Please Note: This series is a spinoff of the Broken Bonds serial which must be read prior to beginning this book. Contains spoilers to the Broken Bonds serial.
Detective Ethan Quinn has questions. The Arlington Slasher case is closed, the UNSUB no longer a threat—but Quinn can’t quiet the suspicion he harbors toward his partner and the young, attractive M.E. Not only does he loathe his uncertainty, he’s torn between doing his job and protecting his team.
But burying himself in cases no longer works. He’s restless. On edge. And tired of fighting his compulsions. Quinn has always viewed the law in black and white. Only now his world is swirling with a murky gray that threatens to devour him.
When lead medical examiner Avery Johnson careens toward a dangerous path, she pulls the unwitting detective into a dark web of deception and lust, triggered by a spree of recent killings.
Is this new player linked to the Bathory murders, or is it another copycat?
Time almost took Avery from him once before. As the clock ticks, Quinn will stop at nothing to protect her, re-fusing to let Avery become a victim again. Against his uncompromising logic, Quinn can’t deny his feelings. Avery forces him to acknowledge his darker desires, tempting his control—which weakens with every second he spends with the feisty M.E. as they hunt down the perpetrator threatening to tear them apart.
I rub my arms to generate heat, giving myself something to concentrate on besides counting the seconds. I’ve only been locked inside for minutes, but panic threatens to pull me under when I imagine it turning into days. So very different than before, but somehow just as frightening. I’m not shackled. I’m not drugged. I don’t, logically, think these people have the same intentions as my abductor did when he took me… but I can’t say that for certain. As soon as I think I’m going to lose it and start banging on the steel door, I hear a click, and the door grinds open against the floor.
The man entering is tall and thickly built. He wears a mask. A Jason mask like on the horror movie. And he’s carrying a semiautomatic gun. My stomach plunges, free-fall. I want the bag back over my head. He jerks his head
“Move. It’s ready.”
What’s ready? But I can’t work up the courage to ask. This man is not manhandling me, and somehow my feet move me in that direction. I’ve just simply lost my mind. So many days spent fearing the world after I was released from the hospital, and what I dreaded could happen—that which I told myself over and over would never happen again—has, in fact, happened. What else is there left to fear? Death? I’m almost relieved. Like I’m ready to welcome it. Like I can stop dreading it now.
The masked man stands in the doorway as I cross through. My eyes go wide when I see what’s on the other side of the room. A lab. But unlike any lab I’ve ever worked in. It’s dirty, and smells of death. Not like the death in the morgue, where I’m accustomed to being surrounded by bodies. But a grotesque, sour stench that soaks my pores.
Tables are full of beakers and test tubes. A giant syringe station is setup with thin blue hoses curling down into a large tub. My gaze follows the tubes’ path along the back wall to a large containment unit.
“Welcome, Dr. Johnson.”
I whirl around, trying to locate the source of the deep, gravely voice. Feedback pierces the air, and I look up to find a speaker in the corner. The voice booms through the room again.
“Go ahead. Get comfortable. There’s a coat on the hanger to your left, and goggles on the table.” I shake my head. “What do you want from me?” I say to the room, hoping this unsettling PA system is two-way.
“It’s what we both want,” the voice responds. “I believe neither of us want any more dead girls littering up our beautiful streets. So you should get to work.”
I turn around and see the man with the gun standing watch at the only exit. I face forward, lick my lips. “And if I can’t?”
The silence stretches out, endlessly taunting. I’m sure the decision to end my life has already been made. Then: “I really don’t think that’s an option for you, Miss Johnson.” A beat. “Best focus on the task at hand. You have one hour.”