While FBI agent Kelly Feinman is recovering from an attack by a serial killer called the "Acid Man," her husband leaves her. Physically and emotionally scarred by the murderer, Kelly feels she will never be the same. She is cut off not only from her husband and child, but also from her fellow FBI agents, who see her as a rogue for going after the Acid Man alone.
Love is hell.
Matt Connor's love for his girlfriend, Amy, is so intense that he feels he is in heaven when he is with her. When Amy leaves him for another man, Matt is shattered. In agony, he plans a diabolical scheme that first calls for him to disappear from the face of the earth. His revenge will make Amy wish she had never been born.
Love can heal.
Matt's act of vengeance puts him in charge of Amy's infant son. He discovers a soothing warmth in Jimmy's eyes that makes him wonder if Amy's betrayal truly merited wrecking the child's life. Yet Matt's heart cannot be made whole until he has won Amy back.
Kelly cannot be made whole until she understands the depth of evil that lurks behind the Acid Man. Ironically, to rid herself and the world of her nemesis, she must seek out Matt Connor, a wanted man she has been ordered to bring to justice.
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Christopher Pike is the bestselling author of The Season of Passage, The Cold One, The Blind Mirror, and many other horror novels. Pike's young adult fiction, which made him a household name, includes The Last Vampire, Remember Me, Chain Letter, and the Alosha series, Alosha, The Shaktra, and The Yanti. Christopher Pike lives in Santa Barbara, California.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Chapter One The first sensation Matt Connor felt when he awoke that morning of all mornings was pain. For a long time he had come out of unconsciousness to a feeling of loss in his chest, and he had come to accept it as inevitable. It was ironic that the pain was quickly followed by a wave of love. Thoughts of her smile and hair caught forever in a yellow ray of sunshine. He still loved Amy Techer, always would, and he hated her more than words could say. That morning was special because it was the start of the day Matt planned to fake his death and disappear from the face of the earth. A bold plan, and he was not by nature a bold man. Yet Amy had changed him into something he was not. He had set the alarm for six but his eyes opened at five. He closed them and rolled over but sleep was lost. He felt unsettled on top of his pain. When he left his bed, he would never return to it. He would never see his apartment again—his stuff. Not that he had much. Thirty years old to the day, he thought grimly, and how little he had to show for it. The brief reflection hardened his resolve. His stomach was knotted and his heart pounded but he would go through with his plan. If he could not have love then she would not have it either. He wondered how many other men throughout history had come to the same conclusion. Matt got out of bed and took a hot shower. Tonight, if he was not careful, he would suffer a cold bath. He was an excellent pilot but an inexperienced skydiver. Of course, not many people riding a parachute to earth were required to hit a boat at night in the middle of the sea. Yet that particular challenge did not daunt him as much as others. Those other tasks would come later, after he was dead to the world, when he could no longer be blamed. Until then he just had to be systematic—do the job and not think. Still, he thought of her, of Amy. The name alone was a curse. He had scarce food in his apartment: a carton of milk, a loaf of bread, two overripe bananas. He made toast and spread jam and butter on it and wolfed down the milk while he dialed his mother. She lived in Santa Barbara, ninety miles north of his Santa Monica apartment. His mother had always hated that he never chewed his food. He supposed he had a streak of impatience in him, along with other things. Although early, his mother answered on the second ring. She was unhappy that he wouldn’t be arriving for his birthday party until seven that night. The insignificance of that particular concern troubled him deeply. His mother would never see him again. "Why do you have to finish your scuba lessons today?" she asked after they had talked a minute. "I’ve wanted the certificate for a while. To get it on my birthday makes me feel like things are coming together for the next decade." "You already have everything going for you, Matt. Now that Cindy’s in your life. Should I expect her early this evening?" "I’m not sure. I’m going to call her in a few minutes." "She didn’t spend the night?" His mother was being coy. She liked Cindy, much more than she had liked Amy. None of his friends or family had cared for his ex-girlfriend. They saw what she had done to him; they thought they saw. He liked Cindy Firestone as well. A nice girl, but made of papier-mâché when touched by his wretched hands. He could not really care for her because she was not Amy. It was so unfair to her, but he continued to date her even though he saw she was falling for him. She was his insurance; she provided extra cover for his plan. He had a girlfriend, the police would say to themselves, he had a life for godsakes. His death would be seen as an accident, nothing more. "No. She didn’t spend the night," he replied. He didn’t know what to add. At this point, the less he said, the better. "How are you two getting along?" "Great." He had to take a breath to lie. "I care about her a lot." "She’s excited about your party. She struggled over what to get you. You’re going to be surprised." "I like surprises." He added suddenly, "I told you about that bathroom I have to finish in Orange County? I better get going." "You shouldn’t be working Saturdays. On your birthday, of all days. You have to have more fun. You won’t be young forever." "I’ll have fun soon." He had a lump in his throat. The last time he would hear his mother’s voice. She’d had him late, at forty, and his father had passed away the previous year. He had no brothers or sisters. He was the center of her universe. She had a weak heart—his death could kill her. He had thought about that endlessly. Yet the thoughts had not halted his plan. His pain cut deeper than blood ties. He had to say goodbye. He added, "We’ll have fun tonight." His mother might have heard something in his voice. "Take care, son," she said quietly. "You too, Mom." He set down the phone and closed his eyes. His heart no longer pounded. Inside was cold. The icy sting of the ocean tonight—should he hit it—would be welcome. He deserved to suffer for the suffering he could not bear. Cindy slept late on Saturdays but did not mind being awakened. He had met her three months earlier at a coffee shop in Santa Monica. One of those late-night encounters that usually held more promise than substance. She was studying architectural diagrams, ones she had designed. They struck up a conversation about the Los Angeles skyline. Her knowledge of the city’s major buildings was impressive. He did not remember who said hello first, but when they parted she was the one to offer her number. She liked to take risks. Later, she told him she was intrigued that he might be a dangerous character. The remark had amused him. It was rare that women hit on him. Six foot and well-built—with a shock of choirboy brown hair and intense dark eyes—he supposed he was handsome enough. But he was very shy; he did not invite casual attention. Cindy was the opposite. She would find out where the busboy who cleaned the table went to school. It was important for her to connect to people. She felt they were connected. But she was still trying to understand why they had not been intimate yet. She suspected Amy was a lingering problem. Matt had been vague when describing what had happened. Like his mom, Cindy was quick to answer the phone. He could imagine her sleepy smile. Red hair and freckles, she was a lanky doll stitched together with enthusiasm. She jogged five miles each morning before going to work at a design firm in the valley. One day, she swore, she was going to build the perfect home. She saw him living in it with her. He promised to help her put the pieces together, knowing it would never happen. Sometimes being with her made him think of Amy even more. Of course, the essence of their relationship would have been obvious to a first-year psychology student. He treated
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