Grisly and disturbing serial killer novels are best-selling author's CJ Wilder's stock in trade. Her alter ego, Calliope Laurent lives in a small quiet town with her pair of beloved dogs. She guards her privacy as fiercely as her pets guard her idyllic life.
When Calli starts receiving bouquets of roses along with cards containing ominous quotes, it's no coincidence women are being murdered in ways Calli is all too familiar with.
Deputy Sheriff Brady Harrison is taken with Calli from the moment he meets her. Assigned to her case, he's determined to find the killer, and as a man falling in love, protecting Calli has become his obsession.
As gruesome discoveries are made, it's clear the killer is bringing Calli's books to life, and since she knows all too well how her stories end, she's afraid to learn what will happen when the last bloom falls.
Dusk hit quickly as I paced, my mind playing its usual mixtape of the many ways to be killed. Cautiously, I pushed the curtain aside slightly to peer into the haze of almost darkness. Was someone out there waiting for me in the inky blackness? Letting the curtain fall back, I wondered how much longer before help arrived. My two shepherds tracked every movement, sensing my fear and I joined them on the floor to reassure all of us that it wouldn’t be much longer.
The familiar ‘ting’ of FaceTime sounded in the room, and I heaved a sigh of relief, jumping to my feet and rushing to my computer to see my best friend appear on the screen. Deep brown eyes framed by thick lashes peered at me as his pouty lips turned up at one corner.
“I’m freaking out here,” I babbled. “I don’t understand any of this.” I glanced towards the door, licking my lips as fear-laced anxiety crept into my chest. I closed my eyes against it for the umpteenth time and breathed out shakily. “Why would someone do this to me. Did I mention I’m totally freaking out?”
HIT MAN, MAD MAN, HOT MAN
When a late-night visitor attempts to introduce True McLaren to his knife, he sets off a chain of events True’s been preparing for her entire life. While others went to prom and talked about boys, she learned to speak in code and kill with anything close at hand. Has the devil incarnate sent hitmen to wipe the McLarens out now, after twenty-five years of silence?
Adding to the complications for True is the tasty specimen in uniform sent to supervise the processing of the scene. Sergeant Dante Parisi is every bit as smart as he is distracting. The whole situation is getting out of hand and tongue-tied True is having difficulty keeping certain facts to herself. How can she muster enough charm to explain away, taking down a man double her size with a teaspoon, for god’s sake?
From the look on Parisi’s face, he isn’t buying the story True’s spinning. With her façade quickly shattering, True may have no choice but to let the handsome man into her carefully orchestrated world. Is it worth the risk of telling him the truth, or is it safer for everyone if the McLarens do what’s become natural, hide in plain sight while taking their secrets with them?
Two uniforms were with Hairy, while two others stood with me. The younger of the duo took charge, keeping a hand near his weapon. He was jumpy and pretending to be calm. Was it ‘Bring Your Child to Work’ day? I stifled a smile as the twelve-year-old attempted to take charge.
His partner had a quiet confidence. Stripes on his uniform showed he should be in charge, and I wondered why he was taking a back seat. The man was a tasty specimen with a face like a Roman god, high cheekbones, strong jawline, dark eyes, and a mouth made for kissing. Even the uniform couldn’t hide the fact that he had muscle definition to rival Michelangelo’s David. Then there was that thick, wavy, jet-black hair making my fingers itch. He was tall, but compared to my five feet three inches of willowy arms and legs, most were. Unlike him, I could easily disguise the fact that all of me was lean, defined muscle honed from hours of daily training. He was watching me intently, so I studied him openly, hoping he couldn’t tell what I was thinking. Being a master at hiding in plain sight, I could usually conceal my thoughts in an instant if I chose to.
Rookie cleared his throat, and I shifted my attention to him reluctantly, refraining from licking my lips, which showed considerable restraint on my part. I gave myself a mental shake from the distraction. “Ma’am, why don’t you take a seat so that we can discuss what happened here?” He waited as I continued to stand, expressionless. We regarded each other silently. Realizing I wasn’t giving in, Rookie glanced at Hottie, who merely watched the exchange. “Now, is the person who attacked you still in the house somewhere?”
I narrowed my eyes, jaw tightening automatically at his stupidity. It took all my willpower to keep a filter in place. I exhaled in a quiet hiss. What a dumbass… why would anyone stay in a house with their attacker? I refused to look at Hottie.
Noting my silence, Rookie rushed on, no doubt realizing how stupid his question was. “Did your husband surprise him when he came home, resulting in his injuries?” I stifled a laugh at the further ineptitude. My husband, was he for real?
Taking a mental step back, I contemplated how this must appear. Understanding why he would think I needed someone to defend my honor didn’t help. Still pissed off, I crossed my arms, left hand in front, no ring visible, and waited. Resting bitch face in place, it was a good bet my eyes were black with fury instead of their usual midnight blue at this point as well.
Hottie stared intently and noted the change. He caught it all, starting with my bare feet, their bright pink nails illuminating the fact that while I played hard, I was still a woman. I felt my girls stand at attention, grateful my arms covered them. What the actual the hell. Our eyes met and while brain trust consulted his notebook, Hottie and I shared a moment. I wondered if he was aware of his gasoline effect on my internal fire or staring for the hell of it. The larger part of me prayed he didn’t know how my body was betraying me at such an inappropriate time. If we had met in a bar, maybe I would have tried to flirt. Scratch that as I didn’t frequent bars, and my flirting skills were beyond rusty from lack of use.