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By B.J. Daniels
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
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Chapter OneLate September
The warm harvest moon cast a silver sheen over the lake and the naked young lovers standing waist deep in the still summer-warm water. Just yards away, crouched in the darkness of the pines, a lone figure watched, trying to decide whether to kill them both now - or wait.
They shouldn't have been here. No one came up the weed-choked road to Freeze Out Lake anymore. Not after all the tragedies. No one was fool enough to come near the place late at night - let alone swim in the eerie dark waters.
Except for these two. They began to stroke each other, their mouths hungry as their hands caressed wet bodies shimmering in the moonlight, the boy's shoulders muscled, the girl's breasts large and white, bobbing in the water.
The boy lured her out deeper into the lake in a sort of sex-driven tag where he dived beneath the water, making the girl giggle and pretend to fight him off, daring her to swim farther and farther from the shore.
The lake was low, lower than it had been in years because of the recent drought, making it dangerously shallow.
The boy swam away from her, calling for her to follow him as he dived and splashed. But a few dozen yards from the shore, the boy disappeared under the water and the girl slowed as if sensing the danger.
Suddenly the boy surfaced like a porpoise. "Hey!" he called, his voice a little unsteady. "There's something out here!"
"What is it?" The girl stopped swimming. Letting them live was no longer an option. "What is it?" the girl called again, alarm in her voice.
"I don't know." He sounded scared now, his voice rising, echoing off the bank of trees that surrounded the small, remote lake. "Whatever it is, I'm standing on part of it." Sealing his fate, he disappeared beneath the surface.
The girl continued to tread water, her attention on the spot where the boy had vanished, seemingly unaware of the movement in the trees behind her. A branch cracked in the underbrush.
She jerked her head around, her gaze riveting on a spot in the trees, a look of alarm skewing her expression as if she'd seen something moving through the darkness toward her and the boy.
The rumble of a vehicle off in the distance distracted her for just an instant - just long enough that when she focused again on the spot in the trees, it was clear she no longer saw movement. But it was also clear from the look on her face that she saw something. Maybe the shape of the person standing in the shadows of the pines at the edge of the moon-drenched shore. Or maybe just the glint of the filet knife's long, sharp blade.
Abruptly the boy's head broke the surface in a spray of silver droplets. He began to swim in wild, frantic strokes toward the shore and the pile of clothing so carelessly discarded earlier.
"What's wrong?" the girl cried. "What is it?"
"Get out of the water!" the boy screamed, his moonlit face twisted in horror as he beat the water with his arms and legs, swimming madly for the shore and what he foolishly thought would be safety.
The sound of an engine grew louder. Someone was coming up the lake road. Lights flickered erratically through the dark branches just before a pickup burst out into the open, stopping at the edge of the water.
"Oh God, it's my dad!" the girl gulped. She was still yards from shore and her clothing - trapped and naked as sin.
The unforgiving moon illuminated her as she sunk, neck deep in the water, neck deep in trouble. But she would never know just how much trouble she'd really been in - before her father had showed up.
He slammed out of his pickup, a shotgun in his beefy hands and guttural curses spewing from his wide mouth like bullets.
But the boy didn't seem to notice the gun or his own nakedness as he lurched from the water, choking out something about a car in the middle of the lake - and a body.
In the dark shadows of the pines, the knife blade glittered for only an instant before disappearing back into its sheath. By morning the sheriff's department would have dragged the car from the lake and found what was left of the body strapped behind the wheel. Nothing to be done about that now.
Excerpted from Premeditated Marriage by B.J. Daniels Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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