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Jade Avery is away on a business trip when her young cousin disappears. Easton Cooper is a Seattle cop who moonlights at the club where a waitress, a woman he was dating, has gone missing. Months later, both cases have gone cold. Jade and Easton connect over the missing women, sharing their guilt over those lost on their watch, unaware that a vengeful spirit follows the killer.
Intense sexual temptation rapidly develops between Easton and Jade while they grapple with fears that the worst has happened to the missing women. The killer continues to hunt for his next prey, even as strange occurrences befall him.
Will the new lovers find closure and hold on to their burgeoning attraction? Can the victim's ghost serve justice cold before another woman is taken?
Page Count: 45
Word Count: 11029
After her death and at some point over the blur of her surreal existence, staying close to Todd had become her thing. He was fiddling with his cell phone when they heard raised voices. They got to the dance floor as Easton’s big body plowed through the crowd toward two men embroiled in a yelling and pushing match. She stopped when Easton and another bouncer she didn’t recognize hustled the antagonists out through the nearest exit.
The set of exit doors they used led to the pier, which started at the side of the building and wrapped around the back to an office and the kitchen. The last time she’d stepped outside onto those wooden planks, she’d emerged in this endless ethereal nightmare. So she hung back. Todd’s gaze had fixed on the inebriated young woman trailing behind the still-arguing men.
Much later—after he’d consumed the better part of a bottle of cognac and a half-pack of cigarettes—she knew what to expect. Wishing for the hundredth time she could do something to stop it, she watched Todd pry up the false floorboards, pull out an intricately carved lockbox, and with an almost reverent touch, set it on a small table.
Emptying the contents one item at a time, Todd paused to fawn over each grotesque snapshot. By the time he got to the small sachets of preserved fingernails, his eyes had glazed over with what could only be described as pure evilness.
The wickedness and malice she believed was at his core poured out, threatening to bury her in the futility of it all. She loathed him and her shadowy abyss of nothingness, and her helplessness built until she could no longer contain her despair. On a burst of angst, she raced toward Todd. When the lid slammed down onto his left hand, it rammed against his pinkie and dug into the ornate ring he wore.
Unsure, she drifted away from him as he screamed and fell back a step, all the while holding his left hand clear of his treasures. He pried the ring over the deep cut, dropped it on his desk, and grabbed a handful of tissues. Once the flow of blood subsided, he wrapped a bandage around the gash and moved back to the table.
Carefully he examined each trophy, returned them to the chest, and closed the lid. Only then did he pick up the discarded ring. His expression one of revulsion, he walked to the sliding glass door, opened it, and threw his signature possession out into the darkness.
Where Todd seemed displeased, she was elated. At least what passed for joy in her unearthly prison. She had come to believe she was doomed to grim isolation, and she could do nothing to effect change. Now, as he tucked the coffer away and replaced the floorboards, she realized the former may be true but she wasn’t powerless after all. So she nursed the burgeoning belief that her otherworldly torment had a purpose, and hope lifted its fragile head. Somehow, she vowed, she would find a way to stop him.
For with each passing moment, Todd prepared for his next prey…
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