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Former crime-scene investigator Megan O'Ryan helped convict the St. Patrick's Strangler, who killed Megan's sister. Now she's trying to heal in a small Wisconsin town. But a copycat killer is at work in Crystal Lake, and Sheriff Luke Torretti needs Megan's help...on the case and at home, where the widower's troubled teenage son has become a suspect. The boy claims he's innocent—and Megan believes him. Because the more she and Luke investigate, the more Megan becomes convinced that her own past has brought the killer to Crystal Lake. And without Luke's help, the next victim will be her.
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Laura Scott is honored to write for the Love Inspired Suspense line, where a reader can find a heartwarming journey of faith amid the thrilling danger. She lives with her husband of twenty-five years and has two children, a daughter and a son, who are both in college. She works as a critical-care nurse during the day at a large level-one trauma center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and spends her spare time writing romance. Visit Laura at www.laurascottbooks.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Megan O'Ryan kept a wary eye on the black sedan staying two cars behind her. She'd noticed the sedan the moment she'd hit the highway, and the driver had kept pace with her all the way into the small town of Crystal Lake.
A nagging itch settled between her shoulder blades. She'd felt the same sensation of being followed just two days ago. Was someone really tailing her?
With an abrupt move, she cranked the steering wheel to the right and pulled into the first vacant parking space on Main Street.
Moments later, the black car passed her by. Wrenching her neck to peer after it, she noticed the driver kept his head averted, but not before she saw the usual dark T-shirt and baseball cap. The tag number was nothing but a blur by the time she switched her attention from the driver to the license plate.
Megan climbed out of her car and stood for a moment, pretending to debate where she should go but really tracking the black car out of the corner of her eye as it pulled into the Gas N Go station located a few blocks north on Main Street.
No way could this be a coincidence. Not again. Not
after experiencing the same thing for the third time in the past week. The cars weren't always the same make or color, but the guy behind the wheel invariably wore dark clothing and a baseball cap tugged low over his eyes.
Megan stifled a surge of alarm as she turned toward Rose's Cafe. She wasn't hungry, but Rose's was always packed with people, especially in the summer with tourists aplenty, and she could at least get a cup of coffee while she tried to figure out why on earth anyone in Crystal Lake would want to follow her. Three months wasn't long enough to have made enemies. Especially considering she'd been holed up in her cabin most of the time, leaving only to go to work and back. She'd spoken to just a handful of people.
Megan! Wait up!
Katie? The young voice was so much like her sister's that she spun toward the sound, her heart hammering wildly in her chest. She blinked against the brightness of the sun to see a lithe young woman with long, silky blond hair walking toward her. Her heart stopped. She couldn't breathe. Hoarsely she called, Katie? Is that you?
Teagan, wait up. Didn't you hear me? The blond-haired girl changed directions, moving toward another girl, this one a petite redhead. The blonde caught up and gave the red-haired girl's shoulder a playful shove. There's no rush. It's not like the guys are going to leave without us.
Not Katie. Her vision blurred as the loss hit with the force of a tsunami, sucking every bit of oxygen from her lungs. Katie hadn't been calling her name because Katie was gone.
Megan blinked, forcing her vision to clear, and watched the girls cross the street heading toward a group of boys who stood waiting on the grassy bank of Crystal Lake. She focused on a scowling boy who held himself aloof, dressed head to toe in black with long dark hair that could have used a comb. He looked like trouble with a capital T. Someone she was tempted to warn the young girls about. Except he wasn't her problem.
Blindly, she turned her attention back toward Rose's Cafe, her stomach tight with nausea, as if she'd been sucker punched.
Katie wouldn't be heading off to her sophomore year at college in the fall, or hanging around with undesirable boys. Katie was dead.
Logically, she knew her younger sister was gone. Yet in that one brief moment when she'd imagined she'd heard Katie calling her name, she'd wanted so badly to believe Katie's death was nothing more than a horrible nightmare.
But it wasn't. Katie was gone.
Her church pastor tried to tell her Katie was in a much better place, but she didn't buy that theory. The real question was why hadn't God stopped her sweet sister from being murdered? Why hadn't he taken her, instead?
Desperately trying to get a grip on her rioting emotions, she paused outside Rose's Cafe and glanced once again toward the Gas N Go station, where the black car had pulled in. There was no sign of the vehicle now. With a frown, she scanned the entire area, including the various businesses.
The black sedan had disappeared.
Or she'd imagined the whole thing, just like she'd imagined she'd heard Katie.
Exhausted and shaken, Megan slumped against the building, putting a hand to her throbbing head, and swallowed hard against another wave of nausea. No. No way. I absolutely refuse to be crazy.
You refuse, huh? A tall man stepped forward, blocking her view of the sun. He stood with his arms crossed over his uniformed chest, looking down at her with an arched brow. So how's that working for
She grimaced, realizing she'd spoken out loud. Wasn't it true that insane people didn't believe they were crazy? Shaking off the bitter fear that plagued her, Megan straightened and belatedly noticed the crisp tan uniform along with the shiny badge pinned to the stranger's chest.
A cop. Great. This was not what she needed in the middle of her nervous breakdown. She strove for a light tone. So far, it's working fine, thanks. Excuse me. She ducked past him, seeking refuge in Rose's Cafe.
She slid onto the only vacant stool at the counter, figuring she wouldn't be there long. The main reason she'd come at all was to get a good look at the guy driving the black car.
What can I get for you, sweetie? Josie, the middle-aged waitress, called all her customers sweetie. Megan suspected Josie thought the term was easier than trying to remember so many names, especially in the height of the tourist season.
A cup of coffee, please. She glanced back in time to see that the cop who'd followed her into the diner had joined another officer in one of the booths that lined the
wall. She turned her attention back to Josie. She wasn't paranoid enough to think he'd followed her inside to keep an eye on her. Cops had to eat too. Cream, no sugar.
Is that all? Josie arched an exasperated brow, propping a hand on her plump hip. Sweetie, you picked the middle of the lunch rush to order a measly cup of
Josie obviously wasn't pleased she'd taken a seat that an otherwise paying customer may have occupied. Since Megan wasn't sure her legs could hold her weight if she left, she tried to recall the menu. Ah, I almost forgot. I'll take a grilled chicken sandwich too.
Coming right up. Josie poured her coffee, pushed a container of cream at her, and then disappeared to give her order to the cook.
Megan sipped her coffee, trying not to notice how several of the locals stared at her with obvious suspicion. Since she'd taken over her aunt's property, a small cabin on the north shore of Crystal Lake, her status was barely one step above the tourists, but not by much. She'd moved here from Chicago, and people in the town of Crystal Lake, Wisconsin, seemed to carry a grudge against people from Illinois. She should be used to the sensation of being the unwelcome newcomer by now.
Crystal Lake wasn't a large town, but it was right in the middle of Hope County, which made it the hub of all county activities. The courthouse, the post office and the sheriff's department headquarters, to name a few. Her tiny log cabin was located ten miles outside of town on a very deserted road with an awesome view of the lake, nice and private, the way she preferred. So what if the
general population of Crystal Lake considered her little more than a weird hermit? She didn't care.
Except when she was being followed.
She turned her head to peek at the pair of cops seated behind her. The taller of the two had impossibly broad shoulders and black hair kept military-short, which did nothing to soften his broad, rugged features. His square jaw was strong and firm, but his nose looked as if it may have been broken at one point. He had dark eyes and tanned skin that made his teeth look shockingly white when he smiled. He was definitely attractive, if you appreciated a tall man in uniform. Since the other cop was much older and shorter and had a slight paunch around his middle, she knew it was the taller man who'd overheard her talking to herself outside. With the sun glare in her eyes, she hadn't gotten a very good look at him.
What would he say if she went over to announce she thought she was being followed? Probably not much, since she'd also practically told him she was insane.
So how's that working for you?
Her cheeks burned and she ducked her head, deciding not to bother. There was no point when she hadn't even managed to get a simple license plate number. Once she had something solid to give them, she'd go to the authorities.
She took another sip of her coffee, reveling in the warmth of the mug despite the sunny day outside. A group from the back of the diner passed behind her on their way out. An elbow hit her hard in the back, causing her to spill her coffee down the front of her green blouse.
'Scuse me, a gruff male voice muttered as the group
She clenched her teeth against a wave of annoyance
and dabbed at the stain. A moment later, Josie set her chicken sandwich in front of her.
Need anything else, sweetie? Josie asked, automatically refilling her coffee cup.
No, thanks. She forced a smile and gave up on her blouse. Josie slapped her bill upside down next to her plate and sashayed away to attend to her other customers.
She didn't want to believe the jab to her back had been done on purpose, but she couldn't help but think so. Why she'd become a target, she had no idea. She wasn't hurting anyone. She wasn't even in town very often. She was either in her cabin or working her part-time and rather mundane job of processing DNA samples at the State Crime Lab in Madison.
Obviously, her level of paranoia was already several standard deviations from the mean. Picking at her chicken sandwich, she took only a few bites before pushing her plate away.
Post-traumatic stress disorder. Diagnosed by her ps...
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Book Description Love Inspired Suspense, 2011. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M037344446X
Book Description Love Inspired, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX037344446X
Book Description Love Inspired, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11037344446X