While she's stalking the truth . . . someone is stalking her.
Psychology professor and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve--the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she works to uncover the truth, someone else will do almost anything to keep her from it.
Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife--a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. Now that his estranged brother is the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.
Join the chase as Taylor and Nick search the murky shadows of the past for the keys to unlocking the present--and moving into a future they never imagined.
Read an Excerpt here:
Read an Excerpt here:
Death unfolds like a budding flower,
Unfurling in majestic power.
Until then, my love . . . until then.
Black roses last week, now spidery words scrawled on a scrap of paper with “Meade Funeral Home” printed across the top. Someone was stalking her, and they wanted her to know it.
Taylor Martin sucked in a sharp breath and tried to ignore the icy shiver traversing her body.
He was here.
Hair raised on the back of her neck. She turned in a circle. Heavy clouds hung low, shrouding the tall firs with their mist. An air ambulance waited in the clearing to lift off for Seattle as soon as Beth Coleman’s vitals stabilized. Only a few members of the search and rescue team remained at the crime scene, packing their gear.
Whether he was one of the men who came out to comb the woods for the kidnapper and his victims, or he’d simply followed her here to this remote area southwest of Seattle, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that he’d been close enough to touch her, to put the note in her pocket.
To kill her.
An artery in her temple pulsed. He had to know she volunteered her profiling skills to the Newton County Sheriff’s Department. A puff of wind brought a light fragrance. Old Spice. The scent her dad had worn. She frowned, seeking the source of the aftershave, but only encountered Dale Atkins striding toward her. The leathery-faced sheriff was her advisor and, tonight, her chauffeur. It wasn’t him—Dale was a Grey Flannel man.
Perhaps the stranger with him? Her gaze flicked over him, barely registering the broad shoulders, plaid shirt, and jeans. No, too young for Old Spice. She looked past him and realized the scent had dissipated.
Had she imagined it?
The sheriff touched her arm. “You’re white as a sheet.”
She held up the scrap of paper. Old Spice tickled her nose again. She sniffed it and made a face. Aftershave lingered, potent. Another piece to add to the puzzle.
“Taylor, what is it?”
“This was in my coat pocket.” She shoved the paper at him. “Someone wants me dead.”
Dale scanned it, his eyebrows pinching together in a frown. “How did it get there?”
“I don’t know.” Taylor wrapped her arms across her stomach.
He tore a sheet from his notebook and folded it into a pouch before putting the note inside. “Have you worn your jacket all day?”
“Not all day.” Her teeth chattered, and she ran her hands up and down her arms. “Lunchtime. I took it off then. Slipped it back on when the helicopter arrived for Beth Coleman.”
Dale took off his black cap with “Newton County Sheriff” across it and smoothed his gray hair. “Could it have been in your pocket awhile?”
“No.” She fisted her hands. “I haven’t worn the jacket since it came from the cleaners.”
“Are you sure?” He waved his hand at the expanse of Douglas firs. “We’re—”
“I know where we are. In the middle of a logging road a hundred miles from nowhere.” She caught her breath as heat crawled up her face. This was not like her. “I’m sorry. Can I see the note again?” Taylor unfolded the pouch and studied the words. The cadence and the words reminded her of a student in her victim profiling class—the Goth student who’d been popping up in odd places, like the pharmacy and the jewelry store. The one she figured had left the anonymous boxes of candy on her desk and then the flowers. The black roses were what made her zero in on him—they matched his black hoodie and black jeans and black hair—black everything—but she’d dismissed it all as a student’s crush. But candid photos and now this note was not something she could just dismiss. “Scott Sinclair has been following me, and a couple of his papers had notes like this doodled in the margin.”
The stranger stiffened. “I don’t know what’s in that note, but Scott wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
The words shot from his mouth, his Southern accent zinging Taylor, reminding her of how syllable by syllable her ex-fiancé had hammered her drawl away. For the first time, she really looked at the man who stood shoulder to shoulder with the six-foot-one sheriff. Around her age, maybe a little older. Thirty at most. And with the saddest, most beautiful hazel eyes she’d ever seen.
Taylor took in the planes of his face and wondered whether he fought a losing battle with his beard each day or if the five o’clock shadow was deliberate. Either way, he carried it well. But he didn’t look like law enforcement, which was what Taylor assumed he was when she saw him with Atkins earlier. Up close, she realized he wore his hair too shaggy for a cop. More like a lumberjack. Probably with the search and rescue team.
She cocked her head at him. “And you know this, how?”
“I’m sorry,” Dale said. “I should have already introduced you two. Nick Sinclair, Dr. Taylor Martin from Conway University. She found the link between the kidnapper and the Colemans.”
The sheriff put his hand on her shoulder. “This young lady is well known in the field of victomology and teaches a pilot class at the university. She aims to be the best profiler in the country one day. Personally, I think she’s already the best.”
Taylor’s cheeks blazed at the sheriff’s high praise. But she wasn’t that young. She’d be twenty-nine in exactly one month, June seventeenth. She looked away, catching sight of the air corpsman as he slammed the helicopter bay shut. She hoped Beth Coleman made it to Seattle.
Dale chuckled. “She doesn’t like me bragging on her, either.”
She shrugged. “It’s not really about being the best, just doing my best.”
He nodded toward the stranger. “Nick is a writer.”
Taylor almost snorted. “Researching a book, I suppose.” “No. I’m looking for my brother. Scott Sinclair.”
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