But when FBI special agent Carolyn Monahanwalks back into the life of homicide lieutenantConor Rafferty, the sizzle is undeniable. They areback together, albeit reluctantly, to find the serialkiller who is terrorizing Boston.
Caro has made a successful career of puttinghomicidal maniacs behind bars, and Rafferty isa good cop who’s been handed the case of alifetime. Amid bureaucratic red tape and amounting body count, they uncover evidencethat points to a decade-old unsolved homicide.The tension escalates when the killer developsa psychotic preoccupation with Caro herself.
As the pressure builds to solve the murders, sodoes the attraction between Caro and Rafferty.But the question remains: Who will get to Carofirst, the killer or the cop?
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By Laurie Breton
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKatie'd come a long way in the ancient Datsun that was being held together with duct tape and prayer. All the way from Finley, North Dakota. This was her first time away from home, and it had been scary, crossing the country by herself. But the freedom was exhilarating. Her mother had cried when she left. So far away, she'd said. So very far away. But distance was what Katie wanted. She wanted to put seventeen hundred miles between herself and her doting, overprotective parents. Wanted to spread her wings and fly, needed to prove to them, and to herself, that she could do it.
Just outside of Providence, her temperature gauge started climbing. Katie glanced at it in dismay, then resolutely hunched over the steering wheel. Just one more hour, she told herself as darkness swallowed the lights of Providence in her rearview mirror. One more hour and she'd be in Boston. There was no sense in checking into a motel for the night when she had a perfectly good dorm room waiting for her just an hour down the road. The old car wouldn't let her down this close to her destination. Not after they'd traveled so far together.
She'd been on the road for three days, but the last fifty miles, dark and spooky and lonely, were the longest of the entire trip. There wasn't much between Providence and Boston except for trees, and her gaze kept darting to the steadily climbing temperature gauge. When she finally saw the city lights glimmering in the distance, Katie let out a sigh of relief. She'd made it. She'd proven her parents wrong. She'd traveled halfway across the country alone, and nothing terrible had happened.
In downtown Boston, she flicked on her directional signal and slowed for the Storrow Drive exit ramp. Halfway down the ramp, her engine stalled, and the idiot lights on her control panel flashed red and amber warnings. Katie rolled the car to a stop and turned the ignition key. Nothing happened. The ignition clicked a couple of times, but the engine didn't even turn over.
It was eleven o'clock on a Tuesday night, and she didn't know a soul in Boston. But she was determined to see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. It could have been worse. She could have broken down somewhere on that desolate stretch of highway between Providence and Boston. At least she'd reached civilization before her car blew its cookies.
Above her head, downtown Boston's towering office buildings glittered like so many shimmering stars, their brilliance luring her like an exotic fairyland. She flicked on her four-way flashers, got out of the car, and popped the hood. At this time of night, even here on the express-way, traffic was sparse. Taking out the flashlight her dad always insisted she carry, Katie played its beam around under the hood, not really sure what she was looking for. She'd never understood anything mechanical. Katie Ann Perry knew light and form and color, the lush green of viridian, the rich bloody crimson of alizarin. She knew how to manipulate them into something that pleased the eye, something unique, something that touched people's emotions. That was what had gotten her into the prestigious Commonwealth Art Academy, not any knowledge of what lay under the hood of her Datsun.
A car pulled up behind her, some kind of dark, late model sedan, and the driver dimmed the lights. Youngish, dressed in jeans and a black turtleneck pullover, he climbed out, his face shadowed as he crossed the pavement to where she stood. "Having car trouble?" he said.
Her dad had always warned her not to talk to strangers, but it was eleven o'clock at night and she was stranded. Besides, he seemed nice enough. "It died on me," she said, "and I can't seem to get it started again."
In the glow of the flashlight beam, he smiled. A friendly, clean-cut, all-American smile. "Let's have a look."
The stranger bent and fiddled with wires, checked the hoses and belts. "Why don't you get in," he suggested, "and we'll try it again?"
Katie scooted in behind the wheel and slid the key back into the ignition. "Okay," he shouted, his voice muffled by the hood. "Give it a shot."
She turned the key, but nothing happened. Not even the hollow clicking she'd heard earlier. "Again," he instructed.
Again, she turned the key. Again, nothing. He came around to her open window, wiping his hands on his jeans. "Doesn't look like it's going anywhere," he said. "Not tonight. Battery's dead."
This was not good news. Even though she'd be living in a dormitory, she needed to be frugal with her money, save it for expenses. He crouched beside the car until they were at eye level. "I can give you a lift if you're not going far."
Again, she remembered her father's warnings. How many times had he told her never to get in a car with a stranger? "I don't know," she said.
He gave her that smile again, reassuring her that he understood her reluctance. "My folks always warned me about strangers, too. And they were right. It's not safe out there on the streets for a young girl like you." He paused suggestively, and in spite of her bravado, she shuddered at the picture his words painted in her mind. "I can't just go away and leave you here. If anything happened to you, I'd feel responsible."
Katie hesitated a moment longer, looked around at the deserted street, and gave in. "All right," she said, grabbing her purse and locking the Datsun carefully. Everything she owned was in it. Her clothes, her art supplies, all her Madonna and Jewel and Shania Twain CDs.
"We'll call a tow truck," he said as she settled into plush navy upholstery. "If we leave it here, the cops will tow it, and it'll cost you a fortune to get it back."
The intimacy of being alone in the car with him made her uncomfortable. Katie cleared her throat. Running a hand along the rich leather of the dash, she said, "You have a nice car."
"Thanks. I'm a clean freak. Wash and wax it twice a week, vacuum it every Saturday."
She smiled politely and looked out the window, away from him. "So," he said heartily, "where are you headed?"
"Commonwealth Art Academy." Gnawing on her lower lip, Katie turned to look at him, but in the darkness, his profile was shadowy and indistinct. "Do you know where it is?"
He glanced in his rearview mirror and signaled for a turn. "Sure," he said. "I've been by there a few times. So, you're an art student?"
It made her feel so adult, hearing herself described that way. "I will be, as soon as classes start up in September."
"I saw your North Dakota plates. Ever been to Boston before?"
"No," she said, a little embarrassed at having to admit to him just how much of a hick she was. "I've never been out of North Dakota before."
"I bet your folks are proud of you. Going to college, and everything."
"They didn't want me going so far from home," she confided. "Especially since I don't know anybody here. But I think it's great. I'm old enough to be on my own."
"I should think so. You must be ... what? In your mid-twenties?" Her mouth fell open. "Do I really look that old?"
"Sure. You've got a real sophisticated air about you. If anybody asked, I'd peg you for twenty-five, twenty-six."
"I'm eighteen," she said.
His eyes widened. "No way."
She giggled. "Yes. Really."
Excerpted from Final Exit by Laurie Breton Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.