren’t the kind of women anyone misses. Truck-stop hookers, runaways . . . no one would even notice they’d disappeared if the killer didn’t photograph their lifeless bodies, posed in the back of a semi-trailer. Exactly like the infamous Trucker murders. But this isn’t just a copycat. It’s a vendetta.
 
NOW HE’LL TEACH HER
Carmen Jacobs interviewed the world’s most terrifying serial killers for her bestselling book, The Heart of a Predator. The police might not believe her, but she knows there’s a monster out there, paying homage to other murderers. The only person who can predict where he’ll strike next is Griffin Archer—a reclusive software millionaire with ample reason not to help her.
 
HOW TO DIE . . .
Carmen has charmed her way past Griffin’s defenses before. He didn’t intend to let it happen again. But with a psycho sending her trophies of his kills, he has no choice but to get involved. The clues point to a killer obsessed with Carmen—someone who knows her work, her past, her secrets. Someone who won’t be satisfied until he has made all her deepest fears come true . . .
 
Praise for Pretend You’re Safe
 
 “Alexandra Ivy gives readers a nice balance of romance and suspense in her fast-paced, well-plotted novel.”
—Kat Martin, New York Times bestselling author  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781420143812
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 03/27/2018
Series: Agency Series , #2
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 75,441
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Alexandra Ivy is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of romantic suspense, paranormal and erotic romance. She has also written Regency historicals under the name Deborah Raleigh. A five-time RT Book Award Finalist, Ivy has received much acclaim for her Guardians of Eternity, ARES Security, Immortal Rogues and Sentinels series. She lives with her family in Missouri and can be found online at www.AlexandraIvy.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

December 20, Rocky Mountains

The large overnight envelope was waiting for Carmen Jacobs on the porch.

She grimaced as she glanced through the frosty window of the front door. Her first instinct was to ignore the unwelcome reminder of the outside world.

She'd rented the isolated cabin in the Rocky Mountains precisely to forget the demands of her high-profile career. Or at least, that's what she'd told her literary agent. And in part, it was true. She'd spent the past twelve months flying from city to city to sign copies of her blockbuster book, The Heart of a Predator. Her hectic schedule had also included TV and radio interviews as well as speaking engagements. She'd even spent a month in California, teaching a creative writing class.

Soon it would all start again when the paperback version of the book was released.

She deserved a break.

But the deeper need to retreat to this cabin in the dead of winter was to avoid the yearly madness that was a mandatory part of the Christmas season. She wasn't a grinch. Okay, maybe she was a little bit of a grinch. But it wasn't her fault. She was a woman without a family. And, if she was honest, without any close friends.

Usually it didn't bother her to be alone. In fact, she preferred to concentrate on her career without being encumbered by people who would be a constant distraction.

At this time of year, however, she couldn't help but feel the lack of intimate companionships. Maybe it was the sappy commercials. Or the sight of giggling children who darted through the stores. Or the distant memories of when she hadn't been alone.

Whatever the reason, she always felt the urge to retreat from the world during this time of year. And despite the fact she'd just celebrated her twenty-sixth birthday, she had the necessary funds to grant her wish.

Sipping her morning cup of hot chocolate, she watched as the snow lazily drifted from the clouds, coating the porch in a pristine layer of white.

In a few more minutes the envelope would be hidden.

Problem solved.

She took another sip. And then another. The snow continued to float in the air. Silent. Hypnotic.

A swirling cloud of peace.

She tried to force herself to turn away. Her plans for the day included a long, hot bath. A leisurely lunch. Some prime-time romance in the form of a paperback novel. And later, a bottle of wine in front of the fire.

Nowhere in her schedule was a mysterious envelope.

Unfortunately, Carmen had one deeply imbedded character flaw.

Curiosity.

It was the reason she'd snooped on her eighth-grade teacher after catching sight of the woman disappearing into a storage shed with the principal. That little adventure had gotten her kicked out of school. Probably because she'd posted the pictures she'd taken on the classroom bulletin board.

Three years later that same curiosity had urged her to sneak into her grandparents' attic to try to peek inside the small safe that had once belonged to her parents. She hadn't managed to open it, but she'd been caught in the act. Her grandfather had grounded her for a month and her grandmother had cried. The tears had hurt more than being forced to miss the spring formal.

On the brighter side, her curiosity had inspired her to become a journalist. And later to interview five of the most prolific serial killers to ever terrorize North America. The book she'd written after the nerve- wrenching meetings had become a number-one best seller and launched her into the world of fleeting fame.

Like disco balls and Crocs.

With a grimace she set her half-empty mug on a nearby table. She wasn't going to be able to relax until she knew what was in the envelope.

She might as well get it over with.

Wrapping the belt of her heavy robe tighter, she reluctantly pulled open the door. An instant blast of frigid air slammed into her with shocking force. Crap. The cabin had looked so picturesque in the brochure. The pine trees. The snow. The majestic mountains.

She hadn't really considered just how freaking cold it would be.

Now she scurried forward, her fuzzy slippers sliding over the icy surface. She bent down, snatching the envelope off the edge of the porch. Next year she was going to a sandy beach with lots of sun and fun.

Straightening, she paused to glance around, ensuring there was no one lurking in the small clearing. Then, with a small shiver, she darted back through the door and closed it behind her.

She brushed off the few flakes that clung to her robe before she grabbed her mug of hot chocolate and returned to the kitchen. Since she'd arrived ten days ago, the cozy room had become her favorite spot in the cabin. The wood-planked floors. The open-beamed ceiling. The worn table that was set near a window that overlooked the frozen back garden. There was even an open fireplace where she'd toasted marshmallows last night.

Now she moved to pour out the old cocoa in the sink and rinsed out her mug. She wasn't an obsessive neat freak, but she preferred to keep her surroundings organized. A psychiatrist would no doubt tell her it had something to do with her need to control some small aspect of her life. She preferred to think that she was just tidy.

Taking a seat at the table, she wavered one last time. She should toss the envelope into the fire she'd stoked to life while she was brewing her morning cup of cocoa. Snap, crackle, pop, and all her troubles would be gone. Instead, she gave a rueful shake of her head and turned it over to stare at the front.

Her name was neatly typed, along with the address of the cabin. Then her gaze shifted to the return address, not surprised to find the name of her PR firm. There were fewer than ten people who knew where she was staying.

She ripped open the envelope, only to discover another envelope inside. It was a plain manila one, with her name scrawled across the front.

She scowled.

Usually this would be a desperate plea for help from some unknown person.

Since the release of her book, she'd been besieged with requests for her to investigate the murder of some relative. Or pleading with her to use her contacts to get their beloved son out of prison, despite the fact he'd bludgeoned his girlfriend to death or shot a neighbor in the head. On occasion some enterprising soul managed to discover where she was staying and shoved the information under the door of her hotel, but usually the requests ended up on the desk of her agent, or even her editor, who sent them on to the PR firm.

The same firm she'd given strict orders to hold all correspondence until after the first of the year.

Which meant that they knew better than to pester her with unwanted mail unless they were hoping to be fired. Something she doubted so long as her book remained on the best-seller lists.

So why were they sending her an overnight package?

A Christmas present? An appearance on the Today Show they'd been desperate to book for her?

There was only one way to find out.

Running her finger beneath the sealed flap, she pulled out the sheet of paper. Her gaze impatiently skimmed over the handwritten note.

Holiday Greetings, dearest Carmen. The new year approaches and I offer a challenge. You can be the predator or the prey.

She scrunched her nose. Well, that was cryptic. Her gaze lowered to the signature at the bottom.

The Trucker.

From one beat of her heart to the next, her annoyance was replaced by a bone-deep shock. With a gasp she was on her feet, knocking over the chair as she took a sharp step backward.

Crap.

The Trucker.

Details from her investigation fired randomly through her stunned brain.

Neal Scott. A forty-two-year-old truck driver from Kansas City who'd hunted whores and runaways along I-70 from Denver to Topeka. He'd killed at least twenty-seven women with a crowbar and dumped them along the highway. After his arrest in 1991 he'd admitted that he'd kept the bodies in the freezer of his semi until he found a new victim.

She pressed a hand to her racing heart, forcing herself to inch back toward the table. The envelope had been too heavy to contain only one thin sheet of paper.

Reaching out her hand, she grabbed the corner of the envelope and slowly tipped it upside down. There was a strange rustling sound and Carmen tensed. She didn't know what she was expecting, but it wasn't the stack of Polaroids that fell out of the envelope and splayed across the table.

Her breath rasped loudly in the silence as she reluctantly leaned forward. She'd seen the pictures before. They'd been found on Neal Scott when he'd been pulled over by a highway patrol. They had helped to prove Scott was the mysterious serial killer the press had dubbed the Trucker. As if the dead hooker in his trailer hadn't been enough.

Carmen pressed her lips together and reached for the pictures. She'd used copies of them in her book, which meant she was intimately familiar with the gruesome images.

On the point of shoving them back into the envelope, she stilled, her gaze locked on the shattered face of the young blond woman.

The picture was grainy, and there was blood covering the woman's brow from the brutal wound on her temple, but the rest of the features were visible.

Her face was thin, almost gaunt, with faint scars. There were newer sores on her chin. Probably from meth. And her long hair was tangled, as if she hadn't combed it in a long time.

She looked forty, but she was probably closer to twenty.

A woman who'd lived hard, and died even harder.

Carmen's hands shook as she shuffled to the next picture. Another blond. Her face was a little squarer and had been tanned to the texture of leather. But she shared the same painful thinness. And the same bloody wound on the side of her head.

There were three more pictures. All of them of young women who'd been brutally murdered.

They looked exactly like the Polaroids that'd been found on Neal Scott when he was captured. But not one of these had been used as evidence in the trial.

What the hell did that mean?

Had Scott been hiding the pictures? But where? And why send them to her?

Carmen dropped the Polaroids, wiping her fingers on her robe as if she'd been contaminated.

She had to do something. That much she knew. Unfortunately, her brain was churning without spitting out any answers. Like it was stuck in neutral.

Her gaze darted from side to side, at last landing on the large envelope that was still wet from the snow. Yes. This had started it all. The destruction of her fairy-tale vacation.

And she knew precisely who to blame for that destruction.

Cautiously backing away, she kept her gaze locked on the table. As if the pile of pictures were a rattlesnake that might decide to strike. At the same time, she stuck out her arm, blindly searching for the cell phone she'd left on the kitchen counter.

She knocked off an empty plate and tipped over a vase of flowers. Minor casualties. Then her fingers at last clenched around her phone.

Lifting it to a position where she could glance at the screen while still maintaining a close watch on the Polaroids, she hit the third button in her speed dial.

There was the sound of a buzzing as the connection was made, then a prerecorded voice floated through the air, warning Carmen that the offices were closed until after the New Year and that she was to leave a message so they could get back to her as soon as possible.

Oh, and then a bubbly wish for her to have a happy holiday season.

Perfect.

She ended the connection and scrolled through her contacts to find the personal number of her PR person. Lucy Cordova was ten years older than Carmen, with the sleek beauty of a supermodel and the soul of a great white shark.

It was no accident she was the top in her field. She ate her competitors and spit them out.

"Pick up, pick up, pick up," Carmen muttered as the phone buzzed and then went straight to voice mail. "Dammit."

She hit redial. Same result. She hit it again.

On the point of trying a fourth time, her phone buzzed with an incoming call.

Lucy.

Thank God.

"Okay, Carmen," a voice croaked. Obviously, Lucy had decided to sleep in this morning. "What's the emergency?"

Carmen was forced to clear the lump from her voice before she could speak.

"The package that landed on my doorstep this morning."

"What package?" Lucy demanded, and then there was the rustle of covers as if the woman was crawling out of bed. "Oh, wait. I remember sending an envelope to you."

Carmen licked her lips. Why were they so dry?

"Where did you get it from?" she demanded.

"It came by messenger three days ago," Lucy told her.

"From where?"

"It was from the office of the public defenders who'd handled the Scott case," Lucy explained, her voice echoing as if she'd put the phone on speaker.

No doubt the woman was pouring her morning coffee. She was a caffeine fiend who was never without her insulated cup in her hand.

"Was there a letter with it?" Carmen asked.

There was a slurping sound, then a soft breath of relief. Lucy had just had her fix.

A second later she spoke, her voice stronger as the caffeine kicked in.

"No, there was no letter. Just a handwritten note that said they'd been forwarded all of Neal Scott's possessions after his execution and that they were just now sorting through the box."

Scott had been executed three months ago. "Why would they send it to your office?" Carmen demanded.

"The note said that they'd found the envelope and tried to deliver it to your condo. When there was no one home, they sent it to our office."

Carmen's gaze moved toward the nearby window. The snow continued to fall at a leisurely pace. As if it couldn't decide if it intended to pick up speed or just call it quits for the day.

I should be drinking my coffee and enjoying the winter wonderland, she thought. Instead, her peace had been shattered by visions of death.

Not the sort of Christmas anyone wanted.

"And you decided to send it here?" she demanded.

"I thought it might contain some new information from the killer," Lucy told her. "You know, something you could add to the paperback version that would spice up sales."

Carmen made a choked sound of distress. Having the Polaroids in her home — actually touching them — somehow made them far more disturbing than the black-and-white-copies she'd used in her books.

These were more personal. Almost intimate.

"The deaths of those young women are a tragedy, not a spice," she snapped.

There was an awkward silence before Lucy cleared her throat. "You know what I mean."

Carmen forced a strained laugh. She didn't know why she was angry with Lucy. The older woman had merely forwarded the envelope. She hadn't known what was inside.

"Yeah, I guess I do," she said.

"What's going on, Carmen?" Lucy abruptly asked.

Carmen's gaze returned to the table, her stomach clenching.

"There were pictures inside the envelope."

"What kind of pictures?"

"Polaroids of dead women. Five of them."

"Christ, I'm sorry, Carmen," Lucy breathed. "I assume they were from the trial?"

Carmen shook her head even though Lucy couldn't see her.

"No. I've never seen these before."

"Wait." The word sounded like it was wrenched from Lucy. She wasn't a lady who was often shocked. "Are you saying there are pictures of dead women that haven't been released to the public?"

Carmen shuddered. She was three feet away from the table, but she felt as if the unknown women were staring at her. Pleading for something she couldn't give them.

Justice.

"I'm saying I've never seen them. And you know the research I did," Carmen said. "I think it's possible that I'm the only one besides Scott to know they exist."

There was a sudden clatter through the phone, as if Lucy had dropped her coffee cup.

"God Almighty, this is fantastic!" the woman said, not bothering to hide her burst of glee. "Do you know what will happen to your book sales if you can add in pictures from new victims?" There was a pause, and Carmen imagined she could hear the calculator in Lucy's mind clicking away, adding up each new sale. "Hell, you could write a whole new book."

Carmen grimaced. She would be a hypocrite to act shocked by Lucy's response. The reason Carmen had hired her was because the woman was a ruthless master at taking advantage of any situation.

Even a situation that included dead women.

"These need to go to the authorities," she said in firm tones.

"Fine, but first we need to make copies," Lucy insisted. "It could be months or years before the cops will give back the originals."

"Let's worry about figuring out who these poor women are before we start cashing in, okay?" she said dryly.

As if sensing that Carmen wasn't in the mood to discuss business, Lucy did her best to squash her excitement.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "What Are You Afraid Of?"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Debbie Raleigh.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.

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What Are You Afraid Of? 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Outstanding!!! Read this in one siitting, it gives a new meaning to unputdownable!!!! However this book should come with a warning "once you start this you will lose sleep turning page after page long into the night". Hghly recommend!!!
OneSmartLady 17 days ago
Alexandra Ivy delivers another romantic suspense that you simply cannot put down until you get to the last page. I am anxiously awaiting the next book.
Lillian Maddocks-Cummings 11 months ago
Evil will follow. Carmen is hoping that she can get some rest and recharge her batteries but her quiet time is about to come to an end. And she will have to go find the one man that will help her find out the truth. But she hurt & used Griff and she is afraid that he will turn her away. Griff can't believe that she is here he wants nothing to do with her again but there is something different about Carmen and he fears that she is in grave danger. Could the killer be real and not just a game? Carmen knows that she learnt more about killers than most but she never thought that someone would really take off from where the killers stopped. But now the game has become even more dangerous. Can Griff keep the woman that he loves safe and who is after her? The more that they dig into her life and her past do they find more clues but who in her family wants her dead? A read full of twists and turns. A good solid read. Carmen has such a great sense about her, she is strong woman that he been through so much and she has found Griff and he is a good man that will give her the world. I am certain that others will love this book. I was lucky enough to receive a copy via Netgalley & the publishing house in exchange for my honest review.
In_My_Humble_OpinionDA 11 months ago
What Are You Afraid Of? Grabs you on the first page and doesn’t let you take a full breath till the last. This is an intense thriller that will keep you guessing. I really liked Carmen and Griff and had my fingers crossed the whole time praying they would make it out alive and with each other. This may be part of a series but can be read stand alone. I highly recommend this fast paced mystery.
SawJ 11 months ago
Thanks Netgalley for a copy to read and review. What an enjoyable read! This author always seems to get four or five stars out of me, her Guardians series is so delicious. So to my surprise she has taken a new direction away from mystical to thrillers. I'm hooked. The storyline was fun and sexy, and the characters were engrossing to read about. I was hooked as soon as Carmen pulled out those raw photos of prostitutes being murdered. I did not read the first book in this series so I don't know if it would have helped get to know the characters better or not. I did great without it. The book was read in one sitting, I couldn't put it down. As soon as Carmen pulled Griffin into the mix, I was certainly hooked. The chemistry between the two was combustible and had a permanent feel to it. Love guys who aren't about the random hook up. Four stars of entertainment!
SawJ 11 months ago
Thanks Netgalley for a copy to read and review. What an enjoyable read! This author always seems to get four or five stars out of me, her Guardians series is so delicious. So to my surprise she has taken a new direction away from mystical to thrillers. I'm hooked. The storyline was fun and sexy, and the characters were engrossing to read about. I was hooked as soon as Carmen pulled out those raw photos of prostitutes being murdered. I did not read the first book in this series so I don't know if it would have helped get to know the characters better or not. I did great without it. The book was read in one sitting, I couldn't put it down. As soon as Carmen pulled Griffin into the mix, I was certainly hooked. The chemistry between the two was combustible and had a permanent feel to it. Love guys who aren't about the random hook up. Four stars of entertainment!
tsinclr 12 months ago
Carmen just wanted to relax and make it through the holidays. All of plans are ruined when she receives an unexpected package. Is someone stalking her or is there a copycat killer on the loose? When the local sheriff's department refuses to help her, she decides to ask for help from the one person least likely to help her due to their past interactions. Carmen Jacobs is the last person that Grif wants to see, even though she's all he's thought about for months. But when he realizes that she is really in trouble, all of his protective instincts kick in and he is determined to keep her safe. Can they figure out what's going on and what will they do about the attraction that they both feel? Lots of suspense and twists and turns to keep you turning the page.
Sandy-thereadingcafe 12 months ago
3.5 stars-suspense filled thrill ride but too predictable 3.5 stars--WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? is the second instalment in Alexandra Ivy’s contemporary, adult THE AGENCY romantic suspense series. This is IT specialist Griffin Archer, and best-selling author Carmen Jacobs’ story line. WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary. Told from several third person perspectives including Griffin and Carmen WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? follows the hunt for a serial killer-a copycat killer who is re-enacting the murders profiled and researched by our heroine Carmen Jacobs. With the upcoming, paper back release of her best-selling book Carmen finds herself the victim of a stalker, a killer who is copycatting the murders and sending her the pictures of his latest ‘achievements’. Needing additional assistance when the local police refused to help, Carmen contacts an IT expert who isn’t thrilled with Carmen’s re-appearance. Enter Griffin Archer, IT specialist, and the man with whom Carmen will fall in love. What ensues is the building romance between Griffin and Carmen, and the potential fall-out as a serial killer ups the body count in direct proportion to Carmen’s best-selling novel. WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? is a suspense-filled, thrill ride but the ‘guilty’ party(s) is alluded to early on thus avoiding the twists and turns that I would have expected. The predictability was disheartening as were the likely and forseeable reasons behind the copy-cat killings-sometimes too much information imparted to the reader unravels the mystery before it begins. The premise is engaging; the characters are intense-we are reintroduced to Rylan Cooper from Pretend You’re Safe (book one); the romance is a slow build towards a happily ever after.
Rainn2978 12 months ago
This is book 2 in The Agency series and can be fully read as a standalone. It's about Griffin Archer and Carmen Jacobs. Griff is the best friend and business partner of Rylan from the first book. Carmen is an author who wrote a book about serial killers and the crimes they committed. She receives a package that she tries to take to the police only for them to think it is a hoax to get publicity. So she goes to the only person she thinks may be able to help her. Griffin fell into her trap before and doesn't want have it happen again. So he sends her on her way after forwarding the items from the package on to an FBI friend. Not realizing once he does so that he will feel the need to protect her and figure out exactly what is going on. I liked this one but I think I liked the first one more. There were parts of this one that were slow to me. But it definitely was a good book! There are many twists and turns and things that make you really think! I liked Griff and Carmen together, especially once they work out their differences. They are perfect for each other and are able to offset each others quirks. And I definitely didn't expect the twist at the end!! That completely threw me off! All in all, this was a good read!
MusicInPrint 12 months ago
Carmen Jacobs is the author of HEART OF A PREDATOR which is based on interviews Carmen has conducted with mass murderers in prison. Griffin Archer is a high tech genius with law enforcement software used to find the bad guys. Ivy has developed two characters who must hunt down a killer who is leaving clues to his next gruesome plot. Pages reveal how our lives can be traced and that death awaits around the corner. Violence is not just hinted at so WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? may not be tolerable to some. A weaving of many possible suspects although I had this one figured out. "A copy of this book was provided by Kennington Books via Netgalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."
CathyGeha 12 months ago
Carmen Jacobs interviewed serial killers, did the book tours and took some time off to recuperate when she suddenly received something in the mail that sent her out to find another killer. She approaches tech guru Griffin Archer for help and the two eventually work together to try to find out who is killing women and why. There are plenty of suspects, a few red herrings, action aplenty, some romance, a surprise or two and quite a few twists and turns before a few mysteries and murderers are revealed. I enjoyed the story and look forward to reading the next book in the series when it comes out. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington – Zebra for the ARC – This is my honest review. 4 Stars
Monnie777 12 months ago
This was a quick read for me. I have not read the first book but you don't have to read this book. I really enjoyed Griffin and Carmen. Poor Carmen has a lot of messed up people in her past that come back to haunt her. Griffin is her rock even if he doesn't want to be at first. Griffin is someone I would want to date in real life, too bad he is only in a book. Someone is stalking Carmen and she turns to Griffin for help. The story evolves quickly as in less than a week everything happens. I did enjoy the book. I would read more in this series or by the author. *Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this for my honest opinion*