Number-one New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen delivers a thriller that will chill you to the core: Eve Duncan's adopted daughter Jane has been targeted by a mysterious cult who has decided that she has only eight days to live
Eve Duncan and her adopted daughter, Jane Macguire, are pitted against the members of a secretive cult who have targeted Jane and have decided that she will be their ultimate sacrifice. In eight days they will come for her. In eight days, what Jane fears the most will become a reality. In eight days, she will die. It all begins with a painting that Jane, an artist, displays in her Parisian gallery. The painting is called "Guilt" and Jane has no idea how or why she painted the portrait of the chilling face. But the members of a cult that dates back to the time of Christ believe that Jane's blasphemy means she must die. But first, she will lead them to an ancient treasure whose value is beyond price. This elusive treasure, and Jane's death, are all that they need for their power to come to ultimate fruition. With Eve's help, can Jane escape before the clock stops ticking?
About the Author
Iris Johansen is the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Night, Blood Game, and Eve, among others. She began writing after her children left home for college, and first achieved success in the early 1980s writing category romances. In 1991, she began writing suspense historical romance novels, and in 1996 she turned to crime fiction, with which she has had great success. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.
Read an Excerpt
Paris Day One
SHE WAS LAUGHING, Jack Millet thought, enraged. Even as Jane MacGuire had left the sidewalk café, a lingering smile had remained on her lips.
He had to smother the anger, remind himself that she would not be laughing for very long.
Eight days, bitch. Just eight more days, and I'll send you to rot in hell.
He had watched her sitting there in the café, staring out at the Seine, and the seething anger had been building steadily within him. She had no right to look that serene and content.
He started after her, careful not to get close enough for her to know she was being followed. He knew where she was going. The Denarve Art Gallery was only two blocks away and tonight they were exhibiting Jane MacGuire's paintings and would probably be heaping praise on her.
Blind. They couldn't see the ugliness of the atrocity she had committed.
She moved lithely, gracefully, her red-brown hair shining as the sunlight burnished it. Everything about her shouted that she was young and vibrantly alive.
And that enraged him, too.
Dead. You should be dead. You should be burning in Hell.
Eight days. But he wanted it to happen now. It was a deep hunger that wouldn't go away.
But if he could hurt her, it would help him to wait for that final glory. If he could rip and tear at her and destroy everything she valued and loved, he might be able to keep himself under control.
Take her, torture her, and make her scream with agony.
But he had to do it himself. He could order help in the taking, perhaps Folard, but after that, he couldn't trust his brothers to be able to stop themselves from killing her before her time. Their souls weren't as strong as his had become through all the years of service to the Offering.
She was quickening her steps as she approached the gallery. The sun was going down, and the rays of the setting sun were causing her hair to blaze with fiery highlights.
Blaze. Scald. Burn. Suffer.
Yes, fire is an exquisite weapon. Knives. Scalpels. Whips. There are so many ways to hurt you, Jane MacGuire.
I know them all.
Jane stopped, stiffening, as her hand reached out to open the carved oak door of the Denarve Gallery.
For an instant she couldn't breathe, and she instinctively glanced back over her shoulder at the street behind her.
Nothing. A peaceful Parisian street on a beautiful spring day. No threat.
Imagination. A trick of the mind. Maybe a little nervous reaction because of the show tonight?
But she didn't usually have nerves.
She glanced over her shoulder again.
She pulled open the carved oak door and went into the gallery.
"There you are." Celine Denarve turned to Jane and frowned with mock indignation. "I thought I was going to have to send the bloodhounds after you. Marie and I have been slaving with the preparations to make this exhibit the finest I've ever given for any artist, and you go strolling off as if it has no importance. It's an insult."
Jane grinned. "You know that you would have whisked me out of here if I'd offered to stay and help." Celine was reacting with her usual sense of Gallic drama, and it always amused Jane. High drama was so far removed from her own practical character. She had flashes of intensity and recklessness, and that might be why she and Celine had so quickly become friends, but it was Celine's basic shrewdness and kindness that had cemented that friendship. "How many times have you told me that an artist should paint and stay out of the business of selling her work?"
"Many times." Celine turned to her assistant, Marie Ressault, who had come out of the office carrying an ice bucket. "Put it at the bar, Marie. If I give everyone enough champagne, they will forget that Jane's not really the Rembrandt I've been hyping for the past month."
"I believe those art critics may already be a little skeptical," Jane said dryly. "Though if anyone could convince them, you could."
"You're right. I'm splendid." She smiled brilliantly at Jane. In her late thirties, Celine was sleek and dark-haired and as attractive as she was shrewd. She might know every trick in the book about pushing a young-and-coming artist up the next rung of the ladder, but she did it with honesty and a bubbly exuberance. "That's what it takes to make a starving artist an icon."
"I hate to tell you, but I'm not a starving artist. I did have a few successful shows before you appeared in my life."
"Yes, but those other gallery owners didn't make you focus on the important things. They should have made you do publicity to make you a household name."
"Not my cup of tea."
Celine made a face. "That's why you make my life so difficult. I have to work twice as hard just to make you show up for an interview. I've begun to tell everyone that they have to forgive you because, after all, you're just an artist with a shy and sensitive soul."
"It works," Celine said cheerfully. "They don't know you."
"That's obvious." Sensitive soul? she thought with amusement. She couldn't think of any term that would be less applicable. She hoped she was kind and caring and could see beneath the surface, but she was neither fragile nor temperamental. She was only a street kid who had been lucky enough to have been born with a certain talent and the drive to make that talent come alive.
She smiled as she thought about what Joe Quinn would have said about her sensitive soul. She had been a tough ten-year-old when she had come to live with Joe and Eve Duncan, and they had accepted her and made sure that she knew how to handle herself in any situation. He was a detective with the Atlanta Police Department, and his teaching had been both thorough and intense. Karate, Choi Kwang Do, and, when she grew older, training in weaponry. Those lessons had forged a bond that had helped draw them closer, and it was her very good fortune that she hadn't been a prissy kid who would have forced Joe to treat her delicately. No, he would have laughed himself silly at anyone thinking she was overly sensitive.
"You're smiling." Celine was studying her face. "What are you thinking?"
"That you must be very persuasive to make them believe that bullshit."
"Yes, I am extraordinary." She took a step back and tilted her head as she gazed at the paintings beyond the velvet ropes. "The lighting is perfect. That's essential, you know."
Jane's lips quirked. "Yes, it makes even my humble paintings look good."
"That's what I thought." She glanced away from the paintings to Jane. "But perhaps they're not completely humble. I didn't totally lie when I told those critics you were the next Rembrandt."
"No, you're exceptional. You're young, only a few years out of college. In another five years, you'll rock the art world. If you'll let me help you." She shrugged and changed the subject. "Lighting may help your paintings, but no amount of lighting is going to help you if you're dressed in those jeans and shirt. Not here in Paris. Hurry. Go upstairs and change. The first guests should be here in forty-five minutes."
"I'll be ready." Jane headed for the elevator. Celine maintained an apartment above her gallery, and she had insisted that Jane stay with her before the exhibit. "I promise."
"You cut it very close," Celine called after her. "Where did you go?"
"Just for a walk, then to the café to have a glass of wine. I thought I'd relax before the hullabaloo tonight."
"It will be a very elegant hullabaloo. Did it work? Did it relax you?"
"Yes." She had a sudden memory of that moment just before she had entered the gallery and that feeling of malevolence so intense that it had shaken her. Imagination. It had to be imagination. "For the most part." She got into the elevator and firmly dismissed that chilling moment from her mind. "Yes, I guess it worked."
"A WONDERFUL SHOW." Celine Denarve locked the door of the gallery after her assistant, Marie, had left. "A magnificent exhibit. We've sold everything but the three paintings you've put a hold on." She smiled over her shoulder at Jane. "How can I convince you to let me sell those, too? How am I to become a rich woman if you persist in being selfish with the best of the lot?"
"They're not the best of the lot. I just have a personal attachment to them," Jane said. "The technique is much cleaner in some of the others." Lord, she was tired. She hated these art shows. The critics who dissected her work, the reporters probing how she felt when she was painting a certain canvas, the people who bought art because it went with their furniture. But she supposed she should be grateful that she'd met with such success so early in her career.
She was grateful. And she couldn't have asked for a gallery owner more enthusiastic and devoted than Celine. This was her second show at Celine's gallery and their warm relationship made all the bullshit bearable.
"You look exhausted. You need a glass of champagne." Celine moved toward the small bar against the wall. "Though you shouldn't need any stimulation at all. You should be walking on air. Like I am."
"And so you should. Tonight is as much your triumph as it is mine."
"That is true. I did well." She turned and smiled at Jane. "And you did well, too. You did not look bored. You were actually charming to that art critic from the London Times. I think I'm getting through to you."
"Don't count on it. I'm glad it's over. You're right, I am tired." It's only that it has been a very exhausting month, Jane thought. She was ready to go home and close herself away and just paint.
"This will wake you up." Celine poured them both a glass of champagne, and her gaze went back to the three paintings about which she had been previously talking. "You may not see it, but those paintings are very special." Celine crossed the room and handed the glass to her. "Technique is important, but when there's so much passion, one can overlook a few mistakes."
She frowned. "What mistakes?"
Celine chuckled. "See, you may criticize yourself, but I may not. You have an ego like all artists."
"I never said I didn't." Jane grinned. "I'm no Rembrandt, but I'm pretty good. In spite of what your French critics say. They don't agree that passion is more important. But I do get better all the time."
"The proof is in the pocketbook," Celine said. "And name me a great artist who didn't suffer for their art." She strolled up to the two paintings at the end of the row. "Me, I prefer to sell your paintings and not suffer at all. My commission will buy me a fine house on the Riviera." She tapped the frame of the painting of the castle that towered on a steep cliff that overlooked the sea. "Not like this one. It's much too forbidding. I don't like Scotland. Not enough sun." She tilted her head. "But you must like it. That castle has substance and power. It's very ... strong."
"I don't know much about Scotland. I've only visited MacDuff's Run a few times."
"But it had great impact on you."
"Yes." She took a sip of her champagne. "You could call it impact."
"I've met John MacDuff. He was here for a charity ball several years ago. I was dazzled. Earl of Cranought, Lord of MacDuff's Run ... It's hard to ignore all that intensity and Rob Roy mystique."
"I assure you that he's no Rob Roy." Though the people on his property looked upon him as something of a folk hero and kowtowed to the Laird. MacDuff had won a gold medal for archery several years ago at the Olympics, then joined the 45th Commando Unit of the Royal Marines and earned a chestful of medals for bravery. "And he's arrogant as hell."
"But he's sexy enough to get away with it," Celine said. "I tried to throw myself into his bed, but he would have none of me."
"Then he was a fool."
Celine nodded. "I think so, too. He doesn't know what he missed." She glanced slyly at Jane. "Tell me, did you make it into his bed? I'll forgive you if you let me sell this painting."
Jane shook her head. "Our relationship was a little more complicated."
"Nothing is more complicated than sex," Celine said. "Nor anything so beautifully simple."
Jane chuckled. "You're just trying to live up to your image as a Parisienne."
"I don't need to live up to it. I live and breathe it." She added teasingly, "Come now, tell me the truth. If you visited that cold castle more than once, he must have offered you a warm bed to lure you. Why else would you go there?"
Celine clearly wasn't going to give up. Just give her the bare bones and make her happy. "Actually, it had to do with a chest of gold coins, a lost ancient family treasure belonging to one of MacDuff's ancestors. I'd become involved with tracing that chest from its origin in Herculaneum."
"Ah, a lost treasure." Celine's eyes were wide and shining. "Tell me more."
"There's not much more to tell. You wouldn't be interested."
"Which means you're closing up and don't want to share." She was obviously disappointed. "I would be interested, you know. I'm not just being inquisitive. I consider you my friend as well as my client. It's natural to want to know about people you care about." She shrugged, but her expression was wistful. "But I will try to understand."
Jane stared helplessly at her. Celine was an irresistible force who was all the more appealing because she was sincere. "It's no big deal." Though those weeks at MacDuff's Run had shaken her entire life at the time. "It was years ago, when I was a student in college. I was an art major with a minor in archaeology. I became interested in stories of a young actress, Cira, who was the toast of ancient Herculaneum. She fascinated me. It was rumored that she had escaped the eruption of Vesuvius and fled to Scotland, carrying with her a chest of gold coins that would be worth a fortune today."
"But you said it was a long-lost MacDuff treasure."
"Cira changed her name and identity and she and her husband, Anthony, founded the MacDuff family in the highlands."
"And you went to Scotland to find the chest and found MacDuff. Now that's a treasure I can appreciate. How romantic."
"Not at all romantic. I wasn't the only one trying to trace that chest. Thomas Reilly, a criminal who would take first place on any scumbag chart, was after it, too. He was interested in some specific coins that were supposed to be included with the others. Before it was over it got very ugly. Good people were hurt."
"But you and MacDuff found the chest and lived happily ever after ...in bed?"
"No, in the end finding the treasure wasn't worth it to me."
Celine shook her head reprovingly. "Treasure of any kind is always worthwhile. This story is very disappointing to me."
Jane smiled. "Sorry, I'll try to concoct a more interesting tale for you next time."
"Please do that. I'm losing faith in you." She glanced at the portrait next to the one of MacDuff's Run. "You said this was one of the young men who grew up on MacDuff's estate? Jock ...?
"Jock Gavin. Yes, his mother was housekeeper at the estate, and he grew up running in and out of the castle. He was like a younger brother to MacDuff."
"He's quite beautiful, almost an Adonis with that fair hair and those silver-gray eyes. But he's too young for you."
"There wasn't anything like that between us. I painted that portrait years ago. He was nineteen when I did that first sketch. I was only a couple years older and we ... bonded. Jock was going through a rough time, and I was able to help him through it."
"Nineteen. He looks younger." She frowned. "And older. I can't quite put my finger on it. There's a kind of an explosive breakability. Intriguing. What kind of a rough time?"
Jane was silent a moment, then said reluctantly, "He was close to a breakdown."
Jane didn't answer.
Celine's gaze narrowed on her face. "You don't want to talk about it. You were willing to tell me all about MacDuff and that silly treasure but not about this beautiful boy. That's even more intriguing."
Excerpted from "Eight Days to Live"
Copyright © 2010 Johansen Publishing LLLP.
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
At the age of seventeen Jane MacGuire started having precognitive dreams, already in art school she paints what she dreams as a release. These dreams have led her once before into troubled waters and she's having them again. Any artist worth his/her salt should love gallery shows especially when you're the artist on show, but Jane hates the notoriety and she does it only because her friend and gallery owner insist. What she doesn't know is that disaster is right around the corner. Seth Caleb has been obsessed with Jane since he helped her and her adoptive parents rid the world of a ruthless serial killer. Now she needs him again, will they find the answers they need in time and what about what they feel for each other, is it a simple case of lust or does it run deeper. You can never go wrong with an Iris Johansen mystery, and this one is no exception. The main-stream mystery lover will appreciate the attention to detail, the complicated plot and the myriad of wonderful characters both good and evil. The paranormal mystery lover will love the touch of woo woo that Iris includes in this titillating read and I'm not talking mythological or mystical she just dips her toe in the paranormal stream. You will recognize her dialogue if you're a fan as you re-connect with the characters you've come to love and respect. Her characters are very real and almost three dimensional as this wonderful storyteller brings them to life for her audience. Her heroine Jane is a complicated player but Iris portrays her to a tee. Caleb is an enigma and she goes beneath all the layers to find what makes him tick. Together they are a powerful force. There is a romance and you're present for it's birth. Her supporting cast of characters including her usual protagonists Eve and Joe are essential to the telling of the story. If you love a great mystery, look no farther. If you love a little paranormal thrown in, this is your read. If you want it told by a ace storyteller, here she is.
I just finished reading this and loved it. I liked how they brought back a bunch of people from previous books.. I would highly recommend this if your an Iris and an Eve/Jane fan..
I would give this book a five star rating. It is gripping. I don't want to put it down. It pops from the first page.
I am a long time fan of Iris Johansen - she's one of the ultimate "rainy day" authors. If it were a month later, I'd have saved this one for the beach. A fun read and I particlarly love the recurring characters.
A decent read but not what I expect from this author. Perhaps it was just a little too sci-fi from an author that I expect to receive mystery-suspense/romance.
Flowed at a good pace, kept me reading. Mildly suspenseful. Characters were only mildly endearing. Not terribly thought provoking. Just good, not great.
When I read the Eve Duncan books, I want a story about Eve. Continuing to write stories about secondary characters like Jane is just annoying. All this psychic mumbo-jumbo is crap and it takes away from the reality of the story. Write something people can actually see happening, for Christ sake. Stephanie Clanahan
I loved this book i have read several of books by this author and have loved every one this book had mystery and compassion and kept my interest to the very end
I really enjoyed this book. My mom gave it to me as a Christmas gift and I never thought I was going to love it. Amazing book!